U.S. provocation plan prepares war on n. Korea

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Jul 19 10:38:09 MDT 2003


http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/030721/usnews/21korea.htm

Upping the ante for Kim Jong Il
Pentagon Plan 5030, a new blueprint for facing down North Korea

By Bruce B. Auster and Kevin Whitelaw
U.S. News
7/21/03

Within the past two months, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has
ordered U.S. military commanders to devise a new war plan for a
possible
conflict with North Korea. Elements of the draft, known as Operations
Plan
5030, are so aggressive that they could provoke a war, some senior
Bush
administration officials tell U.S. News.

Adm. Thomas Fargo, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, and senior
Pentagon
planners are developing the highly classified plan. The administration
insiders, who are critical of the plan, say it blurs the line between
war
and peace. The plan would give commanders in the region authority to
conduct maneuvers--before a war has started--to drain North Korea's
limited
resources, strain its military, and perhaps sow enough confusion that
North
Korean generals might turn against the country's leader, Kim Jong Il.
"Some
of the things [Fargo] is being asked to do," says a senior U.S.
official,
"are, shall we say, provocative."

There are several war plans for Korea--Plans 5026 and 5027, as well as
5030--that outline the different phases of war and the specific
provisions
for movements of large numbers of troops, aircraft carriers, and other
war-fighting requirements. U.S. News has learned details of the prewar
phase of the newest version of Plan 5030. Some officials believe the
draft
plan amounts to a strategy to topple Kim's regime by destabilizing its
military forces. The reason: It is being pushed by many of the same
administration hard-liners who advocated regime change in Iraq. The
Pentagon only recently began offering details of the plan to top
officials
at the White House, the State Department, and other agencies. It has
not
yet been approved. A Pentagon spokesman declined comment.

One scenario in the draft involves flying RC-135 surveillance flights
even
closer to North Korean airspace, forcing Pyongyang to scramble
aircraft and
burn scarce jet fuel. Another option: U.S. commanders might stage a
weeks-long surprise military exercise, designed to force North Koreans
to
head for bunkers and deplete valuable stores of food, water, and other
resources. The current draft of 5030 also calls for the Pentagon to
pursue
a range of tactical operations that are not traditionally included in
war
plans, such as disrupting financial networks and sowing
disinformation.

Against the wall

Some administration officials and military experts say they consider
these
tactics dangerously provocative. What would happen, they ask, if North
Korea shot down an RC-135 or lobbed artillery at South Korea? "What
the
Pentagon is trying to do is balance the risk between ceding the
initiative
to the enemy or taking steps to influence it," says Andrew Krepinevich
of
the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. "But does war
become
more likely?"

America's allies in the region--South Korea and Japan--think so. They,
along with China, worry that if the Bush administration puts too much
pressure on North Korea, Pyongyang could strike back in unpredictable
ways.
"Once we push them too hard against the wall," says a Japanese
official,
"we do not know what kind of reaction Kim Jong Il will have."

It is the Pentagon's job to be ready for war--and critics of this war
plan
admit as much. The Pentagon work on 5030 was triggered by Rumsfeld's
desire
to reinvent the military in the wake of lessons learned in Afghanistan
and
Iraq--and that includes the way the nation plans for war. Says one
official, "The secretary wants to make how we plan for conflicts
responsive
to changing situations."

But if the Pentagon gives commanders more authority to take aggressive
actions in peacetime, as contemplated in Plan 5030, it risks tripping
over
the president's--and Congress's--authority to commit the nation to
war,
says a senior official. "Who decides when to go to war?" the official
asks.
"Good question."


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