Korean Service
Purple Heart
     Infantry Weapons     
     THE WHOLE SITE     
     Combat Photos     

The Foundation of Freedom is the Courage of Ordinary People

History  Bert '53  On Line

Policy & Direction Home


Signs of Armistice

General Van Fleet proposed late in May to carry the fight well behind enemy lines. He asked General Ridgway to let him mount an amphibious landing on Korea's east coast to surround and pinch off a large segment of the Chinese and North Korean Armies. Basically, Van Fleet had in mind a maneuver resembling Operation CHROMITE, a deep amphibious encirclement coordinated with an overland drive. His target area lay well up the east coast, nearly to Wonsan. [1]

General Ridgway opposed the landing. First, the objective area lay beyond the limiting line set by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This line, of course, could be altered for sufficiently valid reasons. But Ridgway also objected that the advantages to be gained, even if the operation were successful, did not justify the great risks involved. For Ridgway's main mission in Korea was to destroy the greatest possible number of enemy forces with the least possible loss of his own men; and he had decided that he could best do this by a gradual advance to the Line KANSAS-WYOMING, not by an amphibious landing deep behind enemy lines. Furthermore, since it was impossible to clear all of Korea of enemy forces under conditions then obtaining, it would be unwise to risk heavy casualties merely for a chance to inflict equal casualties on a more numerous enemy. Van Fleet tried to counter these arguments, but Ridgway stood fast and the plan was shelved. [2]

Ridgway did authorize a limited advance on the east coast beyond the line set by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He told Van Fleet that he could seize a line running from the east end of the Hwach'on Reservoir to the east coast, a move which would advance Line KANSAS well north of its position as defined in April. Ridgway did not consider this move to be a general advance because its purpose was to maintain contact and to keep the enemy off-balance. Nor did the Joint Chiefs of Staff object when Ridgway notified them of his decision. [3]

[1] Rad, GX-5-5099 KCOP, CG Eighth Army to CINCFE, Van Fleet (Personal) for Ridgway, 28 May 51.

[2] (1) MFR, 31 May 51, sub: Conference Between Gen. Ridgway and Gen. Van Fleet, copy in GHQ UNC, SGS files, (2) Hearings on Ammunition Shortages in the Armed Services, Senate Committee on Armed Services, 83d Congress, 1st Session, April 1953 (hereafter cited as Van Fleet Hearings), Testimony of Gen. Collins, pp. 1-5.

[3] Rad, C 63730, CINCFE to JCS, 30 May 51.

Adhering to General Ridgway's concepts, Van Fleet on 1 June ordered the fortification of Line KANSAS. For the time being, the attacks toward Line WYOMING would continue, and once that line was occupied patrol bases would be established beyond it. If the enemy launched another major offensive, the forces on Line WYOMING might withdraw to Line KANSAS to defend there. Otherwise, "From positions along the line WYOMING and the patrol base line," Van Fleet ordered, "limited objective attacks, reconnaissance in force, and patrolling to the maximum capability will be conducted . . . to inflict damage on the enemy, confuse him and keep him off balance." [4]

On 9 June, General Ridgway received Van Fleet's estimate of probable developments within Korea during the next sixty days. This estimate closely paralleled his own. The enemy, despite the beating he had taken, still had numerical superiority and retained the capability to launch at least one major offensive within the next two months. Van Fleet himself fully expected the Chinese to strike again as soon as they had built up enough strength, and planned to counter this enemy threat, at least locally, by vigorous limited offensives which would, when combined with deception, keep the enemy off-balance or cause him to attack prematurely. Van Fleet had made plans for three such limited offensives, all calling for the swift seizure of objective areas, the destruction of enemy supplies in these areas, and, after short occupation, a return to Line KANSAS-WYOMING. [5]

The Eighth Army reached Line KANSAS-WYOMING by mid-June; and on the 14th, General Ridgway, basing his predictions on General Van Fleet's report, sketched for the Joint Chiefs of Staff a picture of what could be expected in Korea during the coming two months. The enemy's logistic situation was worse than that of his own forces. Enemy lines of communications were too long. Recent heavy rainfall and effective interdiction by U.N. air forces were further aggravating Chinese supply problems. The Eighth Army, on the other hand, currently enjoyed adequate logistic support. This support would remain adequate, Ridgway pointed out, provided Van Fleet made no general advance north of Line KANSAS-WYOMING during the period. To advance, Ridgway claimed, would "tend to nullify EUSAK's present logistic advantage over the enemy." [6]

