Why did the 8th Army fail in North Korea

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by GDIS Pathe, Apr 21, 2017 at 2:15 AM.

  1. GDIS Pathe Well-Known Member

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    By December 1950 the US 8th army and the UN peacekeeping forces sent to South Korea were on the verge of reaching the Yalu river only to be pushed back into South Korea and eventually begin the 2-year stalemate and ending with the cease at the current border. So why how did the 8th army and the UN forces get pushed back so far so fast. They were facing a light infantry force reliant on human wave tactics (correct me if I'm wrong) that should have been slaughtered by allied fire support instead they fall back in the longest retreat in US history. The Question I'm asking is why how did the UN forces be forced to pull back when facing an enemy that by my accounts should have been stopped
     
  2. WarlordGandhi Freedom Leader of the Confederate States

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    The Americans and the UN peacekeeping force were completely overextended and completely ignored the center part of North Korea. Further, MacArthur and Almond completely disregarded the possibility of China joining the fight and believed the Chinese were bluffing.
     
  3. steamboy Well-Known Member

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    Also sheer numbers helped plus the Chinese made very good use of terrain and human wave attacks are terrifying. The allied fire didn't break up the attacks, the Chinese just kept on coming.
     
  4. Magnum Well-Known Member

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    It was also due to the fact that the Chinese/North Koreans kept breaking through South Korean formations, leaving US forces vulnerable to being cut off, hence forcing retreat after retreat.
     
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  5. High Plains Drifter Well-Known Member

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    When ridgeway took command of the 8th in late December 50, he supposedly quickly made great efforts to get the 8th to stop being a road bound army and to get up into the hills to contest the high ground with the Chinese.

    And once the initial Chinese drive got stopped, they implemented a strategy to give a little to Chinese attacks until they burned out and then fairly promptly counter attack with their higher firepower.

    Much of the war after the Chinese entry was very much a classic case of quality versus quantity having a quality of its own.
     
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  6. GDIS Pathe Well-Known Member

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    so the americans should have put ridgeway in charge huh. God damnit Macarthur
     
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  7. Obergruppenführer Smith Chasing the Man in the High Castle

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    This is where you get the wrong conclusion. The Chinese "Volunteer" forces were massive, yes, but they used what they called the "short attack," a combination of infiltration and the shock. Think of it as a combination of Maskirovka and infantry-based Deep Operation: you sneak up to and break through the weakest point of the enemy, and attack through the rear. At that point the enemy is basically surrounded and fire support would mean friendly casualties.

    Now, you could say that the last part of an action would be human wave, but it's just concentrating your forces where you can hit the enemy the hardest, no different from using armor waves to overwhelm the enemy where they are the weakest.
     
  8. GDIS Pathe Well-Known Member

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    didn't stop the UN forces from constantly relying on the Zeus thunder bolt though.
     
  9. James Ricker Jim Sox

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    McArthur was warned about Chinese entry into the War,but he refused to listen. McArthur was totally incompetent in defensive warfare.
     
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  10. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    Once everything had stabilized more or less around the prewar border, "peace talks" started and the USA was simply unwilling to spend the blood and treasure necessary to roll the Chinese and NK back however far they wanted to. For the USA (and the UN forces) and status quo antebellum was satisfactory. The Chinese could live with this, and while both sets of Koreans wanted a unified country their opinion did not count that much. The issue was about propaganda and seeing about maybe getting an advantage while the talks went on, but no major offensives...just nastiness and death.
     
  11. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    one interesting POD I've thought about for years is WI MacArthur (or someone else in charge) did listen to the warnings, and stopped short of driving to the Yalu (maybe a rough line about the 40th parallel), set up defensive lines, and annexed NK from the 40th south into SK. Would the Chinese still intervene to save part of NK? And if they did, what would happen if they hit those long prepared defensive lines...
     
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  12. Obergruppenführer Smith Chasing the Man in the High Castle

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    As far as I know, Red China was only willing to intervene because the US/UN forces as a whole was marching north. Apparently they were perfectly willing to let only ROK roll up and occupy all of the peninsula. I think it was about how civil wars should be just civil wars or something.
     
  13. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    so you think that China would still intervene? But this time, the allies would know they are coming and be a lot more prepared...
     
  14. TRH Tries Really Hard

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    I interpreted that as meaning that if the UN forces stopped their advance, then the Chinese would stand down. The question would then be about what becomes of the rest of North Korea, and how soon the South would feel confident enough to claim the rest.
     
  15. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    I'd think the rest of NK would be poor, miserable, and cold... the bulk of their arable land and population was just taken away...
     
  16. TRH Tries Really Hard

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    For sure. Doesn't seem like a sustainable state of affairs in the long run, though, so something would probably give.
     
  17. Obergruppenführer Smith Chasing the Man in the High Castle

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    If the US/UN forces stopped at around the Pyongyang-Wonson line, unlikely for Red China to intervene. There still might be intervention due to USSR pressure and internal discussions (Red China managed to survive and fight partly due to DPRK support. A significant number of the initial DPRK invading forces happened to have fought all the way to Hainan in the Chinese Civial War. This meant that there was debt to be paid), but there was enough issues at home.

    So, let's say US/UN forces stop at Pyongyang, and only ROk forces go up north, slowly. I would say Red China would be open to an arrangement where ROK unifies the country and becomes Finlandized. How USSR would react would be an issue though.