Army Training Publication (ATP) 7-100.2 describes North Korean tactics for use in Army training, professional education, and leader development. This document is part of the ATP 7-100 series that addresses a nation-state’s military doctrine with a focus on army ground forces and tactical operations in offense, defense, and related mission sets. Other foundational topics include task organization, capabilities, and limitations related to military mission and support functions. ATP 7-100.2 serves as a foundation for understanding how North Korean ground forces think and act in tactical operations. This publication presents multiple examples of functional tactics in dynamic operational environment conditions. The tactics in this ATP are descriptive, and provide an orientation to tactics gathered from North Korean doctrine, translated literature, and observations from recent historical events.
The principal audience for ATP 7-100.2 is all members of the profession of arms. Commanders and staffs of Army headquarters serving as joint task force or multinational headquarters should also refer to applicable joint or multinational doctrine concerning the range of military operations and joint or multinational forces. Trainers and educators throughout the Army will also use this publication.
What’s in this manual. Much more than you expect!
ATP 7-100.2 addresses the tactics, organization, and activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ground forces. Part one of this document focuses on the strategic and operational levels, and includes North Korea’s military structure, organizational philosophy, and an introduction to functional tactics. Part two focuses on the tactical level, and describes Korean People’s Army Ground Forces (KPAGF) offensive and defensive tactics in detail. Several appendixes provide additional information on specific military functions and their use in tactical actions.
There is alot to unpack here. Even if you are not playing a modern Korean War game there is still much that can be learned from studying this potential adversary.
Feature image “North Korean military conducts a ‘strike drill’ for multiple launchers and tactical guided weapon into the East Sea during a military drill in North Korea.” (Reuters/KCNA pic).
WARGAMES ON NEAR-FUTURE OR CONTEMPORARY CONFLICTS ARE RISKY. Although very interesting, they can just as often turn out to be “right” as often as they are “wrong.” Fortunately, we got through the mid-1990’s without a major conflict on the Korean Peninsula so Crisis: Korea 1995 (GMT Games, 1993) is now an alt-history title. I recently pulled the game out for my 2019 CSR Wargames Challenge to play and think about. The game emphasizes ow three parts of then-modern warfare were viewed in that day. Taking a retrospective look at this title is a great chance to study the game model and see how it holds up against time.
The three areas Crisis: Korea 1995 emphasize are:
Exploitation or breakthrough by mechanized forces
North Korean Special Forces
Joint Air Warfare.
In 1993, the memory (lessons?) of DESERT STORM were undoubtably fresh in the mind of all involved in development of Crisis: Korea 1995. Battles like that of 73 Easting were already becoming legendary stories. However, as designer Gene Billingsley notes in the introduction to 7.0 COMBAT, he did not let any sort of victory fever taint his game model:
In contrast to what we witnessed during the Persian Gulf War, it is our belief that combat in Korea will inflict heavy casualties on both sides. The major reasons for this are terrain and massed firepower. With very little clear, flat terrain to speak of, and line-of-sight limited to an average of less than one mile by the numerous hills and ridges, even stand-off fights (tank engagements, TOW missile shots, etc.) will be fought at relatively short distances. Artillery firepower will be telling, as both sides deploy large numbers of guns with pre-plotted fires concentrated on likely routes of advance and reinforcement. Unit cohesion will play a telling role as huge losses take their toll on troop organization and morale.
Crisis: Korea 1995; 7.0 COMBAT
Further, instead of simply making Crisis: Korea 1995 a game about Air-Land Battle in Korea, it appears that the designer tried to reflect some of the then-current thinking about how North Korea would fight. In 1991, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) publicly released North Korea: The Foundations of Military Strength. Although this title is not directly referenced anywhere in Crisis: Korea 1995 I am sure the designer and researchers used it. With regards to North Korean offensive operations, DIA makes the point that:
North Korean infantry and armored elements of the first-echelon divisions of the forward conventional corps would attempt to penetrate the allied forward defense. The mechanized corps, brigades augmented with attached self-propelled artillery, and combat support elements would attempt to pass through any openings the frontline corps create. The mechanized corps quickly would penetrate deep into South Korea, bypassing and possibly isolating many allied units.
