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Thursday, October 07, 2004

 

Will PRC send 400,000 to join Korean hostilities?

The Chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Kim Jong-hwan, has told the ROK National Assembly’s National Defense Committee that in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula, the Peoples Republic of China will dispatch military personnel in accordance with Article 2 of its mutual defense pact with North Korea (DPRK), which calls for the automatic insertion of men in the event of a conflict.

As reported by Robert Koehler in The Marmot's Hole, the South Korean military estimates that China will send 18 divisions – roughly 400,000 men – 800 aircraft and 150 ships to the peninsula by deploying 60% of the fighting strength of the Shenyang Military District (448,000 men, 1000 aircraft), 50% of the fighting strength of the Jinan Military District (256,000 men, 650 aircraft), and 30% of the Chinese Northern Fleet (518 ships).

According to Gen Kim, the combined ROK-U.S standing force of 720,000 men counters only 61% of the standing North Korean force of 1.17 million men.

Kim also mentioned the North's artillery threat of about 300 self-propelled gun targeting Seoul's metropolitan area. But as their ammunition is for use primarily against personnel and its ability to penetrate concrete is limited, Kim explained, apartment blocks would suffer much of the damage.

Marmot's correspondents were not so sure the PRC would automatically join in hostiolities on behalf of the DPRK. The troops would not be sent to help North Korea "but to stop the expected flood of refugee from the North" one wrote.

"The real worry is this, wrote another, "everyone has their illogical blind spot. And Taiwan is China’s. A simultaneous Chinese invasion of Taiwan / North Korean invasion of South Korea has to keep U.S. planners up at night, as it metaphorically does me. Add in the vast number of US forces tied down in Iraq and …. sigh. Conventionally defeated, the only recourses for America might be 1) humiliating acceptance of the loss of South Korea and Taiwan, or 2) limited use of nuclear weapons."

Update: Reuters reports the USA and South Korea will announce a three-year delay in current plans to cut the number of US troops stationed on the North Korean border by 2005. The USA intends to pull out one third of its soldiers, or 12,500 troops, from South Korea as part of a global realignment of its forces.

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