By 6 July it was known that General MacArthur planned to have Eighth Army, with General Walker in command, assume operational control of the campaign in Korea. General Walker, a native of Belton, Texas, already had achieved a distinguished record in the United States Army. In World War I he had commanded a machine gun company and won a battlefield promotion. Subsequently, in the early 1930’s he commanded a battalion of the 15th Infantry Regiment in China. Before Korea he was best known, perhaps, for his command of the XX Corps of General Patton’s Third Army in World War II. General Walker assumed command of Eighth Army in Japan in 1948. Under General MacArthur he commanded United Nations ground forces in Korea until his death in December 1950.
During the evening of 6 July General Walker telephoned Colonel William A. Collier at Kobe and asked him to report to him the next morning at Yokohama. When Collier arrived at Eighth Army headquarters the next morning General Walker told him that Eighth Army was taking over command of the military operations in Korea, and that he, Walker, was flying to Korea that afternoon but was returning the following day. Walker told Collier he wanted him to go to Korea as soon as possible and set up an Eighth Army headquarters, that for the present Colonel Eugene M. Landrum, his Chief of Staff, would remain in Japan, and that he, Collier, would be the Eighth Army combat Chief of Staff in Korea until Landrum could come over later.
General Walker and Colonel Collier had long been friends and associated in various commands going back to early days together at the Infantry School at Fort Benning. They had seen service together in China in the 15th Infantry and in World War II when Collier was a member of Walker’s IV Armored Corps and XX Corps staffs. After that Collier had served Walker as Chief of Staff in command assignments in the United States. Colonel Collier had served in Korea in 1948 and 1949 as Deputy Chief of Staff and then as Chief of Staff of United States Army forces there. During that time he had come to know the country well.
On the morning of 8 July Colonel Collier flew from Ashiya Air Base to Pusan and then by light plane to Taejon. After some difficulty he found General Dean with General Church between Taejon and the front. The day before, General Walker had told Dean that Collier would be arriving in a day or two to set up the army headquarters. General Dean urged Collier not to establish the headquarters in Taejon, adding, “You can see for yourself the condition.” Collier agreed with Dean. He knew Taejon was already crowded and that communication facilities there would be taxed. He also realized that the tactical situation denied the use of it for an army headquarters. Yet Colonel Collier knew that Walker wanted the headquarters as close to the front as possible. But if it could not be at Taejon, then there was a problem.
Collier was acquainted with all the places south of Taejon and he knew that short of Taegu they were too small and had inadequate communications, both radio and road, to other parts of South Korea, to serve as a headquarters. He also remembered that at Taegu there was a cable relay station of the old Tokyo-Mukden cable in operation. So Collier drove to Taegu and checked the cable station. Across the street from it was a large compound with school buildings. He decided to establish the Eighth Army headquarters there. Within two hours arrangements had been made with the Provincial Governor and the school buildings were being evacuated. Collier telephoned Colonel Landrum in Yokohama to start the Eighth Army staff to Korea. The next day 9 July at 1300.
General Walker Assumes Command in Korea
As it chanced, the retreat of the U.S. 24th Infantry Division across the Kum River on 12 July coincided with the assumption by Eighth United States Army in Korea (EUSAK) of command of ground operations. General Walker upon verbal instructions from General MacArthur assumed command of all United States Army forces in Korea effective 0001 13 July. That evening, General Church and his small ADCOM staff received orders to return to Tokyo, except for communications and intelligence personnel who were to remain temporarily with EUSAK. A total American and ROK military force of approximately 75,000 men, divided between 18,000 Americans and 58,000 ROK’s, was then in Korea.
[N9-3 ADCOM reached Tokyo the afternoon of 15 July. See EUSAK WD, 13 Jul 50, for American organizations’ strength ashore. ROK strength is approximate.]
General Walker arrived in Korea on the afternoon of 13 July to assume personal control of Eighth Army operations. That same day the ROK Army headquarters moved from Taejon to Taegu to be near Eighth Army headquarters. General Walker at once established tactical objectives and unit responsibility.
Eighth Army was to delay the enemy advance, secure the current defensive line, stabilize the military situation, and build up for future offensive operations. The 24th Division, deployed along the south bank of the Kum River in the Kongju-Taejon area on the army’s left (west) was to “prevent enemy advance south of that line.” To the east, in the mountainous central corridor, elements of the 25th Division were to take up blocking positions astride the main routes south and help the ROK troops stop the North Koreans in that sector. Elements of the 25th Division not to exceed one reinforced infantry battalion were to secure the port of Pohang-dong and Yonil Airfield on the east coast.
On 17 July, four days after he assumed command of Korean operations, General Walker received word from General MacArthur that he was to assume command of all Republic of Korea ground forces, pursuant to President Syngman Rhee’s expressed desire. During the day, as a symbol of United Nations command, General Walker accepted from Colonel Alfred G. Katzin, representing the United Nations, the United Nations flag and hung it in his Eighth Army headquarters in Taegu.
A word should be said about General MacArthur’s and General Walker’s command relationship over ROK forces. President Syngman Rhee’s approval of ROK forces coming under United Nations command was never formalized in a document and was at times tenuous. This situation grew out of the relationship of the United Nations to the war in Korea.
On 7 July the Security Council of the United Nations took the third of its important actions with respect to the invasion of South Korea. By a vote of seven to zero, with three abstentions and one absence, it passed a resolution recommending a unified command in Korea and asked the United States to name the commander. The resolution also requested the United States to provide the Security Council with “appropriate” reports on the action taken under a unified command and authorized the use of the United Nations flag. [N9-6 Dept of State Pub 4263, United States Policy in the Korean Conflict, July 1950-February 1951, p. 8. Abstentions in the vote: Egypt, India, Yugoslavia. Absent: Soviet Union. For text of the Security Council resolution of 7 July see Document 99, pages 66-67.]
The next day, 8 July, President Truman issued a statement saying he had designated General Douglas MacArthur as the “Commanding General of the Military Forces,” under the unified command. He said he also had directed General MacArthur “to use the United Nations flag in the course of operations against the North Korean forces concurrently with the flags of the various nations participating.” [N9-7: Doc. 100, p. 67, gives text of the President’s statement. The JCS sent a message to General MacArthur on 10 July informing him of his new United Nations command.]
The last important act in establishing unified command in Korea took place on 14 July when President Syngman Rhee of the Republic of Korea placed the security forces of the Republic under General MacArthur, the United Nations commander. Although there appears to be no written authority from President Rhee on the subject, he verbally directed General Chung Il Kwon, the ROK Army Chief of Staff, to place himself under the U.N. Command. Under his authority stemming from General MacArthur, the U.N. commander, General Walker directed the ROK Army through its own Chief of Staff. The usual procedure was for General Walker or his Chief of Staff to request the ROK Army Chief of Staff to take certain actions regarding ROK forces. That officer or his authorized deputies then issued the necessary orders to the ROK units. This arrangement was changed only when a ROK unit was attached to a United States organization.
The first such major action took place in September 1950 when the ROK 1st Division was attached to the U.S. I Corps. About the same time the ROK 17th Regiment was attached to the U.S. X Corps for the Inchon landing. Over such attached units the ROK Army Chief of Staff made no attempt to exercise control. Actually the ROK Army authorities were anxious to do with the units remaining nominally under their control whatever the commanding general of Eighth Army wanted. From a military point of view there was no conflict on this score. [n9-9 Ltr, Lieutenant General Francis W. Farrell to author, 11 Jun 58. General Farrell was Chief of KMAG and served as ranking liaison man for Generals Walker, Ridgway, and Van Fleet with the ROK Army for most of the first year of the war. He confirms the author’s understanding of this matter.]
When political issues were at stake during certain critical phases of the war it may be questioned whether this command relationship would have continued had certain actions been taken by the U.N. command which President Syngman Rhee considered inimical to the political future of his country. One such instance occurred in early October when U.N. forces approached the 38th Parallel and it was uncertain whether they would continue military action into North Korea. There is good reason to believe that Syngman Rhee gave secret orders that the ROK Army would continue northward even if ordered to halt by the U.N. command, or that he was prepared to do so if it became necessary. The issue was not brought to a test in this instance as the U.N. command did carry the operations into North Korea.
Troop Training and Logistics
General Walker had instituted a training program beginning in the summer of 1949 which continued on through the spring of 1950 to the beginning of the Korean War. It was designed to give Eighth Army troops some degree of combat readiness after their long period of occupation duties in Japan. When the Korean War started most units had progressed through battalion training, although some battalions had failed their tests. Regimental, division, and army levels of training and maneuvers had not been carried out. The lack of suitable training areas in crowded Japan constituted one of the difficulties.
If the state of training and combat readiness of the Eighth Army units left much to be desired on 25 June 1950, so also did the condition of their equipment. Old and worn would describe the condition of the equipment of the occupation divisions in Japan. All of it dated from World War II. Some vehicles would not start and had to be towed on to LST’s when units loaded out for Korea. Radiators were clogged, and overheating of motors was frequent. The poor condition of Korean roads soon destroyed already well-worn tires and tubes. The condition of weapons was equally bad. A few examples will reflect the general condition. The 3rd Battalion of the 35th Infantry Regiment reported that only the SCR-300 radio in the battalion command net was operable when the battalion was committed in Korea. The 24th Regiment at the same time reported that it had only 60 percent of its Table of Equipment allowance of radios and that four-fifths of them were inoperable. The 1st Battalion of the 35th Infantry had only one recoilless rifle; none of its companies had spare barrels for machine guns, and most of the M1 rifles and M2 carbines were reported as not combat serviceable. Many of its 60-mm. mortars were unserviceable because the bipods and the tubes were worn out. Cleaning rods and cleaning and preserving supplies often were not available to the first troops in Korea. And there were shortages in certain types of ammunition that became critical in July. Trip flares, 60-mm. mortar illuminating shells, and grenades were very scarce. Even the 60-mm. illuminating shells that were available were old and on use proved to be 50 to 60 percent duds.
General Walker was too good a soldier not to know the deficiencies of his troops and their equipment. He went to Korea well aware of the limitations of his troops in training, equipment, and in numerical strength. He did not complain about the handicaps under which he labored. He tried to carry out his orders. He expected others to do the same.
On 1 July the Far East Command directed Eighth Army to assume responsibility for all logistical support of the United States and Allied forces in Korea. This included the ROK Army. When Eighth Army became operational in Korea, this logistical function was assumed by Eighth Army Rear which remained behind in Yokohama. This dual function of Eighth Army—that of combat in Korea and of logistical support for all troops fighting in Korea—led to the designation of that part of the army in Korea as Eighth United States Army in Korea. This situation existed until 25 August. On that date the Far East Command activated the Japan Logistical Command with Major General Walter L. Weible in command. It assumed the logistical duties previously held by Eighth Army Rear.
The support of American troops in Korea, and indeed of the ROK Army as well, would have to come from the United States or Japan. Whatever could be obtained from stocks in Japan or procured from Japanese manufacturers was so obtained. Japanese manufacturers in July began making antitank mines and on 18 July a shipment of 3,000 of them arrived by boat at Pusan.
That equipment and ordnance supplies were available to the United States forces in Korea in the first months of the war was largely due to the “roll-up” plan of the Far East Command. It called for the reclamation of ordnance items from World War II in the Pacific island outposts and their repair or reconstruction in Japan. This plan had been conceived and started in 1948 by Brigadier General Urban Niblo, Ordnance Officer of the Far East Command. During July and August 1950 an average of 4,000 automotive vehicles a month cleared through the ordnance repair shops; in the year after the outbreak of the Korean War more than 46,000 automotive vehicles were repaired or rebuilt in Japan.
