The Western Pacific D+15 (24 July, 1987) Part II

Not long after dawn, a ROK (Republic of Korea) mechanized infantry brigade commenced a spoiler attack against the North Korean 872nd Tank Division 4 kilometers south of Uijongbu. The 872nd was the lead element of the North Korean push down the Uijongbu Corridor. Communications intercepts had revealed the NK division was just a shell of its former self after five days of heavy combat. High casualties, heavy losses in equipment, fuel and ammo shortages had taken a fearsome toll on the once-elite tank division. In the restricted terrain around Uijongbu, the ROK brigade commander hoped the quick strike would throw the North Korean division into a fast-spreading chaos that enveloped other enemy divisions pushing south through the area. And ultimately delaying the NK advance to the Han River even further.

The initial stage of the attack was successful. So much that by 0900, the ROK brigade commander was confident he could break into the enemy’s rear area by noon at the present rate. He requested additional forces be committed from his brigade’s parent division, the 15th Infantry. The division commander bumped the request up to the corps level, along with his endorsement. II Corps was less enthusiastic about committing any of its reserve brigades to the effort. He waivered for an hour, finally deciding that the move would not be wise given the current circumstances. The ROK brigade continued the attack until early afternoon. By then, enemy resistance was increasing, and without a promise of reinforcements, further engagement was pointless.  

Across the front on D+15, a series of similar spoiler attacks were launched with varying results. It was evident to Combined Forces Command (CFC) that the North Koreans had paused to replenish their depleted stockpiles before resuming the advance to the Han River and beyond it, Seoul. When the CFC commander General Lou Menetrey, US Army learned of the missed opportunity to cause the North Koreans more delays and confusion up by Uijongbu, he fired the II Corps commanding general. He wanted his commanders to be out there probing mercilessly and searching for enemy vulnerabilities. And when these were found, Menetrey wanted them exploited and taken advantage of. II Corps commander had proved he was either unwilling, or unable to adjust to that sort of mindset, so Menetrey sent him packing in disgrace.

At sea, D+15 was relatively calm. A few North Korean diesel subs remained in the western Sea of Japan but the boats spent more time being hunted by ROK and US ASW forces then they did hunting commerce and military traffic. Farther north, the bulk of North Korea’s East Sea Fleet was arrayed in waters above the 38th Parallel, watching for signs of an impending US amphibious attack on the North Korean coastline. There were no solid indications of such a move being planned, however the ghost of Inchon remained active in Pyongyang. The presence of two US carrier groups in the Sea of Japan, and a full US Marine division now in place in South Korea spurred a number of overactive imaginations to presume the worst.

12 Replies to “The Western Pacific D+15 (24 July, 1987) Part II”

  1. Missed opportunity for sure!
    Credit Menetrey for making a quick, decisive move to replace II Corps command, but it’s a real shame they were not able to exploit the penetration.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The way the Combined Forces Command was set up, the answer is yes. The commander (always a US general) could sack a corps commander without the approval of the ROK Joint Chiefs and government. The CFC commander likely would get their consent in real life, but once the shooting starts, no guarantee.


      1. Sacking a corps commander would still be a controversial move. The fact that all forces on the Korean peninsula are always under the command of an American general has been a contentious issue for some time. Relieving a corps commander would probably inflame those tensions. The South Koreans have always been a little perturbed that they don’t command all forces on the peninsula even though they provide most of the ground forces. Gotta love alliance command politics.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, it would be seen as a badge of dishonor for sure. Harsh move but once the shooting starts, things change. You’re right too, a move like that would spike those tensions. Combined Forces always being under US command never stood well with a lot of South Koreans. They deal with it but that doesn’t necessarily mean they like it. Understandably so


  2. Mike-Do you know that if during the Korean war the US sent up a couple solo B-29 flights to measure response times and to make the North think another Hiroshima might happen? I remember reading that somewhere but cannot find the source.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never heard that before but it sounds like a hell of an idea. Scare the living hell out of Pyongyang….and Beijing. I’m going to look around and see if I can find a source that verifies it.


  3. So in this context would “fired” mean “relieved of command of this unit but still working elsewhere on the front” or “relieved of command, kicked out of the military”?

    Liked by 1 person

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