For the first time, many Americans could understand what had happened to Britain at Dunkirk

August 6th, 2020

T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War) the American retreat at the start of the Korean War:

But most of the heroic actions had been those of individuals, of single officers or men who fought bravely and well. Because without tight discipline their bravery could not be coordinated into a team effort, many of these men died in vain.


None of them were equipped, trained, or mentally prepared for combat. For the first time in recent history, American ground units had been committed during the initial days of a war; there had been no allies to hold the line while America prepared. For the first time, many Americans could understand what had happened to Britain at Dunkirk.


Once aroused, a democracy can match a totalitarian state in every facet of strength — it can be stronger, for totalitarianism has built-in bureaucratic weaknesses. A Hitler can command, and men march — but a Hitler can go mad — and there is no one to say him nay.

But the abiding weakness of free peoples is that their governments can not or will not make them prepare or sacrifice before they are aroused.


Soldiers fight from discipline and training, citizens from motivation and ideals. Lacking both, it is amazing that the American troops did even as well as they did.


In actuality, the NKPA held a slight superiority in men on 20 July. By 22 July, U.N. and North Korean forces were on a par, and by the end of July United Nations forces actually outnumbered the Inmun Gun, an advantage they never again lost.


But men are not ciphers, nor do the battles always go to the big battalions.


But few correspondents saw that officers, giving crucial commands, could never be sure if their orders would be obeyed. A colonel who sends men to hold a vital hill, and who sees them again and again “take a vote on it with their feet” by marching to the rear, is soon apt to be a straitjacket case.

This is what a kiloton looks like

August 5th, 2020

If you haven’t seen the massive explosion in Beirut, it is legitimately terrifying:

That’s thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate going off, with roughly the energy of kilotons of TNT.

There’s not much left.

(Hat tip to our Slovenian Guest.)

Demonization becomes a winning Darwinian strategy

August 5th, 2020

We learn by paying attention to what others attend to, which is why, Arnold Kling speculates, in-class learning works better than watching a lecture on line:

When I am in a classroom, others are paying attention to the speaker. This makes my attention to the speaker instinctive. I don’t have to use so much willpower to pay attention. But when it’s just me sitting in front of a computer, I have to will myself to pay attention. It uses up more effort and takes more out of me.

That’s not his main point though:

In the twentieth century, watching television or listening to the radio were often social activities. TV and radio could command our attention the way the speaker in a classroom would, through people paying attention to what others were attending to.

But we use 21st-century media in isolation. That means that the media need other means to command our attention. They cannot rely on our use of social cues. Instead, they have to rely on dopamine hits. Porn. Games. And demonization.

We get a dopamine hit by seeing the demonization of people with whom we disagree. So demonization becomes a winning Darwinian strategy in the age of contemporary media.

The whole point of writing The Three Languages of Politics was to describe demonization rhetoric under the assumption that people would not want to demonize. I thought that if you recognize the rhetoric, you would back away from it.

Instead, the religion that persecutes heretics justifies demonization. To criticize demonization is to be a heretic. In a world where people consume media in isolation, an ideology that justifies demonization has an advantage.

It was much easier to get a message to the rear than it was to get one carried forward

August 4th, 2020

Major General Dean found himself trying to hold back the North Koreans at Taejon, but, as T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), he had almost no communications:

If he wanted to know what was happening to the front-line troops, he had to be on the front lines. He had found, sadly, that it was much easier to get a message to the rear than it was to get one carried forward.


He had three basic reasons for remaining inside the beleaguered city; one, to keep up the crumbling morale of the 34th Infantry and the other defenders by the sight of their commander moving shoulder to shoulder with them; two, to set an example for the ROK officers and staffs fighting alongside the Americans, who by now had all virtually climbed on the Pusan Express; and three, Bill Dean wanted to see close up just what kind of fighting cat the North Korean was.


The North Korean assault on Taejon was like all other North Korean attacks — they crashed into the defenders head on pinning them down, forcing them back, while at the same time they flanked or infiltrated to the rear and blocked the defenders’ retreat. At any given moment, it was impossible for Dean or any other commander to know what the situation was to his rear; this was a kind of tactic that the Europe-trained American officers, who liked to keep tidy lines, could not grasp until too late.

As it developed, Dean kept what he wanted of the 34th in the city, and sent other elements of the division, including his own HQ, to the east. As he would say much later, what he did afterward could have been done by any competent sergeant — but in saying this, Dean was thinking of the old Army, not the forces of 1950.


He decided to go tank hunting. He did not know it, but Colonel Beauchamp, to whom he had just given command of the 34th, was doing the same. Like Colonel Martin, Beauchamp had found everyone deathly sick of the T-34’s, but now things were just a bit better, for a few of the new 3.5-inch bazookas, designed to stop any known armor, had been flown in from the States.

With Beauchamp guiding and directing a team, the 3.5’s knocked out one tank west of Taejon.


Meanwhile, hundreds of North Korean soldiers, disguised in the white robes of farmers, were infiltrating into the city. Once inside, they threw off the misleading civilian attire and opened fire on American troops. Soon snipers were everywhere.

Using HQ and service personnel, American officers were having very poor success in rooting them out. Most American boys no longer knew how to play cowboys and Indians, particularly with live ammunition.

By afternoon, Dean had located another bazooka man, this time with an ammo bearer.

Dodging sniper fire, shooting a few snipers on the way, his party hunted up another tank. But this target was covered by North Korean infantry, and rifle fire kept them from getting close. Dean and the bazooka men sneaked back through a Korean courtyard, and climbed up to the second story of a house facing the street.

Here, cautiously looking out the street window, Dean saw the muzzle of the tank’s 85mm gun pointed at him, not more than a dozen feet away.

The bazooka man aimed where Dean pointed, and fired. The blowback from the rocket shook the whole room. The shaped charge burned into the tank at the juncture of turret and body

From the tank came a shrill, horrible ululation.

“Hit ’em again!” Dean said.

After the third round, the screaming ended abruptly, and the T-34 began to smoke.


Because he took the wrong turn, Bill Dean would not rejoin the American Army until September, 1953. Thirty-five days later, after wandering lost in the hills, after making heroic attempts to reach his own lines, Bill Dean was betrayed to the Inmun Gun by Koreans. When they jumped him, he tried to make them kill him, but they put ropes around his wrists and dragged him to a police station. There they threw him in a cage, the sort reserved for the town drunk.

Only much later did the Inmun Gun realize that the old-looking, filthy, 130-pound emaciated soldier they had captured was an American general.

General Dean once said that he wouldn’t award himself a wooden star for what he did as a commander. His country saw more clearly.

It gave him the Medal of Honor.

Wild bison to return to UK for first time in 6,000 years

August 3rd, 2020

Wild bison to return to UK for first time in 6,000 years , with the release of a small herd in Kent planned for spring 2022:

The £1m project to reintroduce the animals will help secure the future of an endangered species. But they will also naturally regenerate a former pine wood plantation by killing off trees. This creates a healthy mix of woodland, scrub and glades, boosting insect, bird and plant life.

During the initial release, one male and three females will be set free. Natural breeding will increase the size of the herd, with one calf per year the norm for each female. The bison will come from the Netherlands or Poland, where releases have been successful and safe.


Bison kill selected trees by eating their bark or rubbing against them to remove their thick winter fur. This creates a feast of dead wood for insects, which provide food for birds. Tree felling also creates sunny clearings where native plants can thrive. The trust expects nightingales and turtle doves to be among the beneficiaries of the bison’s “ecosystem engineering”.

The steppe bison is thought to have roamed the UK until about 6,000 years ago, when hunting and changes in habitat led to its global extinction. The European bison that will be released in Kent is a descendant of this species and its closest living relative.

The European bison is the continent’s largest land mammal and bulls can weigh as much as a tonne.

They too were paid to die

August 2nd, 2020

At the start of the Korean War, casualties among officers of high rank in the United States Army were greater in proportion to those of any fighting since the Civil War, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

They had to be. There were few operable radios with the regiments in Korea, and almost no communication from command posts down to the front positions.

If commanders wanted to know what was happening, or make their orders known, they had to be on the ground.

And the troops themselves, who had never developed any respect for N.C.O.’s or junior officers, often would ignore their orders — particularly if the order involved something unpleasant or unpopular.

Understandably, the junior leaders soon became defeatist. A great many of them died, recklessly, but it was not enough.

It was not because the colonels and generals had lost their minds that so many of them began to stand with bazooka teams or to direct rifle fire. There was no other way. So it was that men like Bob Martin were blown apart doing a rifleman’s job, or battalion commanders like Smith of the 3rd, 34th Infantry, collapsed and had to be evacuated, and men like Major Dunn, marching ahead of a rifle company, were lost.

The high-priced help was expendable, true. They too were paid to die. But it was no way to run a war.

Closer threats inspire a more primitive kind of fear

August 1st, 2020

Your brain handles a perceived threat differently depending on how close it is to you;

“Clinically, people who develop PTSD are more likely to have experienced threats that invaded their personal space, assaults or rapes or witnessing a crime at a close distance. They’re the people that tend to develop this long-lasting threat memory,” said Kevin LaBar, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University who is the senior author on a paper appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’ve never been able to study that in the lab because you have a fixed distance to the computer screen,” LaBar said.

But Duke graduate student Leonard Faul and postdoc Daniel Stjepanovic figured out a way to do it, using a 3D television, a mirror and some MRI-safe 3D glasses.

“It’s like an IMAX experience,” LaBar said. “The threatening characters popped out of the screen and would either invade your personal space as you’re navigating this virtual world, or they were farther away.”

The VR simulation put 49 study subjects into a first-person view that had them moving down either a dark alley or a brighter, tree-lined street as they lay in the MRI tube having their brains scanned. Ambient sound and visual backgrounds were altered to provide some context for the threat versus safe memories.

On the first day of testing, subjects received a mild shock when the “threat avatar” appeared, either two feet away or 10 feet away, but not when they saw the safe avatar at the same distances.

The data from the first day showed that near threats were more frightening and they engaged limbic and mid-brain “survival circuitry,” in a way that the farther threats did not.

The following day, subjects encountered the same scenarios again but only a few shocks were given initially to remind them of the threatening context. Once again, the subjects showed a greater behavioral response to near threats than to distant threats.

“On the second day, we got fear reinstatement, both near and far threats, but it was stronger for the near threat,” LaBar said.

Tellingly, the nearby threats that engaged the survival circuits also proved harder to extinguish after they no longer produced shocks. The farther threats that engaged more higher-order thinking in the cortex were easier to extinguish. The near threats engaged the cerebellum, and the persistence of this signal predicted how much fear was reinstated the next day, LaBar said. “It’s the evolutionarily older cortex.”

The more distant threats showed greater connectivity between the amygdala, hippocampus and ventral medial prefrontal cortex and the areas of the cortex related to complex planning and visual processing, areas the researchers said are more related to thinking one’s way out of a situation and coping.

(Hat tip to Greg Ellifritz.)

No American may sneer at them, or at what they did

July 31st, 2020

T. R. Fehrenbach (in This Kind of War) describes the demoralized retreat of the American troops in Korean:

Men threw away their shoes, because it was difficult to walk in the mud. They had no canteens, and they had no food. They were tired and dispirited, and some were bitter. The sun burned out of the clouds, and now the full brazen heat of Korean midsummer baked them. Some men grew dizzy and sick.


No American may sneer at them, or at what they did. What happened to them might have happened to any American in the summer of 1950. For they represented exactly the kind of pampered, undisciplined, egalitarian army their society had long desired and had at last achieved. They had been raised to believe the world was without tigers, then sent to face those tigers with a stick. On their society must fall the blame.

Most studies put the rate between 0.5% and 1.0%

July 30th, 2020

Covid-19 kills from around 0.3% to 1.5% of people infected:

Most studies put the rate between 0.5% and 1.0%, meaning that for every 1,000 people who get infected, from five to 10 would die on average.

COVID-19 IFR by Study

More than 14.7 million people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 across the globe, and over 609,000 people have died, with nearly a quarter of the fatalities in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That means that among confirmed global cases, roughly 4.2% of those people died.

The percentage of deaths among people with confirmed infections is higher than the percentage of deaths among infections overall, researchers say, because so many milder and asymptomatic Covid-19 cases go missed.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that for every known case of Covid-19, roughly 10 more went unrecorded through the beginning of May. From March to early May, the total number of infections was likely six to 24 times greater than the number of reported cases depending on the state, the agency said Tuesday in a paper published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.


An analysis of 26 different studies estimating the infection-fatality rate in different parts of the globe found an aggregate estimate of about 0.68%, with a range of 0.53% to 0.82%, according to a report posted in July on the preprint server medRxiv, which hasn’t yet been reviewed by other researchers.

Cholesterol drug fenofibrate may downgrade Covid-19 to common cold

July 29th, 2020

A study conducted by professor Yaakov Nahmias at Hebrew University in Israel has found that an existing cholesterol drug, fenofibrate, could ‘downgrade’ Covid-19 threat level to that of a common cold:

According to the research, the virus leads to deposits of lipids in the lungs. Nahmias partnered with Mount Sinai Medical Center researcher Dr Benjamin tenOever to gain better insights into SARS-CoV-2 mechanism of attack on the human body.

The researchers observed that the virus changes lipid metabolism in human lungs. They believe that halting this process could help prevent the onset of problems that increase the severity of the disease.

While SARS-CoV-2 hinders the ability of the body to break down fat, fenofibrate starts this process by binding and activating the DNA site that is blocked by the virus.

Martin did the only thing he could do, which was to try to set a personal example

July 29th, 2020

Colonel Bob Martin, in command of the 34th Infantry, had inherited a debacle, T. R. Fehrenbach (in This Kind of War) explains:

With a disintegrating command, it was not enough to issue orders; orders had a way of being ignored on company and platoon level. Martin did the only thing he could do, which was to try to set a personal example.

In the early morning, Bob Martin was hunting through the streets of Ch’onan with a 2.36-inch bazooka. It was no job for a regimental C.O. — but somebody had to do it. Leading the attack, gathering a small group of men about him, Martin engaged the enemy tanks.

With his regimental S-3 sergeant, Jerry Christenson, he stood in a hut east of the main street of Ch’onan, facing a T-34. Martin, acting as gunner, aimed the rocket launcher, and fired. The small, obsolete rocket charge fizzled out against the tank’s steel hull.

At the same time, the tank fired. At a range of less than twenty-five feet, the 85mm shell blew Bob Martin into two pieces.

The concussion burst one of Christenson’s eyes from its socket, but in great pain he managed to pop it back in. He was taken captive by the North Koreans.

Covid-19 measures have all but wiped out the flu

July 28th, 2020

Countries in the Southern Hemisphere are reporting far lower numbers of influenza and other seasonal respiratory viral infections this year, due to measures meant to corral the coronavirus, like mask use and restrictions on air travel:

“We keep checking for the other viruses, but all we’re seeing is Covid,” said Dr. Cortés, the Chilean doctor. Of roughly 1,300 Covid-19 patients she has treated since late March, only a handful had the flu. “We were surprised by the decline in the other viruses like influenza. We never dreamed it would practically disappear,” she said.

