It is hard to find intelligent discussion of this. Normally all you hear is "1.5 million man army" and "massive artillery bombardment will destroy Seoul". With a country that conducts no large-scale exercises and is as poor as dirt with armed forces of very low morale, this never seemed like it made real sense.
Stuart Koehl, a long time military analyst and student of the North Korean armed-forces has something to say.
Endgame in Korea? Lacking the military wherewithal to defeat the South, Kim's regime is simply trying to extend its miserable existence through extortion.
General George Casey, Army Chief of Staff, recently stated quite frankly that it would take ninety days to move forward an adequate force to block an attacking North Korean army. Using this official military assessment as their guide, there is no reason to believe the NK military leadership would hesitate to assure their Dear Leader of an effectively full occupation of the Korean Peninsula within that time period.Read it all. He goes on to explain in detail how North Korea cannot prevail in a war against South Korea and the United States.
I've been a military analyst for more than thirty years. I have studied the North Korean army in detail--its tactics, equipment and capabilities--and I have to say, this projection is one of the more ludicrous I have seen. I understand that in a resource-constrained environment, service leaders and theater commanders have to propound the worst case scenario to ensure their fair share of the pie, but even a cursory look at the North Korean People's Army leaves one wondering "huh?
The arms and equipment of the North Korean military are, overwhelmingly, Soviet-derived systems of 1960s and 70s vintage, lacking the kind of electronics, communications, fire controls and survivability features necessary on the modern battlefield.
To understand what this means, look at the disparity in combat effectiveness between Saddam Hussein's army and our own in Operation Desert Storm. Now consider that, as compared to North Korea's, Saddam's army was extraordinarily well trained and competent.
Kim's army hasn't been to war since 1953. Sure, it can beat up on unarmed truce inspection teams and kidnap Japanese civilians from remote beaches, but what has it really done lately? Worse still, it hasn't been able to stage realistic, large-scale exercises due to a chronic shortage of both fuel and cash. An army that doesn't know how to move formations larger than a battalion or regiment will degenerate into chaos when it tries to move divisions and armies. Finally, promotion in Kim's army, like promotion in Saddam's, is awarded for political loyalty, not military competence. Loyalty in such regimes is usually defined as telling the psychotic dictator what he wants to hear. Yet the first key to success in modern war is a free and open exchange of information between leaders and subordinates. The problem of political reliability is paramount for Kim--if he lets his army loose on the South, will it actually fight, or will it disintegrate on contact (or worse, turn on the regime)He goes into issues of weapons, terrain, movement of troops and equipment in a manner more thorough than you normally get to read. So, go and read.
War against the "DPRK" will not be painless, but, although because of our own weakness diplomatically he can win the near-term diplomatic battles, Kim cannot win (unless we just give up).
More information (with photos) about North Korean air defenses here.
From GlobalSecurity.org, more about;
North Korean Army Air force
North Korean Army
North Korean Navy