North Korea’s Hwasong-15 ICBM Can Strike Anywhere In U.S. Mainland

David Maxwell Comment:  “The new USFK Strategic Digest for 2019 can be downloaded here.  It is a useful reference for many areas from burden sharing to force structure to organization of the commands though it does not have the detailed force comparisons that previous editions illustrated (notwithstanding the highlight of the Hwasong 15).”
David Maxwell Comment:  “The digest really feels like peace is about to break out on the Korean peninsula.  It is written from the perspective of complete support to diplomacy.  There is a strong emphasis on the soft power contribution to the alliance.  Although the word exercises is used some 16 times it is really only mentioned in passing with the most significant reference here:
Toward these goals, and to enable the diplomatic process, adjustments in the scale, scope, timing and volume, of some ROK-U.S. combined exercises have been
made. Whether the North will reciprocate with sincerity toward the diplomatic process while showing similar restraint in its conventional forces is yet to be seen. 
David Maxwell Comment:  “It must have been published before the exercise names were changed and the “legacy exercise program” was eliminated as it still references Ulchi Freedom Guardian.
There is more discussion of the UN Command than in any previous edition.  The emphasis is on revitalization of the UNC.  
There is mention of the OPCON transition process but unless I missed it there is no mention of the future commander being a ROK general office in command of the ROK/US CFC.  Also this was published before the decision was made to the ROK/US CFC to Camp Humphreys as it says it will remain in Seoul.  
Most important the digest misses an opportunity to really explain in detail the OPCON transition process.  There needs to be a strong information and influence activities campaign to educate the ROK and US publics and the ROK and US legislatures and this publications missed that opportunity.  In fact it might actual reinforce some of the myths that are being perpetuated in the ROK public. Namely, (1) “conditions based OPCON transition” is code for the US never allowing the transition to occur with the US never agreeing that the conditions have been met. (2) The revitalization of the UNC is also an effort to ensure the US dominates the combined military on the Korean peninsula, and (3) the theme in the digest of “one force three commands” reinforces this idea.  And of course this is published as the USFK strategic digest further reinforcing that the USFK plays the dominant role on the Korean peninsula.  While there is excellent discussion of ROK contributions to building Camp Humphreys and ROK military purchases of US equipment there is very little about the forces that organize and fight under the ROK/US CFC, in particular the ROK military units.  It is very US centric.  The message that the US dominates the command is further reinforced by the fact that everything is published on a USFK web site using a USFK domain name with no separate ROK/US CFC web site and no UNC web site no ROK/US CFC and UNC domains. 
I think there really needs to be a concerted effort to illustrate the shared ownership of the ROK/US CFC.  This is especially critical as we move toward the OPCON transition and the appointment of the ROK general office to command the ROK/US CFC.  I would like to see a separate ROK/US CFC Strategic Digest and UNC Strategic Digest to really emphasize the importance of the three commands. The “one force three commands” theme is actually more old think and the way things used to be between 1978 and the early 2000’s. If we want to make the OPCON transition successful we are going to have to think harder about the information and influence activities campaign necessary to support it and most important make the ROK/US CFC the centerpiece of deterrence and defense.”

(LEAD) N. Korea’s Hwasong-15 ICBM can strike anywhere in U.S. mainland: USFK | Yonhap News Agency · by 장재순 · July 11, 2019


SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) — The United States Forces Korea (USFK) has said that North Korea’s Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is capable of reaching anywhere in the U.S. mainland, its first official assessment of the long-range missile.

The Hwasong-15 ICBM that the communist country test-fired on Nov. 29, 2017, has an estimated range of 8,000 miles, or 12,874 kilometers, which is “capable of striking any part of the continental U.S.,” according to the “2019 Strategic Digest,” an annual publication by the USFK along with the United Nations Command and the Combined Forces Command.

Following its successful launch of the ICBM last year, North Korea has claimed that it is the first missile capable of putting the whole U.S. within its range. In its 2018 defense white paper, South Korea stopped short of describing it as having a range of over 10,000 km.

According to the magazine, Pyongyang has two other types of ICBMs: the Hwasong-13, which can fly as far as 5,500 km, and the Hwasong-14 missile with an estimated range of 12,874 km, which is capable of “reaching most of the continental U.S.” The North test-fired the Hwasong-14 on July 4, 2017.

“Although 2018 saw a welcomed respite from recurrent North Korean provocations in 2016 and 2017, unchanged is the fundamental challenge the ROK-U.S. Alliance faces in terms of the threat posed by North Korea,” the USFK said in the magazine. ROK is the acronym of South Korea’s official name, the Republic of Korea.

Since November 2017, North Korea has abided by its self-declared moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests as dialogue on its nuclear weapons program with the U.S. and peace efforts between the two Koreas has taken place. But it conducted major weapons tests twice in May 2019 involving short-range missiles amid stalled denuclearization talks.

“While (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un ordered the dismantlement of a missile test site as well as the highly publicized destruction of the nuclear testing facility at Punggye-ri, much work remains to move toward the eventual goal of final, fully verified denuclearization,” the USFK noted. · by 장재순 · July 11, 2019


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