North Korea: Foundations of Military Strength; Chapter 6 – Employing the Armed Forces, Offensive Operations
In the game Crisis: Korea 1995, “exploitation” is found in the Initiative Turn Sequence of Play where the initiative player can perform exploitation movement and combat. When I first saw this part of the SoP I tried to rectify it with my understanding of the US Air-Land Battle concept. However, after rereading the DIA product, I see it as reflective of the North Korean doctrine of war. Adding exploitation movement and combat to the initiative player is an elegant way to model the NK doctrine of the day.
The second combat area Crisis: Korea 1995 really digs into is Special Forces. The intelligence assessments of the day also emphasized the North Korean Special Forces and is reflected in the lengthy treatment it gets from DIA; eight full paragraphs or the same as Ground Forces which were the core of the North Korean Peoples Army. As DIA tells us:
North Korea classifies its special operations units as reconnaissance, light infantry, or sniper. Team-sized elements conduct reconnaissance to collect intelligence or targeting information. Light infantry operations are combat operations conducted with company- or battalion-sized units against military, political, or economic targets. Sniper operations basically are the same as light infantry except they are conducted in team-sized units.
North Korea: Foundations of Military Strength; Chapter 5 – Military Forces, Special Operations Forces
I again wonder if the designers didn’t use the DIA publication because that paragraph basically describes the game system in Standard Game 10.0 SPECIAL UNITS and Advanced Game 21.0 SPECIAL FORCES!
The emphasis on Special Forces in Crisis: Korea 1995 is also not surprising given the involvement of Joe Bermudez, author of the book North Korean Special Forces which was first published in 1988. Joe gets a shout-out from Mr. Billingsley in the Game Credits, and Gene tells us why in his More Design Notes:
I’ve always liked games that let you resolve Special Forces Missions. I used to love ambushing enemy Supply Convoys in Mark Herman’s GulfStrike (still one of my favorite all-time games!). But I never liked keeping track of each detachment or mission on a separate piece of paper. Thus, the Special Forces Mission markers. In Korea, the North’s Special Forces are very, very important. The North Koreans have so many eggs in that basket, that you could almost say that, regardless of whether the NKPA Special Purpose Forces succeed or fail, they will have a decisive impact on the conflict. If they succeed, the US/ROK command structure, mobilization capabilities, air power, and reinforcement capacity will be in serious trouble. If they fail, the North, in my view, doesn’t have a prayer of winning the war.
Crisis: Korea 1995; More Design Notes
A third area of then-contemporary warfare that Crisis: Korea 1995 looks deeply into is the air war. It is amazing to look at the Advanced Air Game in Crisis: Korea 1995 and compare it to the the Gulf War Air Power Summary Report from 1993. The report, assembled by the RAND Corporation, may not have been released until 1993 but it is obvious that many within the Services were already thinking about and incorporating the lessons learned from DESERT STORM. Again, the best insight into the model comes from designer Gene Billingsley in another part of his More Design Notes:
This air game took a long time to put together. I want to especially thank Matt Caffrey, J.D. Webster, and a host of F/A-18 Hornet pilots who helped me though the various part of the host of redesigns and modifications to get the game where it is now. Basically, I wanted to create a system that would allow for interaction between Detection, SAMS, Strikes, and SEAD aircraft without bogging the player down in counting hex ranges and plotting interception points. I really like Mo Morgan’s Tac Air game, as it represents the interaction really well, though at a different scale. For this scale, I couldn’t find any system that really gave that kind of feel without reverting to Mark’s GulfStrike-like approach, which would take WAY too long for this game. The Air Defense Tracks seem to do the trick, and are an aspect of the design that I personally enjoy very much. Even after they win the Air Superiority battle, the US/ROK planes have to duel with that huge air defense system. then again, if they wipe outs its detection capabilities, essentially blinding it, they can pull off something akin to Desert Storm. We’ve tested this system in theory in other parts of the world already, and it should port (if we decide to do another in this series) without much trouble. I want to keep improving it, however, so if you have suggestions on how to make it better, let’s hear them.
