This from RTE this morning:

North Korea has fired dozens of shells at a South Korean border island, killing two soldiers and injuring several more.

South Korean troops based on Yeonpyeong island fired back and the military was put on top alert, the defence ministry said.

YTN television said the South has scrambled air force jets, after what appeared to be one of the most serious border incidents since the 1950-53 war.

The ministry also said 15 marines on the island have been injured, five of them seriously. Three civilians were also hurt.

A resident of the island near the tense Yellow Sea border told YTN that some 50 shells landed and dozens of houses were damaged.

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak has held an emergency security meeting, a presidential spokesman said.

‘He is now in an underground war room to discuss possible responses with ministers of related agencies and national security advisers … we are closely watching the situation,’ the spokesman said.

President Lee urged the officials to ‘handle it (the situation) well to prevent further escalation,’ the spokesman said.

South Korea has warned the North that it would ‘sternly retaliate’ to any further provocations and said the attack was a clear violation of an armistice between the two countries.

Read the rest here.

Very interesting was the comments from China on Reuters’ coverage of the story.

China, the impoverished North’s only powerful ally, was careful to avoid taking sides, calling on both Koreas to “do more to contribute to peace.”

“China hopes that the relevant parties will do more to contribute to peace and stability in the region … it is imperative now to resume the six-party talks,” a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hong Lei, told reporters.

The point has been made previously that North Korea is what it is because its neighbor to the north sees value in a hostile, anti-American North Korea.

If the peninsula explodes into war, and the United States is going to aid its ally, we are going to have to project power into the very den of the Dragon. For that you need a Navy. A Navy willing to fight, and willing to bleed, and willing to stay. And the ability to transfer significant combat power ashore quickly. Because it ain’t happenin’ by air.

Stay tuned.


A most provocative question from STRATFOR:

What is it that South Korea is afraid of in the North? North Korea gives an American a guided tour of a uranium enrichment facility, then fires across the NLL a couple of days after the news breaks. The South does not respond. It seems that South Korea is afraid of either real power or real weakness in the North, but we do not know which.

Read more: Is North Korea Moving Another ‘Red Line’? | STRATFOR


Two updates:

A statement from President Obama that we would defend South Korea, though he declined to discuss military options.

And acknowledgment by the Republic of Korea that their artillery fire did indeed impact North Korean positions.

“Seoul responded by unleashing its own barrage from K-9 155mm self-propelled howitzers* and scrambling fighter jets. Two South Korean marines were killed in the shelling that also injured 15 troops and three civilians. Officials in Seoul said there could be considerable North Korean casualties.”

*The K-9 Thunder is a self-propelled 155mm howitzer based extensively on the venerable M109 family of US SP howitzers. The K-9 has a 52-caliber tube and can fire 6 rpm of the 155mm HE/BB K307 projectiles out to 40.6km.


USS George Washington (CVN-73) has put to sea en route to the West Sea from Japan. Her CVBG will conduct “joint exercises” with the ROK Navy, according to reports.

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Air Force, Army, Aviation, Coast Guard, Foreign Policy, History, Marine Corps, Maritime Security, Navy

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  • Matt Yankee

    President Lee calls for military to “prevent further escalation”.

    Sounds familiar. Like a wife getting beat and saying she wants him to stop but keeps living with him. Peace is not up to us because we are not the ones that want war…just like at the begining of the Korean War when they invaded. I sure hope we don’t let the ROK be invaded AGAIN before something is done…

    AND the south “cannot confirm their shells landed in North Korea”.

    Well that just commands respect…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “AND the south “cannot confirm their shells landed in North Korea”.”

    Matt, read that “will not confirm”. ROK artillery is very good indeed.

  • Interesting situation. One could do nothing like with the sinking earlier of the SK Naval vessel or respond with fire. I think it is well overdue to respond in force and I think the reaction needs to be an over-reaction, specifically because the North wants the South to fire back to stir up the population back home. So how about responding so that when the North decides that they need to return fire, the big question is ‘with what?’ as the South has already damaged most everything along the border. I think a response should take out as many aircraft as possible, or at least runways…

    I think this situation has gone beyond dealing in a rational-restrained way.

  • Chuck Hill

    An alternate explanation is that the North Koreans saw the exercise the South Koreans were doing as an invasion and opened up in response. It is what N.Korean soldiers have been indoctrinated to expect.

  • Matt Yankee

    This was planned and intentional. Just like Cheonan and every other major attack.

    Beaten wives say the same thing “Oh it was me” NO it doesn’t have anything to do with what the ROK is doing it is all about the fact the ROK exists that is their root problem. What was the cause for them invading the south at the begining again? They have not changed.

  • Derrick

    I would think that it’s time to start reinforcing US military forces in South Korea. A subtle show of force and commitment should bring North Korea to the negotiation table.

    Probably will have to move some Patriot missiles and Aegis BMD equipped ships into the area just in case…as well as nuclear armed US ships/planes/etc…

    Also probably a good idea to ship the reinforcements/supplies over with full naval escort…just in case the situation gets too sensitive…

  • Derrick

    I forgot one thing: shipping over more US military forces in South Korea will cost money, so it may be a good time to impose a 7% Goods and Services tax across the US to help pay the costs, plus pay down the federal deficit too.

  • Matt Yankee

    Gee I wander who would’ve given the North all that sophisticated uranium enrichment equipment?

    I bet China is so gosh darn mad at them for pissing on us and telling us it is raining…

    We need to throw a few thousand gallons of cold water on their little dragon aspirations.

  • Derrick

    If China is proven to have supplied North Korea with nuclear weapons technology, then the US should order a complete withdrawal of all outsourcing to China.

  • I think the countries in the region should develop a common strategy to end North Korea’s missile development programs. What is needed is a concerted effort because the war on the Korean Peninsula would produce massive casualties. Everyone knows that the stakes are very high since the two countries possess technologies with the potential to threaten the rest of the world.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Ain’t happenin’ while China foots the bill and permits the NK regime.

  • Byron

    Derrick, I got a better idea: How about we get South Korea to foot the bill, since our troops would be carrying the water for them?

  • Derrick

    What if the South Koreans refuse or are unable to foot the bill? The US would risk losing an important trading partner if it would only come to South Korea’s defense only if paid to do so.

  • Matt Yankee

    It’s high time Big Uncle Sam take a big step forward and punch that dragon in its big flat nose. Drop him decisively…MacArthur should’ve been allowed to do it…

    We are still technically at war and we are supposed to win wars…its in our DNA to WIN nothing less. We settled for less and here we are but now dealing with an enemy with nukes.

  • Derrick

    No need to risk American lives as of yet. Privately threatening China with the withdrawal of US companies which mostly paid for China’s economic boom will scare them into forcing North Korea to back down.

    I thought the US congress (Federal House of Representatives and House of Senate) had to vote by 2/3rds majority in order to be at war?

  • I can’t wait to hear what the reason for this attack was. Kind of mind boggling really. Of course not too surprising. I think North Korea probably thinks that they have nothing to worry about from the US Police. One thing is for sure is that it’s caused fear to grip the DOW and gold to rally.

  • Glenn Iannicelli

    South Korea needs to adopt the policy of Israel. When Israel is attacked the response is immediate and on target.Hopefully, the North Korean regime will rot from within and eventually collapse. However the South and U.S. cannot fall into the trap of appeasing the aggressors. “Those who do not remember the past (Munich) are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana).

  • Matt Yankee

    What if China was more interested in kicking us out of their backyard than most would dare ponder? Would they try to use North Korea to accomplish this somehow? Isn’t that exactly what Stalin wanted when he pushed for the initial invasion?

  • Name: Mark

    President Lee calls for military to “prevent further escalation”.
    Sounds familiar. Like a wife getting beat and saying she wants him to stop but keeps living with him. Peace is not up to us because we are not the ones that want war…just like at the begining of the Korean War when they invaded. I sure hope we don’t let the ROK be invaded AGAIN before something is done…
    AND the south “cannot confirm their shells landed in North Korea”.
    Well that just commands respect…

  • claudio

    Not sure what is surprising from these recent actions from the North Koreans. History tells them that when they act belligerent, irresponsible and basically like a kid throwing food on the floor, then other nations come asking how they can please them. This usually tends to lead to increased assistance and help, money, food, oil, and maybe a couple light water reactors.

    This time of the year it’s getting cold in North Korea and the food stores are probably pretty lacking. Undergoing a regime leadership transition also needs some negotiations to show the youngster’s mettle.

