The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

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The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by Futurist » 29 Jan 2021 08:23

What if, instead of advancing all of the way up to the Yalu River and thus triggering a Chinese military intervention for which they were unprepared, the United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950 (during the Korean War) and instead build a defensive line (or more than one defensive line) on and around this river? Would China have still militarily intervened in this war if the United Nations would not have advanced as far north as the Yalu River? Also, if China would have still intervened, would the United Nations have been better prepared to meet and withstand the Chinese onslaught in this scenario, considering that they would have had much more preparations in this scenario and would have also build a defensive line (or more than one defensive line) in the middle of North Korea?

For reference:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taedong_River

I'm wondering if this could have resulted in a significantly larger South Korea after the end of the Korean War and was also wondering what the effect of being two times smaller and having its capital split in half would have on North Korea and its subsequently development over the next several decades. I was also wondering if a semi-victory such as this one in the Korean War would have made the United States more emboldened in fighting Communism elsewhere later on--for instance, in Vietnam, by actually deciding to stage a military invasion of North Vietnam? In addition, I was wondering if a North Korea that was two times smaller than in real life and that had its capital split in two would have actually been able to survive after the end of the Cold War in this scenario (like it was indeed able to successfully do in real life, albeit with A LOT OF deaths due to mass famine(s)).

Any thoughts on all of this?

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by AnchorSteam » 29 Jan 2021 18:24

Mao's plans for intervention go all the way back to the very first US Troops landing at Pusan during the Summer. The CCP did not want ANY Western troops on the ground ANYWHERE in Asia. The objective was not to defend China, the objective was to wipe out the UN Forces and push them all into the sea.

However, a defensive barrier across the narrowest part of the penninsula would have been a prudent precaution, and assigning engineer units to that task while other units went on ahead could have saved the UN a lot of back & forth fighting over the next 2 years.

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by Futurist » 29 Jan 2021 20:37

AnchorSteam wrote:
29 Jan 2021 18:24
Mao's plans for intervention go all the way back to the very first US Troops landing at Pusan during the Summer. The CCP did not want ANY Western troops on the ground ANYWHERE in Asia. The objective was not to defend China, the objective was to wipe out the UN Forces and push them all into the sea.

However, a defensive barrier across the narrowest part of the penninsula would have been a prudent precaution, and assigning engineer units to that task while other units went on ahead could have saved the UN a lot of back & forth fighting over the next 2 years.
"While other units went on ahead" to where, exactly?

Also, in your honest opinion, what was the Korean Peninsula's narrowest point?

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by AnchorSteam » 29 Jan 2021 22:32

Futurist wrote:
29 Jan 2021 20:37
"While other units went on ahead" to where, exactly?

Also, in your honest opinion, what was the Korean Peninsula's narrowest point?
Tough call, and I don't have the TO&E for what MacArthur had at that moment. I would say Cavalry would be best to lung ahead and do their thing; Recon. They would be the high-mobility and high Firepower sort that you would want up front. But you would also need good Light Infantry to inspect the worst terrian, a job for the Koreans. Unfortunately the Communists showed a great preference for attacking South Koreans, so they will need heavy infantry and Armor close at hand.
Every US Division has a Battalion of Engineers, they could detach them to plot out the best locations, mark them and build some positions.... but the most important thing is good interior lines of communication so hacking out some roads where none then existed would probably be the highest priority.

I don't know what the other Combat groups had, but I believe the British also had separate Engineer Battalions at the time.

The narrosest part appears to be from Anju to Hungnam, so it could make use of a section of the River line you propose, but this is only the first line. There will have to be fall-back lines, and the last good one appears to be from Songnam to Wonsan. Again, this would make a little use of your river, so that's a good call on your part, but it is only a partial solution. What I am looking at is a defensive zone with about 50-100 km. of depth, to keep the poorly equipped and even more poorly supported PLA troops exposed to the elements all through the winter.

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by Futurist » 30 Jan 2021 03:15

Songnam to Wonsan appears to be an EXTREMELY long line, no?

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by Kingfish » 30 Jan 2021 03:51

Futurist wrote:
30 Jan 2021 03:15
Songnam to Wonsan appears to be an EXTREMELY long line, no?
According to Google maps the travel distance by road from Songham to Wonsom is ~220km, whereas Anju to Yongpo Ri is about 289km.

The former also has the advantage of a secure left flank courtesy of the wide mouth of the Taedong river.
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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by Futurist » 30 Jan 2021 04:07

I got 192 km on Google for the distance from Seongnam-si to Wonsan.

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by AnchorSteam » 30 Jan 2021 07:01

Futurist wrote:
30 Jan 2021 03:15
Songnam to Wonsan appears to be an EXTREMELY long line, no?
The straight-line distance from the the river fork just south of Songnam to the coast near Wonsan is 180 km.
It might not seem that different from the DMZ today, but there is more to it than shaving off 30+ km..

I was looking at the map from your link, a differnt picture emerges with better maps, but the principle remains the same.

From the river fork west of Anju to the coast south of Chigyong is 175 km.

The depth of the east west defensive zone would be 110 km., on the east coast 50 km.

