EXPOSED – U.S. Army Threat Tactics Report: North Korea

EXPOSED – U.S. Army Threat Tactics Report: North Korea

The Korean peninsula is a location of strategic interest for the US in the Pacific Command (PACOM), and many observers note that North Korea is an unpredictable and potentially volatile actor. According to the Department of Defense in its report to Congress and the intelligence community, the DPRK “remains one of the United States’ most critical security challenges for many reasons. These include North Korea’s willingness to undertake provocative and destabilizing behavior, including attacks on the Republic of Korea (ROK), its pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, and its willingness to proliferate weapons in contravention of United Nations Security Council Resolutions.” Some of the latest evidence of irrational behavior is the elevation of Kim Jong Un’s 26-year old sister to a high governmental post late in 2014, the computer hacking of the Sony Corporation supposedly by North Korea during late 2014 over the possible release of a film that mocked Kim Jong Un, and the April 2015 execution of a defense chief for allegedly nodding off during a meeting. Over the past 50 years, North Korea has sporadically conducted operations directed against its enemies, especially South Korea. These actions included attacks on South Korean naval vessels, the capturing of a US ship and holding American hostages for 11 months, the hijacking of a South Korean airline jet, electronic warfare against South Korean signals including global positioning satellites (GPS), and assassinations or attempted assassinations on South Korean officials including the ROK president. The attempted 1968 Blue House Raid by North Korean elite military personnel resulted in the death or capture of all 31 infiltrators involved in the assassination attempt as well as the death of 71 personnel, including three Americans, and the injury of 66 others as the North Korean SPF personnel attempted to escape back to DPRK territory.

The purpose of this North Korean Threat Tactics Report (TTR) is to explain to the Army training community how North Korea fights including its doctrine, force structure, weapons and equipment, and the warfighting functions. A TTR also identifies where the conditions specific to the actor are present in Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE) and other training materials so that these conditions can easily be implemented across all training venues.

Executive Summary

North Korea is an oligarchy with Kim Jong Un as its supreme leader.
The DPRK is a militaristic society with about 1.2 million active duty personnel in uniform out of a population of 24 million with another 7.7 million in the reserve forces.
All military personnel serve under the umbrella of the Korean People’s Army (KPA); the Korean People’s Air Force (KPAF) and Korean People’s Navy (KPN) primarily support the KPA ground forces.
The KPAF focuses on homeland defense and close air support to the KPA.
The KPN’s primary mission is to protect the North Korean coastline and support the KPA special purpose forces (SPF) in mission execution.
Much of the equipment in all military branches is old and obsolete, but the KPA has concentrated its modernization efforts on missile technology that may provide the means to successfully launch a nuclear warhead.
North Korea possesses a nuclear weapon and is modernizing its missile fleet in order to increase the attack range for its nuclear arsenal.
North Korea possesses both chemical and biological weapons.
The KPA practices both passive and active camouflage to hide its units, headquarters, and other important resources from the air.


Although the North Korean military may feature some positive attributes as a fighting force, the KPA also suffers from many weaknesses as well. Much of the military’s equipment is old and obsolete. The North Korean military consciously refuses to rid itself of any equipment and still operate tanks that date back to World War II. This wide range of military hardware from many generations of warfare also generates logistical issues. The KPA’s supply personnel must not only find the spare parts for a large variety of equipment, the KPA maintenance personnel must be well-versed in the repair of a great assortment of vehicles and weapons. In addition, the DPRK lacks the logistical capability to support the KPA beyond a few months. Due to the shortage of fuel and the cost to operate vehicles for a cash-strapped country, many of the KPA soldiers find themselves involved in public works projects or helping farmers bring in their rice crops. Any time spent in non-military support is less time that the KPA soldiers can spend training for combat. Even the mechanized and armor forces, due to resource restraints, spend much of their training time doing light infantry training instead of mounted operations. While KPA soldiers may be well trained in individual skills or small unit tactics, the amount of time spent on larger exercises pales in comparison to most Western militaries. Without adequate time and resources to practice large scale military operations, the KPA will always face a steep learning curve when the KPA is forced to perform them in actual combat for the first time.

