North Korea is likely again to attack the South by shelling another submarine or landing on a South Korean-held frontier island, a former North Korean diplomat predicted Tuesday.
He says that North Korean provocations are increasingly looking more like conventional warfare, citing the recent island shelling and sinking of a South Korean corvette. Past provocations relied on agents and commandos.
He has a point.
I've figured that the South Koreans are ready to retaliate hard against any North Korean strike on South Korean forces with a major air attack (of course, I figured wrongly that Seoul had reached that point prior to the latest attack; but now there seems to be a consensus that South Korea will strike back hard). One sharp strike for one sharp strike. Then it is over unless North Korea wants to escalate further. North Korea would be foolish to start on that path, I believe.
If North Korea is invested in hitting South Korea for whatever political purposes Pyongyang has in mind, how would they do it and put South Korea on a horns of a dilemma rather than North Korea?
How about landing troops on a small, nearby island along the western sea border, digging in, and daring South Korea to do something about it?
A South Korean response would need to be the ejection of the North Koreans, which would take time to prepare and execute. There would be no quick strike to show resolve. No, this would be man-to-man close combat which the North Koreans might think is their strong suit. An air campaign is a losing proposition for the North Koreans and the ideal arena for South Korea. How would this play out if South Korea endures heavy casualties digging out stubborn defenders in a Tarawa replay?
I guess I can understand why South Korea plans to increase their marine force even as they downsize the military overall.
That would be an interesting time, no? Such a provocation would be a major and drawn-out crisis with all the opportunities for escalation that no sane party should want. But who knows what The Un believes?