Regardless of a poor supply situation; the sheer weight of superior numbers in North Korea and Manchuria made enemy forces capable of keeping the over-all initiative and of launching at least one major offensive in the next sixty days. Happily, the terrain along Line KANSAS-WYOMING offered excellent defensive positions if properly organized. Ridgway intended to hold Eighth Army along this general line, at least for the next two months, and to keep punishing the enemy by making limited offensive operations with KANSAS-WYOMING as a base. [7]

[4] Ltr. of Instructions, CG EUSAK to All Corps Comdrs, 1 June 51, copy in JSPOG Staff Study, Advances North of the 38th Parallel.

[5] MFR CofS GHQ from SGS, GHQ, 13 Jun. 51, in GHQ, FEC SGS files.

[6] Rad, CX 64976, CINCFE to DA for JCS, 14 Jun. 51.

Political Factors Influence the Battle Line

The new national policy, now based on a political settlement as opposed to a complete military victory, of course deterred any grander plans for a general offensive. Even if the enemy might be defeated, the cost in lives would be considerable; and certainly nothing was to be gained by paying a high price for terrain which might very possibly be returned to the enemy at the conference table. Indeed, behind the national policy lay factors and conditions beyond the power of the theater commander, or for that matter, of national leaders to control. The decision to seek a solution by political means in Korea was an outgrowth of world-wide considerations. [8]

Since General Ridgway had been directed to create conditions favorable to a settlement of the Korean conflict under appropriate armistice arrangements, he gave considerable thought to the best location of a cease-fire line The Joint Chiefs of Staff, as of 27 March, had judged that the demilitarized zone should be an area about twenty miles in width centered at, or north of, the 38th Parallel, although they realized that the exact location would be determined on the basis of the positions of opposing ground units in combat at the time of a cease-fire.

General Ridgway took special note of this last fact and, in early June, asked for Van Fleet's views on the best location for his forces during a cease-fire. Van Fleet replied that Line KANSAS would be the most feasible location. "It is assumed," Van Fleet told Ridgway, "that the Communist forces will violate the terms of the treaty as they have in the past by improving their potentialities for unexpected renewal of aggression." This being so, Van Fleet insisted that his forces must occupy ground suitable for strong defense even during a cease-fire; and Line KANSAS met that requirement. Furthermore, in anticipation of some type of diplomatic agreement which would require a 10-mile withdrawal from the line of contact, Van Fleet considered it essential that his forces be at least ten miles in advance of the terrain they would eventually occupy during a cease-fire. [9]

[7] Some officials later charged that the U.N. forces did not take sufficient advantage of the enemy's weakened condition in early June 1951, asserting that they could have destroyed the "remnants" of the Chinese and North Korean Armies in Korea.

[8] "Our whole policy in Korea, in fact, both military and political," Ridgway later maintained, "will be a question for historians to debate. My own conviction is that the magnificent Eighth Army could have driven the Chinese beyond the Yalu-if this country had been willing to pay the price in lives such action would have cost. Personally, I strongly doubt that such a victory would have been worth the cost-particularly in light of the fact that our Government seemed to have no firm policy on what steps to take thereafter. Seizure of the line of the Yalu and the Tumen would have been merely the seizure of more real estate. It would have greatly shortened the enemy supply lines and greatly lengthened our own. It would have widened our front from 110 miles to 420, and beyond that front would lie Manchuria and the whole mainland of Asia, in which all the wealth and manpower of this country could have been lost and dissipated. So it is useless to speculate on what might have been. I was not privy to the councils of our leaders at home when they decided to accept the Russian-sponsored overtures for a truce. But in retrospect, I do not feel constrained to quarrel with that decision." See General Matthew B. Ridgway, "My Battles in War and Peace, the Korean War," Saturday Evening Post (February 25, 1956), p. 130.

General Van Fleet later commented on this matter in press statements in 1952 and during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services in March 1953. When asked whether he had been correctly quoted that the United Nations could have won the war in Korea, General Van Fleet admitted that while he did not believe complete victory was possible in June 1951 he had felt that at that time he had the Communist armies on the run. ". . . They were hurting badly, out of supplies, completely out of hand or control; they were in a panic, and were doing their best to fall as far back as possible, and we, stopped by order, did not finish the enemy." When asked if he had recommended the counteroffensive be resumed, Van Fleet replied, "Oh yes, I was crying for them to turn me loose." Van Fleet Hearings, p. 32.

Ridgway's own Joint Strategic Plans and Operations Group had been working on the same general problem, examining various schemes of maneuver that would carry the Eighth Army above Line KANSAS so that this line would not be lost in any withdrawal required by cease-fire arrangements. On 13 June, JSPOG officers briefed Ridgway on four such schemes; and after hearing them, Ridgway concluded that Van Fleet should devise long-range plans for a general advance to the line P'yongyang-Wonsan. [10] On the 19th, he directed Van Fleet to plan the seizure of the P'yongyang-Wonsan line with a main effort over the Seoul-Wonsan axis and a secondary drive up the Seoul-P'yongyang axis. Since Van Fleet earlier had stated that he could make no general advance for at least the next sixty days, Ridgway left the target date up to him. [11]

He cautioned Van Fleet constantly to remember that the enemy might at any time choose to negotiate a political settlement, and if this happened, a 20-mile-wide demilitarized zone might be established on the basis of the locations of opposing ground units in combat at the time. "Therefore," Ridgway pointed out, "successive main lines of resistance should be selected with a suitable outpost line, and when and if negotiations appear imminent, every effort should be made to make contact with the enemy ten miles in advance of the outpost line of resistance." This line of contact would be known as the "cease-fire" line. If negotiations were successful, a demilitarized zone would probably be set up twenty miles in depth, having as its center line the cease-fire line. Within the terms of the agreement, both sides would likely withdraw at least ten miles from the cease-fire line. This would place Van Fleet's forces on the outpost line in advance of his selected main line of resistance. Ridgway of course had no information that the enemy intended to negotiate. But he directed Van Fleet to submit his operation plan by 10 July. [12] For if negotiations began in the near future, General Van Fleet's concept of using Line KANSAS as his main line of resistance to be occupied during a cease-fire would apply. Consequently, Ridgway wanted Van Fleet to be at least twenty miles in advance of KANSAS at the beginning of any negotiations. This, of course, would permit the 10-mile withdrawal and the manning of the outpost line of resistance. He assured Van Fleet that he would try to warn him of any imminent negotiations so that Van Fleet could move at least part of his troops up to a general line of contact twenty miles in advance of KANSAS. [13]

[9] Ltr., Van Fleet to CINCUNC, 9 Jun. 51, sub: Location of EUSAK During a Cease-Fire (Military Viewpoint).

[10] MFR, 17 June 51, sub: Planning Directive, sgd. Lutes.

[11] Ltr., CINCFE to CG Eighth Army, 19 Jun. 51, sub: Planning Directive.

[12] Ibid.

The wisdom of preparing a cease-fire line had apparently occurred to the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the same time. By mid-June, in view of their increasing conviction that political negotiations might soon develop, they had begun to doubt the wisdom of limiting Van Fleet's advance. At a meeting on 15 June, they decided that it was desirable to revise the current directives to General Ridgway; and General Collins received the task of preparing a proposed revision that would remove any restrictions on ground operations except those inherent in Ridgway's mission as CINCFE for the defense of Japan. [14]

General Collins and General Vandenberg wondered if it might not be wise to let Ridgway operate in strength as far to the north as his resources would permit. They saw the current enemy disorganization and his comparative weakness on the immediate front as an excellent opportunity to seize more terrain and to better Eighth Army's position in the event of a cease-fire. On 20 June, they asked Ridgway what he thought of a change that would remove "any undue restrictions upon your ability to exploit tactically the current situation," and that would authorize him to "conduct such tactical operations as may be necessary or desirable to support your mission . . . to insure the safety of your command; and to continue to harass the enemy." [15] In actuality, it did not really matter whether or not the Joint Chiefs of Staff removed their restriction on his advance, since the realistic restrictions imposed by terrain, logistics, troop strength, and the enemy would, in the final analysis, limit his advance anyway. But the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked for his ideas on how any future advance into North Korea would affect the target area of his air force, whether an advance would trigger enemy air attack, and what would be the effect of longer lines of communication.

General Ridgway concurred in the proposed removal of any restriction on his advance. But he asked to be allowed to defer answering the questions about operations deeper into North Korea since he had directed the Eighth Army commander to submit plans for a general advance not later than 10 July and wished to have Van Fleet's ideas before answering the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [16]

[13] Ltr., Ridgway to Van Fleet, 22 Jun. 51, sub: Location of EUSAK During a Cease-Fire.

