The best damn army outside the United States had no tanks

Monday, June 29th, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachTime had said the Republic of Korea Army was the best outside the States, and what Time printed was not only true, but official. Only it wasn’t true, as T. R. Fehrenbach explains in This Kind of War:

The ROK’s had eight divisions. Except those fighting guerrillas in the South, they were armed with American M-1 rifles. The guerrilla fighters had to make do with old Jap Model 99’s. The ROK’s had machine guns, of course, and some mortars, mostly small. They had five battalions of field artillery to back up the infantry divisions, all with the old, short-range Model M-3 105mm howitzer, which the United States had junked.


The best damn army outside the United States had no tanks, no medium artillery, no 4.2-inch mortars, no recoilless rifles. They had no spare parts for their transport. They had not even one combat aircraft.

They didn’t have any of those things because the American Embassy didn’t want them to have them.


Ambassador John J. Muccio had been instructed to take no chances of the South Koreans attacking the Communists to the north.


Lynn Roberts had told Time that while the troops were excellent, the Korean officers’ corps was not so hot. After all, in only eleven months staffs and commanders could not be made and trained, starting from scratch. Lynn Roberts, a professional soldier, also knew that soldiers are only as good as their officers make them. But that kind of attitude sounded un-American and was not popular in Washington, and there was no point in playing it up.

Having no tanks is one thing. Having no anti-tank weapons is another.


  1. VXXC says:

    Makes you wonder about the present day…

  2. Lu An Li says:

    Officers such as Park Chung Hee had served in the Japanese army, but I would suspect their duties were not combat oriented. Park when he was a General had the utmost respect from American military personnel serving in Korea.

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