AMU American History Korean Essay


National Security Council Memorandum 68 (NSC 68) was developed to assist in determining foreign policy strategies following World War II after determining “that the Soviet Union presented a long-term threat to the United States and world peace.” What were the “four choices” laid out in this memorandum for future policy?Briefly explain the Truman Doctrine.What two wars was President Truman planning for in drafting the Defense spending bill of 1951?President Truman and his senior advisors wanted to lean heavily on NATO power to deter Soviet aggression. These “NATO rearmers” had five goals. What were they?What “three major tasks” were given to the FEAF during the Korean WarPart 2Post your comments/questions/observations on the week’s topic here.

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The Korean War
Larger Context
• Korea divided at the 38th parallel between U.S. and Soviet forces as part of
disarmament of Japan
• Ho Chi Minh declares Vietnamese independence from France in 1945, begins
First Indochina War in 1946
• East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary
become Soviet satellite states between 1946 and 1949
• Civil war in Korea, 1948-1950
• Mao Zedong defeated Chiang Kai-shek in 1949, founding Communist China
• USSR and China signed mutual security treaty in February 1950
Setting the Stage for War
• Kim Il-sung was named the de-facto leader of North Korea by Soviet officials
• While there was no unified government in South Korea, the U.S. forces focused on
deterring Communist influence in the area
• War of 1948-1950 allowed Kim to declare North Korea as a Communist state
• American troops fully withdrew from Korea by June 1949
• While the Soviet Union did not fully support Kim’s aims, it did provide weapons, tanks,
and training
• Kim’s last hurdle to earning full Soviet support was the destruction of the Republic of
Korea (ROK) Army
• The invasion was launched in June 1950
• Inexperienced, underequipped, undermanned ROK Army retreated in disarray all the
way to Pusan (140-mile perimeter)
• The Pusan perimeter was established and held against North Korean attacks by ROK
forces reinforced by U.S. forces, mostly from Japan
Truman’s Framing of the War
• American foreign advisors were fully influenced by the Truman Doctrine (deter
communism at all costs), but did not see Korea as strategically viable
• The only reasons to defend Korea were:
• Its proximity to Japan
• As a test of United Nations Command (UNC) military response
• The formation of the People’s Republic of China forced Truman’s hand
• The U.S. military was not prepared to react to such aggression, and therefore
must rearm (again)
• Army, Marines had shrunk from 8.3 million, 470,000 in 1945 to 593,000, 74,000
in 1950
• Truman saw this as an opportunity to permanently increase the size of the
• MacArthur assumed command of UN forces (thereby earning rank of 5-Star
General), and developed counteroffensive plan
American Response
• After reinforcement/rearmament (mostly American),
MacArthur launched counteroffensive
• The U.S. Eighth Army launched first UN offensive of the
war from the Pusan perimeter
• Operation CHROMITE was developed personally by
MacArthur, relied on questionable intelligence and his
extensive experience with amphibious operations from
World War II
• Both operations were successful, due in no small part to
the overextension and fatigue of North Korean People’s
Army (NKPA) forces
• By October 1950, all NKPA forces had been pushed back
beyond the 38th parallel
• MacArthur requested permission to continue pushing
NKPA forces north towards China
• Goal of the war went from defense of South Korea to
reunification of Korea under South Korean leadership
China Enters the War
• UN forces pushed NKPA forces almost to the Yalu River
• Fortunes changed again when China entered the war in
support of North Korea in response to UN actions
• Chinese offensive began in late October 1950, but it
was disregarded by MacArthur, who was confident he
could defeat any Chinese threat
• MacArthur initiated the “Home by Christmas
Offensive,” with the objective being the Yalu River itself
• However, Chinese offensives pushed UN forces back to
the 38th parallel, where the war stabilized into a
stalemate that would last for two years
• Battle of Chosin Reservoir:

• Truman removed MacArthur after the general
challenged the president’s strategy
America’s Permanent Rearmament
• Truman used the Defense Budget of 1951 to build the U.S. military in ways that would
be permanent
• The goal was to rearm the military for two wars:
• The war in Korea
• The possible war against the USSR
• Truman and General Marshall recommended universal military training, but that was
too much for Congress (and Americans) to stomach
• Other major changes were made in how American manpower was built for wars
• The Selective Service System was overhauled to give more power to the local boards to
determine deferments
• The obligation for draftees (and enlistees) was changed, with a mandatory period of
Reserve time
• These individuals would serve as an emergency reserve after four years, in the event
the president declared an “emergency”
• The defense bill also implemented the one-year individual rotational deployment that
would define Vietnam, as well
Plans for the Wider War
• While much of the Defense Bill of 1951 was aimed at winning the Korean War,
much was also aimed at defeating the USSR in the event war broke out
• Plans were drafted for conventional defense, as well as (initial) nuclear strikes
• NATO became a centerpiece for deterrence in Europe
• Truman and his most senior advisors had five goals for NATO:
• Appoint an American as supreme military commander in Europe and allow him to develop
plans for integrated NATO forces
• Send more American forces to Europe
• Accelerate military assistance to the NATO nations
• Develop a forward strategy for defense at the borders of divided Germany
• Create within NATO a West German army of twelve divisions
• Focus on NATO alliances also influenced Truman’s decisions to support France in
Stalemate and Armistice
• The Chinese advance was checked in South Korea at the Battles of
Twin Tunnels and Chipyong-Ni
• Fortifications were erected around the DMZ, and the war settled
into a World War I-style trench warfare stalemate
• UN air power proved vital to the success of the UN forces
• While they were restricted to targets in North Korea, they ruled
the skies above the DMZ, and conducted air superiority,
interdiction, and close air support missions
• UN forces determined they could no longer repel Chinese forces
from North Korea
• Eisenhower was inaugurated in 1953, and threatened to widen
the war against China if they did not withdraw
• The death of Stalin in 1953, as well as developments in Vietnam,
forced China to reconsider its wider commitment in Korea
• The armistice was reached on June 27, 1953; but little changed
along the DMZ
• Truman’s efforts in Korea did not gain Korean reunification, but it
was a major turning point for the U.S. military, NATO, and the Cold

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