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tv   Lectures in History Joseph Glatthaar on Korean War Civil- Military...  CSPAN  October 13, 2022 2:13pm-3:12pm EDT

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saturday, american history tv documents america's story. on sundays, book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span two comes from these television companies and more. including cox. >> -- that is why we are providing lower income students access to affordable internet. so homework can just be homework. cox connect to compete. cox, along with these television companies support c-span 2 as a public service. today i'm going to talk about the korean war. we are going to talk a little bit about civil military relations. last time we met, we talked about the cold war and the development of containment. korea was an unusual situation in that it had been a colony of japan since 1910.
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during the second world war, there was fighting in korea. the u.s. and the soviet union jointly occupied korea. they agreed to divide korea. now, northern korea, that is what we call today north korea was very much communist influenced. southern korea, which we now call south korea, it was a very different situation. with the assistance of the un, they sponsored elections in south korea and the south koreans elected a democratic government. north korea wanted to unite under its terms. it sends insurgence into south korea to try to overthrow the government. they failed to do so. then in january of 1950, the u.s. secretary of state made a really significant error. in a speech talking about the areas of influence and
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positions that were vital to the united states's interest, he mentioned japan and the philippines and omitted south korea. north korean's interpreted that as a statement that the u.s. wouldn't go to war to defend south korea. in june of 1950, armed with soviet equipment and aided by the chinese, the north koreans invaded south korea. as you can see from our map, they stormed right across the border. the south koreans were largely caught off guard and unprepared. the u.s. had military forces in japan under our far eastern commander douglas mcarthur. the problem was, those troops and their units were badly under strained. they were badly trained. the equipment they had was carryovers from world war ii. it wasn't really useful.
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we quickly through over some forces. the status episode was taft fourth -- it was a unit, a week battalion that was commanded by charles smith. he had extensive combat experience. smith occupied a position. the soviet tanks ward right through it. one guy, lieutenant ali conner fired brasilia. it was fired into soviet made tanks. needless to say, that was disconcerting. eventually, north korean infantry came through. smith people were compelled to retreat. soldiers fell back and occupied a position in blue here on the map. we call it the pew son who remain are. we were able to stabilize
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things with american troops, the republic of korea troops and foreign powers. when the invasion took place, harry truman presented the issue to the united nations. fortunately for the united states at the time, the soviet union was boycotting the un. they were boycotting it because the peoples republic of china, it had been secured by -- in 1949, it was not admitted to the un. what happened was, the soviets boycotted. the u.s. was able to get it passed through the un, first statement condemnation for the act of aggression by north korea and then military forces from un nations to help protect and defend south korea. all told, 21 nations send either troops or personnel with expertise to aid the war
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effort. it's actually a united nations expedition. it was placed under the overall command of douglas mcarthur. mcarthur was the great world war ii hero. he was a world war i hero. people felt really good about having macarthur in charge. fortunately, we were able to stabilize our position barely at pusan. slowly build up our forces. we created what was called the eighth army. the eighth army was crowned it by walton walker. walton walker was a corcoran mandarin patents army in the european theater. he is a really experience combat soldier. a very fine officer. mcarthur came up with a concept to crush the north koreans. his idea it was that walker in the pusan perimeter would launch an attack out. meanwhile, he would launch an
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amphibious landing visit, the port area for seoul. the object was to seize soul and push inland and cut off the north koreans. the problem was multiple. it has between 29 and 35, 36 foot tie differentials. so, higher then this ceiling detail. below the floor at low tide. it is a huge title difference. it makes a dramatic difference when you're trying to land. secondly you have mud flaps at low tide that extend 6000 yards. 6000 yards. that is for miles. of course the tanks and things
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like that are going to get stuck in the mud flaps. you're not going to be a land at low tide. there are islands and routes that you're going to have to occupy. the waterways are rough in the wintertime. you have to make sure it comes before the winter comes. there is a fortified island. it has to be taken otherize you can't get in. there is a seawall and it enters right at the port. you have to get over the seawall. then on top of that, the city begins right on top of the seawall. so, as soon as you enter into inchon, you are involved in urban warfare. it is very difficult to fighting in that regard. and then, of course, there were
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always the question about whether troops at pusan could break out. we were so under strength that we had the seventh interest-free division from the u.s. army, we merged to marine corps redivision's to make up a single division. now the first division. those of you who are in this class, of course, red dog company six. simmons was in the first marine division and landed at inchon as you know. what they did was, they designated the tent corps and seventh infantry. and the first marine division to go in and up close and classic mcarthur fashion, he pulled it off. what would you -- when he is good, he is the best. when he is bad, he is the worst. in this instance he was at his
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best. the landing is absolutely brilliant and he pulled it out and pulled it off and strangely enough, when we came to the pusan perimeter, we had more troops in the perimeter than the north koreans had. when walker attacked, they showed resistance, they eventually broke. once they secure their way into sole and in, john they resisted pretty hard. ultimately it was forced to fall back. let me go to the first slide so you can see that again. oops. as the north franz began falling back, there was a big debate as to whether we should pass the 38th parallel.
