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  • Your pick: biggest US Korean War mistake

    What do you consider the biggest US Korean War mistake, including the periods before and after the war?
    71
    To Land in Korea after WW II
    1.41%
    1
    To not fight the Soviets for Korea right after WW II
    1.41%
    1
    To pull troops out of Korea in 1948
    1.41%
    1
    To make known that Korea was not in US vital security zone
    23.94%
    17
    Providing Air Support against North Korean Invasion
    0.00%
    0
    Providing Ground Troops Against North Koreans
    0.00%
    0
    Not Declaring War, Truman calling War a Police Action
    14.08%
    10
    Working (In theory) under auspices of UN
    1.41%
    1
    US Forces crossing 38th parallel
    9.86%
    7
    Not using Atomic weapons
    4.23%
    3
    Not Creating a Defensive Line After Large Scale Chinese Engagement
    12.68%
    9
    MacArthur's decision to have amphibous operation on East Coast aft. Inchon
    0.00%
    0
    Fighting a War of Attrition from 1951 till 1953
    7.04%
    5
    Not demanding full accounting of US prisoners of War in China
    4.23%
    3
    Other
    18.31%
    13

    The poll is expired.


  • #2
    Other:
    Not ejecting the Commies from Korea and fortiying the Yalu until the Commies recognized the united Korean Republic. And yes we could have done it without using nukes.
    How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
    275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

    Comment


    • #3
      Truman should have declared war and destroyed the NKPA once and for all before reuniting both Korea's into one, free, country.
      "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

      Comment


      • #4
        Minor point: Last US combat troops were withdrawn in June 1949, an RCT of the 7th US Inf Div.
        Where do we start:
        - Coming up with the brilliant idea of bringing the Soviets into the Pacific War, and offering them temporary control of half of Korea to sweeten the deal.
        - Allowing two amateur wartime Lieutenant Colonels to divide Korea at the 38th Parallel, a line that had no geographic military reason to it.
        - Having no real plans to establish a government in Korea. It was so far off the plane of U.S. interest that the designated occupying force kept shifting among U.S. Corps. Thus the happy accident of Stilwell was quickly replaced by Hodge, a fine field commander and totally unsuited for military government of a recently liberated Asian country. Entered Korea with zero Korean linguists, issued his proclamations to the populace in Japanese, rearmed the Japanese POWs and put them on the streets as a security force, and the list goes on.
        -Failing to understand the deep divisions among Korean nationalist factions that pitted Kim Koo against Syngman Rhee against Kim Il-sung against Pak Hyeon Yong.
        - Not building a competent Republic of Korea Armed Forces when we saw the Russians converting the KPA from a Constabulary into East Asia's most modern Army. Instead we left them organized as a constabulary up until late 1948, and had not completed the transition by 25 Jun 1950.
        - Failing to recognize that within months of winning the Chinese Civil War, and driving the Nationalists off to Taiwan, the PRC would view an American force in Korea as a threat to its very existence.
        dit: Lirelou

        Phong trần mi một lưỡi gươm, Những loi gi o ti cơm s g!

        Comment


        • #5
          Other:

          Task Force Smith. What a waste of men.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Task_Force_Smith
          If you can't set a good example, be a glaring warning.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by lirelou View Post
            Minor point: Last US combat troops were withdrawn in June 1949, an RCT of the 7th US Inf Div.
            Where do we start:
            - Coming up with the brilliant idea of bringing the Soviets into the Pacific War, and offering them temporary control of half of Korea to sweeten the deal.
            - Allowing two amateur wartime Lieutenant Colonels to divide Korea at the 38th Parallel, a line that had no geographic military reason to it.
            - Having no real plans to establish a government in Korea. It was so far off the plane of U.S. interest that the designated occupying force kept shifting among U.S. Corps. Thus the happy accident of Stilwell was quickly replaced by Hodge, a fine field commander and totally unsuited for military government of a recently liberated Asian country. Entered Korea with zero Korean linguists, issued his proclamations to the populace in Japanese, rearmed the Japanese POWs and put them on the streets as a security force, and the list goes on.
            -Failing to understand the deep divisions among Korean nationalist factions that pitted Kim Koo against Syngman Rhee against Kim Il-sung against Pak Hyeon Yong.
            - Not building a competent Republic of Korea Armed Forces when we saw the Russians converting the KPA from a Constabulary into East Asia's most modern Army. Instead we left them organized as a constabulary up until late 1948, and had not completed the transition by 25 Jun 1950.
            - Failing to recognize that within months of winning the Chinese Civil War, and driving the Nationalists off to Taiwan, the PRC would view an American force in Korea as a threat to its very existence.
            Thanks Lirelou for the excellent points. As I have mentioned on other posts, my father was a 2nd LT in the Counter-Intelligence Corps with Japanese Language skills, who was in Korea in 1946. He mentioned to me many times how it was difficult (in terms of efficiency and in terms of being hard on the Korean people) because the US Army had to deal with the people in Japanese. The US also worked closely with the people who did speak Japanese, generally people who had worked with the Japanese. Needless to say, the US had many Japanese linguists. My father worked with a Japanese American Sergeant from Hawaii, who was fluent in Japanese, who my father told me several times was one of the finest men he ever knew.

            Not to quibble, but I think given the circumstances at the time, the two lieutenant Colonels dividing Korea, which seems strange surely, worked out well. I think the larger point is that the Russians/Stalin were cooperative in this program, and could have easily made trouble. Any thoughts on whether he did this in a genuine spirit of cooperation, or because he was trying to "show his reasonableness" so as to help get troops on the ground in Japan proper, or some other reason?

            Also, I left out some choices. One is how in 1947 and 1948, the US took a harder, repressive line with the Korean population, in an effort to work against the communists. Another choice I should have had was that at some point earlier in the War, when he was not (arguably - another thread!) following his orders, MacArthur could have been relieved of his military command, but still kept in his role in Japan. After Inchon, this could have been presented as bringing a great hero back to concentrate on his other job. Any thoughts if maybe this had been considered, but rejected for potential MacArthur presidential candidacy reasons?

            Another choice I left out, although I don't how to write it as a poll question, is the issue of the US being so cheap, they tried to charge soldiers and officers for lost rifles, etc.

            Another choice I left out, was the decision (probably many decisions) to allow the Occupation Army in Japan, and most of the US Army, to grow lax in conditioning and training. The President and the Congress surely deserve the lion's share of the blame here, but still, it seems the Army uniformed command bears a lot of responsibility for not doing better with what they had.

            Something I definitely should have posted, is the decision to not use Chinese Nationalist troops that were offered.

            Anyway, thanks for the always excellent thoughts.
            Last edited by lakechampainer; 04 Jun 10, 05:45.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Freightshaker View Post
              Other:

              Task Force Smith. What a waste of men.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Task_Force_Smith
              Excellent point, Freightshaker. I'm embarrassed I didn't put that as a question.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                Truman should have declared war and destroyed the NKPA once and for all before reuniting both Korea's into one, free, country.
                I agree.This also set the stage for every conflict involving the US to follow.To commit forces to battle without the goal of victory is just nuts.There is no second place in war.Either you win or you lose.
                Last edited by Gixxer86g; 04 Jun 10, 05:53.
                ALL LIVES SPLATTER!

                BLACK JEEPS MATTER!

                BLACK MOTORCYCLES MATTER!