The DPRK’s unorthodox use of provocation in order to obtain concessions from its enemies—especially the US, South Korea, and Japan—is a danger. One never knows what North Korea will do next as, in the past, the DPRK has sanctioned assassination attempts on South Korean political leaders and conducted bombings when South Korean contingents are in another country, unannounced attacks on ships by submarines, unprovoked artillery attacks, or has tunneled underground into another country. US military personnel stationed in South Korea must be prepared for the unexpected from the DPRK.

One of these incidents could ignite the Korean peninsula back into a full-blown war. While an armistice has been in place since 1953, an armistice is just a ceasefire waiting for a peace treaty to be signed or for the resumption of hostilities. Any conflict between North and South Korea would inevitably bring the US into the conflict as the ROK has been an ally for over six decades.

North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons and the missiles to transport it up to 9,650 km makes it a threat to US forces stationed in Korea, Japan, Alaska, or even the west coast of the continental United States. Even more concerning was the DPRK’s first successful test launch of a KN-11 missile from a submarine on 23 January 2015 since, in the near future, the North Korean submarines could silently move closer to their targets before launching a nuclear missile that would give the US less warning time. If the DPRK thought that the survival of its country or the Kim regime was at stake, North Korea might use any nuclear weapons at its disposal. The KPA also possesses chemical weapons and its doctrine calls for their employment. The DPRK is also involved in biological weapons research and would likely use those with offensive capabilities. US military personnel training for deployment to South Korea must be prepared to fight in a chemical, biological, or nuclear environment.


Stalin’s America | Socialism in America

Stalin’s America | Socialism in America


How the Socialist Party platform of 1928 worked its way into American political policy.

“The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

– Norman Thomas (1884-1968), six-time U.S. Presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America

Socialist Party Platform 1928
(click to read entire platform)

( NOTE:   It is the intention of to remain politically independent, and not become mired in partisan politics.  Our mission is to study the world economy, and in that mission, at times, the relationship between politics and economics becomes highly relevant.  This is an important time for this commentary.  Whether the reader is liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, we believe this is of interest to all investors. These observations were first made by economists (Nobel Laureate) Milton and Rose Friedman, in Free to Choose in 1979, but have been updated here.  Thankfully, we have been spared the brutality of a Joseph Stalin, though many of the economic principles of his early years have crept into American life.)

Let’s set the stage…  The year is 1928.  World War I ended ten years ago, but its effects and settlements have left much of the world in dire straits economically.  The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi) is gaining power in an economically-destitute Weimar Germany.  Benito Mussolini and the National Fascist Party are firmly entrenched in Italy.  The Bolshevik Revolution, where first the peasants, then Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Party wrested power from the czars in Russia, is now a decade in the past.  Joseph Stalin has built a “cult of personality” in Russia, using mass media to create an idealized and heroic public image through unquestioned idolatry, flattery, and praise.

The propaganda machines of both Stalin’s Socialism and Mussolini’s Fascism are in full swing, painting rosy pictures of life under government control.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt is campaigning to become governor of New York.  The cocktail parties of Upper Manhattan are abuzz with chatter about the foreign rulers.  In fact, a year earlier, future members of FDR’s “Brain Trust” (mostly professors at Columbia University) went on a junket to Russia to meet with Stalin, and came back in admiration and awe.  One Brain Trust member, Stuart Chase, went on to write a very prophetic book, The New Deal, which laid the groundwork for the social programs of the FDR administration.  The last sentence of The New Deal reads, “Why should Russians have all the fun remaking a world?”

The U.S. economy is strong.  Life is good, but the “roaring 20’s” are about to come to an end.

In the 1928 election for President of the United States, Norman Thomas and James Maurer ran on the Socialist Party ticket.  They captured only one percent of the vote, but laid out a vision for what Socialism meant in the early part of the 20th century.  The planks of the Socialist Party platform were clearly defined.  It is fascinating that in just a few decades, most of the planks of the 1928 Socialist Party platform would be enacted into law, without the party ever winning an election.  Thomas finally quit American politics, stating that he was no longer needed, as the Democrat and Republican parties had adopted every plank in the platform.  He said, “The difference between Democrats and Republicans is: Democrats have accepted some ideas of Socialism cheerfully, while Republicans have accepted them reluctantly”.

