Really nothing surprising here, North Korea has long been able to target Camp Humphreys with ballistic missiles, rockets just give them another way to attack the base:
The new U.S. Pyeongtaek Garrison is vulnerable to North Korea’s rocket and missile attacks possibly topped with chemical and biological warheads, a noted American defense analyst told The Korea Times Friday.
“The new North Korean 300mm rocket launchers would be able to reach Pyeongtaek,” said Bruce Bennett, a senior defense researcher at the Rand Corp.
It was a contingency that the U.S. failed to anticipate in the early 2000s when the integrated U.S. base was planned, the Korea expert added. Pyeongtaek is located 100 kilometers from the southernmost area of the North Korean side on the inter-Korean border and is outside the range of the North’s 7,000 artillery pieces located there.
But the latest 300mm rocket launchers can cover the distance and hit the U.S. base and what is also worrisome is they are reloadable, he said.
The North’s theater ballistic missiles also pose a threat to the base where key elements of the U.S. forces here are being moved to. “The North has 100 launchers for these missiles,” he said, citing a ROK military whitepaper. “We have significant uncertainties with regard to their number and payloads.” The North is said to possess large quantities of chemical and biological weapons that are deliverable by their projectiles. [Korea Times]
Maj. Gen. Scott Mcqueen (L), the new commander of the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division, and his predecessor, Maj. Gen. Theodore Martin, pose for a photo during a ceremony at Camp Casey in the city of Dongducheon, north of Seoul, on July 18, 2017, to mark the division chief’s inauguration and Martin’s departure. (Yonhap)
Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, commander of the Eighth U.S. Army in South Korea, and other participants salute the statue of Gen. Walton Walker, the first Eighth Army commanding general during the Korean War, as they attend a ceremony at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on July 11, 2017, to mark the relocation of the Eighth Army’s headquarters to the camp from Seoul’s Yongsan Garrison. (Yonhap)
It seems to me that the North Korean spokesman unintentionally took a swipe at North Korean targeting capabilities by saying their systems perform better against bigger targets:
North Korea warned Friday that U.S. forces stationed in South Korea are within striking range even if a key unit has moved to a new base located south of Seoul.
The U.S. 8th Army on Tuesday opened its new headquarters at the Camp Humphreys garrison in Pyeongtaek, a port city some 70 kilometers south of Seoul, after a decade of delay in the base relocation. It marked the end of the army’s 64-year presence at the Yongsan base in central Seoul.
North Korea’s military stationed at the truce village of Panmunjom said that regardless of the location, they cannot avoid North Korea’s ruthless firing.
“The larger the U.S. military base is, the more effectively our military hits targets,” a military spokesman was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). (…….)
“If (the leadership) issues an order, our military will destroy the U.S. imperialists with salvos of firings,” the spokesman said. “If the U.S. sticks to reckless military confrontation despite our warning, it cannot avoid a miserable end.” [Yonhap]
Here is another example of the “expert class” advocating for more negotiations with North Korea in order to sign a freeze deal:
That leaves “the least of the bad options,” which means calling for negotiations, as Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in America, has said. Talks could be started to explore “a variation on China’s proposal, backed by Russia, that the United States and the Republic of Korea suspend joint military exercises in exchange for North Korean suspension of nuclear and missile tests,” he says. South Korea and Japan back this idea, as do many former officials including former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry. A Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on Korea that included former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and Senator Sam Nunn, recommended such an approach last year.
“Rather than halting joint exercises, they could be reduced in scale and length or moved, if military professionals judge that this can be done without undermining their readiness purpose or the affirmation of U.S. deterrence commitments that they represent,” says Fitzpatrick. “Drills practicing ‘decapitation’ might be omitted, for example, as well as overflights by nuclear-capable aircraft, which are only for show. Scaling back the exercises in other ways could be tied to military confidence-building measures that might also relieve North Korea of some of the expense of conducting large-scale exercises.” [Defense One]
You can read more at the link, but if a freeze deal is struck the next thing you will here from the expert class is to have the US sign a peace treaty with North Korea. This whole approach plays into the slow motion surrender of South Korea to North Korean hegemony and the end of the US-ROK alliance. Is it any wonder why China and Russia continue to enable the Kim regime?
Here is the US and ROK’s response to the recent ICBM test conducted by North Korea:
South Korea’s Hyunmoo-2A ballistic missile, left, and the U.S. Army’s MGM-140 Tactical Missile are fired into the East Sea from an undisclosed location on South Korea’s east coast during a joint missile drill, Wednesday, aimed to counter North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test conducted Tuesday. / Yonhap
South Korea and the United States fired ballistic missiles in a joint drill aimed at striking the North Korean leadership, Wednesday.
The live-fire exercise was an armed reaction to the North’s purported successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) conducted Tuesday.
President Moon Jae-in issued the missile firing order after getting consent from U.S. President Donald Trump, Cheong Wa Dae said.
