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What if Truman had abolished USMC prior to Korean War?

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  • What if Truman had abolished USMC prior to Korean War?

    What if President Truman, and others, had succeeded in abolishing the Marine Corps and merging it into the army as a cost savings measure? How would the outcome of the Korean War and the events after it had been affected?
    27
    Would not have changed significantly
    55.56%
    15
    After a struggle, US would have stopped at 38th parallel
    3.70%
    1
    US would have lost and withdrawn to Japan, stayed in new perimeter
    11.11%
    3
    US would have used atomic weapons to avoid defeat
    11.11%
    3
    US would have lost and withdrawn to Japan, then get tough with China re Taiwan
    3.70%
    1
    Other
    14.81%
    4

    The poll is expired.


  • #2
    I think the US would have maintained its land position in South Korea. The lines had already been stabilized at the time of Inchon, and the US/South Koreans had more troops than the overextended North Koreans. However, it would have taken longer with more casualties, both combatant and civilian, as the North Koreans were forced back northwards. Inchon would not have taken place, even though MacArthur would have been for such a move (In the event MacArthur had trouble getting the stateside command to approve the plan). Based on this, I think the US would have stopped at the 38th parallel (more or less) and declared victory.

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    • #3
      I believe that it would be more correct to state that Truman considered abolishing the Marine Corps "as a separate service." No one had ever voiced an opinion of simply dissolving the entire USMC. They always talk about rolling up its capabilities into the Army. If Truman had done so, the USMC's amphibious capabilities would have simply been transferred, so the personnel, expertise and equipment would still have been there, and there would still have been an Incheon landing. The Army does send officers to the USMC Amphibious Warfare School, often Armor or Mech Infantry types. I am a former Army graduate of the course, and frankly believe that maintaining a separate Marine Corps is in both services' best interests.
      Last edited by lirelou; 21 Mar 10, 12:01.
      dit: Lirelou

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

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      • #4
        Originally posted by lirelou View Post
        I believe that it would be more correct to state that Truman considered abolishing the Marine Corps "as a separate service." No one had ever voiced an opinion of simply dissolving the entire USMC. They always talk about rolling up its capabilities into the Army. If Truman had done so, the USMC's amphibious capabilities would have simply been transferred, so the personnel, expertise and equipment would still have been there, and there would still have been an Incheon landing. The Army does send officers to the USMC Amphibious Warfare School, often Armor or Mech Infantry types. I am a former Army graduate of the course, and frankly believe that maintaining a separate Marine Corps is in both services' best interests.
        I agree. In addition, the army had conducted a vast number amphibious landings during WWII. Eichelberger's commands, the I Corps then 8th Army, alone conducted over 50 of them during the SWPA and PI campaigns. So the army had quite a bit of institutional knowledge already.

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        • #5
          No doubt there would have been amphibious capability in the Army, at least in theory, but the Far Eastern forces and US forces as a whole were not in a good state of readiness when the war started, mostly due to budget cuts. I don't think the Army leadership would have been as dedicated to amphibious warfare as the Marine leadership.

          Certainly MacArthur's forces under his command made great use of amphibious strategy and tactics against the Japanese; from my reading I understand that pretty much as soon as the Korean War started MacArthur "dusted off" old contingency plans from WW II and earlier as to making a landing at Inchon.

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          • #6
            Lakechampainer, The 1947 Defense Act had defined a role and mission for the Marine Corps, i.e. amphibious operations. Abolishing the Corps as a separate Armed Service would have required the Army to assume the MC mission and career personnel. That would require JCS to dictate how much of an Amphib capability the Army had to maintain. The three-star Marine generals that the Army had to absorb would have advocated for that mission. Granted the Marines might have to take greater cuts that they would have, but my best judgment is that the Pacific would have kept the capability for a small sized Amphibious Corps( i.e., one Marine/Amphib Division and at least two Marine brigades plus supporting units. The Atlantic would likewise have been allocated an Amphib Division. It is highly likely that 'Marine' would have been retained as a 'Branch', much like the Infantry, but if not, then as a secondary career specialty for officers, much as Special Forces was for most of its existence. Given the numbers of former marines within the 1950-53 U.S. male population, it is highly likely that putting them in Army uniforms would not have affected the outcome of the Korean war at all. And there is a very good chance that their incorporation into the Army would have ended with the Kennedy administration. (Not only was he a former naval officer, but his PT boat was returning from supporting a Marine Raider operation when it was run down by that Japanese ship. Krulak, whose Paramarines were on that operation, became Kennedy's expert on insurgency warfare and special operations, and his administration was 'small wars' oriented.)
            Last edited by lirelou; 21 Mar 10, 23:26.
            dit: Lirelou

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

            Comment


            • #7
              Some of the funniest men I know are Marines. They are a unique breed. If they can't make you laugh you are humor impaired.

              Of course they could have folded their capabilities into the other services. But best to keep all the rotten eggs in one basket


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              • #8
                To answer that question you might want to check out Bill Sloan's new(ish) book:
                "The Darkest Summer: Pusan and Inchon 1950; the Battle that Saved South Korea - and the Marines - from Extinction"
                http://www.amazon.com/Darkest-Summer.../dp/1416571744

                Bit of a mouthful of a title, but an intriguing one. My Amazon airlift has just delivered it so I have not read it yet.

                The broader question: Could the US Army in Korea have done the business without the US Marines?

                Clearly, the army had amphibious capabilities and experience...remember Op. Torch, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Normandy? So yes, I think they could have done Inchon themselves.

                Moreover, even if MacArthur had NOT landed at Inchon, the NKPA at Pusan were being ground down and held at bay. (Major units inculding the Marine Brigade were withdrawn from the line at Pusan, but even so, the weakened front held.) So all the UN forces around Pusan had to do was sit in their positions, have the NKPA break their teeth on their defences, and wait for winter to fall. Kim's men were several hundred miles from their supplies, and with air attacks cutting the roads, and commando raids cutting the east coast rail line, they would simply have withered.

                IOW, Inchon was a masterstroke and accelerated the NKPA collapse, but it did NOT alter the course of the war. The NKPA's failure to break through to Pusan and unify the peninsula in the summer had doomed them. Strategically, they had already lost/were losing the war.

                OTOH...

                The Marine Provisional Brigade was a critical component of the Pusan defences. And in September, the Marine Division at Inchon and Seoul performed brilliantly in tactical roles. Moreover, judging by the performance of the US 8th Army units in North Korea in 1950, I suspect if it had been any army, rather than a marine division at Chosin Reservoir, they would not have got out of the mountains.

                To my understanding, 1st USMC was the best division the US fielded in Korea. Their actions at Inchon were daring and dramatic; at Chosin, desperate and heroic. Finally, it was the 1st USMC Division and the Commonwealth Division which were positioned to hold the criticial approaches north of Seoul when the war settled down into its sitzkrieg phases.

                In what had been, in 1950, a pretty demoralizing war for the US, it was the Jarheads who, I think, injected a fortifying shot of morale into the US body politic. The question of how important morale factors on the home front are in a war, I will leave to wiser heads than mine.

                (All the above is, of course, IMHO. I hope to have a better informed view once I have digested Bill Sloan's tome.)
                A massive attack...a brigade against an army...three nights of battle...an unforgettable tragedy.
                Sixty years later, the full story is told at last:
                http://tothelastround.wordpress.com/

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                • #9
                  Lirelou and Andy S thanks for the very informative posts. My understanding is Marine Aviation also played an important part in the battle of the Pusan Perimeter (Of course it played a very important part in the remainder of the war - concentrating on close ground support as usual).

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                  • #10
                    The Marine Provisional Brigade was a critical component of the Pusan defences. And in September, the Marine Division at Inchon and Seoul performed brilliantly in tactical roles. Moreover, judging by the performance of the US 8th Army units in North Korea in 1950, I suspect if it had been any army, rather than a marine division at Chosin Reservoir, they would not have got out of the mountains.
                    You need to do some research here. 1 St Marines left was being covered by an Army TF and got chopped up badly while the Marines ran for the boats.

                    Take a look at the actions of TF Faith and TF Dog. With out thier defensive actions a lot of Marines would have ended up eating rice.

