U.S., S. Korea plan for war on peninsula during annual contingency meeting
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Every year, top U.S. and South Korean air force commanders have a classified meeting to discuss how the air war would be conducted in a conflict with North Korea.
The Air Boss conference, which was set for Thursday and Friday, is an intensive two-day meeting that ensures all the services are on the same wavelength about the air campaign should peace give way to war, said Lt. Gen. Lance L. Smith, 7th Air Force commander.
This year’s battle plan has changed considerably, Smith said, since the U.S. Forces Korea commander, Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, has implemented his own strategy to fight a war. The talks were expected to include discussion of targets and how emerging technologies may change the fight, he said.
“In fact, this year’s fight allows us to do considerably more than in any past year because of things like JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition),” Smith said. “By having JDAM — and the ability to drop them — we can put more effort into things like close air support or interdiction of mobile troops.”
Employed extensively during the Iraq war, the JDAM bomb can slice through inclement weather using a global positioning system that manipulates its fins. A retrofit kit can be attached to formerly unguided bombs, turning them into what the military terms precision munitions.
Starting last year, the Air Force in South Korea began fitting many of its old “dumb” bombs with JDAM kits. Some of those bombs at Kunsan — with rusty noses from the salty sea air — date back to 1967.
LaPorte was scheduled to brief the group on his battle strategy and what it would take, Smith said. Participants include personnel from Air Combat Command, 11th Air Force, 13th Air Force and 5th Air Force and other services including the Navy, Army, Marines, Combined Forces Command and South Korean Air Force.
Although much of the vigorous debate on how the war would be fought already has taken place, said Col. Gene Tulberg, 7th Air Force director of operations, “we are certainly open for a free and open exchange both between the services on the U.S. side and our coalition partners.”
The hourlong sessions comprise a 30-minute briefing in English and Korean and 30 minutes of questions and answers, Tulberg said. Notes will be kept and reviewed. After the conference, the air war plan will be written.
Usually, the air-campaign blueprint is good for a year, Tulberg said.