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The Second Korean War (2003)
The Second Korean War began on March 21, 2003. It was fought between the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, and United States of America. It was launched by Kim Jong-Il under the belief that with the United States heavily invested in its invasion of Iraq, they would be unable to reinforce Korea as well. This belief backfired and caused President George W. Bush to focus the efforts of regime change from Saddam Hussein to Kim Jong-Il. The war saw massive casualties among the two Koreas, and the collapse of North Korea.
Timeline of Events
Countdown to War (January 2002-March 2003)January 29, 2002- President George W. Bush during his State of the Union address announces North Korea as being part of an Axis of Evil with Iraq and Iran. He cites these nations as working to threaten the peace of the world and pose a grave danger.
October 3- Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly while visiting the North Korean capital of Pyongyang pushes the DPRK, inquiring about rumors that its nuclear program is still active. Any North Korean program would be in violation of the 1994 Agreed Framework which promised security agreements, fuel for energy production, and light water nuclear plants for power generation. Kelly says he has evidence the North is enriching uranium.
October 16- The United States announces North Korea has admitted to running a secret nuclear arms program in talks. Kim Jong-Il says he will allow for international inspection of their nuclear facilities.
October 20- Talks between North and South are stalled in Pyongyang, the DPRK nuclear admission causing the difficulties. Colin Powell remarks that further US aid to North Korea is in doubt. Response from the DPRK is confusing and conflicting, with the North defending its right to develop nuclear weapons, but then saying it will halt its program in exchange for a US Non-Aggression Pact.
November 14- President Bush declares that the November shipment of oil to the DPRK will be the last if the North refuses to halt weapons production.
December 4- North Korea rejects calls for it to open its nuclear facilities.
December 11- A ship bound for Yemen is discovered with North Korean SUCD missiles on board. US forces illegally detain the vessel which later forces them to let it go. The DPRK announces it will restart its nuclear facilities for power generation to make up for the loss of oil shipments. Pyongyang also asks the IAEA to remove seals and inspection devices from the Yongbyon nuclear plant.
December 22- North Korea removes the monitoring devices from the Yongbyon plant.
December 24-26 At Yongbyon, North Korean engineers begin repairs. North and South Korean talks over reopening rail and road links already in jeopardy cease due to the tensions. Over Christmas it’s revealed that fuel rods are being shipped to the Yongbyon facility. The IAEA confirms as many as 1,000 fuel rods have been shipped already.
December 27- The DPRK announces it is expelling the two IAEA inspectors from its country. It will also be reopening a processing plant capable of producing weapons grade plutonium.
January 2, 2003- South Korea asks for international pressure, particularly from China to reduce tension over the nuclear crisis. Two days later Russia joins the effort, bringing additional pressure on the DPRK to suspend its program.
January 6- The IAEA passes a resolution, demanding that North Korea readmit the inspectors within a few weeks. If the North refuses, the United Nations Security Council will seek a resolution on North Korea. United States says it will not offer a quid pro quos to the DPRK but is willing to begin talks.
January 10- North Korea threatens it will withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This is the second time the North has threatened to step away from the NPT, the first being in 1993.
January 24- Cabinet level talks between the ROK and DPRK fail. President-elect Roh Moo-hyun offers to meet face to face with Kim Jong-Il.
January 28- In his State of the Union address, President Bush calls North Korea, “an oppressive regime [whose] people live in fear and starvation”. He also says that North Korea was deceptive about its nuclear program and that “America will not be blackmailed”. The DPRK declares President Bush’s speech is an undisguised declaration of aggression, to topple the DPRK system. Although the North calls the president a charlatan, the DPRK reiterates its desire for bilateral talks and a non-aggression pact.
February 4- The United States considers new military deployments in the Pacific in response to DPRK threats and continued nuclear work. North Korea confirms it has reactivated its nuclear facilities and warns that any US military build up in the region could lead to a pre-emptive strike on American forces.
February 12- The IAEA finds North Korea in violation of nuclear safeguards. They bring the matter to the United Nations Security Council.
February 16- Kim Jong-Il celebrates his birthday. The 61 year old dictator tells his people to be on high alert. Later that day Kim meets with the senior military commanders of the North Korean Peoples Army in a bunker under the capital. In a lengthy speech the Dear Leader outlines the aggressive acts made by the United States, UN, and ROK against them. With the US shifting many of its forces to Iraq, Kim believes a window has opened for a possible invasion of the South.
Kim is also encouraged by the mass protests against the United States in Europe, Australia and other parts of the world. He believes the world will not support the US even if the North attacks the south. The North Korean People’s Army (NKPA) General Staff are fully supportive of the Dear Leader’s beliefs. However in private the leadership is worried about their actual ability to carry out the ‘liberation’ of South Korea. Despite their misgivings orders are given to begin preparations for the invasion of South Korea.February 24- North Korea begins large scale military exercises to cover the mobilization of the nearly 700,000 men positioned near the DMZ. Twenty-two Special Forces brigades are mobilized with some preparing to infiltrate South Korea and Japan in the upcoming weeks. They will meet up with DPRK sleeper cells and collaborators set up in both countries. On D-Day they will attack airfields, command and control centers, assassinate high ranking US and ROK officials, and delay South Korean mobilization.
As the Special Forces attack the rear, the assaulting corps will cross the DMZ to destroy the forward deployed Combined Field Army (CFA) of South Korea and America. Once a breakthrough had been made the armor and mobile units of the second echelon will move to encircle Seoul. The NKPA leadership knows it cannot take the entire country. Their fuel, food, and ammunition supplies do not support an extended campaign. The NKPA believes by threatening Seoul with its massive artillery force and isolation, the ROK government will surrender rather than see massive civilian deaths from shelling and starvation.
In addition to the secret mobilization the DPRK fires a test missile into the Sea of Japan. This is done to keep the ‘maneuvers’ consistent with previous war games.
February 25- Roh Moo-hyun is sworn in as the new South Korean president.
March 2- An RC-135 reconnaissance plane in intercepted by MiG-29 Fulcrums and MiG-23 Floggers of North Korea. The DPRK planes fly within 400 feet of the intelligence aircraft shadowing it for 22 minutes. One of the MiGs locked its radar onto the River Joint aircraft which returned to Kandea Air Base in Japan. Twelve B-1B and another dozen B-52 bombers begin arriving at Andersen AFB on Guam.
March 3- U.S. and ROK forces begin the RSOI (Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and Integration) and Foal Eagle exercise. Part of Foal Eagle includes new arrivals to Korea, a composite task force from the 1st Infantry Division. In addition a squadron of F-15Es from Alaska and six F-117s arrive. Foal Eagle is schedule to run until the end of March.
March 10- The DPRK fires another missile into the East Sea, this time an anti-ship missile. North Korea’s second echelon forces, the 820th Armored, 815th, and 806th Mechanized Corps move into secure underground facilities near the DMZ. Air Force units make final preparations as well, moving strike aircraft to forward bases. As the NKPA makes their preparations, Kim Jong-Il sets D-Day for when the US strikes Iraq, believed to be coming in the next two weeks. Kim Jong-Il voices concerns at the American ‘reinforcements’ that are now part of Foal Eagle in a meeting with the NKPA leadership. They reassure the Dear Leader that these will be the only reinforcements that Korea will see, since most active US formations are committed to the coming war in Iraq.
March 17- President Bush goes on television and tells Saddam Hussein that he has 48 hours to leave Iraq with his sons, or face a war he cannot win. As US forces prepare to initiate Operation Iraqi Freedom, Pyongyang issues its own war warning orders by hand delivered curries. All the infiltration teams are in position and ready to strike.
March 20- A strike by F-117s plus cruise missiles fails to assassinate Saddam Hussein before the war in Iraq begins. The Iraqi leader shows his survival by appearing on television a few hours later. In the hours to follow Washington admits Special Forces are already operating inside Iraq. Air strikes against Iraqi troop and artillery positions begin.
Invasion (March 21-March 28)
March 21- In the early morning hours North Korea begins its invasion of the ROK. Special Forces launch attacks across the southern half of the peninsula. A truck bomb is driven into the American Embassy security gate in Seoul. The explosion blows open a hole through which commandos attack. Nearly all the embassy personnel including the ambassador perish before the NK troops are killed by remaining US Marines and ROK security forces. A raid on the US Eight Army headquarters in Yongsan is defeated in part due to increased security for Foal Eagle.
A two prong SOF attack hits Kunsan AB. The first wave traveling in An-2 Colt biplanes (which are actually stealthy thanks to their wood and cloth construction) crash land on the field. Commandos then attempted to destroy aircraft and hangers with satchel charges and RPGs. The insertion of the raid however leads to one SOF team’s death as their Colt slammed into the ground. The second An-2 is caught hit by Air Force security units as it lands. Moments after the airborne attack, three Kongbang Hovercraft delivered additional commandos.
They launched from a DPRK freighter, the LCAC climb up the beach along the base perimeter. Specially fitted for the mission with 30mm cannons and mortars the LCAC deliver devastating fire on the base. Four F-117s part of the Foal Eagle exercises are destroyed on the ground with another one damaged. Nearly all the visiting F-15Es are damaged or smashed. The raid is defeated when an F-16 returning from a training mission destroys two of the Kongbangs with cannon fire. The third departs the base only to be intercepted by a ROKA unit responding to the attack.
A similar airborne raid against Osan air base is defeated thanks to an alert air defense battery which swatted the An-2s out of the sky. North Korean sniper teams attacked the base later in the day, slowing operations before being killed by Air Force and ROK security teams. Other North Korea SOF units have orders to delay their attacks until days later in order to hamper ROK reinforcements.
Attacks are also launched in Japan. An SOF team is intercepted by Japanese police before they can approach the American and South Korean Embassies. The police kill several North Korean soldiers before being reinforced by US and ROK embassy guards. A bomb goes off in a nightclub in Tokyo visited by US military personnel. North Korean commandos also call in threats to NHK and other Japanese news agencies, to spread fear and panic. U.S. Marines at the 7th Fleet’s base in Yokosuka stop another North Korean truck bomber only to.
No-Dong, FROG and SCUD missiles are fired at ROK airfields, plus Kadena AB and Misawa AB in Japan. The longer range No-Dongs fail to knock out the Japanese bases landing away from runways and aircraft storage shelters. However, casualties in non-hardened areas are low thanks to early warning systems in the US and war alerts from the 7th Air Force in Korea. Other DPRK missiles fall on Seoul and other major cities killing hundreds. More are injured or killed as people rush to air raid shelters.
All along the DMZ, artillery pounds the main line of resistance (MLR). 8000 artillery systems open fire on ROK defensive positions and long range 170mm KOSAN cannons at Seoul. Kim Jong-IL forbids a heavy artillery assault against the capital for political reasons. The NKPA guns fire from hardened artillery sites built into the rugged terrain making them highly resistant to counter battery fire. Under the fire of the guns the North Korean, IV, II, V, and I assault corps advance. Many units attempt to infiltrate behind the ROK defensive positions using tunnels under the DMZ with different measures of success.
IV and some elements of II Corps attack down the Kaesong-Munsan-Seoul approach. This is the shortest route of advance to the ROK center of gravity, being a mere 40 km trip. DPRK units hope to reach the city of Paju in a week isolating Seoul from the northwest. The ROKA 25th and 1st Infantry Divisions deployed in the area are hit by NKPA light infantry waves who have a 5-1 ratio against them. The forward defensive positions inflict serve casualties on the assaulting IV Corps units. Many of the ROK bunkers are overrun after exhausting their ammunition. DPRK river crossing units build additional bridges at the crossing near the ‘Freedom Bridge’ which is captured by SOF units.
The truce city of Panmunjom is seized by the NKPA in a violent quick assault. South Korean guards and diplomats are brutally executed by North Korean political officers. Americans and UN staff are beaten and abused. Some are killed but most are sent back to Pyongyang to be used as hostages. As the fighting escalates, ROK soldiers are either destroyed where they stood, captured, or fell back after inflicting heavy casualties to the NKPA. Units too difficult to destroy are cut off by North Korean and surrounded. IV Corps breaks through the MLR along Major Supply Route 1 (MSR 1) later in the day, allowing its truck mounted and mechanized forces to move south. However a significant ROK force remains inside the city of Munsan pocketed by IV Corps units.
The North Korean II Corps units advance down the northern Kaesong-Munsan approach focusing their attacks against the ROKA 1st and 5th Infantry Divisions. Like most of the DMZ units they inflict heavy losses to the NKPA but are overrun, destroyed in place, or cut off. An armored brigade of II Corp’s moves east towards Major Supply Route 3 (MSR 3). It is stopped by a mixed force of K-1 tanks and older M-48Ks.
V Corps attacks along the traditional route of invasion, the Chorwon valley. A successful SOF operation kills the CO and Operations Officer of the 28th Infantry Division. This throws the divisional command and control into chaos. Coupled with heavy attacks by NKPA infantry and tanks, the 28th Division loses of two of its three regiments. The DPRK 45th Infantry Division and 103rd Armored Brigade move to exploit the gap in ROK lines. T-62s of the 103rd begin battling with the ROKA’s 5th Armored Brigade. The K-1 tanks hold off superior numbers of enemy tanks thanks to a vast technological advantage over the modified Soviet era MBTs. NKPA infantry however conduct infiltration flanking attacks on the 5th Armored, forcing them to withdraw or be tied down fighting infantry.
In the east, the I Corps has the mission of tying down ROK II and III Corps. The four frontline infantry divisions push back the ROKA forces. Operations go better than expected and armor brigades begin to push south. There is little room to maneuver however and soon the line of advance is marked by knocked out tanks and AFVs as ROKA troops skillfully use tanks and ATGMs in ambushes to delay I Corp’s armor. Additional forces are bought up to establish a new defense line ten km south of the original MLR.
US Forces in Korea at the time of invasion consisted of the 1st and 2nd Brigades of the 2nd Infantry Division (Mechanized) and a cavalry squadron, 4th Squadron of the 7th Armored Cavalry Regiment. The 1st ‘Iron Brigade’ includes two armor battalions equipped with M1A1 Abrams tanks, and a Mechanized Infantry battalion in M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Artillery comes from the guns of 1st Battalion 15th Field Artillery. 2nd Brigade was made up of two air assault battalions and a Mech battalion. 2nd Battalion of the 17th Field Artillery rounded out the fighting component of the brigade.
Also in Korea at the time were two battalions from the 1st Infantry Division. Deployed as part of the Foal Eagle exercise, a mechanized and an armor battalion added to the American heavy units in country. The 2nd ID also has an aviation brigade with AH-64D Longbows and UH-60 Black Hawks. US forces came under Special Forces attacks on D-Day. The 2nd Infantry and 1st Infantry units deal with the commando attacks quickly. Thanks to Foal Eagle, US units are either in the field or preparing for their exercises. NK commandos score some successes, including the destruction of a group of AH-64s on the ground along with half of the 2nd Brigade’s artillery. As the day continues, US forces will move into defensive positions to backstop and support the ROK forces.In the air, 600 North Korean jets blitz across the DMZ shortly after the rocket and SOF attacks. MiG-23s, 21s, 19s, Su-25 Frogfoots and Su-17 Fitters fill the skies hoping to hit their targets and escape back across the DMZ before the allied air forces can come to bear. While Floggers, Fishbeds, and Farmers attempted to clear the skies of allied fighters, Sukhoi strike aircraft and IL-28 bombers moved to hit ROK and US bases and finish off airfields that should have been damaged by missile and SOF attack. Surprise however eluded the North Koreans, with the SOF attacks occurring before the SCUD and No-Dong launches, US and ROK aircraft are able to take to the skies. F-16s, F-4s, and F-5s engage with missiles at long range, with NKPAF flights detected thanks to AWACS support. North Korea suffers heavy losses, but do complete some strikes.
At sea, the North Koreans put nearly all of its naval forces to sea. Included are frigates, fast attack missile boats, torpedo boats, diesel submarines, and midget submarines, over 400 vessels gather near the naval demarcation line. From the East Seas Fleet, 10 Romeo class diesel submarines enter the Sea of Japan. Their mission will be to prevent seaborne reinforcement from the United States and Japan. Another ten subs leave to blockade South Korean ports and kill ROK naval vessels and warships.
Many North Korean vessels participate in landing SOF teams behind the ROK’s lines. Midget submarines, Kongbang hovercraft, and other ships attempt to insert teams of commandos on the east and western coasts. Some units are attacked by ROK vessels on patrol and fail to deliver their cargo to landing points. Other surface assets deliver their teams only to fall prey to USN carrier aircraft later in the morning. Sixty percent of the DPRK midget submarines manage to make it to and from their targets, including a submarine that delivered an SOF team that tried to destroy ROKN ships inside Chinhae Naval Base.
One DPRK submarine is lost early to a ROK Ulasn frigate. North Korea scores its first kill at sea by sinking a container ship outside Pusan. A Romeo put three torpedoes into the vessel breaking its back. Swift rescue efforts save many of the crew. Later in the morning North Korean missile boats and South Korean corvettes meet in a large battle a few hundred miles off Sokch’o. Six ROK ships are lost to missiles and suicide DPRK torpedo attacks. Dozens of North Korean ships are sunk by ROK guns and missiles.
The United States Navy has two aircraft carriers operating near Korea on March 22nd. Kitty Hawk and Carl Vinson receive news of the war quickly after the first commando attacks inside the ROK. Pacific Fleet orders both carrier groups to initiate pre-existing plans for strikes against DPRK naval bases, ships, and airfields. CAGs onboard each carrier coordinates their strikes, launching the first at 0430 Lima.F-14 Tomcats lead the procession of strike aircraft which included F/A-18 Hornets, EA-6B jammers, and an E-2C Hawkeye for command and control. DPRK radar detected the raids and launched MiG-21s and MiG-23s in defense. Tomcats fire off their long range Phoenix missiles with mixed results against the NKPAF. The Communists lose a third of their number. At closer range the F-14s demonstrate their superior maneuverability and aircrews. As the Tomcats tangled with the Floggers and Fishbeds, Hornets backed by Prowlers moved in to attack SAM and radar sites. As the Prowlers jam North Korean radars, F/A-18s armed with AGM-88 HARMs take out the SAM radars. Once the SAMs are blind, Hornets attack with Maverick missiles taking out their inert sites.
With the defenses hit, the remaining strike aircraft bomb Ch’anjon and Wonsan naval bases. Using JDAMs and other PGMs, the Navy planes cause heavy damage to both bases and sink several ships in port, degrading the North Korean Navy. Other planes hit DPRK anti-ship missile sites and communication relays. Six planes fail to return to their carriers. The carriers recover their aircraft and prepare for another set of strikes. In addition to the air bombardment escorting cruisers and destroyers fire off Tomahawk missiles which add to the destruction at both bases. Additional cruise missiles hit the east coast air bases with a combination of runway destroying models and cluster bombs. Some airfields are more damaged than others many built into the sides of mountains or fortified with bunkers are able to take the strikes.
In Washington, President Bush meets with the National Security Council. The DPRK attack has caught them by surprise. Already however some in the NSC wonder if Iraq and North Korea had coordinated their actions. Dismissing that at moment, the President asks what the United States do to assist South Korea. The start of the war in Iraq has already determined US air supply efforts and priorities. Units slated to reinforce Korea are in The Middle East, and the JCS is unsure of their ability to fight two wars at once. Additional aircraft and some light air mobile elements are ordered to prepare for deployment.
March 22- North Korea continues its assault along the DMZ. In the east, I Corps makes little progress against the South Korean defenders. The ROKA holds the line in front of Geojin. Although deemed a sideshow, I Corp’s commander is determined to achieve a great victory. He orders the lead brigades’ of the 806th Mechanized Corps to attack. T-62s, VTT-323s, BTRs with heavy artillery support hit the ROK lines. After two hours of heavy combat, a brigade breaks through heading for the city down the coast road. Swift counterattack however by the 22nd Infantry, lead by its armor battalion stops the breakthrough. Only the exhaustion of the ROK soldiers and their need to re-supply prevents them from pushing the counterattack further.
V Corps pushes further south. With the 28th Infantry Division rendered combat ineffective, the burden of holding the line falls to the 5th and 26th Infantry Divisions. The units hold with the 5th Armored Brigade. ROK troops later in the day the are forced back as ammunition runs low. Believing the dam is about to break, the 820th Armored Corps is ordered to attack. They will cross the Hantangang River and breakout down MSR 3 to the city of Tongduch’on. The Combined Forces Commander orders the Iron Brigade of the U.S. 2ID to prevent the crossing and block MSR 3. In addition he also sends the 1st Infantry Division’s two battalions as additional reserve.
Establishing a defensive position south of Jeongoki behind the river. Infantry from the ROKA 26th Infantry and tanks from the 5th Armor also join the Americans. Opposing the Allied forces is the 105th Armored Division part of the main body of the 820th Corps. The 105th’s two armor and one mechanized brigade are backed by the divisional artillery brigade, and an additional two artillery brigades attached to the corps. Both sides use the night to prepare for the coming attack, with the Americans digging fighting positions for their M1A1s and Bradleys while the NKPA moves the 820th south down MSR 3.
During the night the 820th movement is harassed by AH-64s of the 2ID’s aviation brigade. With ability to see in the dark the Longbows use their Hellfire missiles to hammer the 105th Division. In addition to the helos, 35th Fighter Squadron hits the 820th’s mobile artillery and supply columns. Two F-16s are lost and another three damaged.
In the west the North Korean IV Corps tries to clear the pocketed ROK units at Munsan. Progress is slow. The DPRK infantry are survivors of the previous day’s fighting. Tried and assembled into mixed units they fight poorly. Little artillery support is given to battle as more of the NKPA guns are moved south. IV Corps is focused on taking the cities of Sinhwa-ri and Kimpo. South Korea reinforces its I Corps with units from the Capital Corps defending Seoul.
DPRK infantry hit the I Corps in the forested hills before Sinhwa-ri. The battle spilled over into the city resulting in a brutal house to house fighting. By the end of the day neither side holds a major advantage. ROKA units hold the city, but are unable to drive the North Koreans back. Another attack is scheduled for the next day with a pair of brigades from the 815th Mechanized Corps.
U.S. and ROK air power continues to deliver in the air. The NKAF loses more planes trying to fly attack missions and close air support south of the DMZ. With losses mounted for little gain, a more defensive strategy is adopted. North Korean fighters try to fly CAP over their ground forces and the DPRK’s vital bases. On Guam, the B-1s and B-52s begin planning missions against North Korean forces in the field and targets inside the DPRK.
On the diplomatic front, the European Union, Japan, Russia, China, and United States all denounce the North Korean invasion. While no one is happy with the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the major powers agree a war in Asia is highly destabilizing. Russia although does not wish to feel further encircled by the U.S. which already has bases in Central Asia and Japan, it does want to increase its trade and influence in Asia. China worries about a collapse of the DPRK if the invasion (which their intelligence and military advisors believes it will) fails. Fearing a North Korean defeat will lead to a flood of refugees China mobilizes units in the Shenyang Military District for security purposes. The PRC is not opposed to a uniting of the peninsula under South Korean rule; however they do have concerns over the future U.S. presence in Korea. Immediately the Chinese Ambassador presses his contacts to get him a meeting with Kim Jong-Il in order to get the Dear Leader to begin negotiations.
Japan also calls for North Korea to seek a ceasefire and withdraw back across the DMZ. JSDF air and naval units are mobilized. Frigates and destroyers move to secure the waters and trade routes into Japan. JSADF F-15s and F-2s fly CAP missions over the Tsushima Strait out of Tsuiki while P-3s and other maritime patrol craft hunt for DPRK submarines. The Diet already angry over the North Korean missile attacks, receives world that a Japanese car carrier and supertanker has been sunk by North Korean submarine. After so more debate the Japanese Diet orders JSDF units to engage in active combat with any North Korean ship, submarine, or aircraft that threatens Allied or Japanese ships. Shortly after the decision, a Japanese SSK sinks a DPRK Whiskey-class sub. These are the first shots fired by the Japanese military in anger since 1945.
American fighters from Fifth Air Force transfer a squadron of F-15s to the Seventh Air Force in Korea. In addition every missile and bomb the American bases can send is prepped to be shipped over by air and sea. In Hawaii the 15th Airlift Wing mobilizes its C-17s and other transports to begin bringing men and material to Korea. It is one of the few groups available to do so with many supporting combat in Iraq.
Over television in Iraq Saddam Hussein praises the North Korean invasion, calling it a heroic act against the warmongering United States. He goes on to call other nations to join the Iraqi-Korean struggle. North Korea, other than offering statements of suppor,t can do nothing for Iraq which continues to be pounded by U.S. and British airpower and Coalition troops begin advancing into the country. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez condemns the United States for bringing war to Iraq and forcing it upon North Korea.
March 23- B-2 Sprits flying from Whiteman AFB make their first strikes against Pyongyang. They strike at governmental buildings and communication links. Included in the destruction was the Juche Tower, a massive monument to Kim-Il Sung’s idea of self reliance. Many reporters comment the destruction was a useless propaganda move. USAF spokespeople simply answer the target was requested by the South Korean government. To many reporters’ and expert analysts surprise no strike occurs against the Yongbyon reactor complex.As the stealth bombers struck the North Korean capital, B-1 Bombers flying from Guam hit the Wonsan and Kuupri air bases. Coming in low and fast to avoid the worst of DPRK air defenses, the lighting raid did heavy damage to both airfields. While the Air Force went in low, the Navy launched an offensive fighter sweep. F-14s and F/A-18s hosed a dozen MiGs including several MiG-29 Fulcrums. A single F-14 is lost to a MiG-29. Both carriers prepare for a new day of strikes against the DPRK’s Eastern Fleet.
