We’re watching with concern the incident last night where North Korea shelled a small island in the northwest waters of South Korea. But we aren’t panicking and readying for a full scale war just yet. The Norks have done this sort of thing off and on almost from the day the cease fire was signed in 1953.
Let’s take a quick glance at US forces in Korea. The overall headquarters for US troops on the peninsula is US Forces Korea. Like any geographical command, it has subordinate service components, in this case, the 8th US Army, and the 7th US Air Force.
Long time readers may recall that a US field army is the headquarters for two or more corps and from 4 to 9 divisions. So how many divisions does 8th Army command? Well, one. Sorta. The only US division under 8th Army is the 2nd ID. And it only has one subordinate ground combat brigade under its command on the peninsula. It also has and artillery brigade, and a combat aviation brigade.
Mostly the US Army structure is in place to receive reinforcements, and provide the command, service, and support forces needed for an infusion of troops.
The 7th Air Force is the headquarters for two fighter wings, the 51st and the 8th. These two wings are tasked with providing air superiority, ground attack, defensive and offensive counter air missions in the peninsula. They are also in place to bed down large numbers of reinforcements from elsewhere in PACAF or other Air Force units.
Mind you, these are pretty small numbers of forces. Mostly they serve as warning to North Korea that the South Koreans do not stand alone. The South Korean Army and Air Forces are both very large for the size of the nation, and very well equipped and organized.