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What if Truman had abolished USMC prior to Korean War?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Andy_S View Post
    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 (Major units including the Marine Brigade were withdrawn from the line at Pusan, but even so, the weakened front held.)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. .)
    Originally posted by Andy_S View Post
    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.




    Maybe you have a point but to have the same number of US troops on the Marine side of the reservoir would have required more than an additional regiment. Army divisions at this time were 20-30% Korean trainees. By remaining a separate force the Marines were able to keep a different equipment and manning standard for their units. So maybe it was a good thing that they were separate. My father was in the 7th he served with LTC Faith. He was a teenage private and speaks of the officers and NCO's who had combat experience being leeched from his division to go fill into units in the Pusan perimeter. Still his company cdr and LTC Faith were there.
    But right before he was transferred three of the the eight members in his squad were Korean KATUSAS. It was better by the Chosin but only one spoke more than a couple of words of English and they wer untrained and unhealthy. Thanks to DDT the were no fleas or lice but when they crapped they passed piles of worms. My dad doesn't disrespect them they worked hard but there was always a language barrier and they never really had all of their job straight. In his words "we taught them to shoot and they'd tote (carry) what you told them to.

    The Marine division only had KATUSAs attached as interpreters as best I can recall the were 1 or 2 % in marine units.

    Originally posted by Andy_S View Post
    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
    I maintain that the Inchon landing would have occurred with or without a Marine Corp. Just like like airborne or special forces though there would have had to have been trained units. There would have been marines just as there are still airborne, and air-mobile. It would have just become air-land and sea-land. That is why it never happened..... The Navy was not going to give up that much of the strategic/dollar pie. OH GOODY LET ME SAY IT.....I don't think the Marines are just part of the Navy but in the US they only exist because of the Navy's budget wars. Well actually the old budget wars and now they just have grown to have a life of their own.
    Last edited by Widow Maker; 26 Mar 10, 06:19.
    "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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    • #17
      I believe the biggest factor that helped Eddie Craig's Marine Brigade at Pusan, was their training. The average Army private was soft and not prepared for combat, while the average Marine was trained to fight and win and had high e spirit de corps. Also you have to consider that probably 75% of Army combat veterans fought in the ETO and saw no action against the Japanese, whose tactics the NKPA mimicked, while 99% of Marine Combat vets fought in the Pacific and had plenty of experience against these tactics. I agree that Inchon would have more than likely happened either way, but with out Craig's "Fire Brigade" Pusan may have been a different story. Also independent USMC air provided outstanding CAS throughout the war beause of their intensive training with Marines on the ground.
      "The first time those bastards encounter US Marines, I want it to be the most traumatic experience of their miserable lives."
      -Gen. James Mattis, USMC

      Psalms 144.1

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      • #18
        Wow, has everyone missed the BIG picture here?

        Let me explain. Everyone take a seat and get your Google ready.

        To eliminate the USMC is to remove some Presidential power. Yeah the Gung Ho Korean War stuff is cute, and the other silliness is good reading. THE BIG PICTURE!

        The big picture is rather simple and I hope I can explain it properly. It takes an ACT OF CONGRESS to do anything drastic with the Army for more than 30 days. So other than to switch the guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns takes a Congressional act.

        The Prs. can play with the Marines anywhere in the world, at any time and do whatever he/she wants for 90 days with the good old USMC. Any formation, no matter how big or small. Now I expect to see all sorts of light bulbs going off here.
        In Vino Veritas

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        • #19
          Ohhh, otherwise, the only change would have been arousing defeat of Biblical proportions and we'd still be slugging it out until at least 1958-63.
          In Vino Veritas

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          • #20
            Originally posted by dongar1 View Post
            Wow, has everyone missed the BIG picture here?

            Let me explain. Everyone take a seat and get your Google ready.

            To eliminate the USMC is to remove some Presidential power. Yeah the Gung Ho Korean War stuff is cute, and the other silliness is good reading. THE BIG PICTURE!

            The big picture is rather simple and I hope I can explain it properly. It takes an ACT OF CONGRESS to do anything drastic with the Army for more than 30 days. So other than to switch the guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns takes a Congressional act.

            The Prs. can play with the Marines anywhere in the world, at any time and do whatever he/she wants for 90 days with the good old USMC. Any formation, no matter how big or small. Now I expect to see all sorts of light bulbs going off here.
            Just to round this out, can you provide the specific statutes or laws that make this so?

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Andy_S View Post
              .....

              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.
              Yes and no. US 10th Corps was set up specifically for a amphibious end run around the NKPA. Its Army staff had a fair number of officers with amphibious warfare training and experience assigned to the corps specifically for this tanks. However, the corps commander Lt Gen Almond and key staff member argued vehmently for a much less ambitious plan than the Inchon attack. They proposed a easier and less risky attack further south on Koreas west coast. That would have flanked the NKPA army, but not got into its rear, and later required Seoul be taken by a frontal attack from the south. Maj Gen OP Smith commander of the 1st Marine Div. supported MacAurthurs Inchon plan and made convincing techincal arguments as to why it was not as risky. Without Smiths support Almonds advice might have won out & the Inchon manuver not executed..

              Originally posted by Andy_S View Post
              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.
              Perhaps, but the Chinese managed to advance fro the Yalu to south of Seoul & then fight for nearly a year while keeping their army supplied under constant USAF interdiction. Exactly ow they did that should be a manditory study for anyone who thinks the most modern technology automatically guarantees superiority over armys without that equipment.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by dongar1 View Post
                Wow, has everyone missed the BIG picture here?

                Let me explain. Everyone take a seat and get your Google ready.

                To eliminate the USMC is to remove some Presidential power. Yeah the Gung Ho Korean War stuff is cute, and the other silliness is good reading. THE BIG PICTURE!

                The big picture is rather simple and I hope I can explain it properly. It takes an ACT OF CONGRESS to do anything drastic with the Army for more than 30 days. So other than to switch the guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns takes a Congressional act.

                The Prs. can play with the Marines anywhere in the world, at any time and do whatever he/she wants for 90 days with the good old USMC. Any formation, no matter how big or small. Now I expect to see all sorts of light bulbs going off here.
                Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                Just to round this out, can you provide the specific statutes or laws that make this so?
                He cannot because those comments are based on both a complete misunderstanding of the letter of the War Powers Resolution (it was a resolution and not an act) and a misunderstanding of the universal resistance of all US Presidents to its validity since its passing.

                There are absolutely no legal provisions that make any US active duty military forces of the United States more legally deployable than any other.

                This was not true in 1950 and the Korean war which is THE BIG PICTURE as far as the subject matter of the original post. It is also not true in eirhte the 1973 or the 1975 versions of the War Powers Resolution or any congressional or constitutional provisions passed since.
                "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.

                Comment


                • #23
                  WidowMaker:

                  Certainly, the 7th ID was badly watered down with locally press-ganged recruits who were briefly trained in Japan, and that was clearly a factor in their perf at Chosin. If your father is alive, in good health and willing to speak to an author, I would be interested in doing a tel interview with him. Pls PM me if feasible. TIA.

                  Carl:

                  Thanks, did not know OP Smith was a supporter of Inchon. That figures: He understood marine operations. His risk tolerance in the mountains at Chosin, OTOH, was much lower than Almond's. Events would, of course, justify Smith's prudence.

                  However, the Chinese only really operated south of Seoul beween January and March 1951. They fought most of the rest of the war around 50-60 miles north of their farthest penetration south.

                  Dongar:

                  Two points:
                  (1) This is a Korean War forum, so we are discussing the Korean War, not the big picture of US executive power;
                  (2) Not sure that I understand you. As pointed out above, the NKPA were unable to break into Pusan even where resources were taken away from the defense perimeter for Operation Chromite, so what hypothetical defeat of Biblical proportions are you talking about?

                  IronMan:

                  Yes, it would appear that the marines in Korea (esp in the early days) were better trained, better prepared for an Asian war, and have more esprit de corps than US Army units.
                  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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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by dongar1 View Post
                    Wow, has everyone missed the BIG picture here?

                    Let me explain. Everyone take a seat and get your Google ready.

                    To eliminate the USMC is to remove some Presidential power. Yeah the Gung Ho Korean War stuff is cute, and the other silliness is good reading. THE BIG PICTURE!

                    The big picture is rather simple and I hope I can explain it properly. It takes an ACT OF CONGRESS to do anything drastic with the Army for more than 30 days. So other than to switch the guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns takes a Congressional act.

                    The Prs. can play with the Marines anywhere in the world, at any time and do whatever he/she wants for 90 days with the good old USMC. Any formation, no matter how big or small. Now I expect to see all sorts of light bulbs going off here.
                    Good job!
                    Give me a fast ship and the wind at my back for I intend to sail in harms way! (John Paul Jones)

                    Initiated Chief Petty Officer
                    Hard core! Old School! Deal with it!

