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A New Confidence

The outbreak of war in June 1950 had caught the United States flat-footed. The nation had few forces immediately available and no plans for fighting in Korea. Nevertheless, American leaders had developed in the post-World War II years some policies and principles for meeting communist aggression which they could use as a basis for raising forces and making plans for Korea. These policies and principles provided, broadly, that the United States would work closely with its treaty allies and with other free nations to stop all forms of communist aggression, and that any military action would be taken under the aegis, or at least with the sanction, of the United Nations, if at all possible. The United States earnestly desired to avoid unilateral action, however effective, which might alienate its friends and possibly goad the Soviet Government into extreme action and all-out war. Too, it wished to put to full use the military resources of its allies rather than bear the entire burden single-handedly.

Within hours after word of the North Korean attack reached Washington, the United States had called on the United Nations. The resolutions of 25 and 27 June, drawn up in haste and under pressure, had been steps in the right direction but did not go nearly far enough toward the goal of restoring peace in Korea.

The Security Council resolution of 25 June had called upon members to refrain from helping the North Koreans. The United States Government directed a more specific appeal to the Soviet Union through its embassy in Moscow, asking that it prevail upon the North Korean leaders to halt the fighting. In response, the Soviet Government called South Korea the aggressor and, by implication, refused to mediate. [1]

Faced with Soviet refusal to give even lip service to the United Nations resolution, and with a combat situation that worsened hourly, the United States began carefully to press for a stronger stand and more effective action by the United Nations.

On 3 July the Secretary General of the United Nations, Trygve Lie, circulated a proposed resolution to the delegations of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. It suggested that the Government of the United States would direct the armed forces of member na-

[1] (1) Leland M. Goodrich, Korea, A Study of U. S. Policy in the United Nations (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1956), p, 106. (2) State Dept. Bulletin, XXIII, 575 (July 10, 1950), 46-48.

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tions in Korea, but with the help of a "Committee on Coordination of Assistance for Korea." This committee would coordinate all offers of assistance, promote continuing participation in Korea by member nations, and receive reports from the field commander. The exact extent of its control was not stated in the proposal. [2]

When, on 4 July, the Department of State sought the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the resolution, the latter opposed forming such a committee. They felt that placing a United Nations committee in the channel between the U. S. Government and the field commander would raise serious operational difficulties. Even though the committee might never try to control military operations, the possibility that it might do so brought the Joint Chiefs together in opposition. They told the Secretary of Defense that, if a committee were needed for political reasons, its powers must be defined and restricted so exactly that it could never take on the nature of a U.N. command headquarters. [3]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted a command arrangement in which the United States, as executive agent for the United Nations, would direct the Korean operation, with no positive contact between the field commander and the United Nations. The major decisions, especially those of political content, must not in any way be made, or influenced, by the officer commanding the U.N. forces in Korea. If the United Nations were to deal directly with the commander on assistance offers, for example, the top levels of the U. S. Government would be bypassed and forces accepted or rejected by a commander, very likely an American, whose outlook would be restricted by his own local situation. [4]

In spite of sympathetic consideration of the proposal by France and the United Kingdom, the United States rejected the projected U.N. committee, and a revised resolution developed. Because the United States occupied a privileged position in the terms of the resolution, it would not have been seemly for the American representative to introduce it. Accordingly, on 7 July, the delegations of France and the United Kingdom brought the draft before the Security Council. Seven votes in favor had been lined up in advance. The resolution therefore passed the Security Council, by a vote of seven to zero, with three nations, Egypt, India, and Yugoslavia, abstaining. The Soviet representative had not yet returned to the council and cast no vote.

This resolution made President Truman executive agent for the council in carrying out the United Nations fight against aggression in Korea. The Security Council recommended that contributing member nations furnish forces to a unified command under the United States. It asked that the American Government select a commander for this unified command and that the United States submit periodic reports on the course of operations in Korea. President Truman designated the Joint Chiefs of Staff his agents for Korea. To General Collins,

[2] Goodrich, Korea, A Study of U. S. Policy in the United Nations, p. 119.

[3] Memo, JCS (Bradley) for Secy. Defense, 5 Jul. 50, sub: Proposed U. S. Position With Regard to Forces in Korea.

[4] JCS 1776/19, Rpt by JSSC, 5 Jul. 50, sub: Proposed U. S. Position With Regard to Forces in Korea.

