The First Provisional Marine Brigade in Korea: Part II (August 2000)

By Maj John D Manza

Part I of this article examined the lessons to be learned from the formation of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in 1950, as well as from its first battles. This, the second part, looks at the brigade's later battles and draws some general conclusions applicable to today's Marine Corps.

Counterattack at the Naktong Bulge As the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade (Marine Brigade) and the U.S. 25th Infantry Division fought on the southern flank of the Pusan Perimeter in early August 1950, the North Korean People's Army (NKPA) carried out a second penetration of the defensive line approximately 50 miles north of the Chindong-ni area. In this sector the understrength and badly bloodied U.S. 24th Infantry Division held a thin defensive line on the eastern banks of the Naktong River. The 24th Infantry Division had been badly mauled in the fighting during the month of July. As the first U.S. division in the Korean theater, the 24th Division had been tasked with delaying the initial NKPA advance in order to allow time for the remainder of the ground forces of the U.S. Eighth Army to flow into the port of Pusan. While carrying out this delay operation, the division had been driven back over 100 miles, suffered over 30 percent casualties, lost the bulk of its combat equipment, and had seen its division commander captured by the enemy.1 As a result of these losses, morale and combat readiness in the 24th Division's sector was low. Facing this division was the NKPA 4th Division. Honored with the title of "Seoul Division" for its role in the capture of the South Korean capital, morale and confidence in the NKPA 4th Division was extraordinarily high after many successes in the attack south.

On 5 August 1950, under the cover of darkness, the 4th Division constructed an innovative underwater bridge that allowed its men and vehicles to ford the Naktong River. The NKPA quickly exploited this engineering feat and established a foothold on the eastern banks of the Naktong. Utilizing standard North Korean and Chinese light infantry tactics, the 4th Division began to infiltrate infantry into the 24th Infantry Division's rear area, while simultaneously establishing strong defensive works in support of the bridgehead. U.S. intelligence determined that the enemy was prepared to attempt a breakout of the bridgehead by 14 August 1950, which, if successful, would cut the lines of communications from Taegu to Pusan.2

On 14 August 1950, the Eighth Army ordered the Marine Brigade to Miryang in order to prepare for operations against the NKPA's bridgehead. The brigade's infantry battalions and supporting artillery were moved by rail and truck to Miryang, while the brigade staff and key leaders moved to Miryang by helicopter to conduct a leaders' reconnaissance. The reconnaissance by Lt-Col Raymond Murray, the 5th Marines commander, revealed a strong enemy defense which was tied into three large hill masses. The first hill mass in the Marine Brigade's zone was Obong-ni Ridge. Obong-ni was occupied by the 18th Regiment of the 4th Division. West of Obong-ni were Hills 207 and 311, which were to serve as regimental objectives two and three.3

Murray's plan of battle called for the movement of his regiment to assembly areas by truck on 16 August. On 17 August, following heavy air and artillery preparation, the regiment would attack in a column of battalions. The 2d Battalion was to seize Obong-ni Ridge, the 1st Battalion was to seize Hill 207, and the 3d Bat talion was to pass through and seize Hill 311. BGen Edward A. Craig, the Marine Brigade commander, located his command post adjacent to Murray's on Observation Hill in order to best facilitate the integration of the air and ground combat elements.

The first problem in the execution of Murray's plan was a shortage of trucks to move the regiment. Murray had been promised 145 trucks to support the movement, but only 43 arrived 4 The artillery battalion was given the priority of use of the trucks and spent the entire day moving ammunition, crews, and guns to the supporting battery positions. As a result, the artillery battalion had only time to conduct a hurried registration prior to night fall.

This shortage of trucks to move the infantry battalions provided further proof that some things in the life of an infantryman are destined to never change. The three battalions of the 5th Marines were required to conduct a long march from Miryang to the regimental assembly areas just 3 kilometers east of Obong-ni Ridge. These battalions, which were scheduled to begin their attacks at 0800 on 17 August, only arrived in the regimental assembly areas between the hours of 0130 and 0430 on 17 August.

