i liked mig alley the old korean war sim, watched several docco's about the war, and have read a fair amount of first hand pilot accounts about their experiences in that war, but the history channel docco i viewed last night put a different slant on the korean war which i hadnt seen/heard earlier. if anybody interested in that conflict and hasnt seen it, its well worth a look (History Chanel: The Korean War, Retreat from Hell)
in short, their viewpoint was that the american supply lines were severely stretched when they initially pushed north (a tactical mistake that shouldnt have occurred), and that the local us commanders weren't very competent for engagements in a theater like that (mainly trained and practiced in full frontal mechanized attacks at great speed, but not prepared for probing flanking replies, or dealing with infiltrations by large numbers of poorly armed enemy insurgents). once the #$%@! hit the fan, it seems many of the unit or local commanders wernt up to the task of leadership either, significantly contributing to the problem (exceptions existed, not all were that bad, but lack of competency was a major issue)
another point they made was that the chinese wave that came over the border wasnt that significantly outnumbering the americans (i had always heard the ratio weas 10:1 or even greater). what made the chinese so problematic for the americans is that they never (sic) attacked head on, they probed around the edges and tried to get at them from the sides (or behind the lines), and favoured attacking the weaker south korean units that fought on their own, break through, and then get at the yankees from the sides. if i heard correct, there was even a turkish division (never heard this before), which crumbled quickly like the south korean units, all easy holes to punch through for communist red devils. the chinese units also didnt have/need a hierarchical command structure, and each of their units could and did operate without needing/keeping communications with their central command, basically they acted as poorly armed autonomous groups of soldiers acting on their own (but following the grand plan their were told from the start)
then the most surprising part was how these initial problems then led to a rapid collapse of the american lines in general, and how the whole campaign turned into a major fiasco with incompetent commanders, demoralized troops, and major logistical problems. in what basically turned into a running retreat all the way down into the south again, past the 38th parallel (in many cases wounded fellow soldiers being left behind), the great mcarthur was not just incompetent but seemed mentally incapable to deal with the problems at all (other then keep wanting to nuke the chinese mainland). only when a new general commander was put in place (Ridgeway)did things stabilize, and after he addressed some major structural issues and improved moral, did the tide turn again and the americans pushed north again and settled at the 38th parallel.
one aspect of this whole debacle is that this type of total collapse and major routing hadnt occurred to the us army for about 200 yrs (since the civil war maybe ?), but some elements of their units were the exception. iirc some experienced units (?from ww2) were able to hold their positions while other units in the same sectors completely collapsed, a major evac point was setup for the wounded where several 1000 wounded were evacuated by courageous pilots flying in on frozen strips of dirt, and other units fought against overwhelming odds to keep roads open and break through encirclements or to get to isolated troop under siege.heroism and bravery in abundance there, those memories should not be tainted by what i summarized earlier from the docco (and many of those great acts are mentioned in it to).
another great positive was the very close support provided by air power, which covered the american retreat and without these aviators no retreat would even have been possible at all. chinese units often cut the retreat roads, occupied the high ground overlooking the retreat roads, and without the air support (and some american units fighting from ridge to ridge to keep dislodging the chines), it would have been an even bigger disaster.from what i had read/seen earlier, i would have expected the american retreat to have been under pressure, with high casualties against an overwhelming enemy of 10:1, but in an organized and well planned fashion, this docco puts a completely different light on it. the chinese offensive only ceased to be effective once their own supply lines couldnt keep getting food and weapons to their troops (the part of the war we are all familiar with, american aircraft keeping their supply lines cut extremely effectively), but at that point the chinese were almost back in seoul all the way down south !
for those that havnt watched it, well worth a look. all by all, a sobering account of historical events, and a very different view from the constant one sided glorification we are so commonly exposed to. i noticed there is another 7 part series on korea which details that phase of the war ( based on "newsreels and U.S. Government footage"), so i'll have a further look and see if they give a similar account of some of these major problems
anybody know some other good historical docco's on that period ?