North Korea continues to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons capable of reaching the United States and its allies. It intends to use threats of imminent attack to intimidate Western states into conceding to its demands for resources. The regime functions in a thuggish, uncivilized manner. Its actions invite both a conventional and an unconventional response. President Trump can learn much from Winston Churchill, who faced a comparable threat from the Nazis as Prime Minister and dealt with it brilliantly relying not just on conventional but also on unconventional means. That adaptation is the best way to overcome the rigid command and control regime that is the dictatorship of Kim Jung Un.
In his Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, Giles Milton records how Winston Churchill relied upon a group of unconventional war minded thinkers and warriors to prepare for the Battle of Britain and wreak havoc behind enemy lines throughout the war. The effects of those efforts were critical to allied victory and to reducing the loss of allied life. President Trump would do well to adopt the same framework in his dealings with the hermit kingdom.
On the conventional side, the United States must do everything it can to encourage South Korea and Japan to adopt a war footing, to educate their citizenry that the war with North Korea is likely to come and to accept an expansion of U.S. and allied military operations within South Korea and Japan, including an expansion of the presence of American military, installation of new ballistic and anti-ballistic missile systems under American control, and expansion of allied air presence over South Korea and Japan and an expansion of allied naval presence in the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. In short, we need to convince South Korea and Japan that the issue is no longer if North Korea will go to war but when. We need to convince them to presume a state of war now and to take all measures necessary to perfect a war time footing through education of their people and through expansion of their strategic military posture and coordination with the United States.
In turn, we need to expand substantially and rapidly our offensive and defensive capabilities in the region until we are confident that annihilation of North Korea is achievable with minimal loss of allied lives. In that regard, we need to implement now “ungentlemanly warfare,” by which I mean clandestine and unconventional operations to interfere with the ability of North Korea to exist and to maintain command, control and communication. We need to rely on innovative and clever means of overwhelming the ability of the dictatorship to dictate.
We are indeed fortunate that our North Korean enemy is one of the most brutal totalitarian regimes on earth. Its principal weakness lies in the fact that it depends fundamentally on commands from Kim Jung Un himself to implement each of its military objectives. Its commanders in the field are pre-programmed to act in strict accordance with orders. If those orders are not present, they are stymied by indecision because any act not in accord with the precise will of the Supreme Leader is punishable, often by death. The military thus operates in fear and dependence, not inspiration and independence, and thus has virtually no ability to function without constant commands from the top. Aware of that, we may orchestrate a comprehensive clandestine unconventional war right now, before Kim Jung Un completes construction of his primary arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Among the many “ungentlemanly” methods we can employ against the North are those dependent on cyber warfare. We can clandestinely employ the brightest minds in the cyber world to develop and deploy all manner of cyber attacks on North Korea’s computer operating systems designed to disable those relied upon by the military, the state financial systems, and the government, effecting a total disruption in the systems upon which they rely for command, control, and communication. We should aim at achieving intermittent and unpredictable breakdowns in their systems as well as in false initiation of orders, financial transfers, etc. We should ravage their state economy in this way, cause military leadership to execute orders against their own forces, and interfere in everything from state propaganda broadcasts to imports and exports to military command to tax collection and to public transportation.
Ultimately, our cyber warfare efforts should aim at achieving a means to cause one massive instantaneous complex disruption of their entire command, control and communication systems so complete that it makes their warfighting capability impossible to effectuate. Commanders would not know whether orders were legitimate, incapable of relying on any means of communication. We should then undertake a prompt decapitation first strike, whereby we would employ electromagnetic pulse weapons to fry their electronic systems simultaneous with the delivery of massive ordinance, an overwhelming bombardment decimating their war fighting capability, followed by special forces interdictions to take out their leadership in every sector backed by tactical nuclear weapons if necessary at key targets.
The sad reality is that unless we presume a state of war now and prepare to take out this regime, it will fulfill its mission of amassing a nuclear arsenal capable of blackmailing the free world. We cannot assume that Kim Jung Un’s threats to attack the United States, South Korea, and Japan are idle ones. Nor can we assume that Kim Jung Un will act rationally. We must assume the worst. Based on that mindset, a new war footing, and the present implementation of “ungentlemanly warfare,” we can overwhelm the hermit kingdom and minimize the loss of American and allied life.
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