December 03, 2010 13:51
Satellite images show 14 out of 80 rounds fired from South Korean K-9 self-propelled howitzers in response to North Korea's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23 landed in paddy and dry fields near the North's multiple rocket launcher artillery positions in Kaemori. The National Intelligence Service said around 10 of the remaining 66 rounds fell on military barracks in nearby Mudo, causing sizable damage. It is unclear where the remaining 56 rounds landed.
Grand National Party floor leader Kim Moo-sung said on Thursday, "Thirty five rounds fell into the water." That means 70 out of 80 rounds our troops fired on North Korea, excluding the 10 that fell on Mudo, failed to deliver any damage at all.
North Korean MRLs can fire several rounds at once and can be transported by vehicles. A North Korean defector who served in an MRL unit in the North, said they retreat back under cover within seven minutes after firing their rounds. South Korean artillery fired off their rounds 13 minutes after North Korea's first bombardment and 14 minutes after the second attack, six to seven minutes after the MRLs had sought cover
During the first counterattack, anti-artillery radars malfunctioned, making it impossible to determine where the North Korean rounds came from. The second counterattack, which came after radars were fixed, failed to damage the North's MRL positions. Those positions are dug deep inside tunnels along the coast and are difficult to attack using K-9 howitzers.
K-9 howitzers can be fired accurately only after forward observers figure out where the rounds dropped and adjust the coordinates accordingly. There are no forward observation points on Yeonpyeong Island. That means unmanned aerial planes need to serve as forward observers, but no such equipment was available during the attack. South Korean Marines had fought using only three K-9 howitzers because three others were in need of repair, and they engaged the enemy without the aid of radars or forward observers.
It was a flawed strategy from the beginning to place only six K-9 howitzers on Yeonpyeong Island to deal with North Korean MRLs and coastal artillery positions. The military urgently needs to train troops to return fire rapidly if the South is to hit the enemy before its attack ends. What will happen if the military makes the same mistake when North Korean artillery rounds are falling on Seoul?
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