North Korea Has Doubled Size of Special Forces
SEOUL, KOREA: North Korea has reinforced the number of its special troops by 50% to 180,000, indicating that Pyongyang now has strengthened ability to infiltrate South Korea, the Defence Ministry said Monday (24 Feb).
The lightly-equipped special forces are likely to be have been increased so that troops may be deployed at a quicker pace, and from all directions in order to overwhelm the South Korean military with guerrilla strategies during the initial stages of war, ministry officials said, citing the 2008-09 defence white paper published Monday.
The white paper also described the 1.19-million-strong North Korean military as an “immediate and grave threat,” adding the term “immediate” from previous reports.
“North Korea appears to have developed new strategies that can complement its shortfalls and reinforce its strengths after examining the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Shin Won-sik, deputy director of policy planning at the ministry.
The biennial publication comes as the latest North Korean threats including possible military action in disputed areas such as in the West Sea has raised tension between the two Koreas. The North, in a series of provocative moves aimed at keeping both Washington and Seoul on its toes ahead of denuclearisation talks, has said it would not recognise the Northern Limit Line, which is the de facto inter-Korean naval border.
Pyongyang also has been seen making preparations to test-launch the Taepodong-2, which is a long-range ballistic missile deemed to be capable of reaching the western coast of the United States.
Further, the North has now completed the deployment of its brand new mid-range ballistic missiles, the defence report said.
The intermediate-range missiles were deployed as of last year and can travel up to 3,000km while carrying warheads of up to 650kg, according to the paper.
North Korea has also expanded the warhead capacity of its short-range missiles across the board, and added 20,000 more soldiers since 2006. The South Korean military currently consists of around 655,000 troops.
The North’s arsenal of rocket launchers, which experts believe have a range of hundreds of kilometres and can dodge counter artillery, increased to about 5,100, an increment of 300, the paper said.
It also said North Korea appears to have secured about 40kg of plutonium.
Possibly to prepare for a showdown along the Northern Limit Line, Pyongyang has bolstered its naval forces by reinforcing submarines and developing new types of torpedoes, the defence report said.
The paper did not, however, include an account of North Korea’s alleged possession of nuclear weapons, in order to downplay Pyongyang’s demand that it be recognised as a nuclear state, officials said. (By KIM JI-HYUN/ The Korea Herald/ ANN)
SpecWarNet article about NKSF: http://www.specwarnet.net/asia/NKSF.htm