The Tokyo Ordnance Depot, in addition to repairing and renovating World War II equipment for use in Korea, instituted a program of modifying certain weapons and vehicles to make them more effective in combat. For instance, M4A3 tanks were modified for the replacement of the 75-mm. gun with the high velocity 76-mm. gun, and the motor carriage of the 105-mm. gun was modified so that it could reach a maximum elevation of 67 degrees to permit high-angle fire over the steep Korean mountains. Another change was in the half-track M15A1, which was converted to a T19 mounting a 40-mm. gun instead of the old model 37-mm.
Of necessity, an airlift of critically needed items began almost at once from the United States to the Far East. The Military Air Transport Service (MATS), Pacific Division, expanded immediately upon the outbreak of the war. The Pacific airlift was further expanded by charter of civil airlines planes. The Canadian Government lent the United Nations a Royal Canadian Air Force squadron of 6 transports, while the Belgian Government added several DC-4’s. Altogether, the fleet of about 60 four-engine transport planes operating across the Pacific before 25 June 1950 was quickly expanded to approximately 250. In addition to these, there were MATS C-74 and C-97 planes operating between the United States and Hawaii.
The Pacific airlift to Korea operated from the United States over three routes. These were the Great Circle, with flight from McChord Air Force Base, Tacoma, Washington, via Anchorage, Alaska and Shemya in the Aleutians to Tokyo, distance 5,688 miles and flying time 30 to 33 hours; a second route was the Mid-Pacific from Travis (Fairfield-Suisun) Air Force Base near San Francisco, Calif., via Honolulu and Wake Island to Tokyo, distance 6,718 miles and flying time 34 hours; a third route was the Southern, from California via Honolulu, and Johnston, Kwajalein, and Guam Islands to Tokyo, distance about 8,000 miles and flying time 40 hours. The airlift moved about 106 tons a day in July 1950. From Japan most of the air shipments to Korea were staged at Ashiya or at the nearby secondary airfields of Itazuke and Brady.
Subsistence for the troops in Korea was not the least of the problems to be solved in the early days of the war. There were no C rations in Korea and only a small reserve in Japan. The Quartermaster General of the United States Army began the movement at once from the United States to the Far East of all C and 5-in-1 B rations. Field rations at first were largely World War II K rations.
Subsistence of the ROK troops was an equally important and vexing problem. The regular issue ration to ROK troops was rice or barley and fish. It consisted of about twenty-nine ounces of rice or barley, one half pound of biscuit, and one half pound of canned fish with certain spices. Often the cooked rice, made into balls and wrapped in cabbage leaves, was sour when it reached the combat troops on the line, and frequently it did not arrive at all. Occasionally, local purchase of foods on a basis of 200 won a day per man supplemented the issue ration (200 won ROK money equaled 5 cents U.S. in value).
An improved ROK ration consisting of three menus, one for each daily meal, was ready in September 1950. It provided 3,210 calories, weighed 2.3 pounds, and consisted of rice starch, biscuits, rice cake, peas, kelp, fish, chewing gum, and condiments, and was packed in a waterproofed bag. With slight changes, this ration was found acceptable to the ROK troops and quickly put into production. It became the standard ration for them during the first year of the war.
On 30 June, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis A. Hunt led the vanguard of American officers arriving in Korea to organize the logistical effort there in support of United States troops. Less than a week later, on 4 July, Brigadier General Crump Garvin and members of his staff arrived at Pusan to organize the Pusan Base Command, activated that day by orders of the Far East Command. This command was reorganized on 13 July by Eighth Army as the Pusan Logistical Command, and further reorganized a week later. The Pusan Logistical Command served as the principal logistical support organization in Korea until 19 September 1950 when it was re-designated the 2nd Logistical Command.
The Port of Pusan and Its Communications
It was a matter of the greatest good fortune to the U.N. cause that the best port in Korea, Pusan, lay at the southeastern tip of the peninsula. Pusan alone of all ports in South Korea had dock facilities sufficiently ample to handle a sizable amount of cargo. Its four piers and intervening quays could berth twenty-four or more deep-water ships, and its beaches provided space for the unloading of fourteen LST’s, giving the port a potential capacity of 45,000 measurement tons daily. Seldom, however, did the daily discharge of cargo exceed 14,000 tons because of limitations such as the unavailability of skilled labor, large cranes, rail cars, and trucks.
The distance in nautical miles to the all-important port of Pusan from the principal Japanese ports varied greatly. From Fukuoka it was 110 miles; from Moji, 123; from Sasebo, 130; from Kobe, 361; and from Yokohama (via the Bungo-Suido strait, 665 miles), 900 miles. The sea trip from the west coast of the United States to Pusan for personnel movement required about 16 days; that for heavy equipment and supplies on slower shipping schedules took longer.
From Pusan a good railroad system built by the Japanese and well ballasted with crushed rock and river gravel extended northward. Subordinate rail lines ran westward along the south coast through Masan and Chinju and northeast near the east coast to Pohang-dong. There the eastern line turned inland through the east-central mountain area. The railroads were the backbone of the U.N. transportation system in Korea.
The approximately 20,000 miles of Korean vehicular roads were all of a secondary nature as measured by American or European standards. Even the best of them were narrow, poorly drained, and surfaced only with gravel or rocks broken laboriously by hand, and worked into the dirt roadbed by the traffic passing over it. The highest classification placed on any appreciable length of road in Korea by Eighth Army engineers was for a gravel or crushed rock road with gentle grades and curves and one and a half to two lanes wide. According to engineer specifications there were no two-lane roads, 22 feet wide, in Korea. The average width of the best roads was 18 feet with numerous bottlenecks at narrow bridges and bypasses where the width narrowed to 11-13 feet. Often on these best roads there were short stretches having sharp curves and grades up to 15 percent. The Korean road traffic was predominately by oxcart. The road net, like the rail net, was principally north-south, with a few lateral east-west connecting roads.
American Command Estimate
Almost from the outset of American intervention, General MacArthur had formulated in his mind the strategical principles on which he would seek victory. Once he had stopped the North Koreans, MacArthur proposed to use naval and air superiority to support an amphibious operation in their rear. By the end of the first week of July he realized that the North Korean Army was a formidable force. His first task was to estimate with reasonable accuracy the forces he would need to place in Korea to stop the enemy and fix it in place, and then the strength of the force he would need in reserve to land behind the enemy’s line. That the answer to these problems was not easy and clearly discernible at first will become evident when one sees how the unfolding tactical situation in the first two months of the war compelled repeated changes in these estimates.
By the time American ground troops first engaged North Koreans in combat north of Osan, General MacArthur had sent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington by a liaison officer his requests for heavy reinforcements, most of them already covered by radio messages and teletype conferences. His requests included the 2nd Infantry Division, a regimental combat team from the 82nd Airborne Division, a regimental combat team and headquarters from the Fleet Marine Force, the 2nd Engineer Special Brigade, a Marine beach group, a Marine antiaircraft battalion, 700 aircraft, 2 air squadrons of the Fleet Marine Force, a Marine air group echelon, 18 tanks and crew personnel, trained personnel to operate LST’s, LSM’s, and LCVP’s, and 3 medium tank battalions, plus authorization to expand existing heavy tank units in the Far East Command to battalion strength.
On 6 July, the Joint Chiefs of Staff requested General MacArthur to furnish them his estimate of the total requirements he would need to clear South Korea of North Korean troops. He replied on 7 July that to halt and hurl back the North Koreans would require, in his opinion, from four to four and a half full-strength infantry divisions, an airborne regimental combat team complete with lift, and an armored group of three medium tank battalions, together with reinforcing artillery and service elements. He said 30,000 reinforcements would enable him to put such a force in Korea without jeopardizing the safety of Japan. The first and overriding essential, he said, was to halt the enemy advance.
He evaluated the North Korean effort as follows: “He is utilizing all major avenues of approach and has shown himself both skillful and resourceful in forcing or enveloping such road blocks as he has encountered. Once he is fixed, it will be my purpose fully to exploit our air and sea control, and, by amphibious maneuver, strike him behind his mass of ground force.”
