What did US Secretary of Defence Gen James N Mattis intend when he said, “Military solution to North Korea would be tragic on an unbelievable scale?” Will the ‘tragic’ results be limited to the Korean Peninsula or will the jolts travel further on? Is United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) in a position to launch a military strike against North Korea and achieve ‘rapid dominance’? And apart from everything, will Russian President Vladimir Putin let US President Donald Trump strike North Korea? These questions may sound a bit too harsh, but the determination and resolve of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, and the unpredictable behaviour demonstrated by President Putin in Syria, makes them relevant and worth probing. ‘Shock and awe; rapid dominance’ is the current doctrine of the US military forces. It was executed on Afghanistan in 2001 and during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The doctrine was the product of extensive research conducted at the National Defence University, Washington, DC and was unveiled in 1996. The US military thought that the previous Airland Battle Doctrine was not a suitable military instrument for the American forces in a unipolar world order. The doctrine was a direct result of the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and was intended to overcome the military, technological and strategic weaknesses exhibited by US war planners during Operation Desert Shield; and the subsequent Operation Desert Storm against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Shock and awe; rapid dominance intends to employ conventional forces to achieve its objectives while remaining strictly below the nuclear threshold. The use of conventional forces in the nuclear age with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of multiple independent targetable re-entry launch vehicles (MIRVs) with less than 100 metres of circular error probability (CEP) make one thing clear: that the importance and reliance on conventional forces in the pursuit of objectives is surely undeniable and irrefutable. The North Korean military possesses some highly devastating lethal weapons with more than one million active troops with five times as many reserve units. Above all, the North Koreans possess hydrogen bomb apart from their bank of nuclear warheads that numbers roughly at 20. These warheads can be fitted in the short and medium-range ballistic missiles within hours for launch. The intentions and capabilities on both sides are clear and pretty much dangerous. The US military planners may think that they are in a position to dominate North Korea and perhaps they might be correct up to some extent, but the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula has changed greatly According to Reuters journalists Phil Stewart and David Brunnstrom, with the missile test conducted by Pyongyang on 14 May 2017, Koreans might have achieved a major milestone in developing a ballistic missile capable of reaching the US mainland. They also asserted that the missile, called KN-17, showed some unpredictable success with a large-size heavy nuclear warhead in its re-entry mode. Similarly, the Hwasong-15 is considered to be an ICBM with the range of about 13,000 kilometres. The North Koreans are also believed to have biological weapons such as anthrax and chemical nerve agents like ‘sarin’ in their arsenal. The recently renamed USINDOPACOM is among the six geographic unified combatant commands of the United States Military under the Department of Defence. The combined strength of USINDOPACOM in relation to North Korean Military Forces is modern day ‘David vs Goliath’. The intentions and capabilities on both sides are clear and pretty much dangerous. The US military planners may think that they are in a position to dominate North Korea and perhaps they might be correct up to some extent, but the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula has changed greatly. If US Defence Secretary Gen Mattis intends to repeat the Inchon Invasion (1950) of Gen Douglas McArthur that marked the beginning of United Nations-led international intervention in the Korean War, then apart from many other things, he must keep one thing in mind that the United States might lose Seoul this time; since in 1950 there was no Kim Jong-Un, and above all there was no Vladimir Putin. The deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) System in South Korea is another sign that reflects that the USINDOPACOM is well aware of the ballistic missile capability of the North. There are currently 28,000 US soldiers deployed in South Korea to repel any invasion from the North. The Kuril Islands dispute between Japan and Russia is further fuelling the hostile environment in the Pacific. President Putin spoke at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-2017) that the US might deploy its troops on the Kuril Islands if they may fall into Japanese hands. He further added that Russia would never demilitarise the Kuril Islands and would maintain a military presence there. The firm resolve of Putin has been a key source in warding-off the US military forces from taking any aggressive military action against North Korea. If the United States is not fearful of the North Korean ballistic missiles, then why its missile defence agency has momentously accelerated its ground-based midcourse defence (GMD) system? The GMD is the world’s most expensive and unparalleled advanced intermediate and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) defence system. The North Koreans apart from the Western news reports and propaganda are battle hardened and could prove unprecedentedly effective military force. Historically, the North Koreans beat the South Korean military severely during the early phase of the Korean War. The UN-led intervention turned the tide of the entire war. The US and its allies fear the North Korean artillery that could shred the US ground forces with a massive rain of rockets. The North Koreans lack advanced air assets but retain the capability to paralyse the adversary’s air assets using powerful viruses and hacking the communications and satellites. With FBI and NSA’s evidence on Putin’s role in hacking 2016 US presidential elections, it seems that Putin is determined to prevent President Trump from ‘Make America Great Again’ and is ready to support any anti-American element. Putin’s support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad against the wishes of the European Union and NATO clearly exhibits that he will not hesitate to extend the same support to Kim Jong-Un. If the United States is expecting another ‘Caribbean Missile Crisis’ of 1962, then one question arises that will Trump become another Kennedy, will Putin behave like Khrushchev and will Jong-Un turn into another Castro? The writer can be reached email@example.com Published in Daily Times, June 13th 2018.