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Crossing the Parallel: The Decision and the Plan

The Tide Turns

Events dramatically justified General MacArthur's firm confidence inOperation CHROMITE. American Marines, backed by devastating naval and airbombardment, assaulted Inch'on on 15 September and readily defeated the weak,stunned North Korean defenders. (Map II) On hand to see for himself thefruition of his plans, General MacArthur sent a cheering report from the sceneto the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "First phase landing successful with lossesslight. Surprise apparently complete. All goes well and on schedule." Bymid-day, Marines had seized Wolmi-do, the fortress island dominating Inch'onharbor. By nightfall, more than a third of Inch'on had fallen into their hands.Obviously enjoying his first taste of victory in Korea, the U.N. commander againproudly reported to Washington, "Our losses are light. The clockworkcoordination and cooperation between the Services was noteworthy.... The commanddistinguished itself. The whole operation is proceeding on schedule." [1]

[1] (1) Rad, 142215Z, CINCUNC to JCS, 15 Sep. 50. (2) Rad, C 63153 CINCUNC toCINCFE and JCS, 5 Sep. 50.

[2] The Joint Chiefs of Staff were disturbed by newspaper reports that theyhad opposed the Inch'on landing and had not fully supported General MacArthur,One such dispatch said, "MacArthur sold the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the Inchonlanding despite their unanimous objections to such an ambitious undertaking....Sources close to General MacArthur said both General Collins and Admiral Shermanwere opposed to the landing at Inchon," The Joint Chiefs notified GeneralMacArthur that they were issuing a statement refuting these press reports and,to a limited extent, giving their own side of the background story. See Rad, W91763, DA to CINCFE, 17 Sep. 50.

Operation CHROMITE stayed on schedule. In the wake of the Marines, the 7thDivision landed and struck south toward Suwon. Kimp'o Airfield fell to theMarines on 19 September, and on the 20th General MacArthur could tell the JointChiefs of Staff that his forces were pounding at the gates of Seoul. [2] So far,American forces had suffered only light casualties, while the North Koreans hadlost heavily. At Inch'on, supplies were being unloaded at the rate of 4,000 tonsdaily; and Kimp'o Airfield had swung into round-the-clock operation. When General Almond took command ofall forces ashore in the Inch'on-Seoul area at 1800 on 21 September, he hadalmost 6,000 vehicles, 25,000 tons of equipment, and 50,000 troops. [3]

Fortunately, the success of MacArthur's plan did not depend upon an immediatejuncture of the Eighth Army and X Corps. For, although MacArthur had orderedGeneral Walker to attack out of the Pusan Perimeter beginning on the day afterthe X Corps landing, the North Koreans along the Naktong fought as fiercely on16 September as they had on the 14th, and for nearly a week stood off allattempts by Eighth Army to punch through their defenses. The main body of theNorth Korean Army appeared unaware of the landing at Inch'on, approximately 180air miles to its rear, and saw no reason to quit.

[3] (1) Rad, C 63187, CINCUNC to CINCFE and JCS, 20 Sep. 50. (2) Rad, X 10042IN, CG X Corps to CINCFE, 23 Sep. 50. (3) Appleman, South to the Naktong,North to the Yalu, p. 519,

Eighth Army intelligence officers had predicted this kind of enemy reaction,pointing out that a success at Inch'on would not necessarily relieve thepressure on Eighth Army, since the enemy could still move men and suppliesagainst the perimeter over alternate routes along the east coast. [4] Indeed,the Eighth Army G-3 had pessimistically speculated that the most likely enemyreaction to the landing would be an all-out drive to push the Eighth Army intothe sea.

[4] Intelligence Annex (10 Sep. 50), Eighth Army Opns Plan 10, 6 Sep. 50.

General Walker, who had never been convinced that he could break out onschedule, blamed equipment shortages for the delay. He complained to GeneralHickey on 21 September that he was ". . . ready to break loose if it weren't forthe physical trouble." He could not get his armor across the Naktong, he pointedout, and, referring to the greater logistic support given the X Corps, noted,"We have been bastard children lately, and as far as our engineering equipmentis concerned we are in pretty bad shape." He seemed anxious that GeneralMacArthur's staff should appreciate his plight, telling Hickey, "I don't want you to think that I am dragging my heels, but I have ariver across my whole front and the two bridges which I have don't make much."[5]

[5] Telecon, Gen. Walker with Gen. Hickey, 21 Sep. 50, in CofS GHQ, UNCfiles.

Walker's failure to keep to his schedule made General MacArthur somewhatdoubtful that the Eighth Army would be able to break out of the Pusan Perimeterat all. He perhaps recalled earlier warnings by Eighth Army officers thatWalker's divisions could not fight their way north even if the Inch'on landingwere successful. At any rate, after three days of indecisive struggle along theperimeter, MacArthur ordered General Wright to implement the alternate plan foran amphibious landing at Kunsan, by using two of Walker's American divisions andone of his ROK divisions in the amphibious assault. Kunsan, on the west coastabout one hundred air miles south of Inch'on, had originally been favored byGeneral Collins as the primary objective area. A landing there now, MacArthurfelt, would threaten the enemy's immediate rear and cause a North Korean collapse. When General Hickey discussed this plan with GeneralWalker on 22 September, the latter objected to giving up any of his forces for alanding at Kunsan or anywhere else. But the argument ended there. For by thistime, signs of an enemy collapse had appeared and MacArthur shelved the Kunsanplan. The signs proved correct and by the next day the North Korean Army, atlast feeling the effects of its severed lines of communications and the presenceof a formidable force in its rear, began a general withdrawal from the PusanPerimeter. The withdrawal turned into a rout. During the next week, Eighth Armypursued the fleeing enemy. On the morning of 26 September, a task force from the7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, of Eighth Army met elements of the31st Infantry, 7th Division, of X Corps near Osan to mark the juncture of thetwo forces. [6]

General Almond's corps meanwhile had enlarged its holdings in theInch'on-Seoul area. By 26 September, the Marine-Army team had wrested control ofthe South Korean capital from the enemy and North Korean resistance in thesector was dwindling rapidly.

The 38th Parallel-Genesis of the Decision

Two decisions in the third week of September 195O were to rank among the mostsignificant of the Korean War. The first of these, the decision to invade NorthKorea, stemmed in part from military expediency but the underlying issues weremainly political. The second decision, to use the X Corps in another amphibiousoperation, was completely military. General MacArthur figured to a large degreein the 38th Parallel decision and personally decided how the X Corps would beused. Both decisions were made as the recapture of Seoul became a certainty; andboth were reached in the course of establishing a plan for operations in Koreathat would best serve the interests of the United States and the rest of thefree world. [7]

[6] (1) Opn Plan 100-C, JSPOG, GHQ, UNC files. (2) Rad, 063180, CINCUNC(Wright) to CINCFE (Hickey), 19 Sep. 50. (3) Memo, Gen. Hickey for Gen. Wright,23 Sep. 50, JSPOG files. (4) For details of Eighth Army's breakout, seeAppleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, Chapters XXVII andXXVIII,

[7] Except as otherwise indicated, this section is based on the 091 Koreafile of G-3, Department of the Army, for 1950, Cases 14/14, 14/16; 14/17, 14/l9;14/20, 14/22; 14/28, 14/30; 14/31, and 79/3.

[8] Symbolic of his approach to decision-making, a small sign resting onPresident Truman's White House desk carried the reminder, "The Buck Stops Here."

President Truman, of course, bore the full and final responsibility forchoosing a course of action for Korea. But from his military and civilianadvisers at several stations within the executive branch, he demanded andreceived the best advice available on all aspects of a problem, including thealternatives and consequences, before he took a stand. [8] Before the Korean Warwas three weeks old, and while American and ROK forces were falling back onTaejon, the President called on these advisers to tell him whether MacArthurshould eventually send forces across the 38th Parallel. These advisers saw noneed to test the legality of crossing the parallel. The basic authority underwhich the United States directed operations of the unified command in Korea lay in the U.N.Security Council's resolution of 7 July 1950; and within this resolution theUnited States had been called upon to direct United Nations forces so as "toassist the Republic of Korea in defending itself against armed attack and thusto restore international peace and security in the area." The United Nations'call for the restoration of peace and security in the area, was generallyconsidered sufficient legal basis to enter North Korea.

The main concern was whether crossing the parallel would provoke an attack bythe neighboring Chinese Communists or by Russia. Indeed, from the time of thePresident's first call for recommendations through the period of preparation forthe Inch'on landing, American officials sought out the best ways to achievemilitary and political objectives without causing World War III. They tried, inparticular, to determine a long-range policy toward Korea that would strengthenthe United States' position in relation to that of the USSR. For they assumedthat the USSR was America's chief antagonist in Korea and elsewhere, and that ifthe course chosen by the United States came too directly into conflict withRussian aims and interests, the United States might have to fight to hold thatcourse.

Those authorities nearest the President concluded by 1 September 1950 thatthe United States was in no position to commit itself finally to any singlecourse of action. There were too many unknowns, namely, what Russia or Chinamight do and whether the United States could count on the United Nations, evenon those members considered to be allies, to back up an American policy thatmight bring on a general war.

In searching for some flexible stand for the United States to take, Truman'stop advisers became convinced that any crossing of the 38th Parallel by GeneralMacArthur would evoke certain reactions from Russia. The Russians mightencourage the Chinese to occupy North Korea, even to commit troops into battlein the hope of fomenting war between the United States and China. In the latterevent, the American officials believed, U.N. forces should continue to fight aslong as there was a reasonable chance of successfully resisting the Chinese;General MacArthur should be authorized to take appropriate air and naval actionagainst Communist China; and the United States should take the matter to theU.N. Security Council in order to have the Chinese condemned as aggressors.

Or, as MacArthur's forces approached the parallel, the USSR itself couldreoccupy North Korea and trump up an arrangement with the North KoreanGovernment whereby the Russians would pledge to defend North Korean territory.If this proved the case, that is, if major Russians units entered the fightingeither openly or covertly anywhere in Korea, the top advisory officials feltthat General MacArthur should go on the defensive, make no move that wouldaggravate the situation, and report to Washington. Exactly what MacArthur wouldbe told once he had reported to Washington was not yet decided. But it wasdefinite that the United States did not want its resources tied up in Korea, anarea regarded as of little strategic importance, if general war came.

In line with their own advice against commitment to any single course ofaction, these advisory officials recognized that certain military conditionscould arise, such as an opportunity to destroy the North Korean Army completelywhich would, from a tactical point of view, justify military operations north ofthe parallel. But it the President, who alone had the authority and sufficientknowledge of all factors to make a decision on the crossing, did authorize amove above the parallel, there should be a clear understanding that no U N.force would cross the northern boundary of Korea into Manchuria or the USSR, andthat as a matter of policy only Korean units should operate in the border regionFurther, if either Russian or Chinese forces had already entered Korea or hadannounced that they intended to enter, no matter how well the tactical situationmight otherwise favor crossing the parallel at the time, General MacArthurshould refrain from moving above the line. This did not mean, however, that heshould discontinue air and naval operations in North Korea.

Truman's top advisers did not consider crossing the parallel to be anecessary ingredient of victory. They believed that the military situationeventually would be stabilized along the parallel and that the United Nations,instead of crossing, could offer surrender terms to the North Koreans as soon asa U. N. victory seemed assured.

The opinions of President Truman's closest advisers did not find favor amongthe Joint Chiefs of Staff or with General MacArthur. MacArthur, since mid-July,when he had received the United Nations 7 July resolution as a guide but nodetailed instructions, held a directly opposing view "I intend to destroy andnot to drive back the North Korean forces," he told Generals Collins andVandenberg at the time, adding that "I may need to occupy all of North Korea."[9] MacArthur continued to favor crossing the parallel even after his G-2,General Willoughby, reported on 31 August that ". . . sources have reportedtroop movements from Central China to Manchuria for sometime which suggestmovements preliminary to entering the Korean theater." Willoughby placed thenumber of regular Chinese troops in Manchuria at about 246,000 men, organizedinto nine armies totaling thirty-seven divisions. Eighty thousand men werereported assembling near An-tung, just across the Yalu from Korea. [10]

[9] Memo, Col. Dickson for Gen. Bolte, 15 Jul. 50, sub: Rpt of Trip to FEC,10-15 Jul. 50, in G-3, DA file 338 Pac, case 3.

[10] DIS, GHQ, FEC, No. 2913, 31 Aug. 50, p. 1-d.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff disagreed with the view that the Korean fightingwould be stabilized along the 38th Parallel. While quite aware of thepossibility of Russian or Chinese entry into the conflict, they did not believethat MacArthur should be held back from crossing the parallel if he wished to doso for tactical reasons. Any views and proposals to the contrary, the militarychiefs told Secretary of Defense Johnson on 7 September, were unrealistic. Theyagreed with General MacArthur that the initial objective to be obtained was thedestruction of North Korean forces. "We believe," they stated:

     that after the strength of the North Korean forces has been broken,     which is anticipated will occur south of 38 degrees North, that     subsequently operations must take place both north and south of the     38th Parallel. Such operations should be conducted by South     Korean forces since it is assumed that the actions will be of a     guerrilla character. General MacArthur has plans for increasing     the strength of the South Korean forces so that they should be     adequate at the time to cope with this situation. [11]

Touching next on the subject of the post-hostilities period, the Joint Chiefsof Staff informed the Secretary of Defense that they and General MacArthuragreed that the occupation by U.N. forces should be limited to the principalcities south of the 38th Parallel and should be terminated as soon as possible.Further, U.S. troops should be taken out of Korea as early as safe to do so. TheJoint Chiefs of Staff also pointed out that General MacArthur and President Rheehad agreed that the Government of the Republic of Korea should be re-establishedin Seoul as soon at it could be done. Rhee was willing, upon re-entry into thecapital, to grant a general amnesty to all except war criminals and to call fora general election to set up a single government for all of Korea.

The final policy proposal sent to President Truman on 9 September includedthe views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Without making any changes, thePresident approved the proposal on 11 September.

In order that General MacArthur might have advance notice, the Joint Chiefsof Staff on 15 September sent him those provisions of the new national policyapplicable to operations above the 38th Parallel and actions to be taken ifRussia or Communist China intervened. The Joint Chiefs had not yet been told towork this new policy into a new directive for MacArthur, but were anticipatingsuch instructions from the Secretary of Defense. General MacArthur had otherthings on his mind on the day he received this informative message (it was D-dayfor Operation CHROMITE), but he wanted to know more about the national policy onKorea. As soon as he could, he asked the Joint Chiefs to forward by courier theentire text of the approved policy paper. This the Joint Chiefs arranged byhanding copies to an officer from the Far East Command who was returning afteran official visit in Washington.

[11] Memo, JCS for Secy. Defense, 7 Sep. 50, sub: U.S. Courses of Action WithRespect to Korea.

As of 18 September, the Secretary of Defense had not yet told the JointChiefs of Staff to prepare instructions for MacArthur based on the new policy.This inaction perhaps was occasioned in part by Secretary Johnson's resignation,which he had submitted on 12 September, and which President Truman had acceptedand made effective as of 19 September. General of the Army George C. Marshallbecame the new Secretary of Defense on 21 September.

Meanwhile, hoping to lend impetus to the matter of new instructions toMacArthur, General Gruenther, Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, proposed todraft a directive at Army level for submission to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Butthe Joint Chiefs had anticipated Gruenther and had already worked out the newdirective.

Ten days after American troops stormed Inch'on, the Joint Chiefs sentMacArthur's directive for future operations in Korea to Secretary Marshall. Theytold him that while they had dealt with military matters primarily, theimplications of the directive affected other agencies of the United StatesGovernment; and they suggested that the Secretary obtain the concurrence ofthese other agencies. They had taken no action on aspects of the new nationalpolicy outside their purview, assuming that the responsible agencies would takecare of these in directives of their own. The Joint Chiefs did ask, however,that they be allowed to comment from the military point of view on anydirectives prepared by other agencies.

Several days went by with no word on the directive and General Bolte becameimpatient. The reports from Korea, encouraging from the military viewpoint, werenevertheless disconcerting to the Army G-3, who knew that General MacArthurwould soon reach the 38th Parallel and the limit of his current instructions.The advance information which had gone to MacArthur had made it plain that hewould not cross the 38th Parallel without specific authority from the President."In view of the rapidity with which military operations in Korea are approachingthe 38th parallel," Bolte told the Chief of Staff on 27 September, "it is amatter of military urgency that the commander of the United Nations forces begiven authority to cross this parallel to accomplish attainment of his militaryobjective." [12] General Bolte was fearful that a delay in definite orders fromWashington would cause U.N. forces to hesitate and break stride in their advanceat the parallel thus enabling the North Korean Army to retreat in orderlyfashion without being destroyed. He recommended that General Collins press theSecretary of Defense for approval of MacArthur's crossing of the parallel.

[12] Memo, Gen. Bolte for CofS, 27 Sep. 50, sub: U.S. Course of Action inKorea, with note by Gen. Gruenther on original.

