Flexible Deterrent Options
Stating the obvious, we live in a very chaotic world. Events on the Korean Peninsula are the most chaotic. The despotic leader of the regime, Kim Jong Un, continues to upset the region. Kim Jong Un’s regime has three National strategies: first, protecting his regime and lifestyle at all costs; Second, turn North Korea’s stagnant economy around; and lastly, increasing his nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. With each ballistic missile test, President Trump increased deterrent options to keep Jong Un in check. Two of our staunchest allies in the Pacific Rim, South Korea and Japan, joined President Trump in these response options. Integrating comprehensive responses in the diplomatic, informational, military and economic areas of national power (DIME), the President and Secretary of Defense can maximize their potential influence over our enemies.
In short, FDOs are designed to bring issues to early resolution before armed conflict arises, and secondly, position US forces in a manner to prepare for full scale war if hostilities are unavoidable. Deterrent options are developed and focused on our adversary’s leadership and their decision making process. FDOs are designed to keep people like Kim Jong Un from invading South Korea or launching missiles at US allies in the region. All of us have seen the rise in deterrent options used by the Trump Administration before the Korean Olympics. What follows are a partial list of options in the four areas of national power: diplomatic, informational. military, and economic, affecting North Korean leadership decisions.
Examples of Diplomatic deterrent options are:
- Take actions to win support of allies and friends
- Use the UN or other international institutions
- Increase cultural group pressure
- Show international resolve
- Initiate actions to start the development of a coalition of nations
Examples of Informational options are:
- Gain popular US and Global support
- Gain Congressional support
- Interrupt satellite link transmissions
- Keep selected issues as lead stories
The level of rhetoric back and forth between Washington DC and Pyongyang increases with every missile launch. The media love fest with Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo-Jong and Vice President Pence refusal to shake hands dominated the news for days. Vice President Pence kept the information focus on the diabolic regime.
The Military options list is a long one but there are four recently used in the North Korean crisis:
- Deploy AWACS and air superiority package to the region
- Increase Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance collection
- Deploy fighter and bomber squadrons
- Initiate or increase show-of-force actions
During one show of force exercise, an US Air Force B-1 or Bone bomber left Guam for Japan. Reaching Japan, the Bone picked up an escort of Japanese Air Force F-1 fighters. Turning west, the Bone/F-1 package joined South Korean Air Force F-15SK fighter-bombers. The Bone dropped live weapons on a South Korean range before heading back to Guam. All aircraft were refueled by US and Japanese airborne refueling tankers. Military options are very risky dealing with an irrational adversary.
Economic options are difficult to enforce on a nation with an already poor economy:
- Enact trade sanctions
- Freeze international assets where possible
- Sponsor trade sanctions/embargo actions in UN
- Embargo goods and services
North Korea trade partners have defied US and UN embargoes of critical supplies such as fuel and other goods. The US Treasury published surveillance photos of Chinese ships lashed to North Korean cargo ships out at sea, transferring material between the decks. Trade embargoes are very difficult to enforce in the world’s largest ocean. Because of North Korea and Kim Jong Un’s continued belligerence, the Trump Administration will increase economic sanctions in the near future.
I felt all of you could benefit from this article by knowing why flexible deterrent options are used and seeing what options the Trump Administration is using to keep Kim Jong Un from marching his army into South Korea.
— Final note, please let me know your feedback and suggestions on Twitter, your thought on this weeks DIME, and what do you want more or less of? Let me know by sending a tweet to @MarkHasara and put #nationsdime in the header.