General Douglas MacArthur remains one of the most famous American military commanders of all times. During World War II, he led an orderly retreat of American forces out of Philippines as the Japanese armies advanced. After being made commander of the Pacific theatre, he initiated a brilliant strategy to defeat the Japanese. The outbreak of war in 1950 in Korea thrust MacArthur into the limelight. He was made commander in chief of the UN forces as he reversed the dire military situation in the early months of the war by a brilliant amphibious assault on Inchon.
This paper studies the objectives and goals of the United States in the Korean War. It analyzes the innovation and strategy employed by MacArthur in the Inchon landing. Finally the paper evaluates the innovation of MacArthur and his termination by the Truman administration. It also analyzes the positive and negative lessons learnt from the rise and fall of General Douglas MacArthur. Inchon Landing Introduction The Korean War was fought between North Korea and South Korea each backed by superpowers.
The USSR and China provided military assistance and soldiers to North Korea while the United States and United Nations forces assisted South Korea. World War II saw the Korean peninsula divided and occupied by the USSR and US forces. The failure of both sides to reunify escalated into a military conflict as forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. The conflict escalated into a war between the USSR and USA. General Douglas MacArthur was the main architect of the conflict until his removal by President Truman on April 11, 1951 for insubordination.
This paper studies the US objectives and goals during the start of the conflict. It provides an analysis of General MacArthur’s strategy, his removal and lessons learnt from his leadership. Korea was dominated by the USSR and US as they tried to support their respective regimes in the North and South. The North Korean armed forces were much better trained, armed and equipped as compared with the South Korean armed forces. North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950 under the pretext of a counterattack (Appleman, 1961).
With military superiority in battle tanks and aircraft, the North Koreans quickly achieved their objectives by capturing major areas of South Korea. The South Korean armed forces were either in retreat or defecting to the Northern armies. By August, the South Korean forces had been driven to small area around the city of Pusan. Only massive American supplies and reinforcements prevented the collapse of the sector as a line was stabilized along the Nakdong River. Winning hearts and minds The United States was not surprised at the invasion of South Korea.
Its goals and objectives to ensure that all hostilities come to an end and North Korean withdraw to the thirty eight parallel. A UN resolution which was passed on June 20, called for the UN to monitor the situation. It also called on member states to support the UN in achieving these goals. Boycott by the Soviets led to the UN decision to aid South Korea. The United States would provide the bulk of the ground, naval and air forces for the UN forces. The United States has significant military forces stationed in Japan to oppose the North Koreans under the command of General Douglas Mac Arthur.
However the initial objectives of the US were to transfer weapons to the South Koreans and use air cover to protect the evacuation of US citizens. US firepower helped in preventing the capture of the Pusan perimeter. The US also engaged in numerous psychological operations in order to win the hearts and minds (Appleman, 1987). These operations were directed towards DPRK troops. Loudspeakers, strategic and tactical leaflets were dropped using artillery and light aircraft. Many of the surrenders which took place were due to the use of leaflets.
The strategy was aimed at winning the hearts and minds of civilians while reducing the morale of the enemy troops. State of Readiness and Securing the Peace US forces had already arrived to help the beleaguered ROK forces inside the Pusan sector while American strategic bombers were launching forty sorties per day to interdict North Korean forces and their logistics network. American airpower was decisive in knocking out the oil refineries, seaports and transportation chokepoints of the North Koreans (Blair, 1987). US forces clearly aimed to be in a state of readiness to repel the North Koreans and ensure that peace talks would resume.
Leading through conflict United Nations forces had successfully repelled North Korean attacks on the Pusan Perimeter. They were further reinforced by soldiers and equipment from various nation states including the United States. US bombing raids had taken a heavy toll on the logistics supply of the North Koreans which had prevented them from obtaining supplies. The North Koreans were undermanned and lacked the naval and air support of the Americans. General MacArthur argued for an amphibious assault behind North Korean lines at Inchon. The reason was to remove the pressure on UN forces in the Pusan Perimeter.
