Saturday, March 3, 2018

North Korea war could 'kill 10,000 US troops within days' - Nicola Smith

war with North Korea could result in about 10,000 American combat-related casualties in the first few days alone, according to US military planners.
A classified military exercise last week, attended by Army chief of staff General Mark Milley and head of Special Operations Command General Tony Thomas, tested hypothetical scenarios of how US troops would mobilise and strike if ordered to into a potential war, reported the New York Times.
The “tabletop exercise”, held over a few days in Hawaii, thrashed out the challenges that could hamper a US assault on North Korea’s sizeable military.
It determined that US casualties could be amplified by the Pentagon’s limited ability to evacuate injured troops daily, and by the possibility that Pyongyang could retaliate with chemical weapons.
Civilian casualties would far outweigh the initial toll on US troops, and could potentially reach hundreds of thousands, commanders were told.
While the US stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea, the capital, Seoul, a city of about 24 million, lies within range of the formidable firepower of North Korea’s artillery stationed along the border.
The potential human costs of any war were so high that, at one point in the exercise, General Milley remarked that “the brutality of this will be beyond the experience of any living soldier” said the Times.
Pentagon chiefs cautioned that the planning session did not mean that a decision has been made to go to war with the intention of curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.
On the back of a diplomatic détente with South Korea during the Winter Olympics, Pyongyang indicated that it was willing to open up dialogue with Washington.
President Trump’s response that “we want to talk also” but “only under the right conditions” has created a glimmer of hope of a diplomatic solution. But America’s insistence that denuclearisation must be on the table remains an entrenched sticking point.
The unpredictable situation has sparked fears among US military leaders of a “ladder of escalation”, where a stray incident could cause a military crisis to spiral out of control.
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said a war with North Korea would be “catastrophic” but has reportedly ordered top Pentagon officials to be ready for any possible military action.
Among the plans discussed last week was the redeployment of a large numbers of surveillance aircraft from the Middle East and Africa to the Pacific to support ground troops.
Planners also looked at how American forces stationed in Japan and South Korea would be involved.