US military's worst nightmare - War with NK
PLANS previously drafted by the Pentagon predict 52,000 US military casualties and one million civilian dead in the first 90 days of conflict if America attacked Pyongyang.Needless to say, with risks like that, conventional war with North Korea is not a viable political option.
The US leadership is looking at international economic and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea as its primary response to Monday's nuclear test. But military contingencies are considered as a matter of course and analysts paint a horrific picture for even the most targeted of US strikes.But, leave it to the folks at CFR to insist otherwise.
A report this week by US-based security and military analyst Stratfor predicts North Korea could return fire on Seoul with "several hundred thousand high-explosive rounds per hour" -- with up to 25 per cent of shells filled with nerve gas.
Other estimates say the US would need at least 500,000 ground troops to secure against a North invasion of the South.
"When US military planners have nightmares, they have nightmares about war with North Korea," the Stratfor analysis says.
Despite the risks, Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations expert Michael Levi, along with several Australian analysts, believe a North Korean nuclear test would increase the likelihood of a US military response.And so we wait in anxious anticipation for cooler heads to prevail. Too bad, the chances of that happening are slim to none.
Pentagon strategists continue to work on military contingencies but all scenarios forecast massive casualties and a high likelihood of escalating war.
When confronted with Pentagon drafts in 2004, US President George W. Bush was reported to have been horrified at the human cost. Updated Pentagon plans outlining bombing of North Korean nuclear sites, border artillery and troop emplacements call for:
ROUND-the-clock strikes using Stealth and Lancer aircraft and naval-launch cruise missiles to destroy nuclear and missile capability and set the research program back years.
AIR bombing, possibly including US tactical nuclear weapons, to penetrate metres-thick concrete protecting the North's nuclear research complex at Yonben.
But Stratfor's assessment said even if limited strikes were ordered against only nuclear research facilities, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's unpredictability meant a high potential for huge retaliation.
Stratfor argued the US had two advantages -- the time it would take Pyongyang to develop a miniaturised nuclear weapon for carriage on a missile; and America's distance from North Korea.
"The most important issue is the transfer of North Korean nuclear technology to other countries and groups," Stratfor said.
It concluded by urging US military restraint. "The consequences of even the most restrained attack could be devastating."