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Operation CHROMITE: The Concept and the Plan

MacArthur had decided on an amphibious operation against the enemy even before the first clash between American and North Korean soldiers at Osan. On 2 July he asked Washington for a Marine RCT. On the next day he ordered 1,200 specially trained operators for amphibious landing craft. He asked on 5 July for an engineer special brigade trained in amphibious operations and on the same day called for an airborne RCT "to participate in planned operations from 20 July to 10 August." [1]

MacArthur had conceived these "planned operations" a few days after the North Koreans struck. MacArthur then believed that he could land an assault force from the 1st Cavalry Division and the Marine RCT against the enemy's rear at Inch'on as early as 22 July. This force would envelop Seoul and seize the high ground to the north. At the same time, all forces available to General Dean would attack to drive the North Koreans back against the Han. Maj. Gen. Edwin K. Wright's planning group, JSPOG, worked out the details of this early plan. They assigned to it the code name Operation BLUEHEARTS. [2]

[1] (1) Information on these requests is contained in previous chapters. (2) Rad, CM-IN 9573, CINC FE to DA, 3 Jul. 50. (3) Rad, C 57248, CINCFE to DA, 5 Jul. 50. (4) The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Forrest P. Sherman, had cabled COM NAVFE, Admiral C. Turner Joy, that a Marine RCT could be made available for service in Korea, if General MacArthur desired. Joy called upon MacArthur in Tokyo on 2 July. MacArthur, who had just returned from a depressing inspection of the situation in Korea, accepted with alacrity and, according to Joy, with unusual enthusiasm. For an account of this transaction, see Montross and Canzona, U.S. Marine Operations in Korea, 1950-1953, vol. I, The Pusan Perimeter, pp. 48-49.

[2] (1) Draft Plan, Opn. BLUEHEARTS, JSPOG, GHQ, FEC, Jul. 50, copy in JSPOG, GHQ files. (2) For other coverage of the plans and preparations for the Inch'on landing, see Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, pp. 488-500: Field, Naval Operations, Korea, pp. 171-83; Lynn Montross and Capt. Nicholas A. Canzona, U.S. Marine Operations in Korea, 1950-1953, vol. II, The Inchon-Seoul Operation, chs. I through IV; and Col. Robert Deles Heinl, Jr., Victory at High Tide (New York: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1968), ch. 2.

General MacArthur on 6 July called Maj. Gen. Hobart R. Gay, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, to Tokyo and told him of the plan. Some of MacArthur's staff held high hopes for the operation. General Willoughby, MacArthur's G-2, admonished Gay to step lively or be left behind. "You must expedite preparations to the utmost," Willoughby warned, "because if your landing is delayed, all that the 1st Cavalry Division will hit when it lands will be the tail-end of the 24th Division as it passes north through Seoul." [3]

Operation BLUEHEARTS died a-borning. The failure of the weak American and weaker ROK forces to halt the enemy and the forced commitment of the 1st Cavalry Division before 22 July made the operation, in July or even in August, quite infeasible. It was canceled on 10 July. [4]

The increasingly grave turn of events on the ground strengthened MacArthur's determination to strike amphibiously. He told Generals Collins and Vandenberg of his intentions on 13 July and outlined a tentative strategy. He had not yet chosen a target date nor a definite landing site, but informed Collins and Vandenberg that as soon as the North Koreans had been stopped, he would attack their rear on the west coast. He believed that Inch'on would be the best place to strike. But he was also considering landing beaches at Haeju and Chinnamp'o, both north of Inch'on.

[3] Ltr., Gen. Gay to Col. Appleman, 24 Aug. 53, copy in OCMH. Gay recalls that his division did hit the tail of the 24th Division on 20 July, but under quite different circumstances.

[4] During his briefing of General Collins on 13 July, General MacArthur explained why Operation BLUEHEARTS could not be carried out. There is a marked similarity between BLUEHEARTS and the strategic concepts developed later.

A day later, General Collins talked with some of MacArthur's key staff officers about the proposed landing. The Army Chief of Staff, aware of the tremendous tidal changes at Inch'on, questioned the wisdom of a landing there. Rear Adm. James H. Doyle, assistant to Admiral Joy and a man of much experience in amphibious techniques, agreed that a landing at Inch'on could be extremely difficult and would require considerable preliminary naval bombardment. But he told Collins that it could be done. [5]

Turning to General Almond, Collins asked how the assault troops would cross the formidable barrier of the Han River after landing at Inch'on. Almond pointed out that amphibious trucks, available in the theater, could be used to ferry troops. The crossing would probably be unopposed since General MacArthur would use the airborne RCT to seize and secure the north shore of the Han. General Collins returned to Washington without committing himself, either for or against the planned operation. But he described to his fellow members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to his Army staff assistants the broad outlines of the maneuver MacArthur had in mind. [6]

The commitment of the 25th Division and the 1st Cavalry Division against the North Koreans had slowed, but not stopped, the enemy's drive, and did not come in time to prevent the fall of Taejon to the enemy on 20 July. The loss of all Korea loomed as a very real possibility. Nevertheless, by that date General MacArthur had discussed his idea with General Almond and General Wright and had ordered detailed plans drawn Up for an amphibious envelopment. Primary emphasis, he directed, was to be on Inch'on as the assault site, but he also specified that alternate plans be prepared.

