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Battle Orders 11: US Army Forces in the Korean War 1950–53

by Donald W Boose, Jr

Osprey Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-84176-621-6, 96 pages

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When The Korean War broke out in June of 1950, the United States’ armed forces, particularly the US Army, were woefully unprepared. By the time of the Armistice in July of 1953, the US had in place on the Korean peninsula an Army consisting of three Corps containing a total of eight infantry divisions, plus non-divisional field and anti-aircraft artillery units. This book details the initial US forces committed as well as how they were augmented and reinforced to become the Eighth Army.

The author’s text takes a very methodical approach to the subject, which is precisely the way in which it needs to be done. When dealing with the subject of unit organization, he begins from the top and works his way down. To that end, he details the structure of the following basic building blocks of an army: Army, Corps, Division, Regiment, Battalion, Company, Platoon and Squad. In addition, each of the specialized components of an army are detailed such as: infantry regiments, battalions, companies, platoons and squads; artillery regiments, battalions and batteries; tank battalions, companies and platoons (there were no armored divisions committed to Korea); separate engineer, medical, aviation, signals, intelligence, military police, ordnance, quartermaster and supply battalions and companies. In short, everything from “soup-to-nuts”.

Likewise, tactics (and how they evolved) are discussed as is the overall conduct of the war, particularly its rather distinct “phases”. Weapons and equipment is also detailed to include individual and crew-served infantry weapons, tanks and other armored vehicles; ordnance, communications gear and aviation assets. Korea saw the first use of MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) units as well as the helicopter for medical evacuation, troop movement and logistical support, which is also described by the author.

All of the text is ably supported by 50 B&W photos, which depict commanders, troops, weapons, AFVs, military vehicles, equipment, ordnance and aviation assets. These are all thoroughly captioned. Reproduction is uniformly good, while the photographs are of a useful size and show some very interesting items. In addition there are three sidebars detailing the use of racially segregated units (which finally ended during this war), the infusion of Korean troops into US units (the “KATUSA” program) and finally, a very handy item explaining US equipment nomenclature.

Eight color maps allow the reader to follow the major events of the conflict. However, the main source of information is contained in 39 tables and charts which include: 13 Orders-Of-Battle charts for Army, Corps and Divisions that served (all of which contain color photos of the unit’s patch); two Tables of Organization & Equipment charts for an infantry division (for 1948, with changes, and 1952, with changes); three diagrams showing silhouettes of a regimental tank company and variations of an infantry rifle platoon. Eighteen other charts detail basic organization of a variety of combat, service and support units. The book also contains a chronology, a table of abbreviations, a bibliography, and an index, all of which will be of use to those interested in further study of the subject.

This is an excellent book, certainly among the better efforts in this series. When one also considers the relative lack of solid information regarding this particular war, this book stands out that much more. Modelers of figures and AFVs should find this book quite useful.

Highly recommended.

Frank De Sisto

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