It’s the no-win situation that can only be imagined by US military officials tasked with preparing for a worst-case scenario – conducting a preemptive strike on North Korea.
With little time to evacuate, millions of innocent citizens would be caught in the crossfire if the US and its regional allies were to initiate a first strike, that would almost certainly result in high casualties on both sides. Friday morning, President Donald Trump warned on Twitter that “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded,” though he said, “hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
A military operation would consist of a swift and multi-dimensional attack, as the fight would be defined by the first minute of combat, according to Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain and senior fellow at the Center for New American Security.
While Hendrix has not been briefed on the specifics of a possible preemptive strike option, he told CNN that the operation would likely include several strategies aimed to neutralize North Korea’s defensive and counterstrike capabilities. Countering North Korea’s relatively formidable surface-to-air missile defense capabilities, stealth American F-22s, F-35s and B-2 bombers would likely lead a joint air campaign with the help of Japanese and South Korean F-15 or F-16 fighters, he said. Unmanned aircraft could also be used to limit risk to pilots.
The US would likely move additional aircraft to the region in the event of an imminent strike, but also maintains two major air bases in South Korea — Osan with F-16 fighters and A-10 “tank killers,” and Kunsan with F-16s. Heavy airpower can be called in from the Pacific island of Guam, through which the US rotates B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers.
As US and allied aircraft take out priority targets from the sky, American warships would launch a barrage of Tomahawk missiles concentrated on North Korean missile sites, air defense systems and response corridors capable of launching a retaliatory nuclear weapon, Hendrix said. The US Navy has 10 guided-missile cruisers and destroyers based in Japan. The ships are armed with Tomahawk missiles for offensive purposes and the Aegis missile defense system that could be used to intercept North Korean launches.
The US could use cyber attacks to disrupt Pyongyang’s weapons programs — though experts say that would only delay, rather than stop them. Urgent efforts to take out priority targets like air defense systems, retaliatory missile launch sites and service facilities – coupled with assumptions that the US-led offensive would be met with heavy resistance — are likely to take a toll on the US’ inventory of bombs and missiles, warned Hendrix.
“What is the plan to resupply?” he said.
The US would need to ensure it had enough bombs, missiles and electronic warfare planes to destroy or disable North Korea’s air defenses before deploying its heavy bombers, likely B-1s stationed in Guam, needed to strike North Korea’s fortified nuclear weapons sites, according to Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center.
Within minutes of initiating the attack, US aircraft and artillery assets would also be forced to coordinate with allied forces to destroy the thousands of North Korean missile tubes pointed directly at the South Korean capital of Seoul.
And that would just be the beginning.
Read more here. The article has been originally written by Zachary Cohen, CNN.