Looking at the map that comes with the war game Next War: Korea tells you a number of things about a potential second Korean War:
First, the mountain ranges in the middle of the peninsula split any conflict into two different wars, a west coast war and an east coast one. Second, there are barriers to invading the South, rivers such as the Han and the mountain ranges that run across the center of the country. These make formidable obstacles.
Seoul is only a day’s march (or an hour’s drive) from the DMZ, which makes defending it hard. To top it off, the low, flat plain between Seoul and the DMZ, although fortified, is like a shotgun barrel pointed at the South Korean capital.
Wargames can also be great for data visualization. Quoting numbers of infantry, tanks and aircraft stationed on the Korean peninsula is one thing, but seeing individual units in their actual defensive locations, or stacked up in attack echelons just north of the border, has a way of illustrating just how dangerous the situation on the Korean peninsula really is, and what each side’s chances of survival actually are.
Run all that information through a simulation, and things start to happen that look like a real war.
It turns out North Korea could win:
The war starts with a combination of North Korean missile strikes, Special Operations Forces raids and sabotage targeting allied air bases across South Korea. These asymmetrical attacks have cripple the allies’ high-tech fighters and attack jets, and what helicopter units remain flyable are limited in the overcast weather. It could be a week before allied planes are in the air in meaningful numbers.
In the meantime, South Korea’s standing army and the Americans of the 2nd Infantry Division are on their own.
- The U.S. is putting too much faith in air power
- Reservists are great, but a bigger standing South Korean army is better
- As janky as it is, the North Korean Air Force still has value
- Seoul is crazy close to the border
- Turning Seoul into a ‘sea of fire’ is a bad idea
- The longer it takes the North to win, the more likely it will lose
- The North Korean bomb is impractical in an invasion scenario
- South Korea’s expensive, new blue-water navy is not at all helpful
- The next Korean war doesn’t need stealth fighters, unless…