What War With North Korea Would Look Like: 20K NK Dead A Day, by Rob Givens, who served as the deputy assistant chief of staff for operations of U.S. Forces Korea and as special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Allied naval forces would begin the difficult task of hunting for and safe-guarding against the 70-plus North Korean submarines. These would be small, but deadly engagements as our naval forces maneuvered within range of North Korean anti-ship missile batteries. Despite our clear superiority in naval forces, the allied side would lose ships and, most unfortunately, sailors. North Korean mines, torpedoes, and anti-ship missiles would present a direct threat to commercial shipping, making it risky to evacuate foreign national civilians by sea. …
Ground forces along the DMZ, largely South Korean, will be locked in a knife fight. The terrain is rugged, narrow and provides very little room to maneuver. The mobile battlefield we all witnessed in 1991 and 2003 in Iraq will not be possible amidst the rice paddies and mountains of Korea. Massive firepower would rein death on both sides. The confined nature of the terrain, and the North’s ability to infiltrate behind our lines, makes even hand-to-hand combat possible. If the ground fight had to roll north for a decisive resolution, we would need more soldiers — a lot more soldiers. We would be almost certainly be viewed as occupiers, not liberators, in the minds of the North Koreans. We would have to dig them out of their defenses and control their population, and that would take a lot more soldiers.
The “horror” would set in as thousands were killed or wounded. In some estimates, North Korea would inflict 20,000 casualties a day just in Seoul during for the first few days. The herculean effort to limit collateral damage witnessed in our Middle Eastern wars will be impossible to repeat. We will operate within the laws of armed conflict, but significant loss of innocent life would be unavoidable due to the locations North Korea chooses to base or hide its weapons.
We will use cluster weapons that spread bomblets over areas the size of football fields. We will return artillery fire wherever enemy batteries are firing. When optimum for military conditions, we will hit targets in the middle of urban areas; it would be impossible to prevent civilian casualties. To fight effectively, we will have to bomb command facilities in the heart of neighborhoods. We will destroy missiles on mobile launchers even if they are placed in sensitive areas. Our ground forces will pour fire into the enemy without an excessive regard for damage. And, yes, we will bomb targets more widely than in recent decades. …
If it rolls, shoots, or can hurt us — no matter where it is — we will destroy it. And that is just us. We can only imagine how the North will fight.
North Korean forces will most likely level much of Seoul using the 11,000 pieces of artillery and rockets they have deployed within range of this city of nearly 10 million. … They will infiltrate the South with their numerous special forces — possibly even hitting United States personnel and assets. They will rain ballistic missiles on indiscriminate targets in the region to include U.S. military bases and, perhaps, diplomatic facilities such as embassies. They could use biological and chemical weapons, which is not overly effective against militaries but devastating against civilians.
History says it will be high casualty war against a competent opponent who has had a long time to prepare in defensive terrain: