Monday, July 10, 2006

"Grandma, what large teeth you have!"

The breathlessness by all concerned, particularly the press, over Kim Jong Il's missile tests last week is typical of the crisis de jeur mentality of the self-absorbed majority of people in this land and the press that panders to them. It's not that the North Korean militarized personality cult isn't a monstrous threat to world peace and regional survival. It is, and has been for the better part of the last fifty years. Most Americans are just blissful in their ignorance of the danger. What's worse, most of our leaders are just as blissful.

Six years ago, I was assigned as the Chief of Operations Division for US Forces, Korea (USFK). My job was to maintain current situational awareness over every minor military muscle movement south of the DMZ and every major military muscle movement north of the DMZ. My boss was an Army two-star responsible to the four-star or CINC. I ran the operations center and it was my duty to host the multitude of VIP visitors to our facility in Seoul. Several times a year, congressional delegations arrived and we would usher them down into our large below ground conference room and give them the "Threat Brief."

The Threat Brief was our assessment of the North Korean war-making capability and included examples of recent enemy activities both above and below the DMZ. We made no effort to inflate or deflate the size, shape, and activities of the DPRK's military, but presented just the facts that the security clearance of the particular audience allowed. The Threat Brief never failed to elicit astonishment and/or disbelief from the audience. Most had no clue of the active menace that the North Koreans posed--such as the ability they had to obliterate Seoul with several thousand artillery pieces dug into the reverse slopes of the mountains just north of the DMZ and the constant infiltration they attempted by land and sea into the South. After a brief to one particular congressional delegation, one of the members pulled me aside and all but accused me of fabricating and/or exaggerating the threat posed by the North Koreans. The fact that I was a disciplined and uber-respectful Marine and was caught flat-footed by his asinine assertion gives that twerp the claim of being the only man to call me a liar to my face without seriously running the risk of subsequently bashing his face against my fists.

Add that lost opportunity to my list of life regrets.
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