Pentagon Unveils Plan For "Pre-Emptive Strike" On North Korea

Tyler Durden's picture

Just hours after Trump made his famously heated vow to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea if provocations by the Kim regime continued, the US Air Force issued a very clear statement in which it explicitly said that it was "ready to fight tonight", launching an attack of B-1 bombers if so ordered:

“How we train is how we fight and the more we interface with our allies, the better prepared we are to fight tonight,” said a 37th EBS B-1 pilot. “The B-1 is a long-range bomber that is well-suited for the maritime domain and can meet the unique challenges of the Pacific.”

Now, according to an NBC report, it appears that the B-1 pilot was dead serious, as the Pentagon has unveiled a plan for a preemptive strike on North Korean missile sites with bombers stationed in Guam, once Donald Trump gives the order to strike. Echoing what we said yesterday that war "under any analysis, is insanity", the preemptive strike plan is viewed as the "best option available" out of all the bad ones:

"There is no good option," a senior intelligence official involved in North Korean planning told NBC News, but a unilateral American bomber strike not supported by any assets in the South constitutes "the best of a lot of bad options."

The attack would consist of B-1 Lancer heavy bombers located on Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, a senior acting and retired military officials told NBC news.

Of all the military options … [President Donald Trump] could consider, this would be one of the two or three that would at least have the possibility of not escalating the situation,” retired Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe and an NBC News analyst, said.

Why the B-1?

Military sources told NBC News that the internal justification for centering a strike on the B-1 is both practical and intricate. The B-1 has the largest internal payload of any current bomber in the U.S. arsenal. A pair of bombers can carry a mix of weapons in three separate bomb bays — as many as 168 500-pound bombs — or more likely, according to military sources, the new Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile — Extended Range (JASSM-ER), a highly accurate missile with a range of 500 nautical miles, allowing the missile to be fired from well outside North Korean territory.

There is another important consideration: according to one senior military officer, "the B-1 has also been selected because it has the added benefit of not being able to carry nuclear weapons. Military planners think that will signal China, Russia, and Pyongyang that the U.S. is not trying to escalate an already bad situation any further."

The plan explains why in recent weeks pairs of B-1s have conducted 11 practice runs of a similar mission since the end of May, the last taking place on Monday, around the time Trump and Kim were exchanging unpleasantries in the media, with the training has accelerated since May, according to officials. In an actual mission, NBC notes that the non-nuclear bombers would be supported by satellites and drones and surrounded by fighter jets as well as aerial refueling and electronic warfare planes.

There are currently at least six B-1 bombers on Andersen Air Force base, which is located some 3,200km from North Korea. If given the command, these strategic bombers would target around two dozen North Korean "missile-launch sites, testing grounds and support facilities" according to sources cited by NBC.

Asked about the B-1 bomber plan, two U.S. officials told NBC News that the bombers were among the options under consideration but not the only option. NBC points out that "action would come from air, land and sea — and cyber."

Of course, as we elaborated yesterday, striking North Korea is certain to prompt an immediate and deadly response that could involve targets as near as Seoul, just 40 miles from the border, or as far away as Andersen AFB, according to Adm. Stavridis.

"The use of the B-1 bombers to actually drop bombs and destroy Korean infrastructure and kill North Koreans would cause an escalation," said Stavridis. "Kim Jong Un would be compelled to respond. He would lash out militarily, at a minimum against South Korea, and potentially at long-range targets, perhaps including Guam. … That's a bad set of outcomes from where we sit now."

"Diplomacy remains the lead," said Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces commander, after the B-1 bombers' late May training run. "However, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario. If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing."

Separately, Defense Secretary James Mattis said military strategists at the Pentagon have a military solution in place to address the growing threat emanating from North Korea, but they are holding their fire in favor of ongoing diplomatic efforts. The Pentagon chief said any military option would be a multilateral one involving a number of regional powers in the Pacific.

“Do I have military options? Of course, I do. That’s my responsibility, to have those. And we work very closely with allies to ensure that this is not unilateral either … and of course there’s a military solution,” Mr. Mattis told reporters en route to meet with senior leaders in the technology sector in Seattle and California.

However, as the Washington Times reports, Mattis reiterated that the administration’s diplomatic efforts to quell tensions on the peninsula remained the top priority for the White House.

“We want to use diplomacy. That’s where we’ve been, that’s where we are right now. and that’s where we hope to remain. But at the same time, our defenses are robust” and ready to take on any threat posed by the North Korean regime, Mattis said.

* * *

Finally, should the worst-case scenario be put in play, and conventional war is launched, here is what Capital Economics predicted would be the drastic economic consequences from even a contained, non-nuclear war.

  • North Korea’s conventional forces, which include 700,000 men under arms and tens of thousands of artillery pieces, would be able to cause immense damage to the South Korean economy. If the North was able to set off a nuclear bomb in South Korea, the consequences would be even greater. Many of the main targets in South Korea are located close to the border with the North. The capital, Seoul, which accounts for roughly a fifth of the country’s population and economy, is located just 35 miles from the North Korean border, and would be a prime target.
  • The experience of past military conflicts shows how big an impact wars can have on the economy. The war in Syria has led to a 60% fall in the country’s GDP. The most devastating military conflict since World War Two, however, has been the Korean War (1950-53), which led to 1.2m South Korean deaths, and saw the value of its GDP fall by over 80%.
  • South Korea accounts for around 2% of global economic output. A 50% fall in South Korean GDP would directly knock 1% off global GDP. But there would also be indirect effects to consider. The main one is the disruption it would cause to global supply chains, which have been made more vulnerable by the introduction of just-in-time delivery systems. Months after the Thai floods had receded in 2011 electronics and automotive factories across the world were still reporting shortages.
  • The impact of a war in Korea would be much bigger. South Korea exports three times as many intermediate products as Thailand. In particular, South Korea is the biggest producer of liquid crystal displays in the world (40% of the global total) and the second biggest of semiconductors (17% market share). It is also a key automotive manufacturer and home to the world’s three biggest shipbuilders. If South Korean production was badly damaged by a war there would be shortages across the world. The disruption would last for some time – it takes around two years to build a semi-conductor factory from scratch.
  • The impact of the war on the US economy would likely be significant. At its peak in 1952, the US government was spending the equivalent of 4.2% of its GDP fighting the Korean War. The total cost of the second Gulf War (2003) and its aftermath has been estimated at US$1trn (5% of one year’s US GDP). A prolonged war in Korea would significantly push up US federal debt, which at 75% of GDP is already uncomfortably high.
  • Reconstruction after the war would be costly. Infrastructure, including electricity, water, buildings, roads and ports, would need to be rebuilt. Massive spare capacity in China’s steel, aluminium and cement industries mean reconstruction would unlikely be inflationary, and should instead provide a boost to global demand. The US, a key ally of South Korea, would likely shoulder a large share of the costs. The US spent around US$170bn on reconstruction after the most recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. South Korea’s economy is roughly 30 times larger than these two economies combined. If the US were to spend proportionally the same amount on reconstruction in Korea as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would add another 30% of GDP to its national debt.

Naturally, should North Korea manage to successfully launch a nuke, the devastation, economic and otherwise, would be orders of magnitude greater.

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tmosley's picture

They dehumanize themselves by their actions. They say you have no rights, implying that they have the right to do anything to you they want to, or that they CAN do. In the end, they after they have stolen all there is to steal, and they are starving, they will come for the flesh on your bones.

Nobody told me that communists were animals. Just the opposite. I figured that out for myself.

Only an ideology like communism could turn a nation filled with some of the smartest people in the world into a shithole as impoverished as a nation in the heart of Africa.

neutrino3's picture

Are you touching yorself ... with bamboo?

fx's picture

"Nobody told me that communists were animals. Just the opposite. I figured that out for myself."


YOU really did? Doubt it.

Rather, someone whispered it into your ear  via TV, books, www etc. and all that YOU did was swallowing it.



Wishbone Ash's picture

Yes, Marxists are Subhuman Scum and need to be erased along with Israel.

jeff montanye's picture

that was sneaky the way you slipped that in at the last.  

do you think they'll go for it?

maybe i should have put this after the one about taylor swift's naked ass cheeks.

fx's picture

tmosley, by your flawed logic the US of A ought to be eradicated in the eyes of the rest of the world right here right now, since it's the country that has attacked unilateraly molre countries than anybody else in the past 70 years. Respect for other people and nations? The USA , in their actions have NEVER shown it.


Now what?

hestroy's picture

And you are an ordinary imbecile. So you wanna say USA is a communist country? They are killing millions of civilians around the world, you aggressive cunt!

Victor von Doom's picture

Politicians/Bankers aren't people.

What makes humans people is our respect for the rights of other people. Communists have no such respect. They are instead extraordinarily dangerous animals.

Fixed it for ya.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Allah is pleased by the destruction of infidels, in the belief of a big percentage of the world's Muslims.    You're an infidel.   NK has been working with Islamist regimes and Islamist entities for a long while now, spreading and trading nuclear weapon and nuclear delivery capabilities.   A Nork reactor  project was destroyed in Syria a little while back.   Syria.   NK has put two satellites into polar orbits and is very interested in an EMP first strike weapon, as are jihadist.  That can end the western world on the cheap, and the jihadists don't mind the counterstrike.   Allah will reward them see.    

JimBobJenkins's picture

Why do you give a fuck? Is he not entitled to his opinion? You going to degrade him, cause your opinion is so much better.


And I agree with a lot of your articles.

AnonG-Man's picture

Attempting to understand the rational of these people, bottom of the barrel average American voters, is pointless hedgeless.  Trump is clearly a War Criminal as previous Presidents and yet receives no mention of it by Democrats or Republicans at large including the Mass Media, yet so called hardcore Trump supporters (and some who professed to be 'anti-war') are quick to fall behind their King for another Illegal War.  They are fake and void of rational thought, I see little difference between them and Obama supporters who refused to see that he too was a War Criminal.

jeff montanye's picture

you can make an argument that president trump is a war criminal and, were the last half century wildly different it would have resonance.  but what undercuts it is the horrific performance during vietnam and bush and obama more recently.  

president trump had better have a much improved situation by 2020 if he expects to keep his current approval. but, so far, he has blustered but killed fewer than bushobama.  he did say the russian sanctions were a mistake and he was right.  

hope he uses his time wisely.  maybe invite forensicator and adam carter to the whitehouse for a real nice dinner.

shining one's picture

lol you accuse someone of being just another brain-dead parrot ( I agree ) and then go on a talk about a "God"! Dumb ass.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Don't drop bombs on North Korea. Drop tons of hostess Twinkies on a daily basis for 30 days. Once the people are hooked stop dropping. They'll riot and overthrow Lil Kim and solve the problem.

Mr. Universe's picture

If I were the leader of NK and you dropped a ton of Twinkies on us I would immediately nuke you. Deservedly so.

jeff montanye's picture

but the idea is basically sound.  if we really wanted peace with north korea instead of a makework project for the military industrial complex and a power restorer for the clandestine services and the neocons, we would do everything to encourage reunification.  and, really, start shipping free food and whatever, sans arms, the norks would accept.  

if they accept video games and smartphones, katie bar the door kim jong.

helloimjohnnycat's picture

Great idea !

But don't forget the Kim Dongs.

Ho Ho

neutrino3's picture

Twinkies are for mur-murkans. Not humans.

HopefulCynic's picture

Another brainless moron decides to use the keyboard.


NOTHING that comes out of the US can be Just or Good, except it's utter destruction. 



Victor von Doom's picture

"Just war"? I do not think that means what you think that means.


risk.averse's picture

North Korea is a house of cards ...a shakey pyramid kept aloft by fear and mutual dependency on the leader, Kim Jong Un. Destroy the top layer of this pyramid and the remainder will breathe a sigh of relief and sue for peace -- particularly if "they" get a share of power in the new regime. This is the only sane way to approach th eNorth Korean issue.

Kim Jong Un has probably not had enough time and wisdom to cement in place the sort of support structures every authoritarian regime relies on. He has executed a number of his senior ministers and generals. Those who have survived purges are keeping their heads down waiting for an opportunity to strike before they are next on the chopping block.

The military option is the DUMB option. It's conceivable that a limited military strike may set off a chain reaction that topples Kim. But thats uncertain. Best keep weapons sheathed. The people of Seoul and elsewhere don't deserve to suffer.

jeff montanye's picture

excellent.  and the morally defensible way to topple un is probably to kill him with kindness.  take all the sanctions off except purely military ones for starters.  let the layer beneath him know what riches await them in a negotiated reunification.  offer lifetime opulent support and protection, even to him.  probably not as good as king but maybe better than assistant to the king.

The Ram's picture

There is no military option that will not provoke a violent response by NK.  AS usual, they are stumbling into a very bad situation.  I am sure the Pentagon does not care, but the SKs should very much care unless they want Seoul to burn.  Miscalulation as usual.

a Smudge by any other name's picture

What they seem to be getting for free is the compliance of the American people.

Fish Gone Bad's picture

What the MSM says and what the average Joe thinks are two different things. 

People who do not listen to the news are uninformed.  People who do listen to the news are mis-informed.  Mark Twain (mostly)

GoingBig's picture

having worked with and around the Pentagon for years, I can assure you they ABSOLUTELY do care and take America's security more seriously than that idiot Trump.  Your first statement is correct and that is why our stupid president should stand down.

CuttingEdge's picture

You have to think laterally here...

Kicking of a war between North and South is a great way to solve the US trade deficit with SK  (as well as being just plain dandy for the MIC, obviouly)

Seriously, whereas Saddam and Gadaffi were, and Assad remains, pretty cunning individuals, given the duration of their tenures before they pissed of Hillary et al, Buttface Boy is completely different animal - he is basically batshit fucking crazy.

Dangerous times.

Especially given America's historical propensity to start wars in distant lands costing millions of indigenous (i.e non-American) lives, and absolving themselves of any responsibility for their cuntish behavior every time after the event.

eclectic syncretist's picture

The banksters need the money from loans and we ain't willing to give it to them, so they intend to start another unnecessary war; if Dimon and Blankstein could get a message out on Trump's twitter it would only say "Tsar Bomba 2.0!".

OverTheHedge's picture

I would be careful about assuming that young Kim is crazy - we are told that he is mad, but we were told that Gadaffi was mad, and Assad is mad, and Saddam was most certainly mad. Bizarre that all these crazy people manage to run entire countries for decades.

Or are we being lied to.....?

The Cooler King's picture

"we were told that Gadaffi was mad, and Assad is mad, and Saddam was most certainly mad"


Luckily for us we have CLEAR THINKERS like Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, & Hank Johnson on our side.


With them, affirmitave action, a printing press, some botox, and a special edition collection of Tupac rap CD's, you could run a country for CENTURIES!

TBT or not TBT's picture

You're lying to yourself.   These countries operate on brutality.  

hedgeless_horseman's picture


These countries operate on brutality.  

Exactly, torturing people for years without trial in Guantanamo Bay, invading and occupying Afghanistan for more than 14 years, bombing the fuck out of Syria, etc.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Illegal combatants is what they are called in the standing international law.   They can be summarily executed on sight.   Instead they have been incarcerated in one of the world's most luxurious prisons, and interrogated of course.  That's the point.   But they are in no way tortured in the classic sense, nor of course exposed to anything like what they take pleasure to do to infidels.  Trials in U.S. Courts are a right afforded to citizens of the USA.  When we extend that to non-citizens and non-residents outside the USA it's a huge mistake bordering on insanity.  

hedgeless_horseman's picture


Illegal combatants is what they are called in the standing international law.   They can be summarily executed on sight.

So, according to you, these Afghani broke some international defending their country, their families, and their very lives from foreign invaders, Americans, and the Afghani can be legally shot on sight for such actions by the foreign invaders...but instead we hauled them to Cuba for a 10+ year luxury vacation...waterboarding isn't torture...then something about bordering on insanity.

TBT or not TBT's picture

When you are gunning for US or NATO troops on foreign soil and you don't wear a uniform of a nation state you're an illegal combattant, under current treaty law, and can be executed on site, or elsewhere, right then, or any time later.   Geneva Conventions.  You dont like it.  But that's the state of things today.   

OverTheHedge's picture

"These countries operate on brutality."


The US has a fairly brutal regime, both inside and outside the country (try getting arrested without dying, for example).

Saudi Arabia?



All good friends to the US, and all, in your terms, brutal. So what?

The mad part is propaganda, the rest is just a method of controlling the population. Life is nasty, brutish and short. Especially if the US is involved.

Democracy is long dead, freedom is a bizarre, surreal dream, and the sheep are fleeced and slaughtered on a regular basis. Plus ca change, etc.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Gosh I hope Samsung offshored our critical TV screen manufacturing.   Football season is just starting and there's Christmas / playoffs TV sales season to build into.   

BarkingCat's picture

History proves otherwise.

If they cared they would say "we cannot follow illegal orders".

If they don't have the balls to do that, they would at least equipt the meat with best equipment for the battlefield and not MIC's bank accounts.


Conscious Reviver's picture

If they cared about the Merican people as GoingBig, who worked so long at the Pentagram claims, they would have seized Washington, removed the illegal government and restored the Constitution as their oath demands, years and years ago.

