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  • MacArthur stops short in N. Korea

    What if after crushing the N. Korean army, MacArthur stopped short of the Chinese border by 50+ miles, occupying a line across N. Korea that took over Pyongan and secured most of the urban areas and about two-thirds to three-quarters of the country under UN occupation effectively ending N. Korea as a country but now particularly threatening China?

    Would the Chinese have invaded anyway? That one is hard to call. But, it would have been much more obvious and difficult to do if the unoccupied portion of N. Korea had all or nearly all the bridges down, railroads smashed, etc., but the UN air forces. This would have required China to move troops into N. Korea, something that would have been more obvious that massing them inside China were little reconnaissance was being done.
    The same thing goes for Soviet help. It would be more difficult for the Soviets to send MiGs and pilots when there is little infrastructure to support them.

    It is possible that the Chinese would have stayed out of the war or agreed to some war ending resolution as a third party rather than fight to reoccupy the portion of N. Korea taken over. Maybe a rump state of N. Korea simply as a buffer zone allowing the UN to occupy most of what was N. Korea as part of a greater South or just Korean state.

    Of course, MacArthur might have tried a "Patton" and tried to push beyond the ordered occupation zone. I can see Truman firing him for that just as he did historically for his talking about nuking China etc.

    It would be interesting if N. Korea were some smaller, unindustrialized, state that serves as nothing but a buffer between Korea and China.

  • #2
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    It would be interesting if N. Korea were some smaller, unindustrialized, state that serves as nothing but a buffer between Korea and China.
    ...isn't that what it is?

    Arguably, the Chinese would probably favour a bigger buffer zone over a smaller one, and their limit for that seems to have been the 38th parallel from the beginning.
    Wisdom is personal

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    • #3
      MacArthur would have had to stop at the old border for the Chinese not to have intervened (maybe). The Red Chinese were already in North Korea. After the way General Homma embarassed MacArthur at the beginning of WWII, there was no way an Asiatic Army was going to beat on MacArthur again.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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      • #4
        I think that with a 50 mile or so buffer zone, the Chinese would have still fought. I would modify the question somewhat, what if the US had stopped at and dug in on a line just North of Pyongang and across to Wonsan (which is also about the narrowest point). I think the Chinese would still fight, although it would have been much harder against dug-in targets, which were also closer to American land and sea-based air power. The Chinese would probably have had a time - is - on - their - side view.

        To me, the question is , how, if at all, would this have affected Stalin's views? In the event, he did not move into Europe, so this would probably would not have motivated to attack; since the US would have been in a stronger position.

        My guess is the war would have in the ended with an armistice, maybe an eventual movement southward by the US and allies, after several years. Maybe it would have had to wait for Stalin's death/a new US President, which (arguably) is what actually happened.

        But there presumably would have been fewer deaths, Korean, American, and all around.

        Link to map of North Korea

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Un-north-korea.png
        Last edited by lakechampainer; 29 Apr 20, 09:32.

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        • #5
          Tend to agree. The CCP was looking to stamp its legitimacy after many years of China being the whipping boy, and Stalin was replaying his 1939 game of hoping his adversaries wore themselves out on each other so he picked up the spoils.
          The only difference from real life I’d see here is that the Chinese don’t get the element of surprise, and tac air gets a chance to degrade them somewhat, but otherwise things play out the same.
          A more interesting question for me is what would have happened if the USSR wasn’t playing games and vetoed a UN involvement. But that is for a different thread.
          Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

          That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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          • #6
            Link to the Wikipedia article on the UN offensive into North Korea. I'm sure all of us have read something about this in the past, but I read the Wikipedia article several times, from the Standpoint of, were there several important decisions made that in hindsight, could have been made differently, that might have led to a halted advance? And as we all now, Wikipedia is not a primary source, but it is in fact a link to the substantial majority of important sources.


