Op-Ed: N. Korea's Lights Out Game - It Could Happen
Mark LangfanThe writer, who specializes in security issues, has created an original...
(Several days before this article was posted, the following appeared: /News/Flash.aspx/264866)
In August 1994, Tom Clancy published the novel “Debt of Honor” whose climactic end featured an embittered Japan Air Lines pilot, Captain Sato-driven mad by the death of his sons and brother by America- who slams his 747 into the US Capitol building during a joint session of Congress, and murders almost the entire US presidential line of succession. No precautions were ever taken by the United States government to prevent such an open-source, well-publicized type of attack by a renowned master of thriller fiction. Seven (7) years later, in 2001, teams of murderous psychotic Islamic terrorists hijacked a series of planes, and slammed them into the Pentagon and Twin Towers murdering thousands of innocent US civilians.
In November 2005, Major Colin R. Miller USAF (Active) published his US Air University thesis entitled “Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Threats in 2010” whose climactic thesis predicted that North Korea might use a nuclear EMP bomb to destroy the US and South Korean technological military advantage and “level the playing field,” and then occupy South Korea in a conventional-follow-on blitzkrieg attack. No precautions were ever taken by the United States government to prevent such an open-source, publicized type of attack by a respected active US Air Force officer. Eight (8) years later, in 2013, and with three nuclear tests under the North’s belt, the new murderous psychotic dictator “Supreme Leader” or “Marshal” Kim Jong-un has promised a nuclear attack against America, and on last Friday, March 15, 2013, the Ides of March, stated “prepare for war.”
To be exact, in 2005, then-Major, now-Colonel Colin R. Miller USAF stated:
“Even a small, relatively crude nuclear device detonated above the Korean peninsula would generate an EMP with field strength well above 10 kV/m, ensuring wholesale destruction of unprotected electronic systems. The first-order effect on coalition forces would be a command, control, and communications (C3) blackout. The EMP would permanently destroy most computers and displays at the joint task force headquarters and combined air operations center and would wipe clean critical magnetically stored data. Radio, satellite, and cell phone communications would be permanently shut down, as well as wire line telephone systems relying on microprocessor control.”
I must emphasize that this is not a fictional story as is the one by Tom Clancy, but is an open-source 2005 thesis written by an active United States Air Force colonel who stated that a North Korean nuclear bomb could black out all of America’s fielded defense “unprotected” electronics. You don’t even need to read what Maj. Miller’s “second-order” and “third-order” effects of a decapitation North Korean EMP blast against South Korean and US forces would be to understand the unmitigated and irreversible loss US forces would suffer in such an EMP attack.
Since Maj. Miller wrote his 2005 thesis, North Korea has successfully tested three nuclear bombs with steadily increasing kilo-tonnage (2006-1kt, 2009-5kt, 2013-7kt). North Korea’s latest test on February 12, 2013 was reported by South Korea to be between 6 to 7 kilotons. By contrast Hiroshima was about a 16 kilotons. The difference between a Hiroshima-type nuclear explosion and an EMP-type nuclear explosion is, 1: the Hiroshima “Little Boy” nuclear bomb was detonated at a little less than one (1) kilometer above the ground and killed 90,000-166,000 people, 2: a North Korean EMP nuclear bomb would be detonated at 40-50 kilometers above the ground and wouldn’t kill so much as a single bird in the actual nuclear explosion. So ironically, a North Korean EMP nuclear decapitation first-strike would actually kill fewer people than a regular North Korean first-strike conventional missile attack
Further, the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency & USSTATCOM Center for Combating WMD stated on their open-source website that, “While a blast of [EMP] radiation might not do anything to properly protected troops, it would “fry” anything electronic: laptops, sensors, our highly computerized planes, even a simple cell phone.” Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s father, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il, was a total James Bond fanatic. And, in 1995, an EMP circuit-frying nuclear device was the featured futuristic weapon de jour in the James Bond movie classic “Goldeneye.” North Korea also stated that its recent February 2013 nuclear test used a “miniaturized device” which very likely was intended for a AC-130 missile warhead.
Additionally, North Korea has tested its middle-range missiles trajectory directly south over South Korea that would be the exact trajectory to be used in an EMP attack. North Korea only needs a short to medium range rocket to reach an altitude 50 kilometers above South Korea where the EMP bombs would be detonated. An EMP at that altitude would fry all of the US and South Korean hi-tech weapons’ systems. North Korea would only need an intercontinental ballistic missile if it wanted to hit the continental United States with an EMP nuke. So, North Korea absolutely now possesses the minimal ballistic capabilities necessary to deliver an EMP above South Korea.
First and foremost, if anyone thinks South Korea or the United States has a defense against a North Korean EMP first-strike attack, think again. Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, reported the following story entitled “S. Korea defenseless against N. Korean electronic attack” on Sept. 20, 2011:
“SEOUL, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- Major military facilities in South Korea, including the defense ministry, are defenseless against potential North Korean electronic attacks, reports showed Tuesday.
According to the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), no technology exists in South Korea that can fend off electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bombs from North Korea. The two agencies submitted reports to Grand National Party (GNP) lawmaker Chung Mee-kyung during the annual parliamentary audit into defense agencies.
EMP bombs are known to jam and damage high-tech defense systems, such as radars and communication networks.