Actually, Secretary Marshall had been waiting for State Departmentconcurrence in the directive before showing it to President Truman. The StateDepartment approved the draft but added a paragraph of instructions on thereturn of Seoul to the Republic of Korea Government. Before General Bolte'sobjections had reached the Chief of Staff, the President had approved the directive. [13]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent the directive to General MacArthur on 27September, stipulating that it was being furnished to provide him with"amplifying instructions as to further military actions to be taken by you inKorea." They warned him, "These instructions, however, cannot be considered tobe final since they may require modification in accordance with developments."Obviously wary of what the Russians or Chinese might do, they ordered MacArthur"to make special efforts to determine whether there is a Chinese Communist orSoviet threat to the attainment of your objective, which will be reported to theJoint Chiefs of Staff as a matter of urgency." [14]

For the first time MacArthur had a written directive to destroy North Koreanforces.

     Your military objective is the destruction of the North Korean     Armed Forces. In attaining this objective you are authorized to     conduct military operations, including amphibious and airborne     landings or ground operations north of the 38th Parallel in Korea,     provided that at the time of such operation there has been no entry     into North Korea by major Soviet or Chinese Communist Forces, no     announcement of intended entry, nor a threat to counter our     operations militarily in North Korea. Under no circumstances,     however, will your forces cross the Manchurian or USSR borders of     Korea and, as a matter of policy, no non-Korean Ground Forces will     be used in the northeast provinces bordering the Soviet Union or in     the area along the Manchurian border. Furthermore, support of your     operations north or south of the 38th Parallel will not include Air     or Naval action against Manchuria or against USSR territory.     In the event of the open or covert employment of major Soviet units     south of the 38th Parallel, you will assume the defense, make no     move to aggravate the situation and report to Washington. You     should take the same action in the event your forces are operating     north of the 38th Parallel, and major Soviet units are openly     employed. You will not discontinue Air and Naval operations north     of the 38th Parallel merely because the presence of Soviet or     Chinese Communist troops is detected in a target area, but if the     Soviet Union or Chinese Communists should announce in advance their     intention to reoccupy North Korea and give warning, either     explicitly or implicitly, that their forces should not be attacked,     you should refer the matter immediately to Washington.     In the event of the open or covert employment of major Chinese     Communist units south of the 38th Parallel, you should continue the     action as long as action by your forces offers a reasonable chance     of successful resistance. In the event of an attempt to employ     small Soviet or Chinese Communist units covertly south of the 38th     Parallel, you should continue the action.

MacArthur was directed to use all information media at his command to turn"the inevitable bitterness and resentment of the war-victimized Korean people"away from the United Nations and to direct it toward the Communists, Korean andRussian, and, "depending on the role they play," the Chinese Communists.

[13] The genesis of this directive is not clear in President Truman'smemoirs. He states that he approved a statement of national policy on 11September and that the JCS sent a "directive" based on this policy to MacArthuron 15 September. The JCS sent only the substance of the policy statement toMacArthur at that time, and did not send him the actual directive until 27September. See Truman Memoirs, II, 59-60.

[14] Rad, JCS 92801, JCS (Personal) for MacArthur, 27 Sep. 50. Because of itsimportance this directive will be quoted at length.

     When organized armed resistance by North Korean forces has been     brought substantially to an end, you should direct the ROK forces to     take the lead in disarming remaining North Korean units and     enforcing the terms of surrender. Guerrilla activities should be     dealt with primarily by the forces of the Republic of Korea, with     minimum participation by United Nations contingents.     Circumstances obtaining at the time will determine the character of     and necessity for occupation of North Korea. Your plans for such     occupation will be forwarded for approval to the Joint Chiefs of     Staff. You will also submit your plan for future operations north     of the 38th Parallel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for approval.

MacArthur was advised that the United States was formulating instructionsregarding "Armistice terms to be offered by you to the North Koreans in theevent of sudden collapse of North Korean forces and Course of Action to befollowed and activities to be undertaken during the post-hostilities period."The directive then continued:

     As soon as the military situation permits, you should facilitate     the restoration of the Government of the Republic of Korea with its     capital in Seoul. Although the Government of the Republic of Korea     has been generally recognized (except by the Soviet bloc) as the     only legal government in Korea, its sovereignty north of the 38th     Parallel has not been generally recognized. The Republic of Korea     and its Armed Forces should be expected to cooperate in such     military operations and military occupation as are conducted by     United Nations forces north of the 38th Parallel, but political     questions such as the formal extension of sovereignty over North     Korea should await action by the United Nations to complete the     unification of the country.

According to news reports appearing about the time the new directive reachedMacArthur, General Walker had informed reporters that his forces were going tohalt along the 38th Parallel for regrouping and, ostensibly, to await permissionto cross. These reports, while unconfirmed, disturbed the Secretary of Defenseto such an extent that he sent General MacArthur a personal message:"Announcement . . . may precipitate embarrassment in the United Nations whereevident desire is not to be confronted with the necessity of a vote on passageof the 38th parallel." Secretary Marshall left no doubt, however, as to how hehimself felt about the crossing when he said, "We want you to feel unhamperedtactically and strategically to proceed north of the 38th parallel." [15]

[15] (1) Rad, JCS 92895, Secy. Defense (Personal) to MacArthur, 29 Sep. 50.(2) The President had been advised on 1 October that General MacArthur hadinformed the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he wished to issue a dramaticannouncement when the 38th Parallel had been crossed. The Joint Chiefs of Staffhad forbidden this, pointing out the unwisdom of such a statement. They hadinstructed him, instead, to go ahead with his operations but without callingspecial attention to the crossing of his forces into North Korea.

General MacArthur had received no confirmation that General Walker had made astatement of this type and doubted that he had done so. But he took theprecaution of warning Walker to make no comment on the 38th Parallel to anyone."The matter is of such delicacy," he told the Eighth Army commander, "that allreference thereto will be made either from GHQ or direct from Washington." Andin answer to the Secretary of Defense MacArthur replied that he had cautionedWalker against "involvement connected with nomenclature." "Unless and until theenemy capitulates," General MacArthur told General Marshall, "I regard all of Korea open for our militaryoperations." [16]

The ROK Government Returns to Seoul

General MacArthur, before landing at Inch'on, had conferred with PresidentRhee and agreed informally that the government of the republic would bereestablished in Seoul as early as possible. The two had also discussedarrangements for an election. In Washington, when the Joint Chiefs of Staffmentioned these dealings, great concern arose within the Department of State.That agency, then discussing means of a final settlement in Korea with otherU.N. members, deplored any participation by the military commander in ROKgovernmental matters. Through the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Stateasked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to call upon MacArthur for a more completeaccounting of his diplomatic activities. H. Freeman Matthews of the Departmentof State told the Secretary of Defense he did not wish to use diplomaticchannels for this inquiry, believing, ". . . it would be extremely awkward forSebald [Political Adviser to SCAP] to inquire into this matter, and equallyawkward for Ambassador Muccio." [17]

When, acting on the request, the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked GeneralMacArthur for complete details of his plans for restoring President Rhee'sauthority in Korea, MacArthur protested any thought of meddling in theDepartment of State's affairs. "I do not know precisely to what your messagerefers," he said,

     but I have no plans whatsoever except scrupulously to implement the     directives which I have received. I plan to return President Rhee,     his cabinet, senior members of the legislature, the United Nations     commission, and perhaps others of similar official category to     domicile in Seoul as soon as conditions there are sufficiently     stable to permit reasonable security.

MacArthur pointed out that this involved no re-establishment of or change ingovernment, since the ROK Government had never ceased to function and wouldmerely resume control over its areas liberated from enemy control. [18]

Conditions in Seoul were not yet quite "sufficiently stable" for Rhee'sreturn, for the X Corps had encountered exceptionally bitter resistance in andaround the city. General Almond, under pressure from MacArthur, pushed hiscommanders to take the capital quickly. By 26 September, his troops had seizedall key points within it, and the prize seemed almost within grasp. "On thisbasis," Almond said, "I advised General MacArthur that he might expect to enterSeoul on the 29th of September, that in my opinion the city would be perfectlysafe to restore President Syngman Rhee to his rightful position at the Capitalby that date." [19]

[16] (1) Rad, C 65035, CINCFE to CG Eighth Army, 30 Sep. 50. (2) Rad, C65034, CINCFE to DA for Secy. Defense, 30 Sep. 50.

[17] Ltr., Mr. H. Freeman Matthews, Deputy Undersecy. State, to Gen. Burns,OSD, 18 Sep. 50, in G-3, DA file 091 Korea, Case 14/26.

[18] (1) Memo, Gen. Bradley for Secy. Defense, 7 Sep. 50, sub: U.S. Coursesof Action With Respect to Korea, (2) Ltr., Mr. Matthews to Gen. Burns, 18 Sep.50. (3) Rad, JCS 92329, JCS to CINCFE, 22 Sep. 50. (4) Rad, C 64159, CINCFE toJCS, 23 Sep. 50.

[19] Ltr., Gen. Almond to Maj. James F. Schnabel, 8 Jul. 55.

Almond also sent MacArthur a tentative program for the liberation ceremonies. But MacArthur replied:

     Arrangements suggested by you are not in accordance with those     already set up by me. Following is the plan. Arrive Kimpo 0930. No     honor guard or other ceremony there. Will proceed direct to capital     building for informal conference with you and General Walker before     arrival of Pusan party. Ceremony at 1200 hours. I will personally     conduct the proceedings without being introduced. There will be no     invocation or benediction necessary as the spiritual features are     embodied in my own address. I will commence ceremony by five minute     speech to be followed by speeches of similar duration by the     Chairman UN COK, American ambassador and President Rhee, and I will     conclude the proceedings. [20]

General MacArthur arrived in Seoul on the 29th as scheduled. In his addresshe told President Rhee:

     In behalf of the United Nations I am happy to restore to you, Mr.     President, the seat of your Government, that from it you may better     fulfill your constitutional responsibility. It is my fervent hope     that a beneficent providence will give you and all of your public     officials the wisdom and strength to meet your perplexing problems     in a spirit of benevolence and justice, that from the travail of     the past there may emerge a new and hopeful dawn for the people of     Korea.

After leading his audience in the Lord's Prayer, MacArthur told Rhee, "... myofficers and I will now resume our military duties and leave you and yourGovernment to the discharge of civil responsibility." [21]

When MacArthur returned to Tokyo, he received protests from the Departmentsof State and Defense. Both departments noted with surprise and alarm that theAmerican flag had been displayed with undue prominence over the ROK Capitolduring the ceremonies, and complained that this placed too great an emphasis onthe nature of the Korean War as a United States, rather than a United Nations,operation. [22] But congratulations also were in order. For, by the end ofSeptember, MacArthur had achieved the objectives of his landing, and the EighthArmy and the X Corps now controlled almost all of South Korea. Together, the twocommands had routed the North Korean Army, had killed or captured huge numbersof its troops, and had destroyed or forced the abandonment of nearly all of itstanks, trucks, and artillery.

In congratulating MacArthur on 30 September, President Truman said, in part:

     No operations in military history can match either the delaying     action where you traded space for time in which to build up your     forces, or the brilliant maneuver which has now resulted in the     liberation of Seoul. I am particularly impressed by the splendid     cooperations of our Army, Navy, and Air Force and I wish you would     extend my thanks and congratulations to the commanders of these     services-Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker, Vice Admiral Charles T. Joy,     and Lt. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer. . . I salute you all, and say     to all, from all of us at home, 'Well and nobly done.'

[20] Rad, C 64724, CINCUNC to CG X Corps, 28 Sep. 50.

[21] Text of message by General MacArthur on return of Government of Korea toSeoul, 29 September 1950, contained in MacArthur Hearings, page 3481.

