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Crossing the Yalu
210cav
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Posted: Friday, May 17, 2002 - 12:49 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Well, that would've been a tough operation !
Because I guess such targets were rather well defended. At least, they had heavy flack,
because they used to be mined once in a while by american planes.
And also, it would've meant, street fighting, to hold the port until your mission is acomplished
and you can withdraw. And that's a rather nasty situation to withdraw from !
Also, it would've been a political risk. There were great risks of hurting foreign goods or people.
And with the politicians taking too many tactical decisions...



The mining did not start until near the end of the conflict. The North was very complacent and comfortable with the impression that we would not attack them with a ground attack. A ground force interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail system, for example, would have accomplished a great deal. You use a combined arms approach, have a specific target area, get in and get out. As far as the harbor system areas, Hainan and Haiphong (the major ports) could have been disrupted enough by US forces sitting off shore as to make it impossible for any foreign flag owner to risk venturing into the port. Blockades are a legitmate form of warfare. Just think of what it would have done to shipping insurance rates at Llyod's of London. Street fighting could have been avoided. They were in no way, shape, or form ready to repel any ground incursion into the north. My two cents.
DJ
Arthur
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Posted: Friday, May 17, 2002 - 03:23 AM UTC
Just a word pals, in armorama! its great to have discussions on history,what might or not have been........But please no politics!
Earnestly
Arthur
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Posted: Friday, May 17, 2002 - 03:30 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Just a word pals, in armorama! its great to have discussions on history,what might or not have been........But please no politics!
Earnestly
Arthur



Sir--May I inquire as to where you believe we have stepped out of line.
DJ
penpen
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Posted: Friday, May 17, 2002 - 07:19 AM UTC
Oh oh... I think it's my fault...
I may have gone a bit too far on some political issues...
But in a way it's rather logical as the kind of intervention we are talking about
has to be decided on a political level, just as every strtegic operation should be.
And as many of the people who were involved in these operations are still alive, the discussion can sometimes drift to a more political side that we may wish.
So sorry if I strayed a bit too far, and please let me know each time !
Arthur
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Posted: Friday, May 17, 2002 - 07:51 AM UTC
Col....i am not a sir!Arthur will suffice....Penpen no apologies are needed.I value your comments,but this thread was going down the avenue of bashing America,something that
in some circles in Euorope seems to be going down,For all its faults,and we all have faults
we in Euorope owe the US a great deal of gratitude.Indochina,post war was a mess,we
British even put the Japanese in as policemen.Whatever the rights and wrongs of what we
ALL did in that region,and other colonial regions,hindsight is a wonderfull thing.
If i have caused offence to any parties on this site,then i heartily apologise.
Cheers
Arthur
210cav
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Posted: Friday, May 17, 2002 - 06:47 PM UTC
Guys--let's get back to crosing the Yalu. I wish Dave respnded to my reply on his initial thought. He has not as of yet. Regardless, a true mission impossible. We provoked the Chinese into action by not respecting their capabilities. We thought we knew their intention.
DJ
SS-74
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Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2002 - 01:56 AM UTC
I am sorry, DJ, could you please let me know what was your initial question, I was of town for today, so I haven't got a chance to catch up....
210cav
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Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2002 - 10:27 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

IMHO, I think if we did cross Yalu, we could push beyond Manchuria and once the armor formation get to the great Northern China plain, then it's pretty much open country.

My grandfather served in Nationlist Chinese Army back then, (He was one of the few selected officer whom attended military training in Germany in the 30's) and nationlist offered to cross Formosa and hit Mainland China from the south once UN cross the Yalu in the North. I don't know if it's a long shot or not for an army which is just retreated from Mainland, but the thing is most of the Nationlist soldiers would like to fight their way back home, so we have to take this into consideration while thinking about how combat effective they would be.

To coin a phrase from Crimson Tide "Nuke them, by all means, Twice!"




Dave--to say the least, you presented the most rosy and optimistic scenario possible. The Nationalist Chinese government was as corrupt as the Clinton aministration (that's pretty bad). It would have taken a gargantum effort just to get them ready to move out of Formosa. Who would sustain them once they arrived in China? The logistics of moving a substantial force into China would overwhelm even our current military. As for placing armor in the Northern plains of China, where would we have gotten it from? We demobilized after WW II. The armor was not to be had, they took monument tanks from Fort Knox for godsakes and sent them to Korea. It would be pure fantasy to have done more than what we did in Korea. What we lacked was the political will and vision to employ the military within reasonable limits to attain a given end state. Does anyone expect that the people of this Nation would support an invasion of China after finishing four years of conflict? Think not...my two cents.
DJ



Dave--here is my response to your point on crossing the Yalu. I hope we can back to kicking this around.
thanks
DJ
SS-74
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Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2002 - 04:57 AM UTC
Hello DJ,

I see your points here....Yes, it would be hard to sustain the armored operation in Northern China, and the armors would be hard to come by as well.... The will to sustain a fight was not there, so was the will to win....

