Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wrong Number

Strategypage writes that we are sending a message to North Korea:

The U.S. Air Force is sending a message to North Korea this month, as 90 warplanes fly into South Korea to demonstrate how quickly (about four days) forces can be brought in from Guam, Hawaii and Alaska, and North America. The aircraft will include AWACS, B-52s, F-15s, F-16s, A-10s and KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft. Such a wide ranging "surge" of aerial reinforcements has never been carried out before.

Four days? Why the rush? As the Strategypage post notes:

South Korea has a large, modern, well trained and led air force. The South Korean are expected to destroy most of the North Korean Air Force (which is poorly trained because of a decade of fuel shortages). Most of the American reinforcements are for supporting the South Korean counterattack.

The South Koreans are not going to start a counter-offensive that quickly, I dare say.

I have a suspicious mind, so whenever we practice or write about moving forces to South Korea from the United States these days, I assume we are actually talking about moving forces to the equally distant Taiwan. Given North Korea's eroding army, defending Taiwan is the only scenario that requires fast reinforcements from a standing start to avert defeat.

The four-days timetable kind of gives it away:

According to U.S.-Taiwan defense doctrine, the Taiwanese military would have to fight an invasion alone for at least four days until American naval forces arrive.

Personally, I think the Taiwanese need to be prepared to fight alone longer given the increasing need for time to fight our way through Chinese blocking forces (air, surface, and submarine assets). But perhaps psychologically we need to get something on Taiwan fast to keep the Taiwanese military fighting. Just knowing that the first elements of America's military is moving to help could keep the Taiwanese from giving up from hopelessness.

Yes, we dialed Pyongyang's number. But we know that the phone will ring in Peking.