56 days and 90,000 troops: The US plan to confront North Korea

A recent war game showed that the United States would require 56 days and over 90,000 troops to sufficiently counter a failed nuclear state such as North Korea

by The Commentator on 1 April 2013 13:35

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As North Korea continues to posture and ostensibly move towards war with its southern neighbour, news has come to light about the United States' plan to deal with such a threat.

In a recent war-game conducted by the U.S. military, it took Uncle Sam's army 56 days and required 90,000 troops to deal with the country’s nuclear stockpiles.

According to the Defense News website, the "Unified Quest" war game was conducted this year by Army planners and posited the collapse of a nuclear-armed, xenophobic, criminal family regime that had lorded over a closed society. While unconfirmed, the model for the game, and maps seen during the game at the Army War College, point to North Korea as the state in question.

American forces staged in a neighboring friendly country to the south eventually made it over the border into "North Brownland", though not without encountering several major problems for which they struggled to find solutions. One of the first was that a large number of nuclear sites were in populated areas, so they had to try to perform humanitarian assistance operations while conducting combined arms maneuver and operations.

It took 56 days for the U.S. to flow two divisions’ worth of soldiers into the failed nuclear-armed state of “North Brownland” and as many as 90,000 troops to deal with the country’s nuclear stockpiles, a major U.S. Army war game concluded this winter.

The war game included the Army chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, and the vice chief, Gen. John Campbell, along with a collection of three- and four-star generals.

One of the key lessons from the task was that there was fundamentally no staging environment for real-life forces to occupy, with one attendee stating, “We’ve had the luxury in the last several wars of a place called Kuwait” from which to launch troops and stage equipment. “I think our skills have atrophied in the call you get in the middle of the night."

Another leader agreed. “We have been spoiled by a command-and-control network that has been established for a decade” in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said, adding that the Army has to get back to training to operate in an austere environment.

To move soldiers quickly, Marine Corps V-22 Ospreys quickly inserted Army units deep behind enemy lines, but leaders found that inserting troops far in front of the main force so quickly often caused them to be surrounded, after which they had to be withdrawn.

Overall, the friendly force ultimately “failed to achieve the operational agility” it needed to succeed, another participant complained, “largely due to the rigidity” of current deployment models.

The details of the war game have emerged just as North Korea ratchets up the threats against South Korea and indeed the American mainland. Commentators have argued however, that until certain joint interests between North and South Korea are closed, the recent noise from the North is simple sabre-rattling for financial gain.

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