                Comment


                • #9
                  One of those two LTCs was Dean Rusk, recently returned from the CBI theatre to a liaison position in the War Department that put him in the State Department. Strangely enough, there were a few Korean-Americans with the 442nd Infantry, which was not all Japanese-American. Our occupation of Korea was done on the fly. Events were moving really fast in early 1945. The planners must have been bouncing off of walls. They included a landing in Korea by force, presuming Korean resistance, to use Korea as a springboard for the final assault on Japan. There was also a plan to by-pass it. We were also working up plans for Northeast China (which were carried out). In short, the war was moving to its inevitable conclusion, but the A Bomb put a big question mark into everything. Would it work? Would it be as decisive as we expected? Would the Japanese even surrender if it was? Or would we have to go ashore? And all of a sudden, Bam: We were going tobe the liberators of Korea. Syngman Rhee, who had lived a large part of his life in Hawaii and the U.S., was our only conduit to Korea, but he had been replaced as head of the Korean Provisional Government (in Shanghai) in the early 20s by Kim Koo. The KPG had troops within the Chinese Nationalist Army, in very small numbers. The only armed resistance to the Japanese in the 1930s had come from the Communists, and they were in two groups. Those with Mao Zhe-dong, to include his commander of Artillery (Mu Chong). But the most active close to Korea were the Koreans with the CCP sponsored (Comintern ordered) Northeast Asian Anti-Japanese United Army, which included a 'division' (200-300 men depending upon time) under Kim Il-sung (one of six 'kim il-sungs' who fought the Japanese). In 1945, all these chickens came home to roost. Everyone presumed that Korea would be united, and that Seoul would be its capital, so all of the major Communists went to South Korea, except for one Soviet Army Captain, promoted Major, who stayed up in Pyongyang to serve the Russian occupational authorities. He was either the most prescient man in history, or had extraordinary blind luck.

                  The Koran communists immediately began rebuilding their networks in South Korea, and quickly shifted from selective assassinations to guerrilla war. There were other disaffected elements as well. The results were the Cheju-do uprising, some major military mutinies, and small scale communist campaigns in the remote areas, all directed by the Communists from North Korea. You can find some of this in Joe Bermudez' "North Korean Special Operations Forces", a hard read, but not if you're just looking for the 1945-50 tidbits. (Note: the Cheju-do uprising was not Communist directed, but spontaneous. As it developed, some communist cadres were sent in. There is no record f any U.S. advisors on the ground in Cheju. The officer killed was elsewhere in South Korea.)

                  The problem is getting any unbiased sources for all this. Korean ultra-nationalists paint the U.S. as the architect of the "Cheju massacres" when in fact no U.S. forces or direct combat advisors were involved. (Note: Cheju-do is a large island off the wouthwest coast of Korea) Very little is said on the U.S. side unless you dig into PMAG/KMAG histories (Korean Military Advisory Group). They lost one officer killed advising Korean forces.

                  I'm not sure that I'd agree that the U.S. occupational forces took a 'harder, repressive line on the Korean population' in 1947-48. That was the period of transition from U.S. occupational government to the ROK government, but it was also the period of Communist guerrilla activity, and a time when many Koreans could see that their country was about to become permanently divided. Coincidentally, that was when the Hwanghae province anti-communist movement began to form in North Korea, which absolutely no one knew about until 1951 when their surviving bands moved south to become the U.N. Partisan Forces - Korea under the initial guidance of Colonel John McGee, who had been a guerrilla in the Philippines (with a brother serving in Merrill's Marauders in CBI). Understand, the Korean governments in waiting of the period were highly authoritarian on both sides of the DMZ, and the last truly Korean government (toppled in 1910) had been a Confucian based monarchy. The Korea ruling class was used to giving orders and having them obeyed. And the Korea population was equally adept at vociferously and physically protesting and obstructing such. My sense is that much of any 'harder repressive line' was coming from Korean intermediaries (police and constabulary) in the South, as they prepared to assume responsibility. (The ROK Army of the period was as yet in no condition for such operations. Many regiments had only a single battalion formed. The standard small arm was the Arisaka rifle, and munitions were in extremely short supply, whereas the Constabulary was armed with U.S. weapons.)

                  As for the U.S. Army. It was a mere shadow of its 1945 self, by design. The U.S. population historically demanded that. Many of the 'divisions' in the U.S. were mere flags at basic training sites (including the 101st Abn and 17th Abn 'divisions'). Americans did not expect to fight for Korea (and despite his earlier statement on Korea, Dean Rusk was a key player in the decision to fight, as well as the idea to bring in the U.N.). Given 185 years of U.S. political attitudes to standing armies, I don't see how the Armed Forces could have been otherwise on the eve of the Korea War. The American people and government were still mentally adjusting to being a 'world power'. And as usualy, government was far behind.

