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Advice: Never underestimate
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An invaluable bit of advice often shared within the military community is to never, ever, underestimate your enemy. The annals of history are replete with those who have ignored this axiom.

At present, the United States is being seriously threatened by the nation of North Korea, known also as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK. The leader of this nation, Kim Jong-un, is the third leader in the line of Kim’s. His grandfather, Kim Il-sung, was North Korea’s president from 1948 to 1994 when he died. He was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-il. None of these three leaders have fostered good relations with any of their world neighbors.

In 1994 I was serving with a Reserve Marine artillery battalion. It was during our summer drill down in the lovely garden spot (cough, cough) of Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) where we were in the nether regions of the training area known as “Black Top” that we heard Kim Il-sung had passed away. At that point we were a couple of days from going home. Because of the uncertainty in the change in leadership in North Korea, I was sure we were going to be sent directly to Camp Pendleton for processing and then being shipped overseas to South Korea. We held our collective breath, wondering. I’m glad to report that we did not have to do any of that, but there some anxious moments! North Korea declared posthumously that Kim Il-sung was to be the country’s Eternal President.

Since we were an artillery battalion, North Korea was a concern to us. Why were they a concern? Because this small nation, which is nestled against the eastern regions of China and Russia, takes great pride in their military, particularly their artillery. What we all found unnerving is that their artillery pieces (guns, if you will) are able to fire their artillery shells quite a bit farther than our artillery. When translated onto battlefield tactics, means when we have our guns in place to reach them, we’ve been in the range of their guns for quite some time. In boxing parlance, if an opponent has a 75” reach, and you have a 69” reach, then you’re at a serious disadvantage right from the start. He can hit you before you can hit him.

A recent report states, “The North Korean army has been cleared to attack the United States with nuclear strikes, according to an April 3 statement by the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army, AFP (a French news agency) reported. The army said it was officially informing the United States that it would be “smashed by…cutting edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means.” North Korea has been escalating its threatening rhetoric toward the United States recently.”

According to the information our officials have received, these potential attacks on America and her interests, are focused on American military bases in South Korea, Guam, Hawaii, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC, among other places. The Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army raised the alert level, issuing a statement that said, “From this moment the Supreme Command will put on the highest alert all the field artillery units, including strategic rocket units and long-range artillery units, that are assigned to strike bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops in the U.S. mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zones in the Pacific as well as all the enemy targets in South Korea and its vicinity.”

The question that is being asked around the corridors of power in Washington, DC, is whether North Korea has the capability of making good on its threats of nuclear attack against the United States. Personally, I don’t care one way or the other whether they can deliver such a punch against us or not. The fact that they would so brazenly lash out against us, intentionally seeking to instigate a crisis of international proportions tells me we’d jolly well better take them seriously.

Readiness, and a sound military game plan to be executed in the eventuality that we need to strike them hard and fast, is essential. The population of North Korea is about 25 million. Many of its people are starving because the economy goes to support the military and the government. And because the vaunted leader, Kim Jong-un, is all supreme, what he says goes. This philosophy, known as Juche, was embraced by the North Korean government under Kim Il-sung. Juche means “self-reliance.” The danger in dealing with a dictator like Kim Jong-un who harbors a self-reliance mentality is that there’s no one in place to bring any balance to his thinking. This makes him all the more dangerous.

The United States can ill afford to underestimate this maniacal leader with his repeated threats of death and destruction against us. The manner in which we handle this crisis will not only characterize our future relationship with North Korea, but every other nation in the world as well.