Korea: logistics, and propaganda

In my continuing fit of doom about Korea, this isn’t helping – a US Military Sealift Command reserve freighter full of Maritime Prepositioning System kit is practising offloading it all in a Korean port. Supposedly, when they’re finished they’ll put it all back aboard and sail away. If you believe that, though…

The MPS is the US military’s way of saving time shipping stuff around; they basically keep all the gear for an Army or Marine brigade packed in a ship somewhere strategic. Instant force, just add soldiers, who can come by air. This has a nasty logistics sound to it. Meanwhile, there is a real danger of war, says a Korean strategist from CSIS. Serious politicians are saying things like “reunification is drawing near” and that the Japanese military might be sent to look for people abducted by North Korea. That last one, from the Japanese prime minister, has an even nastier propaganda sound to it.

The Chinese envoy has been to Pyongyang, while the Foreign Ministry has had a pop at the US commander in chief in the Pacific, Admiral Mullen. This could be good news in the sense that Chinese engagement might warn off anyone from doing anything dangerous. The US Deputy Secretary of State is going to Beijing soon with a delegation, followed by Robert Gates next month.

And if you want to know what a joint US-Japanese carrier fleet looks like


  1. SimonF

    So how do you think this pans out?

    It looks like North Korea is imploding and like all dictatorships will need to do something to keep power and take the minds of the populace of their dire conditions; that something is increasingly looking like war with South Korea. A good way for dictators to get the population on their side.

    The way I see it, China doesn’t want US troops in North Korea but doesn’t want a basket case on its border either, especially one with nukes. Do the Chinese go in and disarm North Korea, scaring the living daylights out of many countries in the region as well as the US? Or do they come to some pact with the US that allows then to support SK but then get the hell out of the north within a given time period?

    If they don’t come to some pact the thought of US and Chinese troops staring each other down scares the living daylights out of me.

    Given the history with Japan I really don’t see the Chinese allowing Japanese ships as part of any carrier group attacking the north, either.

    • I’d draw your attention to the provisions of the 2+4 Power Accords that dealt with the external aspects of German reunification. At Stavropol, Gorbachev consented to German reunification in one state and that state’s membership in NATO on the conditions that reunified Germany would have no nuclear, biological, or chemical armaments, would restrict the size of its army to 375,000 men or fewer, and that no non-German forces would be stationed in the former East Germany*. I can well imagine a reunification scenario in which the US undertook not to station anyone in the ex-North Korea and leave it to the ROKs, whose country it is anyway.

      *Let’s not forget the fourth condition: that nothing would be done to reverse the DDR’s land reform.

  2. SimonF

    I’m not sure the comparison works. DDR was peaceful and not threatening FDR and looking to start a war. there was no need for the West to enter DDR to win a war in the first place.

    Unless…. China manages to persuade the North that their time is up and they need to accept unification with the south, something I can’t see happening.

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