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2d Infantry Division Troops on Bloody Ridge

The Punchbowl

The above is one of Walter G. Hermes: Truce Tent and Fighting Front illustrations, which document small unit operations during the last two years of the Korean War.

Unlike nearly all of the previous wars waged by the United States, the conflict in Korea brought no military victory; in fact, during the last two years of the struggle neither side sought to settle the issue decisively on the battlefield. More important fighting, in both cases, went on at the peace table than on the field of combat.

The Chinese enemy was well and courageously led at the small unit level, was thoroughly disciplined and industrious. He fought effectively in spite of UN superiority in air, and in communications. amd with a hodge-podge of equipment. American troops were also brave, but during the first 10 months or so of the war we were not well organized, or well disciplined.We were not well led at the company and field grade levels, or above. But, we learned. We re-defined and re-established the leadership requirements of our officer corps. Our combat units again developed into teams, as we had in WWII. We fought the Chinese to a standstill, and then drove them back to about the original national boundaries.The limited operations the UN allowed immediately following the start of the Truce Talks without question showed the overall superiority of our forces.

For example, in October 1951 the Eighth Army had inflicted upon the enemy the highest monthly total of casualties for the negotiations period and had won valuable defensive terrain as well. Still, political considerations welcomed the inconclusive final result.

Although the action at the front from July 1951 to July 1953 was inconclusive, there was a definite interrelationship between the intensity of the fighting and the status of affairs at the truce meetings. Both the United Nations Command and its opponents tried with some success to induce more reasonable negotiating attitudes in their adversaries through the application of limited military pressure.

Since the last two years of the war produced few large-scale ground operations, the photos make no attempt to cover the hundreds of hill actions, patrols, and raids during this period, but rather attempt to convey the brutal character of the fighting through selected photographs of small-scale actions involving U.S. Army units.

Hermes made ittle attempt to show the combat operations of the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Marines, but photographs doing this are widely presented elsewhere on this site.

Lasting three years, the Korean War cost about 3 million military and unknown millions of civilian casualties on all sides, and ended in a fortified border about where it began, and a Cease Fire which exists today. North Korea now possesses nuclear weapons and is a constant menace to world peace.

Today, as we stand down from Iraq and Afghanistan, we face the same decisions in Political Leadership and Military Intelligence that we failed to solve after WWII, thus leading to the ongoing tragedy of Korea. The major purpose of this site is to show the consequences of failing those responsibilities, so as to help us not repeat them.

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