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The Crossroads

Although the war had again shifted in favor of United Nations forces, the Eighth Army successes through the end of February 1951 could not be considered an indication of eventual victory. The most that could be predicted was that the enemy forces then arrayed in Korea would be incapable of forcing the Eighth Army from the peninsula.

For anyone committed to the viewpoint that a war offers its participants only the alternatives of victory or defeat, the current situation was intolerable. General MacArthur represented this viewpoint in his suggested counteractions to the Chinese intervention. The rejection of his proposals, he maintained, would lead to disaster, their acceptance to victory. He neither sought nor suggested any middle course.

President Truman, on the other hand, recognized other alternatives and was willing to examine them. Consequently, by the close of February, he had not yet granted any of MacArthur's calls for increased action against Communist China. Furthermore, the resurgence and stiffening of the Eighth Army under Ridgway had created an atmosphere in which the next course of action did not have to be decided in haste or out of a feeling of desperate weakness.

The original purpose of United Nations military operations in Korea-to repel the aggression and to restore peace and security in the area-of course remained unchanged. So did the longer range and long-standing objective of the United Nations, and particularly of the United States since Cairo, "to bring about the establishment of a unified, independent and democratic Korea." The achievement of these goals, particularly the longer range objective, by military means, however, had become less likely after the impact of Chinese intervention and the American decision in December not to commit additional forces to Korea. The alternatives consequently narrowed to some sort of accommodation that would provide a halt or at least a lull in the fighting during which diplomatic negotiation might salvage the prestige of the United States and the United Nations and at the same time bring some result not too far short of the basic objectives.

Through March 1951, the United States, as the Unified Command of the United Nations, continued to fight without having elected any new political or military courses of action. Neither the Department of State, responsible for advising the President on political matters, nor the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his principal military advisers, seemed willing to state definitely a proposed course of action until the other party had done so. Frequent meetings took place between State and Defense representatives, but each Department deferred to the other for a clear statement of what should be done in Korea. [1]

During exploratory talks on 6 February, the representatives of the Department of State had listed five courses of action which the United Nations might follow: an all-out military effort to conquer all Korea and unify the country by force; complete abandonment of Korea to the Communists; extension of hostilities to China, thus removing pressure on Korea; an indefinite military stalemate at approximately the present battle line; or a peaceful settlement through negotiation. The initiative in the first three courses would have to be taken by the United Nations, but in the fourth, stalemate, neither side would have to take the initiative. In view of the Communist rejection of overtures by the United Nations, the initiative for bringing about a peaceful settlement, the fifth step, now lay primarily with the Communists.

The Joint Chiefs maintained that they could not intelligently choose any one of these steps without knowing what political course the United States meant to follow; and since future political moves by the United States remained obscure, the Joint Chiefs recommended no military course of action other than a continuation of an aggressive defense. [2] The Department of State nevertheless informed American allies participating in Korea of the five alternative courses of action that the United Nations might consider. [3]

The Secretary of State took the position on 23 February 1951 that neither the United Nations nor the United States had assumed any obligation to unify Korea by military means. The 7 October 1950 resolution of the General Assembly was permissive but not mandatory on this point. Secretary Acheson believed that most governments having troops in Korea, including the principal allies of the United States, would not support unification as a war aim but would continue to support it as a political objective. [4]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff were not sure that the political objectives were still valid and recommended to the Secretary of Defense on 27 February that these objectives be reviewed for either reaffirmation or modification. Once these objectives were firmly established, the Department of State should be able at least to develop some short-range political courses leading toward those political objectives. The Joint Chiefs of Staff felt they would then be able to analyze the military capabilities of the United Nations and recommend military courses of action to be taken in conjunction with and in furtherance of these political courses of action. [5]

[1] (1) MacArthur Hearings, pp. 920-21. (2) Summary of Notes on JCS-State Mtg., 13 Feb. 51, JSSC Rpt to JCS, p. 123.

[2] (1) MacArthur Hearings, pp. 920-21. (2) JSSC Rpt to JCS, p. 119.

[3] Rad, DA-IN 3983, 21 Feb. 51, in G-3, DA files.

[4] JCS 1776/192, Incl B, App. to Annex A.

The 38th Parallel Again

The 38th Parallel assumed an ominous significance in the eyes of some United Nations members in February and March as MacArthur's forces again drove northward and it appeared that the Eighth Army, after pushing forward slowly, would soon be able to cross over. Many officials, allied and American, viewing the thrice-crossed parallel as a symbolic barrier beyond which MacArthur's men should not again venture lest the enemy strike even harder in retaliation, became greatly concerned.

General MacArthur had fended off newsmen's questions on the subject in mid-February by telling them that for the time being any talk of crossing the parallel except by patrol actions was purely academic. MacArthur took this opportunity to reaffirm his belief that the Chinese should be attacked on their own soil, holding that the existing superiority of the Chinese Communist enemy must be materially reduced before he could seriously consider conducting major operations north of the 38th Parallel. [6]

This was merely a public airing of the view he had already expressed to General Taylor on 11 February, when he had pointed out that unless he received authority to strike enemy bases in Manchuria, his ground forces as then constituted could not safely attempt major operations in North Korea. He had at the same time, of course, told Taylor that even if he found it possible to cross the parallel in force, he still would not do it until he had received instructions from Washington. [7]

General MacArthur's directives with regard to the 38th Parallel had not changed. He still possessed the authority to cross granted him on 27 September by the United States and tacitly confirmed on 7 October by the United Nations General Assembly. But the Department of State was keenly aware of the concern felt by some of the members of the United Nations over the advisability of re-entering North Korea. To allay this concern, and in anticipation of the arrival of United Nations forces at the parallel, Secretary Acheson on 23 February asked Secretary Marshall to consider revising the 27 September directive so as to limit MacArthur's advance. Acheson added that any subsequent decision to move substantial forces above the parallel would require preliminary discussions with other governments having troops in Korea. [8]

Acheson enclosed a memorandum the tenor of which was generally pessimistic and which he suggested Marshall send the President. In it, Acheson pointed out that any decision to press for the unification of Korea by military action would mean a vast increase in United States military commitments; would almost certainly require the extension of hostilities to Communist China; would greatly increase the risk of direct Soviet intervention; and would require a major political effort to obtain the agreement of other directly interested nations to take such action. [9]

[5] Memo, JCS, sgd. Bradley, for Secy. Defense, 27 Feb. 51, sub: Action to be Taken by U.N. Forces With Respect to the 38th Parallel.

[6] Statement, Gen. MacArthur, 13 Feb. 51, in MacArthur Hearings, p. 3539.

[7] Rad, C 55315, MacArthur (Personal) for Gen. Taylor, 11 Feb. 51.

[8] JCS 1776/192, Incl B, App. to Annex A.

Acheson judged that virtually all members of the United Nations, including most of those actively participating in Korea, strongly opposed any general advance across the 38th Parallel. This opposition was based on the belief that once the enemy had been driven out of South Korea the primary objective of repelling the aggression had been accomplished; that an advance in North Korea would make an early negotiated settlement of the Korean fighting impossible, since the enemy would accept nothing less than the status quo ante bellum; that crossing the parallel would greatly increase the pressure for extending the hostilities into China and in turn would involve American military resources to an increased extent in indecisive operations in Asia; and that a crossing would greatly increase the risk of Soviet involvement and general war. [10]

A major advance across the parallel, Acheson claimed, would require full consultation with major allies and their agreement, which under current circumstances would be extremely difficult to obtain. Any unilateral re-entry into North Korea by the United States, on the other hand, would create a severe crisis within the free world and could lead to the withdrawal of certain allies from the Korean War. Acheson did concede that all of South Korea must be captured, claiming that such would constitute a major victory for United Nations forces since it would deny the enemy their main objective. Nor did Acheson propose to forbid MacArthur's men to set foot across the parallel; rather, he proposed that no major crossing should be made. He recognized that so long as fighting in Korea continued, MacArthur must be free to attack with naval and air power across the parallel and to take such ground action in North Korea as was required to interrupt enemy offensive preparations. [11]

It is evident that the Department of State officials were looking forward to a possible settlement of the Korean crisis by negotiation. They considered it important that United Nations military action produce a desire on the part of the enemy to negotiate rather than to fight, and at the same time not create a situation in which he would balk at a negotiated settlement. In other words, MacArthur's forces should inflict so many casualties on the enemy that he would be anxious to negotiate, but on the other hand, this punishment should take place in the vicinity of the parallel and not in the course of pushing the enemy so far back that he would refuse to accept a settlement at the line where the fighting ended. [12]

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

Secretary of the Army Pace, Secretary of the Air Force Finletter, and Secretary of the Navy Dan A. Kimball examined the Acheson proposals and found them reasonable. All three agreed that MacArthur should not attempt a general advance north of the 38th Parallel except to take advantage of favorable terrain for defense. Secretaries Pace and Finletter wanted the United States to adopt this policy of restraint and to announce it to the world "as a matter of principle." But on this point Secretary Kimball dissented on grounds that discussing such a decision with other governments or publicly announcing that MacArthur was more or less bound to the 38th Parallel would have a bad effect from a military standpoint. [13]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, took hearty exception to the Department of State proposals. They pointed out that so long as the political objectives of the United Nations remained unchanged, its military forces should not be forbidden, for political reasons, to advance north of the 38th Parallel. Such a prohibition would be wholly inconsistent with the political objectives. [14]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff believed, along with Generals Ridgway and MacArthur, that any directive halting MacArthur at the parallel would permit the enemy to build up in North Korea such a concentration of military forces that MacArthur's own forces would be jeopardized. Nor would a United Nations prohibition against crossing the 38th Parallel impose a comparable restriction on enemy forces. The Joint Chiefs told the Secretary of Defense that their own combined military experience convinced them it would be impracticable to undertake aggressive defensive operations to keep the numerically superior enemy off-balance and to disrupt his preparations for new offensives if the 38th Parallel became a limiting feature of military operations. In sum, MacArthur had to have freedom of maneuver if for no other reason than to insure the safety of his forces. [15]

The Joint Chiefs considered it premature even to make a preliminary determination of MacArthur's action when he reached the parallel. They reminded Secretary Marshall of MacArthur's announced intention to apply to them for instructions if he found no major enemy strength disposed south of the parallel. Until MacArthur reported his findings, the Joint Chiefs considered any decision on crossing the parallel to be militarily unsound. For any decision to restrain United Nations forces made on the political level and in consultation with other nations would inevitably be disclosed to the Chinese and North Koreans who then could base their own courses of action upon known intentions of friendly forces. Pressing once again for a decision by the Department of State as to the course of action to be taken to reach United States political objectives in Korea, the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Secretary Marshall, "Until this governmental decision is reached there should be no change in that part of the directive to General MacArthur which now permits him so to dispose his forces either north or south of the 38th Parallel as best to provide for their security." [16]

[13] Memo, Secys. Army, Navy, and Air Force for Secy. Defense, 26 Feb. 51, sub: State Dept. Draft Memo for the President on the 38th Parallel, in G-3, DA file 381 Korea, Case 3/3.

[14] Memo, JCS forSecy.Defense, 27 Feb. 51, sub: Action to be Taken With Respect to the 38th Parallel.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

Because of these strong objections, Secretary Marshall told Secretary Acheson that he did not believe the memorandum opposing a general advance across the 38th Parallel should be sent to President Truman. Marshall himself agreed with the Joint Chiefs of Staff that there was a risk in disclosing to the enemy a United States military decision, that freedom of action and freedom of maneuver had to be maintained for United Nations ground forces, and that it was, in any event, too early from a military point of view to reach a final determination on crossing the parallel. [17]

On 2 March, General MacArthur submitted through channels a proposed report to the United Nations for the period 15-28 February which concluded with the statement:

     While President Truman has indicated that the crossing of the      parallel is a military matter to be resolved in accordance with my      best judgment as a theater commander, I want to make it quite clear      that if and when the issue actually arises, I shall not arbitrarily      exercise that authority if cogent political reasons against      crossing are then advanced and there is any reasonable possibility      that a limitation is to be placed thereon. 

But Washington authorities saw no profit in unnecessarily calling the attention of the United Nations to the 38th Parallel and asked MacArthur to delete this portion of his report. Both the Department of State and the Department of Defense agreed that references to the 38th Parallel from the military point of view should be avoided whenever possible; and General MacArthur subsequently agreed to the excision of this part of his report. [18]

Advances in Korea

The United Nations surge up the Korean peninsula had slackened somewhat in late February. But by 2 March, General Ridgway completed plans for Operation RIPPER in which all corps would move northward through successive phase lines to seize Hongch'on and Ch'unch'on in the central sector and to destroy all enemy forces, material, and supplies in the path of the advance. [19] (See Map VII.) Ridgway's troops opened Operation RIPPER on 7 March. Stubborn delaying actions permitted only short gains during the first week, but by 13 March, enemy resistance began to diminish. By 16 March, the enemy was attempting to disengage and withdraw, and by the 18th Seoul was once again in United Nations hands and all other objectives were generally attained. The enemy's decreasing effort to contest Eighth Army's advances, observations of sizable enemy groups moving northward out of the battle areas, and statements by captured soldiers, all pointed to an enemy decision to fall back on prepared positions north of the 38th Parallel. Enemy reserve forces had been located close to the parallel for some time, and MacArthur's intelligence officers therefore reasoned that the enemy had had time to prepare strong defenses on or near this line of latitude. [20]

[17] Ltr., Secy. Defense Marshall to Secy. State Acheson, 1 Mar. 51, in G-3, DA file 381 Korea, Case 3/4.

[18] (1) Rad, C 56709, CINCFE to DA, 2Mar. 51. (2) Telecon, TT 4477, 7Mar. 51 (s) Telecon, TT 4479, 9Mar. 51,

[19] Ltr., CG EUSAK to CINCFE, 2Mar. 51, sub: Operation RIPPER, with Incls, in G-3, GHQ, UNC files.

[20] Telecon, TT 4498, DA to GHQ, 15Mar. 51.

The Department of the Army G-3, General Taylor, was somewhat displeased because he was not given the details of Operation RIPPER in advance, nor even told that it was taking place. On 17 March, he asked MacArthur to send him the details embodied in operational directives issued by General Headquarters and/or Eighth Army. He suggested further that in the future the Department of the Army be an information addressee for all operational directives, to include those of the Eighth Army. MacArthur's headquarters had not planned Operation RIPPER nor had it issued any operational directives or orders. Ridgway had taken care of the whole thing, merely advising MacArthur of his plans. General MacArthur brushed aside General Taylor's request by telling him that Operation RIPPER was merely a development of the constant interchange between his headquarters and the commanders in Korea, and that no formal orders had been issued by him. MacArthur insisted that Taylor was being kept fully informed of all operations of the command but that it was impracticable to give Taylor every detail of inter-command arrangements. [21]

[21] (1) Rad, DA 86022, DA to CINCFE, 17 Mar. 51. (2) Rad, CINCFE to DA Mar. 51.

Seeking More Forces

As one means of increasing MacArthur's ground strength in Korea, the Joint Chiefs of Staff meanwhile had recommended to the Secretary of Defense in late January that the Department of State be asked to seek additional forces from U.N. members who they believed were not contributing all they could. Secretary Marshall had asked the Department of State to do this on 30 January. On 23 February, Secretary Acheson told Marshall that some action would be taken to carry out this proposal. Australia and New Zealand would be pressed to furnish an additional infantry battalion each. Canada would be asked to increase its commitment to brigade size, according to the original plan which had been canceled in October. Certain Latin American countries also would be asked to send ground forces to Korea. The Department of State thought that it would be unwise, however, to ask Turkey and Greece for more ground forces and also that there were no other countries capable of sending forces to Korea at that time.

General Taylor pointed out several factors which he felt should be taken into consideration by the Army Chief of Staff with regard to forces from other U.N. countries. He told General Collins on 14 March that in light of the need for redeploying United States ground combat units to more strategic areas as soon as possible, it would be a good idea to remove them from Korea if they could be replaced. Too, a United Nations force composed of complete divisions from several different countries other than the United States would provide a means of testing certain organizational and operational methods under study in NATO. Furthermore, it would be a long time, according to General Taylor, before ROK Army units could be strengthened to a point where they might relieve some United States combat troops.