That is a key consideration; the narrowness of the front combined with the Depth that the current front is lacking. There is also "good tank country"* on both flanks, particularly around Pyongyang, and much of that would be within range of the BB Missouri's guns. Also, the mountains in the South seem to run mostly north-south, but in this area they are more random and have some valleys running in a more east-west manner. This is important for defenses and rearward communications.

* The last tank battle in the war was where the last of the North Korean armor was destroyed. As far as I know, the PLA did not bring much armor of any kind to Korea.

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 Feb 2021 03:20

AnchorSteam wrote:
29 Jan 2021 22:32
Every US Division has a Battalion of Engineers, they could detach them to plot out the best locations, mark them and build some positions.... but the most important thing is good interior lines of communication so hacking out some roads where none then existed would probably be the highest priority.
The engineer battalions in the division and corps had their hands full dealing with the roads. Japan had installed some military grade primary roads, to 1920s standards. Road beds and bridges built for light automotive traffic and horse draught loads were rapidly falling apart under the heavy motor & mechanized traffic of the US Army. Add in the many bombed bridges and the engineer battalions were over worked. I've been told there was a attempt to add a fourth company to some of the battalions, but the personnel system reaching back to the US could not keep up with losses from combat, sick, and injured. As with the other combat arms & support services the battalions remaining in the US were being raided for replacement personnel during the remainder 1950. Most of those were at 50-60% strength when the NKPA attacked in June, & the average was below 50% by October. A overall US army increase in strength was not effective still early to mid 1951 after conscription was increased & enough reservists were called up. The 1st Marine Div had two engineer battalions that autum/winter, the second group being heavily involved in opening the airfields the Marines depended on around the Chosin resivoir and further south on the LoC

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by AnchorSteam » 01 Feb 2021 03:39

Then they have a choice; play it safe and slow down, or do what they did.

That's really all there is to it.

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 02 Feb 2021 18:06

The US Army had plenty of fire power & should have been able to deal with the Chinese Army. Ignoring intelligence on what the Chinese were up to amounted to walking into a ambush. Or in this case riding into one. The commanders who stopped rushing north, and got their infantry out of the trucks to secure the adjacent hills avoided the massacres. Some even reversed it on the Chinese. But too many from Mac, & down through corps, division, regiment, and battalion commanders remained road bound, thinking they could still rush north along the narrow valleys. Despite the clear evidence. The Chinese delaying action a few days before the main attack was a clear warning that was ignored by too many Generals. Walker and Corps commanders like Almond bear as much responsibility as Mac.

Macs arrogance, victory disease, and a general laziness put the US soldier in a 'difficult' position late November. The men in the rifle companies, and support units, could have done a lot better, but their leaders failed them at a critical moment.

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by Linkagain » 14 Apr 2021 16:57

Under Ridgeway or Maxwell Taylor the US Forces would stop at the Taedong River..and let the Koreans go to the Yalu river The North Koreans would have probably fled to China...and set themselves up as Govt in exhile...Ironically just as Chang Kai Shek set himself up in Taiwan....The US troops would staed there a few years and let the Korean take over,,,,,

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 14 Apr 2021 17:23

Linkagain wrote:
14 Apr 2021 16:57
Under Ridgeway or Maxwell Taylor the US Forces would stop at the Taedong River..and let the Koreans go to the Yalu river
There are claims this would have been acceptable second best for the Chinese government. The weak ROK & NKPA armies fighting over a communist enclave in the far north while the foreign armies sit in the south and pack up to leave. No Chinese intervention, no UN forces even with Communist Korea eliminated.

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by Futurist » 04 May 2021 00:16

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
14 Apr 2021 17:23
Linkagain wrote:
14 Apr 2021 16:57
Under Ridgeway or Maxwell Taylor the US Forces would stop at the Taedong River..and let the Koreans go to the Yalu river
There are claims this would have been acceptable second best for the Chinese government. The weak ROK & NKPA armies fighting over a communist enclave in the far north while the foreign armies sit in the south and pack up to leave. No Chinese intervention, no UN forces even with Communist Korea eliminated.
Do you think that South Korea was strong enough to take out North Korea on its own?

Also, who exactly was actually making these claims?

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Re: The United Nations forces stop at the Taedong River during their invasion of North Korea in 1950

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 May 2021 03:05

Futurist wrote:
04 May 2021 00:16
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
14 Apr 2021 17:23
Linkagain wrote:
14 Apr 2021 16:57
Under Ridgeway or Maxwell Taylor the US Forces would stop at the Taedong River..and let the Koreans go to the Yalu river
There are claims this would have been acceptable second best for the Chinese government. The weak ROK & NKPA armies fighting over a communist enclave in the far north while the foreign armies sit in the south and pack up to leave. No Chinese intervention, no UN forces even with Communist Korea eliminated.
Do you think that South Korea was strong enough to take out North Korea on its own?
No. But neither Korean state was fighting on its own. They were set up and sustained by foreign nations.
Futurist wrote:
04 May 2021 00:16
Also, who exactly was actually making these claims?
On my shelf is Ferenbach 'This Kind of War' Examines the experience of the US Army in Korea & how the politics in Washington, Bejing, & Moscow influenced events in Korea. Theres other political examinations of the Korean War buried in the libraries.

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