                  As for Task Force Smith, the blame for that lies directly upon MacArthur's shoulders. He threw in ill-prepared, untrained and incomplete 32nd Infantry Division against the Japanese in Papua New Guinea with orders to take Buna, with results not unlike Task Force Smith's. And his rationale was the same: They were the only troops he had at the time.
                  Last edited by lirelou; 04 Jun 10, 11:40.
                  dit: Lirelou

                  Phong trần mi một lưỡi gươm, Những loi gi o ti cơm s g!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the great post, Lirelou. A lot of great information.

                    Regarding my claim that the US became more repressive in 1947 and 1948, I have to say my father never said any such thing to me. I am basing that on different things I have read (all on the internet), many of which refer to former Master Sergeant/Colonel Donald Nichols. Below is one link, which is to a book review done in militaryphotos.net, done in 2004.


                    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums...-in-Korean-war


                    As you discussed, the US did go into China right after the war - between China and Japan (I don't think Vietnam yet, much anyway) the US regular and clandestine forces had their hands full, it was probably inevitable that Korea became the backwater (of course, the backwater in the middle of everything)
                    Last edited by lakechampainer; 04 Jun 10, 15:00. Reason: date of posting 2004, not 2008

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                    • #11
                      My father did tell me several times how badly the Korean people had been treated by the Japanese starting from the annexation [in 1910 I believe], and becoming much worse during the war. Many Koreans were drafted into the army, many were forced into labor in Japan. Many were killed by the A-bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki while performing this forced labor.

                      Attached is a Wikipedia article on the Korean Occupation of Japan. About half-way down are several paragraphs entitled -National Mobilization Law.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korea_under_Japanese_rule
                      Last edited by lakechampainer; 04 Jun 10, 15:29.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by lakechampainer View Post
                        Thanks for the great post, Lirelou. A lot of great information.
                        I second that motion. Quite interesting. Thanks.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Closeing up to the Yalu should have been in your list. IF the UN had stopped 50 or 100 miles short PERHAPS PRC would not have entered the 'ploice action' MAYBE
                          "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                          Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                          youre entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lakechampainer View Post
                            Excellent point, Freightshaker. I'm embarrassed I didn't put that as a question.
                            Task Force Smth is number two on my list I consider not includig the ROK is part of vital interets number one

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Regarding the Japanese occupation of Korea. This is a topic with cannot be discussed with any objectivity within Korea (or any Korean-American community here), given the anti-Japanese nationalist slant of Korean textbooks over the past 65 years. But there were three basic periods after 1910, when Korea, an unwilling protectorate since 1905, was annexed to Japan as a colony.

                              Understand that Korea hit its lowest level of civilized life in many centuries after the Imjin Wars of 1592-97, when a Samurai Army landed at Pusan and in 22 days of campaigning, spread over two months (they dallied at the Imjin river for more than a month), had reached Pyongyang. (Something to bear in mind when reviewing North Korea's plans for 1950.) An example of how far Korea plunged downward: The art of making Celedon was lost. Korea prior to then had been the recognized world masters of celedon pottery, and much of it went to the Ming emperors. Even today, Korean potters today cannot match that celedon, surviving examples of which sell for over a million USD a copy. There were a few bright spots, such as King Sejong (under whose rule today's Korean alphabet was devised), but by the 1880s, life expectancy had plummeted to the mid-30s, there were no Korean restaurants or theaters. American missionaries were in Korea, and were even convincing King Kojong to make some changes, which would have included public schools, the abolition of slavery (effecting one out of three persons), the establishment of hospitals, etc. But even these sparked a reaction among many conservative Koreans, ending in the Tonghak (Eastern Learning) rebellion of 1894-95, which itself sparked overt Japanese military action (the occupation of Korea and the Sino-Japanese War) and the murder of the Korean Queen ('Min') by Japanese Ronin (who entered the Palace with the assistance of the King's father, the former regent.)