In an effort to seize the initiative from the United States and win a massive propaganda victory, Eastern Fleet vectors three of its submarines against the U.S. carrier group. A single Foxtrot and two Romeo class boats approach the U.S. formation from the north, west and east. One of the Romeos is detected early by a SH-60 LAMPS III helicopter. It drops a single MK-50 torpedo which sinks the SSK. The second Romeo approaching from the north evades the outer USN frigates. As it closes an Arleigh Burke DDG detects the submarine and vectors its helicopter against it. The Seahawk destroys the submarine.
The lone Foxtrot swung around the American fleet and approached it form the east. Determined to sink an American carrier, the submarine commander drifts slowly towards the U.S. carriers. The combination of poor sonar conditions late in the day and the well commanded Foxtrot allows the sub to sneak through the ASW forces. With little battery power remaining, and the air deteriorating onboard, the submarine captain fires off all six of his forward torpedoes on the bearing of the Kitty Hawk while he has the chance. The torpedoes instantly appear on every ship’s sonar, forcing emergency maneuvers. MK-46s fired at the North Korean sub, force it to cut its guidance wires on its fish and maneuver.
Four of the fish acquire the USS O’Brien a Spruance class destroyer. Two fish are intercepted by Nixe torpedo decoys. The remaining pair blows off the back of the ship which quickly sinks. Rescue efforts by the escorts save two thirds of the O’Brien’s crew. The remaining torpedo slammed into the starboard side of the Kitty Hawk. Quick response from the damage control teams and counter flooding prevent any further damage from occurring. Even though she is slowed, Kitty Hawk is still able to launch her aircraft. The Foxtrot is cornered by three helicopters a destroyer and a frigate. They send the submarine to the bottom, after it attempts a failed attack on a frigate.
As the duel with the DPRK submarines occurred, planes from CVW-5 and 9 hit Najin, Puam-ni, and Mayyang-do naval bases. North Korea’s remaining fast attack craft, amphibious, and other ships in the east are sunk at port. Other aircraft drop mines outside the bases, hoping to prevent the movement of DPRK midget submarines. Coastal defenses such as Silkworm missile sites are included in the target package. More damage is done to the North Korean SAM and radar network as Hornets go after the hardened radar and SAM batteries with bunker busting weapons. Few MiGs rise to challenge the U.S. Navy after earlier B-1 raid, most stay inside their hardened shelters. Five USN aircraft are shot down.Prior to the B-2 strike, a debate was held between the Air Force, South Korean government, CFC Commander, and the NSC. President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, and Vice President Cheney favor taking out the reactor. However the National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Colin Powell have reservations. Powell’s two concerns are that the attack could result in radioactive fallout being spread over North Korea at the very least, and at the worst across Japan and South Korea. Another worry of Powell’s is a strike on the DPRK’s nuclear facilities might lead them to use their stockpile of chemical weapons or even worse use their nuclear material in a dirty bomb, which could be mounted onto a missile. Things are further complicated when President Bush meets with the Chinese Ambassador.
The Ambassador informs the President that the PRC had no foreknowledge of Kim’s plans, nor do they condone the invasion. If the ROK and U.S. should decide to remove Kim and his regime, the PRC will not oppose it. He also added that the U.S. should weigh all the possibilities when considering air strikes against the Yongbyon reactor. Appearing on Russian television, Putin calls for a ceasefire and a return by North Korea to their positions along the DMZ. He says that if the DPRK refuses to restore order, that a change in leadership is required. Putin asks other Asia leaders to join forces to bring peace to Korea. The Russian President also declares any strike against the Yongbyon reactor would be very risky.
With international pressure and no consensus inside the NSC, the President agrees that no strikes on Yongbyon reactor itself should be made at moment. However he does authorize the Air Force to hit transportation links to the complex to prevent anymore shipment of weapons grade material from leaving.
Across the United States opinions are inflamed. Political commentators continually debate how close is North Korea’s invasion linked to the war in Iraq. Many are critical of Bush’s policies claiming they are responsible for both conflicts. Anti-War demonstrations in the U.S. are met by Pro-War counterdemonstrations. Those in favor of the war in Iraq point to Korea as an example of what happens when action isn’t taken. News of the sinking of the O’Brien stuns many Americans and leads to several clashes in American cities between the protesting groups.
The United Nation’s Security Council meets in emergency session to discuss both the Iraq War and Second Korean War. American Ambassador John Negroponte calls for new UN resolutions on both matters. Negroponte has orders to start feeling out the Security Council on a resolution that calls for the removal of the North Korean regime. He also hopes that this is a second chance to seek a UN mandate for the war in Iraq. The Chinese and Russian representatives begin working with the United States’ ambassador. The Russians also work with the French to prevent any discussion of a new resolution regarding Iraq.
After assembling the 815th and its supporting artillery into position, the NKPA offensive against Sinhwa-ri and Kimpo resumes in the west. Three brigades of the 815th Mechanized Corps backed by IV Corp’s last full strength infantry regiments smash into the flanks of the defending South Koreans soldiers. To avoid losing their armor and APCs in city fighting, one mechanized brigade pushes southeast away from Sinhwa-ri. Breaking through what they believe is a thin ROKA line, T-62s and BTR-60s move to surround the ROKA units inside the city. The NKPA drive stops dead when they hit the tank company of the American 4th Squadron 7th Armored Cavalry Regiment. The fourteen M1A1s annihilate the leading North Korean tanks, as artillery hits their BTR and VTT-323 APCs. As the lead battalion smashes against the American tanks, A and C Troops hit the NKPA flank. Inflicting heavy losses on the mechanized brigade, the North Koreans fall back. Assorted ROK tank units, most deploying at least a few of the new Korean K1 main battle tank (heavily modeled after the M1A1 Abrams), prove to be more than a match for all North Korean armor as they not only destroy anything the American armor misses but also wipe out entire NKPA armor groups on their own as well.
The Battle of Munsan also reaches its peak. Cut off ROK troops in the pocket receive limited re-supplies of ammunition. Restocked they repulse every North Korean effort to close their pocket. In several instances, the South Koreans regain ground linking up with cut off border positions. The pocket launches a raid against MSR 1 destroying a NKPA re-supply convoy. Combined Forces Command starts working on plans to breakthrough and to relieve the Munsan Pocket.
Despite delays from air attack, 820th Armored Corps managed to concentrate the 105th Armored Division for the assault across the Hantangang River. A recon force of BRDMs and VTTs leads the way south through the valley leading to Jeongoki. Iron Brigade’s Task Force 2-72nd Armor blocks MSR 3. After the task force’s scout platoon spots the lead BRDMs, a counter recon team ambushes the North Koreans. 820th Corps responded with artillery most of which lands outside the 2-72’s Armor’s defenses. Soon the valley is filled with the sharp cracks of tank cannon as the Abrams tanks take on the modified T-62s.Known as the Ch'ŏnma-ho (Korean for Sky Horse) the NKPA T-62s feature laser range finders and ERA blocks for protection against HEAT warheads. Even with the latest upgrades the North Korean tanks are no match for the M1A1 Abrams. An entire DPRK armored brigade falls to the guns of the American tanks and Bradley TOW missiles. V Corps sends infantry across the hills which hit the 2-72nd’s right flank. Using artillery and CAS as cover, the task force withdraws back towards the city. A fresh brigade from the 820th moves in to assault the city. South Korean troops are fighting inside the city. Using ATGMs and house to house fighting, the ROK troops slow the 206th Mechanized Infantry Brigade and knock out half its BMPs.
T-62s and M-1985 light tanks move around the city fight to try and capture crossing points on the Hantangang. 2-72nd and 2-9th Infantry (Mech) block their attempt. In a swirling tank engagement near the Sarang Bridge, Bulldog Company leads the charge and throws back the North Korean troops. The tankers go on to take back a hill overlooking the bridge. Unfortunately an ancient Korean site on the hill is destroyed in the process. 2-9th Infantry holds their ground further east. With their Bradleys and Abrams dug into the hills on the east bank, they use artillery, air strikes, and direct fire to break up the North Korean crossing. A company of infantry make it across the river, but are quickly wiped out by 2nd Infantry dismounts and M2A2s.
As the DPRK drive spent itself, the Iron Brigade commander decides to send 1-72nd Armor to counterattack. Passing monuments to the 38th Parallel, 1-72nd hits the 105th’s last intact brigade. A-10s from the USAF 25th Fighter Squadron provide CAS for the attack. Four Warthogs are lost to North Korean AAA and SAMs. To make things worse for the communists, AH-64 Longbows join the attack along with ROK F-16s. The air attacks coupled with the armored assault devastate the 105th, and force back the other brigades of the 820th Corps. 1-72nd retakes their sister battalion’s original positions as the day ends. Plans are drawn up to continue the attack tomorrow with additional ROK forces.