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Army Chief of Staff, fell the task of serving the Joint Chiefs as their primary representative in Korean operations. At the Army level, General Bolte, the G-3, handled operational details for General Collins. Thus, with authority granted by the United Nations, vested in the President, and running downward through the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the United States Army became responsible for planning and directing the military operations of United Nations forces in Korea. [5]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that General of the Army Douglas MacArthur be placed in command of United Nations forces. [6] President Truman accepted their recommendation and notified General MacArthur of his appointment on 10 July 195O. On 12 July Department of the Army officials sent detailed instructions to MacArthur. They directed him to avoid any appearance of unilateral American action in Korea. "For world-wide political reasons," they cautioned, "it is important to emphasize repeatedly the fact that our operations are in support of the United Nations Security Council." In furtherance of this, General MacArthur would identify himself whenever practicable as Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (CINCUNC), and whenever justified, would emphasize in his communiques the activities of forces of other member nations. [7]

Two days later, on 14 July, President Rhee assigned control of his nation's forces to General MacArthur, stating in a letter transmitted through the U. S. Ambassador to Korea:

   In view of the joint military effort of the United Nations on behalf

   of the Republic of Korea, in which all military forces, land, sea and

   air, of all the United Nations fighting in or near Korea have been

   placed under the joint operational command and in which you have been

   designated Supreme Commander, United Nations Forces, I am happy to

   assign to you command authority over all land, sea and air forces of

   the Republic of Korea during the period of continuation of the

   present state of hostilities, such command to be exercised either by

   you personally or by such commander or commanders to whom you may

   delegate the exercise of this authority within Korea or adjacent

   seas. [8] 

Although the Security Council asked the United States to report to the United Nations on activities of the unified command, no procedure was specified. On 13 July the Department of State proposed to the Secretary of Defense that reports be sent to the Security Council each week. These would keep world attention on the fact that the United States was fighting in Korea for the United Nations, not itself. Apprehensive over world reaction to the naval blockade of Korea ordered by President Truman on 3O June, the Department of State was convinced that the Security Council resolutions of 25 and 27 June amply justified the blockade, but wished the actual blockade declaration reported to the Security Council in order to remove any doubt as to its legality. A report from the unified command on the blockade seemed in order.

[5] MacArthur Hearings, pp. 14, 989, {326}, 1259, 1938.

[6] Memo, JCS for Secy. Defense, 9 Jul. 50, sub: Designation of a United Nations Unified Comdr. by the United States.

[7] Rad, WAR 85743, DA to CINCFE, 12 Jul. 50.

[8] Rad, State Dept. Msg. 41, U. S. Ambassador, Taegu, to Secy. State, 14 Jul. 50, 17 Jul. 50 containing text of Ltr., Rhee to MacArthur.

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This proposal focused the attention of the Joint Chiefs on the need for a definite arrangement on how and when reports should be made to the United Nations. Late in July they directed General MacArthur to send them a report on the actions of his forces every two weeks. The Joint Chiefs would, in turn, submit the report through the Secretary of Defense to the Department of State for presentation to the Security Council of the United Nations by the American delegation at Lake Success, New York. General MacArthur was assured that he would be consulted in advance if political considerations made it necessary at any time for the Joint Chiefs to alter his reports. [9]

On 24 July 1950 General MacArthur issued orders establishing the United Nations Command (UNC) with general headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. With few exceptions, staff members of the Far East Command were assigned comparable duties on the UNC staff. In effect, the GHQ, United Nations Command, was the GHQ, Far East Command, with an expanded mission. [10] At the central core of American direction of the operations in Korea on behalf of the United Nations lay the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As advisers to the President, the Joint Chiefs concerned themselves with every aspect of American military power and policy. They had to deal simultaneously with problems at home and abroad, in western Europe and in Korea.

They did not make the national military policy. Yet because they furnished the President, normally through the Secretary of Defense, information and advice to help him set this policy, what they did and what they thought held great importance for the nation and for the Korean War. By the very nature of their work, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had to consider political factors in deliberating national military problems. So closely intertwined were military and political factors in the Korean War that they could not be isolated one from the other.