At 0725, the artillery battalion began a preparation fire against Obong-ni Ridge. The Marines now suffered from the poor. registration that was hurriedly carried out the night before. Although many shells were fired, the effort was so inaccurate, that many officers of the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines (2/5) believed that no preparation fire had been delivered at all. The late arrival of the Marine Corsairs further diminished the preparation. The air had been scheduled to arrive at 0725, but did not arrive on station until 0740. Although 18 Corsairs arrived to support the attack, few had time to deliver their ordnance before the 0800 commencement of the ground attack.

BGen Craig and a pool of press personnel observed the attack from his headquarters atop Observation Hill. From this position, only 1,500 meters west of Obong-ni Ridge, Craig could clearly see the infantry moving out across the line of departure. He described the scene as the attack began:

You [could] see puffs of dirt kick up around a Marine where a machine gun [was] firing on him. He [would] drop and lie there a minute, and then he [would] stand up and suddenly fire, and go down again.5

At 0800 on 17 August, 2/5 crossed the line of departure and deployed in the attack with its two rifle companies on line. Immediately, the battalion received a hail of machinegun fire from the enemy on Obong-ni Ridge. Despite heavy casualties, the Marines continued their assault across the open rice paddies that lay in clear view of the ridge. Elements of each rifle company reached the summit of Obong-ni, only to be thrown back by enemy counterattacks. After 4 hours of fighting, 2/5 was withdrawn from the fight, having suffered 23 men killed and 119 men wounded.

The next assault employed the fresh Ist Battalion, 5th Marines (1/5), reinforced with Company A, 1st Tank Battalion's M26 tanks. Having had the advantage of observing the attack of the 2d Battalion, the Marines of 1/5 employed a heavy volume of machinegun and tank fire to suppress the enemy on Obong-ni Ridge. This suppression disrupted the NKPA's ability to put direct fire on the rifle companies as they closed on the objective. Marine air and artillery now zeroed in on the ridge and further retarded the enemy efforts to engage the attacking rifle companies. Under this effective suppressive fire, the men of 1/5 were able to close rapidly with and seize the enemy positions on Obong-ni Ridge.

The NKPA responded to this attack with two thrusts. The first was an armored counterattack of T34 tanks. This counterattack was detected by the Marines of 1/5, who had just captured Obong-ni Ridge. Fortunately, the regiment had prepared an antitank defense in depth that combined the M26 Pershing tanks with the 3.5-inch rocket launchers. The 1st Battalion was ordered to allow the tanks to pass through their position. The T34s continued east on the main service road until they were engaged by the combined fires of the Marine tanks and the infantry rocket launchers. Four enemy T34s were rapidly destroyed by these combined antiarmor fires.

Later, during the early morning hours of 18 August, the NKPA conducted a massive counterattack against 1/5 on Obong-ni Ridge. The enemy had, in this instance, an excellent understanding of the regiment's position. Through the use of a captured radio, they had learned of the neutralization of 2/5 and that 1/5 had only two weak rifle companies holding Obong-ni Ridge. At 0230 on 18 August, the NKPA attacked 1/5's defensive line.6

The Marine defenders had tied in their positions well upon consolidation. Mortar, artillery, and machinegun fire had been placed on likely enemy avenues of approach. Close air support (CAS) requests were relayed through the brigade headquarters and to the carriers and the night-attack squadron in Japan. Double lines of communications wire were strung from platoon to company and battalion headquarters.? Trip flares were laid in front of each rifle company's position. At 0230, the NKPA infantry attacked the Marine lines. Marine 8lmm mortar and artillery fire illuminated the battlefield. For 2 hours, the enemy infantry repeatedly attempted to push the Marines from the ridge, but machinegun, mortar, and artillery fire broke up the enemy assaults. When the enemy infantry did succeed in entering the Marine defensive positions, they were destroyed in fierce hand-to-hand combat. The intensity of the NKPA night attack was so severe that aircraft at times delivered their ordnance only 100 meters from the friendly positions. As dawn broke on the 18th, 283 enemy dead were found in and around the two rifle company positions.8