[14] Memo, Gen. Taylor for Gen. Collins, ACofS G-3, DA, for CSUSA, 16 Jun. 5l, sub: Revision of Directive to CINCFE for Opns in Korea, in G-3, DA file 381 Korea. General Taylor noted that approval of such a revision would better enable Ridgway to exploit tactically the current or subsequent situation. On the other hand, the requirement that CINCFE maintain the security of his forces would serve to limit his advance.

[15] (1) Memo, Col. Arns, Dep. Secy. JCS, for Gen. Taylor, 19 Jun. 51, sub: Possible Change in JCS 92831. (2) Rad, JCS 94501, JCS to CINCFE, 20 Jun. 51.

[16] Rad, C 65529, CINCFE to JCS, 22 Jun. 51.

But Ridgway continued to evince great interest in the selection of a cease-fire line, explaining that it should be at least twenty miles out in front of Line KANSAS, preferably extending from the confluence of the Han and Yesong Rivers in the west, generally northeast past Ch'orwon and Kumhwa to Kosong on the east coast. Ridgway pointed out that this cease-fire line did not include the Ongjin and Yonan peninsulas along the west coast, both originally a part of South Korea. But the value of including these two peninsulas was out of proportion to the difficulty of defending them. He asked that the Joint Chiefs of Staff modify their position regarding a demilitarized area as described in their memorandum of 27 March to the Secretary of Defense in order to conform to the description of the cease-fire line he had proposed. The Joint Chiefs of Staff did not consider this necessary. They pointed out that their instructions which called for him to create conditions favorable to an armistice did not imply that he was to gain military control of all areas south of the 38th Parallel and that such was not intended if the tactical situation did not warrant it. They did not want to make an issue out of excluding the Ongjin and Yonan peninsulas from the provisions of their directive since it "would have undesirable political implications, particularly, if such came to attention of the ROK government." [17]

After receiving Ridgway's concurrence in the decision to revise his operating directives, the Joint Chiefs of Staff took the matter up with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State, and finally with the President. President Truman approved the removal of a definite limiting line on Korean operations; and on 10 July the Joint Chiefs of Staff informed Ridgway that he was ". . . authorized to conduct such tactical operations as may be necessary to or desirable to support your mission." [18]

Moves Toward Negotiation

General Ridgway's concern with cease-fire lines was well timed. On 23 June appeared the first solid indication that the Communists were prepared to negotiate when during a U.N.-sponsored radio broadcast entitled "The Price of Peace," Jacob Malik, USSR delegate to the United Nations Security Council, hinted broadly that his government was in favor of such negotiations at an early date. Having assumed all along that the USSR Government was the chief instigator of the Communist aggression in Korea and that ultimate control of Communist forces in Korea rested with Russia, U.S. authorities took Malik's remarks seriously. [19]

[17] (1) Rad, C 65529, CINCFE to JCS, 22 June 51. (2) Rad, JCS 95125, JCS to CINCFE, 23 Jun. 51.

[18] (1) JCS 1776/234, 27 Jun. 51. (2) Note to Holders, 12 Jul., App. A, 27 Jun. 51, in G-3, DA file 38 Korea, Case 8.

[19] For a detailed account of the preliminary steps leading to the opening of the armistice conference and of the negotiations themselves, see Walter C. Hermes, Truce Tent and Fighting Front, UNITED STATES ARMY IN THE KOREAN WAR (Washington, 1966).

[20] Rad, CX 65667, CINCFE to All Comdrs, 24 Jun. 51. Page 403}Only two days earlier, Ridgway had assured Van Fleet that he would give timely warning of any imminent negotiations so that Van Fleet might move forces forward twenty miles above Line KANSAS. But on 26 June, after Ridgway and Van Fleet toured the battlefront and weighed the situation anew, the two generals decided against any advance beyond Line KANSAS-WYOMING. They agreed that such an advance was feasible tactically and logistically, but that the probable cost in casualties was too great a price to pay.

[21] Enemy forces meanwhile had not slackened their build-up nor tempered their reactions to the Eighth Army's probing, especially on the central front. General Ridgway's intelligence staff concluded that the enemy was, regardless of armistice moves, regrouping in preparation for further offensives. Air sightings in the last week of June indicated that enemy offensive preparations were well advanced; numerous forward supply dumps, artillery positions, and troop movements were reported in the central area; and prisoners reported the enemy's intention to launch a Sixth Phase Offensive sometime in July.

