Thursday, December 28, 2017

Excuse Me, What?

The North Korean soldier who sprinted across the DMZ under fire has immunity to anthrax:

A North Korean soldier who defected to the South was found to have antibodies to anthrax — triggering concerns that the rogue regime has weaponized the deadly bacteria, according to reports Tuesday.

As the article notes, this doesn't necessarily mean he was immunized by the regime to operate in a bio weapon environment. He might have been exposed in agricultural work. Such exposure happens here on occasion, after all.

Whether the soldier knows whether any of the battery of shots he may have received while in the service is unlikely, I imagine. I was certainly jabbed enough in uniform and I have no idea what I got.

And I am not sufficiently familiar with delivery matters to know if this is readily weaponized.

But this deserves further scrutiny.

UPDATE: Strategypage looks at weaponized anthrax. North Korea could use anthrax, and it can survive missile launch. But it isn't very good as a weapon. Nor could the North Koreans afford to vaccinate all their troops to move into an infected area.

But I will say that when the prime objective--Seoul--is so close to the DMZ, that if the use of anthrax causes panic in the South Korean defenders then it could be effective long enough to matter.

And if used against air bases and headquarters, it could degrade air power and command and control long enough to be of use. That might be the most likely use because it avoids the need for North Korea to vaccinate more than their special forces troops tasked with operating in the South Korean rear areas.

Well trained troops will put on their protective gear and fight on. But I will never forget the sight of American troops (reservists, admittedly) running off when a cloud of tear gas rolled out of a poorly encased "gas house" even though each of them had gas masks on their hip. I just put my mask on rather than run off.

How well trained are the South Korean troops? Heck, how well trained are US troops these days? My Cold War training put a high priority on surviving in a chemical environment. What is the situation now?