Early in the morning of the 18th, the Marines of 1/5 counterattacked and cleared the remaining enemy infantry from Obong-ni Ridge. Enemy resistance in the Naktong Bulge was broken when, with little resistance, 3/5 attacked and cleared Hill 207. Following the capture of Hill 207, the NKPA 4th Division commander ordered the withdrawal of his division across the Naktong. A covering force delayed the capture of Hill 311 until first light on 19 August. From this point, the Marine forward observers could clearly see the ford on the Naktong, and the 4th Division was caught in the open and subjected to the punishment of a massive air and artillery attack. On 19 August, soldiers of the U.S. 34th Infantry linked up with the Marines on Hill 311 and closed off the Naktong Bulge. The NKPA left 1,200 dead soldiers, 34 artillery pieces, and thousands of machineguns and rifles in the Naktong Bulge. During the counterattack, the Marine Brigade suffered 66 killed of a total of 268 casualties.

Counterattack at the Naktong Bulge Lessons Learned

The counterattack at the Naktong Bulge provides two lessons for combat leaders today. The first is the requirement to have infantry that is highly skilled in the use of crew-served weapons and supporting arms to provide suppression for attacking riflemen in the offense. The second is the requirement to employ the fundamentals of the defense, especially massed machinegun fire, when defending against a mass infantry force.

The attack by 2/5 on Obong-ni Ridge failed due to a lack of suppression. Exposed in an open rice paddy, the NKPA forces on the ridge poured a devastating plunging fire upon the advancing companies. Without sufficient suppression on the estimated 36 NKPA machineguns, the men of 2/5 were destined to fail. Redundancy in suppression is a key component of an infantry attack. The Marines of 2/5 relied on a scheduled 35-minute preparation fire to neutralize the NKPA. When, due to the fog of war, that preparation fire failed to materialize as planned, the Marine attack was grossly exposed.

The 1st Battalion, 5th Marines employed redundant suppressive fires on the objective. Artillery and CAS was combined with the direct fires of the battalion's heavy machinegun platoon and the regiment's tank company. In this instance, 1/5 generated the combined arms effect. In order for the NKPA to survive the fire of the artillery and CAS, they had to remain in their reverse slope bunkers. Yet, by remaining in these positions, the Marine infantry was able to close on the ridge. When the air and artillery fire was lifted to allow the infantry to close with the enemy, the suppressive fire of the heavy machineguns and tanks prevented the enemy from reoccupying their forward slope fighting positions. Thus, 1/5 was able to seize Obong-ni Ridge with a minimal loss of men.

Once in possession of the ridge, the rifle companies of 1/5 wasted no time in carrying out the principles of the defense. Likely enemy counterattack routes were covered by machinegun and mortar fire. Here, one critical organizational element of the Marine infantry battalion was employed to its best advantage. The machinegun was truly the backbone of 1/5's defense on Obong-ni Ridge. A Marine rifle company in Korea possessed from three to six times the number of machineguns as a U.S. Army rifle company, and the rifle squad organization was also heavy in automatic weapons. This was ideal for the defense.

During World War II, the Marine Corps had experimented extensively with the organization of the rifle squad. The final result, which was carefully scrutinized by Marine general officers, was a three fire team squad, with each four-man fire team built around an automatic rifle. The firepower produced by this organization effectively increased the frontage that a squad could cover in the defense and provided for better suppression and movement in the offense. The effect of the fire team, built around an automatic rifle, combined with the rifle company's medium machineguns, resulted in a nearly impenetrable wall of fire in front of Marine rifle platoons and companies. This infantry firepower on the defense would serve the Marine Corps well throughout the war in Korea. The careful World War II development of the rifle squad and infantry battalion tables of organization should give today's leaders great pause when they consider changing the organization of the Marine infantry battalion to fit the equipment of the operational maneuver from the sea force.

The Second Battle of the Naktong Bulge

Following the withdrawal from the Naktong area, the brigade was moved to the Chang-won area, just east of Chindong-ni, and assumed duty as the Eighth Army reserve. Combat replacements arrived from the United States to fill out the losses suffered during the Ghindong-ni and Naktong Bulge battles. While awaiting their next mission, the men of the 5th Marines spent 4 hours every morning training the combat replacements. Ike Fenton described this process:

At Chang-won we got our first big replacement draft from the U.S., and we started conducting field exercises on the platoon and company level in an effort to mold our outfit back into a smooth functioning team again. Some of the replacements we received had been in the last war, but the majority had not. These men came from posts and stations all over the United States. These men had been performing guard duty or office work during the past two years, and it was imperative that we give them some training in tactics. We spent four hours every morning whipping them into shape.10

As the Marines healed their wounds and integrated their combat replacements, the NKPA began to probe the American perimeter yet again. In the Naktong Bulge defensive area, the 24th Infantry Division had been replaced by the newly arrived 2d Infantry Division. On 2 September 1950, the reinforced NKPA 4th Division and the fresh NKPA 9th Division crossed the Naktong once again in force and drove back the defending Americans. The North Koreans planned to cut the Taejon to Pusan road and, in concert with attacks of the 6th and 7th NKPA Divisions, make a final drive on the vital port of Pusan. Attempted counterattacks by the 2d Division failed to drive the NKPA from the Naktong Bulge.11

The 27th Infantry Regiment, which served as the second of the Eighth Army's reserves, was withdrawn from its reserve position at Taegu, and was committed in the 25th Division's sector. The NKPA 6th and 7th Divisions had penetrated the line in this sector. The commitment of the "Wolfhounds" left Gen Walton Walker, the Eighth Army's commander, with only the Marine Brigade to serve as a reserve against the penetration of the NKPA 4th Division. Been Craig and the other senior Marine leaders, were now, however, looking to withdraw the Marine Brigade from the Pusan Perimeter. The 1st Marine Division was en route to the Far East in preparation for the landing at Inchon. Running short on reserves to hold his defensive line, Gen Walker negotiated with Gen Douglas MacArthur to maintain possession of the Marine Brigade until the close of the current crisis.12

At 1100 on 1 September, the brigade was ordered to Miryang in preparation for a counterattack against the 4th and 9th NKPA. At 1430 on 2 September, the brigade was attached to the 2d Infantry Division and ordered to counterattack the NKPA immediately. Craig resisted these orders, since he did not have all of the elements of the brigade yet in the assembly area. Most importantly, the brigade did not have the air liaison section, which provided the link to the supporting aircraft group. As a result, the 2d Division modified their plan and ordered the Marine Brigade to attack at 0600 on 3 September in order to restore the 9th Infantry Regiment's positions. This regiment had been overrun on 1 September and its units were now disorganized and surrounded by the NKPA.

The brigade moved out of its assembly areas at 0030 on 3 September and conducted an approach march toward the line of departure. The line of departure was a long north-south running ridgeline that was located about 1,000 meters west of Yongsan. Using the Yongsan road as a boundary, the 5th Marines planned the attack with two battalions forward and one in reserve. The 2d Battalion would attack on the right, while the 1st Battalion would attack on the left. The NKPA added friction to the plan when they attacked during the night of 2 and 3 September and drove the 9th Regiment back behind the line of departure. LtCol Murray was unaware of this occurrence as his regiment moved in the approach march. LtCol Roise, commanding officer of 2/5, was first aware of the collapse of the 9th Infantry, when he arrived at the line of departure and discovered destroyed American and North Korean tanks amongst the wreckage of the previous night's battle. Meanwhile, on the left flank, 1/5's approach march coincided with the retreating remnants of the 9th Infantry. Through this confusion, the battalions continued to advance and eventually reached the line of departure at 0630.

Looking west, 2/5 once again faced a wide open rice paddy that was dominated by the NKPA held Hill 117. The 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, remembering their attack in front of Obong-ni, set massive suppressive fire on the enemy position. Marine tanks, artillery, and mortars blanketed Hill 117. The 1st Battalion also was forced at the line of departure to cross an open, but shorter rice paddy. At midday, the two battalions advanced on the NKPA held positions. Under the suppression of brigade air and artillery, 1/5 rapidly seized the ridge south of the road. In reaction to this success, many of the NKPA infantry displaced from the ridge to Hill 117 on the north side of the road. For 2/5, the going was slow. Despite the heavy suppression, many NKPA were able to fire on the advancing Marine infantry. From well-prepared positions, antitank guns and T34s dueled with the supporting Marine armor. The crews of the M26s suf fered heavy casualties while exposing their tanks to enemy fire in an attempt to support the men of 2/5 crossing the open rice paddy. The Marines of 2/5 were caught, for the second time in as many weeks, in the open under the guns of the NKPA. Despite the heavy use of Marine air and artillery, the NKPA retained fire superiority through the use of massed machinegun, recoilless rifle, tank, and mortar fire. Unable to move, the Marines of 2/5 spent a brutal afternoon under enemy fire. LtCol Murray ordered the advance halted at nightfall on 3 September.

Unable to tie in with 2/5, 1/5 called forward the brigade's combat engineers and prepared for a night defense. Antitank and antipersonnel minefields were laid on the most likely avenues of approach. Wire obstacles and mortar registered fire rounded out the defense. Just after nightfall, unseasonably cold weather moved in and rains fell. Neither the NKPA nor the Marines, worn out from the day's combat and discouraged by the adverse weather, attempted any night operations.

At 0800 on 4 September, 3/5 passed through 2/5 and assaulted Hill 117. The NKPA had abandoned the position the night prior and 3/5 captured the objective with no casualties. The Marine Brigade's drive now moved rapidly to the west. The 1st Battalion in the south and 3/5 in the north gained 3,000 meters of enemy held territory by noon on the 4th. By leaving their prepared positions, the NKPA 9th Division was caught in the open by brigade air. Hundreds of NKPA soldiers died under the strafing and bombing runs of the Marine Corsairs.

By nightfall on 4 September, the Marines found themselves on familiar ground, just east of Obong-ni Ridge. The 1st Battalion occupied Observation Hill, which had served as the line of departure for the 5th Marines attack on Obong ni Ridge during August. The 3d Battalion occupied Hill 125, just north of the main service road. Again, the two forward battalions dug in and prepared for a night defense. During the evening, an enemy mortar platoon caused casualties in the 1/5 zone, but was quickly silenced by Corsairs of the night attack squadron who identified the firing mortars and destroyed the position.

The Marines awoke to heavy rain on the morning of 5 September 1950. The NKPA took advantage of the adverse weather and conducted a daylight assault against 1/5. The NKPA attacked under the heavy suppressive fires of their machineguns on Obong-ni Ridge. North Korean T34s joined the attack. A platoon of Marine M26 tanks deployed to counter the enemy armor, but lost two tanks to the T34s in the first moments of the battle. As the enemy armor attack continued, Marine infantry from 1/5 deployed with 3.5-inch rockets and wiped out the enemy T34s. By the end of the battle six enemy and two Marine tanks laid destroyed in the restricted terrain between Observation Hill and Hill 125. Further complicating the battle for 1/5 was a loss of communications to the supporting artillery and mortars. The Marine's radios had been damaged by water during the fighting over the last days. Additionally, throughout this battle, due to the adverse weather, Marine air was unavailable to support the defense. As a result, the bulk of the fighting was conducted with rifles, machineguns, and hand grenades. Using these tools, the infantrymen of 1/5 prevented the enemy from penetrating their lines. During this battle, all available men, including Headquarters Company clerks, mortarmen, and signalmen from the battalion headquarters, were put into the frontline.13

Then suddenly, at 1600 LtCol Murray ordered his three battalion commanders to assemble at the regimental headquarters. Murray read to them the following message from BGen Craig:

. . .Commencing at 2400 5 Sept Brig moves by rail and motor to staging area Pusan for further operation against the enemy . . . Prior to the commencement of movement 5th Mars will stand relieved by elms of 2d Inf Div . . . Conceal from the enemy activities connected with your withdrawal.14

Shortly after midnight, 5th Marines was relieved by the 23d Infantry Regiment and withdrew from its forward positions. After a Long night of moving on foot, the infantry battalions arrived at the assembly areas in the rear where they embarked in trucks and moved to Pusan. In just IO days, they would be landing at Inchon. In 2 months they would be fighting at the Chosin Reservoir.

Second Battle of the Naktong Lessons Learned

Three key lessons can be taken from the second battle of the Naktong Bulge. The first is the requirement to continue training, even during combat. The second is the need to maintain in the Marine infantry the ability to fight for short periods of time, unsupported by artillery and CAS. The third is that massed firepower alone will not defeat determined infantry.

Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1 states that, "training is the key to combat effectiveness . . . [and that] training must continue during war to adapt to the lessons of combat."15 The 5th Marines excelled in both their precombat training and in their willingness and ability to continue training during combat operations. Considering the high casualties suffered at the first battle of the Naktong, this continued training focus was no easy task. Ike Fenton writes in his memoirs that, "the old timers, or combat veterans of the company deserved a rest,"16 but this did not keep then-Capt Fenton and the other members of the regiment from conducting a steady and necessary program of training for the combat replacements. The brigade after action records indicate training in small unit tactics, tactical problems, weapons field firing for all replacements, and patrolling in the 25th Infantry Division's rear area.

The nature and history of war demonstrate that friction will always play an ugly role in both the attack and the defense. This battlefield friction will disrupt communications to supporting arms and will force the infantry battalion to fight with organic weapons only. During 1/5's defense of Observation Hill, two effects drove the battalion to defend with only organic weapons. The first was the weather. As Marines, we must expect that the enemy will be knowledgeable of our heavy reliance on CAS. We must also expect then that, during adverse weather, the enemy will attempt to press his advantage, while we are without our air power. During 1/5's defense, we also see a common problem with even today's communications. Despite the advances in radio technology, we are still affected by the corrosive effects of water on man-portable radios. The 1st Battalion, 5th Marines was left without a reliable link to their supporting arms due to the friction imposed by the limitations of man and machine. Advances in 21st century technology will not likely eliminate these effects.

The final lesson of the second battle of the Naktong is the recognition that a determined and disciplined enemy can, when required, withstand massed American firepower. In their defense of Hill 117, the NKPA used ingenuity and mass to overcome the Marine Brigade's advantage in air-delivered heavy ordnance. The NKPA survived U.S. firepower through the employment of deep bunkers located on the reverse slope of Hill 117. During air attacks, the NKPA infantry would occupy these bunkers. When the attack was over, the NKPA would move through trench lines and occupy firing positions on the military crest of the hill. These positions provided protection from the direct suppressive fire brought to bear by 2/5 and the supporting tanks and recoilless rifles. Through sheer volume, the NKPA attained fire superiority over 2/5. This lesson must be remembered today. American forces assume fire superiority in battle. As our conventional forces continue to shrink, we must be prepared to fight outnumbered and, perhaps, even outgunned.

The MAGTF in the Next War

The training, deployment, and combat employment of the Marine Brigade during the summer of 1950 provides three critical lessons for combat leaders today. The first is the requirement to improve the readiness of our infantry regiments and battalions to conduct combat in a mid- or high-intensity conflict. The second is the need for greater preparation of our Marine expeditionary brigade headquarters to conduct expeditionary operations. Finally, the third is the requirement for the Marine expeditionary force headquarters to force the closer integration of the air, ground, and combat service support elements of the Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) during peacetime training.

The lessons of the Marine Brigade in the defense of the Pusan Perimeter are worthless if not retained for future use. It is, of course, impossible to perfectly predict the next war, but a study of 20th century military history, and the early stages of the Korean War in particular, does reveal some common themes that are likely to be repeated in the next major conflict. The major theme of American military history in the last 50 years is that we, as a nation, are likely to underestimate our enemy. American overconfidence in this century has led to a chronic miscalculation of our relative strength in relation to the other nations or peoples of the world. During World War II, the United States was shocked by the capacity of the Japanese soldier to make war. In the Korean conflict, the U.S. military underestimated the capability of both the North Korean, and later Chinese, forces to make war. During the Korean War in particular, American military leaders mistakenly used relative technology as the tool by which we could measure the enemy's warfighting potential. Relative technology was employed again, during the war in Southeast Asia, as the means to measure the warfighting potential of the backward and impoverished Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. Only during the post-Vietnam era did American military and political leaders place less emphasis on relative technological advances when calculating the strength of a potential adversary. The period of technological self doubt, however, lasted for only a short period. The U.S. military has regained its traditional overconfidence as a result of the easy victory in the 1991 Gulf War and the recent capitulation of the Serbs. In what has now become a powerful pattern, Americans again feel invincible because of a worldwide technological advantage.

Due to this overconfidence, Americans have turned a blind eye to the Russian debacle in Chechnya, and even to the American defeat in Somalia. Despite the warning signals that these conflicts broadcast, Chechnya and Somalia are ignored as indicators of what the next major theater war will look like. Instead, the United States continues to use the easy victory against the hapless Iraqis as the primary model for a future war. A more balanced model for the MAGTF is the formation and combat employment of the Marine Brigade in the defense of the Pusan perimeter. The combat actions of the Marine Brigade there serve as a reminder to all expeditionary forces of the raw combat power that can be generated by a low-technology, yet determined enemy force.


1. Roy E. Appleman, South to the Naktong North to the Yalu (Washington, DC: GPO, 192), p. 180.

2. Marine Corps Study Board, II-A-20. The NKPA used a type of raised corduroy matting which provided traction for the armored and motorized vehicles, while allowing infantry and vehicles to ford. This underwater bridge could not be detected from the air.

3. 5th Marines Special Action Report (5th Mar SAR), dated 10 September 1950, p. 8.

4. Ist Provisional Marine Brigade, Special Action Report (Brigade SAR), dated 11 September 1950, intelligence anney, p. 12.

5. Donald Knox, The Korean War Pusan to Chosin (New York: Harcourt, 1985), p. 136.

6. Interview of Capt F.I. Fenton, Jr., Korea Campaign. Date not available. (Historical Division: Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps) Marine Corps Archives, Quantico, VA., p. 24. This racho was found after the enemy had been dislodged from Obong-ni Ridge. The radio was set to the V5 battalion tactical net.

7. Ibid. p. 21. Fenton recalls in his interview that during the Chindong-ni battles, his communications wire was often cut by mortar and artillery fire. He vowed not to allow that to happen again, and laid double lines of communications wire to his battalion headquarters.

8. This section compiled from the Brigade SAR and Fenton. 9. Arthur S. Collins, Common Sense Training (Novato, California: Presidio Press, 1998), p. 126. Retired LtGen Collins laments in his book that combat arms officers have neither spent the time in companies and battalions required to learn about their weapons, nor have the service schools provided a solid background in weapons capabilities and limitations.

10. Fenton, p. 29

11. Marine Corps Study Board, II-A-28.

12. Ibid., II-A-33. The time agreed to for the withdrawal of the Marine Brigade was not later than 2400 on 5 September 1950.

13. Lynn Montross and Nicholas Canzoa, U.S. Marine Operations in Korea 1950-1953, Volume 1, The Pusan Perimeter (Washington, DC: GPO, 1954), p. 236.

14. Ibid.

15. Department of Defense, Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1: Warfighting (Washington DC: GPO, 1997), p. 59.

16. Fenton, p. 29.