Wright's planning officers at once began to ready the basic framework of a plan for an amphibious assault landing at Inch'on during September and to draw up several alternate plans as well. On 23 July all these plans went to GHQ staff officers most directly concerned with the proposed operations. [7]

[5] General Wright calls Doyle "a real expert on amphibious operations, a real commander in every sense of the word, a thorough planner and an able and enthusiastic executive of those plans...." See Ltr., Gen. Wright to Maj. Gen. E. W. Snedeker, USMC, 6 Feb. 56, Marine Corps files.

[6] (1) Memo, Col. Dickson for Gen. Bolte, sub: Rpt of Trip to FEC, 10-15 Jul. 50, in G-3, DA file 333 Pac, Case 3, Tabs A and C. (2) Collins, War in Peacetime, p. 116. (3) President Truman, in volume II, page 348, of his Memoirs, recalls that on his return from Tokyo, General Collins had serious misgivings about MacArthur's plans for the counterattack.

[7] (1) Draft Plan 100-B, JSPOG, 23 Jul. 50, copy in JSPOG, GHQ, FEC files. (2) Plans circulated at the same time were Plan 100-C, calling for a landing at Kunsan, and Plan 100-D, calling for a landing on the east coast near Chumunjin. General Wright recalls that alternate landings featuring Wonsan and Chinnamp'o were also under consideration. General Walker, Wright says, wanted a flexible plan with landings scheduled for either coast so that the main effort could be mounted with little advance notice. But from the standpoint of a communications complex which could be used to support the breakout from the beachhead and the pursuit phase, Seoul-Inch'on "stood out like a sore thumb," according to General Wright. See Interv, author with Wright, Dec. 51.

General MacArthur confirmed the message which General Collins had carried back to Washington on 23 July, when he told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he meant to use the 5th Marine RCT and the 2d Division for "major amphibious operations" in mid-September. An airborne RCT would drop into the objective area soon after D-day to seize key communications centers immediately ahead of the advancing assault forces. MacArthur did not pinpoint his objective area, but he described in broad terms how the assault would go. After the beachhead had been seized, Eighth Army, by that time augmented by the additional infantry, artillery, and tank battalions, would attack from the south and destroy the North Koreans.

"Although the exact date of D-day is partially dependent upon enemy reaction during the month of August," MacArthur reported to Washington:

   I am firmly convinced that an early and strong effort behind his    front will sever his main line of communication and enable us to    deliver a decisive and crushing blow. Any material delay in such an    operation may lose this opportunity. The alternative is a frontal    attack which can only result in a protracted and expensive campaign    to slowly drive the enemy north of the 38th Parallel. [8] 

General MacArthur's proposals for a September landing reached Washington at a bad time. They came on the heels of the grim news that Taejon had fallen and while the North Koreans were obviously preparing a double envelopment of Walker's defenses. MacArthur's term, "enemy reaction during . . . August," probably struck the Joint Chiefs of Staff as euphemistic. At any rate, they called General MacArthur to a teleconference on 24 July and asked pointedly whether, in the face of increasing enemy pressure and the stepped-up tempo of the fighting all along the front, he still believed it wise to schedule an amphibious landing for mid-September.

[8] Rad, C 58473, CINCFE to DA (for JCS), 23 Jul. 50.

[9] (1) Telecon, TT 3573, JCS and CINCFE, 24 Jul. 50. (2) Details of MacArthur's request for the "full Marine division" mentioned here are contained in Chapter IX, below.

Confidently, General MacArthur assured them that, "barring unforeseen circumstances, and with complete provision of requested replacements, if the full Marine division is provided, the chances to launch the movement in September would be excellent." Complete tactical surprise was essential to the success of the amphibious operation, he declared, and warned Washington not to give away his intentions, saying "I cannot emphasize too strongly the necessity for complete secrecy with reference to this matter. The spokesman for the Department of the Army should not reveal our grand strategy in the slightest degree." The Joint Chiefs of Staff derived little assurance from their exchange with MacArthur. They could only watch and wait for new developments. [9]

The predicament of Walker's divisions in Korea concerned General MacArthur far more than was apparent in his reassuring words to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Walker's slowing but continued withdrawal before the North Koreans threatened to render plans for an amphibious operation in September purely academic. Walker himself was worried and disappointed because his divisions were not stopping the North Koreans. Troops often came close to panic and commanders sometimes nearly lost control. Walker was particularly disappointed over the failure to check the enemy advance down the Taejon-Taegu axis in late July and early August.

Because of the Eighth Army's precarious position, MacArthur took a drastic step which, seemingly, negated his plans for a mid-September landing. He ordered the 2d Division and the 5th Marine RCT, both on the high seas and both scheduled for his amphibious assault, to sail directly to Korea where they entered combat almost at once.

This move by MacArthur caused his own planning staff to urge a reconsideration of the timing of the proposed operation. To launch an attack by mid September, with his entire assault force now committed in the Pusan Perimeter, seemed to them almost impossible. If the attack was to be made in September, both the 2d Division and the Marines would have to be taken away from Walker, or only the Marines withdrawn and teamed with the 7th Division for the amphibious landing. Officers of JSPOG pointed out to General Almond that if General Walker needed the 2d Division in August, he would most certainly need it in September. Also, pulling a division out through the cluttered port at Pusan would tie up supplies and seriously hamper support of Walker's forces remaining on the line. These officers believed that any plan based on use of the 7th Division would be "visionary and impracticable." That division, still in Japan, was at less than half strength, and was not expected to reach full strength before s October or to be ready for amphibious operations before 1951. They recommended that General MacArthur postpone the target date for the amphibious operation until 15 October. [10]

One of General MacArthur's outstanding attributes, demonstrated quite often in World War II, was a keen sense of timing. He had not hesitated in the past to override the recommendations of his staff whenever he felt his judgment was more correct than its counsel. Nor did he hesitate in this case. Apparently, he not only believed that forces for the operation would materialize in time for the landing in September, but also, that he could not afford to wait beyond that date.

General MacArthur's refusal to abandon his mid-September date was influenced by his knowledge of the Inch'on area as well as by his desire to relieve the pressure on the Pusan Perimeter as quickly as he could. October might well be too late. Low seas were common in the Inch'on area from May through August, with September a month of transition to the high seas which prevailed from October through March. This left September as the only autumn month when conditions were suitable for landing troops and equipment under fire. During only three days, even in September, would the tidal conditions favor a landing. From 15 to 18 September the tidal surges would be high enough to cover the extensive mud flats that fronted Inch'on Harbor and landing craft could be brought in. The next opportunity would not come until mid-October. By that time seas might be too heavy, and there would be little good weather left for the pursuit and breakout phase of the operation. [11]

[10] Memo, JSPOG, for CofS GHQ FEC, UNC, 29 Jul. 50, in JSPOG, GHQ, UNC files.

[11] Lynn Montross, "The Inchon Landing-Victory Over Time and Tide," Marine Corps Gazette (July 1951), p. 28.

He confided to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 29 July that, while the enemy's successes were upsetting his plans nearly as fast as they were made, he was still holding to the September date. "In Korea," he said, "the hopes that I had entertained to hold out the 1st Marine Division [sic: Brigade] and the 2d Infantry Division for the enveloping counterblow have not been fulfilled and it will be necessary to commit these units to Korea on the south line rather than . . . along a separate axis in mid-September." He had not given up hope of mounting the waterborne attack even though he now admitted it might have to be staged out of the Pusan Perimeter rather than Japan. And he informed the Joint Chiefs that as soon as the 7th Division could be brought to approximate strength he was going to throw it into the fight. [12]

General MacArthur realized that without full support from Washington the landing could not be made. And sensing, perhaps, a certain coolness among the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or at least an absence of enthusiasm approaching his own, he included an evaluation of amphibious landings with particular emphasis on Korea. "It is essential, in my opinion," General MacArthur told his superiors, "to utilize our own strength in naval and air forces in the form of amphibious envelopment. When and if this can be accomplished, the ground initiative which the enemy now possesses will be wrenched from him and a decisive result made possible."

On 1 August General Walker had ordered his entire force to break contact with the enemy and to pull back behind the Naktong River, there to make a final stand. On 6 August, General Hickey, Deputy Chief of Staff, GHQ, flew into this perimeter, carrying with him a brief of the plans for the amphibious landing. The hard-pressed Walker agreed with the concept and with the detailed provisions of the plan. But members of General Walker's staff, particularly those of his G-3 section, were skeptical of Eighth Army's ability to carry out the coordinated frontal assault provided by the plan. They frankly and openly doubted that the divisions then in the Pusan Perimeter could drive through the mountains to the Kum River. Bridges were out all across the Eighth Army front. Walker was seriously short of trucks. But the biggest obstacle, according to the Eighth Army staff, would be the North Korean Army, which would be intact and capable of fierce and sustained resistance even though the amphibious assault in its rear was successfully carried out. Some of Walker's officers felt that the North Koreans would, if driven from the roads, take to the surrounding hills and prevent the American divisions from breaking out to the north. One key officer suggested that Eighth Army take the much longer coastal route up the west coast where roads were good and flank protection would be afforded by the Yellow Sea. Eighth Army officers generally agreed that after the landing in the north Walker would need at least two more divisions before he could break out. [13]

[12] Rad, C 58993, CINCFE to JCS, 29 Jul. 50.

[13] Memo, Lt. J. B. Warren for Gen. Wright, 7 Aug. 50, sub: Trip to EUSAK, in JSPOG, GHQ, UNC files.

President Truman sent his special assistant, Averell Harriman, to Tokyo on 6 August, primarily to discuss Far Eastern political matters with General MacArthur. General Ridgway and Lt. Gen. Lauris Norstad of the Air Force accompanied Mr. Harriman. While these officials were in Tokyo, General MacArthur took the opportunity to express his views on the situation facing him in Korea, MacArthur believed that speed was the keystone of victory over the North Koreans. He told Harriman and the military officers that the United States could not afford to wait for a slow build-up of forces in Korea. The United States must destroy the North Korean Army as early as possible. If not, the Russians and Chinese Communists, MacArthur feared, would be able to strengthen their protege by shipping in more arms and supplies. MacArthur also saw in a failure to settle the matter speedily, political dangers. United Nations members would grow discouraged and Oriental peoples would be disappointed with, and lose confidence in, the United States. [14]

On 12 August, shortly after these visitors departed, another and more fully developed draft of the landing plan was issued, setting a target date of 15 September. The strategic concept of this plan would be put into effect one month later without substantive change. Without naming major Army units, the plan proposed committing the GHQ Reserve and the 1st Marine Division in an amphibious operation to seize the Inch'on-Seoul area and to cut the main lines of enemy communications and supply to North Korean units in the south. In conjunction with the seaborne assault, the Eighth Army was to break out of its perimeter and drive northwest along the Taegu-Taejon-Suwon axis to link up with the amphibious force. The Navy and the Air Force would carry out vital missions of transportation, security, naval gunfire support, carrier aircraft support, and strategic bombing. The 1st Marine Air Wing would furnish tactical air cover for the landing. [15]

These plans for landing at Inch'on on 15 September met opposition both within MacArthur's own staff and in other quarters. Navy and Marine officers raised objection to the plans. These officers did not oppose an amphibious assault even though they felt that Army planners were minimizing the problems which the Navy and Marine Corps must overcome in carrying and landing the assault forces on D-day. They did not want to land at Inch'on. [16]

[14] Truman, Memoirs, II, 349-51. (2) See also MacArthur, Reminiscences, pp. 340-41.

[15] (1) Opn. Plan 100-B, 12 Aug. 50, in JSPOG, GHQ, UNC files. (2) Special Rpt, U.S. X Corps, Opn. CHROMITE, COPY in OCMH.

[16] This portion is based on the following: Chronicles by General Oliver P. Smith, USMC, 22-23 August 195O (hereafter cited as General Smith's Chronicles), copy available in Hist Sec, G-3 USMC, HQ, Washington, D.C.; Special Action Rpt (SAR), 1st Marine Div., 15 Aug.-30 Sep. 50, copy in same files; Malcolm C. Cagle, "Inchon, Analysis of a Gamble," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 80, No. 1 (January, 1954), 47-51. See also, Field, History of United States Naval Operations, Korea, pp. 171-83.

Their concern over Inch'on arose from its natural obstacles to military and naval operations. From the standpoint of navigation, sea approaches, and landing beaches, Inch'on ranked among the worst harbor areas in Korea. The Yellow Sea in its periodic surges into the harbor (changes in the sluggish, heavy tide exceeded thirty feet) had created broad mud-banks and tidal flats which fronted the entire harbor. These flats were so soft and the muck so deep they would not support men on foot. Twice a day the tides rolled in to cover these flats. The naval officers believed it would require a 23-foot minimum tide before small landing craft could safely operate over these flats and a 29-foot tide before Navy LST's could come into Inch'on's beaches. This meant that they could land men and supplies only from the time an incoming tide reached twenty-three feet until the outgoing tide dropped again to that level, a period of only about three hours. Troops ashore would then be stranded until the next high tide about twelve hours later. Morning high tide for 15 September was forecast at 0650 and evening tide at 1920. As already noted, the tide on that date would be deep enough for landing craft.

