Signs of Armistice
General Van Fleet proposed late in May to carry the fight well behind enemy
lines. He asked General Ridgway to let him mount an amphibious landing on
Korea's east coast to surround and pinch off a large segment of the Chinese and
North Korean Armies. Basically, Van Fleet had in mind a maneuver resembling
Operation CHROMITE, a deep amphibious encirclement coordinated with an overland
drive. His target area lay well up the east coast, nearly to Wonsan. 
General Ridgway opposed the landing. First, the objective area lay beyond the
limiting line set by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This line, of course, could be
altered for sufficiently valid reasons. But Ridgway also objected that the
advantages to be gained, even if the operation were successful, did not justify
the great risks involved. For Ridgway's main mission in Korea was to destroy the
greatest possible number of enemy forces with the least possible loss of his own
men; and he had decided that he could best do this by a gradual advance to the
Line KANSAS-WYOMING, not by an amphibious landing deep behind enemy lines.
Furthermore, since it was impossible to clear all of Korea of enemy forces under
conditions then obtaining, it would be unwise to risk heavy casualties merely
for a chance to inflict equal casualties on a more numerous enemy. Van Fleet
tried to counter these arguments, but Ridgway stood fast and the plan was
Ridgway did authorize a limited advance on the east coast beyond the line set
by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He told Van Fleet that he could seize a line
running from the east end of the Hwach'on Reservoir to the east coast, a move
which would advance Line KANSAS well north of its position as defined in April.
Ridgway did not consider this move to be a general advance because its purpose
was to maintain contact and to keep the enemy off-balance. Nor did the Joint
Chiefs of Staff object when Ridgway notified them of his decision. 
 Rad, GX-5-5099 KCOP, CG Eighth Army to CINCFE, Van Fleet (Personal) for
Ridgway, 28 May 51.
 (1) MFR, 31 May 51, sub: Conference Between Gen. Ridgway and Gen. Van
Fleet, copy in GHQ UNC, SGS files, (2) Hearings on Ammunition Shortages in the
Armed Services, Senate Committee on Armed Services, 83d Congress, 1st Session,
April 1953 (hereafter cited as Van Fleet Hearings), Testimony of Gen.
Collins, pp. 1-5.
 Rad, C 63730, CINCFE to JCS, 30 May 51.
Adhering to General Ridgway's concepts, Van Fleet on 1 June ordered the
fortification of Line KANSAS. For the time being, the attacks toward Line
WYOMING would continue, and once that line was occupied patrol bases would be
established beyond it. If the enemy launched another major offensive, the forces
on Line WYOMING might withdraw to Line KANSAS to defend there. Otherwise, "From
positions along the line WYOMING and the patrol base line," Van Fleet ordered,
"limited objective attacks, reconnaissance in force, and patrolling to the
maximum capability will be conducted . . . to inflict damage on the enemy,
confuse him and keep him off balance." 
On 9 June, General Ridgway received Van Fleet's estimate of probable
developments within Korea during the next sixty days. This estimate closely
paralleled his own. The enemy, despite the beating he had taken, still had
numerical superiority and retained the capability to launch at least one major
offensive within the next two months. Van Fleet himself fully expected the
Chinese to strike again as soon as they had built up enough strength, and
planned to counter this enemy threat, at least locally, by vigorous limited
offensives which would, when combined with deception, keep the enemy off-balance
or cause him to attack prematurely. Van Fleet had made plans for three such
limited offensives, all calling for the swift seizure of objective areas, the
destruction of enemy supplies in these areas, and, after short occupation, a
return to Line KANSAS-WYOMING. 
The Eighth Army reached Line KANSAS-WYOMING by mid-June; and on the 14th,
General Ridgway, basing his predictions on General Van Fleet's report, sketched
for the Joint Chiefs of Staff a picture of what could be expected in Korea
during the coming two months. The enemy's logistic situation was worse than that
of his own forces. Enemy lines of communications were too long. Recent heavy
rainfall and effective interdiction by U.N. air forces were further aggravating
Chinese supply problems. The Eighth Army, on the other hand, currently enjoyed
adequate logistic support. This support would remain adequate, Ridgway pointed
out, provided Van Fleet made no general advance north of Line KANSAS-WYOMING
during the period. To advance, Ridgway claimed, would "tend to nullify EUSAK's
present logistic advantage over the enemy." 
Regardless of a poor supply situation; the sheer weight of superior numbers
in North Korea and Manchuria made enemy forces capable of keeping the over-all
initiative and of launching at least one major offensive in the next sixty days.
Happily, the terrain along Line KANSAS-WYOMING offered excellent defensive
positions if properly organized. Ridgway intended to hold Eighth Army along this
general line, at least for the next two months, and to keep punishing the enemy
by making limited offensive operations with KANSAS-WYOMING as a base. 
 Ltr. of Instructions, CG EUSAK to All Corps Comdrs, 1 June 51, copy in
JSPOG Staff Study, Advances North of the 38th Parallel.
 MFR CofS GHQ from SGS, GHQ, 13 Jun. 51, in GHQ, FEC SGS files.
 Rad, CX 64976, CINCFE to DA for JCS, 14 Jun. 51.
Political Factors Influence the Battle Line
The new national policy, now based on a political settlement as opposed to a
complete military victory, of course deterred any grander plans for a general
offensive. Even if the enemy might be defeated, the cost in lives would be
considerable; and certainly nothing was to be gained by paying a high price for
terrain which might very possibly be returned to the enemy at the conference
table. Indeed, behind the national policy lay factors and conditions beyond the
power of the theater commander, or for that matter, of national leaders to
control. The decision to seek a solution by political means in Korea was an
outgrowth of world-wide considerations. 
Since General Ridgway had been directed to create conditions favorable to a
settlement of the Korean conflict under appropriate armistice arrangements, he
gave considerable thought to the best location of a cease-fire line The Joint
Chiefs of Staff, as of 27 March, had judged that the demilitarized zone should
be an area about twenty miles in width centered at, or north of, the 38th
Parallel, although they realized that the exact location would be determined on
the basis of the positions of opposing ground units in combat at the time of a
General Ridgway took special note of this last fact and, in early June, asked
for Van Fleet's views on the best location for his forces during a cease-fire.
Van Fleet replied that Line KANSAS would be the most feasible location. "It is
assumed," Van Fleet told Ridgway, "that the Communist forces will violate the
terms of the treaty as they have in the past by improving their potentialities
for unexpected renewal of aggression."
This being so, Van Fleet insisted that his forces must occupy ground suitable
for strong defense even during a cease-fire; and Line KANSAS met that
requirement. Furthermore, in anticipation of some type of diplomatic agreement
which would require a 10-mile withdrawal from the line of contact, Van Fleet
considered it essential that his forces be at least ten miles in advance of the
terrain they would eventually occupy during a cease-fire. 
 Some officials later charged that the U.N. forces did not take sufficient
advantage of the enemy's weakened condition in early June 1951, asserting that
they could have destroyed the "remnants" of the Chinese and North Korean Armies
 "Our whole policy in Korea, in fact, both military and political,"
Ridgway later maintained, "will be a question for historians to debate. My own
conviction is that the magnificent Eighth Army could have driven the Chinese
beyond the Yalu-if this country had been willing to pay the price in lives such
action would have cost. Personally, I strongly doubt that such a victory would
have been worth the cost-particularly in light of the fact that our Government
seemed to have no firm policy on what steps to take thereafter. Seizure of the
line of the Yalu and the Tumen would have been merely the seizure of more real
estate. It would have greatly shortened the enemy supply lines and greatly
lengthened our own. It would have widened our front from 110 miles to 420, and
beyond that front would lie Manchuria and the whole mainland of Asia, in which
all the wealth and manpower of this country could have been lost and dissipated.
So it is useless to speculate on what might have been. I was not privy to the
councils of our leaders at home when they decided to accept the
Russian-sponsored overtures for a truce. But in retrospect, I do not feel
constrained to quarrel with that decision." See General Matthew B. Ridgway, "My
Battles in War and Peace, the Korean War," Saturday Evening Post
(February 25, 1956), p. 130.
General Van Fleet later commented on this matter in press statements in 1952
and during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services in March
1953. When asked whether he had been correctly quoted that the United Nations
could have won the war in Korea, General Van Fleet admitted that while he did
not believe complete victory was possible in June 1951 he had felt that at that
time he had the Communist armies on the run. ". . . They were hurting badly, out
of supplies, completely out of hand or control; they were in a panic, and were
doing their best to fall as far back as possible, and we, stopped by order, did
not finish the enemy." When asked if he had recommended the counteroffensive be
resumed, Van Fleet replied, "Oh yes, I was crying for them to turn me loose."
Van Fleet Hearings, p. 32.
Ridgway's own Joint Strategic Plans and Operations Group had been working on
the same general problem, examining various schemes of maneuver that would carry
the Eighth Army above Line KANSAS so that this line would not be lost in any
withdrawal required by cease-fire arrangements. On 13 June, JSPOG officers
briefed Ridgway on four such schemes; and after hearing them, Ridgway concluded
that Van Fleet should devise long-range plans for a general advance to the line
P'yongyang-Wonsan.  On the 19th, he directed Van Fleet to plan the seizure
of the P'yongyang-Wonsan line with a main effort over the Seoul-Wonsan axis and
a secondary drive up the Seoul-P'yongyang axis. Since Van Fleet earlier had
stated that he could make no general advance for at least the next sixty days,
Ridgway left the target date up to him. 
He cautioned Van Fleet constantly to remember that the enemy might at any
time choose to negotiate a political settlement, and if this happened, a
20-mile-wide demilitarized zone might be established on the basis of the
locations of opposing ground units in combat at the time. "Therefore," Ridgway
pointed out, "successive main lines of resistance should be selected with a
suitable outpost line, and when and if negotiations appear imminent, every
effort should be made to make contact with the enemy ten miles in advance of the
outpost line of resistance." This line of contact would be known as the
"cease-fire" line. If negotiations were successful, a demilitarized zone would
probably be set up twenty miles in depth, having as its center line the
cease-fire line. Within the terms of the agreement, both sides would likely
withdraw at least ten miles from the cease-fire line. This would place Van
Fleet's forces on the outpost line in advance of his selected main line of
resistance. Ridgway of course had no information that the enemy intended to
negotiate. But he directed Van Fleet to submit his operation plan by 10 July.
 For if negotiations began in the near future, General Van Fleet's concept
of using Line KANSAS as his main line of resistance to be occupied during a
cease-fire would apply. Consequently, Ridgway wanted Van Fleet to be at least
twenty miles in advance of KANSAS at the beginning of any negotiations. This, of
course, would permit the 10-mile withdrawal and the manning of the outpost line
of resistance. He assured Van Fleet that he would try to warn him of any
imminent negotiations so that Van Fleet could move at least part of his troops up to a
general line of contact twenty miles in advance of KANSAS. 
 Ltr., Van Fleet to CINCUNC, 9 Jun. 51, sub: Location of EUSAK During a
Cease-Fire (Military Viewpoint).
 MFR, 17 June 51, sub: Planning Directive, sgd. Lutes.
 Ltr., CINCFE to CG Eighth Army, 19 Jun. 51, sub: Planning Directive.
The wisdom of preparing a cease-fire line had apparently occurred to the
Joint Chiefs of Staff about the same time. By mid-June, in view of their
increasing conviction that political negotiations might soon develop, they had
begun to doubt the wisdom of limiting Van Fleet's advance. At a meeting on 15
June, they decided that it was desirable to revise the current directives to
General Ridgway; and General Collins received the task of preparing a proposed
revision that would remove any restrictions on ground operations except those
inherent in Ridgway's mission as CINCFE for the defense of Japan. 
General Collins and General Vandenberg wondered if it might not be wise to
let Ridgway operate in strength as far to the north as his resources would
permit. They saw the current enemy disorganization and his comparative weakness
on the immediate front as an excellent opportunity to seize more terrain and to
better Eighth Army's position in the event of a cease-fire. On 20 June, they
asked Ridgway what he thought of a change that would remove "any undue
restrictions upon your ability to exploit tactically the current situation," and
that would authorize him to "conduct such tactical operations as may be
necessary or desirable to support your mission . . . to insure the safety of
your command; and to continue to harass the enemy."  In actuality, it did
not really matter whether or not the Joint Chiefs of Staff removed their
restriction on his advance, since the realistic restrictions imposed by terrain,
logistics, troop strength, and the enemy would, in the final analysis, limit his
advance anyway. But the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked for his ideas on how any
future advance into North Korea would affect the target area of his air force,
whether an advance would trigger enemy air attack, and what would be the effect
of longer lines of communication.
General Ridgway concurred in the proposed removal of any restriction on his
advance. But he asked to be allowed to defer answering the questions about
operations deeper into North Korea since he had directed the Eighth Army
commander to submit plans for a general advance not later than 10 July and
wished to have Van Fleet's ideas before answering the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
 Ltr., Ridgway to Van Fleet, 22 Jun. 51, sub: Location of EUSAK During a
 Memo, Gen. Taylor for Gen. Collins, ACofS G-3, DA, for CSUSA, 16 Jun.