In the east, the 806th Mechanized Corps and I Corps come under heavy attack by the ROK’s III Corps and another division from the ROK 1st Army. The same difficulties that the North Koreans encountered with limited maneuver room hamper the ROK’s armor and mechanized units. Infantry make up a huge part of the battle and bloody counterattacks are launched up the hills outside Geojin. Despite the difficult terrain the ROK push the NKPA back. DPRK troops fight with fanatical resistance. Political officers threaten death to noncoms and colonels alike if they give ground, however many fail to get the chance as they are killed by South Korean attacks. Nightfall has the ROK units in a staggered line from Daejin in the east to Songjigok in the west.
March 24- In Pyongyang, Kim Jong-Il demands to know why the liberation of South Korea is behind schedule. The General Staff carefully describe their difficulties to the Dear Leader. ROK and U.S. forces have nearly complete control of the air. F-15 squadrons from Japan combined with attacks by U.S. carrier aircraft have withered down the North Korean air forces. Squadrons of older MiG-21s and 19s have been decimated and the MiG-23 and Fulcrum units have suffered heavy losses. Nearly all of the DPRK’s fighter-bombers and Il-28s are destroyed as well. Only the few MiG-29s and the air defense network deny the Allied air forces complete dominance.
On the ground, determined ROKA resistance has slowed everything. Even in areas where the NKPA achieved success, their efforts were hampered by obstacles from rock drop barricades, minefields, to cut off ROK units which refused to surrender and launched attacks of their own. Kim Jong-Il demands then to know the progress of the 820th Armored Corps’ attack. His senior commanders speak vaguely saying the battle is ‘ongoing’. No one wants to admit of the devastating losses inflicted on the 820th at the hands of the American 2nd Infantry Division.
In Washington D.C, President Bush and his senior advisors are gathered as well to discuss ongoing combat in The Middle East and Korea. U.S. Marines are battling to control Nassiriya on the Euphrates River. British forces are moving to take Basra. Briefly discussed is the ambush and capture of four U.S. Army soldiers, among them the soon to be famous Jessica Lynch.
The question the President and national security staff have gathered to answer is what to do about Korea. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, informs the NSC that the war is going in the U.S. and ROK’s favor. North Korean units have not broken out anywhere. Fresh ROK reserves are approaching the front with few disruptions. North Korean SOF forces are making attacks against bridges and other chokepoints attempting to slow the movement of troops north. However most of these attacks have been contained or defeated.
At sea, the Allies control all the SLOCs leading to Korea. Japanese Naval Self Defense ships have been very helpful in clearing the Tsushima Strait of North Korean submarines. Fewer than six DPRK subs are believed to be still operational. The North has also lost the majority of its missile equipped ships trying to attack USN or ROK naval forces. Aircraft from the Carl Vision and Kitty Hawk have knocked out all of the DPRK’s Eastern Fleet bases. F/A-18s and F-14D ‘Bombcats’ have begun hitting North Korean lines of supplies regularly.
On the international front, support for the Allies is high. Japan, China, Russia, and Australia have all condemned the North Koreans and are offering diplomatic or military support. Russia has stopped several trains and cargo ships destined for the DPRK. The American Ambassador to China has also reported that the PRC might soon be cutting off the North’s oil supply. President Bush orders the State Department to push every button and call in any favors they have with Chinese to get them stop the flow of oil. If North Korea’s already meager fuel supplies can be stretched to the breaking point, the NKPA’s motorized and mechanized troops will be immobilized.
Vice President Cheney asks if combat operations in Korea can continue along side the invasion of Iraq. Myers uncomfortably reports that he is not confident they can. He informs them that with the ROKs doing the bulk of the fighting, the North can be driven back across the DMZ, but moving onto Pyongyang and removing Kim Jong-Il’s regime cannot be down in concurrence with an assault on Baghdad.
Myers briefs the NSC on OPLAN 5027, the U.S. Department of Defense bible for war in Korea. The OPLAN calls for any U.S. counterattack to use up to 690,000 troops and 160 naval vessels. These forces would be built up over a period of 90 days. During that time ground forces in Korea would restore the original border and key terrain features needed to carry out an invasion of the DPRK. A Marine Expeditionary Force of divisional strength would conduct an amphibious assault near Wonson in conjunction with a ground offensive from the south. Another major ground attack would be launched against Pyongyang.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld interrupts saying that the OPLAN can most likely be modified to require fewer troops and resources. They had done something similar with Iraq OPLANs prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Myers agrees however the commitment of V Corps, I Marine Expeditionary Force, and significant air power to the invasion of Iraq has left the cupboard bare. Four carrier battlegroups were also deployed for OIF compared to the two off Korea, the Kitty Hawk (originally intended to deploy to the Persian Gulf) and Carl Vision. Myers believes at least two more carrier groups will be needed for an invasion of North Korea.
President Bush wants to begin sending reinforcements to Korea. The troops they could move quickly would be the remaining two brigades of the 82nd Airborne Division. The brigades could be moved as soon as transports aircraft could be rounded up to move them. Heavier combat units that could start moving to Korea included the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, and 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized). The 3rd ACR was planning on being moved to Iraq within the month. They could be moved to Korea but would need to take equipment in storage in Texas and travel by ship. Myers estimated they could get them there in two to three weeks.
At sea heading for Iraq was the equipment for the 4th Infantry. Originally OIF had the 4th ID attacking from Turkey and taking Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit. Turkey’s refusal to allow Coalition forces to move troops through the country lead for the 4th ID to be deployed for Kuwait. Myers argued that they could change the destination and send the division to Korea. Bush asks whether that would be seen by the world as an abandonment of regime change in Iraq. Vice President Cheney argues they can just leave the 4th ID’s change in destination be just that. The decision whether to focus on Iraq or Korea doesn’t have to be made now, he argues, but that time will be coming soon. President Bush agrees and approves of the reinforcements.
The 820th Armored Corps begins its day under heavy artillery and air attack. Immediately following the bombardment, the 1st Brigade launches its attack. North Korean troops are unable to stop the attack. The final brigade of the 105th Armored Division falls back to Yeoncheon. A battle for the city breaks out with both sides capturing and recapturing the city’s train station. 820th Corps falls back again. Nearly a third of the Corps’ AFVs have been destroyed. The Iron Brigade establishes a line north of the city. It will spend the next day re-supplying and regrouping. In addition South Korean troops begin to pass through the American line to prepare for their own attack.
On South Korea’s eastern coast the NKPA I Corps and 806th Mechanized Corps continued their withdrawal. ROKA makes persistent attacks into rugged terrain and with limited air support (due to the air strikes on the DMZ artillery sites). The South Korean VII Corps sends a division in an enveloping move to try and trap the 806th. I Corps commander orders several units to hold critical passes and towns to the death. The NKPA Lieutenant General knows that the 806th will be needed to defend the DPRK from an Allied counteroffensive. The fanatical resistance by North Korean troops and terrain deny the ROKA the chance to encircle the 806th.The ROK 3rd Army launches its relief attack towards Munsan. Spearheaded by the 8th Infantry and 65th Reserve Divisions, the attack also includes the U.S. 4th-7th Cavalry. North Korean soldiers fall back or die in place. South Korean troops meet up with forces from Munsan. The reopening of a corridor to Munsan results in the dividing of the 815th Mechanized Corps. ROKA 30th Mechanized Division along with the American Armored Cavalry concentrates on destroying the eastern half of the 815th. The two NKPA brigades receive the fury of the Allied attack. The remains of the two brigades fall back. On the western half of the ROK corridor the 815th begins withdrawing under the cover of the splintered divisions of the I Corps. The direct threat to Seoul has been eliminated.
Allied airpower continues its campaign against the DPRK hardened artillery sites (HARTs). On orders from Kim Jong-Il the artillery did not obliterate Seoul on D-Day. Although damaged, Kim wants the city to be left mostly intact for the North’s capture of the ROK capital. Now with the war going against the communists, the Allies worry that Kim will order the city’s destruction. South Korean and American F-16s have been hitting the HARTs since the first day of the war. The first of a massive strike combining ROKAF, USAF, and Naval airpower occurs early in the morning.
Lead by squadrons of F-15s, Falcons, Korean Phantoms, hit HART sites with JDAMs and other precision weapons. Also used are thousands of pounds of ‘dumb’ bombs. Pounding the concrete bunkers into submission works in some cases. Some sites survive the massive bombardment. Following the early morning strikes are attacks by the Vision and Kitty Hawk. F/A-18s and some F-14Ds continue the attack with more smart bombs. Few North Korean aircraft attempt to interfere with the operations. All the Allied losses come from DPRK SAMs and AAA. The final air strikes against the DMZ positions come from the massive B-52s flying from Guam. Carpet-bombing the slopes of the DMZ, some HART sites are obliterated while others are buried under rock slides.
