THUNDERBOLT through RIPPER: Joint Operations in Korea, 25 January - 31 March 1951
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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The first experiences with joint operations between the newly formed United States Air Force and United States Army forces were gained in the Korean War. Although other services and nations provided ground and air forces to the Korean War effort, this paper provides an unclassified study of lessons learned during joint operations between Fifth Air Force and Eighth Army during the period 25 January through 31 March 1951. Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway had recently assumed command of Eighth Army and was eager to kick off a counteroffensive. The success of the strategy announced on 20 January 1951--to destroy forces and not hold ground for its own sake--demanded aggressive air- ground cooperation. General Ridgway was concerned that the withdrawing Communist forces might be enticing his forces into a trap. Intelligence reported that over 150,000 Chinese Communist troops were in front of the Eighth Army, but their intentions were something that the Eighth Army had not been able to determine. General Ridgways concerns were removed on 24 January, when he reconnoitered the battlefield from a two seater plane. There was no trace of enemy activity on the snowy landscape. Four operations--Thunderbolt, Roundup, Killer, and Ripper--were planned by the Eighth Army to accomplish the mission. Fifth Air Force was committed to supporting the operations.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics