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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DocinPA's picture

This is insane.  War with the Norks has to be the absolute last option.  A complete trade embargo with China is far preferable to this-unless you're Walmart.

HenryHall's picture

MAD - mutually assured destruction.

JLee2027's picture

None of this is from the Pentagon.



"...Military sources told NBC News ..."


It's all fiction.

Dancing Disraeli's picture

Exactly.  Trump specifically derided Obama for telegraphing his military moves, and stated he would do the opposite.

GoingBig's picture

don't you see by now? Trump is a fool and shoots his mouth off and lets his emotions get the best of him like petulant child.

shankster's picture

BS! NK shouting out to the world how it plans to strike and now the US doing the same. Bunch of BS..Generals never shout out to their enemies what their plans for action are going to be. Bunch of non-sense..nothing but bluffs and chest pounding.

JLee2027's picture

It's fake news. Let the Norks' think we are going to bomb them from Guam, where they have hours to see it coming.

Grandad Grumps's picture

Terrorism, pure and simple.

- Any legitimate military would never publicize its plans
- Why would any sane person or government someone who is helpless to defend themselves (honor and duty my hairy ass)

But that is what the Gnomes of Zurich are all about. North Korea does not have a BIS controlled central bank. It is helpless to defend itself and so it must be conquered in the name of Satan.

Last of the Middle Class's picture

Most likely MSM propaganda designed to play to the Trump is crazy crowd.

Philo Beddoe's picture

Yeah, and people though Brian Williams was joking.

This should send a couple of pussies under the covers.

boattrash's picture

I'm not supporting war with anybody (other that the establishment), but from an aviation standpoint, the B-1 is simply one of the best machines of its class ever built. Love that plane!

oddjob's picture

The Pentagon must be drooling at the possibilty of killing a few hundred thousand innocent Children.

PitBullsRule's picture

Hey asshole, the Pentagon is trying to figure out how to keep 350 million Americans from getting nuked by a lunatic.

Dominus Ludificatio's picture

Tv and and all other BS news including this site is bad for you health.You are being manipulated by people who know how control idiots and the masses.Do not confuse it for patriotism.

HominyTwin's picture

Maybe NK should have been a priority all along, instead of funding head choppers in Syria, dicking around if Afghanistan, or invading Iraq. You cannot serve the interests of the empire and the little asshole state in the ME. We chose to serve Israel, so now we have to deal with consequences elsewhere. We have no options now short of a war that will kill millions which is no option at all. Tough tits. The priorities you make and the actions you take will limit your choices in the future. Time to deal with the bed we made and that means negotiating with fat boy, even caving in to some of his demands.

yaright's picture

Yo Brother... you are being lied to,you have been lied to all your life... wake up

hound dog vigilante's picture


NK's "missles" barely launch... NK technology is still years away from being a credible threat, yet americans are wetting their beds in fear.  

When did the USA become a nation of bedwetting fearmongers?  If 9/11 caused us to become nothing more than shoot-first cowards, then the terrorists won & the charade is over.

The people pushing for war here/now are the biggest pussies on the planet.

Frank Underwood's picture

You have to be joking right? Next time use a sarc tag

HRClinton's picture

Ask (((Madeleine Albright))), if killing 500,000 kids is worth it.

I'll give you odds on a bet.

oddjob's picture

The 'again' part was implied.

dark fiber's picture

This is not about NK this is about using NK to send a message to Iran.

PitBullsRule's picture

You have to bomb him, there's no other choice.  

You have one crazy dictator sending back dead Americans that has developed ICBM's and said he will use nuclear bombs on the US, with the ICBM's he's demonstrated.  You can't let 350 Million people risk thermo-nuclear attack because of one loonie 35 year old.


You HAVE to bomb him, the more you bomb him the better.

hound dog vigilante's picture


ICBMs ???


NK has failed to demonstrate the I, the C, and the B in that acroym.

all they've demonstrated is cold-war era M's that they can't control for more than a few hundred miles...  WTF are you so afraid of?


get a hobby.  NK isn't a threat.  NK is a circus sideshow.

richsob's picture

We either make it crystal clear that North Korea will be turned into glass if he attacks us (or our allies) and then we just watch him carefully or we tuck our tails and accept the consequences like Obama was willing to do.  Nothing in between will work.  We shouldn't start anything.  Let him throw the first punch if he wants to.......which he probably won't.  That fat bastard can rant until he has a decent haircut but it's doubtful he will do anything.  However, the FIRST time he makes a truly aggressive move, we need to show the world what we are capable of doing and make it a 30 minute war.  In the meantime it would help immensely if our President would STFU and let Fat Boy rant all he wants.