Here are the economic planks of the Socialist Party platform of 1928, with editorial comment added (Click to read entire platform):

1. “Nationalization of our natural resources, beginning with the coal mines and water sites, particularly at Boulder Dam and Muscle Shoals.” (Boulder Dam, renamed Hoover Dam, and Muscle Shoals are now both federal government projects.)

2. “A publicly owned giant power system under which the federal government shall cooperate with the states and municipalities in the distribution of electrical energy to the people at cost…” (Tennessee Valley Authority, et al.  This is a generally accepted process across the country.  Even the private utilities are highly regulated.)

3. “National ownership and democratic management of railroads and other means of transportation and communication.” (Railroad passenger service was completely nationalized through Amtrak. Some freight service was nationalized through Conrail. Private railroads are strictly regulated by the federal government. The FCC controls communications by telephone, telegraph, radio, television, and the internet.)

4. “An adequate national program for flood control, flood relief, reforestation, irrigation, and reclamation.” (Government expenditures for these purposes are currently tens of billions of dollars per year, including FEMA, Army Corps of Engineers, etc.)

5. “Immediate governmental relief of the unemployed by the extension of all public works and a program of long range planning of public works . . .” (In the 1930s, WPA and PWA were a direct counterpart; now, a wide variety of other programs are.) “All persons thus employed to be engaged at hours and wages fixed by bona-fide labor unions.” (The Davis-Bacon and Walsh-Healey Acts require contractors with government contracts to pay “prevailing wages,” generally interpreted as highest union wages.)

6. “Loans to states and municipalities without interest for the purpose of carrying on public works and the taking of such other measures as will lessen widespread misery.” (Federal grants in aid to states and local municipalities amount to billions of dollars a year.  Federal highway funds and many other public works projects.)

7. “A system of unemployment insurance.” (Part of Social Security system, as well as the Federal Unemployment Tax.)

8. “The nation-wide extension of public employment agencies in cooperation with city federations of labor.” (U.S. Employment Service and affiliated state employment services administer a network of thousands of local employment offices.)

9. “A system of health and accident insurance and of old age pensions as well as unemployment insurance.” (Part of Social Security, Unemployment. Universal health insurance coming soon.)

10. “Shortening the workday” and “Securing every worker a rest period of no less than two days in each week.” (Legislated by Department of Labor’s Wages and Hours Laws that require overtime for working more than eight hours per day or forty hours per week.)

11. “Enacting of an adequate federal anti-child labor amendment.” (Child labor provisions under Fair Labor Standards Act.)

12. “Abolition of the brutal exploitation of convicts under the contract system and substitution of a cooperative organization of industries in penitentiaries and workshops for the benefit of convicts and their dependents.” (In the 1930’s, contract labor was outlawed.  After that, rather than making products for private profit, inmates made license plates and other products for government or nonprofit agencies.  The Justice System Improvement Act of 1979 loosened regulations to allow prisons to put people to work, provided they paid prevailing wages, consulted unions, and didn’t displace workers outside prisons.)

13. “Legislation aiming at the prevention of occupational diseases.” (OSHA)

14. “Increase of taxation on high income levels, of corporation taxes and inheritance taxes, the proceeds to be used for old age pensions and other forms of social insurance.” (In 1928, highest personal income tax rate, 25 percent; in 2009, 35 percent, current proposals take that above 40%; in 1928, corporate tax rate, 12 percent; in 2009, 35-39% percent with proposed increases; in 1928, top federal estate tax rate, 20 percent; in 2009, 48% with proposed increases.)

15. “Appropriation by taxation of the annual rental value of all land held for speculation.” (Not achieved in this form, but property taxes have risen drastically.)

What were shunned as Socialist principles in 1928 are now generally accepted in American life.

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