The mechanical process by which military policy recommendations evolved during the Korean War began with consideration of a particular problem within the military staffs, usually the Army staff, and within the joint staff of the JCS itself. The joint staff consisted of about two hundred officers selected from all the services. These officers developed and furnished recommended positions to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Once a final stand on a problem had been discussed and agreed upon by them, the JCS presented their views in a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense. Any political aspects of the matter would be worked out at this level between the staffs of the Defense and State Departments or, on occasion, between the respective secretaries personally. The

[9] (1) JCS 1776/39, Note by Secys, Rpts. by U. S. Government to UNSC, 18 Jul. 50. (2) MacArthur Hearings, Part II, p. 1515. (3) Rad, JCS 84885, JCS to CINCFE, 3 Jul. 50. (4) JCS 1775/62, Note by Secys., Rpts. by U. S. Government to UNSC, 28 Jul. 50.

[10] (1) GO 1, UNC, 24 Jul. 50. (2) The United Nations, at no time in the Korean War, sought to interfere in the control of operations which were the responsibility of the United States. General MacArthur later testified to this when he told a Senate investigating committee, ". . . my connection with the United Nations was largely nominal . . . everything I did came from our own Chiefs of Staff. . . . The controls over me were exactly the same as though the forces under me were all Americans. All of my communications were to the American high command here." See MacArthur Hearings, p. 10.

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Secretary of Defense then presented the views and recommendations thus developed, with a clear statement of any divergencies, to the National Security Council or, if more appropriate, directly to the President. On occasion, the procedure varied but, normally, if there were time things were done in this fashion.

The issues raised by Korea could not be separated from those involved in planning for American defense on a worldwide scale. The withdrawal of men and units from the General Reserve for employment in Korea was incompatible with existing plans. If the Korean outbreak marked the initial stages of an all-out war, it was unsound to tie up large forces in an area of limited strategic significance. But the United States was committed, short of global war, to repelling armed aggression in South Korea. Speculating on 13 July that developments in Korea were part of a general USSR plan which might involve correlated actions in other parts of the world, the JCS planning staff said:

   It is now apparent from Korea that Russia is embarking upon an

   entirely new phase in her program of world-wide Communist

   domination. This is a phase in which she is now utilizing for the

   first time the armed forces of her satellites to impose by military

   strength a Communist-dominated government upon a weak neighboring

   state considered incapable of successful military 

   opposition. [11]

A reappraisal of United States objectives and resources thus became necessary. And the Joint Chiefs of Staff constantly faced the major question, "How much of our military strength can we commit to Korea without seriously damaging our ability to meet a global emergency?" A correct solution to this problem would enable them to determine, for instance, if partial mobilization was needed. A second question was, "If we limit our commitments to Korea because of the greater global threat, can we drive the North Koreans behind the 38th Parallel?" [12]

Enemy victories in Korea forced the Joint Chiefs to take action without awaiting answers to the vital questions. Courses of action had to be considered individually as they arose. Decisions on them were greatly influenced by General MacArthur's recommendations, but as each new move weakened the potential means, without lessening the mission, it brought the need for answers to these questions into urgent focus.

By mid-July so much American military strength had been drawn into the Korean War that American military capabilities for action elsewhere had been much reduced. Reserves of trained men and materiel diminished as MacArthur's units were brought up to war strength and given service support and replacement. A further drain upon reserves of critical specialists and equipment would result as operations progressed. [13] A key Army officer commented at this time, "Our ground force potential is so seriously depleted that further significant commitments of even a division or more

[11] JSPC 853/15, 13 Jul. 50, in G-3, DA file 091 Korea, sec. I-C, Case 16.

[12] JSPC 853/7/D, 5 Jul. 50, in G-3, DA file 091 Korea.

[13] Study, JCS 1924/20, 14 Jul. 50, in G-3, DA file 091 Korea.

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in size would vitally weaken our national security at home." [14]

The possibility that U. S. troops might be thrown out of Korea was far from academic. The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pointed out on 12 July that the understrength U. S. 24th Division was facing 9 North Korean divisions numbering 80,000 men and equipped with a total of from 100 to 150 modern tanks. The enemy not only had a great advantage in numbers of men and in tanks and artillery, but was also well trained, and was fighting determinedly and with great skill. The JIC concluded that the North Korean Army was capable of threatening the security of Pusan within two weeks. Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, Deputy Chief of Staff for Administration, had sketched the same depressing picture for the secretaries of the armed services on 10 July. He told these men that, while MacArthur's forces had definitely slowed the enemy, they could not hold unless they were substantially reinforced. [16]

Forced withdrawal of U. S. troops from Korea would be a political as well as a military calamity. It could weaken American alliances and build up communist political influence. It could discredit U. S. foreign policy and undermine confidence in American military capabilities. Voluntary withdrawal could be more damaging than a failure to have sent troops to Korea in the first place. American commitments would be marked as unreliable by other nations and considerable doubt would be cast on American ability to back up commitments in the future. The United Nations actions resulted mainly from U. S. initiative, and withdrawal from intervention on behalf of the United Nations could greatly weaken American leadership within the United Nations.

Failure in Korea could force the United States to revise drastically its policy of general containment of communism by reducing or limiting its commitments and by planning to combat communist expansion only at selected points. The United States would undoubtedly have to start partial military and industrial mobilization to ready its forces for other, almost certain, aggressions; or, in another approach, to begin full mobilization so as to be prepared to threaten full-scale war in case of further Soviet aggression. [16]

First Visit From Washington

President Truman sent two members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Collins and General Vandenberg, to the Far East on 10 July 1950. They were to bring back firsthand information to use in establishing the scope of expansion of the U. S. military program. Immediately upon reaching Tokyo on 13 July 1950, Collins and Vandenberg talked with General MacArthur and key members of his staff. General MacArthur impressed upon them the dangers of underestimating the North Koreans. He described

[14] Quotation from Brig Gen. Cortlandt Schuyler, Memo for Gen. Lindsay, Adm. Ingersoll, and Maj. Gen. Oliver P. Smith, 14 Jul. 50, sub: Estimate of the Korean Sit, JSPC 853/11, in G-3, DA file 091 Korea.

[15] JCS 1924/19, Decision on Estimate by JIC, 12 Jul. 50, in G-3, DA file 091 Korea, Case 46. The JIC "Estimate of the Situation" included in JCS 1924/19 was not approved but merely noted by the JCS.

[16] JCS 1924/19, Annex D, 10 Jul. 50, in G-3, DA file 091 Korea.

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the enemy soldier as a tough, well-led fighter who combined the infiltration tactics of the Japanese with the armored tactics of the Russians in World War II. General MacArthur praised the North Korean Army's ability to march, maneuver, and attack at night. So far, his own forces had not been able to do the equivalent successfully. The North Korean Army exploited its tank firepower to the greatest advantage. Its armored tactics were extremely efficient and approximated, in his words, "the norm of tank effectiveness standard in the Soviet Army." The flexibility of the North Korean commanders had been very apparent in their quick adoption of night operations as a countermeasure against intensified air attacks by American forces. [17]

General MacArthur confessed that the only hope he had seen a week earlier had been "a desperate rearguard action," to slow the North Korean Army by "throwing everything in Japan into the fight." He had done this as fast as he could although his own forces were, as he phrased it, "tailored for occupation duty and not for combat." [18]

By now he had taken a brighter view. He told Generals Collins and Vandenberg that, while he could not predict where the military situation would be stabilized, "that it will be stabilized is indisputable." Originally, he had planned to stand near Suwon and then to envelop the north bank of the Han River. After recapturing Seoul, he would have cut the enemy's line of communications and his withdrawal route. He conceded that his forces were now too far south and too weak to carry out this plan. He had, therefore, postponed its execution until the situation could be stabilized and reinforcements reached him. He placed no blame on General Dean or his men. General Dean had done as well as any man could. The troops had done everything possible, but they were out-gunned, outnumbered, and without adequate defense against the enemy's armor. [19]

General MacArthur then outlined his recommendations for winning the fight in Korea. In his opinion, the success of the United States in Korea and the speed of achievement of that success would be in direct proportion to the speed with which the United States sent him reinforcements. All American forces he could spare from Japan would have been sent to Korea by August. If the United States backed this commitment with sufficient reinforcements from the zone of the interior, there would be, in MacArthur's mind, no question as to the result. Without full support, the result would vary in direct proportion to the support received. MacArthur contended that if he were giving advice he would say, "In this matter, time is of the essence." [20]

He expressed extreme impatience with delay or partial measures. The strength of any military stroke depended entirely upon its speed. Accordingly, General MacArthur wanted to "grab every ship in the Pacific and pour the support into the Far East." He would not start modestly and build up, but would make the

[17] Memo, Lt. Col. D. D. Dickson for Gen. Bolte, sub: Rpt of Trip to FEC, 10-15 Jul. 5O, Tab A: Remarks of Gen. MacArthur, in G-3, DA file 333 Pac, sec. I, Case 3. Quotations are taken from the notes kept by Col. Dickson.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

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complete effort at the beginning. In emphasizing these points, the veteran commander said, "Business as usual-to hell with that concept." Admittedly the United States was "playing a poor hand here," but long experience had shown General MacArthur that "it is how you play your poor hands rather than your good ones which counts in the long run." [21]

The question of how much American strength should be saved for areas in other parts of the world obviously interested General MacArthur less than the Joint Chiefs. He believed that winning in Korea would slow down worldwide communism more than any other single factor. He assured his visitors that he fully understood the American obligation to maintain its global military posture. But he made a colorful analogy to point out the error of withholding strength from the Korean battlefront. Assuming the world to be a metropolis of four districts of which District No. 1 was the most important and District No. 4 least so, General MacArthur asked his visitors to consider whether a fire in No. 4 should be allowed to burn uncontrolled because city officials were saving their fire equipment for District No. 1. As he concluded, "You may," he said, "find the fire out of control by the time your equipment is sent to No. 4." A general conflagration should not be handled by attempting to place Korea or the FEC in terms of priority of area. General MacArthur felt that the United States would win in Korea or lose everywhere. [22]

General Collins particularly wanted answers to several specific questions which could help solve the major questions facing the Joint Chiefs. He asked General MacArthur when he would be able to mount a counteroffensive and how many American troops he would need in Korea after the fighting ended. Both questions were keyed to the thorny issue of how much the United States should expand its military program. General MacArthur insisted that a categorical reply to the first question was impossible. When three divisions had been committed to Korea, he hoped to stabilize the situation. He intended then to infiltrate north and follow any North Korean withdrawal. He was centering his hopes on an amphibious operation. The overland pursuit of North Korean forces was incidental to this operation.

As to the second question, General MacArthur told General Collins that he would not merely drive the invaders across the 38th Parallel. He meant to destroy all their forces and, if necessary, to occupy all of North Korea. "In the aftermath of operations," he said, "the problem is to compose and unite Korea." His troop requirement in the Far East Command under this situation would be eight infantry divisions and an additional Army headquarters.

Not only General MacArthur but also two of his key officers took advantage of General Collins' presence to press for additional forces. General Walker, commander in Korea, and General Almond, chief of staff, FEC GHQ, each emphasized the need for eleven more infantry battalions and 3,600 fillers to be sent by air. The fillers were needed to build up the 7th Division, which General Walker described as "only a crust." General

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

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Collins made no on-the-spot commitment since arrangements to meet these requirements were already under way.

From the Tokyo conference, General Collins and General Vandenberg flew to Korea. Collins talked briefly at Taegu with Walker, Dean, and members of the Eighth Army staff. Agreeing with General MacArthur's analysis of the combat scene, Walker told Collins that, barring unforeseen circumstances, he could hold an extensive bridgehead with the troops en route to Korea from Japan. The commander of the battered 24th Division, General Dean, was very worried over his losses. On the day of General Collins' visit, the total of missing soldiers from Dean's 24th Division had risen from 200 to well over 800. [23]

General Collins returned to Tokyo early on 14 July, leaving for Washington the same day. Before leaving, the Army Chief of Staff gave General MacArthur his personal ideas on which major units he could count on having for the offensive which he had in mind. In addition to the four divisions already in the Far East, these units were the 2d Division, the 1st Marine Division, the 4th RCT, the 29th RCT, and an RCT from the 11th Airborne Division.

General MacArthur, after getting Collins' views, told the Chief of Staff that he would make his plans on the basis of the anticipated strength of these units. If Russia or Communist China intervened in force, the plans would have to be changed. He assured Collins that he fully understood the problems faced in Washington and the necessity of maintaining some kind of General Reserve. [24]

Air Operations-July 1950

While possible steps to improve MacArthur's ground strength were being considered, moves to improve air operations in Korea were under way. Since there was no provision in the FEC GHQ staff organization for joint representation of the Navy and Air Force, the central command of air operations over Korea was not possible below the level of General MacArthur himself. Anomalous and inefficient operations sometimes resulted. In early July, as an example, the Navy sent planes from Task Force 77 against targets that FEAF planned to attack the following day. As a consequence, the Air Force medium bombers sat on the ground the next day since it was too late to set up other targets. [25]