    Think the last round of the Six Party Talks was about 3 years ago, and the DPRK needs them restarted for multiple reasons including those above. So, they decide to do what they’ve always done, act like a spoiled kid. Sink a ROK ship, killing tens of sailors. Invite a well known American Scientist (who happened to be director of Los Alamos) to witness thousands of new centrifuges, and then lob some arty onto ROK territory using exercises that are held fairly often as an excuse. What is the Chinese reaction: Start Six Party Talks right away? A ventriloquist puppet would not have reacted just as swiftly. (who is the puppeteer though?)

    Last but not least is the ROK reaction to this and previous provocation. Also not surprising. What should they do? Start a war? Even if they win, they are scared to death of the economic impact reunification will have. Germany, the strongest economy in Europe during its reunification with DDR is still paying the price. Reunification SCARES the bejeezus out of the ROK. Similarly, China does not want millions of DPRK refugees crossing the Yalu river. On the other hand, having a thorn in the side of the US and ROK in the form of DPRK makes sense for them, and for the time being they are happy to keep the status quo. Only a unified STRONG response by the US/ROK and JAPAN will force the Chinese to change their tact and support of the hermit kingdom.

    So not really surprised by any of the recent actions. Waiting to see what the response is. And if it’s deemed insufficient by the Kims (Really just KJI, but giving KJU a little credit) I would expect further escalations, including possible another detonation. It’s not like the 23 million North Koreans are going to feed themselves or the government is going to do it…and bark is getting scarce….

  • Derrick

    I’m just waiting for someone to post the news that the USS George Washington carrier is on its way…yet again…to that area…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Geez, Derrick! Can’t a man have his morning seven cups of coffee first? YEESH! 🙂

  • Matt Yankee

    Read their going to send the GW 70 miles south of the island…that is much closer to the border than before and is precisely what should of been done when they sank the Cheonan.

    And China is of course not giving an inch.

    We should stop walking on egg shells with these little men, slam our boot down on that big tale and declare the GW is armed with nukes before going into the dragon’s den. Really ought to unleash two months of airstrikes but that is a pipe dream…for now.

  • Derrick

    No need to expend all those taxpayer dollars for airstrikes. Just tell China to stop supporting North Korea or the US will stop all outsourcing to China.

  • Matt Yankee

    Just curious what the annual outsourcing number is? They gave us 800 billion back in t-bills…why couldn’t we stiff them? How bout instead of paying them back we pay for some airstrikes. We just printed 600 billion…defense spending is not even close to WWII levels as percent of GDP.

  • Derrick

    It would be pretty useless to jump to military action this point with Kim Jong Il stepping down soon and possibly passing away. I just hope his son is smarter and more mature and won’t play stupid games like this that irritate others to no end.

    Don’t know the annual outsourcing number, but I know that at a minimum Microsoft, IBM and EMC all have large facilities there employing tens of thousands of people. Shut those down and a lot of Chinese people fall back into poverty…something the Chinese government cannot afford.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    What would make you think KJU would be significantly different in his approach to power from that of his father and grandfather?

    And I will remind that hope is not a course of action.

  • Derrick

    Historically it makes sense for the son to follow the father, but to every rule there are exceptions.

    Perhaps KJU growing up amidst economic sanctions has educated him.

    And the US already has the trump card: withdrawal of US firms from China. I think it’s about time to play it.

  • Matt Yankee

    I don’t think destoying their nuke program would be useless. They will not give it up otherwise. They will proliferate as they already have…and then it will be too late. Uranium bombs do not need to be tested before use…they are significantly more dangerous.

    We went to extreme lengths to prevent Germany from aquiring the bomb why would we dream of allowing such a sworn enemy the oppurtunity to nuke us? And it won’t be on a missile so don’t tell me missile defense is the ultimate safety net. How many containers are still not being inspected? Great Walls are not scaled they are flanked…this is what the Mexicans do and what the Nazis did to France.

  • Derrick

    I’m not sure if it’s safe to just take out the nuke program assets we are aware of. If we do go that route, I would prefer first taking the case to the UN and get as much global support as possible. Then follow through with a full-on invasion and capture everything up to the border with China.

    If cruise missiles/air strikes are launched that just target specific things in North Korea, there is no guarantee that the situation will not escalate out of control.

    We need to isolate North Korea from China. And threatening to pull out US outsourcing from China is just the way to do it.