Crisis: Korea 1995; More Design Notes
Beyond the three areas of emphasis, as a former Navy Guy I was very disappointed that Crisis: Korea 1995 abstracted the naval aspects of the war. Designer Gene Billingsley tried to explain why in his notes for 6.81 Sea Control:
In game terms, we have greatly simplified and abstracted this sea battle. At one time we had about 200 counters representing virtually everything that floats in the theatre. Unfortunately, each turn of naval combat at that scale added about three hours to each game turn, with marginal enhancement to game play. Basically, after three or four turns, the North and South Koreans were virtually wiped out, and the US was in form control of the majority of the waters around Korea….The only essential information to determine from the sea battle is “Can you move troops and supplies to and from ports and beachheads?” Thus, we’ve opted for sea control die rolls to determine control, with a built-in assumption that once the United States Navy gains control of the sea, it will not relinquish control.
Crisis: Korea 1995; 6.81 Sea Control
As much as it pains me to admit, the “assumption” that Mr. Billingsley makes is reflected by DIA. Here are a couple of pull-quotes about the North Korean Navy from DIA:
“Although largely a coastal defense force, the Navy can support some offensive operations.” (p. 44)
“North Korea has a limited capability to provide support troops on shore. Therefore, it would have to curtail naval support to he ground forces soon after landing.” (p. 59)
“The Navy and Air Force could act in a strong supporting role in the initial stage of an offensive. the level of sustained operations would depend on the size and composition of US air and naval force augmentation. If confronted by strong forces, the North Korean air and naval forces would revert to largely defensive roles.” (p. 59)
In retrospect, Crisis: Korea 1995 is a game that took on a then-contemporary potential conflict and faithfully portrayed its most dynamic parts. The fact that Crisis: Korea 1995 and its other sister Crisis games became the jumping off point for GMT Games very successful Next War-family of games is a testimony to it’s solid core foundations. I am confident that, had war on the Korean Peninsula broken out in the 1990’s, then Crisis: Korea 1995 would have been more “right” than “wrong” about the conflict.
The world’s favorite naughty boy, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, showed off a some new naval toys this weekend. He watched a firepower demonstration where a “new” antiship cruise missile, which some in the press call the “KN-01”, was launched. The missile looks to be a near-copy of conventional Russian designs. If one looks close, you can see a radar reflector set up on the target (gotta make sure you get a hit for the big guy or you’ll end up a dead guy yourself).
The Un’er – already famous for his toy tours inspection visits – toured a munitions expo in Pyongyang in mid-April. What I found interesting when looking at the pictures was the ships shown. As seen here, all these ships look to be from the US Navy. From left to right I make them out to be an Aegis destroyer, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, and on the far right a Spruance-class destroyer. So what message was being delivered to the NorKs and what does this tell the world? I also note that if one views the KCNA propaganda film that was also released you can see NorK navy ships, but the scales are such that they look huge (indeed, they are built to be larger than the American ships). Is that the subtle message; the NorK navy is still “bigger and better” than others? Once again, I have to wonder just what “truth” is being fed to the Un’er and how his worldview is being shaped.
The NorKs remain defiant, even after their satellite launch attempt failed. A popular mantra in policy and press circles leading up to the space launch was that the NorKs can use space launch technology for offensive long-range ballistic missiles. The space launch failed and the NorKs are looking to regain lost face. So on April 15, guess what the Un’er rolls out at a big parade for Grand-Daddy?