The strong enemy presence and violent waters made this an extremely risky operation. Planning had already started a few days before the war began but it was opposed by the Pentagon. After receiving military authorization, MacArthur ordered the X Corps comprising an estimated seventy thousand troops to land at Inchon. MacArthur had felt that any North Korean offensive could be countered by a decisive troop movement behind enemy lines (Duffy, 1997). This would allow the US to cut off the North Koreans and destroy the army as a fighting force.
MacArthur knew that US Marines were best suited for amphibious operations because of their experience in World War II. The US Marines at that time were undergoing a serious cutback program which was initiated by the Truman administration. MacArthur’s plan of assault called for attacking Inchon because it was not heavily defended because the enemy would not expect an attack there. Further he concluded that any victory at Inchon would allow the UN forces to cut of North Korean communication lines which would reduce its fighting ability (Halberstam, 2007).
Diffusion of Innovation The real battle would begin after guerillas would launch reconnaissance operations to relay intelligence back to US forces. Information was collected about enemy positions and fortifications by these forces. Several exercises were conducted to practice the actual invasion. The battle would began as several cruisers and destroyers began shelling and demining the Flying Fish channel. The landing forces would hit Green Beach where they would inflict heavy losses on the North Koreans with light allied casualties (Halberstam, 2007).
The storming of the Green Beach surprised the North Koreans allowing only a small force to be diverted to Inchon. UN forces would seize the Red Beach using ladders to scale the sea walls. North Korean defenses were neutralized which allowed forces from the Green Beach to enter the battle. Another regiment occupied the Blue Beach which led to the destruction of North Korean defenses. The Blue Beach forces suffered little losses and minimal opposition as the battle for Inchon had already ended. The Tipping Point
The battle was a decisive one as North Korean forces were completely surprised by the landing. Seoul was also captured after bloody house to house and urban fighting. The landing in Inchon also forced the last North Korean troops in South Korea to be defeated. An estimated seventy thousand soldiers near the Pusan Perimeter were killed or captured (Clayton, 1985). Some thirty thousand soldiers retreated to the north across the Yalu River. The landing at Inchon had trapped the main North Korean army and cut off their supply lines and communication systems.
The remaining North Korean forces rapidly retreated to the North with many being killed or captured by Allied forces. What Leaders should know about change? MacArthur had decided that the Inchon site was the key to victory against the North Korean forces. The naval leadership and joint chiefs supported fighting the North Koreans using traditional frontal assaults and landing where they could best land. MacArthur however was firm in believing that US forces must execute a brilliant amphibious assault behind enemy lines and strike the North Koreans at a place where they would least expect an assault.
General MacArthur believed that the Inchon landing was essential for achieving the strategic objectives of the United States armed forces in Korea. Despite facing numerous technical difficulties, the plan was strategically and operationally sound. MacArthur was aware that the particular plan could be effective only if it was articulated and internalized by subordinate leaders. He also understood the strategic significance of the concept. He also portrayed the landing as being more than a mere landing or diversionary attack.
Every general in the Pentagon was against the plan because of the infamous tidal flats of Inchon. The generals were convinced that Kunsan or Osan were better locations for an amphibious assault. MacArthur knew that the North Koreans had made extensive preparations to block any attempt by the UN to land in these areas. They did not expect an attack on Inchon would be successful. The brilliant strategy by MacArthur had many risks but he was also changing the concept of conventional warfare by disagreeing with his superiors (Leary, 2001).
He was able to convince the Secretary of Defense that the plan was the right course of action. Victory at Inchon General MacArthur’s plan was brilliantly conceived using the strength and courage of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The assaulting forces had not trained together for combined arms operations. Further despite the danger of severe tides and the narrow approaches towards the harbor, the Marines made a brilliant landing. Another concern was the North Koreans wiping out the assault force before they could even reach the assault positions (Long, 1998).
However it was General MacArthur’s daring plan of attack and the speed of its execution which surprised the North Koreans. The North Koreans had not mined or prepared for an assault. Their infantry was also not dug inside fortified positions. General MacArthur’s plan had called for providing adequate fire support for the landing forces if they were complicated by difficulties with tides and obstacles. Once US troops had seized Inchon, they were to move quickly to capture Seoul and prevent the North Koreans from retreating. The key to success lay in a quick assault.