Colonels' Corner: A Huge Margin For Error

October 13, 2006

From a military standpoint, how should the U.S. deal with North Korea? Well, in a manner similar to this country's non-approach to terrorism before 9/11 — with multiple administrations from both parties doing next to nothing.

So, too, have we been with North Korea. North Korea has the bomb, but as of this day, our intelligence community cannot confirm it. I mean, they blew the damn thing up, while the U.N. is trying to put together a sanctions package, and the president of the United States went on television to say he is mad, but he cannot confirm that North Korea has the bomb. So we cannot, or should not, go to war with anyone with whom we are so blind that when they blow up an atomic bomb we do not know about it.

With that and the following as a backdrop, the North Koreans have a million-man army, more artillery pieces than anyone else in the world, and South Korea nearby (read: millions of civilians less than 40 miles away and 28,000 American servicemen and women stationed there), we aren't going to war soon with these guys.

As I have said before, the U.S. Air Force is showing thousands of powerpoint slides to anyone in the Pentagon who will listen and want to be bored to death about how they can defeat Kim's air force and bomb this issue away — again, are not going to happen. As good as the Air Force is — and they are the best in the world along with our Naval/Marine Aviators — things could happen: they all miss their targets, or the intelligence is bad… lots of things can go wrong. Do we really want to bomb them when we do not even know, as of today, if they even set off a nuclear explosion? Not with this kind of intelligence you don't.

We cannot go to war with North Korea unless it is the very last option. North Korea is neither Afghanistan nor Iraq. We need to finish those two places before we take on another war of choice. We have run out of infantry units, and our National Guard and Reserve Forces are stretched way too thin. So militarily, we need to be ready, but no one in uniform wants this one nor really any war — they go when told, and do a great job. The North Korean option has always been difficult, and now, with the bomb on the table, more problematic for us.