South Korea Planning Response to Cheonan Incident

I have said all along that this event was an act of war. North Korea intentionally attacked and sank a South Korean Corvette, Cheonan, taking 46 crewmen to their grave.  A number of folks throughout the blogosphere and in the MSM have said that not much would happen. However, at least one blog has cautioned against underestimating South Korea’s desire for revenge. This post, by George Smiley, from 2 months ago, is worth visiting again.


American reluctance to blame North Korea promises to create a potential rift between Washington and Seoul and set the stage for a possible crisis in the coming days. If South Korea determines that Pyongyang was behind the Cheonan disaster, there will be a demand for revenge, both publicly and officially. At that point, the Obama Administration will be forced to admit North Korean complicity, and attempt to dissuade South Korea from taking military action.

And, if you don’t believe South Korea would take such steps, consider the hours following the Rangoon bombing in 1983. After learning of North Korea’s attempt to kill the South Korean president (and his cabinet) in Burma, some ROK Army units began mobilizing for war. One U.S. officer, stationed in Korea at the time, reports that some mechanized and armored battalions actually left their garrisons and were heading towards the DMZ–without notifying the United States.

The military preparations received little attention in the west, but they were indicative of the shock and outrage that followed the assassination attempt. Needless to say, there were some tense days in Seoul and Washington, as U.S. officials cautioned their South Korean counterparts against any hasty action. Similar discussions will likely occur in the coming days, but it may be more difficult to deter Seoul this time around. South Korea is far more powerful –militarily, politically and economically–than it was in the early 1980s, and has every right to defend its interests. If Mr. Obama and his advisors believe the Cheonan affair will quickly blow over (with little diplomatic or military fallout), they are sadly mistaken.

Now comes word that the Obama Administration is prepared to back South Korea, and has cautioned American commanders to ensure their troops are ready in case of an attack.

White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs stated:

“U.S. support for South Korea‘s defense is unequivocal, and the president has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their Republic of Korea counterparts to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression,”

This has the potential to become very nasty, very quickly, and we’re talking civilian casualties in numbers not seen since WWII.  Stay tuned.


6 Responses to “South Korea Planning Response to Cheonan Incident”

  1. 1 ewok40k
    May 25, 2010 at 07:00

    Urgh, this can be very nasty with all the guns pointed at Seul, nukes and last but not least from AW1 perspective surprisingly large number of NK subs. (Did you know they have more than US?)
    Still SK is very capable militarily, with modern indigenous tanks based on M-1 tech, F-15Ks in the air and Aegis destroyers in the navy. If things go live fire expect bad drubbing to NK, even if they manage to launch artillery barrage at Seul and if they dare to use nukes, nothing short of Chinese intervention (which is more unlikely in case of nuke usage) can save Kim’s ass.

    • May 25, 2010 at 14:43

      Indeed. It will come down to a couple of things.

      First, who strikes the hardest with the first blow. That’s not always an irrecoverable situation. The North has a HUGE number of troops poised along the DMZ, and likely has tunnels constructed to help bypass the South (and UN) defenses . They also have a massive artillery capability for the initial strike.

      Second, the main concern for the North is whether they can sustain their assault(s). It’s one thing to be able to put a million infantrymen onto the line and hurl them at your enemy. It’s quite another to replace their expended ammunition, feed them, provide fuel for their vehicles, etc. This is the problem the Germans had during the Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge).

      Who really knows what will happen? Intelligence on the true state of North Koreas military, it’s command and control abilities, heck, anything about North Korea is very hard to obtain, so a lot of what we have is speculation.

      I guess we’ll see soon enough.

  2. 3 SCOTT the BADGER
    May 25, 2010 at 23:37

    I thought Mongo’s Iranian Kilo theory was interesting. I still think it was most likely a NORK SHARK class mini sub, but Mongo certainly gives me food for thought. It certainly would be a clever way to start a war.

    • May 26, 2010 at 00:32


      Looking at the images of the remains of the torpedo, it’s smaller than the standard Russian 533mm variety. That places it square with the Shark class mini sub.

      Now, that doesn’t rule out Iranian perfidy in this situation, but I can’t see the Iranians sending a Kilo class all the way over there without us knowing about it.


  3. 5 ewok40k
    May 26, 2010 at 13:22

    There were torpedo remains recovered? That would pretty much make retribution action certain… And only unknown remains the risk of escalation into full blown war, and then nuke usage and/or chinese intervention…

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