[22] The enemy build-up, however, became of secondary importance on 29 June when General Ridgway received instructions from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to approach the enemy on possible armistice negotiations. President Truman had directed that at 0800 on 30 June, Ridgway was to broadcast a message to the commander in chief, Communist Forces in Korea, saying:

     I am informed that you may wish a meeting to discuss armistice      providing for the cessation of hostilities and all acts of armed      forces in Korea with adequate guarantee for the maintenance of such      armistice. Upon receipt of word from you that such a meeting is      desired I shall be prepared to name my representative. I would also      at that time suggest a date at which he could meet with your      representative. I propose that such a meeting could take place      aboard a Danish Hospital ship in Wonsan harbor. 

General Ridgway, informed that cease-fire proceedings might soon develop as a result of Malik's speech, immediately took steps to forestall any letdown among his forces. "Two things should be recalled," he cautioned his commanders.

     One is the well-earned reputation for duplicity and dishonesty      possessed by the USSR, the other is the slowness with which      deliberative bodies such as the Security Council produce positive      action. I desire that you personally assure yourself that all      elements of your command are made aware of the danger of such a      relaxation of effort and that you insist on an intensification      rather than a diminution of the United Nation's action in this      theater. [20] 

Ridgway broadcast this message as directed. [28] On the date of Ridgway's broadcast, the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave Ridgway instructions for conducting cease-fire talks with the Communists should such talks develop. They told him that the principal military interests of the United Nations in an armistice lay in the cessation of hostilities in Korea, in assuring that the fighting would not resume, and in guaranteeing the security of United Nations Command forces. Further, any cease-fire talks were to be limited strictly to military questions related to Korea. [24] Upon receiving these guidelines, Ridgway and his Joint Strategic Plans and Operations Group developed an agenda to be proposed to the Communists at the first session, selected a delegation to represent the United Nations Command at the conference table, and worked out the physical arrangements for maintaining the United Nations Command delegation, including communications, transportation, security liaison, and other routine matters. On 3 July, the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved Ridgway's plans without change.

[21] (1) Ltr., Ridgway to Van Fleet, 22 Jun. 51, sub: Location of EUSAK During a Cease-Fire. (2) Van Fleet Hearings, p. 651.

[22] Telecons, TT 4846 and TT 4884, DA and GHQ, 20 Jun. 51 and 28 Jun. 51.

[23] Rad, JCS 95258, JCS to CINCFE, 29 Jun. 51.

[24] Rad, JCS 95354, JCS to CINCFE, (Personal) for Ridgway, 30 Jun. 51. Page 404

[25] Meanwhile, on 1 July, the Communist leaders replied to Ridgway's message in a broadcast sponsored jointly by Kim Il Sung, Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, and Peng Teh-huai, who styled himself Commander of the Chinese Volunteers. They agreed to meet with United Nations Command representatives but proposed that the place of meeting be in the Kaesong area rather than aboard the Danish ship, and that the meetings begin between 10 and 15 July.

[26] The enemy proposal to meet at Kaesong, while not entirely unacceptable to Ridgway, was interpreted as only a further demonstration of a known Communist policy never to accept a proposal in toto. Ridgway therefore told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he planned to accept Kaesong as the conference site and to halt combat operations along the Munsan-Kaesong road and in the Kaesong area. On 3 July, he notified the Communists that he was prepared to meet their representatives at Kaesong on 10 July "or at an earlier date if your representatives complete their preparations before that date." He proposed, in order to insure efficient arrangement of the many details for the meetings, that three liaison officers of each side meet in Kaesong on 5 July or as soon thereafter as practicable. The Communists agreed to this procedure, but set the date for the meeting of liaison officers at 8 July.

[27] The mere promise that negotiations to end the fighting in Korea might be forthcoming had in the meantime prompted widespread speculation in the American press. Such expressions as "Let's Get the Boys Back Home" and "The War Weary Troops" were beginning to appear in the more irresponsible journals. General Ridgway took violent exception to these sentiments. "I can hardly imagine a greater tragedy for America and the free world," he informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 4 July, "than a repetition of the disgraceful debacle of our Armed Forces following their victorious effort in World War II. We can never efface that blot on the record of the American people on whom the responsibility squarely rests." Ridgway vowed that he would do everything within his power to eliminate such thinking among the officers and men of his command. "If this be 'thought control' then I am for it, heart and soul."

[28] Ridgway also feared that public pressure for an armistice might force him into military concessions. He told the Joint Chief of Staff, "I wish with great earnestness to point out the importance I attach to the retention by United Nations forces of so much of Korea as will permit occupation and defense of Kansas line with a suitable outpost zone for its protection." He reiterated the view that KANSAS was the strongest defensive line in the general area.

     It is the most advanced strong defensive terrain which the tactical       situation under your directives permits me to reach, and there,      logistically to support my forces.... Any position taken by our      government which would compel me to abandon the     Kansas line or deny me a reasonable outpost zone for its protection      would vitally prejudice our entire military position in Korea.      Request that copy of this message be furnished the Secretary of      Defense personally. [29] 

Next, before sending his officers to negotiate with their enemy counterparts, Ridgway explained to them at length the objectives they were to attempt to achieve and what he considered proper demeanor at the conference table. He stressed that their skillful conduct of armistice negotiations might well mark the beginning of communism's recession in Asia. [30]

[25] (1) Rad, CX 66160, CINCFE to JCS, 1 Jul. 51. (2) Rad, JCS 95438, JCS to CINCFE, 3 Jul. 51.

[26] Rad, CX 66188, CINCFE to JCS, 2 Jul. 51.

[27] (1) Ibid. (2) Rad, DA-IN 11098, Ridgway to JCS, 5 Jul. 51.

[28] Rad, C 66323, CINCFE to JCS, 4 Jul. 51.

Page 405

The Prognosis

Following two days of stage setting by the liaison officers of both sides, the two delegations met for the first time at Kaesong on 10 July. This first meeting rang down the curtain on the war of movement. A full year of bitter fighting had served only to bring the opposing forces into balance. As armistice negotiations began, United Nations Command ground forces in Korea exceeded 550,000, the bulk of which comprised 17 divisions (7 American and 10 ROK), 4 brigades, 1 separate regiment, and 9 separate battalions. Enemy forces totaled about 459,000 divided among 13 Chinese armies and 7 North Korean corps. The significant point of difference was in available reserves. Whereas the United Nations Command had no appreciable source of reinforcement anywhere, its opponents had close at hand some 743,000 Chinese troops in Manchuria.

The willingness of the Chinese to negotiate an armistice rather than commit their large reserve to battle undoubtedly was prompted in large part by the high losses they had sustained since intervening eight months earlier. By 10 July 1951, estimates of total enemy casualties had risen above 1,200,000, divided almost evenly between the Chinese and North Koreans. The costs to United Nations Command forces also had been dear. By the end of June 1951 American combat losses stood at about 78,800, of whom approximately 21,300 were killed in action or subsequently died as a result of their combat participation. Losses among other United Nations contingents were in proportion to the Americans'; and ROK Army casualties numbered 212,554, including 21,625 dead. The ROK civilian population had paid a still higher price, suffering some 469,000 casualties, of whom at least 170,000 had been killed.

Whereas neither of the opposing forces had been able to achieve a final victory, each had made significant gains. The United Nations Command forces had at least met their objective of repelling the aggression against South Korea; for with the exception of a small area in the west, the republic had been cleared of enemy forces, and even some territory above the 38th Parallel now was under United Nations Command control. A startling gain for Communist China had resulted from battle successes during the past winter. These victories had raised the prestige of Mao Tse-tung's regime and won it a front-rank position as a military power. While offset to some degree by a lack of an atomic capability and a dependence on the USSR for industrial and technical support, Communist China's new prominence was certain to upset the political balance in Asia.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Memo, Gen. M. B. Ridgway for General and Flag-Officer Members of the U N, Delegation, 7 Jul. 51, in GHQ, UNC SGS files.

But these gains would serve neither side for the duration of the Korean War. On the battlefield, both sides might claim to have the stronger force; but the opposing commanders would recognize that the near parity of military power left them only the prospect of directing operations in a war they could not win. At the conference table, both delegations might profess to be negotiating from positions of superior strength, but each would know that the other possessed no decisive advantage. The challenge here, then, would be to achieve an armistice under favorable terms without being able to dictate those terms. Indeed, those responsible for policy and direction during the first year of the Korean War had set the scene for what could prove to be a long, tedious stalemate at two locations: in the truce tent and on the fighting front.

Policy & Direction Home

                 SEARCH SITE                  
     Principal Infantry Weapons     
              Enemy Weapons              

     The Korean War, 1950-1953        
  Map and Battles of the MLR   
        Korean War Time Line        

© Korean War Veteran ©