Someone obviously had to take over the responsibility, and General Stratemeyer made the first bid for over-all control of air operations in Korea. On 8 July, he told General MacArthur:

   It is my understanding that the Navy contemplates bringing into your 

   theater some land-based aircraft; also, as you know, the Seventh 

   Fleet contemplates another strike with air at your direction in North 

   Korea. I request that all land-based naval aviation and carrier-based 

   aviation when operating over North Korea or from Japan, except those 

   units for anti-submarine operations, be placed under my operational 

   control. [26] 

[23] Rad, C 57814, Collins to Haislip, 14 Jul. 50.

[24] Ibid.

[25] For detailed coverage of air and naval operations in Korea, see: Robert Frank Futrell, The United States Air Force in Korea, 1950-1953 (New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1961); James A. Field, Jr., History of United States Naval Operations, Korea (Washington, 1962); and Commander Malcolm C. Cagle and Commander Frank A. Manson, The Sea War in Korea (Annapolis: U. S. Naval Institute, 1957).

[26] Memo, Stratemeyer for MacArthur, 8 Jul. 50.

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When the Navy objected to Stratemeyer's acquiring control of naval aircraft for operations in Korea, General Almond, the chief of staff, worked out a compromise in a directive issued in MacArthur's name on 8 July whereby Stratemeyer would control all aircraft "operating in the execution of the Far East Air Force mission as assigned by CINCFE." However, when engaged in naval reconnaissance, antisubmarine warfare, and support of naval tasks such as amphibious assault, naval aircraft were to remain under the operational control of COMNAVFE. [27]

U. S. and ROK ground troops needed every bit of close support that could be given them in the first weeks of the Korean fighting. Artillery was at a premium. There were not enough batteries, nor was there enough ammunition. In view of shortages of infantry units and their organic support weapons, the Air Force had to undertake a larger than normal role in ground force support. Unfortunately, the Far East Air Force had an insufficient number of planes of the most desirable types for supporting ground troops in close contact with the enemy. Lacking, too, were men and facilities for air-ground control and coordination. Drastic measures were taken. Aircraft normally employed in interdiction missions behind enemy lines assumed ground support missions. The use of B-29 bombers as close-support weapons, to the necessary neglect of other functions behind enemy lines, prompted criticism and serious objections by Air Force officials in the Far East. But General MacArthur overrode them on the basis that, if the ground troops were overrun, interdiction of targets deep behind enemy lines would have no significance. He ordered Stratemeyer to send his B-29's "to strafe, if necessary" in order to stop the North Korean drive.

Within several weeks after the outbreak of the Korean War, the Air Force established the FEAF Bomber Command as a subordinate element of FEAF. The bomber command consisted of several bombardment groups comprised of medium bombers (B-29's), the aircraft which had been so successful in World War II in the strategic bombing of Japan. In the Air Force concept, this type of bomber should have been employed against strategic targets beyond the area

[27] CINCFE Ltr., 8 Jul. 50, sub: Coordination of Air Effort of FEAF and U. S. NAVFE.

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of ground fighting including such installations as factories, rail yards, warehouses, and other vital points on enemy lines of communication. Nevertheless, because of immediate needs and the lack of other proper aircraft, General MacArthur decided that these medium bombers would operate in support of ground troops wherever necessary. General Stratemeyer had ordered the medium bombers to operate only north of the 38th Parallel. MacArthur overruled him on several occasions in mid-July and ordered the mediums sent against enemy troop concentrations and other tactical targets immediately in front of the Eighth Army lines. MacArthur, on 15 July, also told General Walker that future emergency use of these medium bombers would he ordered by GHQ whenever Walker felt it necessary. [28]

When General Vandenberg and General Collins came to the theater in mid-July, this aspect of the air-ground relationship concerned both of them. Vandenberg did not attempt to interfere since, if Eighth Army troops were driven off the peninsula and the Air Force was meanwhile employing its bombers to bomb remote industrial areas in North Korea, the resultant effect on public opinion would have been most unfavorable. General Collins, on the other hand, expressed great interest in the way the B-29's were being employed and asked to be kept informed.