It appeared to Taylor that Turkey, Greece, Great Britain, the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand were capable of furnishing sizable forces up to division strength for service in Korea. The difficulty would be in providing logistic support to these forces since the total materiel resources of the United States were needed for current U.S. programs. Hence, any equipment furnished for training or employing new units in Korea could be furnished by the United States only if its programs were reduced accordingly. [22]

[22] Memo. Gen. Taylor, G-3 DA, for CofS USA 14 Mar. 51, sub: Increasing Foreign Contingents in Korea to Div. Size, in G-3, DA file 320.2 Pac, Case 63.

American military authorities, despite possible logistic headaches, continued to insist that other nations could and should contribute more heavily to the United Nations fighting team in Korea. Robert Lovett, Acting Secretary of Defense, notified Secretary of State Acheson on 31 March that the Department of Defense was not satisfied that everything possible had been done to induce these other nations to furnish more forces, and that the current situation in Korea presented an opportunity to renew requests for fuller participation by other members of the United Nations. Lovett charged that the heavy commitment of United States ground troops, the high casualties suffered, the long months of unrelieved combat duty, and the desirability of reassigning experienced soldiers to form cadres for mobilization of new units in the United States and of redeploying battle-tested units to other strategic areas made it all the more imperative that U.S. units in Korea be relieved. [23]

Mr. Lovett wanted real, not token, assistance from these other nations, and requested that the Department of State once again prevail on such countries having trained manpower resources to provide contingents of worthwhile size and to equip these units and support them themselves. He particularly had in mind the Commonwealth nations of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, all of which could, he felt, well afford to increase the size of their contingents in Korea. He thought also that Great Britain might be able to furnish a full division, while Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico appeared to have the military manpower necessary to send sizable units to Korea. [24]

President Truman Is Displeased

Almost by default, a political course of action began to emerge in mid-March. Encouraged by the results of Operation RIPPER, which proved that the military initiative in Korea no longer lay with the enemy, U.S. policy planners decided that efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement should be renewed. These planners, from both Defense and State, now believed that Ridgway's punishing attacks might have rendered the Chinese more amenable to a political settlement.

To both Departments, it appeared that the most logical beginning of a negotiated settlement was for President Truman to appeal directly to the Chinese Communists. For while earlier attempts to bring about negotiations had failed, President Truman had in none of these instances been the one to suggest opening negotiations. Furthermore, the situation seemed particularly propitious because enemy forces were being pushed back into North Korea and could therefore negotiate on the basis of their prewar status. [25]

The Department of State drafted such a Presidential declaration and after obtaining the Joint Chiefs' approval of its content, began to clear it with the other United Nations members having troops in Korea. [26] In substance, the President was to point out that the aggressors in Korea had been driven back to the general vicinity from which their unlawful attack had first been launched and that, therefore, the principal objective of repelling North Korean and Chinese Communist aggression against the Republic of Korea had been achieved. He would assert further that United Nations objectives, such as unification and the establishment of a free government in all of Korea, could and should be accomplished without more fighting and bloodshed. The Chinese Communists were, in effect, to be invited to cease fire and to negotiate a settlement of the outstanding issues. They were also to be warned that if they refused to negotiate, the United Nations would be forced to continue the fighting. [27]

[23]Ltr., Actg.Secy. Defense (Lovett) toSecy.State, 31 Mar. 51, in G-3, DA file 091 Korea, Case 148/19.

[24] Ibid.

[25] MacArthur Hearings, p . 343.

[26] Ibid., pp. 343-44

On 20 March, the Joint Chiefs of Staff alerted General MacArthur to the planned Presidential announcement. He was also informed that some nations consulted believed that an advance by major forces of the United Nations Command across the 38th Parallel would endanger further diplomatic efforts, and was reminded that time would be needed to determine the reactions of all concerned, including the Communist governments. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had already told the Department of State that the 38th Parallel had no tactical significance, a judgment with which the Department of State now agreed. But State had asked the military advisers just what freedom of action MacArthur should have for the next few weeks in order for him to maintain contact with the enemy and at the same time insure the safety of his forces; and the Joint Chiefs, in turn, asked MacArthur to make his own recommendations as to what latitude he required. [28]

MacArthur interpreted the latter request as a possible prelude to an order forbidding him to cross the 38th Parallel and immediately recommended that no further military restrictions be imposed upon his command. He explained that since he was forbidden to use his naval and air arms as he had suggested, and since the enemy's ground potential so far exceeded his, it remained completely impractical anyway to attempt to clear North Korea. In sum, MacArthur felt that his current directives were adequate and should not be changed. [29]

The proposed Presidential announcement was never made. For while it was still being prepared, General MacArthur issued a public statement on 24 March that in the eyes of Washington officials completely vitiated the contemplated political move. In his statement, MacArthur declared that the tactical successes of his forces clearly showed Communist China to be a vastly overrated military power weak in everything but human resources. Continuing, he said, "Even under the inhibitions which now restrict the activity of the United Nations forces and the corresponding military advantages which accrue to Red China, it has shown its complete inability to accomplish by force of arms the conquest of Korea." The confident tone of this statement contrasted sharply with MacArthur's reports to Washington two months earlier. He also reiterated his oft-aired contention that ". . . the fundamental questions continue to be political in nature and must find their answer in the diplomatic sphere." [30]

Unmindful of the President's scheduled call on the enemy for negotiation, MacArthur then declared:

     Within the area of my authority as the military commander, however,      it should be needless to say that I stand ready at any time to      confer in the field with the Commander-in-Chief of the enemy forces      in the earnest effort to find any military means whereby      realization of the political objectives of the United Nations in      Korea, to which no nation may justly take exception, 

[27] JSSC Rpt. to the JCS, p. 131.

[28] Rad, JCS 86276, JCS to CINCFE, 20 Mar. 51.

[29] Rad, C 58203, CINCUNC (MacArthur) to DA for JCS, 21 Mar. 51.

[30] MacArthur, Reminiscences, pp. 387-88.


     might be accomplished without further bloodshed. 

President Truman was angered by MacArthur's statement since it tacitly preempted the President's prerogatives and criticized, by implication at least, the national policy. Besides infuriating the President, MacArthur's announcement brought down upon Washington a rash of inquiries from allies of the United States as to whether MacArthur's words were the precursor of a drastic change in national policy. [31]

President Truman, on the same day he heard MacArthur's statement, called in Acheson, Rusk, and Lovett to discuss what response to MacArthur's act would be appropriate. They agreed that the 6 December directive to MacArthur and the other commanders made plain what they could and could not say without prior clearance. They further agreed that MacArthur had violated this directive. But MacArthur was not censured for this violation, only reminded once again of the directive itself. In an immediate dispatch, the Joint Chiefs notified MacArthur, "In view of the information given you 20 March 1951 any further statements by you must be coordinated as prescribed in the order of 6 December. The President has also directed that in the event Communist military leaders request an armistice in the field, you immediately report that fact to the JCS." [32]

General MacArthur had not known the contents of the proposed Presidential declaration. The information he received from the Joint Chiefs on 20 March did little more than tell him that some sort of Presidential announcement was to be made. Also, in his own offer to confer in the field with the enemy commander, MacArthur had stressed the terms, "Within the area of my authority as a military commander. . . ," and "... to find any military means...." Evidence that such a move would have been quite proper is available. Shortly after the Inch'on landing, when it was thought the North Koreans might sue for peace terms, the Deputy Under Secretary of State told the Department of Defense, "A cease-fire should be a purely military matter and accordingly they (the North Koreans) should communicate their offer to the Commanding General of the unified command . . . who is the appropriate representative to negotiate any armistice or cease-fire agreement." [33]

[31] (1) Ibid. (2) The President interpreted MacArthur's action as threatening the enemy with an ultimatum, implying that the United States and its Allies might attack China without restraint. This had implications far greater than usurpation of a prepared statement which the President had intended to make. In the President's mind, MacArthur had once again openly defied the policy of his Commander in Chief. See Truman, Memoirs, II, pp. 442-43.

[32] MacArthur Hearings, pp. 344, 3542.

[33]Ltr., Dept. of State (Deputy UnderSecy.Matthews) to OSD (Gen. Burns), 15 Sep. 50, in G-3 DA file 091 Korea, Case 99, App. to JCS 1776/105.