Boca's picture

exactly, taking out a few bases and installations is only going to increase the war, we either nuke them completely or do nothing.  Remember, the entire population of NK is required to do 10 years military service, man and women, that country has almost 6 million trained soldiers, we have 2.4

Duc888's picture



"We either make it crystal clear that North Korea will be turned into glass if he attacks us (or our allies) ..."


Nope, now is the time to crack open the magic bag and let some of our high tech weapons do some skeet shooting of his bottle rockets.  Every limp dick missile he sends up will fall right back down on his own territory.

richsob's picture

I have a friend who is a retired Air Force General and he thinks we should just tell them that anything they launch that gets above 10,000 feet outside North Korean airspace will be knocked down however we choose to do it.....and then back up that promise 100%.  The only exceptions would be truly non-threatening launches that had been announced beforehand.  He thinks if we make it clear that we do not want to kick him out, and he can stay in power until hell freezes over so long as he isn't improving his capability to attack the U.S. mainland, that might be enough for Fat Boy although the shit talking would undoubtedly continue. 

edotabin's picture

Agreed but you're drawing a "red line" that has already been drawn. We're well past that point.

Tenshin Headache's picture

NBC bringing their usual insightful analysis to the party:

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.


"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."

So, the B-1 plan has a possibility of not escalating the situation, but the probability is approximately zero.

SantaClaws's picture

As reported by NBC's Brian Williams, who has completed covering the entire battle from start to finish.

pound the vix's picture

That's great.  We just gave the little fat man an actual reason for his preemptive strick.  Briliant!

vietnamvet's picture

“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.

What the fuck? A military strike being considered as having the possibility of not escalating the situation? What sort of braindead fuck believes such total lunacy? ... on yeah Trump's base.


syzygysus's picture

If, and when, we do a 'preemptive strike'


The DJIA will continue it's trajectory to the moon.  Dow 66,666.

Sizzurp's picture

Stay safe my ZH brothers. This sucker is about to go hot.

Robert Trip's picture

We kill, maim and destroy exceedingly well from the sky with even collateral damage being very impressive.

We share this ability with the Israelis who also have a pussy military incapable of winning a fight on the ground, especially when the other guys have at least access to AK's.


Rebelrebel7's picture

So the military chooses the option with the highest probability of escalating the situation?! Business as usual!

They said this is the option with the LEAST possibility of NOT escalating the situation!

Was that a Freudian slip, or a leak?!

It would be preferable and sane if they just stayed out of it all together! 

Sizzurp's picture

The best thing to do would be to take out their subs.  That probably has the least chance of escalating because it's not in full view.

mrjinx007's picture

This is like two guys who mutually dislike each other and live 25 blocks from each other.  One of the guys who has a machine gun finds out the other guy has a .22 that can reach him from 25 blocks away and has determined to neutralize the threat.

Libtardius Maximus's picture

Why not just detonate and emp?

Anarchyteez's picture

One big reason is that they can't be aimed. All of SK and Japan would go dark.

OldFahrtyPants's picture

Am I the only one calling utter bollocks on this? We are being diverted from a buildup maybe in Saudi? Oilfield takeover?

Dead Indiana Sky's picture

We're like the aliens in Independence Day, but on a planetary level.  Nothing more than locusts that destroy and then move on to the next.  I'm pretty sure if there were really Martians, we'd find a reason to kick their ass.

SantaClaws's picture

Can't we just turn off their electricity?  Or at least turn off their few Netflicks accounts or movie screens?  Drop some EMPs?  Withdraw the midget's invitation to the Oscars?

aliens is here's picture

Yay, fire works. Moar war! So, when are we going to get a special counsel to investigate Comey, Hillary, Lynch and others?

HRClinton's picture

Yes. With DJT away, it's the perfect time to take out DC.

Make sure that Rand Paul and a FEW others are out of town also. 

Byrond's picture

If the US military has invented force fields, they will be used to protect South Korea. Exactly what constitutes a force field is another matter. In any case, I wouldn't want to be standing in the path of one when it's activated. The low tech version would be lots and lots of zipper guns I suppose.