To tighten his control of the air effort in Korea, General MacArthur on 14 July established a GHQ Target Group, composed of a chairman, a senior Army officer from Willoughby's G-2 section, and Air Force, Navy, and Army members. This group was to advise on the use of Navy and air offensive power "in conformance with the day-to-day situation." The group would recommend targets and priorities which the Air Force and Navy would bomb. The decisions of the target group were passed to the G-3 who passed on the orders to FEAF. Few of the members appointed to the group were experienced pilots and their method of operation consisted of studying maps of Korea, selecting likely targets from these maps, and directing that they be bombed. It was an unwieldy and impracticable method. [29]

According to Air Force officials, this abnormal arrangement was not only unproductive but wasteful. Since the target group performed its function using a standard Army Map Service 1:250,000 map to select targets for medium bombers without checking its information from other sources, an unusual situation developed. Of 220 targets selected by the group between 17 July and 2 August, 20 percent did not exist on the ground. The FEAF commander called on General MacArthur and the latter's chief of staff, General Almond, on 19 July to complain of this procedure. Stratemeyer followed this visit with a memorandum on 21 July in which he recommended the creation of a target selection committee which would include General Hickey, the FEC GHQ deputy chief of staff, General Willoughby, the G-2, Lt. Gen. Otto P. Weyland, the vice commander for operations of FEAF, and a Navy repre-

[28] Rad, CX 57893, CINCFE to CG EUSAK, 15 Jul. 50. (2) Rad, CX 57755, CINCFE to CG FEAF, 13 Jul. 50.

[29] (1) Check Sheet, Almond to All Staff Secs., GHQ FEC, 14 Jul. 50. (2) Interv, Maj. Schnabel with Comdr. Reilly, JSPOG, GHQ, Nov. 51.

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sentative to be named by Vice Adm. C. Turner Joy. MacArthur approved this recommendation immediately, and FEAF, using the new method, took over the actual selection of targets for interdiction. [30]

The Withdrawal Continues

Meanwhile, the North Korean Army drove hard, aiming to destroy the Republic of Korea and to throw the 24th Division out of Korea before ground reinforcements arrived. At the Kum River line the enemy units again outflanked the 24th Division. The 19th Infantry and its attached artillery lost nearly one-fifth of their men and officers while vainly trying to keep the superior enemy force from crossing the Kum an 16 and 17 July. Having breached American defenses on the last natural barrier before the key railroad center of Taejon, the enemy slashed southward, intent on taking Taejon with a further view, apparently, of capturing the new South Korean capital of Taegu.

General MacArthur's chief of staff, General Almond, contended in a letter

[30] USAF Hist Div., Dept. of the Air Force, United States Air Force Operations in the Korean Conflict, 25 June-1 November 1950, 1 July 1952, p. 13.

Page 112

to General Collins on 17 July that the North Koreans hoped to capture Taegu mainly for the psychological effect. The enemy commanders, having outflanked the Americans, were attacking as well down the central corridor along the axis Ch'ungju-Taegu, and were pushing back the South Koreans. Almond assumed Collins that General MacArthur was aware of this "vital threat" down the middle. Referring to the plans for the future which General MacArthur had sketched to him three days before, Almond reported:

   Our proposed projects are developing as planned and we are confident

   that while the enemy stubbornly persists in his efforts to drive us

   back, we have blunted his principal strikes, and he is bound to be

   getting more exhausted while we become stronger each day and better

   organized to stop him.... We have no fear of the outcome and

   thoroughly understand that current conditions are the growing pains

   precedent to future operations. 

General Almond did not believe that Taejon could be held but was not unduly alarmed. "It may not last there," he told Collins, "but the trend is much better." [31]

The 25th Division, although its first elements had reached Korea on 9 July, had not yet met the enemy. Nor had the 1st Cavalry Division, en route to Korea while Almond was addressing Collins. The 24th Division, weakened and disorganized, fell back upon Taejon alone, the enemy hard on its heels.