On the related issue of recrossing the 38th Parallel, General MacArthur did not intend to hold the Eighth Army below the line unless so ordered by Washington. Nevertheless, he instructed General Ridgway on 22 March not to move above the parallel in force until specifically authorized to do so. To any press inquiries on the probability of a crossing, Ridgway was to reply that the decision would have to be made by MacArthur himself. MacArthur informed Ridgway that a new directive for operations in Korea was expected from Washington shortly, apparently in the belief that the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by asking what freedom he needed in his future operations, meant to send him new instructions, including orders on crossing the 38th Parallel. But Washington authorities sent him no new directive on either the parallel or the conduct of future operations. [34]

As to the immediate future, MacArthur told Ridgway, "My present intention is to continue current type of action north of the parallel, but not to proceed further than your logistics would support a major operation." MacArthur evidently was more concerned with the logistical than with the political implications of re-entering North Korea. He continued, "At that time to pass from the present tactics which you have so ably conducted to ranger-type probing by battalions or companies from divisional fronts operating for ten-day periods with self-contained supplies supplemented by guerrilla type activities. If you have any suggestions, let me have them." General Ridgway replied that he would issue all necessary instructions to insure compliance. He interpreted MacArthur's term "in force" as permitting at least one reinforced infantry battalion per corps to cross the parallel if a potentially fruitful opportunity should present itself. [36]

Bevin and the British View

In spite of the intransigence thus far shown by the Communists toward every United Nations suggestion of settling the Korean problem by talking instead of fighting, the British Government remained hopeful that the Communists would eventually agree to negotiate. On 3O March, British Foreign Secretary Bevin proposed a new attempt at negotiation. Bevin suggested the issuance of a clear statement of Korean policy, agreed to by all countries having forces in Korea and specifically endorsed by the unified command. This, he thought, would provide a basis for approaching the Peiping and USSR governments in order to explore Chinese Communist readiness to negotiate a settlement by some procedure other than that of the Committee of Good Offices of the United Nations, which he felt could not by itself obtain the cooperation of the Chinese. Specifically, Bevin recommended a joint declaration by all nations having forces in Korea-expressing their desire to see an independent and unified Korea, their agreement to the withdrawal of all foreign troops, and their readiness to achieve these objectives by other than military means. At the same time, President Truman, in his capacity as Chief Executive of the state providing the unified command, would announce that the unified command fully endorsed the military implications of the joint declaration. Following these two statements of policy, the Chinese and the Russians would be asked to express their views as to the best means of bringing about a peaceful settlement in Korea. With reference to the Presidential declaration proposed earlier and General MacArthur's statement of 24 March, the British foreign secretary noted that MacArthur's action was further reason for considering an entirely new procedure since it was now unlikely that any further statement by the unified command alone would be taken seriously by the Communists. [36]

[34] Rad, C 58292, MacArthur (Personal) for Ridgway, 22 Mar. 51.

[35] (1) Ibid. (2) Rad, G-3 412 KCG, Ridgway (Personal) for MacArthur, 22 Mar. 51.

Ridgway Re-enters North Korea

Lacking specific instructions to the contrary, General MacArthur meanwhile approved plans developed by General Ridgway for advancing above the 38th Parallel. On 22 March, Ridgway informed MacArthur that he had prepared plans to advance, if MacArthur approved, to a line that, except for a short stretch in the west, lay just above the parallel, generally between the confluence of the Han and Yesong Rivers on the west coast and the town of Yangyang on the Sea of Japan. Ridgway explained that operations to reach this line would have as their objective not the seizure of terrain but the maximum destruction of enemy troops and materiel, and that they would be conducted with particular care to maintain major units intact and to keep casualties to a minimum. He assured MacArthur further that he had no intention of outrunning his logistical support. MacArthur approved Ridgway's plan without hesitation, and without referring it to Washington. [37]

[36] Rad, 825, Dept. of State to USUN NY, 30 Mar. 51, in G-3, DA file 091 Korea, Case 167/2.

Ridgway opened the first phase of this advance (Operation COURAGEOUS) on 22 March, moved steadily forward all along the front, and attained positions generally along the 38th Parallel by the 30th.

[37] Rad, G-3 412 KCG, Ridgway (Personal) for MacArthur, 22 Mar. 51.

