By Major Van Harl
Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- In 1983 I was stationed on “the ROK.”
It is officially the Republic of Korea but to the rest of the world, it is South Korea. The Colonel and I, then both Captains, were posted at Osan Air Base (AB) for a year. I had just graduated from the US Army Infantry Officer Basic Course enroute to my assignment to Korea and was convinced we would be in a shooting war with the Soviet Union by 1986.
In one of my first new comer briefings we were advised of the many tunnels the North Koreans had dug under the de-militarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea and that these heathen communists from the north would use the tunnels to invade the southern part of that peninsula. All American troops stationed in South Korea were to be ever vigilant, watching for a hole in the ground to appear and screaming North Koreans running out committing mass slaughter in the streets of Seoul.
There was already one major hardened command post (CP) on Osan AB when I got there, but a second one was built right next to the first one. Part of Hill 180 had to be excavated away to build the second CP. A hole was bored into the hill between the first CP and the under construction new CP.
One day I had my picture taken standing, with my M-16 rifle in my hand next to this opening in the earth between the two CPs. I passed it around to some of my fellow Airmen and told them I had found another North Korean tunnel entrance. Everybody knew it was a joke and laughed, but some of the air intelligence people were a little sensitive and I was told to destroy the picture.
Now mind you this was not ground intelligence people who might be worried about an attack on Osan AB. Remember air intelligence people forget there even is danger on the ground once the wheels of the aircraft leave the runway.
North Koreans are the best tunnel builders in the world.
If you read about the tunnels the North Vietnamese dug in the earthen jungles of Vietnam, remember that was dirt. The Japanese constructed tunnel systems in many of the South Pacific islands they held during WW II, but that was soft volcanic rock that could be worked with minimal heavy equipment.
North Korea is solid rock and there are estimates of upwards of 10,000 tunnels and man-made caves dug in North Korea.
They are not just on the DMZ; they are spread out over the entire country, capable of safely and defensively housing most of the North Korean war fighting effort. When the Red Chinese finally get fed up with North Korea (maybe after a sixth or seventh nuke blast) and before the mass exit of North Korean refugees into China, you will see Chinese soldiers with blue United Nations helmets crossing the Yalu river coming south into North Korea.
The problem with 10,000 caves and tunnels is they all have multiple entrances. If you put a two-man rifle team on each entrance to make sure the North Korea army cannot come out of their mole holes it will take 20,000 soldiers for the first 12 hour shift. Who do you use at shift changes?
There are a few thousand Red Chinese in North Korea (they don’t want to live there). There are approximately a million Red Chinese in South Korea-say what? It is about business, it is about making money. The Chinese don’t make real money off the North Koreans, but they sure make billions in first-world hard currency doing business with South Korea.
China would have no problem with a united Korea that would be governed by the nation formally known as South Korea. China is a member of the UN and one of the five big players in the UN Security Council. Remember the cease fire (not a peace treaty) that exists with North Korea is between the communists Koreans and the UN, and not with South Korea. So it might be considered only natural for a major player (China) in the UN, to be the country that leads the way in restoring peace and harmony by re-uniting love and brotherly friendship over the entire Korean peninsula.
But, those tunnels will still be there.
Fighting in those tunnels will be nothing like any army before has ever endured. It will make the battles for Okinawa and Iwo Jima look like child’s play. Forty percent of the North Koreans basically keep the other sixty percent in a US antebellum style, southern slave like society and economy. The difference is, in North Korea if you are one of the chosen forty percent and you screw up, you get to be a life time slave yourself, and so do two generations of your family.
There is no doubt that the forty percent-ers will go to the tunnels and fight to the last good Korean communist —they truly know nothing better to do with their lives.
I say let the Chinese clear the tunnels, the US can hold the flashlight.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” [email protected]