Advanced Missile Defense Coming to Korea

NK-Submarine-Missile-Launch
(Photo from Sputnik News website)

The peace that exists on the Korean Peninsula continues to be a precarious one based on the Armistice Agreement signed in 1953 ending the combat operations of the Korean War. Over the years there have been many provocations that have resulted in both military and civilian deaths and drawing observers to the edge of their seats.

With the recent missile tests that North Korea has engaged in, it has become necessary for the Republic of Korea (ROK, commonly referred to as South Korea) and those who assist in protecting its people to step up their defensive posture. United States Forces Korea (USFK) has recently announced the culmination of discussions between the ROK and U.S.A. resulting in the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system onto South Korean territory.

North Korean President Kim Jong-un (photo from Real Clear)
North Korean President Kim Jong-un (photo from Real Clear)

Other countries have already voiced their disapproval over the deployment of THAAD to Korea (not surprisingly, Russia, China and North Korea) and with the way nation-level thugs often respond to defensive measures as though they were offensive, I’m glad that my tour of duty in Korea is coming to an end, though I remain concerned for the Korean friends I have made here, and all of those who live under the continued specter of war. According to the U.S. Pacific Command’s Facebook page:

North Korea’s nuclear test and multiple ballistic missile tests, including the recent intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launches, highlight the grave threat that North Korea poses to the security and stability of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the entire Asia-Pacific region.

In response to the evolving threat posed by North Korea, the United States and the ROK have been conducting formal consultations regarding the feasibility of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery operated by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) since early February, as a measure to improve the missile defense posture of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

Based on these consultations, the ROK and the United States made an Alliance decision to deploy THAAD to USFK as a defensive measure to ensure the security of the ROK and its people, and to protect Alliance military forces from North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile threats.

Through the past months of review, the ROK-U.S. Joint Working Group confirmed the military effectiveness of THAAD on the Korean Peninsula and is in the final stage of preparing its recommendation for both the ROK Minister of National Defense and the U.S. Secretary of Defense regarding the optimal site in the Republic of Korea for the system’s effectiveness and for environmental, health, and safety requirements.

The ROK and the United States are working closely to ensure the swift deployment of THAAD and will develop specific operational procedures.

When the THAAD system is deployed to the Korean Peninsula, it will be focused solely on North Korean nuclear and missile threats and would not be directed towards any third party nations. The THAAD deployment will contribute to a layered missile defense that will enhance the Alliance’s existing missile defense capabilities against North Korean missile threats.1

And here’s the official press release from USFK:

July 8, 2016 — YONGSAN GARRISON, SEOUL, Republic of Korea – The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States of America (U.S.) agreed today to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to the Republic of Korea, in response to North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missile technology in contravention of six United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

This Alliance decision was recommended by ROK Minister of Defense Han, Min Gu and Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea commander, and was approved by the ROK and U.S. governments.

“This is an important ROK-U.S. decision,” said Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea commander. “North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction require the Alliance to take this prudent, protective measure to bolster our layered and effective missile defense.”

The decision to deploy THAAD underscores the ironclad commitment of the United States to defend the Republic of Korea. THAAD will be focused solely on North Korea and will contribute to a layered missile defense that would enhance the Alliance’s existing missile defense capabilities against North Korean missile threats.

This announcement follows the February 7, 2016, announcement that the ROK and U.S. had begun formal consultations regarding improvements to the Alliance missile defense posture, specifically the viability of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system operated by U.S. Forces Korea.2

This is an illustration of how THAAD and the current Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) systems will work:

 Ãà»çÇÏ´Â ¹Ú»ï±¸ ±ÝÈ£¾Æ½Ã¾Æ³ª±×·ì ȸÀå (¼­¿ï=¿¬ÇÕ´º½º) ¹Ú»ï±¸ ±ÝÈ£¾Æ½Ã¾Æ³ª±×·ì ȸÀåÀÌ 14ÀÏ ¼­¿ï Àá½Ç ·Ôµ¥È£ÅÚ¿¡¼­ ¿­¸° ÇÑÀÏ ±¹±³Á¤»óÈ­ 50Áֳ⠱â³ä¡®ÇÑÀÏ ¿ìÈ£ °ü±¤ ±³·ùÀÇ ¹ã¡¯Çà»ç¿¡¼­ Ãà»ç¸¦ ÇÏ°í ÀÖ´Ù. 2015.2.14 <> photo@yna.co.kr/2015-02-14 23:40:23/
(Graphic from The Korea Herald website)

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There are many places around the world that need our prayer, places where people not only live under the risk of armed conflict, but daily their citizens are being persecuted, tortured or killed. Most of us can’t go into those areas to help, but as believers we can pray for them. Pray that evil will not triumph. Pray that the faith of believers will remain strong under the most brutal trials. Pray that Jesus will return soon to put an end to Satan’s reign over the hearts of so many who cause terror in our world today.

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U.S. Pacific Command Facebook page

U.S. Forces Korea webpage

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Soldier & KATUSA Spiritual Development Day

501st MI BDE Soldier & KATUSA Spiritual Development Day

Occasionally Unit Ministry Teams offer events to help Soldiers develop personally, professionally and spiritually. Our brigade UMT offered one such event today. We named it, “Soldier and KATUSA Spiritual Development Day.” Our plan was to have U.S. and Korean veterans from the Korean War to speak to our Soldiers, and I would provide a presentation on “Behaving Valiantly in War and Peace.” We would round out the day with a movie that explains the Korean experience, “Ode to My Father,” with lunch provided, of course.

MAJ Kim, the ROK Army officer in charge of our KATUSAs, introduced our guest speaker, MG Joon Hyung Ryu, with these comments (edited only for better translation):

The guest today is MG (Retired) Ryu, Joon Hyung who participated in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars and served as the Deputy Commander of ROK-US Field Command.

The Korean War refers to the 3 year war which started  when North Korea invaded ROK at 0400 on June 25th with the support of the Soviet Union and lasted 1,129 days until both sides agreed to a truce at 1000 on July 27, 1953.

It was a tragic and fierce war that almost two million Soldiers among 26 nations took part in on this small peninsula. There were 620,000 ROKA, 160,ooo U.N., 930,000 North Korean, 1,000,000 Chinese, and 2,500,000 civilian casualties and also resulted in 10,000,000 separated family members, more than half of the 30,000,000 North and South Koreans.

Even now, the Korean Peninsula suffers from division after over 60 years.

MG Ryu was commissioned as a 1LT in November 1950 and is a war hero who stood up and defended Hill #854 on the eastern front line in Injaegoon, Gangwon Province from the final attack of the Chinese and North Korean armies. This battle is called the Battle of Ssangyong Highland.

MG Ryu was the first Korean to graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry Airborne School in 1957 and on 1 April 1958, he became the main founding member of the 1st Airborne Brigade which is now the Special Operations Command.

After that, he was deployed to the Vietnam War and distinguished himself serving on the command staff of various main units.

In 1980 he worked as the Commanding General of the 8th Infantry Division then in 1982, became the Deputy Commander of the ROK-US Field Command. In 1985 he retired as a Major General.

After retirement, he actively worked as the Chairman of the Korean Parachute Association and Defense Industry Association. Now he is the Chairman of the Patriot Lee Dong Hwi Memorial Organization who was head of the Military Ministry and the first Prime Minister.

I introduce to you ROK war hero, MG Ryu.

MG Ryu
MG Ryu (seated) with the interpreter

MG Ryu presented a history of Korea-International relations, highlighting relations with the United States and the significance and necessity of the Korean-U.S alliance. It was great to hear about history from one who was part of that history.

