After five days of high-intensity combat on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, North Korea’s armed forces were in need of large-scale replenishment. Much like the NATO and Warsaw Pact armies in Europe had learned, stocks of ammunition, fuel, and replacement equipment are consumed at rates far higher than pre-war studies estimated. And like the armies fighting in Europe, North Korea’s wartime stocks of materials had been expected to last for two weeks before shortages would appear. Now here it was five days into the fighting and North Korean forces were on the brink of a logistics crisis at a critical time.
The drive to Seoul continued on, but at an increasingly sluggish pace. With every kilometer of ground gained, ROK and US resistance stiffened. Casualties, long anticipated to be extremely heavy, were just that. However, the North’s war plan made no concession for this contingency. The southern advance was intended to be a steamroller powered by an unending supply of men, weapons, and fuel. Pyongyang still had more than enough soldiers to throw into the effort. It was the guns, gas, and other materials that were running low with no firm assurance they could be replaced. The two prongs of the North Korean steamroller in the western half of the ROK needed heavy reinforcing and replenishing before the push on Seoul could start. The great unknown was when, or even if the logistical challenge could be met.
Soviet resupply efforts were failing to keep pace with the expenditures down south. Delays were growing more frequent and the amount of material arriving from the Soviet Far East was quickly diminishing. Soviet diplomats in Pyongyang blamed the difficulties on supply-chain issues and assured North Korea’s leadership that the problems would be resolved ‘within forty-eight hours.’ Unfortunately for the North, resupply efforts might be hampered even more significantly if the air situation continued to deteriorate. By mid-day on D+15 ROK and US air forces had complete air superiority over the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. Intelligence reports now suggested the next ROK/US air effort was being prepared to strike military, and industrial targets in the North. Enemy air power was already probing the DPRK’s air defenses, and sorties against radars, and SAM sites were expected to begin at any time. In spite of the heavy losses sustained thus far in the conflict, North Korea’s air force still had a large number of older, less technologically-advanced MiGs defending the homeland. Kim Il Sung’s air commanders assured him that the air force could maintain air superiority across the country for at least the next seventy-two hours. It was suggested to the Dear Leader that he personally pressure the Soviet Union to begin a maximum effort to resupply North Korea with as much war material as possible during this window of time.
Author’s Note: Extremely busy weekend so this entry is on the short side. I’ll make up for it with an extended entry on Tuesday. Apologies. –Mike