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remember, the objective was to restore south korea. that's what the un authorized. that was the 38th parallel. when the u.s. authorized it, they placed matters large in control of the united states. mcarthur was in charge. the u.s. was largely calling the shots. another other nations had military personnel who are risking and losing their lives in this adventure. we elected to let them cross over. mcarthur saw this as a great opportunity. and what he now wanted to do is unite the two koreas. he began pushing forward. the north koreans retreated farther north. the americans began advancing. at that point, mcarthur made a kind of critical error. he pulled out the tent corps and send it around by water to wonsan. it is marked on the map here. by then, the republic of korea
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troops had already passed it and cleared it. the troops came in. furthermore, it's mountainous. korea is very mountainous. so, what happened was the troops got dispersed and they compartmentalize. they got split up as they advanced into north korea. now, mcarthur was euphoric. he was anticipating victory by getting the victory and gain the troops back home at christmas time. he was exceedingly optimistic about the sort of thing. unfortunately, things didn't work out that way. americans are worried that the chinese might get involved. and they kept questioning mcarthur, questioning mcarthur and, questioning him. i talked to a former, well he's now deceased, former four star general who went over with the chief of staff of the army, joe collins. they went and met with mcarthur. the entire time, mcarthur paced back and forth and lectured to them about what had gone on and how successful this was going
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to be and what was going to happen. they couldn't get questions in. finally, mcarthur broke the meeting off. they started leaving. this is the chief of staff of the united states army, joe collins. he turned to the general bolt he hand said, do you know what the problem is? he still sees us as captains. they were captains when mcarthur was chief of staff in the army. he still saw himself as their boss. in fact, that wasn't the case. collins was his boss. he just didn't get it. he pushed farther and farther north and by october they began to see the presence of chinese troops. all of a sudden, they came in huge numbers. by november, we were struck, we were isolated, they picked on various pockets of troops. we were routed. they began a steady retreat southward. the retreat wasn't mayhem.
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it was organized. they were systematic as they fell back. and then an unfortunate accident occurred. walton walker was killed in a jeep accident. he was replaced by an absolutely extraordinary soldier they matthew ridgeway. ridgeway had been and airborne division commander in world war ii. he had a great reputation as a soldier. everyone admired him. so having him there was a real asset. you could see how close we got. there were troops who made it to the river. the river is the boundary between north korea and the peoples republic of china. we advanced way in and those troops, the people at the chosen reservoir, that was general simmons in his book dog company sixth. they were chosen reservoir. really, one of the most horrific experiences in american military history.
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so, you see how far north they advance. when the chinese came, they came in with such staggering numbers. we simply couldn't hold them back. eventually, ridge wray was able to call a halt and launch a counter attack. oops i keep going the wrong way. and then push back across the 38th parallel. what ridgeway did was interesting. first of all, he upgraded firepower. you cannot compensate for chinese man power with equal man power. you cannot compete with the chinese when it comes to numbers of people you have off to compensate with firepower. that's what he did, he upgraded the firepower of the military. that proved a real boom. he also adopted what we call fight and roll. they would fight vigorously,
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punish the enemy, and then fall back to a next defensive position. each time, punish the enemy and fall back to another defensive position. very skillfully done. saving american lives and un lives and punishing the enemy. he got people off the roads. if troops were on the road, they are easy targets for the enemy. you get them off the road. lastly, he began night fights. not fighting. americans are not really that keen on night fighting and ridgeway force them to do it. it proved to be really successful. ridgeway really left a mark, a positive mark, he was able to restore the 38th parallel. technically, as you can see from the truce line, below the 38th parallel on the western part, on most of korea. most of korea was above the 38th parallel. what we did was occupy positions that are really strong defensively.
