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A Time for Preparation

Back to Truce Tent and Fighting Front

The Foundation of Freedom is the Courage of Ordinary People

History  Bert '53  On Line

As the Korean War entered its second year, American policy had made a full turn. When the Communists had launched their attack in mid-1950, the U.S. objective had been to contain the enemy advance and to restore the status quo. As the battle situation improved, this modest goal had been expanded in September and October to the unification of all Korea under a democratic regime. With the advent of the Chinese Communist forces, the bright dream of unification quickly faded and the United States again focused upon the re-establishment of the prewar political situation.

The fluctuation of military fortunes at the front was reflected in the military plans. While the UNC forces were falling back toward Pusan under the enemy's initial onslaught, evacuation of Korea and a general withdrawal to Japan appeared imminent. The triumph at Inch'on had banished such pessimistic ideas and temporarily induced a feeling of aggressive confidence in the ability of the UNC troops to unify the country. But the Chinese reintroduced the possibility of evacuation as they drove the UNC units back in November and December. The difficulties of fighting a war across the Sea of Japan returned to plague the planners.

The barometric changes in plans as the battle skies clouded or cleared reached an equilibrium in the spring of 1951. As the fighting became stabilized close to the 38th Parallel and especially after the relief of General MacArthur in April, reliance on military victory in Korea had waned. The costs had become too high and the risks too great. Still the war continued and had to be prosecuted until a settlement was secured. This had turned the thoughts of the American leaders to the negotiation of an armistice. Barring Soviet entry into the conflict and the outbreak of a global war, a truce seemed to offer the best prospect of liquidating the Korean commitment of redressing the balance of U.S. military aid in favor of Europe and of rebuilding the strategic reserves at home.

War without victory posed a new and difficult set of questions to the American military leaders who had been taught that victory was the objective. With the inception of the armistice negotiations, they no longer sought to win by a knockout, but rather on points. They had to hurt the enemy enough to influence him to accept the UNC terms for a settlement, yet not enough to provoke an all-out counterattack and a possible widening of the struggle. The United States must win the decision, but not decisively.

Conduct of the War-The Washington Side

The determination of the ways and means to attain a satisfactory decision in Korea rested ultimately with the President, of course. As Commander in Chief of the military forces of the United States, Mr. Truman required all but the most routine directives on the Korean War to pass through his office for his approval or rejection.1 Since the United States had been given full power by the United Nations to form a unified command, Mr. Truman had no responsibility to clear his strategic decisions with any U.N. agency. (Chart 1) His close and complete control of important decisions and plans relating to Korea must be kept continually in mind, for even though his role in many cases consisted mainly of approval or disapproval, his was the final decision.

The President's chief advisory group was the National Security Council (NSC), composed of the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the National Security Resources Board. Other members of the executive branch, such as the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, could be appointed by Mr. Truman to serve on the council but he chose not to do so. The principal duties of the NSC were to assess and appraise the objectives, commitments, and risks of the United States in relation to national security and then to advise the President on the most suitable course of action to be followed.2

On the civilian level in July 1951, the President's foremost assistant in defense matters was the Secretary of Defense, George C. Marshall.3 Under Marshall were the three service Secretaries- Frank Pace, Jr., of the Army; Francis P. Matthews of the Navy; and Thomas K. Finletter of the Air Force- and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General of the Army Omar N. Bradley was Chairman of the JCS with General J. Lawton Collins, Chief of Staff, U. S. Army, Admiral Forrest P. Sherman, Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Navy, and General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force, as the service representatives.4

As members of the JCS, Collins, Sherman, and Vandenberg were the principal military advisors to the Secretary of Defense and the President and not subject to the jurisdiction of the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force in such matters as the preparation of strategic plans and the strategic direction of military forces. In their service capacities as Chiefs of Staff or Chief of Naval Operations, they were responsible to the service Secretaries, however. General Bradley had no vote as chairman, but he did preside over the meetings and deliberations of the JCS and represented the group in the meetings with the Presi dent, the NSC, and the Secretary of Defense.5


a The U.N. Security Council had no command authority, but did receive biweekly reports from the U.N. commander.
b The Army Chief of Staff acted as executive agent for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
c The UNC/FEC exercised operational control only over the air and naval forces under its command.
d Although Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces, Far East, had not been inactivated, it did not become operational until I October 1952.
e The Military Advisory Group for Korea was assigned to Eighth Army command. It continued to discharge its mission of assisting the ROK Army and provided liaison between the Eighth Army and the ROK Army.

To insure close co-ordination between the military and political officials who were responsible for preparing plans and positions of policy relating to the Korean War, Secretary Marshall had ordered the resumption of informal consultations between State Department and Defense officials and instituted weekly meetings between representatives of the State Department and the JCS.6 Hence, proposed military actions with political implications were discussed with the State Department and cleared with the Secretary of State before being submitted to the President.