A North Korean vehicle carrying a missile passes by during a mass military parade in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate 100 years since the birth of the late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung on Sunday, April 15, 2012. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivered his first public televised speech Sunday, just two days after a failed rocket launch, portraying himself as a strong military chief unafraid of foreign powers during festivities meant to glorify his grandfather, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung. (AP Photo)
Oh, since the AP has basically been co-opted by the NorKs (see One Free Koreahere) that caption is less-than-helpful and doesn’t tell the real story. Let’s see how Reuters captioned it:
State media film a rocket carried by a military vehicle during a military parade to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang April 15, 2012. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency and YTN TV later cited military sources and analysts as saying the rocket is a new long-range missile, presumed to be a ballistic missile with a range of 6,000 km (3,700 miles). (Reuters)
Those are two three-stage missiles carried on large, eight-axle vehicles. YTN describes them as being about 18 m long and about 2 m in diameter. That’s much smaller than the TD-2 — not bigger, as the Chosun Ilbo had claimed. (Really, who could imagine a mobile missile almost half the length of a football field?)
Joshua also has an article up at 38 North that he wrote before the April 15 parade that talks about the NorKs getting ready to unveil a new ICBM. Good background information there.
This March 28, 2012 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows North Korea’s Tongchang-ri Launch Facility on the nation’s northwest coast. The image appears to show preparations beginning for a long-range rocket launch in North Korea despite international objections. An analysis conducted for the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies says the image shows trucks and fuel tanks, and work underway on the gantry next to a mobile launch pad. (AP Photo)
Those wacky NorKs are going to try again to put a satellite in orbit. Gotta give them credit; they certainly don’t seem to want to give up even after their failure in 2009. They also are apparently trying to be public about this one too. Something to do with “transparency” and being a “respectable” member of the international community. North Korea? Ha!
In this March 20, 2012, satellite image taken and provided by GeoEye, a satellite launch pad in Tongchang-ri, Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province, North Korea, is shown. North Korea last week announced that scientists will send a satellite into space in April on the back of a long-range rocket. (AP Photo)
WIDE VIEW OF TOK101 OF MARCH 23, 2012 – In this March 20, 2012, satellite image taken and provided by GeoEye, a satellite launch pad, a white strip near a junction of three roads seen in the middle, in Tongchang-ri, Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province, North Korea, is shown. North Korea last week announced that scientists will send a satellite into space in April on the back of a long-range rocket. (AP Photo)
Press reports are saying this will be a Taepo Dong 2 SLV. This may be the same rocket that the NorKs tried to launch in 2009. The major difference this time is the likely launch trajectory; almost due south according to the NorKs. This trajectory means they don’t have to fly over Japan to get to orbit – a small technicality that has previously upset the Japanese – and is also very useful for an “earth observation” mission like the NorKs have proclaimed.
The problem is that the US and it’s allies don’t see the Taepo Dong 2 as an SLV, but rather as an ICBM. In 2009, the National Aerospace Intelligence Center (NASIC) published their Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat Handbook where they made the case the Taepo Dong 2 is an ICBM. In particular, NASIC stated:
North Korea is developing the Taepo Dong 2 (TD-2) ICBM/SLV, which could reach the United States if developed as an ICBM. Although both launches of the TD-2 ended in failure, the April 2009 flight demonstrated a more complete performance than the July 2006 launch. North Korea’s continued progress in developing the TD-2 clearly shows its determination to achieve long-range ballistic missile and space launch capabilities. The Taepo Dong 2 could be exported to other countries in the future.
That “export to other countries” is a worrisome part given the NorKs proclivity to sell arms to shadier nations of the world. The Taepo Dong 2 might be “old tech” but just how much technology do you need to lob a nuclear warhead at a city?
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visits the Korean People’s Army Navy Unit 123 in an undisclosed location in this undated picture released by the North’s KCNA in Pyongyang March 10, 2012 (Rueters)
NK Leadership Watch has many more photos and breaks it down a bit more. KPA Navy Unit 123 is located on Cho’do (Cho Islet or Island). A quick check of GoogleEarth reveals several NorK naval platforms located here.
More importantly, this base feed combat power to the area of the Northern Limit Line, site of the Choenan sinking in March 2011. Given all the NorK rhetoric against South Korea, this visit has to be part of an overall propaganda campaign from Pyongyang.
In this undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and distributed in Tokyo by the Korea News Service on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second left, rides a boat when he visited Unit 158 of the navy of the North Korean People’s Army. (AP Photo)
The NorK Kid continues his toy travels inspection tours of various military units. Not unusual, but thanks to North Korea Leadership Watch we get a few more details. Here Kim Jong Un is visiting Combined Unit 597. Later in the same day he visited Unit 158 of the Korean People’s Army Navy. A very famous units, as KCNA tells us, because it sank CA-68 USS Baltimore.
According to KCNA:
The history of the development of the unit is recorded with feats which strikingly demonstrated the might of the KPA Navy by sinking or destroying a lot of enemy warships including the battle results unprecedented in the world history of naval battles KPA navymen achieved by sinking the U.S. imperialist heavy cruiser “Baltimore” with just four torpedo boats in the naval battle in Jumunjin during the Fatherland Liberation War.
The NorKs apparently even have a display in a museum in Pyongyang which claims the same.
Poor “Engrish” aside (a nearly 70-word sentence), the above is a great example of NorK delusional propaganda. The battle referenced is better known as the Battle of Chumonchin Chan which took place on 2 July 1950. As the Naval Historical Center tells it:
In the early hours of July 2, as the allied fleets converged on Korea, U.S. cruiser Juneau, British cruiser Jamaica, and British frigate Black Swan discovered 4 torpedo boats and 2 motor gunboats of the North Korean navy that had just finished escorting ten craft loaded with ammunition south along the coast in the Sea of Japan. The outgunned North Korean torpedo boats turned and gamely pressed home a torpedo attack, but before they could launch their weapons, the Anglo-American flotilla ended the threat; only one torpedo boat survived U.S.-British naval gunfire to flee the scene. After this one-sided battle and for the remainder of the war, North Korean naval leaders decided against contesting control of the sea with the UN navies. The surviving units of the North Korean navy eventually took refuge in Chinese and Soviet ports.
So let me get this straight; USS Baltimore was not involved and three NorK torpedo boats were sunk. Yet the fourth boat is heralded as the victor in that same Pyongyang museum.
All this makes one wonder just what stories the young NorKster is being told and what he really believes. Is this really just propaganda for the masses? Does Kim Jong Un believe it? Is he inclined to act based on interpretations of history like this? Has he already done so? All the more interesting in light of reports that Kim Jong Un masterminded the sinking of 26 March 2011 sinking of the ROK Navy ship PCC-772 Choenan.
THE NORK KID continues touring his toy collection military forces. He started out with tanks and now he is on to airplanes.
In this footage from North Korea’s state television on Jan. 21, 2012, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un tours the nation’s air force unit 354. On Friday, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the new leader paid an inspection visit to air force unit 354 and army unit 3870, which were both honored with the title of “O Jung Hup-led Seventh Regiment.” The report marked the third time this year the state media has reported on its leader’s military visits as the young leader consolidates his power in the military-backed regime. (Yonhap)
Sure looks like an old Mig-19. Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say:
On 20 April 1951, OKB-155 was given the order to develop the MiG-17 into a new fighter called “I-340“, which was to be powered by two Mikulin AM-5 non-afterburning jet engines (a scaled-down version of the Mikulin AM-3) with 19.6 kN (4,410 lbf) of thrust. The I-340 was supposed to attain 1,160 km/h (725 mph, Mach 0.97) at 2,000 m (6,562 ft), 1,080 km/h (675 mph, Mach 1.0) at 10,000 m (32,808 ft), climb to 10,000 m (32,808 ft) in 2.9 minutes, and have a service ceiling of no less than 17,500 m (57,415 ft). The new fighter, internally designated “SM-1“, was designed around the “SI-02” airframe (a MiG-17 prototype) modified to accept two engines in a side-by-side arrangement and was completed in March 1952.