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they had made it clear not to try to conquer north korea. now, mcarthur was grumbling all along. one of the most interesting things to realize, mcarthur had not been in the united states in 12 years. he was completely detached from his homeland. as a result of that, he really didn't have a good feel for was going on in american life and society. as a result of that, mcarthur had curried favor with the republican party. he really wanted to run for political office, maybe even be elected president of the united states. he was trying to gain favor with republicans. so he regulate communicate with republicans and politicians. unfortunately, he kept challenging the truman administration policies.
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and that's where he really ran afoul. first of all, he gave a talk for the vfw in which he oppose the truman administration's policies with regard to formosa. you're a general, the president is the commander in chief. the president formulates the policies. macarthur didn't care. the joint chiefs of staff instructed mcarthur under no uncertain terms are you to allow non korean troops to reach the river. ,. ,,. ? .
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. but getting dragged into a war in asia that was exactly what the soviet union would want then we would be distracted from our principal mission perhaps one of the more unfortunate episodes though was the truman administration notified mcarthur on the 20th of march 1951, it was about to release terms for negotiation on the 24th of march, mcarthur announced his terms for
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negotiation. he undercut truman administration. what he did was he made it clear that there would be no link between korea and formosa, which really upset the truman administration. truman was stuck with what mcarthur had announced. he clearly had violated what the truman administration had called for. december of 1950 truman reminded he had issued an order quote to make no announces on policy without government concurrence. truman reminded mcarthur of that statement that came out of the department of defense and of course in classic mcarthur fashion, he completely ignored him. then, joseph martin to house minority leader wrote to mcarthur sending him a speech that he had given in which he argued that if the united states was not going to be in it for a full victory than the
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truman administration should be and decided for the murder of thousands of american men. he asked mcarthur to comment on that. mcarthur wrote back, this was read in the halls of congress. quote, my views and recommendation with respect to the situation created by red china's entry into the war against the korea have been submitted to washington in most complete detail. generally these views are well-known and generally understood as they follow the conventional pattern of meeting force with the maximum count of force as we have never failed to do in the past. your view with respect to the utilization of chinese forces on formosa is in conflict with neither logic nor this tradition. it seems strangely difficult for some to realize that here in asia is where the communist conspirators have elected to make their play for global
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conquest. we have joined the issue thus raised on the battlefield. here we fight europe's war with arms while diplomats there still fight it with words. if we lose this war to communism in asia, the fall of europe is inevitable europe would most probably avoid war but yet preserved freedom. as you point out we must win. there is no substitute for victory. >> that letter was read on the floor of the u.s. house of representatives. of course the president was furious. what he did was called in secretary of defense and secretary of state, had conversations with them. they decided they wanted the joint chiefs of staff involved. they brought in omar bradley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. during the call that omar bradley was chairman of the joint chiefs of staff during the revolt of the admirals?
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do you remember what he said? anyone recall what he said? . open rebellion to civil authority he open rebellion of the admirals. the same chairman of the joint chiefs of staff again. he made it clear so he wasn't bothered by. he wanted to consult to join steve. the next day he did so. they all came back for another meeting. he presented the joint chiefs of staff -- they were unanimous. in their statement that mcarthur should be removed. marshall agreed. the secretary of state agreed as a result truman removed mcarthur. what you have a pretty flagrant violations of what we call civil military relations. there is omar bradley
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missourian, like eric let's talk about civil military relations. first of all, all of you have read the u.s. constitution? what does it say about the presidents power? >> [inaudible] let's see, he is in charge of the militia and the navy. he can call them only when they are in actual service. >> he is commander-in-chief, right? >> what does commander-in-chief mean? >> he is in charge. what responsibilities does the congress have? >> they are allowed to hold and raise armies trip to two years and establish regulations. congress declares war.
