Availability of Ammunition
An important factor is availability of ammunition. It limits North Korean ability to possess ammunition in such colossal quantities to flatten Seoul. If the country has such huge stockpiles and can maintain it at that levels years on end, then it is old ammunition. It would have degraded and, thus, its efficacy will be low. On the other hand, if it is relatively new and reliable ammunition, North Korean ammunition factories must be working big time to keep producing the quantities required. Can an impoverished country afford to keep producing ammunition in huge quantities to replace older ammunition? After all, artillery ammunition cannot be recycled. It can only be destroyed.
South Korean Retaliation / Preemption
South Koreans are fully aware that they are going to be subject to a massive artillery attack. We are sure that they will be taking steps to anticipate and retaliate and preempt any North Korean move. These steps will include surveillance and physical retaliation via air and artillery. If they are smart about it, then they will have tracked and identified all North Korean ammunition dumps. The 240 millimeter and three hundred millimeter rockets cannot be kept in the field. They need special storage conditions. Track the ammunition and destroy it or prevent access to it and half the battle is won. There are methods to accomplish this goal. Also, it would well worth noting that 240 millimeter and three hundred millimeter launchers are bulky and huge targets which cannot be easily camouflaged or hidden in the field. Can South Korea ensure that these systems are prevented from being used at all? Or if they are handicapped when used. then the extent of the damage on Seoul will be considerably reduced.
Influencing the Narrative Battle
By ineffectively countering the canard about the damage North Korea can inflict on Seoul through conventional fire power, the United States and its allies have allowed public support to be swayed by erroneous considerations. Additionally, U.S. officials have devalued the importance of public support during a period of confrontation that has also fanned an avoidable ambience of fear. This is not an issue about the wisdom of a military option, which arguably is potholed with unacceptable outcomes, but about neglecting the importance of influencing the battle of narratives.
Lt. Gen. Prakash Menon is a former military advisor in India’s National Security Council Secretariat. Lt. Gen. PR Shankar is the former director general artillery of the Indian Army.
This first appeared in the beginning of the year.