Numerous islands bracketed Inch'on to seaward, forming a natural pocket and restricting naval maneuver to narrow channels. Navigation through these channels, particularly the main Flying Fish Channel, was treacherous even in daylight. The channel was narrow, twisting, and dead-end. If the enemy mined this channel, approach would be virtually impossible.

In order to land, the Marines would have to scale seawalls ranging from twelve to fourteen feet high which fronted the harbor across almost its entire width. The Inch'on area was heavily built-up. The enemy could mount a very effective resistance, taking advantage of buildings for protection. The Marines did not want to land in the middle of a built-up area if they could help it. To complicate matters, Wolmi-do, a 350-foot-high pyramidal island, heavily fortified, dominated Inch'on Harbor. All in all, Navy and Marine planners found Inch'on a poor place to land.

These officers had objected and argued with General MacArthur's staff from time to time in general terms, but when the commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Oliver P. Smith, reported to Admiral Doyle, Commander, Amphibious Group One, on 22 August in Tokyo, these objections suddenly became concrete and specific. General Smith had flown to Tokyo ahead of his division to take command of the landing force under Admiral Doyle who would command the attack force. These two officers and their staffs worked very closely in arranging the details of the amphibious assault on Inch'on. [17]

[17] The Special Action Report of the Marine division says of the command relationships and the planning phase, "Although relationships between the division as Landing Force and COMPHIB Croup One were clear from the outset and in accordance with . . . doctrine, the command status and command responsibilities for the assault landing phase of CG X Corps, CJTF 7 and COMNAVFE were vague and confusing. None of the latter commands ever appeared under well defined titles and none of the accepted titles which would have been appropriate to these echelons was used."

On 22 August, General Smith heard for the first time that the assault was scheduled for 15 September. He had been told before leaving the United States that the target date was 23 September. He found Admiral Doyle very, very skeptical about landing at Inch'on, across mud flats, over docks and seawalls, and in the face of a city of sizable population. Doyle told Smith that he had sent his reconnaissance parties in at various sites along the Korean west coast to find a better landing site than Inch'on. He had found what he regarded as a better location for an amphibious assault. This area, Posung-Myon, was about twenty miles south of Inch'on and almost due west of Osan. Navy underwater demolition teams had made several trial landings there and had found that beach conditions were much better than at Inch'on and would not restrict the landing to a particular day or hour. The area was not built up and, according to Doyle, was in striking distance of the enemy's lines of communications south of Seoul.

That evening, General Smith reported to the Dai Ichi Building for an interview with General MacArthur. He first met General Almond to whom he briefly raised his objections to Inch'on, without, however, mentioning Posung-Myon. Almond dismissed Smith's protests by telling him that the enemy had no organized forces at Inch'on, that the difficulties to be met there were only mechanical, and that the date and place of the landing had already been fixed. He then ushered Smith into General MacArthur's office where the Marine general received not only a warm greeting, but assurance that the Inch'on landing would be decisive and that the war could be over in one month after the assault. General MacArthur insisted that the North Koreans had committed all of their troops against the Pusan Perimeter, and he shared Almond's view that the Marines would meet no heavy opposition at Inch'on. When Smith objected that 15 September would be too early to assemble his forces, General MacArthur admitted that the landings would have to be somewhat helter-skelter. But he would not consider any date other than 15 September.

These doubts within MacArthur's own headquarters were matched at a higher level by mounting suspicions within the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suspicions arising from ignorance of exactly what General MacArthur was up to. Under the directives given him by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as through precedent in the considerable latitude granted comparable American commanders in the past, General MacArthur had authority to dispose and employ his forces as he saw fit. This authority reflected the fact that planning for major operations of the Korean War and decisions of tactical and local strategic significance originated with General MacArthur. The Joint Chiefs of Staff set for him broad objectives and sometimes voiced their concern over his handling of matters of political significance. They entered into the planning picture most influentially in matters involving allotment of forces and supply. But in the case of the proposed Inch'on landing, the Joint Chiefs of Staff grew increasingly worried during August because MacArthur did not keep them informed of the development of his plans. He submitted no campaign plan to them and, aside from his requisitions for forces, passed along only the bare outline of his plans.

Knowing full well the weakened condition of American military resources at the time, observing the continued successes of the North Korean Army, but ignorant of the exact nature of MacArthur's preparations and plans for an amphibious counterblow, the Joint Chiefs of Staff began to wonder if MacArthur was not getting ready to bite off more than the United States could chew.