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correct. we are truman has the right to issue orders and establish policies. mcarthur, what is his responsibility in this? >> you have to listen to them. >> he has to obey them, right? okay. he has got to obey them. what has he done? has he violated civil military relations? where do we even get this concept? is it exclusively the constitution? those have me you were here last semester where do you first see civil military relations as we are talking about them? >> the high middle ranges in england. the english hesitation to allow a standing army, particularly after the english civil war. >> what about george washington? i'm a, you know all about
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george! >> he encouraged good relations to move between congress and his armies. >> that is exactly right. he was very careful not to exceed what he thought with proper behavior for an army officer. what was his justification for that? why would washington why was he so careful about not transgressing the responsibilities of politicians? >> he understood that politicians and the army are in a feedback loop. if you cause a problem with one, it can cause a problem across the board and screw up the whole system. >> okay. anyone else? >> come on, aaron? >> the whole reason for the revolution was they didn't want the monarchy. if he were to surpass his role and step on the toes of
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politicians, that is pretty much what he would be doing. >> yes. he is very sensitive that we don't have some kind of aristocracy. very sensitive that we do not have some kind of dictatorship. he wants to always make it clear that the military took their orders from the political leaders. there was his responsibility to execute those orders to the best of his ability. to advise them -- when they issued the orders to obey those orders. we go all the way back to washington in the united states back to the brits where we inherited of course we are very sensitive to this. here comes the complication. how do you get into a military academy? has anyone here applied for admission? how do you get in? >> be nominated by a congressman, senator, or the vice president. >> that's right. you have to be nominated by a politician. say you had been nominated by a politician, wouldn't you feel
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beholden to that politician. ? probably so one of my recent phds, the congressman who had nominated him, they have been friends ever since the congressman no longer serve but they are still friends. in fact my army officer but he was invited to go to the congressman's wedding they are have become such close friends over the years. you build a rapport. these people made an important decision that was critical for your career and you feel beholden to them back in the 19th century you remember all these politicians had connections even guys lake ulysses s grant had connections in politics. you cannot really escape when you are a general officer. for the more you get to these positions, you get appointed by the president of the united states, right? do you have to be ratified by
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congress? yeah, you do! you do. when you go before them and they ask you, if i ask you a question, will you guarantee me you will always speak truthfully. you know you are not going to get confirmed if you don't say, yes, senator. that puts you in a bind. what happens when the president says one thing, issues you a directive. you personally feel that that is a bad decision. in front of congressional testimony they ask you about that. if you lie, they are going to be livid. if you tell the truth, you're going to alienate your president. what do you do? what would you do, andrea. you don't know? come on, take charge!
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what would you do? >> i would probably stay loyal to the president, i guess. >> i think he will stay loyal to the president but he will do it in a clever way. for example, say you want a weapons system. the president, the administration, decides it's too expensive. you really want to. congressman says in front of you testimony, sworn under oath. did you want that weapons system? what you're thinking is yeah i want that weapon system. i want a lot of different weapon systems. we live in a reality where we don't have unlimited funds. we can't get everything we would like. that is how you answer. that way you are telling the truth to both parties. respecting the decision of your bosses. see how twisted this world is?
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what do you do if you or a general officer, or any officer, and the president of the united states issues you in order and you find it morally reprehensible but not illegal? what would you do? no one has an answer? >> you can request transfer is, if you receive a commission to go -- i think there was an example. a publicized case of someone trying to rob a building. they didn't believe in the war in iraq. he asked not to serve. that is an option, to ask for different orders, essentially. also if you believe it is morally reprehensible you can refuse the orders.
