DPRK’s Reorganized Military Automation General Bureau to Manage Integrated Computerized Command Network for Entire Armed Forces

Kim Jong Un observes a member of the Korean People’s Army using a computer in this undated photo published by the KCNA on Dec. 14, 2013. Image via KCNA.

SEOUL – Recently, the North Korean military appears to have promoted the “Command Automation Bureau” under the General Staff to the “Military Automation General Bureau” as a solution to establish and manage an integrated computer system for the entire armed forces in light of the new deployment of strategic units within the military.

On January 4, 2024, the writer spoke with a source surnamed Choi, a researcher working for the joint development of the industrial robotics program at the Ministry of External Economic Relations-affiliated Sulsong Trading Company in Shenyang, China. 

The source said that the Command Automation Bureau under the General Staff was restructured into the Military Automation General Bureau in November 2023 following a decision by the Party Central Military Commission, and the process of expanding the organization commenced. 

Unlike the former Command Automation Bureau, the reorganized Military Automation General Bureau means that the command management area has been expanded and strengthened to integrally install and manage the computerized command network for the entire armed forces.

This not only includes the subordinate armed forces, military commands, and units under the General Staff, but also the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of State Security, Ministry of Social Security, Supreme Guard Command, Strategic Force Command, Reconnaissance General Bureau, and Civil Defense Force.

In the decision, the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Worker’s Party of Korea ordered that the modernization and automation of the armed forces be completed at the most advanced level. 

It also ordered that the Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) and automatic warning system be completed in the shortest possible time to meet the needs of modern warfare in information and electronic areas. 

To this end, the task of training and deploying 30,000 intelligence commanders and automated forces by 2025 to acquire an aspect of the General Bureau and play a crucial role in the automation, computerization, and modernization of the entire armed forces was presented.

The Automation General Bureau said it aims to complete the operational command computer network system with the Supreme Command and all military command units during this winter training period, and it is currently being piloted.

The North Korean military has been laying military-grade fiber optic cables since 2021 to complete its computerization and command automation system. 

According to local correspondents in North Korea, all of North Korea’s defense corps (1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th) have been connected to the division and brigade command, and other command units are nearing completion in their respective military garrisons.

The expansion to the Automation General Bureau of the North Korean military means that the automation department, which has been limited to the General Staff headquarters and subordinate commands, will be expanded to division and brigade units to expand the military’s information and electronic warfare capabilities against the U.S.-ROK alliance. 

It is also believed that the intention is to improve the military’s overall cyberwarfare capabilities by transferring the experience and know-how of cyberattacks on enemy forces conducted by the 121st Reconnaissance General Bureau to a larger force.

To implement the decision of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Worker’s Party of Korea to expand and reorganize the Military Automation General Bureau, the Ministry of Defence’s Military Mobilization General Bureau is expected to recruit more university graduates majoring in computer science into the military starting this year.

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