Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Watch the Northern Limit Line

For quite some time I've thought that the islands South Korea controls south of the Northern Limit Line off the west coast are the logical place for an escalation. If America leads a strike on North Korea's nuclear infrastructure that is not part of a regime change that would prompt China to side with North Korea, I'd look to the western islands as a battlefield.

North Korea is building up their ability to rapidly seize islands that South Korea garrisons in the west:

North Korea is developing bases for its fleet of assault hovercraft that will be able to deploy elite special forces troops on South Korean soil in half an hour.

The rogue state is building two new bases and upgrading two existing facilities for the vehicles on its west coast, increasing the threat to South Korean-held islands in the West Sea.

The additional bases are expected to be completed next year, with analysts pointing out that the new site at Yonbong-ni will house the furthest forward-deployed assault hovercraft in the North Korean fleet.

After North Korea sank a South Korean corvette with a mini-sub in early 2010, I began speculating that the West Sea is the most likely site of real escalation of fighting in a crisis. This applies to both sides.

And six years ago I speculated that North Korea could stage a smash and grab along the Northern Line Limit:

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?

The sea front has been the most active.

South Korea doesn't want to do anything along the DMZ which might lead North Korea to escalate to bombardment of Seoul; while North Korea knows that the DMZ is the riskiest place to escalate because its military couldn't stop the South Koreans if a threat to Seoul pushes South Korea to carve out a no-launch zone north of the DMZ to protect Seoul.

So now we see that North Korea is bolstering their ability to have more options.

Speed of action is necessary to get North Korean troops on the ground before superior alliance air and naval forces can intervene or dispatch ground reinforcements.

Fifty or so hover craft will provide that speed to allow North Korea to dig in on a captured island and present South Korea with the prospect of launching a bloody amphibious assault to recapture the territory.

Watch the Northern Limit Line.