When President Truman, on 19 July, asked General MacArthur for his estimate of the Korean situation, he received a reply that revealed a new confidence, quite a contrast with the glum prognoses issued earlier in the month. The North Koreans, MacArthur told the President, had lost their great chance for victory. The extraordinary speed with which Eighth Army had been deployed from Japan and the brilliant coordinated support by air and naval elements had forced the enemy into "continued deployments, costly frontal attacks and confused logistics.... I do not believe that history records a comparable operation." His forces still faced a difficult campaign. They would be hard pressed and could expect losses as well as successes. But the initiative no longer lay entirely with the North Koreans, and United Nations troops held Southern Korea securely. Apparently heartened by the recent promises of reinforcements which would increase his own strength as attrition cut the enemy's strength, General MacArthur assured President Truman, "We are now in Korea in force, and with God's help we are there to stay until the constitutional authority of the Republic is fully restored." [32]

The 24th Division lost Taejon on 20 July in a hard-fought 2-day battle. The division commander, General Dean, was captured after becoming separated from his troops during the withdrawal from Taejon. Division casualties approached 30 percent. On 22 July the 1st Cavalry Division relieved the 24th at Yongdong. In a 17-day losing battle against two superior North Korean divisions, the 24th had fallen back almost 100 miles, and had lost more than 2,400 men missing in ac-

[31] Ltr., Almond to Collins, 17 Jul. 50.

[32] (1) Rad, WH 498, Truman (Personal) to MacArthur, 19 Jul. 50. (2) Rad, C 58248, MacArthur (Personal) to Truman, 19 Jul. 50.

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tion and enough materiel to equip a full division. [33]

Two days later General MacArthur reaffirmed his confidence that he could hold the invading communist armies. Called to a teleconference by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 24 July and questioned on an enemy move around the left end of his line which resembled the start of a double envelopment, General MacArthur admitted that he lacked the strength to prevent it, but saw it as no serious threat. So long as the North Koreans outnumbered the South Koreans and Americans at a particular location they would always be able to mount enveloping attacks. But their main effort continued to be in the center of the line, and the basic question was whether they had sufficient strength to force withdrawals there. If his own forces could hold the center, General MacArthur would have no special worry about the incipient envelopment. "If our center is unable to hold," he said, "our perimeter will have to be contracted." Referring to his recent statements to President Truman which had predicted losses as well as successes, General MacArthur pointed out that the situation was developing in accordance with that estimate. [34]

General MacArthur's piecemeal commitment in early July 1950 of inadequate American forces weak in firepower, mobility, and reserves against a disciplined, determined, and numerically superior enemy constituted a basic violation of U. S. military doctrine. The violation could not be avoided and the consequences had to be accepted. Had General MacArthur waited until his ground units were completely combat-ready before sending them against the North Koreans, the entire peninsula would probably have fallen to the communists. But his mission was to assist the Republic of Korea and to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. He parceled out his available means deliberately and in full knowledge of the risk. At the end of July the situation of American forces in Korea remained precarious. By breaking off with the enemy and retreating swiftly, the battered ground units could have evacuated from Pusan with a good deal of their equipment. Once back in Japan, reconstituted and resupplied, these forces could have joined other units

[33] For the full story of the 24th Division's valiant fight on the Kum River line and at Taejon, see Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, Chapters X and XI, pages 121-81.

[34] Telecon, TT 3573, Gens. Bradley, Collins, Norstad, and Adm. Sherman in Washington with Gen. MacArthur in Tokyo, 24 Jul. 50, in G-3, DA files.

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in a later concerted amphibious assault on Korea at a place of the American commander's choosing. But never did General MacArthur seriously consider a course other than a fighting withdrawal to a beachhead perimeter around Pusan, with his men delaying the enemy to the limit of their abilities until reinforcement arrived. Costly though it proved, this course avoided the loss of prestige and political ill effects of voluntary evacuation, at the same time providing a build-up area on the peninsula for later exploitation. [35]

The extraordinary efforts in Washington and Tokyo during July succeeded in strengthening the unified command in Korea and staving off its complete collapse. The full effects of these efforts, because of distances involved, did not become apparent in Korea until July was nearly over. But with the arrival of new men and new equipment, late in the month, backed by the assured arrival of even greater combat strength in the near future, the odds in favor of ultimate North Korean victory dropped sharply.

[35] The North Korean Premier, Kim Il Sung, later remarked on this American tactic as if it were unfair, He said also, in a last appeal to his faltering forces in October 1950, "The first error we committed was, instead of making a complete siege and annihilating the enemy, we gave them enough lime to regroup and increase their strength while retreating." See Order from Supreme Commander, NKA, to All Forces, 15 Oct. 50, in ATIS Enemy Docs., Korean Opns, Issue 19, 30 Jan 51, Item 1.

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