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>> while, if you find morally reprehensible, but you are going to suffer the consequences. unless you can demonstrate that the order is illegal, you are going to suffer consequences. some people think you have no right to resign if you are military officer. your job is to simply execute all legal orders. you are not entitled to an opinion on those matters can you buy the? >> it's sort of the oath you take a turn off as a. >> that is the oh if you take as a commissioned officer in the military. to obey the orders of the president in the officers above you. whether or not you think it's wrong, if it is a lawful order than you are required to obey. >> that's right. but then we can bring in guys like our man eric who isn't and ceo. eric, what did you do when you received an idiotic order from
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a lieutenant or a captain? >> do it, obviously. [laughs] if not, make it look like he did it. >> surely you've got some. some idiotic orders. >> oh yeah, there is no shortage of those. absolutely. >> so you see how complicated this world in! he is exactly right. you take the oath to obey unlawful orders. there is something to be said about it. back in the 19th century in, even into the 20th century, some individuals did not think it was right to cast a vote zachary taylor until he was nominated for president on the party ticket had never voted in his life because he thought i am a career army officer. i obey the government whoever
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is in power. i shouldn't have an opinion on these matters. i should simply execute the orders. he said to them well tell me what your party stands for one of the issues. he didn't even know the issues between the democratic party in the whig party. once they told him he said i guess i'm a wig they nominated him for president and he got elected. it's a very strange world, isn't it? what do you think about these matters? you're gonna be an army officer, right? >> like joe said, you take the oath you have to do what is handed down to you. >> i think you're absolutely right. i think you have to execute the orders. there is not much you can do about it. it is a complicated world. very difficult one for a lot of
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military people. sometimes these orders will challenge you to your heart and soul. you're very moral fibers. -- when i was at west point shortly after the second call for, the invasion of iraq broke out. a lot of the army officers they were bothered by this. the u.s. doesn't start wars. we don't invade countries. they felt like when they entered the military they took an oath but there was a tacit agreement that the u.s. government would utilize them for sensible and important causes. many of them felt like they were being put in combat in a situation that really didn't warrant invasion. all of them obeyed it but it bothered them. you see how civil military
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relations can be so complicated and so difficult from a moral standpoint. does anyone have any questions on civil military relations? you guys are awfully quiet today. you are intimidated the cameras, i understand. yes? >> [inaudible] if you didn't agree on a moral standpoint, is that when you call yourself a conscientious objector or is that something else? >> conscientious objectors are usually opposed to war, morally. period. i think that is usually the case. >> in case you found something morally ransom will as an
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officer or enlisted person -- what would be the legal procedure in order to prove the case? >> find where it's illegal, if it is not expressly dictated as a legal than -- the law is the law. >> you have to demonstrate, i mean go to a jagged officer and present evidence that this is an illegal office i can't abandon. but jack officer will look at it or you're either gonna go to jail, or the brig, force a year right, that is an unlawful order. >> [inaudible] >> that is interesting. mcarthur got fired. came back home to the united states and went on tour around the united states giving speeches, in uniform, opposing the truman administration and
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presenting his side of the situation. insisting that this was the right war for world war iii. of course congress then held hearings and took testimony from numerous individuals. perhaps the most famous statement came from none other than omar bradley wrong time for the wrong play in the wrong place. there is a lot to be said for that. justification, once again was, our primary mission was the protection of europe. we did not want to get embroiled in a huge war against the people's republic of china. you remember that great movie princess bride they talk about the second stupidest thing in the world is to get into a land war in asia? >> the mcarthur ever seriously
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personally political office or? >> i think it became clearer when he came back that he didn't really have the support that he was hoping. remember, he had a ticker tape parade in new york city and 7 million people came out to cheer him this is after this debacle. when eisenhower came home for more work to only 3 million people came out to cheer him. did eisenhower feel snubbed? i can't speak to that. it shows you the mcarthur had a lot of support. as evidence came out people realize that mcarthur really overstepped his bounds. he did! and of course there was talk about utilizing nuclear weapons against china this was a pretty tense situation >> was the
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media more involved with the narrative of mcarthur being seditious? or the truman administration with the cia the department of defense the government -- >> uncovering what mcarthur was saying? no, mcarthur made it public himself. there was one episode when the ap picked up information from mcarthur's headquarters about things that he was planning that war in violation of j.a. see us generally speaking it was not the media and covering this generally speaking it was mcarthur speaking openly. he was pretty flagrant about this sort of thing. >> the troops for korea did the u.s. carry over the peacetime draft? >> that is a very interesting issue, i'm glad you raised it. it is a ticklish one.