                              For 1895 to 1910, the Japanese tried to control events in Korea indirectly, but kept getting more and more involved in Korea affairs. Japan's fear was that a weak Korea, sharing a border with Russia and China, constituted a 'dagger aimed at the heart of Japan'. Not unreasonably, since the last of the peoples who became the modern Japanese had entered Japan via the Korean peninsula.

                              Anyway, in 1910, the Japanese simply took over. Korea had already started modernizing (railroads, ports, hospitals, universities, telegraph, etc.) But much of this had been the result of various groups convincing the Korean government that such changes were necessary. Under Japanese rule, their Korean administration became responsible for planning such modernization. And in truth, much was accomplished. Presses were set up that published in Korean. The first 'hangul' type for publishing newspapers was manufactured in Japan. Much farmland was recovered from the sea. New methods of rice production were introduced. The study of Korean archeology was invented. More universities opened. Koreans began to attain a higher standard of living and education, and longer life, though there was still a long way to go. The Japanese expected that the Koreans would be suitably grateful. And many were. But Koreans wanted a chance to do such for themselves. On March 1st 1919, 1 million out of 18 million Koreans took to the streets to protest Japanese rule. There were some killings and broken heads, and some people were jailed. But though the Japanese never lost control, clearly Japanese colonial rule as a means of engendering voluntary Korean participation in the Japanese Empire had failed.

                              In 1921, the Japanese convened a series of conferences in both Tokyo and Seoul to study how they would make Korea a willing partner in empire. Restrictions were relaxed. One major benefit was the laying of the origins of today's Korean capitalist system. The Japanese helped Korean companies modernize, and expand into overseas markets (as long as Korean products did not compete directly with their own.) Over the next 20 years, Korean textiles, which produced worker quality clothing comparable to Blue Jeans, took off and found ready markets in East and Southeast Asia. Public health levels rose, educational levels rose, and a flowering Korean arts and culture was noted.

                              But then the Army tried to overthrow its own government back in Tokyo, and as a result a far more conservative Japanese government was ushered in that took Korea into their war with China (1937). This government's attitude ws: You should be grateful that you are part of the Japanese empire. Shut up and live with it. Many did. (There were Korean generals in the Japanese Army) Contrary to nationalist claims, they never outlawed non-political publications in the Korean language, they never forbade the speaking of Korean on the streets, nor did they force people to change their names. However, they crushed any signs of political disaffection, and they made it a policy to constantly remind people of the benefits of being Japanese and encouraging them to adopt Japanese names. (My old colleague at work always insisted that his father had been forced to change his name at gunpoint, but taking a Japanese name required court action which involved the payment of a fee. It was not an action which could be accomplished with the mere signature of a pen.) The administration in Korea also recruited many for the Japanese Armed Forces (the majority willingly), they recruited women to work in brothels oriented to the military (a very touchy subject today, but note that Japanese women were also recruited for such work), and they recruited war workers, again often voluntarily, as the work was relatively high paying, though running 7 days a week for long hours (as it was for the Japanese). Korea was so tightly controlled that no overt armed actions within Korea took place during this period, though small but not insignificant numbers of Koreans did flee to China to fight the Japanese there. Of interest, Japanese anti-guerrilla operations in Manchuria were intelligently conducted, and cut the base out from under the guerrillas, who by 1941 were escaping into the Soviet Union to continue their struggle. (Kim Il-sung among them, with some 20 survivors of his band).l This was the worst period of Korean-Japanese relations, and is the one most often remembered. But it is worth noting that many of those who were loyal to Japan under this period became the leaders of the Korean War ROK Army and government. They were the architects of modern Korea.

                              Japanese colonialism in Korea, though intended to primarily benefit Japan, was a two way street which also brought some benefits to Korea.
                              dit: Lirelou

                              Phong trần mi một lưỡi gươm, Những loi gi o ti cơm s g!

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