The Western Pacific D+10 (19 July, 1987) Part II

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The damage and chaos caused by North Korean sabotage, and commando raids on USAF and South Korean airbases earlier in the morning directly affected the number of fighters that were available to counter the inbound North Korean air raids. Also of some consequence to the defenders was the discovery that some ROK air defense, and radar sites had not escaped the attention of the NK commandos. Consequently, gaping holes had been created in the Combined Forces air defense network even before the first MiGs crossed the DMZ.

Many ROK and US fighters did scramble to intercept the onrushing MiGs though. Engagements erupted in the South Korean skies. The defending fighters performed well, racking up high numbers of kills, and attriting the main NK raids as they moved south towards their intended targets. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough fighters available at the time to effectively turn back the main enemy raids. Put simply, it was a matter of numbers. The North Koreans had launched over two hundred aircraft in the early morning hours of D+10. Enough of them made it through the gauntlet of fighters and SAMs and hit their targets. The North Koreans did not establish air superiority by any means. However, they did manage to level the playing field in the air. For much of the day the skies over the battlefield remained neutral. For the North, this was a victory in and of itself.

There was no element of surprise available for the North Koreans on the ground. When fighting started in Europe, mobilization commenced on both sides of the DMZ. The North Korean’s went on alert first. US and ROK forces in Korea followed shortly thereafter. Reserves were called up, reinforcements arrived in theater, and units began to move north and south respectively. Most significantly though, both sides increased their reconnaissance efforts threefold.

As much as North Korea tried to mask its troop movements, and increasing readiness, it was nearly impossible. For the ROK and US forces in Korea, the same held true, yet they were less interested in keeping their mobilization, and war preparations entirely secret. It was hoped that if Pyongyang, and perhaps even Moscow, and Beijing could see the preparations underway it would force them to reconsider a potential attack upon the ROK. Sadly, the gambit did not have the desired effect.

As dawn came, the Korean People’s Army made attacks all along the length of the DMZ. The heaviest, and best supported of these came along the eastern half of the assailable frontier. In the east, where the terrain is more rugged due to the Taebek Mountains, the attacks were aimed at keeping the ROK forces there pinned down. The main attacks would come in the west where the terrain was flatter and more favorable to offensive operations.

Heavy fighting took place along the western portion of the DMZ through the morning. The first line of ROK and US units opposing the first echelon of the North Korean invasion held their ground, and then gradually started to fall back, or in some cases were overrun. By later in the afternoon, reports from the battlefield had made it clear to 8th Army and Combined Forces Command’s commander General Lou Menetrey, US Army, that the main North Korean thrust was going to come down the Uijongbu corridor. There was also a danger materializing farther west where the North Korean III Corps was pressing ROK forces north of Munsan and the Imjin River.

Menetrey knew the North Koreans were gunning for Seoul. That was the first big prize. Although the city had limited military worth, its loss would be a crippling blow to ROK morale. If he even suggested not fighting for the city, the South Korean government would be apoplectic. The longer he kept the NKs bottled up north of the city, the better the chances of Seoul remaining in friendly hands for the duration.

After a day of heavy fighting, neither side had obtained a clear-cut advantage over its opponent. But the war in Korea was still in its infancy, and there was much fighting to come in the days ahead.

7 Replies to “The Western Pacific D+10 (19 July, 1987) Part II”

  1. This will certainly liven up things! I guess that att his point the only course left open to Reagan is to fully mobilise the US for a long war: conscription, civilian industries switched to military production, etc and plan for the long war

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, remember we’re not even two weeks into the war. But I get what you mean. The war is going far beyond Europe now and new theaters are opening up. The US military could be stretched thin very soon.

      Like

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