SgtShaftoe's picture

Yea... I've worked for and around the Pentagon too. Those fucking assholes put me and my people in grave danger to impress Dick Cheney. You obviously weren't paying any attention in your time there. Evil is systemic in that hellhole.

lowscorewins's picture

"There is no military option that will not provoke a violent response by NK."

That is only true if you are assuming Kim Fatty is crazy. Any war with the USA only has one end for him. He dies during the war or he dies on the end of a rope after the war. I doubt he wants to die. I think he wants to eat kimchi until he looks like Jabba the Hut. A war with South Korea on the other hand where the USA was not involved would stand a could chance of ending in something like victory with a small chance of total defeat. That is the rational behind the nuclear program. He is never going to win a nuke exchange with the US but the threat of dropping a big one on Chicago could neutralize conventional US forces allowing him to duke it out with the south mano a mano.

The immediate threat to the USA is to totally undermine our geopolitical position in the far east and with it our economy. As soon as South Korea and Japan realize the US defense shield is no longer operational they will have to reassess their alliances and certainly in Japan's case take a look at the nuclear option. The winner in all that would be China which of course is the reason why they are not helping to rein in Kim (I can't believe I haven't shot my barber) Fatty

SgtShaftoe's picture

The largest reason countries seek to control nuclear weapons is to use as a deterrent for US military invasion or "peacekeeping" STAFOR from the US or Nato. To any rational actor, invasion of a country with a Nuke has very sizable downside. In North Korea's case, any military action against the Norks results in unstoppable assault on South Korea and potentially some damage to Japan. Lil Kim will take his pound of flesh if someone starts a fight. It's a rational strategy.

The problem is that the Pentagon is full of people more crazy irrational and bloodthirsty than Lil Kim.

idahobandito's picture

France, Israel, GB, Pakistan, India, have nukes to defer the USA???? BfuckingS.

lowscorewins's picture

France, UK, India, Pakistan, Israel - none of those countries developed nukes to stave off military invasion by USA. The NORKs have never been under threat of invasion. Remember how the war ended. We were winning and halted at the DMZ. The Kim's have had other reasons for developing nukes and that is to neutralize USA conventional forces by threatening to strike the homeland.

An "unstoppable" assault on the South is not an inevitable response to any attack on the north. First because the assault would be stopped. The NORKs don't have the resources or infrastructure or logistical capacity to sustain an assault. Second the end result of an all out assault on the South would be defeat. Kim knows that or at least his generals know it and they don't want to be hung as war criminals.

GoingBig's picture

There are so many problems with most of the babling idiots on ZH these days. 

1) You are completely underestimating NORK. This is always a huge mistake.

2) There are so many conventional weapons pointed at the south that Seould would be annihilated.  Seoul is really a stones throw from the border (almost)

3) You act like you know what is in Kim's head. You don't and war in inherently unpredictable. Do you think the Chinese are going to sit back and let the US crap in their backyard? Even without Nukes? I say we don't know how China will react.

4) Do you remember how the war stopped? The US couldn't believe how hard the NK's fought and were unprepared for how hard it was. The NK had been fighting in China for years and knew tactics in the rugged areas that the US was unprepared for. We thought they were on drugs because they never gave up.

lowscorewins's picture

GoingBig - Have you ever studied the Korean War? Most of the serious fighting was against the Chinese. When the war broke out the ROK army was badly outnumbered, had no tanks, little artillery and virtually no Air Force while the NORKs were well armed by the Chinese and Stalin. We had maybe 300 troops on the peninsula. Under those circumstance the NORKs were formidable. The ROK army was rolled up in a week and the the US forces in Japan started hitting the beaches but they were very ill prepared for war themselves. The US had been demobilizing since the end of WWII and budget cuts had left the army low on tanks, artillery, and anti-tank weapons. In that situation the combined ROK and US forces were pushed back in a matter of weeks to the Pusan perimeter, but that was pretty much the last bright spot for the NORKs. MacArthur landed at Inchon and the NORKs were quickly rolled back. Basically the North Korean army was totally crushed withing 3 months of starting their invasion. From there on out it was a war against 1.3 million Chinamen.

So no the North Koreans were not formidable fighters. They were actually pretty easy to roll up once we got our forces over there and armed. The Chinese were another matter. Their sheer numbers were a problem. We lost about 37K killed, all but about 8K of those after China entered the war. China lost. China lost 400K killed and North Korea another 200K killed.


Victor von Doom's picture

China lost? Who could most afford the losses they were taking? Best check those numbers again.

MillionDollarButter's picture

+1 for "The winner in all that would be China"