5l, sub: Revision of Directive to CINCFE for Opns in Korea, in G-3, DA file 381
Korea. General Taylor noted that approval of such a revision would better enable
Ridgway to exploit tactically the current or subsequent situation. On the other
hand, the requirement that CINCFE maintain the security of his forces would
serve to limit his advance.
 (1) Memo, Col. Arns, Dep. Secy. JCS, for Gen. Taylor, 19 Jun. 51, sub:
Possible Change in JCS 92831. (2) Rad, JCS 94501, JCS to CINCFE, 20 Jun. 51.
 Rad, C 65529, CINCFE to JCS, 22 Jun. 51.
But Ridgway continued to evince great interest in the selection of a
cease-fire line, explaining that it should be at least twenty miles out in front
of Line KANSAS, preferably extending from the confluence of the Han and Yesong
Rivers in the west, generally northeast past Ch'orwon and Kumhwa to Kosong on
the east coast. Ridgway pointed out that this cease-fire line did not include
the Ongjin and Yonan peninsulas along the west coast, both originally a part of South Korea.
But the value of including these two peninsulas was out of proportion to the
difficulty of defending them. He asked that the Joint Chiefs of Staff modify
their position regarding a demilitarized area as described in their memorandum
of 27 March to the Secretary of Defense in order to conform to the description
of the cease-fire line he had proposed. The Joint Chiefs of Staff did not
consider this necessary. They pointed out that their instructions which called
for him to create conditions favorable to an armistice did not imply that he was
to gain military control of all areas south of the 38th Parallel and that such
was not intended if the tactical situation did not warrant it. They did not want
to make an issue out of excluding the Ongjin and Yonan peninsulas from the
provisions of their directive since it "would have undesirable political
implications, particularly, if such came to attention of the ROK government."
After receiving Ridgway's concurrence in the decision to revise his operating
directives, the Joint Chiefs of Staff took the matter up with the Secretary of
Defense and the Secretary of State, and finally with the President. President
Truman approved the removal of a definite limiting line on Korean operations;
and on 10 July the Joint Chiefs of Staff informed Ridgway that he was ". . .
authorized to conduct such tactical operations as may be necessary to or
desirable to support your mission." 
Moves Toward Negotiation
General Ridgway's concern with cease-fire lines was well timed. On 23 June
appeared the first solid indication that the Communists were prepared to
negotiate when during a U.N.-sponsored radio broadcast entitled "The Price of
Peace," Jacob Malik, USSR delegate to the United Nations Security Council,
hinted broadly that his government was in favor of such negotiations at an early
date. Having assumed all along that the USSR Government was the chief instigator
of the Communist aggression in Korea and that ultimate control of Communist
forces in Korea rested with Russia, U.S. authorities took Malik's remarks
 (1) Rad, C 65529, CINCFE to JCS, 22 June 51. (2) Rad, JCS 95125, JCS to CINCFE,
23 Jun. 51.
 (1) JCS 1776/234, 27 Jun. 51. (2) Note to Holders, 12 Jul.,
App. A, 27 Jun. 51, in G-3, DA file 38 Korea, Case 8.
 For a detailed
account of the preliminary steps leading to the opening of the armistice
conference and of the negotiations themselves, see Walter C. Hermes, Truce
Tent and Fighting Front, UNITED STATES ARMY IN THE KOREAN WAR (Washington,
 Rad, CX 65667, CINCFE to All Comdrs, 24 Jun. 51. Page 403}
Only two days earlier, Ridgway had assured Van Fleet that he would give timely
warning of any imminent negotiations so that Van Fleet might move forces forward
twenty miles above Line KANSAS. But on 26 June, after Ridgway and Van Fleet
toured the battlefront and weighed the situation anew, the two generals decided
against any advance beyond Line KANSAS-WYOMING. They agreed that such an advance
was feasible tactically and logistically, but that the probable cost in
casualties was too great a price to pay.
 Enemy forces meanwhile had not
slackened their build-up nor tempered their reactions to the Eighth Army's
probing, especially on the central front. General Ridgway's intelligence staff
concluded that the enemy was, regardless of armistice moves, regrouping in
preparation for further offensives. Air sightings in the last week of June
indicated that enemy offensive preparations were well advanced; numerous forward
supply dumps, artillery positions, and troop movements were reported in the
central area; and prisoners reported the enemy's intention to launch a Sixth
Phase Offensive sometime in July.
 The enemy build-up, however, became of
secondary importance on 29 June when General Ridgway received instructions from
the Joint Chiefs of Staff to approach the enemy on possible armistice
negotiations. President Truman had directed that at 0800 on 30 June, Ridgway was
to broadcast a message to the commander in chief, Communist Forces in Korea,
I am informed that you may wish a meeting to discuss armistice
providing for the cessation of hostilities and all acts of armed
forces in Korea with adequate guarantee for the maintenance of such
armistice. Upon receipt of word from you that such a meeting is
desired I shall be prepared to name my representative. I would also
at that time suggest a date at which he could meet with your
representative. I propose that such a meeting could take place
aboard a Danish Hospital ship in Wonsan harbor.
General Ridgway, informed that cease-fire proceedings might soon develop as a
result of Malik's speech, immediately took steps to forestall any letdown among
his forces. "Two things should be recalled," he cautioned his commanders.
One is the well-earned reputation for duplicity and dishonesty
possessed by the USSR, the other is the slowness with which
deliberative bodies such as the Security Council produce positive
action. I desire that you personally assure yourself that all
elements of your command are made aware of the danger of such a
relaxation of effort and that you insist on an intensification
rather than a diminution of the United Nation's action in this
Ridgway broadcast this message as directed.  On the date of Ridgway's
broadcast, the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave Ridgway instructions for conducting
cease-fire talks with the Communists should such talks develop. They told him
that the principal military interests of the United Nations in an armistice lay
in the cessation of hostilities in Korea, in assuring that the fighting would
not resume, and in guaranteeing the security of United Nations Command forces.
Further, any cease-fire talks were to be limited strictly to military questions
related to Korea.  Upon receiving these guidelines, Ridgway and his Joint
Strategic Plans and Operations Group developed an agenda to be proposed to the
Communists at the first session, selected a delegation to represent the United
Nations Command at the conference table, and worked out the physical
arrangements for maintaining the United Nations Command delegation, including
communications, transportation, security liaison, and other routine matters. On
3 July, the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved Ridgway's
plans without change.
 (1) Ltr., Ridgway to Van Fleet, 22 Jun. 51, sub: Location
of EUSAK During a Cease-Fire. (2) Van Fleet Hearings, p. 651.
Telecons, TT 4846 and TT 4884, DA and GHQ, 20 Jun. 51 and 28 Jun. 51.
JCS 95258, JCS to CINCFE, 29 Jun. 51.
 Rad, JCS 95354, JCS to CINCFE,
(Personal) for Ridgway, 30 Jun. 51. Page 404
 Meanwhile, on 1 July, the Communist leaders replied
to Ridgway's message in a broadcast sponsored jointly by Kim Il Sung, Supreme
Commander of the Korean People's Army, and Peng Teh-huai, who styled himself
Commander of the Chinese Volunteers. They agreed to meet with United Nations
Command representatives but proposed that the place of meeting be in the Kaesong
area rather than aboard the Danish ship, and that the meetings begin between 10
and 15 July.
 The enemy proposal to meet at Kaesong, while not entirely
unacceptable to Ridgway, was interpreted as only a further demonstration of a
known Communist policy never to accept a proposal in toto. Ridgway therefore
told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he planned to accept Kaesong as the
conference site and to halt combat operations along the Munsan-Kaesong road and
in the Kaesong area. On 3 July, he notified the Communists that he was prepared
to meet their representatives at Kaesong on 10 July "or at an earlier date if
your representatives complete their preparations before that date." He proposed,
in order to insure efficient arrangement of the many details for the meetings,
that three liaison officers of each side meet in Kaesong on 5 July or as soon
thereafter as practicable. The Communists agreed to this procedure, but set the
date for the meeting of liaison officers at 8 July.
 The mere promise that
negotiations to end the fighting in Korea might be forthcoming had in the
meantime prompted widespread speculation in the American press. Such expressions
as "Let's Get the Boys Back Home" and "The War Weary Troops" were beginning to
appear in the more irresponsible journals. General Ridgway took violent
exception to these sentiments. "I can hardly imagine a greater tragedy for
America and the free world," he informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 4 July,
"than a repetition of the disgraceful debacle of our Armed Forces following
their victorious effort in World War II. We can never efface that blot on the
record of the American people on whom the responsibility squarely rests."
Ridgway vowed that he would do everything within his power to eliminate such
thinking among the officers and men of his command. "If this be 'thought
control' then I am for it, heart and soul."
 Ridgway also feared that public
pressure for an armistice might force him into military concessions. He told the
Joint Chief of Staff, "I wish with great earnestness to point out the importance
I attach to the retention by United Nations forces of so much of Korea as will
permit occupation and defense of Kansas line with a suitable outpost zone for
its protection." He reiterated the view that KANSAS was the strongest defensive
line in the general area.
It is the most advanced strong defensive terrain which the tactical
situation under your directives permits me to reach, and there,
logistically to support my forces.... Any position taken by our
government which would compel me to abandon the
Kansas line or deny me a reasonable outpost zone for its protection
would vitally prejudice our entire military position in Korea.
Request that copy of this message be furnished the Secretary of
Defense personally. 
Next, before sending his officers to negotiate with their enemy counterparts,
Ridgway explained to them at length the objectives they were to attempt to
achieve and what he considered proper demeanor at the conference table. He
stressed that their skillful conduct of armistice negotiations might well mark
the beginning of communism's recession in Asia. 
 (1) Rad, CX 66160, CINCFE to JCS, 1 Jul. 51. (2) Rad, JCS 95438, JCS to
CINCFE, 3 Jul. 51.
 Rad, CX 66188, CINCFE to JCS, 2 Jul. 51.
 (1) Ibid. (2) Rad, DA-IN 11098, Ridgway to JCS, 5 Jul. 51.
 Rad, C 66323, CINCFE to JCS, 4 Jul. 51.
Following two days of stage setting by the liaison officers of both sides,
the two delegations met for the first time at Kaesong on 10 July. This first
meeting rang down the curtain on the war of movement. A full year of bitter
fighting had served only to bring the opposing forces into balance. As armistice
negotiations began, United Nations Command ground forces in Korea exceeded
550,000, the bulk of which comprised 17 divisions (7 American and 10 ROK), 4
brigades, 1 separate regiment, and 9 separate battalions. Enemy forces totaled
about 459,000 divided among 13 Chinese armies and 7 North Korean corps. The
significant point of difference was in available reserves. Whereas the United
Nations Command had no appreciable source of reinforcement anywhere, its
opponents had close at hand some 743,000 Chinese troops in Manchuria.
The willingness of the Chinese to negotiate an armistice rather than commit
their large reserve to battle undoubtedly was prompted in large part by the high
losses they had sustained since intervening eight months earlier. By 10 July
1951, estimates of total enemy casualties had risen above 1,200,000, divided
almost evenly between the Chinese and North Koreans. The costs to United Nations
Command forces also had been dear. By the end of June 1951 American combat
losses stood at about 78,800, of whom approximately 21,300 were killed in action
or subsequently died as a result of their combat participation. Losses among
other United Nations contingents were in proportion to the Americans'; and ROK
Army casualties numbered 212,554, including 21,625 dead. The ROK civilian
population had paid a still higher price, suffering some 469,000 casualties, of
whom at least 170,000 had been killed.
Whereas neither of the opposing forces had been able to achieve a final
victory, each had made significant gains. The United Nations Command forces had
at least met their objective of repelling the aggression against South Korea;
for with the exception of a small area in the west, the republic had been
cleared of enemy forces, and even some territory above the 38th Parallel now was
under United Nations Command control. A startling gain for Communist China had
resulted from battle successes during the past winter. These victories had
raised the prestige of Mao Tse-tung's regime and won it a front-rank position as
a military power. While offset to some degree by a lack of an atomic capability
and a dependence on the USSR for industrial and technical support, Communist China's
new prominence was certain to upset the political balance in Asia.
 Memo, Gen. M. B. Ridgway for General and Flag-Officer Members of the U
N, Delegation, 7 Jul. 51, in GHQ, UNC SGS files.
But these gains would serve neither side for the duration of the Korean War.
On the battlefield, both sides might claim to have the stronger force; but the
opposing commanders would recognize that the near parity of military power left
them only the prospect of directing operations in a war they could not win. At
the conference table, both delegations might profess to be negotiating from
positions of superior strength, but each would know that the other possessed no
decisive advantage. The challenge here, then, would be to achieve an armistice
under favorable terms without being able to dictate those terms. Indeed, those
responsible for policy and direction during the first year of the Korean War had
set the scene for what could prove to be a long, tedious stalemate at two
locations: in the truce tent and on the fighting front.