Task Force Smith and the 24th Infantry Division in Korea, July 1950
Monograph rept. Jun 2013-May 2014
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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When the 24th Infantry Division deployed to Korea in July 1950 it experienced a series of defeats from 5-20 July in an attempt to delay the invading North Korean Peoples Army NKPA. The division suffered devastating losses of men and equipment and was withdrawn from combat because it was no longer capable of effective combat operations. Despite the losses, many commanders and historians consider the operation a strategic success. Never the less, historians blamed the appalling losses and demoralizing defeats of 5-20 July on poor training, poor equipment, and lazy, ill-disciplined soldiers of an occupation army. This is a simplistic and remarkably linear understanding of the causes of what happened to the 24th Infantry Division. The Far East Command developed a sound operational approach to confront the invading North Korean Peoples Army. General MacArthur intended to take full advantage of his strengths in air, naval and amphibious superiority while capitalizing on North Korean weaknesses and vulnerability to a deep envelopment. However, the shaping operation to delay the NKPA with the 24th Infantry Division was poorly conceived. They based the operation on the illusion that they had no choice but to commit forces piece meal and that the NKPA would run at first sight of American soldiers. The operational approach and the operational art of the commanders and staffs of the Eight Army and the 24th Infantry Division was the real cause of this reckless waste of American lives. They failed to employ their forces in accordance with their training, experience, and readiness and that of the enemy. Additionally, the gains the 24th Infantry Division achieved in delaying the NKPA were not decisive. The subsequent successful defense of the Pusan Perimeter occurred despite, not because of the 24th IDs delaying operation.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics