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

Friday, July 31st, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachT. 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%

Thursday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachColonel 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

Tuesday, 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

Monday, July 27th, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachThe 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

Sunday, 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

Saturday, July 25th, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachThe 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.

The flesh-head bolt cuts more than flesh

Friday, July 24th, 2020

Tod Cutler of Tod’s Workshop shot a medieval crossbow (350-lb draw weight) using three different bolt heads (needle bodkin, flesh head, plate-cutter), against three types of flexible medieval armor (gambeson, aketon, and mail):

(Tod and his friends previously showed that medieval longbow arrows explode on impact with a breastplate.)

Truman and the American Republic had no legions

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachSomething new had happened, according to T. R. Fehrenbach (in This Kind of War), when America went to war in Korea:

The United States had gone to war, not under enemy attack, nor to protect the lives or property of American citizens. Nor was the action taken in crusading spirit, as in World Wars I and II, to save the world. The American people had entered a war, not by the roaring demand of Congress — which alone could constitutionally declare a state of war — or the public, but by executive action, at the urging of an American proconsul across the sea, to maintain the balance of power across the sea.


This was the kind of order Disraeli might have given, sending Her Majesty’s regiments against the disturbers of Her Majesty’s peace. Or the emperor in Rome might have given such a command to the legions when his governor in Britain sent word the Picts were over the border.


In 1950 there was only one power and one people in the world who could prevent chaos and a new, barbarian tyranny from sweeping the earth. The United States had become a vast world power, like it or not. And liking it or not, Americans would find that if a nation desires to remain a great and moral power there is a game it must play, and some of its people must pay the price.

Truman, sending the divisions into Korea, was trying to emulate the Roman legions and Her Majesty’s regiments — for whether the American people have accepted it or not, there have always been tigers in the world, which can be contained only by force.

But Truman and the American Republic had no legions.


The United States Army, since 1945, had, at the demand of the public, been civilianized. The men in the ranks were enlistees, but these were the new breed of American regular, who, when they took up the soldier, had not even tried to put aside the citizen.

They were normal American youth, no better, no worse than the norm, who though they wore the uniform were mentally, morally, and physically unfit for combat, for orders to go out and die.

They wore the uniform, but they were still civilians at heart.

The ancient legions, and the proud old British regiments, had been filled with taverns’ scum, starvelings, and poor farm boys seeking change. They had been inducted, knocked about, ruled with a rod of iron, made into men of iron, with iron discipline. They were officered by men wholly professional, to whom dying was only a part of their way of life. To these men the service was home, and war — any war — their profession.

These legions of old, like the sword itself, were neither moral nor immoral. Morality depended upon the use to which their government put them. But when put to use, they did not question, did not fail. They marched.

In 1950 America, imperfectly understanding her position in this new world, had no legions. She had even no men in “dirty-shirt blue,” such as had policed the Indian frontier. She had an army of sorts of citizens, who were as conscious of their rights and privileges as of their duties. And she had only a reserve of more citizens to fall back upon.

Citizens fly to defend the homeland, or to crusade. But a frontier cannot be held by citizens, because citizens, in a republic, have better things to do.


The single greatest weakness of a free people is always their moral doubts. Fortunately for the world, in 1950 the men in the United States Government overcame theirs.

The Marine Corps’s Massive Reforms to Fight China May Destroy Its Real Skills

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

While American forces were campaigning in the mountains of Afghanistan, the commanders of the PLA slowly shaped their military into the world’s premier counter-American military force, T. Greer notes:

The PLA realized that the U.S. military had grown accustomed to operating freely in the airspace and neighboring waters of its enemies. To counter this way of war, a terrific percentage of the Chinese defense budget has been directed to developing weapons that might challenge American control of the sea and air. The result: thousands of what are known as “anti-access” and “area denial” weapons whose range and precision create a death zone extending hundreds of miles from the Chinese coast. These precision weapons, launched from an ever-growing number of PLA Navy vessels, PLA Air Force craft, and PLA Rocket Force units, will make it impossible for traditional expeditionary forces — like the existing U.S. Marine Expeditionary Units — to get within striking range of any East Asian battlefield without risking destruction. When these long-range weapons are combined with the PLA’s air defense systems, sea mines, submarines, and electronic warfare and cyber-capabilities, the result is a gauntlet of fire that American expeditionary forces cannot be expected to securely traverse.


