Friday, September 02, 2005

North Korea As Ready For War as Ever

U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Leon LaPorte says there has been no real change in North Korea’s readiness for war over the last five years, and it is maintaining its normal operational level regardless of its economic difficulties.
General Leon J. LaPorte, Commander United States Forces Korea
Reporters, in a report largely based on an interview with LaPorte, Said Pyongyang maintained its state of readiness "despite the near collapse of North Korea's economy, including its agricultural system, with the nation's military receiving about one-third of the gross domestic product regardless of the poverty” of its people. "They are operating within what we would call operational norms, seasonal norms,” LaPorte told the paper. “They have a summer training cycle and a winter training cycle. We have not seen any significant deviation outside the norms over the past five years." The paper also reported the USFK was changing its strategy for a potential military clash with the North against a background of new war and combat concepts and military technology. It said U.S. reinforcements from Fort Lewis, Washington could now reach the Korean Peninsula in 11 hours, and from Okinawa in a day, and the military equipment those reinforcements would need was already in Korea. The paper said, "Fighter aircraft and bombers based in Japan, Guam and as far away as Alaska, Hawaii and the continental United States also would be put under General LaPorte's command in time of war." It said the F-117 Nighthawk stealth bombers recently sent to Korea on symbolic training exemplified the strategic changes.