The defense ministry and the new headquarters for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), currently under construction, are supposed to be protected from EMP attacks, but reports said they can only defend less-damaging electromagnetic interference (EMI). So, there is no defense against such an attack.”
Well, since this September 2011 report, Obama’s been very busy gutting missile defense, excoriating Israel to retreat to the 1967 Auschwitz lines, and slashing the US defense budget, so any hope of a new South Korean/US defense against an EMP attack can be forgotten!!!
Second, the problem is that since the Cold War ended (beginning with President Clinton) almost all of the US hi-tech weapons systems were built with unprotected electric circuits to save money!! So, the entire US electronic defense of South Korea is worthless against an EMP decapitation attack, followed on with a conventional attack. In the face of an EMP attack, the older the mechanized armor, the less modern electronics the weapon-systems have and therefore the less susceptible to an EMP attack. Perversely, this militarily dramatically favors the North Koreans who currently have in service over 4,000 main battle tanks with non-electronics-based transmissions that were built mostly before 1980. Therefore, a North Korean EMP bomb would turn these otherwise worthless hunks of scrap-metal into infinitely valuable mobile pincers worth their military weight in diamonds. Conversely, US satellites, command and control, intelligence, chain-of-command communications to the Pentagon, and virtually everything else built after 1990 would be irreparably burnt out.
Third, as of 2013, the Korea People’s Army (KPA), with 9,495,000 active (1,100,000), reserve (8,200,000), and paramilitary personnel, is the largest military organization on earth. Facing this behemoth is the Republic of Korea’s Armed Forces (ROK Armed Forces) with a total manpower of 3,600,000 comprised of 639,000 active and 3,000,000 reserves. In addition, the United States fields a total active strength of 28,500 men comprised two-thirds army and one-third Air Force. The relative orders of battle in a North Korea EMP onslaught would be gruesome for South Korean and US forces. Given the North would have had the element of surprise, the North would have mobilized its reserves to just a point where it wouldn’t have “tipped its hand.” Conversely, in a KPA EMP attack, the South’s ability to mobilize would be destroyed in the first 2 nanoseconds of the battle by the EMP blast. How do you “call up” your forces if all the cell phones have been “fried” and your computers wiped out??
Hence, the North could very possibly field a 3,000,000 man army at the H-hour of an EMP decapitation attack with an additional pre-ordered, post-EMP strike mobilized force of 5,000,000 at H+ day 3, and 8,000,000 mobilized men at H+day 5. Facing the 3,000,000 North Koreans striking southward with blitzkrieging armored units would be a South Korean Force of at best 650,000 men unable to communicate with each other and with weapons that very likely won’t function. To leverage-up the order of battle and piercing effect of the KPA attacking forces, the North Koreans would have actively pre-planned to manage millions of South Korean and US POWs.
Fourth, within 36 hours of H-hour, the rapidly advancing North Korean units would have taken prisoner 100,000’s of living South Korean soldiers and upwards of 25,000 living US soldiers. Therefore, Marshall Jong-un would have tens of thousands of living US soldier-hostages before Washington DC even knew what had happened. This is because at present there is no known, or deployed system to detect an EMP blast. Such a possible EMP detection system would envisage a matrix of widely dispersed continuously pinging “fused” nodes which would burn out in an EMP attack. Such a pinging matrix would enable an emergency post-EMP launched satellite to detect a silhouette pattern of un-blown pinging fuse nodes outside the EMP burnt-out area.
Fifth, no one should forget that North Korean instructors, not Iran, successfully trained Hezbollah fighters in guerilla warfare tactics around 2004, prior to the Second Lebanon War. Therefore, North Korea’s very core military doctrine is one of a surprise attack. Also, given the history and current world events, Iran, Hizbullah, Syria, and North Korea are strategically and tactically inseparable. Therefore, Assad’s genocidal use of chemical weapons may be presaging, or a simultaneously distracting military event. Hence, if Assad uses chemical weapons against the Syrian Sunni rebels, expect North Korea to take advantage of the resulting hysteria, or vice versa.
25,000 living US POW hostages in the hands of supreme leader Kim Jong-un, would be an absolute North Korean check-mate defense against a US nuclear counter-strike.
So, in short, while tooling about the Middle East, or confabbing with the master-blaster, Jay-Z, President Obama would be well advised to keep his full attention on the Korean Peninsula. For, by the time it took the Benghazi terrorists to start their attack against our Consulate to the time 4 Americans (including our Ambassador) were murdered, North Korea could have 25,000 living US POWs as hostages. Such a North Korean EMP attack wouldn’t be the start of a war, it would be Lights-out/Game-over war in favor of North Korea at the very first nano-moment it begins.
Or just, maybe, the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un just wants an Obama personal invite for hoops, NCAA “March Madness” bracket-frolics, and an ice-cold brewski at the White House tennis court-cum-basketball court? But, instead of welcoming Kim Jong-un as a US Commander-in-Chief, Obama might be forced to bow to supreme leader Kim Jong-un as the US Surrenderer-in-Chief. And, Obama’s self-imagined, hoped-for, spot on Mt. Rushmore might soon be pre-empted, and instead, sport the sculpted face of the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
For more information on EMP please visit www.marklangfan.com/fizzlekriegfirstdraft.pdf