Recognizing that the Marines will not be able to pierce through enemy “weapons engagement zones” once hostilities begin, Berger proposes that the United States should have Marine Corps units stationed inside these zones before war begins. He envisions turning the islands of the West Pacific into small redoubts bristling with Marines.

These Marines will be armed to the teeth with long-range missiles and unmanned aircraft, each with the ability to target Chinese ships from hundreds of miles away. In Berger’s words, this “inside force” will “reverse the cost imposition that determined adversaries seek to impose” on American forces, putting the PLA Navy in the same desperate situation now faced by U.S. ships. This will enable the Marine Corps “to create a mutually contested space in the South or East China Seas if directed to do so.” The commandant believes that this new posture will have a powerful deterrent effect on Chinese decision-making. As the Marines’ new bases will exist inside the Chinese weapons engagement zone, they will be able to attack PLA platforms in the very first minutes of war.

To retool the U.S. Marine Corps as an “inside force” in the West Pacific, the commandant has directed the Marine Corps to ax many of its current capabilities. The Marine Corps’s cannon artillery (e.g., its howitzer batteries) are being reduced from 21 to five batteries, and its armor forces (e.g., its tank battalions) will be completely eliminated. The Marine Corps will also cut its helicopter squadrons and amphibious assault vehicle companies by a third and reduce the number of manned attack aircraft and logistics teams it can put into the field.

These changes reflect the sort of war Berger believes Marines must prepare to fight. Suppressing fire from cannon artillery and the mobility of Marines armor forces are cornerstones of the Corps’s maneuver warfare doctrine, a set of tactics the commandant thinks Marines will have little use for when the land battlespace is reduced to small Pacific islands. The cuts in the Corps’s aircraft, logistics teams, and amphibious vehicles likewise signify that the Marine Corps will be focusing on its new role as coastal artillery, not its traditional expertise in expeditionary campaigning or amphibious assault. The human resources and money — around $12 billion — that are now being spent on armor, cannon artillery, and the rest will instead be poured into long-range missiles, unmanned aircraft, and the education and training of Marines.

Later, the ROK chief of engineers would be tried by court-martial and summarily shot

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachAs the North Korean army (Inmun Gun) approached Seoul, thousands of civilians and soldiers tried to flee across the Han river, which ROK combat engineers had rigged for demolition — as T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

At that moment the bridge blew. A sheet of orange fire burst across the dark night, and the ground shook. With an ear-shattering roar, two long spans on the south side of the river dropped into the swirling dark water.

No one will ever know how many soldiers and civilians died in the explosion or were hurled screaming into the Han to drown. The best estimates indicate the number was near one thousand.

There had been no warning of any kind to the traffic thronging the bridge. Later, the ROK chief of engineers would be tried by court-martial and summarily shot for his part in the demolitions. But no one in the Rhee Government ever brought up the matter of the Vice-Minister of Defense, who had given the order that ensured the destruction of the ROK Army.

Trapped by the premature blowing of the Han bridges, 44,000 men of the divisions north of the river would die or disappear. Their vital artillery and equipment would be lost with them.


On the 28th of June, only a rabble held the south shores of the Han. The ROK Army Command could account for only 22,000 men of the 98,000 its rolls had carried out on the 25th.

The Army of the Taehan Minkuk, which had been called “the best damn army outside the United States,” had not merely been defeated. It had been destroyed.

In 2019, fans pledged more than $176 million toward tabletop games

Monday, July 20th, 2020

Tabletop gaming has evolved dramatically over the years, but lately board game funding has changed even more:

Then, on March 30, the board game Frosthaven — the dungeon crawling, highly-anticipated sequel to the hit game Gloomhaven — surpassed its funding goal of $500,000 on Kickstarter in mere hours. Today, it is the most-funded board game on the site ever, with nearly $13 million pledged toward funding the game’s development. Only two projects have ever crowdsourced more funding on the site.


Games like Dark Souls, Ankh: Gods of Egypt, Cthulhu: Death May Die and Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon are among those that earned multiple millions through crowdfunding.

Creators use Kickstarter like a social media site, an advertisement and a fundraising tool all in one, and they use it more successfully than nearly any other game creators on the site. In 2019, fans pledged more than $176 million toward tabletop games — up 6.8% over the previous year, according to Kickstarter data gathered by the entertainment site Polygon. In all, more than 1 million people pledged to games on the site last year.


It takes a lot of startup value to create your own video game, for instance, but for board games, you only need a good enough idea and a well-placed Kickstarter page to gauge public interest.


Creators are responsible for everything if their goals are reached. They have to print the games and send them to their customers on their own — a process that can be grueling, time-consuming and even detrimental. One board game creator miscalculated the amount of money it would cost to ship games and lost his house due to the unexpected financial burden.

(Hat tip to Nyrath.)

But the 2,202 American citizens were evacuated from Korea, without loss of life

Sunday, July 19th, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachWith its tanks, the North Korean army (Inmun Gun) quickly overran the South (ROK), and the Americans had to flee Seoul, as T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

Only the best trained and best led troops can execute an orderly withdrawal under heavy pressure. Outnumbered, outgunned and with no way to counteract the freezing terror — which the Germans call panzer fever — caused by the unstoppable Russian tanks, the 7th took frightful losses.


The ROK plan of maneuver had been hasty, ill advised, and impossible. A competent, adequately trained basic rifleman could be made in eleven months. Competent, well-schooled commanders and staffs could not.


Under American fighter cover from Japan, the civilian and KMAG staff began to fly from Suwon Airfield. Behind them, the American evacuation of Seoul was both hasty and chaotic, and in some respects, tragic.

The fifteen hundred vehicles belonging to Americans, both government and private, were abandoned; no effort was made to turn them over to the ROK Army, which desperately needed them. More than twenty thousand gallons of gasoline were abandoned in the embassy motor pool. A tremendous amount of food, valued at $100,000, and the entire July quota of liquor — $40,000 worth, tax free — were left for the Inmun Gun.


The ghastly mistake made during the early hours of 27 June was that the personnel records of more than five thousand Korean employees of the embassy were left in their files. While the confidential records of the American Mission were burned, no one thought of the dossiers of its loyal Korean workers — or more likely, no one on the embassy staff really understood the nature of the Communist foe they faced.

These files would fall into the hands of the Inmun Gun, and none of the employees who remained at their homes in Seoul would survive the Communist occupation.

But the 2,202 American citizens were evacuated from Korea, without loss of life.


Men falling back from the north told of the terrible tanks that could not be stopped. It must be recalled that Korean soldiers had not even been told much about tanks, let alone given them, and the tanks assumed the proportions of invincible monsters as the tales spread. And the ROK Army had not even one anti-tank mine.

The roadblocks were not defended; the bridges to the north were not blown. Thousands of defeated ROK troops began to pour into Seoul, and as they did so, the rearguard detachments left to delay the enemy melted away.

And now a new menace appeared. Thousands upon thousands of Communists and Communist sympathizers had infiltrated Seoul during the years, and as the Inmun Gun approached, these men came out into the open. Suddenly no one could be trusted; even on the ROK Army Staff men began to shout “Communist!” and “Traitor!” at each other.

Does this force structure really work if the Filipinos won’t let you in, the Taiwanese can’t let you in, and the Japanese will try as hard as they can to concentrate you in a few locations?

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

The USMC is smack-dab in the middle of a transformational institutional revolution, where it has decided to redefine itself as anti-China force, but China-hawk T. Greer is not gung-ho about this new self-conception. He presents three questions Congress should be thinking through as they evaluate the USMC plan:

  1. Was this plan developed in consultation with America’s Indo-Pacific allies or with the other branches of the U.S. military, all of whose cooperation is needed for its success?
  2. Is the Marine Corps optimizing itself for the range of possible conflicts with China, or just the one it most wants to fight?
  3. What if the Marine Corps’s predictions for the future are wrong?
  4. He asks, “Does this force structure really work if the Filipinos won’t let you in, the Taiwanese can’t let you in, and the Japanese will try as hard as they can to concentrate you in a few locations?”

Most damning is this parting shot:

There will be some who claim all of these issues have been addressed at the classified level. I do not believe this. Why? I wrote this piece after talking to several Marine Corps officers inside the system who extremely frustrated with the way these reforms are unrolling. Many of the ideas I raise in the essay are not my own, but come originally from these officers, whose objections and questions have been sidelined in the rush to make these changes stick. None of them wished any credit for the ideas they gave me; rather, they feared that being cited would damage their careers. That should worry you! A Marine Corps whose officers are unable to raise very basic questions about the diplomatic and political conditions of their new operating environment is not in a healthy place.