North Korea Planned Attack Carefully
Christine Kim, writing for the JoongAng Daily (November 26, 2010), has an excellent, concise article, "N. Korea fired thermobaric bombs," clarifying that the North planned its attack well in advance and thereby contradicting the North's claim that it was reacting to the South's 'provocation' in carrying out live-fire exercises. Let me quote at length, excising the extraneous:
South Korea's military concludes the attack was meticulously planned, although much more damage would have been caused if the North's equipment wasn't so old and faulty . . . . The South Korean military is examining around twenty North Korean shells that failed to explode . . . . Military officials believe North Korea achieved such extensive damage on the island despite the duds and the misses because it meticulously planned the attack . . . [using] "time-on-target" (TOT) coordination, a military tactic in which all the munitions arrive . . . at a designated target [simultaneously] for maximum destruction . . . . [Moreover,] North Korea used artillery guns located at the front and the rear of their bases, . . . locations that could not easily be detected visibly . . . . North Korean troops in Gaemori have also been observed since last year moving their artillery to the north, reinforcing them with concrete to defend against South Korean retaliation . . . . North Korea [carried out a firing drill using the TOT method] in January near the Northern Limit Line, with around 100 rounds fired, . . . [as] a dress rehearsal . . . . North Korea attacked [on Tuesday] when artillery on Yeonpyeong Island were facing southwest for firing exercises, away from North Korea, to buy more time and increase damage . . . . [The South's troops thus required] time . . . to rotate the guns toward North Korea . . . . [The North] didn't fire randomly but specifically targeted the military base on the island, including oil storage units, and 20,000 liters of oil were released, some catching on fire. They also targeted the post office, a supermarket and municipal buildings . . . . formerly military buildings, so the South Korean military suspects North Korea was planning from an old map.All of this taken together is very powerful circumstantial evidence that the attack was well-planned long in advance. One can, of course, question some particulars. The January test-firing might not have been a "dress rehearsal" specifically for the way that North Korea has recently acted up. The North might not have planned this ten months ago. But the cumulative details strongly imply that the North's attack was no fit of pique acted out in response to a purported 'provocation' from the South.
Supporting evidence for the view that this attack was planned in advance can be found in the fact that the North moved artillery in advance, as we learn from the Chosun Ilbo, which tells of the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) batteries being moved into position hours before the firing started:
[S]everal hours before the shelling began the North Korean military deployed one battery of six 122-mm MLRS shells and later two batteries of 12 112-mm MLRS shells. It also carried out preparatory shooting practice just before the attack. ("Military Knew of N.Korean Artillery Move Before Attack," Chosun Ilbo, November 27, 2010)We also learn, from another Chosen Ilbo article, that "North Korean coastal artillery positions are not equipped with MLRS" ("The Devastating Power of N.Korea's MLRS Artillery," November 27, 2010), which reinforces the evidence that these MLRS batteries were moved in advance of the South's live-fire exercises and therefore not a reaction to any so-called 'provocation' by the South. Given these facts -- and the fearsome fact from the same article that 200 MLRS vehicles are deployed along the DMZ and can hit Seoul with 6,400 shells and turn 6 square kilometers into rubble -- one question that ought to be foremost in our minds is what the North wants to extort from the South or the US this time.
So, let's think about that . . .
Incidentally, if you're wondering about "thermobaric bombs," Christine Kim informs us that these explode twice and "have longer blast waves than regular explosives, and when used in the open air, they can result in increased casualties and more structural damage."
What nice folks there are in the North's governing elite, who must have known that the island was home to civilians in addition to hosting a military base and that shelling it would result in civilian casualties.
Not that the nomenklatura up North care about that since they care so little about their own civilian population . . .