How North And South Korea's Armed Forces Compare [Infographic]
In response to the deployment of a U.S. Navy carrier battle group to the Korean peninsula, North Korea has warned it would respond to “reckless acts of aggression” by the United States. Quoted by state news agency KCNA, the foreign ministry added that there would be “catastrophic consequences” in response to further American provocations. The 97,000 ton USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its escort of a guided-missile cruiser and two destroyers have been diverted from planned visits to Australia and Singapore following another North Korean missile test last week.
President Trump has said that the U.S. is prepared to act alone to eliminate the nuclear and ballistic missile threat from North Korea. Carrier groups have been deployed in the waters off the Korean peninsula in the past, and many analysts believe the current movement is defensive in nature. The Carl Vinson’s escorts are outfitted with Aegis technology and are capable of shooting down any future test missile. However, if push comes to shove, those ships and the carrier itself also possess massive offensive firepower for striking North Korea’s nuclear assets.
Is Pyongyang going to be next? That’s the question many experts have been asking themselves in the wake of last week’s cruise missile attacks on Syria. If the U.S. does decide to launch a pre-emptive strike, North Korea is likely to launch a substantial retaliation, possibly involving an invasion of the South. If that nightmare does one day occur, how well equipped is the South Korean military to repel an offensive from Pyongyang? The following infographic shows the military balance on the Korean peninsula.
Even though the North Korean military has substantially more manpower than the south, large numbers of its soldiers are underpaid and malnourished. The north’s equipment is also outdated while the South Korean military boasts state of the art tanks, armored fighting vehicles, fighter jets and attack helicopters. With Seoul a mere 35 miles from the border however, North Korea’s considerable number of artillery pieces could prove devastating in any conflict. Even if the south manages to repel an invasion, success would come with a substantial military and civilian cost.