News and Commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and Published by Riley Murray.

1. U.S.-Korea Security Meeting Epitomizes Malaise of Alliance

2. Storms, Covid Raise Fear of Worst North Korea Famine Since 1990s

3. U.S. military says South Korean workers may be laid off amid row over costs

4. U.S. Joint Chiefs chair stresses ‘extended deterrence’ on peninsula

5. Why the US and South Korea are drifting apart

6. Pompeo Plays Down North Korea ICBM Risk

7. North Korea’s Two New Strategic Missiles: What Do We Know and What Do They Mean for US Deterrence?

8. Army rotational brigade begins arriving in South Korea despite coronavirus

9. North Korea’s charm offensive

10. Infographic: North Korea’s new monster missile

11. North Korea says Danish documentary on alleged sanctions-busting ‘fabricated’

12. Will the Real North Korea Policy Please Stand Up?

13. N. Korea’s new SLBM labeled ‘Pukguksong-4,’ not ‘Pukguksong-4A: Navy chief|

14. Debenhams model shows off new matching trousers and jacket range (Kim Jong-un)

15. How to Counter North Korea’s New Military Capabilities: Deterrence by Denial

16. North Korea’s new battle tank baffles experts

1.  U.S.-Korea Security Meeting Epitomizes Malaise of Alliance

english.chosun.com

If the alliance has lost the Chosun Ilbo…

I hope everyone realizes the OPCON transition train has left the station. We have to make it work.  Going back now could break the alliance and I hope no one wants that.  It will certainly undermine the integrity of the US and confirm the long held South Korean conspiracy theories about the sincerity of the US toward the transition process.

This concluding paragraph illustrates the perfect storm that may be building. I did not comment on the SECDEF’s comments when I read them previously but it pains me to read that the concern is only that the OPCON transition could endanger American troops and US citizens when in fact it could undermine deterrence and affect the security of the ROK.  I wish the SECDEF has put the issue in Alliance terms (out of a genuine concern for the strength of the alliance) rather than just American terms.  Combine this with the ROK Ambassadors misinterpreted comments, the SMA stalemate, the controversy over the QUAD for South Korea, the US push for clean cyber (e.g., the Huawei threat) and more and we have a perfect storm brewing. And both sides are contributing to it.  We may need to do some immediate alliance damage control and repair.

Conclusion: “The head of our Joint Chiefs of Staff even said timing is the most important factor in transferring troop control, even if that means revising the preconditions. The government is more interested in meeting its preconceived schedule than the safety of the people. The U.S. warned South Korea that setting a specific timeframe for the handover could “endanger” American troops and citizens. A country that places another nation’s people in danger cannot be called an ally. Yet the South Korean ambassador to the U.S., who should be focused on diffusing the conflict, said South Korea does not necessarily have to choose the U.S. as an ally. It would be a miracle for the bilateral alliance to survive unscathed.”

2.  Storms, Covid Raise Fear of Worst North Korea Famine Since 1990s

Bloomberg · by Heesu Lee · October 15, 2020

As I have noted we have to be concerned with this possibility and its effects.  This is not the time to have a shaly ROK/US alliance or have cracks in its foundation.

3. U.S. military says South Korean workers may be laid off amid row over costs

Bloomberg · by Heesu Lee · October 15, 2020

I was wondering how long before this would happen.  The perfect storm is brewing.

4. U.S. Joint Chiefs chair stresses ‘extended deterrence’ on peninsula

koreajoongangdaily.joins.com

We need strategic reassurance and strategic resolve.

5. Why the US and South Korea are drifting apart

asiatimes.com · by Grant Newsham · October 15, 2020

It saddens and pains me to read this. However, we have weathered these storms in the past.  And I will remain optimistic that can do so because despite the political leaders and their beliefs and agendas the people to people relationship remains strong, surveys in both countries show continued strong support for the alliance, the professional relationships in the military in business, in academia, and at the civil servant level of government remains strong.  And most important the alliance remains grounded in shared interests and shared values (to include liberal democracy, freedom and individual liberty, free market economics, rule of law, and human rights) despite the apparent efforts of some political leaders (and pundits).

But alliance management takes commitment and hard work.

6. Pompeo Plays Down North Korea ICBM Risk

military.com · by 15 Oct 2020 Agence France Presse · October 15, 2020

But every time we play down the risk and their capabilities the regime seems to surprise us with their advancements.  And perhaps we should not wave a red cape in front of the regime.  It might show us the Hwasong 16 works (which of course could be very useful for intelligence analysis purposes)

7. North Korea’s Two New Strategic Missiles: What Do We Know and What Do They Mean for US Deterrence?

mwi.usma.edu · by Joe Varner · October 15, 2020

An ominous but unsurprising conclusion: “All of this suggests very strongly that North Korea is developing a nuclear deterrent along the path of other traditional nuclear powers, which will include a variety of strategic systems-a deterrent that, for anybody who still harbors hope that denuclearization is possible, they have no intentions of giving up. A likely test of either of the Pukguksong-4 SLBM or the new ICBM could come in the next month or two, possibly prior to the US presidential election for potential impact on its outcome. Both strategic systems represent a serious challenge to US security interests at home and abroad and will most likely require a new and robust approach to nuclear deterrence, force structure, doctrine, and the size of US Missile Defense.

