Accession Number:



The Armor Debacle in Korea, 1950: Implications for Today

Descriptive Note:

Journal article

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



At the end of World War II, the U.S. Army evaluated every aspect of its doctrine. The 1946 Stilwell Board, studying the role of the tank, concluded that the best antitank weapon is a better tank. The concept of tank destroyers as a separate arm was discarded when the distinction between tank and tank destroyer faded with the introduction of the M-26 Pershing tank and its 90mm main gun. Tanks were added to the infantry regiment Table of Organization and Equipment TOE, and a tank battalion was made organic to each infantry division. Budgetary strictures imposed after World War II, however, did not allow these units to remain operative, and many were simply deactivated. The 1949 Field Service Regulations reflected the changes that emanated from the combat experience of World War II, emphasizing that no one arm wins battles. Thus, when the North Koreans invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950, the U.S. Army had a sound doctrinal approach to war, but it did not have the forces to support the doctrine. One notable result was the destruction of Task Force Smith on 5 July 1950 by the tank-led North Korean Peoples Army. As the U.S. Army moves into an era of reduced funding and smaller force size, it is imperative that the Korean War experience not be repeated. If we truly are to have no more Task Force Smiths or 8064ths, 8066ths, or 8072ds, then extensive thought must be given to design of a force structure that supports doctrine and maintains flexibility. Downsizing should not mean the elimination of certain formations or branches merely because they seem too expensive or too heavy to maintain. Commanders should not be asked to take monument tanks and fight a war. Likewise, vital training should not have to take place under enemy fire.

Subject Categories:

  • Manufacturing and Industrial Engineering and Control of Production Systems
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Combat Vehicles

Distribution Statement: