Military Organization

    Organization & Command Structure

    The Guards Corps, the Capital Garrison Command and other units of the Korean People's Army form North Korea's regular armed units. Paramilitary units like the Korean People's Security Units, and organizations such as the Peasant-Worker Red Guard Militia and the Red Youth Militia form the military substructure as its reserves. Government offices presiding over the military are here as follows: the Party Central Military Committee, the National Defense Committee, the Party Armed Forces Office, the party Civil Defense Office, Logistics Command, and the Ministry of Defense.

    The KPA operates under a dual command structure, with the Party Central Military Committee responsible for issuing political directives, while actual administrative and military issues are handled by the National Defense Committee. In field operations, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff commands all branches of the armed forces.

    The number of administrative and support personnel is kept at a minimum, and their forward positioning for all-out combat at all times is a clear indication of the KPA's offensive orientation.

    The Party Central Military Committee

    After its adoption of the [Four Militarizations] Plan at the Fifth Plenary Session of the Fourth Party Central Committee, the party has established and operates military committees down to the city and party level for the plan's proper execution. It is the top military decision-making body in North Korea, and Article 27 of the Party Constitution has invested the committee with authority to direct overall military policy and provide guidance for the military and the munitions industry, and the use of force. No one succeeded Kim Il-sung to the chairmanship after his death. It currently is comprised of 14 members, including Kim Jong-il.

    The National Military Committee

    This committee was originally created, like all other smaller subcommittees of the Central People's Committee, for help in a certain area of government administration. It was made independent of the People's Committee by a constitutional revision in April 1992 and transformed into a top organ of the state's military power in practice in an effort to consolidate power for its Chairman, Kim Jong-il. The committee provides general supervision for military activities and construction of military infrastructure, oversees the movement of personnel, and has the power to declare war. The body consists of a chairman, vice chairman, and members of the committee. Kim Jong-il has chaired the committee since April of 1993, but there have been no vice chairmen after the death of O Jin-u (Feb. 1995) and Choi Kwang (Feb. 1997)

    The Armed Forces Party Committee

    The Worker's Party Central Committee made its decision to extend party organization into the armed forces in Oct. 1950, to place the military under party control. The armed forces party committee was officially formed in 1958, and relevant statutes for party organizations in the armed forces were entered into the constitution.

    The armed forced party unit is under direct control of the central committee, with party committees placed at battalion-level units, and party organizations extend down to companies and platoons. The party organizations are responsible for indoctrination and other political activities in the military.

    The politburo of the armed forces party has organized individual political departments at the battalion level, and dispatches political guidance officers (In Russian, zampolit) to smaller units to oversee and report all activities of their commanding officers to the party central committee.

    The zampolits were introduced into the military in 1969, and no orders nor proposals by the officers are valid until the documents are underwritten by political officers, causing friction between political and commanding officers of the units. It has led to severe disruption of unit cohesion.