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East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea Essay

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The “East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea” can be considered a narrative account of the U.

S. 7th Infantry Army Division who fought courageously to breakout on the eastern part of Chosin during the 1950 Korean War. The author, Roy E. Appleman, portrayed significantly the fate of around 3,000 U. S. soldiers who were trapped on the east side of the Chosin reservoir by using primary sources of information (interviews with the survivors) since official records are non-existent. Aside from the narrative context of the book, it can be seen that the eminent tragedy of Task Force Faith, consisted of the U.

S. army soldiers trapped on the east side of Chosin, could be related to several mistakes with respect to tactical decisions and commands: The first mistake or error that can be considered was the mobilization of the troops forward to the front of the Pyongnuri-gang bay or inlet immediately after the Marines have evacuated the position. The mission of the 31st RCT was to defend the flank of the Marines on the eastern part of the reservoir, thus the army was immediately sent recklessly to Hagaru-ri.

Since the Marines had a five- day battle with the Chinese to reach the Funchilin area and the reconnaissance platoon disappearing at the inlet, sending the army without having regimental force can be considered erroneous. It was not only that the army battalions were less than the Marines, but also the army units were less experienced combatant and riflemen as compared to the Marines. Also, another mistake that can be taken into consideration was the implementation of command responsibility: lethargic soldiers, pitiable discipline, and placement of platoon made the altercation with the Chinese even worse.

And even though Task Force Faith at the inlet ordered a consolidation of position, the tank support would never reach the area since the Chinese had a large control within the vicinity of Funchilin pass. The ammunition drops were out of range and had drifted more than the Chinese. The communications were very meager that Task Force Faith was unaware that there was a tank battalion within a few miles, and obviously can strengthen their regimental position.

During the commencement of the breakout, the communication was poor and lacking and eventually led to the platoons being “mixed”; some soldiers were not evenly aware that there has been a breakout. As more soldiers- combatant and officers were killed and wounded in the process, discipline disappeared resulting to greater loss. On Chapter 22 of the book, the author also emphasized that the very crucial command error was the withdrawal of the tank battalion from the area of Hudong-ni, which was only 4 miles south, on the day before the breakout happened. In the end, the author expressed the condemnation of Task Force Faith.

Also, the author made it clear that the infantry/ tank assistance force did not leave the area of Hagaru-ri in an attempt to eventually rescue the convoy. Still, the error in command proved to be fatal and many U. S. soldiers loss their lives (Appleman p. 305). The remaining chapters described the day-to-day account of the combat. The author ended the book with an epilogue of whether the army troops eventually could have been saved if the correct decisions were made. The concept of the 7 army values can be seen on the accounts of the U. S. soldiers who fought on the east of Chosin..

These comprised of the following: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage (www. history. army. mil p. 1). The context of honor, integrity, and personal courage can be associated to the eminent breakout attempt as well as in combating the Chinese even though the army was outnumbered. The concept of loyalty, duty, and respect to follow the command (even though nobody had anticipated a tragedy because of miscalculated judgment and decisions) can also be recognized as the survivors of the ordeal effectively narrate the account before and during the breakout.

And the concept of selfless service can be attributed to the U. S. army for risking their lives beyond their own personal interests. Leadership in the army goes beyond expectations and together with it is a big responsibility especially if the lives of thousands of soldiers are at stake. Though there has been an error in the command before and during the breakout, the conception of leadership is greatly emphasized during the battle. Since the accountability of the tragedy can be given to the officers, “what should be done” on an event that is happening right now requires careful judgment and decisions.

Either way, the result could be favorable or a tragedy and unfortunately mistakes do happen more often if there has been no careful planning and anticipation of what could happen. Thus, the concept of the 7 army values and army leadership are correlated with each other and can be associated with the event that transpired on the east of Chosin during the Korean War. Since there can be no perfect decisions and mistakes do happen, the degree of accurateness or mistakes can tell whether the campaign could be a success or fatal. The book can be considered a good resource on military tactical decisions.

The author emphasized that the tragedy on the east of Chosin during the Korean war should set as an example on what should be done under extreme conditions (during war) and learn from those mistakes. Careful planning, anticipating what could happen, and having several alternatives are only some of the tactical and judgmental moral lessons to consider. Though in the military, where the chain of command is being applied at, the bigger responsibility lies on the officers. The army officers should be careful and brilliant enough to plan tactical attacks, maneuvers, or mobilization so that there would be a minimal loss of life.

Critical decisions should be well thought of so as not to lead the army on a mishap. Thus, these are the several notions that require strict attention and correct decisions. The context of the book also has many photos, maps and photographs coming from the survivors of the chaos. First person accounts of the survivors of the event also added credibility to Appleman’s work (Tyree p. 1). In general, the event on the East of Chosin during the Korean War should be remembered and the mistakes that led to the tragedy during the breakout should be learned so that the same mistakes would not happen again.

Works Cited

Appleman, Roy. East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950. Texas A&M University Press, 1991. Tyree, Rene. Www. Wigwags. wordpress. com. October 26, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. http://wigwags. wordpress. com/2008/10/26/east-of-chosin-entrapment-and-breakout-in-korea-1950/. www. history. army. mil. October 10, 2003. Corps of Discovery: United States Army. Retrieved March 8, 2009. http://www. history. army. mil/LC/The%20Mission/the_seven_army_values. htm.

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