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    Research: Korean Conflict

    Expand your knowledge of history by researching information on the Korean Conflict. Visit the research library at the Veterans Museum for more info.

    Korean Conflict

    1950 – 1953

    As the war against Japan approached its conclusion in the summer of 1945, the United States and Soviet Union divided the Korean Peninsula, which had been a colony of Japan since 1905, between them into two temporary protectorates. The United Nations proposed free elections across all of Korea in 1948, but the Soviets rejected this plan. An election took place in the American protectorate in the south nevertheless, resulting in the establishment of the Republic of Korea (ROK), while the USSR created the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north of the country, and installed Kim Il Sung at the head of its Communist government. U.S troops occupying the ROK were withdrawn in 1949 after the Joint Chiefs of Staff told President Truman that Korea held little strategic interest for the United States. Early the next year, the Soviet Union withdrew its own troops from the North. Kim Il Sung interpreted these events as an opportunity, if not an open invitation, to reunite the two Koreas by force, to which end his armies invaded the South in late June 1950.

    Following the government of North Korea’s rejection of a UN resolution that it cease hostilities and withdraw from the South, the UN Security Council appointed President Truman as its executive agent to apply military force to eject the North Koreans from the South under the authority of the United Nations Command. Truman in turn named General Douglas MacArthur as commander in chief of the UN forces. MacArthur was faced with a daunting task: to build a coalition army that could defeat the North Koreans, thus saving the ROK, while confining the violence to the Korean Peninsula and keeping the Soviet Union and China out of the war. American combat units were undermanned, ill-equipped and poorly trained for the circumstances they suddenly had to face.

    Fortunately, the nations of the British Commonwealth, along with numerous other UN members (fifty-three in all) made major contributions to the effort early on while the U.S. Eighth Army as well as American naval, air force, and marine units built up their presence.

    MacArthur’s troops were able to slow the North Korean advance and then pull back behind the Pusan perimeter in the far south while awaiting reinforcements and preparing to stage an amphibious invasion at Inchon, the capture of which MacArthur believed would force surrender by the Communists. The successful amphibious operation at Inchon caused the communists to retreat from Seoul, while the Eighth Army was able to break out from Pusan and join up with other UN forces to push the Communists back over the 38th parallel, the line dividing the two Koreas since 1945. These events marked the fulfillment of the UN’s and Truman’s original goals, but Truman had in the meantime changed the national objective from saving South Korea to unifying the peninsula.  After the General Assembly of the UN passed a resolution to that effect in October 1950, “MacArthur was free to send forces into North Korea,” capturing the northern capital of Pyongyang and moving throughout much of the North against little or no resistance.

    The Chinese government had warned the UN armies not to cross the 38th parallel, but with MacArthur’s incursion into the North, the Chinese decided to intervene, at least in part at the request of Soviet premier Josef Stalin. Soon the Chinese had sent more than 260,000 troops into the conflict. Within weeks the combined Communist armies pushed the UN forces back south below the 38th parallel, retaking Seoul in the process. At this point Truman and his British counterpart Clement Atlee decided to give up their goal of unification in favor of restoring the status quo antebellum, i.e., two Koreas divided at the 38th parallel. With that it became the most important objective of the Eighth Army and its new commander, General Mathew Ridgway to stop its southward retreat, regain possession of Seoul, and move north toward and beyond the 38th parallel.

    Railing at the prohibition to take revenge on North Korea for his humiliating defeat, MacArthur went public with his dissatisfaction, earning his dismissal by President Truman in April 1951. With Ridgway now commander in chief, the UN forces fought the Communists back and forth across that line through June 1951 when the two sides agreed upon an agenda to negotiate an end to the war. The peace talks dragged on for two more years while the combat situation became static, “more reminiscent of World War I than anything that had happened since,” replete with “a seemingly endless succession of violent firefights” intended to give one side a bit better leverage over the other in the truce negotiations.

    Private First Class Roman Prauty, a gunner with 31st Regimental Combat Team (crouching foreground), with the assistance of his gun crew, fires a 75mm recoilless rifle, near Oetlook-tong, Korea, in support of infantry units directly across the valley.

    A complex set of events ensued, including the accession of Dwight D. Eisenhower to the presidency, the threat of atomic warfare and the death of Joseph Stalin.  Before the armistice, essentially a cease-fire agreement rather than any final settlement to the war, was signed in July 1953, the war claimed between two and three million lives overall. “The UN Command suffered a total of 88,000 killed, of which 23,300 were American. Total casualties for the UN (killed, wounded, missing) were 459,360, 300,000 of whom were South Korean.”

    Source : veteranmuseum.net

    MacArthur named Korean commander

    The day after the U.N. Security Council recommended that all U.N. forces in Korea be placed under the command of the U.S. military, General Douglas MacArthur is

    1950 July 08

    MacArthur named Korean commander

    The day after the U.N. Security Council recommended that all U.N. forces in Korea be placed under the command of the U.S. military, General Douglas MacArthur is appointed head of the United Nations Command by President Harry S. Truman.

    MacArthur, the son of a top-ranking army general who fought in the Civil War, was commissioned as an army lieutenant in 1903. During World War I, MacArthur served as a commander of the famed 84th Infantry Brigade. During the 1920s, he was stationed primarily in the Philippines, a U.S. commonwealth, and in the first half of the 1930s he served as U.S. Army chief of staff. In 1935, with Japanese expansion underway in the Pacific, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed MacArthur military adviser to the government of the Philippines. In 1941, five months before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, he was named commander of all U.S. armed forces in the Pacific.

    After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, he conducted the defense of the Philippines against great odds. In March 1942, with Japanese victory imminent, Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to Australia, but the American general famously promised the Philippines “I shall return.” Five months later, the great U.S. counteroffensive against Japan began. On October 20, 1944, after advancing island by island across the South Pacific, MacArthur waded onto the Philippines’ shores. Eleven months later, he officiated the Japanese surrender and then served as the effective ruler of Japan during a productive five-year occupation.

    After North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, MacArthur was appointed supreme commander of the U.S.-led U.N. force sent to aid the South. In September, he organized a risky but highly successful landing at Inchon, and by October North Korean forces had been driven back across the 38th parallel. With President Truman’s approval, U.N. forces crossed into North Korea and advanced all the way to the Yalu River–the border between North Korea and communist China–despite warnings that this would provoke Chinese intervention. When China did intervene, forcing U.N. forces into a desperate retreat, MacArthur pressed for permission to bomb China. President Truman, fearing the Cold War implications of an expanded war in the Far East, refused. MacArthur then publicly threatened to escalate hostilities with China in defiance of Truman’s stated war policy, leading Truman to fire him on April 11, 1951.

    For his action against General MacArthur, the celebrated hero of the war against Japan, Truman was subjected to a torrent of attacks, and some Republicans called for his impeachment. On April 17, MacArthur returned to U.S. soil for the first time since before World War II and was given a hero’s welcome. Two days later, he announced the end of his military career before a joint meeting of Congress, declaring, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” After unsuccessfully running for the Republican presidential nomination in 1952, MacArthur did indeed fade from public view. He died in 1964.

    READ MORE: What Caused the Korean War?

    Source : www.history.com

    Relief of Douglas MacArthur

    Relief of Douglas MacArthur

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    United States General of the Army Douglas MacArthur shakes hands with US President Harry Truman at the Wake Island Conference, seven months before Truman relieved MacArthur from command.

    On 11 April 1951, U.S. President Harry S. Truman relieved General of the Army Douglas MacArthur of his commands after MacArthur made public statements that contradicted the administration's policies. MacArthur was a popular hero of World War II who was then commander of United Nations Command forces fighting in the Korean War, and his relief remains a controversial topic in the field of civil–military relations.

    MacArthur led the Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific during World War II, and after the war was in charge of the occupation of Japan. In the latter role, MacArthur was able to accumulate considerable power over the civil administration of Japan. Eventually, he gained a level of political experience that has arguably been neither precedented nor repeated by anyone actively serving as a flag officer in the U.S. military.

    When North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, starting the Korean War, MacArthur was designated commander of the United Nations forces defending South Korea. He conceived and executed the amphibious assault at Inchon on 15 September 1950, for which he was hailed as a military genius. However, when he followed up his victory with a full-scale invasion of North Korea on Truman's orders, China intervened in the war and inflicted a series of defeats, compelling him to withdraw from North Korea. By April 1951, the military situation had stabilized, but MacArthur continued to publicly criticize his superiors and attempt to escalate the conflict, leading Truman to relieve MacArthur of his commands. The Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate held a joint inquiry into the military situation and the circumstances surrounding MacArthur's relief, and concluded that "the removal of General MacArthur was within the constitutional powers of the President but the circumstances were a shock to national pride".[1]

    An apolitical military was an American tradition, but one that was difficult to uphold in an era when American forces were employed overseas in large numbers. The principle of civilian control of the military was also ingrained, but the rising complexity of military technology led to the creation of a professional military. This made civilian control increasingly problematic when coupled with the constitutional division of powers between the president as commander-in-chief, and Congress with its power to raise armies, maintain a navy, and declare war. In relieving MacArthur for failing to "respect the authority of the President" by privately communicating with Congress, Truman upheld the president's role as preeminent.


    1 Background 1.1 Harry Truman

    1.2 Douglas MacArthur

    2 Events leading up to the relief

    2.1 Korean War

    2.2 Battle of Inchon

    2.3 Wake Island Conference

    2.4 Chinese intervention

    2.5 Nuclear weapons

    2.6 Foreign pressure

    2.7 Public statements

    2.8 Diplomatic dispatch intercepts

    2.9 Provoking China 3 Relief 4 Issues

    4.1 Civilian control of the military

    4.2 Apolitical military

    4.3 Powers of the President

    5 Aftermath

    5.1 Responses to the relief

    5.2 Congressional inquiry

    5.3 Fallout 6 Legacy 7 Notes 8 References 9 External links


    Harry Truman[edit]

    Main article: Harry S. Truman

    Harry S. Truman became president of the United States on the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, and won an unexpected victory in the 1948 presidential election. He was the only president who served after 1897 without a college degree.[2] Although not highly educated, Truman was well read.[3] When his high school friends went off to the state university in 1901, he enrolled in a local business school, but only lasted a semester. He later took night courses at the Kansas City Law School, but dropped out.[2] Truman attempted to gain admission to the United States Military Academy at West Point, but was rejected for his poor eyesight. He was proud of his military service in the artillery during World War I, and continued to hold a reserve commission, eventually achieving the rank of colonel.[4]

    Instead of professional soldiers, Truman selected two National Guardsmen, Harry H. Vaughan and Louis H. Renfrow, as his military aides.[4] Truman once remarked that he did not understand how the US Army could "produce men such as Robert E. Lee, John J. Pershing, Eisenhower, and Bradley and at the same time produce Custers, Pattons, and MacArthur".[5]

    During the 1948 Revolt of the Admirals, a number of naval officers publicly disagreed with the administration's policy over cuts to naval aviation and amphibious warfare capability, resulting in the relief of the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Louis Denfeld, and his replacement by Admiral Forrest Sherman.[6] In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee investigation into the affair in October 1949, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Omar Bradley, doubted that there would ever be another large-scale amphibious operation.[7]

    Source : en.wikipedia.org

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