            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UN_off...to_North_Korea

            The first thing I notice is that Macarthur's orders were to destroy the enemy's forces. Sounds good, but then given the limitations on the orders to not advance to certain points, bomb beyond the border, etc. "his hands were tied". In hindsight it seems like the leadership in Washington didn't want to make/or commit to make the hard decisions. Again, nothing new here. But my particular bias regarding leadership is, The Congress had abrogated its leadership by not declaring war/or ordering withdrawal (granted unlikely). But there would have been war aims clearly stated, presumably.

            excerpt #1
            Upon receiving this directive, MacArthur urged that the JCS remove the restriction requiring specific approval from the US Government before his forces crossed the 38th Parallel. He urged that he be allowed to cross the Parallel and seek out and destroy the remaining parts of the KPA if North Korea did not surrender in accordance with a proclamation he intended to issue. Two days later
            Secretary of DefenseGeorge C. Marshall
            sent him a personal message, marked for his eyes only, which stated that he should feel free tactically and strategically to proceed north of the 38th Parallel. President
            Harry Truman
            himself had approved this message. It is clear that on 29 September MacArthur had authority from the United States Government to cross the 38th Parallel. In a communication to the Secretary of Defense on 30 September, MacArthur said, "Unless and until the enemy capitulates, I regard all of Korea open for our military operations." The next day, 1 October, in order to remove any obscurity that might still exist in Washington regarding his plan, MacArthur sent a message clearly stating his intentions. He said: I plan to issue and make public the following general directive to all elements of the United Nations Command at 1200 hours, Monday, 2 October, unless I receive your instructions to the contrary. "Under the provisions of the United Nations Security Council Resolution of 27 June, the field of our military operations is limited only by military exigencies and the international boundaries of Korea. The so-called 38th Parallel, accordingly, is not a factor in the military employment of our forces. To accomplish the enemy's complete defeat, your troops may cross the border at any time, either in exploratory probing or exploiting local tactical conditions. If the enemy fails to accept the terms of surrender set forth in my message to him of 1 October, our forces, in due process of campaign will seek out and destroy the enemy's armed forces in whatever part of Korea they may be located." MacArthur stated later that the temporary UN halt at the 38th Parallel that occurred in early October was due to logistical difficulties.
            [2]:607–8

            ----------------------------
            The decisions were also made to move tby sea the 1st Marine Division at Inchon and the 7th Infantry Division at Pusan to the North Korean coast (Wonsan). Both of these movements were, not surprisingly, huge logistical problems, not the least of which, it made it hard to supply the direct advance on Pyongang, the "war-winning" move. In hindsight it seems the goal should have been simply to advance North, "dig in" and then worry about connecting to the East Coast.

            excerpt #2
            The Eighth Army advance into North Korea had begun under great logistical difficulties and was supported only on the narrowest margin. On 10 October, the day after the attack began, General Milburn expressed himself as being disturbed by the logistical situation of I Corps. He felt that at least 3,000 tons of balanced stocks should be in the Kaesong ammunition supply points. But Col. Albert K. Stebbins, Jr., Eighth Army G-4 supply officer, informed him that this could not be accomplished unless all the truck companies were diverted to that task. The unfavorable supply situation largely grew out of the fact that during the first half of October (1–17 October) unloading activities at Inchon for Eighth Army were negligible. Practically all the port capabilities at that time were engaged in mounting out the 1st Marine Division for the Wonsan operation. Levels of some supplies for I Corps were at times reduced to one day, and only selective unloading enabled the supply sections to meet troop requirements. Most combat vehicles, such as tanks, operated in the forward zone without knowing whether they would have enough fuel at hand to continue the attack the next day. Because it could not support any more troops north of the
            Han River
            at this time, Eighth Army had been compelled to undertake the movement north of the 38th Parallel with only I Corps, leaving IX Corps below the river. As rapidly as the logistical situation permitted, General Walker intended to move IX Corps into North Korea to help in the drive to the border. On 23 October, General Walker informed IX Corps commander General
            John B. Coulter
            that ROK III Corps (5th and 11th Divisions) would relieve IX Corps in its zone as soon as practicable for this purpose, and not later than 10 November.
            [2]:638

