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Korean War News




MASH unit. Helicopter and Ambulance

Outbreak of the War

The Korean War began with a surprise attack June 25, 1950, when eight divisions and an armored brigade (90,000 soldiers) of the North Korean People's Army (NKPA) attacked in three columns across the 38th parallel and invaded the Republic of Korea (ROK). Many of the NKPA were battle-tested, having served in the Chinese and Soviet armies in World War II. The 98,000-strong ROK Army (ROKA), its combat training incomplete, and having no tanks and only 89 howitzers, was no match for the better-equipped NKPA. Aided only by a 500-man U.S. Korean Military Advisory Group, the ROKA was overwhelmed. Spearheaded by tanks, NKPA forces moved rapidly through the Uijongbu Gap on the west side of the Korean peninsula and captured Seoul, South Korea's capital. The ROKA fled south in disarray across the Han River toward Pusan, a major port at the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula.

On June 25, the U.N. Security Council denounced North Korea's actions and called for a cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of the NKPA to the 38th parallel. President Harry S. Truman directed General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, whose Far East Command (FEC) was located in Tokyo, to evacuate American dependents from Korea and send ammunition to the beleaguered ROKA. The following day, Truman sanctioned the use of American air and naval forces below the 38th parallel. The next day, as the situation worsened, the United Nations requested its members to furnish military assistance to repel the invasion. Truman then extended American air and naval actions to North Korea and authorized the use of U.S. Army troops to protect Pusan. MacArthur, however, recommended committing a U.S. Army regiment in the Seoul area. Truman agreed, and on June 30 he told MacArthur to use all forces available to him.


Sandler, Stanley. The Korean War: An Encyclopedia. Garland Publishing, Inc. (1995)

For additional information contact:
The U.S. Army Center of Military History
103 Third Avenue, Bldg 35
Fort Lesley J. McNair
Washington, D.C. 20319
Email: usarmy.mcnair.cmh.mbx.answers@mail.mil
The U.S. Army Center of Military History website

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