Below the Defense-JCS-State Department policy and strategic directive level came the unified commands. After World War II the JCS had created a number of unified commands on a geographic basis. These operated under the strategic command of the JCS who in turn delegated executive responsibility to the service which was considered to have primary interest in the command. In the case of the Far East Command (FEC), the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, was given executive responsibility and within the Army General Collins had made the G-3 staff division his executive agent. The latter usually transmitted the decisions and instructions agreed upon at the higher levels to General Ridgway and also helped to formulate the Army position that General Collins presented to the JCS on matters affecting the Far East Command and its prosecution of the war.7

Therefore, if General Ridgway and his staff devised a plan or a course of action that they wished to have approved, the following procedure would customarily be followed. Upon receipt of the Far East Command recommendation, G-3 would pass it on to the joint Chiefs of Staff and to the other services for study. G-3 would then co-ordinate with interested staff divisions in the Army to prepare an official Army position that General Collins could present to his fellow members of the JCS. If the FEC recommendation transcended military matters, State Department officials would be consulted and their approval would be sought. Then the recommendation, perhaps in a form amended by the JCS and State, would go up to the Secretary of Defense for his comments before it finally reached the President's desk for final approval. The process appeared cumbersome, but if the need for decision was urgent, a consultation or meeting between the parties involved could often produce quick agreement on the position or positions to be set forth for the President. Thus, behind every important decision taken in the Korean War lay the staff mechanism- gathering information, preparing, co-ordinating, and assessing plans and policies, and presenting recommendations that were forwarded through channels up the military-political ladder to the President.

Not all of the plans and proposals emanated from the theater, however, since frequently the G-3 or JCS staffs initiated their own. These were usually co-ordinated with the Far East Command before they ascended the ladder for comments and suggestions.

The JCS Ponder

Within the staff mechanism a number of alternatives on the Korean War were prepared in the early spring of 1951 and the JCS presented them to Secretary Marshall. Unless there was a general war or a sudden great influx of Soviet volunteers in Korea that might jeopardize the UNC forces, the JCS believed that the UNC troops should stay in the peninsula. They recognized that military action alone would not solve the Korean problem and that there probably would not be any solution until world tensions relaxed. In the meantime the American forces should pursue their current course of exerting pressure upon the Communists in Korea in the hope that eventually a favorable political settlement might result that would not sacrifice the U.S. position on Taiwan or on a seat for Communist China in the United Nations. The JCS also felt that South Korean forces should be created in the interim to take over the major part of the military burden in Korea.8

If, however, the war should spread and the Communist Chinese expanded their actions outside Korea, the JCS were also prepared. In early June they directed the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC), at Hawaii, to work out a plan for blockading the China coast in case the U.N. forces were compelled to evacuate Korea. Despite Ridgway's protest that CINCPAC would probably want naval reinforcements at a time when Ridgway would need every ship under his command to carry out the evacuation, the JCS refused to divide the responsibility for the planning of the blockade. The command organization in such an event would be settled on the basis of actual conditions, they maintained, and nothing would be taken away from Ridgway without specific JCS instructions.9

The naval blockade might also be a weapon if the truce negotiations broke down. Shortly after the conferees met at Kaesong in July, the JCS advised Marshall that increased military pressure would have to be applied upon the enemy if he would not come to terms. Although general war with China was to be avoided, they recommended that: the United States be kept ready for general war on relatively short notice; many of the restrictions imposed on Ridgway's ground and air operations should be lifted if the negotiations failed; and Japanese defense forces and South Korean military units should be developed, trained, and equipped as quickly as possible. The United States should immediately urge the other United Nations participating in Korea: to support a naval blockade; to bring additional political and economic pressure upon China; and to increase their forces in Korea.10



Source: Hq Eighth Army, Command Report, ACofS, G-3, bk. 4, pt. I, 1 Jul 51; DOD General Officers Assignment List, I Jul 51, in OCMH files.

After the long recess over the incidents terminated, the JCS in early November revised some of these recommendations. For one thing, the Communist build-up of fighter strength in Manchuria during the summer and early fall ruled out the lifting of the restriction of "hot" pursuit of Communist planes across the Manchurian border. In July this would have been profitable; now the cost would be excessive. However, the JCS did believe that the growing Communist air strength had reached a dangerous point and the United States might be forced to move quickly and unilaterally against specific Chinese air bases if the scale of enemy air activity jeopardized the security of U.S. forces in Korea. To meet this contingency and to allow Ridgway more freedom in planning air and ground operations in the event the negotiations were ended, the JCS favored giving the U.N. commander broader powers. They realized that only substantial increases in men and equipment could produce a military victory, but the wider range of discretion would allow Ridgway to exert pressure as he saw fit with the forces at his disposal. Pointing out that the American public might grow weary of an indecisive war if the truce talks were not successful and might demand adoption of measures capable of securing military victory, the JCS recommended that the National Security Council reconsider a U.S. policy in case a negotiated settlement proved impossible.11

The general outlines of the JCS strategy were simple. Unless a global war broke out, the U.S. forces would remain in Korea and exert pressure upon the enemy to encourage him to negotiate. There would be no military victory in this limited war, but the U.N. commander would have considerable latitude in the use of the military forces under his command. Patience, perseverance, and pressure keynoted the U.S. position, but would these be enough to persuade the enemy to come to terms?

Of Men and Arms

It was a formidable task that the JCS had given to General Ridgway and his United Nations Command. The colorful Ridgway, with his everpresent hand grenade, had proved himself an able combat commander and administrator. Not only was he responsible for the conduct of operations in Korea as Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (CINCUNC) and the defense of the Far East Command area as Commander in Chief, Far East (CINCFE), but also the administration of Japan as Supreme Commander, Allied Powers (SCAP), and of the Ryukyus as Governor of these islands. (See Chart 1.)

Most of the officers on Ridgway's staff performed multiple duties as he used them interchangeably in the UNC, FEC, and SCAP headquarters. Lt. Gen. Doyle O. Hickey, for example, was chief of staff for all three commands.

The ground weapon of the U.N. Command in Korea was the Eighth Army under General Van Fleet, which included ROK and UNC units participating in the war. Organized into 4 corps, the Eighth Army had a reported strength of 554,577 men at the end of June. Seven of its 17 divisions were American and the remaining 10 were ROK. In addition, there were 4 brigades, 1 separate regiment, and 9 separate battalions. (Chart 2) The breakdown in strength figures showed 253,250 U.S- troops, 28,061 other U.N. personnel, 260,548 ROK troops, and 12,718 Koreans who were assigned to serve with the U.S. units (Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army [KATUSA]).12

During the Communist offensives in the spring of 1951 the Eighth Army had shown itself a highly skilled battle force capable of absorbing the stiff punches of the enemy and of dealing stern punishment in return. Although it did not have sufficient strength to insure a decisive military victory in Korea, it was fully competent to man the defense as long as the war remained limited.

Under the circumstances General Ridgway sought to strengthen the defensive power of his forces in Korea. With the battle lines fairly stable, he requested that his artillery capabilities be increased. The enemy, he pointed out to the JCS, was particularly susceptible to the potential of massed artillery fire when he attacked. If five 155mm. howitzer, four 8-inch howitzer, one 155 mm. gun, and two observation battalions were added to the Eighth Army's artillery, Ridgway felt that it could inflict even greater losses upon the enemy.13

There was little question over the desirability of this augmentation in Washington, but Ridgway's requirements were only a part of the picture. Actually the artillery increases when added to Ridgway's other requests would necessitate raising the FEC troop ceiling by 57,000 spaces if all were approved. As G-3 pointed out to General Collins, the only way that the Army could fill Ridgway's demands completely would be by increasing the over-all strength of the Army establishment. Since this was not practicable at the moment, G-3 suggested that by taking 5,000 men from the General Reserve and 5,000 from the shipment scheduled to strengthen the European Command, at least part of FEC's needs could be met.14

With the Chief of Staff's support, the JCS on 17 August approved an increase of five AAA battalions and four field artillery battalions for Ridgway's command. These along with other assorted units totaling over 13,000 men were to be shipped in the fall.15 Thus by cutting back the General Reserve and delaying the European buildup, the Army leaders in Washington tried to fill some of Ridgway's most urgent priorities.

The Washington staff was under no illusion insofar as enemy potential was concerned. It realized that dragging out the negotiations through the summer had allowed the Communists to build up their forces. At any time, the enemy could launch an offensive with a manpower superiority of up to 4 to 1 at the point of contact, lasting nearly a month, and using up to 46 Chinese and North Korean divisions and 1,100 aircraft. To oppose this offensive Ridgway could muster the 17 divisions in Korea, but would this be enough to halt the enemy threat? The situation in the United States was not particularly hopeful. Of the 7 Army divisions stationed at home only 3 were fully trained in September 1951. One of these, the 82d Airborne, was the strategic reserve; the other 2, the 28th and 43d Infantry Divisions, were scheduled to go to Europe in October and November. The 11th Airborne would finish its divisional training cycle in November and go into the strategic reserve, but the remaining 3-the 31st and 47th Infantry and the 1st Armored Divisions-would not be available until early 1952. Thus an emergency in Korea would mean that the European Command would again be delayed in reaching its full strength.16

The thinly spread U.S. forces had to cover strategic points around the globe in readiness for the broadening of the Korean War or for the outbreak of a new conflict. It was also natural that each major theater commander should suffer from the disease known in World War II as "localitis." Whenever the theater commander became so immersed in his own problems that he tended to overlook the worldwide responsibilities of the military services, he was liable to fall prey to this familiar malady. In fairness it should be noted that General Ridgway's case was moderate, but nonetheless he worked diligently to secure reinforcements, especially air and sea additions, during the summer of 1951. Ridgway was worried about the Soviet threat to Japan and in the event of an expanded war, he wanted to have a little extra air and naval strength to contain any Soviet drive and a firm commitment from the JCS that they would replace his air and naval losses. The JCS explained that his command could be built up only at the expense of other vital areas and that allocations in case a war with the USSR broke out would have to depend on world conditions at the time.17 But this failed to satisfy Ridgway. In September he again expressed his concern lest the Russian reaction over the signing of the Japanese peace treaty and the uncertain situation in Germany lead to an attack upon Japan. Once more he asked for naval and air reinforcements in vain. The JCS evidently did not feel that his anxiety over Russian intentions warranted any major shifts in the deployment of the U.S. armed forces.18

General Ridgway at the Front

General Ridgway at the Front

As long as the international situation held firm and the enemy in Korea continued to be cautious in risking its air power, the JCS had a point. The Far East Air Forces, commanded by Lt. Gen. Otto P. Weyland, provided medium bomber support of operations in Korea with 99 B-29's of the Strategic Air Command based on Okinawa and Japan. For tactical air support, the Fifth Air Force, under Maj. Gen. Frank F. Everest, had a light bomber wing, three fighter-bomber wings, and two fighter-interceptor wings- all based on South Korean airfields-and a light bomber wing and a fighter-escort wing stationed in Japan. The bulk of the land-based 1st Marine Air Wing was under the operational control of the Fifth Air Force. In addition the Australians and South Africans had each furnished a squadron of fighters.19 Although the type of plane varied from the propeller-driven F-51 Mustang to the F-86 Sabrejet, the UNC air forces enjoyed air superiority over Korea. Bombers and fighters, new and old, roamed the length of the peninsula virtually unchallenged except at or near the frontier along the Yalu.

Carrier-based naval air squadrons furnished additional tactical air support from the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea. On 1 July 1951, Task Force 77 of the Seventh Fleet ranged off the northeastern coast of Korea. Under Rear Adm. George R. Henderson, Task Force 77 contained three carriers, the USS Princeton, the USS Bon Homme Richard, and the USS Boxer, the battleship New Jersey, two heavy cruisers, the USS Los Angeles and the USS Helena, and eighteen destroyers. Planes from the carriers not only flew close support missions for the ground forces but also carried out reconnaissance and antisubmarine patrols and interdicted the North Korean railroad net.