By this time General MacArthur had received word from Washington that bomber planes, including two groups of B-29’s and twenty-two B-26’s, were expected to be ready to fly to the Far East before the middle of the month. The carrier Boxer would load to capacity with F-51 planes and sail under forced draft for the Far East. But on 7 July Far East hopes for a speedy build-up of fighter plane strength to tactical support of the ground combat were dampened by a message from Major General Frank F. Everest, U.S. Air Force Director of Operations. He informed General Stratemeyer that forty-four of the 164 F-80’s requested were on their way, but that the rest could not be sent because the Air Force did not have them.
To accomplish part of the build-up he needed to carry out his plan of campaign in Korea, MacArthur on 8 July requested of the Department of the Army authority to expand the infantry divisions then in the Far East Command to full war strength in personnel and equipment. He received this authority on 19 July.
Meanwhile, from Korea General Dean on 8 July had sent to General MacArthur an urgent request for speedy delivery of 105-mm. howitzer high-explosive antitank shells for direct fire against tanks. Dean said that those of his troops who had used the 2.36-inch rocket launcher against enemy tanks had lost confidence in the weapon, and urged immediate air shipment from the United States of the 3.5-inch rocket launcher. He gave his opinion of the enemy in these words, “I am convinced that the North Korean Army, the North Korean soldier, and his status of training and quality of equipment have been under-estimated.”
The next day, 9 July, General MacArthur considered the situation sufficiently critical in Korea to justify using part of his B-29 medium bomber force on battle area targets. He also sent another message to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying in part: The situation in Korea is critical…His [N.K.] armored equip[ment] is of the best and the service thereof, as reported by qualified veteran observers, as good as any seen at any time in the last war. They further state that the enemy’s inf[antry] is of thoroughly first class quality.
This force more and more assumes the aspect of a combination of Soviet leadership and technical guidance with Chinese Communist ground elements. While it serves under the flag of North Korea, it can no longer be considered as an indigenous N.K. mil[itary] effort. I strongly urge that in add[ition] to those forces already requisitioned, an army of at least four divisions, with all its component services, be dispatched to this area without delay and by every means of transportation available. The situation has developed into a major operation.
Upon receiving word the next day that the 2nd Infantry Division and certain armor and antiaircraft artillery units were under orders to proceed to the Far East, General MacArthur replied that same day, 10 July, requesting that the 2nd Division be brought to full war strength, if possible, without delaying its departure. He also reiterated his need of the units required to bring the 4 infantry divisions already in the Far East to full war strength. He detailed these as 4 heavy tank battalions, 12 heavy tank companies, 11 infantry battalions, 11 field artillery battalions (105-mm. howitzers), and 4 antiaircraft automatic weapons battalions (AAA AW), less four batteries.
After the defeat of the 24th Division on 11 and 12 July north of Chochiwon, General Walker decided to request immediate shipment to Korea of the ground troops nearest Korea other than those in Japan. These were the two battalions on Okinawa. Walker’s chief of staff, Colonel Landrum, called General Almond in Tokyo on 12 July and relayed the request. The next day, General MacArthur ordered the Commanding General, Ryukyus Command, to prepare the two battalions for water shipment to Japan.
The worsening tactical situation in Korea caused General MacArthur on 13 July to order General Stratemeyer to direct the Far East Air Forces to employ maximum B-26 and B-29 bomber effort against the enemy divisions driving down the center of the Korean peninsula. Two days later he advised General Walker that he would direct emergency use of the medium bombers against battle-front targets whenever Eighth Army requested it.
It is clear that by the time the 24th Division retreated across the Kum River and prepared to make a stand in front of Taejon there was no complacency over the military situation in Korea in either Eighth Army or the Far East Command. Both were thoroughly alarmed.
SOURCE: South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu; BY: Colonel Roy E. Appleman (United States Army Center of Military History)