The Buzz

How a Wargame Proves a Conflict Between America and North Korea Would be Total Hell

The Republic of Korea Navy has gotten an injection of brand-new ships over the last 10 years, including destroyers and amphibious ships. This has allowed South Korea to participate in, for example, counter-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia.

However, these ships have no role in repulsing an invasion by the North. Pyongyang’s small navy is antiquated and can be easily defeated by the South’s corvettes and frigates. There is no real job for an Aegis destroyer such as the Sejong the Great-class destroyers — unlike their American and Japanese counterparts, it can’t even shoot down ballistic missiles.

Nor is there much utility in an amphibious ship such as the South’s Dokdo, which can lift a mere battalion of 700 troops against a Northern land army of more than 7,000,000. One can’t help but wonder if money spent on the South Korean navy would have been better spent on the army.

The next Korean war doesn’t need stealth fighters, unless …

Although Next War: Korea does include the U.S. F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters, the game makes it pretty clear that they’re not necessary fighting North Korea. Older fighters such as the F-15 and F-16, armed with standoff weapons, would do just fine.

But the game includes air units from Russia and China as possible reinforcements of the Northern war effort, which prompts the question: if either country intervened on behalf of Pyongyang, how would that alter the air equation? The introduction of modern Chinese Su-27 fighters and Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers would make the skies much more dangerous, perhaps requiring the U.S. to counter with F-22s and F-35s.

Hopefully we’ll never find out whether these lessons are valid. Are we planning to fight the right war in Korea? Will the next Korean conflict be a re-fight of the first war, or a massive humanitarian disaster and insurgency? Looking for answers in unconventional places like a game is good for us.

Not to mention fun.

Image: Reuters.