In order to determine more precisely what was taking place in Tokyo, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent two of their members to the Far East. General Collins and Admiral Sherman, accompanied by a staff of Air Force and Army officers, flew to Tokyo on 19 August to talk with MacArthur. [18]

Meeting privately with General Collins and Admiral Sherman upon their arrival in Tokyo, MacArthur covered general aspects of the whole Korean operation, and then staged a full-scale briefing on the proposed amphibious movement for top military and naval officials. This briefing, which took place in General MacArthur's conference room on the 6th floor of the Dai Ichi Building in Tokyo in the late afternoon of 23 August 1950, was attended by Generals MacArthur, Collins, Almond, and Wright of the Army and Admirals Sherman, Joy, Struble, and Doyle of the Navy. Various other officers of lesser rank participated in the briefing. [19]

Just before this briefing, General Smith had approached General Almond on the possibility of landing in the Posung-Myon area instead of at Inch'on. General Almond stated very definitely that he was not interested in a landing there except perhaps as a subsidiary landing in connection with Inch'on. Almond told Smith that the real objective of this operation was to capture Seoul at the earliest possible date. Too, GHQ planning officers had looked into Posung-Myon and did not believe that the area had the necessary road net to support heavy vehicles in any breakout of the area. [20]

[18](1) Rad, WAR 89118, DA to CINCFE, 18 Aug. 40. (2) General Collins described the purpose of the visit as ". . . to find out just exactly what these plans were. Frankly, we were somewhat in the dark, and as it was a matter of great concern, we went out to discuss it with General MacArthur. We suggested certain alternative possibilities and places and everything of that sort...." Louis Johnson, who as Secretary of Defense at this time claimed to have supported MacArthur wholeheartedly in his proposals for landing at Inch'on, describes the purpose of this visit differently. He stated, "General Collins . . . did not favor Inchon and went over to try to argue General MacArthur out of it." See MacArthur Hearings, pp. 1295, 2618.

[19] (1) Ltr., Adm. Joy to Col. Appleman, 12 Dec. 52. (2) Ltr., Gen. Almond to Col. Appleman, 2 Dec. 52. (X) and (2) in OCMH. (3) Walter M. Karig, Battle Report, The War in Korea (New York: Rinehart, 1952), pp. 16S67. Karig's work, which both Joy and Almond describe as substantially correct and factual, is used as the basis for this account of the 23 August briefing. Modifications from Joy's and Almond's letters have been applied to Karig's version where appropriate.

[20] (1) General Smith's Chronicles, 22-23 Aug. 50. (2) Col. John Chiles, SGS GHQ, and later G-3, X Corps, told the author during a conversation at the Army War College in February 1955 that he had examined charts of the Posung-Myon area, and found the routes of egress entirely insufficient for an operation of the scale planned.

Admiral Doyle's planning officers presented the first portion of the briefing. For nearly an hour they covered the problems faced by the Navy in the landing operation, emphasizing the great difficulties and the risks involved. Their remarks were decidedly pessimistic. Admiral Doyle concluded this presentation by conceding that the operation was not impossible, but he stated that he did not recommend it.

General MacArthur, already familiar with the views of his naval staff, seems not to have been taken aback by this adverse comment. Taking the floor, he came to the defense of his plans calmly and with great assurance. He omitted any mention of the hazards, dwelling instead upon the reasons why the landing should be made at Inch'on and upon the tactical conditions which favored its success. He pointed out the disposition of the North Korean Army and its vulnerability to an amphibious encirclement.

If there were one vital spot in the enemy's line of communications, the Seoul-Inch'on area was that spot. Almost all of the major rail and highway lines leading from North Korea channeled through that area. Only by seizing Seoul and Inch'on, MacArthur insisted, could he achieve a quick and decisive victory over the enemy. He also pointed out the tremendous political and psychological advantages to be gained by retaking the Korean capital from the invaders.

General Collins and Admiral Sherman had suggested to him that a landing at Kunsan, nearly one hundred miles south of Inch'on, might be just as effective and involve less risk. But MacArthur deprecated Kunsan as a main objective area, maintaining that such a shallow envelopment would not cut the enemy's line of communications nor surround his divisions. It would not lead to quick victory and a bitter Korean winter campaign would have to be fought. Only Inch'on, in General MacArthur's opinion, would do.

General MacArthur did not ask Collins or Sherman to approve his plans, nor did they offer to do so. The briefing was a briefing and nothing more, but the purposes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been served. They now knew what MacArthur intended to do and how he intended to do it. They were no longer in the dark.

