WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, the former deputy commander of U.S. Forces in Korea, warns that U.S. troops deployed in South Korea would be “outnumbered” and undersupplied if a war between the United States and North Korea broke out unexpectedly.
- Jouas wrote a letter November 7, obtained by Newsweek, to several Democratic representatives to air his concerns.
- A war between the U.S. and North Korea could lead to millions of deaths.
Lt. Gen. Jouas’s letter is addressed to Senator Tammy Duckworth, Congressmen Ted Lieu and Ruben Gallego, and all veterans of the U.S. military who’ve expressed their serious concern recently over President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and stance toward North Korea.
“The 28,500 U.S. Armed Forces personnel in South Korea are vastly outnumbered by North Korean forces, as well as [South Korean] forces that will conduct the overwhelming majority of the fighting. Unlike every conflict since the last Korean War, we will not be able to build up our forces prior to the start of hostilities,” he wrote.
North Korea has approximately 1.2 million troops and has as many as 60 nuclear weapons.
“This threat was the most dangerous I’d faced since the end of the Cold War, and planning for it the most challenging problem I’d encountered in my 35-year career,” he said.
According to the ex-commander, it could take months for the necessary U.S. reinforcements, equipment and supplies to arrive at the Korean Peninsula. He added that when troops arrive, they may find the U.S. bases subject to attack by conventional or chemical weapons. And that will further delay their entry into the war. Since it’s expected that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is going to use nuclear and chemical weapons, the protection of South Korean civilians and evacuation of U.S. civilians would be “significantly complicated”.
Lastly, Jouas stressed that any U.S. military action against North Korea, “no matter how limited,” would likely trigger a full-scale war and be unlikely to “completely eliminate North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.”
Not long before Jouas’ letter comes, the Pentagon made a statement that in order to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons, a ground invasion of the nation would be necessary. This statement was issued after Reps. Lieu and Gallego requested for a detailed report on what a conflict with North Korea would look like.
California Congressman Lieu, who served in the U.S. Air Force told Newsweek that what made him interested about the letter was how clear it outlines the logistical issues the U.S. military faces in terms of dealing with North Korea.
The U.S. “can’t just send over troops and equipment right now because that would provoke a North Korean attack,” Lieu said. “It would take many days to get rid of North Korea’s artillery and all their other weapons. In the meantime, a lot of people are going to die.”