Chile's Influenza Cases

Chile has recorded only 1,134 seasonal respiratory infections so far this year, compared with 20,949 during the same period last year. In the first two weeks of July—the equivalent to early January in the Northern Hemisphere and the height of the local flu season—the country reported no new confirmed influenza cases.

The rash and the brave die early in a war

July 27th, 2020

The heart of the ROK Army, with the loss of its best men north of the Han, had broken, T. R. Fehrenbach (in This Kind of War) explains:

It had little equipment remaining from the Seoul debacle, and the troops who had been in the south were poorly armed, with old Jap matèriel. The staff had fallen into controversy, with more than one high officer shouting “Communists!” at his colleagues.


It was the Communist tanks, the ever-present, ever-leading T-34’s, which could not be stopped and could not be destroyed, that wrecked every plan and every hope of the ROK commanders. Lee Bum Suk had sound notions for fighting tanks — but now he could no longer find any ROK soldiers with the heart to try them. The rash and the brave die early in a war.

Lee’s successor, Chung Il Kwon, dropped the whole problem in the Americans’ laps. They were here now; their advisers had talked endlessly about the insignificance and vulnerability of Soviet tanks — now let the men from Mikuk, the Beautiful Land, fight the Communist tanks.


Each [American] soldier carried either an M-1 rifle or a carbine, with less than 100 rounds of ammunition. The company had three light machine guns, with four boxes of ammunition for each gun. Each platoon had only one Browning Automatic rifle, with a total of 200 rounds per weapon.

The Weapons Platoon dug in only three 60mm mortars. It also had 75mm recoilless rifles, but these it could have left behind, for the powers that be had issued no ammunition for them.

Nor were there any hand grenades.

When the Americans encountered North Koreans with tanks, they didn’t perform much better than their South Korean allies:

“Commence firing! Commence firing!” Collins shouted. Two other men, who were veterans of World War II, took up the shout.

The Americans on the hill could see the advancing Koreans plainly now, but almost no one fired. Collins turned to the two riflemen in his own hole.

“Come on! You got an M-1 — get firing! Come on!” He jabbed one of them sharply.

But most of the men stood slack-jawed, staring at the advancing Koreans, as if unwilling to believe that these men were really trying to kill them. For many minutes, only the squad and platoon leaders did any shooting, and more than half of the men never got off a round.


More than a dozen tanks converged bumper to bumper on the road, a beautiful target, and on the hill SFC Collins cursed because he had no ammo for the 75’s.

He called for fire from the battalion’s 4.2 — mortars — but a tank cannon shell burst near the single mortar observer, not harming him, but shocking him into speechlessness. No one else knew how to direct the mortars, and in the confusion the tubes stood idle.


The men left their field packs behind, and most of them forgot their spare ammunition. A few even left rifles in the rush.


Sergeant Collins, disgusted that so many of his men hadn’t fired on the enemy, went among his survivors, asking them why they hadn’t fired. A dozen of them said their rifles wouldn’t work. Checking, Collins found the rifles were jammed with dirt, or incorrectly assembled after cleaning.

Many of the men did not know how to put a rifle together. It wasn’t Collins’ fault, since he had joined the company only one day before.


The wounded who had made it could walk, but the shell-shocked mortar observer wandered around aimlessly if not helped. Men took turns helping him along.

The rain stopped, and the day became steamy, humid, and miserable. The men sweated. They had thrown away their canteens, and now they were forced to drink like animals from the muddy ditches and stinking rice paddies, fertilized with human feces.

That Korean term for America, Mikuk, can also be written as Miguk, which some have suggested as the origin of the term gook:

The word was used by U.S. Marines in the early 20th century; the earliest written example is dated 1920.

Folk etymology suggests that during the Korean War, young Korean children would point at U.S. soldiers and shout in Korean Miguk (“America”). Soldiers heard the word as “me gook”, as if the children were defining themselves as “gooks”. The soldiers proceeded to use that term to refer to the Koreans. The word guk itself simply means “country”. This explanation ignores the fact that there are many examples of the word’s use that pre-date the Korean War.

I was shocked to read Rhodesians calling black Communist guerrillas gooks (in A Handful of Hard Men).

Trans men should be allowed to play against biological men

July 26th, 2020

World Rugby is considering banning trans women from playing women’s rugby because of significant safety concerns that have emerged following recent research:

The Guardian can reveal that in a 38-page draft document produced by its transgender working group, it is acknowledged that there is likely to be “at least a 20-30% greater risk” of injury when a female player is tackled by someone who has gone through male puberty. The document also says the latest science shows that trans women retain “significant” physical advantages over biological women even after they take medication to lower their testosterone.

As a result, World Rugby’s working group suggests that its current rules, which allow trans women to play women’s rugby if they lower their testosterone levels for at least 12 months in line with the International Olympic Committee’s guidelines, are “not fit for the purpose”.


It also recommends that trans men should be allowed to play against biological men, provided they have undergone a physical assessment and have signed a consent form.


As World Rugby’s working group notes, players who are assigned male at birth and whose puberty and development is influenced by androgens/testosterone “are stronger by 25%-50%, are 30% more powerful, 40% heavier, and about 15% faster than players who are assigned female at birth (who do not experience an androgen-influenced development).”

Task Force Smith had neither arms nor training

July 25th, 2020

The young men of Colonel Smith’s task force lived an easy life in Japan and weren’t prepared for serious trouble in Korea, T. R. Fehrenbach (in This Kind of War) explains:

They were probably as contented a group of American soldiery as had ever existed. They were like American youth everywhere. They believed the things their society had taught them to believe. They were cool, and confident, and figured that the world was no sweat.

It was not their fault that no one had told them that the real function of an army is to fight and that a soldier’s destiny — which few escape — is to suffer, and if need be, to die.


The tanks were now about two thousand yards in front of the infantry holes, and still coming. Bursting HE shells walked into the tank column, spattering the advancing armor with flame and steel and mud. “Jesus Christ, they’re still coming!” an infantryman shouted.

Colonel Smith knew that the 75mm recoilless rifles he had placed covering the highway had very little ammunition; he now ordered them to hold their fire until the tanks got within 700 yards.


Anti-tank mines placed in the road would have stopped them. But there was not a single anti-tank mine in Korea. Air support might have stopped them, but because of the rain the planes could not fly.


At 700 yards, both recoilless rifles slammed at the tanks. Round after round burst against the T-34 turrets, with no apparent effect. But with this opposition, the tanks stopped and turned their 85mm cannon on the ridge. They fired, and their 7.62mm coaxial machine guns clawed the hillsides. Suddenly, American soldiers pulled their heads down.

Lieutenant Ollie Connor, watching, grabbed a bazooka and ran down to the ditch alongside the road. Steadying the 2.36-inch rocket launcher on the nearest tank, only fifteen yards away, Connor let fly. The small shaped charge burned out against the thick Russian armor without penetrating. Angrily, Connor fired again, this time at the rear of the tank where the armor protection was supposed to be thinnest. He fired twenty-two rockets, none of which did any damage. Some of the rounds were so old they did not explode properly. The tankers, thinking they were up against only a small roadblock, made no real attempt to engage Task Force Smith, but continued down the road.


The American Army had developed improved 3.5-inch rocket launchers, which would penetrate the T-34. But happy with having designed them, it hadn’t thought to place them in the hands of the troops, or of its allies. There just hadn’t been enough money for long-range bombers, nuclear bombs, aircraft carriers, and bazookas too. Now, painfully, at the cost of blood, the United States found that while long-range bombers and aircraft carriers are absolutely vital to its security, it had not understood in 1945 the shape of future warfare.

To remain a great power, the United States had to provide the best in nuclear delivery systems. But to properly exercise that power with any effect in the world — short of blowing it up — the United States had also to provide the bread-and-butter weapons that would permit her ground troops to live in battle.


The two lead tanks rumbling down on the howitzer positions were struck head on by HEAT rounds, damaging them. They pulled off the road, so the others could get around them. One of the damaged tanks burst into flames. Two of its crew leaped from the turret with their hands up; the third came out holding a burp gun.

This soldier, seeing an American machine-gun crew dug in beside the road, fired at it, killing an assistant gunner. The Americans immediately shot down all three tankers. But the first American had been killed in Korea.


The howitzer gunners relaid their pieces directly on the tanks, and fired. At ranges from 300 to 450 yards, the 105’s just bounced off. But the tankers had buttoned up, and could not locate the artillery’s firing position. Answering the fire only haphazardly, they continued down the road, past the artillery site and beyond. One more tank was hit in the track and immobilized. But the anti-tank ammunition was now gone, and a badly shaken group of American gunners watched the Communist armor rumble on.


Now it was found that the tanks had cut all the wires leading up to the infantry positions farther north. The radios were wet and old and wouldn’t work, and the gunners had no idea of what was happening up ahead. They knew only that a hell of a lot of tanks had come through, and that wasn’t supposed to happen to them.

Ten minutes later, another long string of tanks poured down the road toward the guns emplaced alongside it. They came singly, in twos, and threes, apparently without any organization, and, like the first, not accompanied by enemy infantry.

To any troops with solid training, armed with the weapons standard to any advanced nation at the middle of the century, they would have been duck soup. But Task Force Smith had neither arms nor training.

As the new wave of tanks burst into view, the artillery battery started to come apart. Officers ordered fire on the tanks, but the crew members began to take off. Some men scuttled off; others simply walked away from the guns. The officers and senior sergeants suddenly found themselves alone.

Cursing, commissioned officers of the battery grabbed ammunition and stuffed it into the tubes. The noncoms laid the guns and pulled the lanyards.


The North Korean column was congested on the narrow road; it was not prepared to fight. Apparently it was not even in communication with the tank columns of the 105th Armored Brigade that had preceded it down the road; and it did not anticipate trouble.

While tough and battle-hardened, with a core of veterans, and psychologically prepared for battle, the NKPA was by no means a scientific military instrument by twentieth century standards. With no body of technical skills to fall back upon, the handling of communications and mechanized equipment, or even of artillery larger than mortars, by its peasant soldiery was inept. When its core of veterans had been exhausted in battle, the newer forced-inductees would be less reliable, and the NKPA would falter.


Either artillery or air could have wreaked havoc on the North Koreans congested on the road in front of him, but he had neither. Smith believed the artillery had been destroyed by the tank column, though actually only one howitzer had been knocked out.

While the infantry fought along the ridge, the artillery sat it out. Twice Perry ordered wire parties to try to get the lines back in, but twice the men came back, complaining that they had been fired on. Wet and old, none of the radios would work.

Smith, a courageous and competent officer, held his ridge as long as he dared.


A withdrawal under fire is one of the most difficult of all military maneuvers. With seasoned troops it is dangerous, but with green men, undisciplined, badly shocked by the new and terrifying experience of battle, it can be fatal.


The withdrawal immediately became ragged and chaotic. Nobody wanted to be last in a game where all advantage obviously lay with being first. The men got out of their holes, leaving their crew-served weapons. They left their machine guns, recoilless rifles, and mortars for the enemy.


Covered with slime, running, these men had tossed aside their steel helmets. Some had dropped their shoes, and many had lost shirts. None of them had weapons other than a few rifles, and two or three clips of ammunition per man.

Task Force Smith, designed to be an arrogant display of strength to bluff the enemy into halting his advance, had delayed the Inmun Gun exactly seven hours.