General MacArthur's able presentation did not completely convince the naval and Marine officers. On the morning of 24 August, these officers, in a meeting which included Admiral Sherman, Admiral Joy, Lt. Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd and the lesser naval and Marine commanders, assembled in a private airing of their grievances. All present felt strongly that MacArthur should give greater consideration to the Posung-Myon area. They selected General Shepherd, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific who was reputed to enjoy particular influence with General MacArthur, to make a personal appeal for the Posung-Myon area. General Shepherd called upon General MacArthur and presented the Navy-Marine case but to no avail. From that hour, the naval and Marine officers abandoned Posung-Myon and concentrated on Inch'on. [21]

[21] General Smith's Chronicles, 24 Aug. 50.

Upon their return to Washington, General Collins and Admiral Sherman explained to their fellow members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the concept and the state of preparation for the attack on Inch'on. Now that the veil had been lifted, the Joint Chiefs examined the plans carefully. They found no real disagreement with what MacArthur intended to do and, on 28 August, notified him that they approved his plans for an amphibious operation on tie west coast of Korea. They suggested, though, that he also prepare plans for an amphibious envelopment in the vicinity of Kunsan. [22]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff very pointedly told MacArthur that, from here on in, they wanted to know what went on in his theater. "We desire such information as becomes available with respect to conditions in the possible objective areas and timely information as to your intentions and plans for offensive operations." [23]

Why had the Joint Chiefs of Staff found it necessary to send MacArthur approval of his plans? General Collins may have felt that the controversy evident at the Tokyo briefing had now been resolved and took this way of clearing any doubt from MacArthur's mind. The Inch'on landing would tie up a major share of the nation's ready combat forces and, while by strict interpretation, the landing would be a purely tactical maneuver at the discretion of the theater commander, failure would have repercussions far beyond Korea. This may have led the Joint Chiefs to identify themselves with the operation by granting approval, at the same time placing them in a better position to call off the maneuver if the risks suddenly appeared too great. Their admonition requiring "timely information" is in line with this latter possibility. Certainly the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not tell MacArthur that they were taking the reins from his hands. [24]

Orders for the attack followed almost immediately. General MacArthur, on 3o August, issued his operations order for the Inch'on landing, setting forth the objectives and assigning specific missions to his commanders.

[22] Rad, JCS 89960, JCS to CINCFE, 28 Aug. 50.

[23] Ibid.

[24] General Collins and Admiral Sherman talked with President Truman on their return, telling him of MacArthur's plans and informing him that they had approved these plans. "It was a daring strategic conception," Truman commented "I had the greatest confidence that it would succeed." See Truman, Memoirs, II, 358.

He directed the U.S. X Corps, the headquarters of which he established within the theater (see ch. IX), to land on D-day at H-hour on the west coast of Korea to seize Inch'on, Kimp'o Airfield, and Seoul, and to sever all North Korean lines of communication in the area. He ordered coordinated attacksfrom the southern perimeter by Eighth Army and all available ground, naval, and air forces, to destroy the North Korean Army south of the line Inch'on-Seoul-Utchin. Admiral Joy, COMNAVFE, would command while afloat. He would furnish Navy and Marine assault forces and would transport follow-up landing forces. Once the lodgment ashore had been seized, Joy would land the follow-up troops on the beachhead. After the beachhead was secured, commanding general, U.S. X Corps, would land, inform the naval commander of his readiness to assume responsibility for further operations, and take command of all forces ashore. The U.S. X Corps would operate directly under General MacArthur until otherwise ordered. MacArthur charged General Stratemeyer, Commanding General, FEAF, with general air support to isolate the objective area and with giving required close support. The principal air effort would support the Eighth Army breakout. If so ordered, General Stratemeyer was to ferry, protect, and drop an airborne RCT. General Walker on D plus X would launch a general offensive from his perimeter, making his main effort along the Taegu-Taejon-Suwon axis. Annexes to the operations order gave detailed instructions to all commanders on all phases of the operation, including intelligence, logistical support, and command relationships. [26]

A representative of the Department of the Army G-3, who had been making an inspection tour of the Far East Command and who returned to Washington in early September, reported to General Bolte that "Plans for the contemplated envelopment operation in Korea are well advanced. Nearly everyone in FECOM concerned with these plans is confident that they can be carried out successfully despite serious shortages in combat and service troops and logistic support." The officer pointed up Washington's lack of participation in the planning for Operation CHROMITE: "In order that DA may further integrate its planning with that of FECOM," he said, "working level officers in FECOM charged with preparation of the campaign plan will attempt to obtain General MacArthur's permission to forward a copy of this plan to DA...." [26]

When, by 5 September, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, despite their request of 28 August, had heard nothing more from General MacArthur on his plans, they again called upon him, saying, "Pursuant to the request ... desire to be informed of any modification which may have been made in your plans for the mid-September amphibious operation." [27]

[25] (1) Opns Order No. 1, GHQ, UNC, 30 Aug. 50, copy with Annual Narrative Hist Rpt, GHQ, FEC, 1 Jan-31 Oct. 50, Annex IV. (2) For a more detailed study of this order and of the organization of landing and attack forces, see the following: USAF Hist Study, United States Air Force Operations in the Korean Conflict, 25 June-1 November 1950, ch. 5.

copy in OCMH; and Malcolm C. Cagle, "Inchon, Analysis of a Gamble," United States Naval Institute Proceedings (January 1954), pp. 47-51. [26] Memo, Col. Everett for Gen. Bolte, 8 Sep 50, sub: Visit to USARPAC and FEC, 19-30 Aug. 50, in G-3, DA file 333 Pac, Case 5.

[27] Rad, JCS 90639, JCS to MacArthur, 5 Sep 50.

This terse reminder triggered only a casual reaction from MacArthur. He replied that "the general outline of the plan remains as described to you." He promised that by 11 September, using officer courier, he would send them a detailed description of his planned operations. [28]

Meanwhile, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been weighing the possible fruits of success at Inch'on against the certain price of failure. They lacked General MacArthur's complete faith in ultimate victory at Inch'on. They feared a debacle at Inchon from which the U.N. forces might not recover. North Korean gains along the Pusan Perimeter had continued into September and, from Washington, chances of a mid-September victory on the west coast appeared to be diminishing rapidly.

On 7 September the Joint Chiefs of Staff called General MacArthur's attention to the fact that he had committed almost all of Eighth Army's reserves. He could expect no more reinforcements immediately. All available General Reserve units except the 82d Airborne Division had been sent to him already. If the Inch'on landing failed, the U.N. forces would be in grave danger. It would take at least four months before any of the newly called National Guard divisions could reach Korea. The Joint Chiefs called on MacArthur for a new estimate and a reconsideration of Inch'on. [29]

This shadow of doubt cast over his plans only a week before the target date evoked from General MacArthur a forceful protest, couched in the strongest, most expressive terms. He discounted the seriousness of the situation confronting General Walker, who was, at this time, having some of his darkest days.

[28] Rad, C 62213, CINCFE to JCS, 6 Sep 50.

[29] Rad, JCS 90908, JCS to CINCFE, 7 Sep 50.

General MacArthur showed extreme optimism in describing the probable effects upon the enemy of a landing against his west coast rear areas. "There is no question in my mind," he told the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "as to the feasibility of the operation...." He saw the planned operation as the only hope of seizing the initiative from the enemy. If the landing were not made, General MacArthur warned, the United States would be committed to a war of attrition which might drag on interminably and which the enemy, with his greater potential for reinforcement, might win. While conceding that General Walker might have to contract his perimeter, General MacArthur held that the situation around Pusan was not critical. "There is no slightest possibility," he maintained, "of our forces being ejected from the Pusan beachhead." If, as he believed the Joint Chiefs of Staff were implying, small increments of reserves were fed into the Pusan area merely to strengthen the perimeter instead of being used for the encircling attack, the cost in time, casualties, and materiel would be immeasurably increased. He suspected, too, the Washington military officials were looking at the map too closely and finding bugaboos. They seemed to fear the result if Eighth Army failed to break out and join the landing force at Inch'on on schedule. In General MacArthur's opinion, the success of the operation did not depend on a rapid joining of the two forces. The seizure of the heart of the North Korean distributing system in the Seoul area would "dislocate the logistical supply of his forces operating in South Korea" and ultimately result in the disintegration of North Korean resistance. Both American forces, Eighth Army and the U.S. X Corps, would be self-sustaining because of the complete American control of sea and air. While the prompt junction of forces would be "dramatically symbolic of the complete collapse of the enemy," General MacArthur certainly did not consider it a vital part of the operation. Troops were already embarking for the amphibious sweep, and preliminary naval and air preparations were going ahead on schedule. "I and all of my commanders and staff officers, without exception, are enthusiastic and confident of the success of the enveloping operation," General MacArthur concluded. [30]

Faced with these most vigorous views from a man who was in a position to judge the theater situation more accurately than anyone else, the Joint Chiefs of Staff acquiesced. They went further and obtained President Truman's approval for the landing. On 8 September, they gave General MacArthur the final green light for the landing at Inch'on one week later. [31]

[30] Rad, C 62423, CINCFE to JCS, 8 Sep 50.

[31] Rad, JCS 90958, JCS to CINCFE, 8 Sep 50.

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