The Western Pacific D+13 (22 July, 1987)

The tempo of North Korean operations in South Korea noticeably slackened in the morning hours. While the day progressed, the pace continued to lessen. The anticipated ground attacks were not as powerful as expected. Armor and motorized infantry unit movement was limited and restrictive in many sectors. According to reports transmitted by some frontline ROK and US brigade commanders, the North Korean use of ammunition was down compared to the past three days, especially in tube artillery, and tank gun rounds. The conclusion reached by Combined Forces Command (CFC) was that the North Koreans were pausing to catch their logistical breath and resupply.

In the late morning and afternoon ROK and US forces on the ground took advantage of the lull and strengthened their defenses. Units in need of resupply, or reinforcing had their needs met whenever possible. The defenders were not idle and passive for the entire day. Brigade-sized counterattacks were launched in the western, and central sectors of the front. One ROK attack succeeded in nearly pushing two North Korean divisions all the way back to the Imjin River before it was broken off.

With evidence clearly leaning suspiciously towards the North Koreans having resupply issues, 7th Air Force and the ROKAF increased the number of interdiction sorties against enemy supply lines, and depots. Close air support missions at the front were expanded too once it became apparent the North Koreans were not firing off as much flak, and as many SAMs as in previous days. One area where North Korean efforts did not lapse was in air defense of the central and northern regions of the DPRK. The limited number of US and ROK missions that went that far north encountered MiGs, heavy AAA and SAM fire just as they had every day since fighting in Korea started.

Indications of a heavy resupply effort being prepared on the Soviet side of the USSR-North Korea border were being picked up by ELINT and reconnaissance flights. This lent credence to CFC’s judgment on North Korea, and its resupply efforts. 7th Air Force was examining the possibility of expanding airstrikes to the northern regions of the DPRK. Launching attacks against targets on Soviet soil was forbidden however, unless the Soviets intervened directly in this second Korean War.

After the incident between Soviet and Chinese fighters the day before, backchannels were activated at the Soviet embassy in Beijing, and its Chinese counterpart in Moscow. The Chinese government lodged a formal complaint with the Soviet foreign ministry over the air clash, and demanded an apology, as well as concessions. Air transport flights from the Vladivostok region to North Korea were severely cut back throughout the day. The flights that did take off made the journey under the eyes of heavy MiG coverage. Chinese fighters watched from a distance and made no effort to approach, or interfere with the Soviet aircraft.

By late afternoon backchannel meetings were starting. The Soviets voiced regret over the incident, but did not offer an apology. The subject of Soviet logistical support for North Korea was never addressed. Whenever the Chinese brought it up, the Soviets would introduce a new topic. Meetings went on throughout the rest of day and evening with inconclusive results. Uncertainty settled in over Manchuria and the Soviet Far East as the future role of the Soviets in the Korean conflict remained ambiguous.

Author’s Note: Kind of breezed through this entry. Quiet day in the Far East more or less. Now finally we can move on to the Central Front. 🙂

10 Replies to “The Western Pacific D+13 (22 July, 1987)”

  1. hmmmm….

    US/ROK air I think could take a stab at interdicting the flights from Russia to NK but it would be a chancy thing at BEST.

    Given the Russians did NOT apologize to the Chinese and evaded the topic repeatedly… is Insult to the Chinese, if I remember my cultural mores correctly.

    Given their border is a powder-keg waiting to explode…. I see a few things coming within the next 24 hours on this front-

    1: News of the debacle in the North Atlantic will hit Chinese Intelligence (in keeping with the 24-36 hour time frame I mentioned before it would take to affect out here.) as they may see reduction of Backfires out of Soviet Aviation out here late on D+13/early D+14 (if there is much of them out this way)…

    2: The Chinese will take the insult to their sense of propriety/honor… and ready for action with possibly the first action being an intercept of Soviet supply planes.

    Remember, they are already unhappy about the Russians moving in/giving NK better succor than them…. And that the NK’s were encouraged to start the war when the Chinese really didn’t want on their doorstep…

    The collection of perceived and real insult will drive the Chinese to act in a deliberate manner.

    And that manner will be strikes against Soviet Air, North Korean sites and quite possibly open warfare on the border with Russia…. as Chinese forces drive on whatever strategic point are in the area…. along with Vladivostok

    CFC maybe can’t afford to hit the Soviet mainland…. but the Chinese CAN.

    I think the Chinese are in Open Conflict by Early to Mid D+14. Orders will go out to position by 2200 their time…. with sometime around sunrise being when they kick off.

    Granted, my opinion but I base it on what I remember mindset is/was back then and what I recall of the culture.

    Not discussing that subject was stupid. And this series of events won’t end well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Chinese don’t realize just how bad of a day D+13 has been for the Russians. For that matter, neither do the Russian diplomats. As they start to become aware it will open the door for the next phase of fighting in the WestPac

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m pretty sure it will become apparent by the afternoon of D+14. Come the evening, I would think they would pounce as opportunity for some advances will be there.

        The Chinese, historically, are not ones to let an opportunity to increase resources and material wealth go by. And given how much annoyance/anger at the Soviets there is as a result of the insults, I am inclined to think war is very close.

        Life does not matter nearly as much to their mindset as it does the Western one…. so there will be gunplay coming, I think.

        It will not be pretty… but war rarely is.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. With Poland teetering on the brink, might we see some exploration to how both sides are deploying / protecting their theater nuke forces. Poland has three nuclear weapon depots I’m sure the Sov’s will be freaking out about. Were the weapons deployed to field forces and there are vulnerable tactical nukes all over Poland? And did they move any SS-20s forward into Poland they now need to recover/defend??? Loss of nuclear weapons to a suddenly hostile country on their border I suspect will be a huge driver in Sov decision-making. And the 56th Field Artillery Brigade with their Pershing IIs scurrying around southern Germany trying to stay hidden, same for the GLCMs and NATO nuke depots. High stakes indeed! Can’t wait for Central Front.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m probably going to discuss that as the situation in Poland develops. I did discuss the GLCM pre-war deployments in a very early blog entry. If you want a link just let me know.

      Liked by 1 person

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