[22] Rad, W 92972, DA to CINCFE, 30 Sep. 50.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff joined in the congratulations, praising MacArthurand his men for a ". . . transition from defensive to offensive operations[that]

     was magnificently planned, timed and executed." [23]

General MacArthur passed along these compliments to all of his command, butthey brought no particular joy to General Almond. For neither President Trumannor the Joint Chiefs of Staff had specifically credited the X Corps or Almondwith any contribution to the success of the operations. Though the oversightpresumably was unintentional, Almond complained that this absence of officialrecognition adversely affected the morale of his command. [24]

The X Corps and General Almond were to have another opportunity forrecognition as a result of the 27 September directive from the Joint Chiefs ofStaff to MacArthur calling for the destruction of the North Korean armed forces.During the recent offensive large numbers of North Koreans had managed to slipaway, particularly through the eastern mountains, into their home territory.

[23] Rad, ZC 18525, CINCFE to All Comdrs, 30 Sep. 50.

[24] (1) Ibid. (2) Telecon, Gen. Beiderlinden with Col. Harrison,2020-2100, 1 Oct. 50, recorded in SGS GHQ, FEC 337 files, 1950.

In connection with the assigned objective to destroy the North Korean armedforces, the Joint Chiefs of Staff authorized MacArthur to broadcast a surrenderultimatum to the North Korean Government. The broadcast also was to instruct theNorth Korean military leaders on how to handle prisoners of war, to assure them that onsurrender their own forces would be fairly treated, to inform them that theRepublic of Korea would be re-established with its capital in Seoul, and topoint out that the question of the future of Korea was now before the UnitedNations. MacArthur, however, placed little confidence in a call to surrender. Hedoubted that the North Koreans would come to terms until he had beaten them sodecisively as to leave them no alternatives but surrender or annihilation. Hetherefore concluded that he should try to crush the North Korean Army by apursuit above the 38th Parallel. He, in fact, had made this decision before hereceived his newest directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but he had seenthe gist of the new policy underlying the directive and therefore was able tojudge the latitude he would be allowed. [25]

New Operations Plans

Accordingly, on 26 September, MacArthur instructed General Wright and theJSPOG staff to plan another amphibious encirclement well above the 38thParallel. The new landing was to be coordinated with a new overland attack.MacArthur wanted Wright to consider two conceptions of advance into North Korea.The first of these would send the Eighth Army in a main effort along the westcoast in conjunction with an amphibious landing at Chinnamp'o or elsewhere.MacArthur's other idea provided for an overland attack to the east coast by theEighth Army and a simultaneous amphibious landing at Wonsan, a city of some150,000, also on the east coast. [26] The plan eventually used included featuresof both concepts.

General Wright furnished the hybrid plan, actually an up-to-date version ofan alternate concept prepared earlier for Operation CHROMITE, on 27 September.[27] By this plan, the Eighth Army would make the main effort in the west toseize the North Korean capital, P'yongyang, and the X Corps would make anamphibious assault landing at Wonsan. Wright told General MacArthur that theamphibious landing could be staged within ten days of the order to load out ifshipping was assembled early enough. [28]

[25] Rad, JCS 92762, JCS to CINCFE, 27 Sep. 50.

[26] (1) Memo, Gen. Hickey for JSPOG (Gen. Wright), 26 Sep. 50, sub: Plansfor Future Opns, JSPOG, GHQ, UNC files. (2) See also, Appleman, South to theNaktong, North to the Yalu, pp. 609-14 and 618-21.

[27] General Wright, who carried out General MacArthur's planning directivesduring this period and supervised their conversion into concrete plans, feltthat the method chosen for entering North Korea was a natural outgrowth ofMacArthur's preoccupation since July 1950 with the possibility of a doubleamphibious envelopment. "Even while we were under the pressure of the Inchonplanning," Wright has written, ". . . I had JSPOG concurrently assembling thedata for a Wonsan operation." It was strictly the paucity of men and materielthat had led MacArthur to settle for a single envelopment at Inch'on in thefirst place, according to Wright, And he had kept the Wonsan operation in mind,for the time when he would have enough strength to mount it. "I think it can beinferred that he had rather definite plans for Wonsan immediately following thesuccess of the Inchon operation." See Ltr., Gen. Wright to Maj. Schnabel, 14Jun. 55, copy in OCMH.

[28] (1) Memo, Gen. Wright for CofS GHQ, 26 Sep. 50, sub: Plans for FutureOpns. (2) Interv, Col. Appleman with Gen. Wright, Feb. 54.

Wonsan was an excellent choice for an amphibious landing. Besides beingsufficiently deep into North Korea, it was the principal port on the east coast;it was the eastern terminus of the easiest route across the narrow waist of thepeninsula; and it was a road and rail communications center. Wonsan, in fact,was the principal port of entry for Russian supplies and military equipmentreceived by sea from the Vladivostok area and a key point on the rail line fromthe same area. Moreover, from Wonsan a military force could move inland and westacross the peninsula to P'yongyang or north to the Hamhung-Hungnam region, themost important industrial area in all Korea. [29]

General MacArthur readily accepted the plan tailored to his specifications.On 28 September he informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "If the North KoreanArmed Forces do not surrender in accordance with my proclamation to be issued on1 October 195O, dispositions will be made to accomplish the military objectiveof destroying them by entry into North Korea." He sketched his plan briefly. Hewould send the Eighth Army across the 38th Parallel through Kaesong and Sariwonto capture P'yongyang. Almond's X Corps would land amphibiously at Wonsan,thereafter "making juncture With Eighth Army." Presumably, this juncture wouldrequire the X Corps to attack west along the Wonsan-P'yongyang road. [30]

Mindful of the warning contained in his latest directive, General MacArthurpromised Washington that he would use only ROK troops for operations above theline Ch'ungju-Yongwon-Hungnam. "Tentative date for the attack of Eighth Army,"MacArthur reported, "will be not earlier than 15 October and not later than 30October. You will be provided detailed plans later." Washington's concern overpossible Chinese or Russian interference in the Korean fighting prompted GeneralMacArthur to report also that there was no indication of "present entry intoNorth Korea by major Soviet or Chinese Communist Forces." [31]