This marked the first time for the allies to conduct a ballistic missile drill in response to the North’s missile threats, Defense Minister Han Min-koo said in a National Assembly session.
Issuing the order, Moon said the allies needed to demonstrate their joint defense posture “with action not just words,” according to chief press secretary, Yoon Young-chan.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Seoul and Washington fired their Hyunmoo-2A and the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) ballistic missiles, respectively, into the East Sea at 7 a.m.
Both the Hyunmoo-2A and ATACMS are surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 300 kilometers.
Trump backed Moon’s order, saying he respects Moon’s willingness to deter the North’s provocation with action, Yoon said. [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link as well as view video footage of the fire power demonstration below:
The Korean government better be ready to pay more for USFK cost sharing because this is something that I suspect President Trump will not waver on:
The Korean Ministry of National Defense said on Monday it is working toward a “reasonable” solution to the issue of maintaining U.S. troops here, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim that Korea should pay a larger portion of the cost.
Moon Sang-gyun, the Korean Defense Ministry spokesman, said in a briefing Monday, “The U.S. Forces Korea’s contributions to defense on the Korean Peninsula, our financial capability, the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, and also enabling conditions for stability in the stationing of USFK will all be comprehensively taken into consideration to enable negotiations to set burden-sharing at a reasonable standard.”
Trump said during the joint press briefing with President Moon Jae-in Friday in Washington after their summit, “We are working together to ensure fair burden-sharing in support of the U.S. military presence in South Korea.” He upped pressure on Seoul ahead of negotiations later this year to decide a defense cost-sharing plan.
“Burden-sharing is a very important factor,” Trump also said at the joint conference, which is “becoming more and more prevalent, certainly in this administration.”
This marks the first time Trump has publicly raised the issue of Korea paying more for the stationing of U.S. troops since he took office in January, amid concern in Seoul over upcoming cost-sharing negotiations.
During his presidential campaign, Trump took an “America First” stance and has urged for U.S. allies to pay their fair share of the cost in defense. [Joong Ang Ilbo]
It seems like an inevitability that the ROK will end up paying more for the upkeep of the US-ROK alliance since it is an issue that President Trump continues to highlight:
President Moon Jae-in, left, shakes hand with U.S. President Donald Trump in their joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday. [YONHAP]
President Moon Jae-in faced a demand on Friday by U.S. President Donald Trump to resolve trade imbalance between the two countries and pay more of the cost for the presence of U.S. troops in Korea, while winning assurances for stronger defense measures to deter North Korea’s rapidly advancing threats.
In the joint press conference that followed the Oval Office summit, Trump said the era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed. “And frankly, that patience is over,” he added. After calling upon regional powers and all responsible nations to implement sanctions and pressure North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programs, Trump said now the goal is “peace, stability and prosperity for the region.”
The United States will defend itself and its allies, Trump said, and as part of that commitment, he said he wants to ensure that the cost of U.S. military presence in South Korea is equitably shared. “Burden sharing is a very important factor,” he said. “A factor that is becoming more and more prevalent, certainly in this administration.”
Trump also spoke of a “fair and reciprocal economic relationship” with South Korea, while complaining that the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement has increased the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea by more than $11 billion. [Joong Ang Ilbo]
Even if it is cheaper to permanently station a brigade in South Korea, the reason USFK has been citing for using a rotational brigade is increased readiness of the unit since it trains together, deploys together, and returns to its home station together:
The downsizing of the Army overseas has cost more money than expected because of a reliance on expensive rotational forces when forward-based units can perform the same roles more cheaply, according to a new U.S. Army War College report.
An examination of the costs of troop rotations during the past several years in Europe and South Korea undermines a decade-old Defense Department argument that shuttling units back and forth from the United States is a more efficient way of doing business than basing them overseas, said report author John R. Deni, a War College professor.
There also is evidence that the long rotations are taking a toll on troop morale, with units deployed to Europe and South Korea showing lower re-enlistment rates than their counterparts, the report found.
Deni, whose findings were the subject of a panel discussion Wednesday at the Atlantic Council in Washington, said the Army should base one additional armored brigade in Europe and one in South Korea along with aviation assets and enablers. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read more at the link, but one of the other positives of the rotational brigade is that if the Pentagon wants to reduce troop numbers on the peninsula it is much easier to do so with a rotational unit that is not sent instead of trying to pull a permanently stationed brigade off of the peninsula.
It looks like the US Air Force has added a new tool to their toolbox of weapons to deal with any North Korean contingency:
The U.S. military has deployed to South Korea state-of-the-art missiles equipped with precision strike capability for a possible North Korea contingency.
Multiple diplomatic sources said on Monday that to their knowledge, U.S. Forces Korea(USFK) recently put in place around ten Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles(JASSM) at its air base in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province.
It is also known that the missiles can be mounted on F-16 fighter jets deployed to South Korea on a regular and rotational basis.
The missiles are assessed to have precision strike ability to hit key facilities in Pyongyang when launched from south of the military demarcation line(MDL). [KBS Global]