In the Yellow Sea and east coastal waters off Korea, Task Force 95, commanded by Rear Adm. Ingolf N. Kiland, formed the U.N. Blockading and Escort Force. Headed by the carriers USS Sicily and H.M.S. Glory, this force consisted of 85 ships, many provided by other members of the United Nations and by South Korea. Naval units supplied gunfire support along the coast line, patrolled the offshore waters, and controlled the sea approaches to North Korea.

A third naval force, Amphibious Task Force go, under Rear Adm. George C. Dyer, stood by in Japanese and Korean waters to render support to any amphibious undertakings. In the meantime, Dyer's forces worked with the blockading UNC naval units.20

Neither the Chinese nor the North Koreans offered more than nuisance opposition to the UNC naval forces. Although the powerful Russian submarine fleet lurked in the background as a potential menace in case of a spreading of the war, the chief danger to the UNC ships lay in the numerous mines sown by the Communists along the coasts.

Unless there was a radical change in the global situation, the UNC air and naval strength seemed more than adequate to cope with the enemy. Exercising complete control of the Korean air and seaways, the U.N. Command's greatest vulnerability was on the ground.

Developing the ROK Army

The major weakness in the ground forces under General Ridgway was qualitative rather than quantitative. Ten of the seventeen UNC divisions belonged to the ROK Army and for diverse reasons the South Korean troops had on occasion proved to be unreliable in time of crisis. Since the United States intended to place more responsibility for the defense of South Korea upon native forces whether the negotiations were successful or not, it became essential to improve the caliber of the ROK Army.

At least part of the blame for the condition of the ROK forces had to be shared by the United States. Partially because it had no desire to offend the USSR and partially because of a distrust of the political leadership in South Korea, the United States had supported the formation of a mobile, lightly armed constabulary in 1945 to preserve internal order during the occupation period rather than a hard-core defense establishment. Even after American troops had been withdrawn in 1949, the U.S. Military Advisory Group to the Republic of Korea had only 500 men to help train an army that quickly grew to 100,000 in 1950.21

The lack of adequate personnel to provide comprehensive coverage of the South Korean Army down to the battalion level and to fully support the Korean Army school system was but one problem. When the advisors attempted to explain tactics or to give the nomenclature of weapons, they were confronted by the refusal of the Koreans to use Japanese and by the inadequacies of the Korean language, which had failed to keep pace with the technological development of weapons and warfare. Names and expressions had to be invented and the lack of standardization of nomenclature produced confusion and delay in training.

Since the defense assistance funds allocated to the Republic of Korea were limited in 1949-50, heavy equipment and weapons were not provided. As a result, when the war broke out, the ROK Army had little heavy armament and encountered great difficulty in coping with the North Korean tanks and artillery. Some ROK divisions had not even completed the company phase of their training by June 1950 and many soldiers were unfamiliar with their own weapons. To cap the tragedy, the leadership of the ROK Army from top to bottom suffered from political appointments and incompetency was rife from company to division level.

The North Korean invaders easily smashed the ROK Army and forced a complete rebuilding and reorganization of ROK forces. In the haste to stem the enemy advance, recruits were rushed into uniform, given weapons but little or no training, and then sent to the front to plug a gap in the line. Such hit-and-miss efforts to meet the emergency were the best that could be done under the circumstances, but the deficiencies in training, equipment, and leadership remained. By October 1950, however, MacArthur had 5 ROK divisions in action and 5 more in the process of activation and organization. He recommended that a postwar army of 10 divisions with a total strength of 250,000 men be authorized, and the Department of the Army and the President approved in early November.22

Under the impact of the Chinese Communists entry into the war the ROK Army suffered another catastrophe. The defects in leadership and training again caused defeat and disintegration of the ROK units and necessitated further reconstitution and rebuilding. Despite his doubts as to the value of South Korean troops, MacArthur clung to the ten-division ROK Army as sufficient to maintain order and repel aggression in the postwar period.23

Syngman Rhee and his government did not share MacArthur's misgivings over the fighting capability of the ROK soldier. After MacArthur's recall in April, they launched a campaign in the United Nations and in the United States to have an additional ten divisions organized and equipped with American arms. Unfortunately, the ROK request was poorly timed for on 22 April a ROK division broke and ran before inferior enemy forces.24 This incident endangered the UNC line and caused General Van Fleet to urge Ambassador Muccio to take up the matter with Rhee personally.

Until the lack of leadership was remedied, Van Fleet warned, there should be no further talk about increasing the ROK forces. What the South Koreans needed most were good leaders, better training, and a greater desire to fight for their country.25 Muccio handed Rhee a letter covering these points on 5 May.

Evidently Van Fleet's comments made little impression upon the ROK President, for less than two weeks later he informed the press that if the United States would equip his already well-trained divisions, U.S. troops could be withdrawn from Korea. Reaction in the Army against letting Rhee make such obviously false statements unchallenged was immediate. Ambassador Muccio was told to reiterate in the strongest terms the concern of the United States over the issuance of damaging and flagrant statements so contrary to the facts of the matter.26

The reasons behind Rhee's conduct became somewhat clearer as the armistice negotiations opened in July. He and his government were pledged to continue the drive for Korean unification. With a military stalemate in the offing, the ROK Government feared that the UNC troops might withdraw and leave the Republic of Korea undefended. Despite assurances from Muccio and other official U.S. visitors to Seoul that no such course was contemplated, Rhee and his counselors remained skeptical.27 ROK political opposition to the armistice and pressure in behalf of an expanded ROK Army represented their response to the challenge. If an armistice was negotiated, the ROK leaders probably wanted to be sure that they would be in a position to at least defend themselves and possibly to finish the task of unification on their own later.28

In the meantime, both Washington and FEC headquarters investigated the problem of improving the battlefield performance of the ROK Army. The Army G-3, Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, visited the Far East Command in early May and spoke out in defense of the ROK forces. Everyone had been criticizing the South Korean Army for the lack of leadership, he reported to General Collins, but the hasty and inadequate training that was unavoidable under the circumstances and the absence of proper support units might have resulted in a loss of confidence under battle conditions. Basic training, he pointed out, often lasted only ten days for recruits and emphasis had been placed particularly upon keeping units in action. Little attention had been given to long-range planning for the creation of an effective ROK military force in a year or two.29 Taylor's point was well taken, but the press of immediate needs had permitted no other course in the past.

In the Far East Command, General Ridgway ordered investigation of ways and means to bolster South Korean leadership. One way to accomplish this, Col. Gilman C. Mudgett, Eighth Army G-3, suggested, would be to set up a training command similar to the Replacement and School Command of World War II.30 Ridgway and Van Fleet approved the training command concept and selected Col. Arthur S. Champeny to direct the program. After a quick survey in Korea, Champeny flew to Washington to look over the U.S. service schools and training methods. Since he felt that the South Korean Army needed infantry and artillery officers most, he recommended that groups of 150 to 200 ROK officers be assigned at a time to the Infantry and Artillery Schools in the United States. With G-3 approval of his plan, Champeny returned to Japan to work out the details. For fiscal year 1952, Champeny estimated that 150 infantry and 100 artillery officers could be sent to the United States to take a special twenty-week course. At the end of September 1951 the first students reported to the schools.31

President Syngman Rhee with U.S. Ambassador John J. Muccio

While Champeny was busy establishing his Replacement Training and School Command in Korea, Ridgway forwarded his views on the ROK Army to General Collins on 22 July. The first requirement for any military organization, the FEC commander began, was an officer and noncommissioned officer corps-competent, aggressive, and loyal. There was no such group in the ROK Army and it would take a long time to develop one. If contemplated school, replacement, and training plans were carried out and if the war continued at its present tempo, the ROK Army might become completely effective in three years. Were the armistice to be signed, Ridgway continued, the task might be done in two years. He went on to point out that the ROK officer candidate course had been lengthened from eighteen to twenty-four weeks and that each ROK division would be given a nine-week rehabilitation program. By training ROK officers in U.S. service schools and centralizing all ROK training installations, Ridgway hoped to make the results of the school system more satisfactory. However, he maintained, the Department of the Army would have to help, too. KMAG would need more personnel to man the training installations, and automatic weapons, artillery, and tanks would have to be provided for ROK units as they showed ability to use these profitably. The ten-division South Korean army had to develop its own service units and these would have to be equipped by the United States. Finally, Ridgway recommended that constant pressure be applied on the ROK Government to take strict disciplinary measures against corrupt, incompetent, and cowardly officers and government officials.32

During the summer of 1951 with the benefit of the lull on the battlefield that succeeded the opening of negotiations, Ridgway and his staff their plans. New tables of organization and equipment for the ROK units were developed and the KMAG staff was expanded to 1,308 officers and men by the end of September.33 The ROK school system was revised and by the first of October it was operating with a capacity of over 10,000 students. At the Replacement Training Center, Champeny, now a brigadier general, had facilities for 23,460 trainees. Schools for training infantry, artillery, and technical officers were in operation and the Korean Military Academy and the Command and General Staff School were due to resume courses in early 1952. All of the instruction at these schools was designed and conducted to instill leadership and improve the technical qualifications of the ROK students.34 By and large there was a general feeling that definite progress had been made and that given time and training the ROK units would prove to be just as capable as the North Korean units.35

The future strength of the ROK Army was as yet undetermined, for ten divisions seemed to be all that the South Koreans could develop within two or three years. As General Taylor informed Secretary of the Army Pace in August, the long-range requirements depended on too many intangibles to be clearly estimated then. The outcome of the war, the political destiny of Korea, future U.S.-Korean policy, the success of the short-range program, and the ability of the United States to equip additional divisions in view of its global requirements would help shape the long-range plan.36

Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor
Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor

One of the by-products of the peace negotiations, therefore, was the provision of time to strengthen the ROK Army by proper training and instruction. During the summer interlude, although the Communist forces were also built up and became capable of major offensives, it was possible for Ridgway and Van Fleet and their staffs to devote considerable attention to the ROK Army task with some degree of success. At the same time, the two leaders interested themselves in a related problem- the United Nations forces fighting beside the ROK and U.S. troops in Korea.

Maintaining U.N. Support

When the war had broken out in June 1950, the United States had been anxious to secure the support of as many U.N. members as possible. It had welcomed contributions, large and small, in its desire to elicit military help and moral sustenance against the Communist aggression in Korea.37 Gradually combat, support, and medical units from nineteen other U.N. countries joined the United States and the Republic of Korea. Ranging in size from a small battalion of 600 men to a brigade of 6,000, this heterogeneous collection had grown to over 28,000 ground troops by the end of June 1951.38

Col. Aarthur S. Champeny
Col. Aarthur S. Champeny

The United Kingdom, Canada, and Turkey had each shipped a brigade, and other members of the British Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand, had formed a fourth. Belgium-Luxembourg, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Thailand provided battalions. From India, Norway, and Sweden had come medical and hospital units and Denmark had sent a hospital ship. Naval line forces were contributed by the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Thailand and air squadrons by Australia, Canada, and the Union of South Africa.

Welding this complex group into a cohesive and effective war machine proved to be a formidable task. The forces of each nation arrived in different stages of combat readiness. Some, such as the British Commonwealth troops, presented few problems since they were well trained and well equipped, and soon set up their own supply lines and oriented their own units. Since the Commonwealth soldiers all spoke English, there were no linguistic difficulties or major communications problems.39

The United Kingdom, Canada, and Turkey had each shipped a brigade, and other members of the British Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand, had formed a fourth. Belgium-Luxembourg, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Thailand provided battalions. From India, Norway, and Sweden had come medical and hospital units and Denmark had sent a hospital ship. Naval line forces were contributed by the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Thailand and air squadrons by Australia, Canada, and the Union of South Africa.

Welding this complex group into a cohesive and effective war machine proved to be a formidable task. The forces of each nation arrived in different stages of combat readiness. Some, such as the British Commonwealth troops, presented few problems since they were well trained and well equipped, and soon set up their own supply lines and oriented their own units. Since the Commonwealth soldiers all spoke English, there were no linguistic difficulties or major communications problems.39

KMAG Instructor Addressing ROK Troops Through an Interpreter

But when the Philippine Combat Battalion arrived in September 1950, the need for a reception center to equip, train, and orient new units became apparent. The following month the U.N. Reception Center at Taegu opened and helped to prepare the Turkish, Thai, Indian, Dutch, French, Greek, Ethiopian, Belgian, Luxembourg, and Colombian forces for their advent into combat.

As soon as the U.N. units were judged ready, they were usually attached to U.S. outfits- the battalions to U.S. regiments and the brigades to U.S. divisions. The British Commonwealth forces were amalgamated into brigades and attached to the U.S. I Corps. The parent units provided administrative, logistical, and operational support and guidance. By working together on a long-term basis both parent and attached groups developed an esprit de corps that fostered a better team effort.

U.S. commanders used the U.N. troops according to their capabilities for defensive or offensive missions. Since the terrain was mountainous and the winter weather severe, some national forces- like the Greek and Turk-were easily acclimatized, while others, like the Thailanders who were from a flat, warm country, had more difficulty in adjusting themselves. Many of the U.N. military groups, such as the Filipino and Greek, had been trained by U.S. officers and had become accustomed to U.S. weapons, equipment, and tactical doctrine. Others had to become familiar with U.S. methods and machines and the linguistic barrier did not make this hurdle any easier.

Customs and traditions also played a role in forging the international army. Religious restrictions and national dietary habits made considerable accommodation of food supplies necessary. As Moslems, the Turks would eat no pork and the Indians who were Hindu would touch no beef. The French, Dutch, and Belgians liked more bread and potatoes than the Americans and the Thailanders had to have more rice and hot sauces. Eventually each nation secured satisfactory rations, but only after a good deal of improvisation and juggling of food stores.

Although the differences in diet, training, and equipment were obstacles, they were not insurmountable and after a period of trial and error, improvement usually resulted. There were several continuing problems, however, that were not so easily solved. Despite the fact that all of the United Nations involved in the Korean War had resisted the Communist aggression, there was a wide spread of opinion on the ways and means to bring the conflict to an end. President Truman had repudiated the MacArthur approach which had threatened an expansion of the war to the Chinese mainland, but there were strong elements in the United States that still insisted that there was no substitute for military victory.

The chief bone of contention was Communist China and several nations, such as Great Britain and France, feared that domestic pressure might lead the United States to pursue an aggressive policy of bombardment, blockade, and support for an invasion of the mainland by Chiang Kaishek's forces.40 The initiation of the armistice talks may have allayed some of the fears, but the possibility that the discussions might fail remained. What the American reaction in such an event might be posed a ticklish problem, for neither the prospect of a long war of attrition nor of an expanded conflict against Communist China offered any occasion for cheer.

Another subject that kept raising its head concerned the size of the U.N. units in Korea. Although General MacArthur initially had suggested that units of approximately 1,000 men with equipment and artillery support be sent, both Ridgway and Van Fleet came to feel in the late spring of 1951 that the member nations should be encouraged to increase their forces to not less than a regimental combat team or brigade. Each regimental combat team or brigade should have its own integrated artillery, logistic, and administrative support and should be trained prior to its arrival in Korea.41

Without doubt this would have relieved U.S. units of the bulk of their responsibility for other U.N. forces, but the anticipation that an armistice would be negotiated soon changed the picture. On the eve of the armistice negotiations, Ridgway did a volte-face and recommended that no U.N. forces be materially increased until the results of the truce discussions became apparent.42

During the summer Ridgway had difficulty in even maintaining the current U.N. strength. Both the French and the Belgians had to make special efforts to provide replacements for their battalions. By August the French had rushed fillers to Korea and were at full strength, but the Belgian problem proved more complex. Since only volunteers could be sent overseas, the Belgians had to offer extra incentive pay and short tours of duty before they could secure the additional troops. These were airlifted in October to bring the Belgian battalion back to its normal complement.43

A somewhat unusual supply system sustained the UNC forces in Korea. When the first U.S. troops landed on the peninsula in 1950, a logistical command was established to provide base support. Later, as supply lines lengthened, an army service area and forward supply points were organized. Since Korea was in effect a theater of operations, the next step ordinarily would have been to set up a communications zone headquarters to take over rear area logistics and to permit the army commander to devote full time to frontline operations. But Ridgway as Eighth Army commander had insisted that his responsibility begin at the shore line and Van Fleet had made no effort to alter this arrangement. Thus, the Eighth Army commander exercised control over the Korean railroad net, rear area security, civil affairs, ROKA training, and prisoners of war as well as over his logistical support. The 2d Logistical Command, under Brig. Gen. Paul F. Yount, with headquarters at Pusan was responsible for direct logistical support and was the primary agency for placing requisitions upon the Japan Logistical Command. Through Pusan, the chief gateway to Korea, ran three different supply lines- one for the United States and the majority of the UNC forces, a second for the British Commonwealth contingents, and the third for the ROK units. The United States system was the largest by far and provided the Commonwealth forces with perishable foods and petroleum products and the ROK forces with war materials in addition to the total support it gave to the American and other U.N. troops.44

Although the United States furnished the major portion of the supplies and equipment for most of the U.N. contingents as well as numerous service functions, it expected eventually to be reimbursed for these goods and services. The approach might differ in individual cases, but the problem of reimbursement continued throughout the war. And the Army had the task of keeping the books so that when the subject came up, it could present fair and reasonable estimates of the charges involved. The Eighth Army had to submit weekly and monthly reports on equipment, ammunition, and supplies furnished to the U.N. units, plus an estimate of handling charges. In the spring of 1951, Eighth Army attempted to set up a system whereby the bill could be figured out on the basis of so many dollars-per-man-per-day, but this was superseded in June. The Department of the Army decided to substitute a cost and replacement factor as the basis for compiling the amounts to be reimbursed.45 The timing of the final settlement rested with the political and military leaders in Washington, of course, but whatever the system used to compute the bill or the method employed to collect it, the Eighth Army had to carry the administrative and bookkeeping burden. As long as the war lasted and the United States retained the responsibility for supplying its allies, this was a job that would have to be done.

Port of Pusan

All in all, the summer and early fall of 1951 proved to be a time for preparation. While the U.S. leaders considered broad plans for the prosecution of the war if the peace negotiations failed, General Ridgway and his staff sought to improve the combat efficiency of the forces in the United Nations Command and to intensify the program for building a more reliable ROK Army. On the sidelines the U.N. countries with troops in Korea watched the developments at the conference table intently for the outcome would affect their own plans and preparations.

Yet despite the hum of activity, a note of uncertainty permeated the scene. The on-again, off-again character of the peace talks made all planning tentative. Although the United States was pursuing a policy of constant military pressure upon the enemy in Korea, its plans were flexible and opportunistic rather than firm at this point. In some ways the trends were reminiscent of the war against Japan in 1943-44. The United States was attempting to build up a native army in Korea even as it had sought to create a ground force in China. And though the United States was supplying the bulk of the resources and effective manpower, there were allies to be consulted and placated just as there had been in the Pacific war. Flexibility and opportunism had keynoted the mid-war period against Japan, too, but the final objective then had been unconditional surrender rather than a negotiated peace. Another point of similarity was the role of the Soviet Union waiting in the wings. Only this time it would play the villain's part instead of the friend in need if it entered the war.

The air of indecision as the United States and its allies awaited the results of the peace negotiations was reflected on the battlefield as well as behind the scenes. With the opening of the truce talks, action at the front had begun to take its cue from the course of events at Kaesong.


1 For an interesting discussion of the military conduct of the war, see the article, "Truman," by Wilber W. Hoare, Jr., in Ernest R. May, ed., The Ultimate Decision: The President as Commander in Chief (New York: George Braziller, 1960).

2 The composition and functions of the NSC are described in the United States Government Organization Manual 1951-1952, prepared by the General Services Administration, National Archives and Records Service, Federal Register Division (Washington, no date), p. 63.

3 General Marshall, after a distinguished career as Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, in World War II and service as Secretary of State, was recalled from retirement in September 1950, to replace Secretary Louis Johnson. A special waiver had to be passed by Congress on this occasion, since Marshall still held his General of the Army rank and the law barred military officers from holding the post of Secretary of Defense.

4 Admiral Sherman died of a heart attack on 22 July. He was replaced by Admiral William M. Fechteler on 1 August.

5 U.S. Government Organization Manual, 1951-52, pp. 116ff.

6 Hoare, "Truman" in The Ultimate Decision, p. 197. The State-Defense meetings had been discontinued under Secretary of Defense Johnson.

7 See Schnabel, Policy and Direction: The First Year, Chapter III.

8 Memo, Bradley for Secy Defense, 5 Apr 51, sub: Mil Action in Korea, in G-3 091 Korea, 167/4.

9 (1) Msg, JCS 92847, JCS to CINCPAC, 1 Jun 51. (2) Msg, CX 65297, CINCFE to JCS, 19 Jun 51. (S) Msg, JCS 80240, JCS to CINCFE, 29 Aug 51

10 Memo, Bradley for Secy Defense, 13 Jul 51, sub: U.S. Courses of Action in Korea. In OCMH.

11 Memo, Bradley for Secy Defense, 3 Nov 51, sub: U.S. Courses of Action in Korea. In OCMH.

12 DF, OCA to OCMH, 7 Oct 54, sub: ROK and U.N. Ground Force Strength in Korea: In OCMH.

13 Msg, CINCFE to DA, 23 Jun 51, DA-IN 7369. The nondivisional artillery assigned to Eighth Army on 1 July 1951 included seven 155mm. howitzer battalions, two 155-mm. gun battalions, and two 8-inch howitzer battalions.

14 Summary Sheet, Maj Gen Robinson E. Duff for CofS, 2 Jul 51, sub: Reevaluation of FA Requirements, in G-3 320.2 Pacific, 300.

15 Msg, G-3 to CINCFE, 22 Aug 51, DA-OUT 99608.

16 Memo, Maj Gen Reuben E. Jenkins for CofS, 12 Sep 51, sub: Reinforcement of the FEC, in G-3 320.2 Pacific, 60/23.

17 (1) Msg, C 68161, CINCFE to JCS, 2 Aug 51, DA-IN 1426. (2) Msg, JCS 99220, JCS to CINCFE, 17 Aug 51.

18 (1) Msg, C 51095, CINCFE to JCS, 19 Sep 51, DA-IN 17897. (2) Msg, JCS 82084, JCS to CINCFE, 21 Sep 51.

19 USAF Hist Study No. 72, USAF Operations in the Korean Conflict, 1 November 1950-30 June 1952, pp. 84-89, 98-100.

20 COMNAVFE Comd and Hist Rpt, an. 29 to FEC Comd Rpt, Jul 51.

21 For a detailed account of the KMAG effort and the difficulties encountered, see Sawyer, Military Advisors in Korea.

22 (1) C 67296, CINCFE to DA, 24 Oct 50, DA-IN 4541 (2) CX 67400, CINCFE to DA, 25 Oct 50, DA-IN 4988. (3) Memo, Secy Army for the President, 1 Nov 50, sub: Logistic Support of Republic of Korea Army, G-8 KMAG file, folder 2, bk. 1, tab E.

23 Msg, C 59876, CINCFE to DA, 5 Apr 51, in UNC/FEC, Comd Rpt, Apr 51, G-8 sec, pt. III, tab 4.

24 CINCFE Presentation to Archibald S. Alexander, Under Secy Army, no date, in G-3 091 Korea, 187/7.

25 Ltr, Van Fleet to Muccio, 8 May 51, no sub, in G-3 091 Korea, 411.

26 JCS 1776/225, 7 Jun 51, title: President Rhee's (ROK) Statements.

27 Msg, 100488, Muccio to SCAP, 10 Jul 51, in FEC 387.2, bk. I, 11.

28 See Msg, 192311, Muccio to SCAP, 19 Jul 51, in FEC 387.2. bk. I, 24.

29 Memo, Taylor for CofS, 15 May 51, sub: Rpt of G-g Visit to FEC, in G-3 333 Pacific, 10.

30 Comment Sheet (sgd Mudgett), 4 May 51, sub: Troop Leadership School for Senior Korean Officers, in KMAG file AG 353, KCRC.

31 (1) Memo, Gen John E. Hull for Secy Army, 17 Jul 51, sub: Development of ROK Officers and Noncommissioned Officer Corps, in G-3 350.2 Korea, 4/5. (2) Msg, CINCFE to G-3, 2o Aug 51, DAIN 7542 (2) Summary Sheet, Maj Gen Reubin E. Jenkins for CofS and Secy Army, 2 Oct 51, sub: ROKA Replacement Training . . ., in G-3 350.2 Korea, 10/3.

32 Msg, CX 67484, Ridgway to Hull, 22 Jul 51, DA-IN 17555.

33 Sawyer, Military Advisors in Korea, p. 161.

34 (1) Msg, CX 50942, CINCFE to DA, 16 Sep 51, DA-IN 17089. (2) Summary Sheet, Jenkins for CofS, 2 Oct 51, sub: ROKA Replacement Training and School Comd Brochure, in G-3 350.2 Korea, 10/3.

35 (1) Memo, Alexander for Deputy Secy Defense, 5 Sep 51, sub: 'Training and Equipping the South Korean Army, in G-3 091 Korea, 354/2. (2) Memo, Jenkins for CofS, 14 Nov 51, sub: Rpt of Field Training, ROK Army, in G-3 333 Pacific, 15.

36 Memo, Taylor for Secy Army, 24 Aug 51, sub: Directives to CINCFE Respecting the ROK Force to be Developed, in G-3 091 Korea, 187/3.

37 The one exception had been the 33,000 troops offered by Chiang Kai-shek in June 1950. Because of the possibility of political complications with the Communist Chinese and the deficiencies in training and equipment of the Nationalist forces, President Truman decided to take the advice of his political and military advisors. He declined Chiang's proffer. See Harry S. Truman, Memoirs, 2 vols. (New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1955) , vol. II, p. 343.

38 For a breakdown of U.S., U.N., and ROK ground forces at this period, see Appendix A-1, below.

39 A detailed account of the problems of coordinating the U.N. forces will be found in two FEC studies, one by Maj. Sam F. Gaziano and the other by Maj. William J. Fox, both entitled InterAllied Cooperation During Combat Operations. MSS in OCMH.

40 See Memo, D. A. (Acheson) for Bradley, 12 May 51, no sub, in G-3 091 Korea, 176.

41 Msg, CINCFE to DA, 1 Jun 5 1, DA-IN 19078.

42 Msg, CINCFE to JCS, 6 Jul 51, DA-IN 11527.

43 Msg, Duff to CINCFE, 6 Jul 51, DA-95739 (2) Msg, Jenkins to CINCFE, 1 Sep 51, DA-80536. (3) Msg, Eddleman to CINCFE, 23 Oct 51, DA 84922.

44 (1) Military History Detachment, 8086th Army Unit, Eighth Army, Monograph, Organization of the Korean Communications Zone, pp. 1-2. In OCMH. (2) Eighth Army, Monograph, Logistical Problems and Their Solutions, p. 20. In OCMH.

45 Fox, Inter-Allied Cooperation During Combat Operations, MS, pp. 167ff.

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