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what they did was first day recalled all sorts of reservists. people were coming home from work to. look, you don't know if you've got a job or not. why don't you come into the reserves. you get paid, sign up for five years will give your monthly stipend. it combat veterans, you really don't need to worry about training or anything. most of these guys their five year tours were about to expire when all this out in the korean war broke out. they get recalled to active duty. the war war were two veterans. they were really disgruntled. after about a year they rotated those guys out and they brought in draftees. draftees, of course, younger people who were better trained. the oh guys had combat experience but they had gone to seed in the time between. all those years without beers and then you get the opportunity you go after it. many of them have gotten older
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they got married and had children. it was a much more complicated scenario for them. the 18 or 19 year olds who were being drafted have been properly trained. much more fit physically. they were sent overseas for combat. he saw an significant improvement in units. in addition to that you have integration issues. they began to integrate but they did it slowly. as a result when you started getting replacements in korea you couldn't sort them out he started plugging in troops regardless of race into various units. for example the 24th infantry regiment, an army unit, traditionally african american. it desegregates literally in korea. they started putting white guys in. lots of other white unit started getting a lot more black soldiers. as i recall, don't bet the house on this, about 20% of all
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troops coming into the army around that time period where african american. you saw a significant integration of military forces literally in combat in korea that was a real positive step as you learn from the battle of the ball when black soldiers raised rang to serve an interesting unit because it desperately needed the intra to power fox in foxholes raced just does not matter you're just glad to have a good soldier next year. race, gender, or anything you just want someone to be reliable there's also that line there are no atheists in foxholes. the constitution for there is an commission officers swear an oath to uphold the constitution. if there is the order given to
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them or military order is unconstitutional, example of this could be expansion of bombing in cambodia during the nixon administration, what is the obligation that military officers have? >> that is a tough one. what would you do? ,. .
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. you to do it, you notes coming down from way [inaudible] you are in a very difficult predicament. you bought order to do it. you know it's coming down from on high. you know it's illegal but everyone is counting on you. let's say you're a really good pilot. if you pass on it -- or you are really good at whatever you do. you say i'm not gonna do it. they let old joe spit lack who is mediocre doing it and or something or bodies get killed because this guy blew it. how guilty are you gonna feel? then what do you do? do you take it on? your bosses have ordered you to do it? you know if you do it you can probably save some lives. these are tough choices in life. big moral issues. anyone else have any questions
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or comments about this stuff? >> you mentioned the u.s. have more troops -- how did that compare [inaudible] >> i can't tell you off the top of my head, i can get back to you on that. [inaudible] >> how many troops were coming in from china? >> the perimeter of the chinese forces are not there. i've got statistics on the korean war that are pretty staggering. no, i didn't bring them. [laughs] i brought casualty statistics
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which i will read to you next class. off the top of my head we lose about 33,000 americans killed in korea. the law of the republic of korea north korean's, chinese, is staggering. it's just staggering! we upgraded our firepower dramatically. we were really punishing them. andrew? >> why was that -- >> we had bazookas that were world war ii vintage. we upgraded them to a 3.5 inch bazooka. large around better penetration. one of the interesting things we had, i know this sounds harsh but these rounds penetrate the outer skin and bounce around in the side and
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explode in there. what we found was the quality of the soviet steel was so bad that the rounds passed right through the tanking came at the back before they floated. we upgraded in that way. >> why was that -- [inaudible] >> we were relying, we were trying to expand the excess war were to ammunition, finished using the world war ii equipment. >> was there any attempt to [inaudible] >> they are trying to save money. they are trying to cut back on defense expenditures because they've gone through the roof. in the korean war defense expenditure increased fourfold. that is a huge increase. prior to that, we talked about the defense of the admiral, as
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they were trying to cut the defense budget. they did that by cutting a super carrier. pretty heavy losses. $300 million or so. the three major services. >> [inaudible] -- supports the people not on the front lines that a big part of what was changing in the military relation? >> not so much. a course, do you mean civilian staff are active military personnel who aren't carrying weapons? >> the military personnel. >> it is a steady process we keep decreasing the tip of the spear in effect, making it smaller and smaller because we need so much support for everything that we do. go to the civil war everybody
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in a regiment fights. virtually everybody in a division fights. by the time you get to world war ii and it division a 15,000 3500 to the fighting and the above their 11,500 are in some way shape or form supporting those 3500. you see a monumental shift just in that time period. [inaudible] what was public opinion regarding the war? did people see it as protecting [inaudible] ? >> there was a lot of rumbling when reservist got recalled. people were upset. truman had whipped people into a little bit of a frenzy with this communist takeover. i think the general public generally supported the war. it was easy to justify. remember there is a fait or at least to hope that the un will be something really successful.