8. Army rotational brigade begins arriving in South Korea despite coronavirus

Stars and Stripes – by Kim Gamel – 15 October 2020

How long will the rotations continue?  If President Trump is reelected I fear this could be the last one.

9. North Korea’s charm offensive

DW · 15 October 2020

What is one of the purposes of a north Korean charm offensive?  To split the ROK/US alliance.

10. Infographic: North Korea’s new monster missile

https://www.dhakatribune.com/…/infographic-north-korea… – 15 October 2020

I am reminded of Crocodile Dundee: Now that’s a missile. Of course, this has not been tested. We do not know if it is operational or just a mock-up. The range is a guesstimate at best (though probably extrapolated from the estimate Hwasong 14 range). We have never seen the north with a MIRV capability (but then again, they have surprised us many times with their advancements). Now the 11 axle and 22 wheeled TEL is interesting. This is supposedly the world’s largest road mobile liquid fueled ICBM. But how mobile is it? Only 9% of the roads in north Korea are paved and the road infrastructure is poor at best. This will probably not be moving too far from its underground facility (if/when it is fielded) and we will likely see road improvements in the vicinity of its UGF so that it can have some limited mobility. Hopefully we will be able to identify those road improvements to facilitate targeting (again, if/when fielded).

11. North Korea says Danish documentary on alleged sanctions-busting ‘fabricated’

Reuters · by Reuters Staff · October 15, 2020

I am still looking for a way to access this “documentary.”   If anyone comes across it please let me know so I can share it with everyone.  It obviously touched a nerve in the regime.

12. Will the Real North Korea Policy Please Stand Up?

Foreign Policy · by Jack Detsch, Robbie Gramer · October 15, 2020

Good cop, bad cop?

And this is something we will worry about if the election turns out this way: Some experts predict that if Biden wins, Kim could use the waning months of Trump’s lame-duck administration to test more advanced weapons systems and feel out how Biden would respond.

13. N. Korea’s new SLBM labeled ‘Pukguksong-4,’ not ‘Pukguksong-4A: Navy chief|

en.yna.co.kr · by 오석민 · October 15, 2020

Good to see we are getting down to the nitty gritty analytic details. But on a serious note we do need to pay attention to every detail.

14. Debenhams model shows off new matching trousers and jacket range (Kim Jong-un)

https://www.suffolkgazette.com/news/debenhams-model-shows-off-new-matching-trousers-and-jacket-range/

I could not resist this satire.  Perhaps the Suffolk Gazette is the UK answer to the Onion and the Babylon Bee.

15. How to Counter North Korea’s New Military Capabilities: Deterrence by Denial

The National Interest · by Wallace C. Gregson · October 15, 2020

I concur with Lt Gen Gregson.  The subtitle says it all: “North Korea and its weapons are not the most important thing. The safety and security of our allies and friends, our conventional and extended deterrence, and revitalizing our relations with countries around the world are the most important.”

16. North Korea’s new battle tank baffles experts

asiatimes.com · by Dave Makichuk · October 15, 2020

I do not know if 9 tanks baffle the experts, but we do have to assess all of the modernized weapons systems they showed us. One question I have is are these the only ones?  Did they develop all these just for show in the parade? How many of these systems have actually been fielded?  I am sure the squints are looking hard at all the imagery for signs of actual fielding of these systems.  But I wouldn’t put it past the regime to just have developed these for show only.  The regime is masterful at denial and deception.

“In foreign policy, a modest acceptance of fate will often lead to discipline rather than indifference. The realization that we cannot always have our way is the basis of a mature outlook that rests on an ancient sensibility, for tragedy is not the triumph of evil over good so much as triumph of one good over another that causes suffering. Awareness of that fact leads to a sturdy morality grounded in fear as well as in hope. The moral benefits of fear bring us to two English philosophers who, like Machiavelli, have for centuries disturbed people of goodwill: Hobbes and Malthus.”

– Robert D. Kaplan, Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Requires a Pagan Ethos

 

“If you concentrate exclusively on victory, while no thought for the after effect, you may be too exhausted to profit by peace, while it is almost certain that the peace will be a bad one, containing the germs of another war.”

– B.H. Liddell-Hart

 

“If in taking a native den one thinks chiefly of the market that he will establish there on the morrow, one does not take it in the ordinary way.” 

– Lyautey:  The Colonial Role of the Army, Revue Des Deux Mondes, 15 February 1900

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