The Korean war (1950-1953) was the first war in which the United States, having boasted of its being the “strongest” in the world, suffered an ignominious defeat.
While starting a war in Korea, the US had reckoned that it could easily occupy the country by means of its numerical and technical superiorities. The then US military brasshats bragged to the press that the war would be finished within 72 hours.
The US hurled into it a huge armed force over two million strong, including the one-third of its ground force, one-fifth of its air force, and most of its Pacific Fleet, troops of 15 vassal states, the south Korean puppet army, state-of-the-art combat and technical equipment, including B-29 strategic bomber, called as “air fortress,” and enormous amounts of war supplies worth over 73 million tons.
However, the US suffered in the Korean war tremendous loss nearly 2.3 times as much as that it had suffered in the Pacific war: 1 567 128 men including 405 498 US soldiers were killed, wounded or captured, and over 12 220 aircraft, 3 250 tanks and armoured vehicles, 13 350 trucks, 560 warships, 7 690 artillery guns, and 925 150 small arms were lost.
The US military celebrities, known as famous generals of the Pacific War, were either killed or sacked from their posts, being responsible for defeat in the war. The “General Christmas Offensive” at the end of November 1950 so vaunted by the US resulted in the “December general retreat.” Anti-war protests gained momentum within the US mainland, arousing the impeachment of the US President and the replacement of the State Secretary. Douglas MacArthur and Matthew Ridgway, who served as commander of the UN Forces, were ousted from their posts, and those in command of US 1st, 2nd, 7th and 25th Divisions fired. “Smith’s special attack unit” which was the first American unit that engaged in ground operation was smashed to bits, and the US 24th Division, which had boasted of being “ever-victorious,” was encircled and completely routed, and many US army units were destroyed in succession. General Walker, commander of the US 8th Army, was killed in a military operation of the Korean People’s Army, and Dean, US 24th Division commander, was captured by a KPA soldier.
The myth of US “mightiness” was shattered in the sky and on the sea, as well.
On October 30, 1951, US B-29s under the aegis of 90 fighter-bombers made sorties to the Korean front. But three B-29s were shot down and five damaged. That day was listed as “Black Tuesday” in the US Air Force. In the following week alone, 20 “air fortress B-29s” were destroyed. Since the breakout of the Korean war 2 200 US pilots were seized with war phobia and evaded their flying service.
On July 2, 1950, four torpedo boats of the KPA navy attacked on the sea off Jumunjin the US heavy cruiser Baltimore of 17 000 tons with an escort of a light cruiser and destroyer, sinking it deep in the sea, and damaging the light cruiser.
Omar Bradley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, confessed at a Congressional hearing in May 1951 that the US waged the wrong war at the wrong place and with the wrong enemy. It proved that the US already recognized its defeat in the Korean war when the war was at its height.
The US News and World Report wrote that the loss in the Korean war was over two times of the total of those the US had suffered in five great wars, the War of Independence, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War and the Philippine War.
After the Korean war the former US Defense Secretary George Marshall deplored, “The myth exploded to atoms, and it became clear to everyone that the United States was not so strong as others thought her to be.” Mark Clark, commander of the US Far East forces and concurrently commander of the UN forces in Korea, recalled the time when he signed the Korean Armistice Agreement, saying: In carrying out the instructions of my government I gained the unenviable distinction of being the first United States Army Commander in history to sign an armistice agreement without victory. I suffered a sense of frustration…”
The ignominious defeat suffered by the US was the first of its kind in American history. It can neither be retrievable nor removed, no matter how long time passes.
The US should never forget the loss in the past Korean war.
If it becomes oblivious of the lesson from it and starts another war in the Korean peninsula, it will suffer its complete doom beyond comparison with the past.