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The current size, organization, disposition, and combat capabilities of the North Korean Army provide both the
offensive military option for Pyongyang's reunification goal and a defense against any perceived threat from
South Korea. It maintains North Korea's territorial integrity and assists in internal security, civic action projects,
economic construction, and a variety of agricultural programs.
The Army can support a second front by projecting special operations forces into the South to destroy or
neutralize military and civilian targets to the rear of friendly forces.
Organization and Disposition
With over a million active-duty personnel, the Army has eight conventional infantry corps, four mechanized
corps, an armored corps, an artillery corps, and a Capital Defense Corps that provides defense for Pyongyang
during wartime operations.
Weapons and Equipment
The ground forces are by far the largest and most formidable of North Korea's military forces. In the 1980s,
Army force structure became increasingly mobile and mechanized, with a steady increase in tanks,
self-propelled artillery, armored personnel carriers, and trucks.
North Korea has some 3,500 medium and light tanks, which include about 2,000 T-54/55 main battle tanks, and
an estimated 175 Chinese Type 59 tanks (an upgraded version of the T-54). The T-54, produced in the Soviet
Union from l947 to l981, has a 100-mm rifled main tank gun. Since the late l970s, North Korea has produced an
estimated 600 T-62 tanks, the Soviet Army's main battle tank in the l960s. North Korea also has fielded light
tanks, including the indigenously produced M-1985, the Soviet P-76, and the Chinese Type 62 and 63 variants.
Figure 44. "Four Great Military Lines.". Kim Il-song has dictated that North Korea was to follow the "Four Great Military Lines.".
North Korea continues to rely on massive quantities of artillery systems to support ground operations. The North
Korean Air Force's perceived vulnerability contributes to this reliance on field artillery as the major combat
multiplier for combat operations. Consequently, Pyongyang has deployed about 8,400 artillery pieces and over
2,000 multiple rocket launchers. North Korea has at least 3,000 towed and 5,400 self-propelled guns and
howitzers. In the l980s, North Korea produced a significant amount of self-propelled artillery by mating towed
artillery tubes with chassis already in the inventory. North Korean ordnance factories produce a variety of
self-propelled guns, howitzers, gun- howitzers (ranging from 122-mm to 152-mm), and the new KOKSAN
gun first noted in a 1985 parade. North Korea also manufactures at least four models of multiple rocket launchers
-- 107-mm, 122-mm, 140-mm, and 240-mm -- and mounts many of them on heavy trucks.
Although the Army's major elements are infantry forces, it has about 4,000 armored personnel carriers. The
Army has a significant number of well-equipped mechanized units. These mobile forces have Soviet, Chinese,
and indigenously produced armored personnel carriers. They also provide Pyongyang with a capable,
well-trained exploitation force that could capitalize on breakthroughs in South Korean and US defensive lines.
Figure 45. North Korea's Hardened Military Assets. Pyongyang is willing to invest the time and effort necessary to protect many weapon systems from air attack and artillery fire.
North Korea produces a range of Soviet antitank guns; most of them date from the l940s and l950s and are from
57-mm to 85-mm. About 200 76-mm Su-76 and 100-mm Su-100 self-propelled guns serve as antitank
weapons. Infantry units have over 9,000 mortars ranging from 60-mm to 160-mm, handheld rocket-propelled
grenade launchers, and AT-1/SNAPPER and AT-3/SAGGER wire-guided, antitank missiles. North Korea
probably produces the AT-3.
Figure 46. Ground Forces.
Figure 47. The Largest of the Three Services. Although some forces are motorized, most soldiers are in the Army's infantry.
The 60,000-man North Korean Navy is primarily a coastal defense force. Most naval vessels are small
patrol-sized craft unable to operate over 50 nautical miles from the coast but capable of policing North Korea's
territorial waters. The Navy's numerous amphibious craft and midget submarines can insert special operations
forces into South Korea clandestinely.
Organization and Disposition
The North Korean Navy is separated geographically into the East and West Coast Fleets, which do not exchange
vessels. The East Coast Fleet is headquartered at Toejo Dong, with major bases at Najin and Wonsan. The West
Coast Fleet is headquartered at Nampo, with major bases at Pipa Got and Sagon Ni. Numerous smaller bases are
along both coasts.
Weapons and Equipment
The Navy's most capable weapon systems are 39 guided-missile patrol boats equipped with the
SS-N-2A/STYX antiship missile. Though their small size limits operations to coastal waters and calm seas, the
high-speed boats can respond quickly to intruding vessels. The Navy has 12 Soviet OSA-1 guided-missile
patrol boats and several North Korean versions of the OSA-1, called the SOJU; each is equipped with 4 STYX
missile launchers. Other craft, such as the Soviet KOMAR guided-missile patrol boat and its North Korean
derivative, the SOHUNG, are smaller and carry only two STYX launchers. The STYX missile has a maximum
range of 45 kilometers and carries radar or infrared homing seekers.
North Korea's attack submarine inventory includes 4 Soviet WHISKEY, 4 Chinese ROMEO, and 16 North
Korean-built ROMEO submarines. The 4 WHISKEYs acquired from the Soviet Union in the early 1970s
displace 1,080 metric tons and can carry 14 torpedoes or 28 mines. Shortly after delivering four ROMEOs in the
early 1970s, China helped North Korea start its own ROMEO construction program, which continues to produce
new units. The ROMEOs are well-equipped, have an improved sonar, and can carry 18 torpedoes or 36 mines.
Figure 48. Old, Soviet-Designed Diesel ROMEO Submarine. With eight torpedoes, the ROMEO is a threat to friendly shipping.
The largest part of the Navy consists of small combatants, including torpedo boats, patrols boats, patrol craft,
submarine chasers, and fast attack craft. Of the approximately 150 torpedo boats, at least 90 are North Korean
built. About 50 patrol craft and submarine chasers are equipped with 25-mm to 37-mm guns. North Korea built
at least 60 CHAHO fire support patrol craft. This unique vessel has a multiple rocket launcher in the center of its
deck to provide fire support to ground troops.
Figure 49. Limited Navy Coastal Defense. Although small, the Navy disperses along the east and west coasts, making mutual support nearly impossible.
North Korea built approximately 100 NAMPO personnel landing craft based on a Soviet P-6 torpedo boat hull.
The NAMPO has a maximum speed of 40 knots and a range of 325 nautical miles at 19 knots. The NAMPOs
provide a limited amphibious capability, each carrying up to 60 troops. Amphibious assaults against South
Korea probably would be small, clandestine landings involving two to six NAMPO craft; CHAHOs or other
naval craft would provide fire support. Other amphibious craft include eight HANTAE medium landing ships,
which can carry three to four light tanks.
Figure 50. Securing the Flanks With an Amphibious Landing in a Move to Isolate Seoul. The Navy's capability to conduct amphibious landings improved significantly as a result of North Korea's indigenously producing support and landing craft.
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