North Korea Table of Contents
Figure 14. Comparison of Armed Forces, North Korea and South Korea,
Source: Based on information from United States, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1990, Washington, 1991, 69.
Selected Years, 1979-89
The basic goal of a North Korean southern offensive is destruction of allied defenses either before South Korea can fully mobilize its national power or before significant reinforcement from the United States can arrive and be deployed. Final war preparations most likely would not involve a noticeable surge in military-related activity because almost two-thirds of the ground forces and a significant amount of logistical support already are concentrated in the forward area between P'yongyang and the DMZ. Immediately preceding the initial infantry assault, North Korean artillery units would attempt to saturate the firstechelon South Korean defense with preparatory and continuous suppressive fire. North Korean infantry and armor elements of the first-echelon divisions of the forward conventional corps would attack selected narrow fronts to create gaps for the follow-on echelons. The penetration would be supported by North Korean special operations forces. At the same time, the KPA would launch several diversionary attacks in order to confuse and disperse the defensive effort. The mechanized corps would attempt to push through any gaps, bypass and isolate defenders, and penetrate as deeply as possible into the strategic rear.
The overall objective of the breakout would be to disturb the coherence of South Korea defenses in depth--including its key command, control, communications, and intelligence infrastructure (C3I)--so as to disrupt any significant counterattacks. In support of what would be primarily a ground war, the navy might attempt to insert amphibious-trained special operations forces on each coast or to secure the northern islands or support operations against the Kimp'o Peninsula, across the Han River estuary near Seoul. In addition, Scud and FROG missiles would be used during the assault to disrupt rear areas and C3I. After initial naval support and supply, however, the navy's limited capability to control the sea would leave embarked forces on their own. Both the navy and the air force would be hard pressed to sustain a level of offensive operations and would revert to a largely defensive role.
In order for the KPA's military strategy to succeed on the battlefield, the KPA would have to achieve initial strategic surprise and execute its operations quickly. The most critical period would probably be choosing when and where to commit the mobile exploitation forces.
Data as of June 1993