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            • #7
              Link to Wikipedia map of the North Korean rail system. I post it not to show the rail system per -se, but the geography inherent in its location. Two rail lines, one arcing north of Pyongyang and Wonsan, one south. The one north, or slightly north of it, would perhaps be the best location for a cross-country fortified line. Again, this is just about the narrowest point in North Korea.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean...a_railways.png

              Link to Wikipedia map of geography of North Korea

              https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...orth-korea.png



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              • #8
                We had this thread a while back on the Korean War forum:

                https://forums.armchairgeneral.com/f...fensible-lines

                I proposed a defensive line along the south side of the Taedong River until close to Hamhung then head due east to Hungnam.

                You could have artillery fire bases every 10 miles along the river. They could cover the entire line of the river. Small observation posts along the river. Strong mobile units to repel any crossing by communist forces.

                The line between Hamhung and Hungnam would need to be defended more heavily.

                North Korea would be punished by a loss of territory. China would have a good buffer zone.
                Last edited by 17thfabn; 09 May 20, 15:28.
                "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
                Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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                • #9
                  I think there would have been several advantages to stopping on the line I proposed :

                  1. a further south line would lead to lower casualties in the short term, at least

                  2. The line to Wonsan from Pyongyang would be shorter, easier to defend in the long run

                  3. Both lines would be seen as a victory by the US population (and other allied powers), unlike a return to earlier lines

                  4. Presumably it should be at least somewhat less threatening to China, since further south.

                  5. Related to three, with the war "won", i.e not an ongoing war of movement, it should be easier for the US to get rid of Syngman Rhee. Which they should have before the war.
                  ==========================================
                  5/15/2020
                  Edit:
                  So let's assume now that's its about September 20, 1950. The US can focus on how to create a post-war situation, and on minimizing casualties.

                  So to add to my earlier post, I would add

                  6. the US Congress should now debate whether to declare war (which obviously they would, given that it was already a "war-winning" situation").

                  In my view it was a terrible step for the US not to do that from beginning, as it went against the Constitution, but if we start from September 20, and they now "declare war" it can establish the precedent that it has to be done in the future. I would also note that the US Government DID go to the UN, but not to the US Congress, as required by the Constitution.


                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Command

                  ============================================

                  Best link I could find monthly US casualties. These are army only. For killed in action early in the war I would add 1/3 for marines and Air Force and Navy. So about 8,000 US deaths through September. About 30,000 in the actual war, for the entire war. So maybe half as many deaths, maybe 11,000 fewer killed in action, if they went to a defendable line, and held it till summer 1953?

                  https://history.amedd.army.mil/books...eister/b-1.pdf
                  Last edited by lakechampainer; 15 May 20, 18:32.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lakechampainer View Post
                    I think there would have been several advantages to stopping on the line I proposed :

                    2. The line to Wonsan from Pyongyang would be shorter, easier to defend in the long run


                    r.
                    Your idea is similar to my thinking.

                    It would come down to a debate. Is a longer line with a good natural barrier, the Taedong River more defensible than a shorter line.
                    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
                    Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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                    • #11
                      Much of the land in the middle of the line will be mountains. The ROK's were given this area to defend. It was very hard to supply these units and they hardly had any artillery. I remember the ROK 1st Division was the only ROK unit with a similar artillery park as a US division. Most of these were US units taken from Corps and Army units. You could tell the ROK's had hardly any artillery because the Red Chinese would locate these units and attack there in their offenses.

                      Pruitt
                      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                        Much of the land in the middle of the line will be mountains.

                        Pruitt
                        That would be a good reason to use the river as a defensive line. It would force the communist forces to cross it to attack. Those that got across would be very vulnerable to attack.

                        "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
                        Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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