They could crack a line

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

The Chinese by prodigally throwing men against fire and steel had wiped out a defending unit, but, as T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), that in itself availed them nothing:

The Chinese now demonstrated what would be proved again and again upon the Korean Field of battle: they could crack a line, but a force lacking mechanization, air power, and rapid communications could not exploit against a force possessing all three.


  1. Bob Sykes says:

    And yet, the Chinese pushed us all the way back to the starting point. If they had had a modern army, air force, and navy, they would have pushed us off the peninsula.

    Now they have all three.

  2. Altitude Zero says:

    But of course, a modern force would have suffered from the same “road bound” problems that our forces did, and would have lost many of their advantages. As with so many things, their advantages were the flip side of their vulnerabilities.

  3. Kirk says:

    Exactly so… The biggest advantage the Chinese had in the Korean war was, paradoxically, the primitive and simple nature of their forces.

    Of course, they compensated for that with sophisticated tactics and operational plans, which played into our weaknesses. The US military is like a giant three-year old, flailing around and crashing into everything. If you’re a smaller opponent relying on sophistication, like the Germans, you’re screwed. If you’re relying on the elan of your troops, and their sheer martial prowess, well… Yeah. Look at Japan. No amount of Bushido warrior spirit is going to overcome a stream of B-29s over your cities…

    China did as well as it did in Korea mostly because they offered nothing in the way of targets to our firepower. Same-same with the VC and the NVA during the early days of Vietnam.

    Ironically, when they did resort to a conventional attack the way we fought, the US Congress had cut off aid to South Vietnam, and they won using techniques that would have played right into our hands, allowing a second crushing of the invasion columns. Stupid Congress… But, that’s the nature of the beast.

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