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Navies and the Forces of Anarchy Pt 1

October 19, 2009
Navy ships from the United States, Australia, Canada and South Korea steam in formation during a Rim of the Pacific 2008 exercise group photo off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands.

Navy ships from the United States, Australia, Canada and South Korea steam in formation during a Rim of the Pacific 2008 exercise group photo off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands.

Concerning the North and South Korean navies, here is an interesting article that details the relative firepower and effectiveness of each. This goes along with our argument of the need for many smaller, less expensive vessels, as opposed to the continued construction of high end battleships, the latter which however capable are at risk of being overwhelmed by small-boat navies. This is from the Examiner:

Global Firepower, a military data website, states the North Korea Navy consists of 755 total ships, as of 2004: submarines (97), frigates (3), patrol and coastal craft (492), mine warfare craft (23), and amphibious craft (140). Han Ho Suk, Director of the Center for Korean Affairs in Seoul, thinks the North Korean Navy is even stronger than that. He states that North Korea acquired high-speed missile boats in 1968 and began to build its own in 1981. He claims North Korea has more than 50 missile boats, each equipped multiple rocket launchers and each carrying at least 4 missiles with a range of approximately 28 miles. In addition, he claims, North Korea has 300 speed boats, 200 torpedo boats, 170 miscellaneous gun boats, 35 submarines, and 65 submersibles.

Global Firepower states the South Korean Navy is considerable smaller and consists of 85 ships, as of 2004: destroyers (6), submarines (20), frigates (9), patrol & coastal Craft (75,) mine warfare craft (15), and amphibious craft (28).

An article in South Korea’s Joon Ang Daily last year acknowledged North Korea’s extensive lead in submarines, but boasted: “Although North Korea outnumbers the South in submarines, naval skirmishes between the two Koreas have demonstrated that the South dominates the North in sea power.

I certainly agree with that last statement, but the South’s future building programs bear little resemblance to any lessons which it might have gotten from these singular recent victories over the North. For instance, rather than building to deter or fight the communists’ massive superiority in small missile craft numbers, here is the future:

The navy operates 4,370-ton and 3,200-ton destroyers with advanced arms, as well as an Aegis-class destroyer.The Aegis system on the 7,600-ton destroyer provides advanced combat, control and information capabilities. The South Korean Navy is committed to building two more by such ships by 2012.

There are also plans for  large amphibious ships, even carriers which seem to have little basis in reality considering the threat from North Korean Navy. This attitude among high tech, so-called civilized powers seem to be more geared with competing with one another, rather than addressing real and urgent threats from low tech but still dangerous and determined powers. Writing in Sea power in the twenty-first century Charles W. Koburger warns us:

Aside from just size and expense, multimission ships represent a lot of fish in one net. More autonomous that can be, yes,  able to fight several battles (ASW, AAW, other) at once. But if they lose even only one of the battles, they lose it all. Distribution of risk disappears, too. The same budgets can only provide fewer of them.

This attitude among the Great Powers, even rising ones, like South Korea and India is that they must be “mini-USA’s” with the most powerful fleets, air forces, and conventional tank armies to deter war with one another. Devindra Sethi writing in UPI Asia reveals the price paid even by a superpower for building an all-high tech military:

The low number of (America’s) combat ships in its fleet is affecting its abilities worldwide.

But the real threat seems to be coming from insurgent groups or rogue dictators who have fashioned asymmetric tactics of 4th Generation Warfare, to consistently bypass any conventional superiority of richer nations. So while the industrial powers are attempting to impress one another with ever more grandiose building programs, from supercarriers, missile battleships, or nuclear submarines, the forces of anarchy are waiting like vultures for us to destroy one another, and help us along as much as possible by sowing fear and disunity.

Tomorrow-India stumbles to Greatness.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Graham Strouse permalink
    October 19, 2009 11:59 am

    I’ll work on the typos…

  2. Graham Strouse permalink
    October 19, 2009 11:28 am

    Shades of Millenium Challenge, methinks. Pagin Gen. van Riper…

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