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Imagine you acquire the 15th-largest abridgement in the world. You accept world-class cars and customer goods, bright streets and a affairs as acceptable as any in the automated world.
Now, brainstorm you are actuality threatened by a adverse country one third as affluent as Ethiopia.
In adjustment to assure yourself from this bread-and-er juggernaut, you crave the attendance of about 30,000 American troops, the cutting ability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and an American accepted to booty allegation in case this boss adversary attacks.
Laughable, right? Not at all. Welcome to South Korea.
It’s time for the United States to leave the Korean peninsula. South Korea can avert itself.
Before the Korean War, the North was a about affluent place, with the majority of the peninsula’s abundant industry and astronomic mineral and balk wealth. South Korea was agrarian and poor.
In 2012, South Korea’s GDP was $1.7 trillion. Per capita GDP for the South’s 50 actor bodies was $32,400 in 2013.
North Korea, by contrast, has become spectacularly poor. GDP is a paltry $40 billion — $1,800 for anniversary of 25 actor people. North Korea is the world’s 182nd abridgement by GDP, poorer alike than Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Cuba.
By 2012, the South Korean abridgement was 41 times beyond than North Korea’s.
The aggressive balance
The North Korean aggressive is one of the bigger in the world, with a absolute manpower of added than one million.
The People’s Arena Force has 950,000 troops, 4,200 tanks, 2,200 armored vehicles, and 13,400 arms pieces. The People’s Air Force has 110,000 troops, 800 action aircraft, 300 helicopters, and added than 300 carriage aircraft.
The agile is the aboriginal with 60,000 troops, 70 submarines, 420 convoying ships, 260 amphibian landing craft, and 60 abundance warfare and abutment vessels.
The South Korean aggressive has 650,000 cadre on alive duty. The army’s rolls cardinal 506,000 troops able with 2,300 tanks, 2,600 armored affronted vehicles, 600 helicopters, and 5,400 arms pieces. Seoul’s air force has 65,000 cadre operating added than 450 jet fighters.
The South Korean agile has 68,000 cadre with 12 submarines, 22 destroyers and frigates, 21 corvettes, and 84 convoying vessels.
But raw numbers don’t acquaint the accomplished story. Best of North Korea’s accessories is actual old. Its capital argosy and warplanes date aback to the 1970s and, in some cases, alike the ’50s. Pyongyang’s troops abridgement fuel, additional parts, alike aliment and clothing.
The South Korean aggressive is one of the best avant-garde in the world, with avant-garde tanks, infantry affronted vehicles, and artillery. South Korean F-15K and F-16C Block 52 fighters are about the according of American jets.
The South Korean navy, with its Aegis destroyers and high-tech submarines, is abate than North Korea’s broken-down agile but much, abundant better.
In about all war scenarios, South Korea’s army is stronger.
U.S. Army armament training in South Korea. | (Department of Defense/Courtesy War is Boring)
The American garrison
Washington keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea, including a analysis headquarters, an armored brigade, an aerodynamics brigade, and an arms brigade. The U.S. Air Force has four squadrons of F-16 and A-10 jets at South Korean bases.
U.S. armament act as a tripwire on the peninsula. If North Korean troops moves south, they will run abrupt into American units and activate a massive response, as fighters, bombers, and arena action units from Japan, Hawaii, and the continental United States blitz into battle.
According to aloft secretary of aegis Leon Panetta, the U.S. could acknowledge to North Korean assailment with nuclear weapons.
American troops will be in harm’s way the moment a war with North Korea begins. As the almsman of austere American aggressive assistance, South Korea has a moral albatross to the United States to accent the North Korean blackmail over all else.
But that’s not the case. South Korea is anon advancing a bounded baton cachet at the amount of its arctic aegis action — and of the U.S. armament that abutment it.
The amphibian advance address ROKS Dokdo, abandoned address of her class. | (Department of Defense/Courtesy War is Boring)
One of the bigger argosy in Asia is South Korea’s Dokdo amphibian advance ship. Resembling a baby aircraft carrier, Dokdo can backpack up to 700 South Korean marines into action by sea and air.
In acceptable abundance — that is, added than 700 — the marines anatomy a able argue force that could alike abuse Pyongyang itself, a key cold of OPLAN 5027, the plan for acquisition North Korea in wartime.
Seoul planned to body three Dokdo-class ships but has abandoned accomplished one. All abandoned with aloof 700 marines aboard, Dokdo is a white albatross — a large, big-ticket barge with bare accommodation to affect the aftereffect of a aloft cutting war.
In the accident of war, North Korea will about absolutely assail the South with missiles with accepted — and possibly alike nuclear, biological, and actinic — warheads. It would accept to accomplish faculty for Seoul to arrange a ballistic missile aegis system.
South Korea relies on the medium-range Patriot missile and can abandoned put up a bounded aegis adjoin ballistic missiles. The United States has proposed to accelerate bigger defenses, but Seoul reacted with indifference.
The South insists it will advance its own aegis arrangement — one acceptable for export. Who knows how continued it will take. And until it does, U.S. armament on the Korean peninsula will be accessible to missile attack.
South Korea’s three Aegis destroyers are, in theory, able of cutting bottomward admission rockets. Putting the country’s ballistic missile defenses at sea — safe from Arctic commandos and saboteurs — makes a lot of sense. But South Korea chose not to acquirement the software to accomplish the ship’s anti-missile systems operational.
South Korea is affairs 40 awfully big-ticket F-35 Collective Strike Fighters for $7 billion — that’s added than a fifth of South Korea’s anniversary aegis budget.
Seoul already has abundant jet fighters to defeat the North’s aged air force. Cutting bottomward adjoin anachronistic MiG-29s does not crave budget-busting F-35s, but actuality a bounded aggressive ability does.
Money Seoul spends on Aegis destroyers — or an amphibian advance address — is money it’s not spending on accessories that’s absolutely advantageous for South Korea’s capital problem, North Korea. Anniversary Aegis costs $938 million, abundant to buy 300 K-9 self-propelled howitzers able of aqueous arms on advancing North Korean arena forces.
Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, administrator of U.S. armament in Korea, with the administrator of the South Korean collective chiefs of agents Adm. Choi Yoon-Hee. | Department of Defense/Courtesy War is Boring)
Despite its abundance and the coercion of the North Korean threat, South Korea is afraid to booty albatross for its own defense.
Under a longstanding acceding amid Washington and Seoul, in the accident of war a U.S. accepted would accept ascendancy of the armament of both countries.
Maybe South Korea believes North Korea is no best a austere botheration and the South can cautiously strive for bounded standing. If Pyongyang is no best a threat, U.S. troops should no best be all-important on the Korean peninsula.
The another is that South Korea believes North Korea is still a threat, but with Americans arresting the South, Seoul can accident axis its absorption outward. That amounts to United States subsidizing South Korea’s adopted policy, potentially at the amount of American lives.
Either makes a able case for affairs U.S. troops from South Korea.
From drones to AKs, aerial technology to low politics, War is Boring explores how and why we action above, on, and beneath an affronted world. Sign up for its circadian email amend actuality or subscribe to its RSS Feed here.
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