I think it might be my sentimental "Nationalist" blood in me that wished that UN did push through Yalu and kicked the Commie out from China....
210cav
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Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2002 - 06:48 AM UTC
Dave--once again, the sustainment of combat power test the mettle of any force. If we can envision Manchuria for a moment. Imagine the Arctic like weather conditions. The best vehicle we possess is the M-26 Pershing soon to become the M-46. We have a a gooodly number of M4 series Shermans. Neither weapon system could have long stood the adverse weather conditions of the Manchuria/Northern China region. if an armor spearhead does not move and move quickly, it loses it greatest asset---shock power! The German experience in Russia offers ample proof of the challeng that cold weather and poor road systems presents an armored force. Interesting.
DJ
Michel
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Posted: Monday, May 20, 2002 - 10:31 PM UTC
By the way, is anybody ' d seen pics or action reports, written evidences...etc, of JS2, in korean battlefield ?
And speakin' of the US northern forward dash, the terrain, north of the Yalu, isn' t very " tankable "...It would be a REAL tough job !
' ve a nice day...!
staff_Jim
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Posted: Monday, May 20, 2002 - 11:14 PM UTC
A spirted discussion to be sure. I have lot of thoughts on this subject. Of course this is all dealing in hypotheticals which are rather difficult (50 years later) to talk about today. Almost like people from the time of WWI talking about "if onlys" when it came to the Civil War.

For my part I have always been a little disappointed with Truman's actions in terms of the global political scene. At the end of WWII the United States was, by sheer power of the atom (and not by any other right), king of the hill. The fact that the West allowed the Soviets to take over Eastern Europe for instance has always smacked to me of some level of political cowardice. Of course the plan went back to Yalta so I guess I could lay blame with FDR himself. And I have NEVER been a huge FDR fan.

That said I think we sometimes do overestimate the capabilities of the USSR and China in that time-period. Now if we are talking about 1960 I might sing a different tune but I think it's fairly safe to say in 1949 that the USSR and China were no match for the combined forces of the West. Sure they had more men, but China had roughly the same population levels at the outbreak of WWII so using today's thinking they should have been able to defeat the Japanese in a few years. We know that didn't happen.

These are just my humble opinions though. Yours may vary.

Jim
Sabot
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Posted: Monday, May 20, 2002 - 11:39 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Talkin' about past errors, could I remember to our beloved US ally that we were at war against the reds, in Nam and Laos, before US citizens know WHERE was Indochina...!

France's presence in these countries was mainly due to the fact they (Vietnam and Laos) were colonies of France from before WW2 and there was no reason for any US presence there in the early years. In fact, wasn't communism chosen by the people as an alternative to colonial rule (or the corrupt government of South Vietnam?)?

Wondering why the US wasn't in Indochina from the beginning is like asking where was France when Gen. Pershing was conducting the Punitive Expedition in Mexico.
Greg
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Posted: Monday, May 20, 2002 - 11:58 PM UTC
Bravo, Rob! Your comments on Indochina are Spot-on. "Being there" in a military sense at that time wasn't something we had any reason to do. Now, "being there" politically is different, and I submit we failed there in a big way by not pushing the French to de-colonialize. But maybe we need to start another topic there.

No way we could have gotten across the Yalu in force in the late fall/early winter of 1950 without using nukes. Period. We didn't have the combat power. The Red Chinese by 1950 had considerably more combat power than the Nationalist Chinese had agaist the Japanese. After all, they had won their civil war with copious assistance from the Soviets (and frankly, promise of a far less corrupt political structure than the Kuomintang). The fact of their offensive pushing us down to Pusan is evidence enough. Something else to recall is that our nuke stockpile in 1950 was on the order of a few dozen warheads. Not hundreds or thousands. Also, the B-36 was not repeat NOT a combat-capable aircraft at that time--still too early in its development. The B-29 and B-50 aircraft would have been slaughtered by MiGs.
And while I concede that Russia was still very badly off from the losses of the Great Patriotic War for the Defense of the Motherland, they did have the ability to project power in Europe. At a minimum, the price of an incursion into China would have been the loss of Berlin and possible the rest of Germany. I doubt that France would have fought too hard for her recent enemy, preferring to pull back to the Rhine. Britain likewise was weak and concentrating on rebuilding a shattered economy. That leaves us, and our forces in Germany in 1950 were no more combat-ready than those in Korea. Again, bad idea to cross the Rubicon...
Greg
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Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2002 - 02:05 AM UTC

Quoted Text

A spirted discussion to be sure. I have lot of thoughts on this subject. Of course this is all dealing in hypotheticals which are rather difficult (50 years later) to talk about today. Almost like people from the time of WWI talking about "if onlys" when it came to the Civil War.

For my part I have always been a little disappointed with Truman's actions in terms of the global political scene. At the end of WWII the United States was, by sheer power of the atom (and not by any other right), king of the hill. The fact that the West allowed the Soviets to take over Eastern Europe for instance has always smacked to me of some level of political cowardice. Of course the plan went back to Yalta so I guess I could lay blame with FDR himself. And I have NEVER been a huge FDR fan.

That said I think we sometimes do overestimate the capabilities of the USSR and China in that time-period. Now if we are talking about 1960 I might sing a different tune but I think it's fairly safe to say in 1949 that the USSR and China were no match for the combined forces of the West. Sure they had more men, but China had roughly the same population levels at the outbreak of WWII so using today's thinking they should have been able to defeat the Japanese in a few years. We know that didn't happen.

These are just my humble opinions though. Yours may vary.

Jim



Jim--to be sure, the absence of a National Security Strategy following the end of WW II caused our government to faulter. HST was interested in getting people back to "normal" following WWII. Who can blame him? However, despite his initial response to the June 1950 invasion, he defaulted to expediency on too many occasions. Should we have crossed the 38th parallel? He hummed and hawed over that one and never provide MacArthur with clear guidance on what our National objectives were to be in Korea (restoration of the South? conquest of the North? invasion of China?). HST was not a beloved president. The Republicans hammered him over "losing" (like it was a US possession) China. He was sensitive to their criticism. When we crossed the 38th, we set in a motion a series of unintended consequence actions. The Chinese reaction prolonged the conflict as did our lack of a clear vision of an end-state. Presidential wars are always inconclusive (Korea, Vietnam, the Desert). Should we have declared a congressionally approved state of war in Korea?
DJ

Greg
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Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2002 - 02:37 AM UTC
Should we have declared war in Korea....Tough one there, DJ. I have to wonder if Congress would have done so if asked. I suspect not, which is why HST didn't ask. On the other hand, we did get a UN mandate to roll back NK aggression thanks to the Soviets abstaining. Note, they never did that again.

Congress might well have balked at declaring war. The most hawkish Republicans woud no doubt have clamored for it, especially after "losing" China. The Domino Theory was alive and well at this time. But public and congressional sentiment was never solidly behind the war in Korea; most people didn't know where it was and it would be hard to make a case that it was vital to our national security. Sure, Japan could be threatened by air bases in Korea but there wasn't anybody then (or now) who could contemplate an invasion of Japan from Korea. Neither the Chinese nor the Russians had the amphibious capability, and the Chinese would certainly think twice given the disastrous nature of two previous invasion attempts during the Middle Ages. I don't think the American public saw the threat as being direct enough to guarantee a declaration of war.

OK that deals with "could". About "should".... I'll take the stand that the answer is yes IF we had a clearly stated set of military and political goals to achieve. In the absence of those mission statements, the risk is very real of a quagmire and muddled operations as we later proved in Vietnam. Wtihout firm and clear strategic direction and objectives a declaration of war does nothing. Indeed, in my view it is dangerous to declare war without those clear statements because mission creep can then cause the conflict to be open ended forever. The American public (and Congress) won't tolerate that, and it only has to fail once. After that, a President will never get a declaration of war no matter what the provocation unless troops are actually coming ashore on the US mainland.
Greg
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Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2002 - 02:53 AM UTC
Greg--could not agree with you more. The Congress conveniently turned its collective back on their Constitutional responsibility by failing to declare war in Korea, Vietnam, and the Desert. I fear that domestic political considerations drove them to this pitiful lack of involvement in the most important act of statehood. There was an imperative to take decisive action in Korea. HST to his credit did that one. However, he should have returned to the Congress and laid out our objectives then stuck to them. Did Mac have permission to cross the 38th? You can read the telegram traffic and come away saying "He did, did not, and he could use his discretion" all from the same TWIX!
Amazing we survived that tragedy as well as we did.
DJ
Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 04:50 AM UTC
i like death and destruction like the next man, but...............ARE YOU NUTS!
1. too many chinese
2. too many chinese
3. too many chinese

my three reasons for not crossing the yalu.

remember this is tongue-in-cheek...........lol
Eagle
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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 04:59 AM UTC
On crossing, only two words would come to mind " Oops, Sorry " and then get the hell back again, before all those little guys would come over to push them back the hard way.



210cav
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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 07:52 AM UTC

Quoted Text

i like death and destruction like the next man, but...............ARE YOU NUTS!
1. too many chinese
2. too many chinese
3. too many chinese

my three reasons for not crossing the yalu.

remember this is tongue-in-cheek...........lol



Well, regardless of your intent, I believe we did not respect the capabilities of the Chinese much as we never understood the dedication and focus of the North Vietnamese.....will we make the same mistake regarding Iraq?
DJ
Michel
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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 11:55 AM UTC
Sabot and Greg: cool, friends....When I ask where ' re " our beloved ally ", saying " US citizens didn' t even know where Indochina was...", I put a BIG smiley ....There wasn' t any TRUE acrimony ! It was a kind of joke...I feel very sorry if it ' d hurt you ! May be my awkward english isn' t enought understandable to try some kind of silly " humour "...!
Once again, let me express my apologies for any misunderstanding...!
' ve a nice day...!
Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 12:14 PM UTC
amen to that DJ
the chinese had just fought a civil war, so they had plenty of combat experience. i wasn't making fun of the chinese, quite the opposite, i am stupified at american lack of respect for foreign militaries. someday someone will shove our arrogance down our throats.
SS-74
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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 05:47 PM UTC
Hi all, I didn't expect my question comes this far. I am facinated by all your insightful opinions.

I am Chinese from Taiwan. But I for one really think Red Chinese are over-rated. I had tried to study them for quite some times, (being a Chinese, I am able to read first hand documents and books in Chinese). If they are really that tough and hard to beat, then why it takes them that long to barely survived the onslaught of Japanese? In the Korea War period, they might stroke a somewhat military stalemale with the UN at the cost of thousands of human lives of the soldiers whom were forced to go over the trench line at the gun point of their own political officer. Nevertheless, Strategically speaking, the supplies were stretched thin, the bottom of the barrel had been scraped....President Mao's own son died in the combat, divisons and divisons troop died to take a little hill in face of regimental strength UN forces...

I don't know, I think we did have a chance. And the thing is it's the policy of going to a war and has no will to win that results into the world we live in today. I believe that we shall kill any evil nation in its infancy.

Just my thoughts, of course.
Arthur
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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 07:51 PM UTC
Dave ..just a thought,maybe the reason the Japanese made some easy victories,was too
many Chinese Warlord and divisions with the Communists.......DJ,am i right in thinking
that post WW2 a great many American personell,military political,who had first hand
experience in the Far East were out of favour in the Fifties,due to the activities of McCarthy
and his ilk,it was thought they had become tainted by their links gained in wartime.there
must have been a good deal of knowledge and experience of Chinese and Vietnamese
thinking lost.You must know more about than i,but it might explain a lot
Cheers
Arthur
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Posted: Friday, May 24, 2002 - 01:56 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Dave ..just a thought,maybe the reason the Japanese made some easy victories,was too
many Chinese Warlord and divisions with the Communists.......DJ,am i right in thinking
that post WW2 a great many American personell,military political,who had first hand
experience in the Far East were out of favour in the Fifties,due to the activities of McCarthy
and his ilk,it was thought they had become tainted by their links gained in wartime.there
must have been a good deal of knowledge and experience of Chinese and Vietnamese
thinking lost.You must know more about than i,but it might explain a lot
Cheers
Arthur



Arthur---the first American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (GEN Bradley) said something to the effect that the Korean War was the wrong war at the wrong time. There were a multitude of factors impacting on our involvement and conduct of the war. Off the top of my head, I can enumerate several for your consideration: domestic politics in the form of the "China Lobby," a distinct dislike of HST by the Republican members of the Congress, a reluctance to rein and control MacArthur (the vast bulk of influencial Army officers had been his subordinates for years), and a view that Korea would draw resources from our forces in Europe. Additionally, I ask that we reflect on Dave's comments on the quality of the CCF. As to the fighting ability of the Chinese forces, I can only rely on the accounts provided by several noted historians. There is a universal agreement that they were motivated people, not perfect warriors. It is relatively easy to maintain motivation when you beat the pants off the bad guys. They sure as God made little green apples, beat the crap out of the American 8th Army. We only survived (in my opinion) because we ran faster than they could pursue. If it had not been for the leadership and dedication of Matthew B. Ridgway, we would have departed the Korean penninsula with our tail between our legs.
DJ