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North Korea

Emergence of the New Doctrine

Through the late 1960s and into the early 1970s, Kim Il Sung continued to favor the political-ideological dimension of warfare over technology or military science. A transformation began in the 1970s, when renewed emphasis was placed on conventional warfare and the modernization of the KPA.

In the August 1976 issue of K lloja, an article by Kim Chol Man entitled "Scientific Features of Modern War and Factors of Victory" reexamines and reinterprets military doctrine. Kim dwells at length on the importance of economic development and the impact of new weapons on military strategy. Victory in war requires economic development and complete mobilization of a nation's economic potential, including a strong self-supporting munitions industry and material reserves. Military factors are considered in absolute terms rather than on the basis of North Korea's stage of development. Kim argues that the quality of arms and the level of military technology define the characteristics of war.

After some initial debate, Kim Chol Man's argument apparently was accepted and became the new orthodoxy. The primacy of conventional warfare again became doctrine. Kim's article contains several concepts that continue to influence North Korean operational art in the early 1990s; particularly influential are the concepts that emphasize the importance of operational and tactical mobility through the employment of mechanized forces, the importance of firepower throughout the depth of the battlefield, the importance of deep strikes, and the importance of command and control. Kim also stresses that each operational plan and campaign should aim at a lightning war for a quick decision.

Data as of June 1993