Both Communist and UN forces fought the Korean War largely with surplus World War II weapons.
A sometimes unappreciated fact is that, at the start of the Korean War, the US actually had no new conventional weapons due to a complete cessation
of procurement for ground warfare following WWII. Harry Truman had been convinced that nuclear weapons meant the last major ground wars had been
fought. Truman's Secretaries of Defense, James Forrestal and Louis Johnson, not only forced a change in Army training methods, shaping it to produce
Garrison peace-keeping troops, but virtually stopped the development of new infantry arms and communications.
The Marine Corps was reduced to a
poorly equipped skeleton of its supposed strength, a total of about six fighting battalions. Two Marine Divisions from WWII would have crushed the entire
North Korean Army, but Truman hadn't left the United States even one.
5th Marines, (LtCol Ray Murray), were the troops carrying the
colors of the entire First Marine Division in July of '50. Six rifle companies of about 7 officers and 255 men each, equipped with worn out WWII
didn't get the third companies in their rifle battalions, the
elements of maneuver!, until after the
1st Battle of the Naktong, 17-18 August of '50. Until the Marine Battalions had their third company to outflank the enemy while the two attacking
companies held them in combat, they suffered many unnecessary casualties in the desperate fighting.
The Communist bloc, fighting through its secondary powers, were armed with newer weapons than the American and ROKs in 1950, but they were also
obsolescent. For example although the "burp gun" was very effective in the close infantry assaults of the Korean War
the AK-47, already a Soviet standard in 1949, would have been far superior. Although newer series of infantry weapons, radios, and vehicles had either been developed or were in production on both sides, they were all
largely withheld, along with nuclear weapons. From the infantry point of view, the KW was an anachronism.
Ready or not Truman sent our civilians in uniform, inadequately prepared and with obsolescent weapons, into one of the most vicious infantry wars our
nation has fought since the insane slaughter and devastation of our own Civil War.
Bert Kortegaard, 2/19/2012