Me presenting a gift to MG Ryu for spending time with us
Me presenting a gift to MG Ryu for spending time with us
MAJ Kim (left) and me (right) with MG Ryu (center)
MAJ Kim (left) and me (right) with MG Ryu (center) after MAJ Kim gave gifts to MG Ryu to thank him for being with us

Coincidentally, the INSCOM Chaplain was visiting Korea so was in attendance and added to MG Ryu’s presentation, tying in the importance of what we, as U.S. Soldiers, do here in Korea and how even we are in the midst of making history as we preserve the peace and defend freedom on the Korean Peninsula.

The INSCOM Chaplain speaking to our group
The INSCOM Chaplain speaking to our group
The INSCOM Chaplain (left) talking to MG Ryu about his experiences
The INSCOM Chaplain (left) talking to MG Ryu about his experiences

Next, MAJ Kim also introduced the film, “Ode to My Father” with these comments:

The film you are going to see today is a Korean movie named “Ode to My Father,” or literally translated from the Korean, “International Marketplace.” It is a film about Korean fathers after the Korean War of the 1950s.

After the war, many people lost everything and some families were separated forever.

This movie depicts the heartbreaking story about fathers who had to travel to West Germany coal mine and sacrifice their lives in the Vietnam War just to rebuild the nation of Korea and protect their families.

My own mother was an only daughter of an affluent family in North Korea and was a refugee who fled from the Chinese Army’s invasion of ROK in a U.S. transportation ship. She is one of 10 million separated families due to the war.

The story of the movie is more than a random family’s history, it is a people’s history of overcoming [adversity] that all of ROK citizens had to suffer.

I hope this film will be a better opportunity to understand Korea and the Korean people.

MAJ Kim, ROKA (left), introducing MG Ryu with MAJ Kim's KATUSA/Interpreter (right).
MAJ Kim, ROKA (left), introducing MG Ryu with MAJ Kim’s KATUSA/Interpreter (right).

We provided lunch from Subway (which is always a treat) and showed the film which is the story of a family who was separated during the evacuation of North Korea as China was invading from the North.

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A group of Soldiers and KATUSAs from the BDE with MG Ryu (seated), the INSCOM Chaplain (left of MG Ryu) and me (right of MG Ryu). The interpreter is in a suit to my left.
A group of Soldiers and KATUSAs from the BDE with MG Ryu (seated), the INSCOM Chaplain (left of MG Ryu), MAJ Kim (far left) and me (right of MG Ryu). The interpreter is in a suit to my left.

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What if North Korea Attacks?

As the Brigade Chaplain, I’m involved in much of the staff work and planning for the Brigade Commander. Recently, the staff has been working on plans for the brigade in the event of war on the Peninsula. Often, when this planning is done in units in the States, it is theoretical or long-term but here in South Korea, it’s real life and comes with a sense of urgency and reality.

North Korean Artillery FireIt is not a secret that North Korea has one of the largest artillery inventories in the world, much of it pointed at South Korea. The capital of South Korea, Seoul, is just 35 miles from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) so is most vulnerable “with estimates of as many as 13,000 [North Korean] artillery pieces positioned along that border.”According to a South Korean security analyst quoted by GlobalSecurity.org, the North Koreans “could fire 10,000 rounds per minute to Seoul and its environs.” Which, based on some estimates, this “conventional artillery capability would allow North Korea to flatten Seoul in the first half-hour of any confrontation.”2

Much of the damage that would result from a first strike by North Korea would include significant loss of life and infrastructure to nearby U.S. And South Korean military bases. This doesn’t even take into consideration the North Korean use of uncoventional weapons. North Korea “… is armed with weapons of mass destruction — probably including nuclear weapons — and which, even more frighteningly, has developed a specific strategy for using them” against South Korea.3

According to Bruce W. Bennett, Senior Defense Analyst and professor at Pardee Rand Graduate School, North Korean strategy of attack looks something like this:

— Against South Korean and American battlefield forces, North Korea has emphasized artillery with chemical weapons, and built a huge arsenal of each.

— Against the nearby South Korean capital Seoul and ground force reserves behind the battlefield, North Korea has emphasized long-range artillery with chemical weapons, and special forces with biological weapons.

— Against rear area and off-peninsula targets, North Korea has emphasized ballistic missiles with chemical weapons and special forces with biological weapons, and the development of nuclear weapons.3

Grant it, it would not be long after an initial attack by North Korea that a formidable response was launched from U.S., South Korean and other militaries, but depending on the extent of that response, North Korea could still survive to launch another series of attacks.

The North Korean military has long understood that fortified bunkers are the key to survival in the face of superior enemy air power. There are thousands of hardened underground bunkers close to the front line, and North Korean artillery will carry out “shoot and scoot” attacks, emerging briefly to fire and withdrawing rapidly.4

According to a Rand Corporation Study referenced by PopularMechanics.com, it only takes about 75 seconds after firing, for North Korean artillery to be back under cover and protected from destruction. Ultimately, they would be found and destroyed, but a significant amount of damage and loss of life could be done in the mean time.

Technology can [possibly] help prevent the North Koreans from getting in a second shot. But there is not yet any solution to the thousands of shells and rockets they could launch with the first salvo on Seoul, and that remains one of the biggest concerns in an escalating conflict.4

United States Forces in Korea have plans in place for rapid evacuation of family members and non-essential United States citizens from the peninsula in the event of conflict, as well as issuing protective equipment for family members to protect against chemical and biological attacks. These plans provide some comfort to those living here, but in reality, if North Korea launches an attack from their close proximity, it’s not likely that any of those protective measures would be effective.

Kim Jong-unOne would hope that Kim Jong-un would have sense enough to not begin a military conflict that would very likely end with his -and his military’s- annihilation but based on his (and his predecessor’s) statements and reckless activities, that hope isn’t very secure. Since the signing of the armistice, there have been no fewer than 50 border “incidents” involving North Korea.However, even as seemingly crazy as Kim is, maybe self-preservation will breed restraint in North Korea, allowing the power Kim exerts over his own people to satisfy his craving and prevent him from striking out against his neighbors, who, by the way, long for reunification and lasting peace.

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1 http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a6212/north-korea-and-flattening-seoul/

2 http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,446776,00.html

3 http://www.rand.org/blog/2003/03/n_-koreas-threat-to-s_-korea.html

4 http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a6211/north-korea-conflict-weapons-available/

5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_border_incidents_involving_North_Korea

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Photos

Artillery fire: A view of artillery fire and landing exercises guided by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (not seen) in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang February 21, 2015. (From http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/25/asia-pacific/north-korea-100-nuclear-weapons-2020-u-s-researchers/)

Kim Jong-un with Generals: This photo is from a past DG article from the last time the North Koreans threatened an attack against the U.S., here sits the mighty Kim Jong Un surrounded by his generals making ingenious plans to destroy the U.S. — this was obviously a staged photo. Then if you zoom in above the general’s head (as NKNews.org points out) you can see a map of the US with lines coming into it (implying lines of attack). The text apparently reads “US Mainland Strike Plan” (which is not subtle). (From http://www.darkgovernment.com/news/north-korea-threatens-nuclear-missile-attack-on-u-s-again/)

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62nd Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice

Korean War Armistice
Signing of the Armistice on 27 July 1953 in Panmunjom.

I’m surprised I didn’t hear more about it, being in Korea, or maybe I just wasn’t listening in the right places, having a busy day but today is the 62nd anniversary of the signing of the armistice which was supposed to “insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.” I guess most of the acts of armed force have ceased, though there have been incidents of North Korean aggression which have caused loss of life over the years. However, there certainly hasn’t been much progress toward “a final peaceful settlement.” South Korea still longs for reunification, but as a free and democratic country. North Korea would rather just have a larger country to rule and ruin as they have the north half of the peninsula.

Peace exists in Korea but it is a fragile peace.

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The War Memorial of Korea (Outside)

I thought that a good site to visit toward the beginning of my tour in Korea would be The War Memorial of Korea right off post in Yongsan-gu. It is more than just a memorial but a very well-done museum with most signs and descriptions in Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese. What really struck me about the memorial and museum is how they honored not just their own Service Members who served and died but also -to the extreme- those from other countries who came to Korea to help preserve their freedom from Communist rule.

The museum features exhibits and artifacts from the earliest Korean history all the way through their involvement in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Here are a few pictures from my visit, but there was way too much to see to preserve on film (or digits)! To keep the post from being too long, I’ll divide it up into outside and inside pictures.

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The Korean War Memorial/Museum

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The Statue of Brothers
“The Statue of Brothers…is a symbol of the Korean War…The upper part of the statute depicts a dramatic moment when a South Korean officer and his younger brother, a North Korean Soldier, encounter and embrace each other at the battlefield. The statue expresses reconciliation, love, and forgiveness…The crack in the dome stands for the division of Korea and the hope for reunification.”
The Statue of Brothers
Another view of The Statue of Brothers
The Statue of Brothers
“Objects inside the dome [of The Statue of Brothers] include a mosaic wall painting that expresses the spirit of the Korean people to overcome the national tragedy and a map plate of the 16 UN Allied Nations that dispatched troops to the war. Links of iron chain on the ceiling signify the unbreakable bonds of a united Korea.”
The Statue of Brothers
Inside the dome, the plaque on the floor showing the U.S. forces that participated in the Korean War.

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Tower of Korean War
The Tower of Korean War. “Symbolizing the image of a bronze sword and a tree of life. The bronze sword represents the time-honored history and the warrior spirit. The tree of life symbolizes the prosperity and peace of the Korean people.”
Tower of Korean War
A closer view of the Tower of Korean War

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Statues Defending the Fatherland
Statues Defending the Fatherland: “The statues represent 38 people from all walks of life who overcame the Korean War and depict the suffering and pain caused by the war while embodying the sublime spirit of sacrifice and dedication to the defense of the fatherland of past patriots.”
Statues Defending the Fatherland
Statues Defending the Fatherland
Statues Defending the Fatherland
Statues Defending the Fatherland

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The Monument of King Gwanggaeto the Great
“The Monument of King Gwanggaeto the Great (391~413) was built by his son King Jangsu (413~491) in 414 B.C. in commemoration of his father. ” (This is a life-size replica of the original monument currently located in China.)

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Erecting the Clock Tower
“Erecting the Clock Tower: Symbolizing War and Peace, a Twin Clock Tower Points to a new time of New Millennium on a pile of rusty arms. Stopped clock wrecked by the Korean War. Here a Clock Tower is erected for the day of reunification, again beating like the hearts of two girls.”
The Clock of Hope for Peaceful Reunification
“The Clock of Hope for Peaceful Reunification: Someday when Unification is realized this Clock will be put on the Clock Tower and will indicate the time of Unification.”

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Korean War Museum Aircraft
This picture shows a sampling of the many military aircraft used in Korea’s history on display outside of the museum…
Korean War Museum Equipment
…and the tanks and artillery…
Korean War Museum Equipment
…and lots of other military equipment!

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Patrol Killer, Medium (PKM) 357
Referring to the boat on the left, “The PKM-357 National Security Exhibition Pavilion pays tribute to the six heroes of PKM-357 who have died with honor. The 2nd Sea battle of Yeonpyeong (29, June 2002) while fighting the enemy in order to safeguard the country’s waters and contribute to promoting the national security awareness of the people with the importance of defending the NLL.”
Patrol Killer, Medium (PKM) 357
This is a 1:1 scale reproduction of the PKM-357. The original “is exhibited at the park of the Second Fleet Command, ROK Navy.”

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