Except for a small area in the west, South Korea thus was cleared of organized enemy forces. The latter suffered enormous casualties, although as a result of the relatively slow Eighth Army advance compelled by Ridgway's insistence on careful coordination and the preservation of lateral security, the enemy units themselves managed to withdraw intact. [38]

By the time the Eighth Army regained the parallel, Ridgway, on 29 March, completed the details of instructions for the next forward step, which he called Operation RUGGED. The new objective, Line KANSAS, differed slightly from Ridgway's 22 March concept by starting at the junction of the Han and Imjin Rivers, not the Han and Yesong, then running northeastward and eastward to Yangyang. [39]

General MacArthur flew into Korea on 3 April to discuss this next step northward with General Ridgway and to look at the ground situation. At that time, Ridgway explained that when he had sought approval for an advance to the Yesong-Yangyang line, he had believed he would find good hunting in the western area between the Imjin and the Yesong. But recent intelligence had revealed very few enemy forces in that region and Ridgway therefore had decided not to advance as far as the Yesong. Ridgway told MacArthur that the strongest possible line he could seize was the one toward which he was now aiming, Line KANSAS. MacArthur agreed and told Ridgway he wanted him to make a very strong fight for this line, with any advance beyond it carefully limited and controlled. [40]

On 5 April, MacArthur notified the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the Eighth Army had jumped off in its drive across the parallel to destroy enemy forces and supplies south of Line KANSAS. MacArthur also informed the Joint Chiefs that Ridgway intended to follow Operation RUGGED with Operation DAUNTLESS which would take the Eighth Army twenty miles farther into North Korea, in the west central zone, and enable it to seize Line WYOMING and thereby gain control of an area known to be a point of concentration for enemy troops and supplies. MacArthur explained that, once Lines KANSAS and WYOMING had been seized, he intended to maintain contact with the enemy only by patrols of battalion size. The existing logistical limitations, combined with the terrain, weather conditions, and intelligence of enemy dispositions, had convinced him that a further advance in force beyond the present objective lines was not feasible. [41]

[38] Comd Rpt., Eighth Army, Narrative, Mar. 51.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ridgway, The Korean war: Issues and Policies, p. 420.

[41] Rad, C 59397, CINCFE to DA, 5 Apr. 51.

The enemy did not strongly resist the crossing of the parallel. By 9 April, all units in the U.S. I and IX Corps and ROK I Corps had fought their way forward to positions on Line KANSAS; and although the U.S. X and ROK III Corps in the central and east central sectors had been slowed down by rugged terrain and inadequate supply routes, these two corps by the same date were drawing near their KANSAS objectives. Throughout this early April advance, Ridgway and MacArthur were aware that the enemy, particularly the Chinese, was building up in rear areas and was daily increasing his capability to launch an offensive. The enemy build-up was especially notable in the Ch'orwon-P'yonggang-Hwach'on triangle in the west central area, which in turn accounted for Ridgway's plan to seize this area by advancing to Line WYOMING. On 31 March, General MacArthur had reported to the Department of the Army that an enemy offensive of great strength might be expected at any time after 1 April. He estimated that the Chinese had 274,000 troops in Korea and 478,000 regular troops in Manchuria. The North Koreans were believed to have approximately 198,000 men, including guerrillas, available for an attack. [42]

Keeping the enemy's offensive capability constantly in mind, Ridgway made plans to contain the expected offensive by rolling to the rear with the enemy's punch. On 12 April, he issued Operation Plan AUDACIOUS, which called for an orderly, fighting withdrawal through successive phase lines. This withdrawal would be made only on Ridgway's order and would be conducted in such a manner as to inflict maximum losses on the enemy and to preserve all friendly units intact. [43]

About the time Ridgway issued this plan, he became aware that publishing it would be one of his last acts as the Eighth Army commander. As a result of a decision made by President Truman two days earlier, the general who had revitalized the Eighth Army was about to be elevated to higher command, not primarily because of Ridgway's accomplishments, but more because of the President's exasperation with General MacArthur.

[42] (1) Rad, CX 59065, CINCFE to DA for G-2, 31 Mar. 51. (2) Telecon, TT 4597, DA and GHQ, 13 Apr. 51. (3) Telecon, TT 4603, DA and GHQ, 15 Apr. 51.

[43] Comd Rpt., Eighth Army, Apr. 51, Narrative, pp. 11-13.

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