Little long in the tooth, but not totally toothless:
During their service with Soviet Anti-Air Defense and in East Germany, MiG-19s were involved in multiple intercepts of Western reconnaissance aircraft. The first documented encounter with a Lockheed U-2 took place in the autumn of 1957. The MiG-19 pilot reported seeing the aircraft, but could not make up the 2,234 m (7,000 ft) difference in altitude. When Francis Gary Powers’s U-2 was shot down in the 1960 incident, one pursuing MiG-19P was also hit by the salvo of S-75 Dvina (NATO: SA-2 “Guideline”) missiles, killing the pilot Sergei Safronov. In a highly controversial incident, on 1 July 1960, a MiG-19 shot down an RB-47H (S/N 53-4281) reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Arctic Circle with four of the crew killed and two captured by the Soviets (they were released in 1961). In another incident, on 28 January 1964, a MiG-19 shot down a T-39 Sabreliner which had strayed into East German airspace while on a training mission; all three crewmembers were killed.
The MiG-19 was also a mainstay of the North Vietnamese Air Force during that war:
In early 1969, Hanoi made the decision to strengthen its air defenses by creating a third jet fighter unit; the 925th Fighter Regiment. This unit would consist of late model MiG-17s and the newly acquired MiG-19s (nearly all of which were J-6s from the People’s Republic of China (PRC)). The regiment was established at Yen Bai, and by April 1969, nine combat-rated MiG-19 pilots were posted for combat duty. While some of North Vietnam’s MiG-17s and nearly all of their MiG-21s were supplied by the Soviet Union, the bulk of their MiG-19s (J-6 models) were supplied by the PRC, which seldom exceeded 54 MiG-19s in number.
The first use and loss of a U.S. fighter to a MiG-19 (J-6) was in 1965 when a USAF Lockheed F-104 Starfighter piloted by LTC Philip E. Smith was “bounced” by a People’s Liberation Army Air Force aircraft near Hainan Island. His Starfighter took cannon fire which damaged a portion of his wing and missile mount. Smith gave chase and did receive missile tone on the MiG, and within a millisecond of pressing his missile firing button, his Starfighter lost all power. He had to eject and was captured. Smith was held prisoner until released in 1972, coincidentally during U.S. President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.According to another source, Smith was released in 1973.
North Vietnam’s Air Force used the MiG-19 much later in the air war than the MiG-17 and the MiG-21. MiG-19s, despite their limited numbers, were involved in extensive combat during Operations Linebacker 1 and Linebacker 2 (aka the Christmas Bombing). The NVAF claimed only seven victories over US aircraft, using the MiG-19, all of which were F-4 Phantom IIs. Primarily because of the aircraft’s twin engines, which created a maintenance nightmare, the MiG-19 was not favored by North Vietnamese pilots. While the MiG-17 had maneuverability and the MiG-21 had speed, the MiG-19 had a combination of both, but not to the same degree as the others.North Vietnam used the MiG-19 from 1969 until the 1980s when it was replaced by newer aircraft.
Compared to the F-4 Phantom II however, although lacking mounts for air-to-air missiles, it had the one advantage that the early model Phantoms did not have: it was armed with a cannon. Confirmed aerial victories by MiG-19s while assigned to the 925th FR, which match US records occurred on: 10 May 1972 in which two F-4 Phantoms were shot down by MiG-19s flown by Pham Hung Son and Nguyen Manh Tung. Both NVAF victories over the F-4s were accomplished by cannon fire.Combat results of the 925th FR using MiG-19s, according to the North Vietnamese Air Force were: two F-4s on 8 May 1972; two F-4s on 10 May 1972; one F-4 on 18 May 1972; and two F-4s shot down on 23 May 1972;these losses were in exchange for 10 MiG-19s lost in aerial combat with US jets. The MiG-19 did make history in one manner however; on 2 June 1972 over the skies of North Vietnam, the MiG-19 has the inauspicious honor of being the first recorded jet fighter to be shot down in aerial combat by cannon fire at supersonic speeds, by a USAF F-4 Phantom.
The question is how does it compare to the ROKAF? KF-16s and F-15Ks should eat this one for lunch!