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      The bottom line is that most of the time, the first branch of the service called in is the U.S. Navy, and most of the time that is sufficient. The Marines will typically be the first with boots on the ground. By the time you drag the Army out, the poop has it the fan; I just do not see the U.S.M.C. going away anytime soon, the President needs Marines too much.
                      Give me a fast ship and the wind at my back for I intend to sail in harms way! (John Paul Jones)

                      Initiated Chief Petty Officer
                      Hard core! Old School! Deal with it!

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        As a counterpoint to the discussion, I ask what would have happened to Korea if the Army had not been there.

                        It took a number of weeks in 1950 for the Marine Corps to get enough troops together to form the 5th Marine RCT. By the time the 5th Marines got to Korea as part of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, the Army had 4 Divisions already there.

                        The forward deployed troops in 1950 were the 4 Army Divisions occupying Japan. They were not properly trained or equipped to fight a war. But they were there, they were able to get into Korea and fight well enough to establish the Pusan perimeter, and buy time for the Marine Corps to field the 1st Provisional Brigade and the 1st Marine Division.

                        If it had been left to the Marines in the summer of 1950, Korea would have fallen. The Marines would not have been able to put troops on the ground the way the Army did.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by exarmydoc View Post
                          As a counterpoint to the discussion, I ask what would have happened to Korea if the Army had not been there.

                          It took a number of weeks in 1950 for the Marine Corps to get enough troops together to form the 5th Marine RCT. By the time the 5th Marines got to Korea as part of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, the Army had 4 Divisions already there.

                          The forward deployed troops in 1950 were the 4 Army Divisions occupying Japan. They were not properly trained or equipped to fight a war. But they were there, they were able to get into Korea and fight well enough to establish the Pusan perimeter, and buy time for the Marine Corps to field the 1st Provisional Brigade and the 1st Marine Division.
                          A few points to amplify this. By May of 1950 the only USMC units combat ready were selected regiments & battalions of the 2d Marine Division on the US East coast. Those had been given priority for manpower to support various contingency plans in Europe & the Mediterranian. Those on the west coast & Hawaii were either cadred, or at significantly reduced strength. There was in effect a single combat ready division of Marines available, it was considered untouchable due to it's role in contigency plans for the expected European war (re: War Pan 'Dropshot')

                          As far as Asia went there was no USMC contigency force available. Creating the 1st Provisional Brigade required stripping remaining Marines from every understrength unit on the west coast, and obtaining "surplus" Marines from the east coast. That was possible only because it was anticipated a mobilization of Marine reservists would quickly follow.

                          The subsequent reformation of the 1st Marine Division required a massive influx of reservists into the active service USMC. Not all went to the 1 Mar Div, but they were necessary to free up essential Marines for transfer to Korea.

                          The elimination of the USMC as part of the US Navy was part of a larger plan endorsed and effectively in execution by the Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson.

                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_A._Johnson

                          Acting in accordance with Congressional requirements for massive military budget cuts Johnson bought off on the idea that air forces with nuclear weapons would totally dominate warfare. Conventional army & naval forces were obsolete & their future lay is organization as light forces organized & equipped to 'mop up' after the airforces won the war.

                          This idea and the massive post WWII budget cuts went hand in hand with the old idea of the US depending on citizen soldiers called up to fight when needed. A standing force of large army & navy units was not part of the future. Hence the aircraft carriers, battleships, and heavy cruisers, amphibious assualt ship types, & a ocean dominating submarine force were to be eliminated. The USN was to be reduced to a transportation service with light escorts. The USAF would serve as he decisive factor for sea control.

                          The outbreak of the Korean war & events that summer revealed the bankruptcy of this stratigic policy. Aside from the inadaquacy of unprepared ground forces the inability of the USAF to halt the NKPA without ground forces in place was a clear indication of the realities of the modern battlefield. A aspect of this understudied by historians was the report (still partially secret I think) of how atomic weapons could be used against the NKPA in June/July and their probable effects. The report judged that a limited number of atomic bombs would not restore the situation, a large number would not be guaranteed to restore the situation and would cut deeply into stocks designated for the expected European war.

                          All this let loose a flood of negative reports, opinions, and attacks on US strategy & Defense policy of the previous four years. The coaltion of fiscal conservatives & 'small military' Congressmen lost their traction & the strong defense factions became accendant. Without his previous support Johnson left his post as Secretary of Defense after a few months, replaced by George Marshall.
                          Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 24 Aug 11, 12:15.

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