On the following day, just before he delivered his address in Seoul,MacArthur summoned General Walker, General Almond, Admiral Joy, and GeneralStratemeyer to a conference in a room on the second floor of the Capitol to tellthem of his new plan. Although the Joint Chiefs of Staff had not yet approvedthe plan, he pointed out, approval was expected with no material change in theconcept of the operation. He directed Almond to relinquish the Seoul area toWalker by 7 October, to plan on moving the 7th Division overland for embarkationat Pusan, and to embark corps troops and the 1st Marine Division from Inch'on.He tentatively set 20 October as the date for the Wonsan landing. [32]

[29] (1) JANIS 75, ch. VIII (Korea-Cities and Towns), pp. 52-53. (2) GHQ FECTerrain Study 6, North Korea, XIV, 26-27, and Map No. 760, Wonsan City Plan,Plate 12. (3) War Diary, X Corps, Oct. 50, Opns, pp. 18-19, and Diary CG XCorps, 24 Oct. 50.

[30] (1) Rad, C 64805, CINCFE to JCS, 28 Sep. 50. (2) See also DouglasMacArthur, Reminiscences (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), pp. 357 60.

[31] Rad, C 64805, CINCFE to JCS, 28 Sep. 50.

[32] Ltr., Gen. Almond to Maj. Schnabel, 8 Jul. 55.

The actual plan for destroying North Korean forces above the 38th Parallelwas based on three assumptions. Two were correct, namely, that the bulk of theNorth Korean forces had been destroyed and that the United Nations Command wouldconduct operations north of the 38th Parallel. The third, that there would be no outsideinterference, was less sound. The plan called on the forces of the Eighth Armyand the X Corps to advance to and hold a line across Korea from Ch'ongju,through Yongwon, to Hamhung. The target date for the Eighth Army assault was setat twelve days after the Eighth Army had passed through the X Corps in theInch'on-Seoul area. General Walker's ground attack might precede GeneralAlmond's amphibious assault by three to seven days. General Wright estimatedthat it would take six days to load the assault elements of the X Corps and fourdays to sail to Wonsan. [33]

Most of MacArthur's principal staff officers had assumed, before seeing thenew plans, that the UNC commander intended to place the X Corps under GeneralWalker after Seoul was returned to ROK control. MacArthur had created the XCorps specifically for the landing at Inch'on, had tailored it hurriedly, andhad taken its key officers from his own staff. As the corps completed itsmission in late September, it could logically be assumed that the combatelements of the corps would be assimilated by the Eighth Army and that the keyofficers would return to GHQ and their normal duties. Generals Hickey and Wrightadvised General MacArthur to follow this course; Maj. Gen. George L. Eberle,MacArthur's G-4, also strongly favored Walker's taking over the X Corps; andGeneral Almond had always understood "that when the Inchon operation wascompleted that the X Corps troops would be absorbed by Eighth Army...." [34]Subsequently, General MacArthur could not believe that these officers reallydisagreed with his decision.

     To the contrary, the decision to retain a function of GHQ command     and coordination between the Eighth Army and the X Corps until     such time as a juncture between the two forces had been effected     was, so far as I know, based upon the unanimous thinking of the     senior members of my staff. It but followed standard military     practice in the handling and control of widely separated forces     where lateral communications were difficult if not impossible. [35]

[33] (1) Opn Plan 9-50, 29 Sep. 50, in JSPOG, GHQ, UNC files. (2) Memo, Gen.Hickey for JSPOG, Note 2, Gen. Wright to CofS, GHQ, UNC, 26 Sep. 50, sub: Plansfor Future Opns.

[34] (1) Interv, Col. Appleman with Gen. Wright, Feb. 54. (2) Interv, Col.Appleman with Gen. Eberle, 12 Jan 54. (3) Ltr., Gen. Almond to Maj. Schnabel, 8Jul. 55

[35] Ltr., Gen. MacArthur to Gen. Snedeker, USMC, G-3, HQ USMC, Washington,D.C., 24 Feb. 56, copy in OCMH.

General Walker and the Eighth Army staff apparently felt very strongly thatthe X Corps should become part of the Eighth Army. Walker seems to have had twoplans in mind for the possible employment of Almond's forces. In one of these,the X Corps would drive overland from Seoul to seize P'yongyang, and the rest ofthe Eighth Army, after coming up behind the X Corps, would then move laterallyfrom P'yongyang to Wonsan on the east coast where it would join the ROK I Corpsas the latter moved up the east coast. Such a maneuver might save a great dealof time, since the X Corps was already in position to advance on P'yongyang, andwould establish a line across Korea at the narrow waist that could cut off alarge number of North Koreans still trying to move northward through the centraland eastern mountains. Meanwhile, the X Corps could move on above P'yongyang toward the Yalu River. The operations of boththe X Corps and the Eighth Army could be coordinated under Walker's command; andboth could be supplied from Pusan and Inch'on until the Wonsan area fell, atwhich time the forces operating in the east could be supplied by sea throughWonsan and Hungnam, farther north. [36]

General Walker's second plan was to approach Wonsan by a more direct,diagonal route. Assuming that the X Corps became a part of the Eighth Army,Walker would, in this instance, send a corps to the east coast objective throughthe Seoul-Ch'orwon-Wonsan corridor. [37]

If these were the plans Walker had in mind, he did not ask authority to carryout either of them. Apparently unaware of what Almond's plans were he contentedhimself with asking General MacArthur discreetly that he be let in on what wasgoing on: "To facilitate advance planning for the approaching juncture with theX Corps, request this headquarters be kept informed of the plans and progress ofthis Corps to the greatest extent practicable. To date the X Corps operationsplans have not been received." [38]

General MacArthur told Walker that as soon as X Corps had completed itsCHROMITE missions, he would place it in GHQ Reserve in the Inch'on-Seoul areaand that he, MacArthur, would direct its future operations. These operationswould be revealed to the Eighth Army commander at an early date. [39] MacArthur,in fact, consulted neither Walker nor Almond on the next operation until theplan was almost in final form.

MacArthur's guidance to his planners was tantamount to an order that theyrecommend another amphibious operation by the X Corps. While MacArthur did notspecify that the X Corps would make the amphibious landing, no other element ofthe United Nations Command could have carried out the maneuver. Too, GeneralMacArthur had been most favorably impressed by Almond's performance at Inch'onand by the over-all results of his operations. Furthermore, he saw amphibiousmaneuver as the best means of slashing deep into North Korea, of cutting offescape routes for thousands of fleeing enemy soldiers, and of seizing a majorport to support his troops. This last-named purpose was perhaps uppermost in histhinking. Ammunition, food, gasoline, and most other supplies that kept the UNCdivisions fighting in late September came into Korea through two ports, Pusanand Inch'on. As troops moved farther north, Pusan's value dwindled, since therail lines and roads over which materiel had to be brought from the port to thecombat units had been severely damaged in the earlier heavy fighting. The otherport, Inch'on, had a limited capacity for receiving vessels and could scarcelyhave supported, with its facilities, all U.N. forces involved in the fighting.[40]

[36] Interv, Col. Appleman with Maj. Gen. Leven C. Allen, 15 Dec. 53, copy inOCMH.

[37] Ltr., Wright to Schnabel, 14 Jun. 55.

[38] Rad, G 25090 KGO, CG Eighth Army to CINCFE, 26 Sep. 50.

[39] Rad, CX 64610, CINCFE to CG Eighth Army, 27 Sep. 50.

[40] General Wright points out in this connection. "Inchon was not capable offully supplying Eighth Army and I think a logistical check will show that,temporary handicap to Eighth Army as it was, the movement out of X Corps enabledEighth Army to provide itself with the logistic capability to perform itsadvance to the Pyongyang area." See Ltr., Wright to Schnabel, 14 Jun. 55.

General Wright, in later analyzing the decision and the planning for enteringNorth Korea, said,

     Both General MacArthur and General Walker realized that any     successful campaign in North Korea would need the full operation of     an east coast port, preferably Wonsan or Hungnam. And I believe     that their staffs were in full agreement. The point at issue was     simply that of how to capture such a port and who should do it.    [41]

Any campaign north of the P'yongyang-Wonsan corridor would certainlyencounter a most difficult logistical problem. The northern Taebaek Range roseto rugged heights in the east central part of the peninsula, forming a nearlytrackless mountain waste in the direction of the Manchurian border. Few roads ortrails ran west and east. The principal lanes of travel were axial routes thatfollowed the north and south trend of deep mountain valleys. The only reasonablygood lateral road connected P'yongyang with Wonsan, where it joined the coastalroad running northward to Hamhung and Hungnam. A rail line crossed the peninsulain the same general area between P'yongyang and Wonsan.

General MacArthur apparently decided that he could not supply both EighthArmy and X Corps through Pusan and Inch'on and over the crippled road and railsystem in a campaign that he wanted to end quickly so that his forces would nothave to fight during North Korea's severe winter weather. Weeks of concentratedwork by all the available engineer troops would be needed before even the mainlines of communication could be repaired as far as the 38th Parallel, not tomention the area to the north where the next phase of the campaign would befought. But with the addition of the Wonsan port facilities, MacArthur reasoned,two separate forces, coordinated and supported from Japan, could operate inKorea without impairing the effectiveness of either. [42] Of the two methods bywhich he could seize Wonsan, amphibious encirclement took precedence over groundadvance. The means were at hand in the X Corps, his directives specificallyauthorized amphibious operations in North Korea, and he apparently hoped thewaterborne movement would be as successful as the one at Inch'on.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, having already established the principle thatMacArthur could carry the fight into North Korea, did not quibble overMacArthur's methods. They passed the plan on to the Secretary of Defense forfinal approval, asking that he act with great speed since "certain ROK ArmyForces may even now be crossing the 38th Parallel." President Truman and GeneralMarshall agreed to the plan at once, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff told GeneralMacArthur to carry out his plan on schedule. [43]

[41] Ltr., Wright to Schnabel, 14 Jun. 55.

[42] Interv, Col. Appleman with Gen. Ruffner, formerly CofS X Corps, 20 Aug.51.

[43] (1) Rad, JCS 92975, JCS to CINCFE, 29 Sep. 50. (2) Memo, Gen. Bradleyfor Secy. Defense, 29 Sep. 50, sub: Future Korean Opns. (3) To later critics whonoted that ROK troops captured Wonsan on 11 October before American units wereeven disembarked and that MacArthur had noticed this, General Wright pointed outthat General MacArthur had indeed noticed and was impressed by the remarkableadvance of ROK soldiers up the east coast of Korea where, by late September,they had driven almost to the parallel. But those same ROK troops had, onlyweeks before, shown themselves to be extremely vulnerable to pressure andcounterattack. And there was every good chance that these troops would run intoguerrilla forces, reinforced by retreating North Korean survivors, when theyreached the mountainous area west of Kaesong and Kojo. Too, MacArthur did notfeel that he had sufficient control of ROK troops. While technically under hiscommand, their subordination to him was based merely on an understanding betweenhimself and President Rhee of the Republic of Korea. This fact, according toGeneral Wright, made their conduct under certain conditions problematical, andhad to be considered in any planning for a major operation. In other words, anyplan which hinged on ROK troops to any degree (i.e., to seize and hold Wonsan)was felt to be leaning on a weak reed. See Ltr., Gen. Wright to Maj. Schnabel,14 Jun. 55.

(Continuation of footnote 43, which is appended to bottom of page 191.)

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