From 1976 to 1978, the Carter administration struggled with its proposed withdrawal policy of all US forces from Korea during a period of waning detente between the West and Communist countries. Following the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, American consensus at home leaned towards disengagement from further possible conflicts in Asia. Despite the signing of the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement, both Koreas technically remain in a state of war, and given the climate of distrust between both countries, as well as the current abeyance of Six-Party Talks regarding the DPRK’s nuclear arsenal, the necessity of reports similar to the one in review provide a reference point for further nuclear contingencies and assessments by military planners in the event of future armed conflict.
Volume one of this 1978 report determines the vulnerability of North Korean divisions to allied tactical nuclear attack by assessing U.S. operational capacities in both acquiring and attacking targets, evaluating the significance of direct and indirect damage to both enemy and allied forces in combat, and the types of units to be targeted. The report employs various military scenarios which may arise in order to identify factors that either constrain the application of tactical nuclear arms, or affect operations involving deployed forces, such as gaps and deficiencies in current delivery capability.
The report states:
“The capability to inflict sufficient damage on a deployed NK division using theater nuclear weapons depends upon the characteristics of the NK division target array, the phase of combat, and the allied target acquisition capability. In addition, constraints imposed by considerations of allowable warhead yields, and troop safety as well as the selected weapon allocation and targeting strategy can markedly influence enemy division vulnerability.” [page 1-4]
This report was released to the Nautilus Institute under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).