                    Damn Marine press corp never gets it accurate and fair and balanced.....ha
                    "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.

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                    • #11
                      The Inchon landing would have taken place whether the Marines existed as a separate force or not.
                      "Put guards on all the roads, and don't let the men run to the rear."
                      Major General John Buford's final words on his deathbed.

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                      • #12
                        Half Pint:

                        I need to do some research?

                        Please fill me in as I am researching/writing on this very episode (from the POV of 41 Commando) right now. I will add I am British and so have no emotional attachment to either the USMC or the US Army, nor any ax to grind re the two organizations: I am calling it as I see it.

                        RE: Task Force Faith (actually, Task Force Maclean as it was known at the time) o,r more correctly, the RCT of the 31st Infantry

                        I have been made aware of a constituency within the US Army that holds that the army somehone saved the marines, but I can't see the logic of this. Was TF Maclean was attacked by either one or two Chinese divisions (sources differ; the US Army official history reckons one Chinese division was KOed by the RCT), who would otherwise have attacked Hagaru-ri, the lynchpin of both the army and marine position south of the reservoir? Yes. Does that mean they saved Hagaru (the key to both the army and the marines' escape to the sea)? Possibly, but that is more a question related to the dispositions of the Chinese command. After all, there were first six, later seven Chinese divisions enaged in the Chosin AO.

                        The army were certainly not "covering" the main marine deployments. On the contrary, the various X Corps units were scattered and isolated around and to the south of the reservoir with little mutual support. Two marine RCTs (5th and 7th marines) were at Yudam ri on the western side of the reservoir;they fought their way clear of the trap with all their dead and wounded and most of their equipment. Puller's 1st Marines, reinforced with one army company and 41 Commando, was strung out between Hagaru-ri, Koto-ri and Chinhung-ri. The 31st on the opposite side of the reservoir due east of Yudam-ri fought an independent action.

                        RE Your contention that the army covered the marines while they 'ran for the boats:'
                        In fact, the marines did not begin their pullback from Hagaru until 6 Dec, and TF Maclean had been effectively wiped out on 1st Dec (though survivors were still straggling into Hagaru on the 3rd).

                        The fact that (a) the marines survived while (b) the 31st RCT did not is largely due to (a) Smith's forward thinking and (b) Almond's orders, IMHO. The fact that Almond ordered Col Faith to keep attacking on the 29th, and later ordered Smith's men to break through to rescue the soldiers showed a very poor appreciation of the situation given that the marines at Yudam-ri and Hagaru-ri were themselves under siege and fighting for their own survival at the time.

                        I can sympathize with the appalling trial the officers and men of the 31st RCT underwent, but cannot consider them the saviours of 1st USMC.

                        RE: Task Force Dog
                        If you look at the geography and the dates of the main actions, TF Dog did not really play a major role when it comes to the marines' escape from the high country. Dog did not move further north than Chinghung-ri - which was in the lowlands (and the base of the marines' southernmost battalion). The marines' main body cleared the highlands (ie after moving south through Funchillin Pass) by their own efforts, then moved out through the screen provided by Dog. But by this point the Chinese had largely shot their bolt and lost most of their offensive power. AFAIK, only one Chinese division inflitrated the lowlands, and that was held at bay by the Puerto Rican 65th Infantry futher south.

                        If you have futher or more up to date info that contradicts the above, then by all means share it, I would be extremely grateful to be corrected.
                        A massive attack...a brigade against an army...three nights of battle...an unforgettable tragedy.
                        Sixty years later, the full story is told at last:
                        http://tothelastround.wordpress.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don't think the USMC would have gone away entirely. It would have either been folded into the Army or Navy, More likely the latter.

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                          • #14
                            Hey! Why not ask what if the sun blew up tomorrow, what would happen to the Marine Corps. or what if gravity reversed on 8/6/45 or what if the fuel on all the aircraft that bombed Pearl Harbor was tainted or what if or what if or what if or what if or what if or what if...

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                            • #15
                              There are a multitude of different forums, sub-forums and threads, I'm sure you can find many that are up to your standards. In any case, speaking only for myself, I will try to do better in the future.

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