Kim Jong-un has ordered the army to prepare for combat with the U.S. as tensions between North Korea reach boiling point.
North Korean authorities have called all soldiers currently on leave to return to their bases immediately, as the army enter into “combat mode,” in an attempt to tighten security in response to the annual military drills conducted by the U.S. and South Korea.
According to a military source, Kim Jong-un wants the border near South Korea to be equipped with soldiers and equipment in the event of battle. “The 1st Corps was ordered to fully prepare for combat. In particular, they were instructed to move mechanized combat equipment to strategic areas, including artillery pieces and tanks that were housed underground,” the source said.
The 1st Corps is responsible for the defense of areas considered vulnerable due to their proximity to South Korea, including areas of North Hwanghae Province, South Hwanghae Province, and Kangwon Province. According to the source, combat equipment including cannons (except marine artillery shells), tanks, and armored vehicles, are normally stored in mines and are moved to strategic operational positions whenever combat readiness orders are handed down.
“The Civilian Affairs Administrative Police Unit comprises soldiers located in the Panmunjom area and along the border with South Korea. With the new orders, they must stay in battle uniform at all times, and all cadres below the rank of the commander are prohibited from commuting from their homes. The atmosphere is very tense as the soldiers on watch-keeping duty are replaced by officers of higher ranks,” a source in North Pyongan Province said.
However, the combat readiness orders in response to the combined military drills by South Korea and the US each year are becoming less potent over time. Both sources reported that many soldiers are loathe to change their routine. During such times, some soldiers find ways to desert their posts, either from weariness of what they see as futile efforts or in search of food.