March 25- In the center, South Korean troops continue their advance. North Korean soldiers occupy buildings throughout Yeoncheon. Street fighting results in heavy casualties for the ROK troops. The NKPA troops suffer nearly ninety percent casualties but do slow the Allied advance. The 2nd Infantry’s 1st Brigade does not join in the city fight performing maintenance and rearmament to its armor and mechanized battalions. 1-15 Field Artillery does provide ROKA units with fire support.
The 1st Infantry Division’s (Mechanized) two battalions engage the North Korean 5th Infantry Division’s remnants north of Yeoncheon while the ROK cleans up the rear. The Abrams tanks and Bradleys have no problem taking on the North Korean AFVs but their infantry proves more difficult. US forces call in artillery and air strikes to dig the NKPA infantry from their hill positions. The attacks have mixed success. North Korean ATGMs and suicide attacks knock out three M1A1s and destroy four Bradleys. It is decided to wait for the 1st Brigade and ROK infantry before assuming the advance. Air attacks continue to degrade NKPA forces falling back.
With the splintering of the NKPA 815th Mechanized Corps and the relief of Munsan in the west, the ROKA 3rd Army continues its counterattacks. Aiming to destroy or pocket all the remaining NKPA units south of the DMZ. The 9th Infantry Division pushes from Kimpo, breaking through the remains of the IV Corps units before it. By night fall they are only five km from the lower Imijin River with the NKPA units desperately trying to get across it and the DMZ.
Back near Munsan, the relieved 30th Infantry Division and 2nd Armored Brigade are given time to rest and rearm. Fresh units from the Capital Corps work with the American Cavalry to eliminate the 815th Corps. 4-7th Cavalry with ROK units keep the pressure on the withdrawing NKPA armor. Even the rear units of the 815th not in direct contact with allied forces isn’t safe. Air power continues destroy bridges along the Imijin. Engineers work to repair and replace them but many are killed in air attacks. By the end of the day NKPA is holding onto its few remaining bridgeheads across the river.
Things are quiet in the east. The majority of the 806th Mechanized Corps has withdrawn back into the DMZ. Stubborn resistance by the North Koreans and difficult terrain slows the ROK advance. Despite the set backs the ROKA has closed to within seven km of the DMZ along the coast and five in the interior over sluggish mountains.
March 26- The air war over Korea falls to the US and ROK air forces as the carriers Kitty Hawk and Carl Vision replenish their stores of weapons. Both ships have expended two thirds of their weapons especially air to air missiles and PGMs. A second round of bomber strikes is launched from Guam early in the morning. B-52s and B-1s focus their attention on the retreating NKPA V and I Corps. American F-16s and ROK fighter bombers target the remaining NKPA mobile SAMs. With the SAMs suppressed, the bombers take a heavy toll on the remains of the 820th Armored Corps. I Corps rear areas are shattered by the strikes. No North Korean fighters challenge the bomber strikes. Allied forces have achieved air superiority over the FEBA and areas north of the DMZ.
At sea ROKN and JMSDF frigates and destroyers are engaged in a vigorous ASW campaign. The remaining force of DPRK submarines spend most of their time trying to avoid the Allied naval forces, while still conducting attacks. Several cargo vessels have been sunk so far. The DPRK however has lost over a third of its submarines. The remaining vessels are ordered by the North Korean command to push south to cut the SLOCs leading to South Korea.
Maritime Pre-Positioning ships sailing from Guam are the primary target. Carrying equipment for US Marines, the ships are escorted by two frigates and a destroyer out of Guam’s naval base. By the 26th they are two days out from Korea. In the Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan, and Tsushima Strait, South Korean and Japanese ASW forces begin a running battle with DPRK Romeo and Whiskey submarines.
West of Tsushima Island, the Ohyodo a Destroyer Escort picks up Romeo at 0530. It vectors helicopters from the cruiser Kurama. Two SH-60Js work the contact sinking the North Korean submarine at 0621. The group conducts another successful attack three hours later sinking another pair of DPRK submarines. South Korean frigates and destroyers battle with a pair of Romeo submarines further south. An Ulsan FFG is damaged by a DPRK torpedo, but is avenged when a P-3 Orion sinks the enemy submarine. North Korea does manage to sink an ROK German built 209 submarines.
Japanese submarines suffer no losses in the eastern part of the Tsushima Strait. They sink manage to sink two North Korean submarines. Surface forces in the strait have less success. Tone a DE begins a three hour dual with a North Korean diesel boat. It makes two unsuccessful attacks before succumbing to a DPRK attack, she sinks at 1153. Another torpedo attack is made against the Tachikaze a guided missile destroyer. It fails and JMSDF ships are unable to re locate the attacker. 200 miles of Iki Island, a Romeo hits the destroyer Ariake but is promptly sunk by its partner the Kirisame. The Ariake limps to port.
In the Yellow Sea, ROKN loses a frigate and three corvettes in exchange for the five out of the six remaining DPRK submarines in the AO. The last damaged enters a Chinese port where it is interned. North Korea sends a slew of patrol boats armed with torpedoes and missiles to engage the ROK surface forces. Three ROKN vessels are damaged, and the DPRK forces suffer nearly 80 percent losses.
Ground operations across the peninsula concentrate on destroying and driving NKPA troops back across the DMZ. In the east except for some isolated units, the majority of I Corps units have withdrawn across the DMZ. ROK 1st Army closes on the border and establishes new defensive positions. Helicopters, air attacks and artillery keep pressure on North Korean forces in and past the DMZ. The First Army commander requests permission to continue the advance north but is denied by CFC and ROK command.In the center, the ROK Third Army launches an attack with two reserve divisions and attached armor and artillery south of Cheorwon. The attack ties down several DPRK regiments, and artillery. Later the main attack is launched in the west by the Iron Brigade along with the 1st Infantry battalions. They attack up a valley leading to the city. They smash through the DPRK defenses with heavy artillery and air support. American A-10s and ROK F-16s bomb and strafe the positions inside the valley. K1A1s, M1A1s, and M2A2s use their cannons and TOW missiles to blast NKPA bunkers and infantry who are unable to stop the assault.
As the breakthrough is made, the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade launches an air assault against Daegwang-ri south of the Cheorwon. Heavily supported by AH-64s the brigade takes control of its objectives. Tanks from 2-72nd Armor link up with their sister brigade at 1435. The battles against DPRK infantry in the valley and the few T-62s and T-55s deployed there has damaged and destroyed a dozen Abrams tanks and Bradleys. Rested and re-equipped units from the ROK VI Corps pass through the Americans. By 1700 hours, the VI Corps, led by the ROK 5th Armored Brigade, continues the attack to Cheorwon. NKPA units in the city begin falling back but are given a direct order by Kim Jong-Il to hold their positions to the death if necessary. The remnants of the NKPA V Corps dig into the city and prepare for a bloody battle.
The other elements of the ROK 3rd Army attack the remaining NKPA bridge heads over the Imjin River. South Korean tanks smash through the infantry screen covering the site of the Freedom Bridge crossing. Although the bridge is gone, pontoon bridges laid by DPRK engineers remain. K-1s sweep through the parking lot outside the destroyed building near the bridge and pull up to the shore of the river. With direct fire they destroy numerous AFVs and vehicles retreating back across the DMZ. ROK mechanized infantry of the Capital Division cross the North Korean bridges in their K-2000 APCs. A battalion is able to get across with tanks before NKPA artillery takes out the bridges. South Korean engineers are already building their own bridges as NKPA rounds explode around them.
Kim Jong-Il’s military advisors cannot hide their failures any longer. Furious at the thought of his army retreating Kim orders all remaining their forces inside the ROK to hold to the death. He then has several senior commanders arrested and replaced with men of his choice. He also orders the sending of North Korea’s mobilizing reserves to the DMZ to prepare for another series of attacks. The military leadership of the NKPA doesn’t have the ability to support another massive attack. With allied air attacks occurring against their lines of communication hourly, desperately needed ammunition, medical supplies, and food are not reaching the elite frontline troops, let alone the reservists.
March 27- ROK troops hit the DPRK defenses around Cheorwon. Progress is slow as NKPA artillery observers on Mt. Godae direct fire from guns along the DMZ and V Corps remaining mobile guns. Allied guns fire on the mountain in attempt to knock out the observers. Their results are mixed. MLRS systems fire on the dug in troops ringing the area around Cheorwon. Despite the enemy artillery fire, ROK troops push ahead against stiff resistance.
In the west the ROKA expands their bridgeheads. Troops that crossed near the Freedom Bridge launch attacks that lead them to the Korean Highway Transit Office and Dorsan Train Station. All the buildings are smashed in the fighting and DPRK infantry give ground slowly, many using the rubble for cover. Remnants of the 815th Mechanized Corps use their tanks and AFVs as pillboxes since they have no fuel. Despite these hazards the ROK troops take the area and are now only km from their frontline DMZ fortifications. The collapsing North Korean front is what leads to first major artillery bombardment of Seoul.
Hoping to give his army a breather and a chance to hold onto their remaining gains, Kim orders the artillery along the DMZ to fire onto Seoul. 423 long-range artillery systems including 170mm guns and 240mm MRLs fire on the three northern sections of the city only. The rounds pulverize buildings and city streets into rubble. One of the most historical sites lost is the Gyeongbokgung Palace. The ancient pagoda structure is completely destroyed in the bombardment. Massive fires breakout throughout the area. They rapidly spread out of control since fire fighters cannot fight the flames due to the incoming DPRK shells. It’s estimated that over twelve thousand people are wounded in the attack with another 7,000 killed.
The world is appalled by the destruction and lost of life. Russia and China issue communications offering South Korea relief plus support and condemning the North Koreans. British Prime Minster Tony Blair issues a statement calling for the removal of Kim Jong-Il. Japanese Prime Minster Junichiro Koizumi chastises Kim Jong-Il, “for bringing the horrors of war to Asia and attacking helpless civilians without cause.”
In the United States huge movements of sympathy for the victims of the ‘Seoul Massacre’ as it is called, occur on the west coast and other major American cities. Scenes from the site of the bombardment remind many Americans of 9/11. Angry Korean groups in the country call for the mass bombing of North Korea and an invasion. Some people even call for a nuclear response. President Bush and his NSC advisors continue the discussion over whether they should push for a UN resolution to remove Kim Jong-Il from power, as world opinion and support is leaning in that direction.
Vice President Cheney argues that they should continue with operations to push the North Koreans back across the DMZ and leave it at that. He wants to continue with current plans to remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq. The VP believes that North Korea will collapse from the weight of its failure. The DPRK army has been mauled, it will soon run out of food and fuel, plus marching on Pyongyang might antagonize China. Secretary of State Powell disagrees. He points out the Chinese have been productive and suspended much of the aide they have been sending the North. The PRC could be given assurances of American and ROK objectives in a march north. His biggest argument is the world is in full support of the Allies for regime change in Korea rather than Iraq.
President Bush once again asks the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs about carrying on two regional wars at once. General Myers replies that U.S. forces can not carryout two invasions at once. He purposes transferring the airborne forces in theater the 101st Air Assault Division and a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division. The heavy forces of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), I Marine Expeditionary Force, and British troops finishing taking their current objectives then dig in to hold onto what they’ve liberated. A carrier would also be transferred to Sea of Japan to relieve the damaged Kitty Hawk.
Reinforcements to Korea continue. Aircraft from the 13th Air Force in Hawaii have been lifting elements of the 25th Infantry Division (Light). The division’s 2nd and 3rd Brigades have moved to secure Osan Air base and Pusan harbor. Securing the port will help aide the arrival of the III Marine Expeditionary Force. The combined ground and air force has mobilized in Japan and is loading on ships for transport to Korea. Marine Aircraft Groups 12 and 24 are already in country at ROK air bases. Also heading for Korea is the 3rd ACR and 4th ID (Mech). Combined with ROK armies, Myers believes these forces can mount an invasion if so ordered. The operational staffs at the Pentagon and PACOM are drawing up a plan Myers reports.
Bush is quiet for a few moments. He then tells Secretary Powell to contact the UN Ambassador and start laying the ground work for calling for a resolution to remove Kim Jong-Il from power. The President leaves the NSC meeting to prepare for a national address later that evening.
Following the bombardment of Seoul, Kim Jong-Il appears on television demanding the capitulation of the South. He threatens further attacks on the city even going as far to suggest that he will make use of chemical weapons or even radioactive material. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun answers Kim’s demands with a statement of his own. Roh says his country will not give in. That they will ‘continue to fight for their freedom and those of their brothers and sisters in the north’, he also says the South will not be bullied by threats. President Bush also appears on television.
He updates the Americans on the fighting in Iraq and Korea. President Bush also answers Kim Jong-Il’s threats. In subtle language the President suggests that any use of WMDs on Allied troops or any country in Asia will be responded with in kind. Bush also begins laying the groundwork for the upcoming American resolution to remove Kim Jong-Il from power, making public Secretary Powell’s planned visit to the United Nations’ Security Council in the next few days.March 28- Allied air power is directed at taking out the NKPA artillery sites threatening Seoul. Aircraft from Korean, Japanese, Guam, and CONUS bases take part in the day long series of attacks. First to strike are B-2s flying from Missouri. Powerful GBU-28s slam into the North Korean HARTs. Capable of penetrating 20 feet of reinforced concrete the bombs due destroy or damage half of the targets. At the same time F-117s and other B-2s attack communication centers and links around Kaesong and Pyongyang. It is hoped that the interference caused will prevent further bombardments orders from going through.
The B-2 strikes are followed up by strikes from ROK and USAF fighter bombers. With F-15s flying protection, F-16s, F-4s, and Marine F/A-18s attack with precision weapons. Navy aircraft also join in these attacks throughout the day. North Korea tries to defend its guns with ground based air defenses only. No DPRK fighters rise to engage the Allied air forces. SAMs and AAA take a toll shooting down fifteen planes. SEAD missions during the day take down a number of North Korean radar and SAM sites. AAA guns remain a problem. North Korean soldiers also use hand held SAMs with limited effectiveness.
Artillery commanders attempt to contact Pyongyang for orders. The Allied attacks on the communication links coupled with U.S. jamming of radio frequencies hinder their efforts. Some battery commanders try to fire but the opening of their doors for fire leaves them vulnerable to the hovering fighter bombers. Most units keep themselves sealed, since they have no orders to fire on Seoul from Kim.
The final round of attacks comes from B-1s and B-2s flying from Guam. Carpet bombing the DPRK guns, there was some debate by PACOM over the effectiveness of the bombers. A similar mission on March 25th failed to knock out the North Korean guns. The strike is given the go ahead for political reasons as the ROK government wants everything short of nukes thrown at the artillery threatening Seoul. A single B-52 is lost to SAM fire and a B-1 is damaged by triple-A fire. They destroy some of the artillery sites and bury others. Even after the massive series of day long strikes, over 100 long range missile launchers and artillery remain able to threaten Seoul.
Motivated by the damage inflicted on their capital, ROK troops show no quarter to their northern brothers. West of the lower Imjin and Han Rivers, attacking ROK forces smash the DPRK bridgeheads. Few prisoners are taken and the original border is reached. In trying to hold onto its bridgeheads the NKAP IV Corps destroyed four of its infantry regiments and the remains of a mechanized brigade. Dozens of artillery systems were also lost. Allied artillery and MLRS units fire into the DMZ on retreating North Korean troops.
With several bridges across the Imjin, the ROKA lead elements advance up the remainder of MSR 1 to Panmunjom. The grind against the remains of the North Korean 41st Infantry Division, which itself is the combined with the remains of the 26th NKPA Infantry, a battered armor and mechanized battalion. K-1 and M-48Ks make short work of the DPRK T-55s and APCs. Infantry from both sides slug it out, but the South Korean troops have the benefit of artillery fire. A final ROK drive is checked by the sudden appearance of Mi-24 Hinds.
The North Korean attack helicopters had limited success in the war due to American and ROK air domination. DPRK commanders tried to hold their Hinds in reserve but with the allies launching counterattacks all across the front the pilots and machines are sent in. Thanks to their surprise appearance the Hinds manage to check the ROK’s armored drive on the truce city. Several tanks and APCs are knocked out. Two Mi-24s are lost to ROK Stinger missiles. ROKAF F-16s are called in to clear the skies, but the majority of the enemy attack choppers escape by hugging the terrain. One Mi-24 is lost to a Korean Falcon.
A second attack supported by heavy artillery breaks through the remaining DPRK infantry. RPGs, ATGMs, and suicide tactics take out several ROK AFVs but the infantry make their way through the ‘Truce City’ and clear it of North Korean forces. The South Koreans discover a mass grave dug outside the complex filled with Korean, American, and UN personnel. ROK troops promptly round up some of the prisoners and execute them. A few NKPA political officers who were captured are reportedly run over by ROK tanks and APCs, although no one can confirm these tales. Along the Kaesong-Munsan approach the ROK troops clear out remaining North Korean pockets and restore the original border. The U.S. 4-7th Cavalry moves along Route 322 parallel to the DMZ engaging and helping ROK troops clear out North Korean forces.
