Publication:
A study on the failure of conventional deterrence: the case study of the bombardment of Yeonpyeong in 2010

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Authors
Lee, Jin Ki
Subjects
conventional deterrence
The ROK-U.S. alliance
bombardment of Yeonpyeong in 2010
denial capability
punishment capability
credibility
military balance
past actions theory
red line
North Korea
low intensity provocation
counter provocation plan
extended deterrence
Advisors
Huntley, Wade L.
Date of Issue
2016-12
Date
Dec-16
Publisher
Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School
Language
Abstract
In 2010, North Korea launched an artillery bombardment of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island, killing four, wounding 18, and damaging over 100 buildings. Despite conventional military superiority, the Republic of Korea-United States (ROK-U.S.) alliance failed to deter this significant North Korean low-intensity provocation (LIP). This thesis examines the Yeonpyeong deterrence failure to ask how the ROK-U.S. alliance can deter North Korean LIP in the future. It examines the requirements for conventional deterrence, identifies traits that distinguish conventional and nuclear deterrence, and develops an original matrix of conventional deterrence criteria that can be applied to specific cases. The thesis then utilizes this matrix for a structured case study of the Yeonpyeong bombardment. The thesis finds that most of the criteria for successful conventional deterrence were absent prior to the Yeonpyeong bombardment, indicating multiple reasons for deterrence failure. Among other factors, the alliance ignored intelligence regarding increased North Korean military deployments near the island, and had not demonstrated a likelihood of response in similar incidents in the past. The conclusions provide numerous lessons applying to both future studies of conventional deterrence effectiveness and the policy requirements for the ROK-U.S. alliance to successfully deter LIP by an increasingly dangerous North Korean regime.
Type
Thesis
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Department
National Security Affairs (NSA)
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Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
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