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by our time now we are kind of jaundiced about the un and what it can and can't do. what it does well or not. i think there was a level of optimism that the un could be utilized as this institution that would protect countries from these acts of aggression here is where we have to start the practice i think that makes a big difference to peoples lives. >> [inaudible] was the soviet union also doing the same things? >> they had the g 34, the soviet tank of world war ii. >> so the older model of things to north korea and in china's. >> china is encouraging this war to an extent because the soviets are funneling equipments of the chinese are building up their military with soviet equipment as well.
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>> they were not combat troops. ? >> in the impose of high-profile officers who found situation against their more code or the law and recuse themselves from combat situation? >> there is a classic story during the vietnam war. you should read hr mcmaster's dereliction of duty -- harold k johnson, chief of staff in the army, it's fed up with the johnson's administration policy. he gets in his car, he is driving to the white house to submit his resignation in protest. he got stuck in traffic in washington. as he was stuck in traffic he started thinking if i resigned and nothing changes i've just wasted things. if i stay in the game i might be able to alter policy and make things better for the troops. ultimately he convinced himself
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and he was making the right decision. he turned his car around and he drove back to the pentagon. the sad part is johnson live to regret that decision for the remainder of his life. that is a pretty heavy burden. 58,000 americans lose their life in vietnam it's a pretty bad burden to carry. yes if we were fighting chinese troops were we at war with china? what was the official stance? >> no we were fighting them they were fighting us. no declaration of war. it was a police action. >> the chinese fly under their own standards and banners yes they were chinese troops. chinese equipment. chinese officers. remember, chinese and koreans don't speak the same language. >> all right, we've got a few more minutes so let me wrap up the korean war.
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ultimately what happened was -- i know, i am bad with the quicker. ultimately they settled in on the truth line and both sides would attack it will be fighting back and for the big stumbling block was the exchange of prisoners of war. i should mention that both south korea and north korea created the civilian population in each of the countries pretty brutal there were large numbers of north koreans who were captured and imprisoned, as well as chinese who did not want to be repatriated. they did not want to go back to north korea. the un especially led by the u.s. felt like they had no right to force anyone to return home especially when they are
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going to end authoritarian regime that became a huge stumbling block for prisoner exchanges and therefore the troops. when i first got a job out of graduate school and i went to 4:11 worth at the cds see it with the combat studies institute a guy in the office next to me, jack, gifford had been captured in the korean war. in a prison camp and he told me that they were treated really badly, that poorly. conditions were bad but all of a sudden conditions improved monumentally. what had happened wide joseph stolen had died. with stalin's death that opened the door for a negotiated solution. he said things were wrapped up in no time. he said it was so noticeable. it was so obvious that something monumental had happened. they were able to connect to stalin's death.
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whether stalin's death opened the door for north korean negotiation or they read it as an opportunity because there would be a power vacuum to act on our own behalf and do this, i don't know but he did notice a significant difference of course by 1953, we had a presidential election year. dwight d. eisenhower was elected president. eisenhower threatened that he would go to korea personally if necessary he would new use nuclear weapons to bring this thing to an end. i think the combination of stalin's deaths, eisenhower in the white house with eisenhower's threats probably brought everyone to the negotiating table in a very serious way. all of the prisoners were exchanged. those who did not want to go back did not have to doesn't have any questions about the
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