The Battle for Cheorwon reaches its peak. ROK forces move along Highway 43, 325, and the U.S. 1st BDE down MSR 3. Held by the shattered units of V Corps the NKPA troops continue to give ground slowly, falling back after suffering nearly eighty percent casualties. Most of the DPRK soldiers who are captured are taken by the Americans. ROK units take few prisoners. AH-64s destroy what remains of the enemy armor and pound the DPRK infantry with rockets and 30mm chaingun fire. Due to lack of supplies and the destruction of their AA vehicles, North Korean soldiers can only fire a few SA shoulder mounted SAMs in defense. The combined attack by Allied forces breaks the North Koreans by 1945.
Many try to retreat north but are pounded by artillery, Longbow attack helicopters, and A-10s. Warthog pilots enjoy a SAM- and AAA-free environment. Using their guns, missiles, cluster bombs, and thousands of pounds of iron bombs, the communist retreat is made into a death march. Scores of bodies and smashed trucks and AFVs lead all the way into North Korea. Except for scattered pockets of resistance, the majority of the remains of the DPRK’s invasion force have retreated back into the DMZ. Orders go out to prepare defensive positions.
The Intermission: Allied Build Up (April-May)
March 29- The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment begins loading its equipment for shipment to ports on the Gulf coast. To ship the entire regiment over three hundred Abrams tanks, Bradley CFVs, M109s, and numerous other vehicles have to be loaded into huge RO&RO ships. Also going to Korea are seventy-four helicopters of its 4th Squadron. In addition to the normal TO&E of the unit, attached electronic, support, and an MLRS battery will be attached to the Cav by the III Corps, once loaded it will take six to eight days to travel across the Pacific.
The first elements of the III Marine Expeditionary Force’s enter Korea. Flying over from their base in Okinawa, F/A-18Ds of the 242nd Marine Squadron land at Daegu Air Base are the first to arrive. They will spend most of day getting spun up with their support elements that had flown in on American, Korean, and Japanese transports. Ships that already departed Guam carry equipment for the III MEF whose ground combat elements are already putting out to sea. Ships of the JMSDF will escort the Americans to Pusan.
Thing begin to settle along the front. Artillery duels begin between ROK and DPRK forces, trying to pound each other’s forward forces. The communist guns however also come under air attacks, something which the Allied forces don’t have to worry about. Except for small raiding teams and cut off forces, the majority of North Korean troops have retreated across the DMZ. There they dig into their own defenses believing that an Allied counterattack or even offensive might be coming.
Kim Jong-Il is furious with his generals. In just a week’s time the NKPAF has been mauled, their frontline ground forces a mere shadow of themselves, and the DPRK lost precious fuel for formations. China, via the Russian ambassador, informs the North that if it does not consent to a cease fire in the next forty-eight hours it will cut off all financial, food, and most importantly oil shipments to the DPRK. The bombardment of Seoul was the final straw for the PRC, which cannot risk international condemnation to continue helping the North.
As much as he’d like to, Kim does not order the arrest or execution of the senior leadership of the NKPA. If he did, this might lead to a power struggle. Although Kim is worshiped almost like a god by his people, the upper echelons of government are less enthralled, especially now that the ‘liberation’ of the South has fallen on its face. He asks what will be done to defend the Motherland.
Ground-wise, the North Koreans still have manpower to rely on. Thousands of reservists are being called up. The People’s Militia would fill the rank and file. However, the elite of the North Korean Army have taken huge losses. Each of the assaulting, now defending corps on the DMZ, had taken sixty and in some cases eight percent casualties so far. Their armor and mechanized forces had also suffered. The 820th Armored Corps amounted to a three badly weakened brigades; the 815th Mechanized Corps had suffered just as bad. Only the 806th Mechanized Corps had any real strength left. However it would take time to move it from the east coast to cover Kaesong and Pyongyang. Plus any move would expose its elements to the Allied fighters that roamed Korea at will.
Kim orders all efforts be made to defend the Motherland, including the deployment of their remaining fighters to cover to transfer of the 806th. The head of the NKPAF warns that if they remove the few remaining regiments from their current missions, guarding weapon sites, the Yongbyon nuclear plant, and the capital would leave all these area more exposed to attack. Kim’s orders are final and he tells the commanders to strengthen the air defenses at these sites, even if it means stripping other locations of their SAMs and AAA guns.
March 30- American and British forces in Iraq begin to slow and take a final series of objectives before digging in. Allied troops control most of Iraq below the Euphrates River. British forces the 1st Armored Division and 7th Marines have laid siege to Basra. U.S. Marines from the 1st Division and Task Force Tarawa control parts of central and southeast Iraq. They begin clearing operations to secure the cities they had bypassed or encircled. Vicious battles with Fedayeen and other Ba'ath Party militia forces occur. The heavy forces of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) stop near the Karbala Gap. Saddam seeing a chance at victory begins organizing his remaining forces for attacks on the Allied troops. The Medina Division of the Republican Guard is ordered to head south to the Karbala Gap and attack the 3rd ID.
March 31-April 5 The battle of Karbala is fought. Under orders from Saddam, the Medina Division attacks the 3rd Infantry Division. A blistering sandstorm that had would have slowed the American advance now covers the approaching Iraqi troops. In addition to the attack by Iraq’s best, Fedayeen and other militia forces launch attacks against the Americans. Many of the worst urban battles occur in the Marines’ sector in Nasiriyah. Hussein wished for these attacks to be the deceive blow to drive the Americans from Iraq. In reality they are disaster.
Insurgent attacks are ineffective against the Army troops. American armored vehicles with their thermal sites help cut through the dust storm. The mechanized infantry and tankers appreciate the Iraqi Fedayeen’s frontal attacks, it means they won’t have to dig them out of the cities they were terrorizing. Things are more difficult for the Marines in their urban battle.
The attack by the Medina Division is poorly executed and coordinated. Iraqi commanders cannot communicate with their units as they are denied radios. In his paranoia to prevent an internal revolt, Saddam restricted the ability of military units to communicate and coordinate. The brigades try to coordinate their actions viva messengers but the system breaks down. Equipment wise the division is already weakened from air attacks. Despite the problems the attack goes forward as scheduled.
Artillery fires as Iraqi armor pushes down the Karbaka Gap and across the Euphrates. Iraqi artillery units are silenced by American guns and MLRS systems after firing their shells, use of shorter ranged mortars proves more effective. T-72 tanks and BMP fighting vehicles are decimated by the M1A1s. The 1st Brigade Combat Team destroys the first attacking battalions who have little room to maneuver through the Gap. 3rd-7th Armored Cavalry launch a limited counterattack in conjunction with the 2nd ‘Spartan’ BCT. They destroy the elements of the Medina’s second brigade that crossed the river. Shattered Medina elements retreat north through the Gap and back across the river.
During the battle Special Forces and Marine units launch a rescue mission for Private Jessica Lynch. Prior to the mission’s go time Fedayeen units stormed the hospital she was being held in. The hospital staff had been protecting her to this point are dismissed. Interrogated and filmed the milita plan on taking her back to Baghdad. However the diversionary attack by the Marines causes the Fedayeen commander to execute her. Her body and those of eight other soldiers are recovered by the Special Forces. Shortly after this Marines no longer take prisoners in Nasiriyah.
In Korea the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit begins landing at Pusan. The quick reaction force of the III MEF they will unload their equipment and move north to relieve ROK units on the DMZ. The 1st and 2nd Brigades of the 2nd Infantry Division are relieved by fresh ROK reserves and begin moving back to an assembly area north of Yeoncheon where they are joined by the 1st Infantry task forces. North Korea begins moving the 806th Mechanized Corps west towards Pyongyang.
Allied Air Forces continue sorties against North Korean missile and artillery sites but most units see fewer sorties to rest crews, conduct repairs, and receive replacement aircraft. The air situation has improved enough to allow for the USS Kitty Hawk to begin heading back for Japan for repairs. Her air wing will deploy to ROK and JASDF bases. To replace the Kitty Hawk, the carrier Abraham Lincoln leaves the Persian Gulf and begins heading for Korea. As part of the carrier force is the ship carrying the equipment for the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized).
April 6- Secretary of State Colin Powell reappears before the UN Security Council. He summarizes the events of the war in Korea so far. Next he outlines what should be a new resolution calling for the removal of Kim Jong-Il and the communist party from power in the DPRK. He argues that the judgment of history is against the communists and that the continued rule of the ‘Dear Leader’ would be a crime against the North Koreans themselves.
The Chinese and Russian representatives give long speeches which point out the U.S. fixation on Iraq at the cost of war in Asia. However, they support action to remove Kim under a set of clearly defined UN goals. Britain of course supports the United States while France like the Russians and Chinese takes a chance to poke at the U.S. invasion of Iraq, but supports the resolution with conditions, a deadline for North Korea to agree to a ceasefire and suspension of its nuclear program under international supervision. An exact date is not set as it is unknown how long it will take the U.S. to build up forces in the region.