South Korea has discovered what appears to be a North Korean drone in the forest near the border with North Korea. The drone, which had a camera attached, took photos of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system recently emplaced in South Korea. The drone is believed to have crashed on its way back to North Korea, after completing its mission.
Reuters reports that the drone was similar to a North Korean drone previously discovered on an island near the North/South border in 2014 and was likely acquired through one of North Korea’s various front companies in China.
A United Nations report stated that North Korea has nearly 300 unmanned aerial vehicles, ranging in design and purpose from reconnaissance to combat roles. North Korea’s persistent threat is the use of nuclear and ballistic missiles. Between the deployment of THAAD systems to South Korea and the successful test of the United States’ Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, North Korea is likely desperate for information on U.S. and South Korean anti-missile systems.
The deployment of THAAD anti-missile systems in South Korea remains a point of contention in the region. China, which vehemently opposes THAAD’s deployment, believes the system’s true aim is to utilize its long-range radar to somehow spy on China.
While the drone crashed before returning to North Korea with the photographs, it represents a technological shift on the modern battlefield: the United States no longer has a monopoly on technologically advanced warfare. ISIS has demonstrated increased use of drones in their fight against, well, the entire civilized world.
ISIS forces have used reconnaissance drones as early as 2015 and eventually shifted to more combat-focused roles as the conflict in Iraq progressed. Drones have been used guide suicide car bombers to their targets and drop small explosives on unsuspecting ground troops. Just as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq became more sophisticated to combat advancements in U.S. armored vehicles, so too has Islamic State’s drone use adapted to overcome its ever-decreasing numbers of fighters.
The United States Military’s long-standing technological superiority has led many to overestimate our own abilities and underestimate the abilities of our adversaries. More than fifteen years after the onset of the Global War on Terror, the United States is still learning the lessons of modern warfare: conventional superiority does not always mean success on an unconventional battlefield.
Liberty Nation’s active duty and veteran readers have already seen what happens when the military, as an organization, relies too heavily on technology. Many of the fundamental skills, once the bread and butter or military training, have fallen by the wayside in exchange for expedient, high-tech fixes.
Our adversaries, both conventional and otherwise, are motivated and (if the recent use of drones tells us anything) changing with the times. We can no longer rest on the laurels of our technological advancements.