They now had to play the game the way most American soldiers had learned it

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

During the early days of the war, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), the North Korean People’s Army never varied its tactics:

It never had any need to do so. Its general maneuver was to press the ROK or American forces closely, engage with them by means of a frontal holding attack, while at the same time turning the enemy flank and infiltrating troops to the enemy rear. Against both ROK’s and United States troops, who were never able to establish a firm battle line, this tactic was ruinous.

But during August 1950, the NKPA tried the same tactics against the Pusan Perimeter, and failed. The U.N. flanks now rested firmly against the Sea of Japan, and the U.N. line, while thin, had no significant gaps.


In short, they now had to play the game the way most American soldiers had learned it. And frontal assault against American troops, from Breed’s Hill to New Orleans to the Pacific Islands of World War II, has always proved both bitter and bloody.

In pushing the Americans into a corner, the NKPA probably made its greatest tactical error, for, more lightly armed than the Americans, it had poor odds of smashing the American forces with direct hammer blows.


  1. Harry Jones says:

    If no one ever overreached or overextended, wars would be much, much less bloody.

    They might be much longer, though… depending on how you define war. An endless stalemate, with no major battles, but with constant minor skirmishes.

  2. Bob Sykes says:

    You’re saying here that the American generals were pig-stupid. That they had never heard of maneuver warfare, or Guderian, or Patton, or the Eastern Front.

  3. Lu An Li says:

    NKPA at the time of Pusan their codes being read. Attacks the allied forces had foreknowledge of.

  4. Kirk says:

    Bob Sykes,

    That would pretty much be an accurate summation for the period. Still is, sadly.

    If you wonder why Iraq was so screwed up, in regards to the utter lack of preparation we had for the IED campaign and all the “rear area battle” issues, all you need to do is go back through the years to Vietnam, then Korea, and then WWII.

    The US “way of war” is predicated on the linear battlefield, a concept of war entirely obsolete starting about 1918. We still don’t “get” that there is no front line, and that the battle area actually encompasses everything in the world, to include our own “rear areas” here in the continental US.

    Note the way that no precautions were taken, after the breakout from Pusan, which led to the Chosin Reservoir disaster. The idiots thought that if they’d passed through an area, it was “pacified” and no longer needed to be worried about. Reality? If an American or allied soldier wasn’t standing on it, it was enemy territory.

    Same-same in WWII and Vietnam. The Soviets turned the German rear areas into danger zones, and the Germans had to completely reorient their ideas about security and operations in those areas. They figured it out within months. Our idiots? Still don’t get it–Take a look at how they responded to Iraqi conditions by creating Personal Security Detachments, or PSDs, in order to enable the commanders to do their jobs by getting around the battlefield. Those elements were created by stripping line elements of the units of personnel and equipment to make them up, which degraded their capabilities. Return to the US, and what do we do? Dissolve them, and there’s been no move to either add PSD elements to the MTOE or to beef up the line units to allow them to lose those troops again and still function effectively.

    The US Army is not a learning organization. The brass has this concept of war that’s still stuck in the old linear battlefield ideas from WWI, and they don’t get that what they don’t stand on isn’t theirs. The next wars are going to look a lot more like what’s going on in Syria than they do anything even remotely linear. But, we still behave and train as though they won’t. Decisions like the ones that created the conditions for the 507th Maintenance Company are still being made, and they still fantasize that war is a thing of safe areas and zones.

    Mark my words: Even the US isn’t a “safe zone”. Watch what happens when we have someone like China as an enemy, when the drone operators safely ensconced down at Nellis AFB start getting taken out at their off-base homes by hit teams. That’s almost certain to happen, and nobody seems to want to recognize that fact. It’s all going to be the same as it ever was, and then one morning, some commander is going to go into work and find out that someone has been killing his pilots and support personnel (and, families…) in their off-base beds. Las Vegas, with all of its international traffic, is not the place we should have centered our drone operations at. That would have been better chosen to be somewhere like Mountain Home AFB in bumfuck Idaho, where a bunch of foreigners would stick out like a sore thumb.

    Most of our “military professionals” are unimaginative incompetents, and are going to get a lot of Americans killed in the next serious war. Hell, they’re getting us killed right now, and have been since 1945. Anyone with a brain could have seen the IED campaign of 2003 coming, and taken precautions to minimize the effects, and yet… Nobody did a fucking thing. Just like they really did nothing about IEDs and mines along the roads in Vietnam; there, the solution was a draftee with a mine detector walking in front of a truck backing down the roads. That was still our answer to route clearance in 2003, long after the Rhodesians and South Africans developed their lines of mine-resistant vehicles and armored route clearance gear.

    Face it–Most of our military leadership is criminally incompetent. We’re still paying tribute to Pakistan while they finance the Taliban to kill our troops and give that same group of international terrorists safe havens inside Pakistan. How smart is that? At least, the Vietnam-era idiots forced the Soviets to bankrupt themselves supporting North Vietnam. Today’s geniuses? We’re paying for it. How fucking smart does that make them, I ask?

    Of course, I’m coming around to the idea that the Pakis are probably paying off Congress and some other elements to keep the gravy train going. It would make sense, given what we know about Ukraine. Our own foreign aid money is probably coming back to make the bastards rich, and that’s why nobody has done a damn thing about Pakistan’s support of the Taliban. Which fact tells me that our “leadership” is either on the take, or stupid as fuck. Possibly both, because this can’t go on forever without someone dropping the dime on it all…

    So, yeah… They really are that stupid and incompetent. Just look at how they’ve done things since about 1945, and tell me how they aren’t.

  5. Sam J. says:

    “…If you wonder why Iraq was so screwed up…”

    You not be far off if you started and stopped with Paul Bremer who ran the whole thing. He fired every single Iraqi soldier so that they had no way to feed their children as Iraq had nothing but a oil economy and nothing else. HE DID THIS ON PURPOSE to completely destroy the Iraqis for Israel and break the country up with shocks and cause infighting between all the different groups in Iraq. It’s not hard to see this is true when the Israelis put out position papers before the war, and 9-11 that they did, saying that this should be their plan of action.

    All the Bush people and Bush should be hung from telephone poles.

  6. Sam J. says:

    To add data to the idea that the Iraqi infighting was purposely moved into high gear in Iraq to destroy and destabilize the country British SAS were directly caught dressed as Arabs planting car bombs. Look this up for yourself it’s a fact. The Iraqi police arrested them but the British rounded up some APC’s and told the police they would level the police station and kill everyone in it if they didn’t let them go, so they did. It may very well have been that the totality of all the terror bombs in Iraqi that killed so many people were all placed by the allies.

    There are many unsubstantiated rumors by American servicemen that guards would stop Iraqi cars to search them and in the process they would install bombs in the trunks to be remotely detonated when they got to their destination. I could easily see this as in the realm of possibilities as there’s no doubt our actions were calibrated to destabilize the country as much as possible.

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