Joint Military Operations

Joint Military Operations
Joint Military Operations

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Joint Military Operations

  1. Operational Environment

Current operational environment:

The NKPA constitutes a very formidable force of over 135,000 men, most of whom have been conscripts of the Japanese and Chinese armies. These armies are adequately equipped with modern Soviet-supplied aircraft, artillery and tanks. On the other hand, the ROK armed forces comprises of less than 100,000 men who are poorly trained and ill-equipped. Massive mechanization and coordinated firepower are the focus of U.S.’s tactical doctrine.

The U.S. military power available for the operation is inadequately prepared for the forthcoming war, with army forces comprising of four understrength divisions that are ill-equipped. Nevertheless, the positive side is that McArthur’s forces have the full support of U.S. and United Nations (Mamaux, 1987).

  • How General McArthur’s vision for Operation Chromite relieves NKPA pressure on the U.S. Eight Army in the Pusan Perimeter

According to McArthur’s vision, an amphibious landing in the Vicinity of Inchon is capable of slicing off, halting, isolating and destroying the NKPA, synchronized with a breakout from the Pusan Perimeter by its defenders. This is to result to the liberation of Seoul and restoration of the South Korean Government, while North Korea will be immediately invaded and occupied. He believes that this mission is only achievable through a fleshed-out plan and force to execute it.

Operation Chromite is borne, which calls for X-Corps to form around the First Marine Division and the 7th Infantry Division for purposes of executing a staged amphibious landing at Inchon and advancing inland to capture Seoul and cut the major lines of communication of the enemy while making resupplies to McArthur’s forces committed in the south. While the main challenge is pulling together the forces to make the landing, with the enemy continuously threatening the Pusan perimeter, McArthur throws available units into the fight in order to relieve NKPA’s pressure on Walker (Sweeney, 2000).

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Strategic Guidance

  • General McArthur’s vision for the operation environment once OPERATION CHROMITE is concluded (end state)

General McArthur’s end state is to lodge a successful amphibious landing by Marines at Inchon, about 120 miles behind enemy lines and 25 miles from Seoul. When the forces land at and capture Inchon, they will then seize the adjacent air base at Kimpo with the aim of enabling the United Nations forces to launch an attack and eventually secure Seoul. The UN forces are also expected to drive towards the west across the peninsula from their position in Pusan.

This appears as a double-envelopment for crushing North Korea from the southeast at Pusan and from the northwest at Inchon. McArthur’s plan aims at: striking at the rear of North Korea’s forces, cutting the supply lines to the south, gaining political control through the liberation of Seoul, and threatening North Korea’s capital of Pyonyang (Heineman, 2001).

  • The Roles of JTF 7 and X Corps in achieving General MacArthur’s end state

The X-Corps under the command of Major General Almond is charged with conducting amphibious assault at Inchon. X Corps comprise of the 1st Marine Division, in addition to one regiment withdrawn from the Pusan Perimeter for purposes of bringing the Division to a complete wartime strength of three regiments, plus the 7th Infantry Division. JTF-7 is a real-time joint operational command comprising of Marine, Army and Navy unites aimed at supporting the assault force.

Accordingly, JTF-7 strikes North Korean forces as a weak, undetermined joint, and this effects surprise and mass before North Koreans getting a proper ground to react (Doughty, nd). Additionally, with two divisions, X Corps accomplished their goals in a deliberate and logical manner by seizing Wolmido Island, Kimpo rtfield and Seoul.

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Decisive Points

  • TWO key decisive points for Operation Chromite

Seoul is a decisive point because of its symbolic value as the capital and for being the most critical node in the supply chain of the enemy attack. Seoul is the focal point for all movement in the South and it has become the most vital node in the supply chain of the communist invasion. McArthur’s great interest in the city is because of its overwhelming symbolic value. This implies that retaking it will psychologically demoralize the enemy. Thus, rather than pursuing a simple push of North Koreans to retreat from Pusan, Operation Chromite is intended to fully unhinge the enemy forces by stubbing them from the rear.

The second decisive point is the U.S involvement. Given the U.S. ground troops’ involvement, McArthur feels that he can surround and sever North Korea’s persistent and tenuous supply chains. The cutting of critical lines increases the possibility of victory regardless of the overwhelming 3:1 North Korean advantage. This realization enables MacArthur to initiate the Inchon plan, which sets the stage for the smart amphibious operation. After destabilizing the enemy psychologically by cutting supply lines, McArthur stages constant attacks on all sides, thus breaking the NKPA resistance and leading to the collapse of the army. By September, the NKPA ceases to exist as a coordinated fighting force in South Korea.

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Operational Maneuver

  • How Operation Chromite supports the breakout of the Eighth Army at the Pusan Perimeter

The operational maneuver for North Korean military has a close resemblance to the Chinese model. According to Mao Tse Tung, the best approach is to avoid strong points and aim at infiltrating the enemy’s lines in order to hit the rear areas that are weakly defended, thus destroying vital logistical areas. For the North Korean military, Inchon is emblematic of the weaknesses behind its entire scheme whose mission to unify Korea. Its bargains are based on the lack of capability, interest and will on the part of the American government.

The justification of this analysis is based on the signals coming from Washington and the consideration of the state of America’s military at the time. Nevertheless, North Korea’s downfall is greatly contributed by its underestimation of America’s prospects for mounting an overwhelming reaction, and it does not predict the prospect of UN-sponsored Allied effort ultimately involving forces from 16 nations (Totten, 1976).

Operation Chromite does not bring about any remarkably new ideas to the art of war. Instead, it serves to reinforce conventional aspects, such as the relevance of maintaining trained and ready forces for deterrence of aggression or confrontation of a contingency. Americans have the advantages of interior lines at the Pusan perimeter. Nevertheless, they have the freedom to utilize exterior lines due to the lack of an opposing naval force.

Despite North Koreans complete victory in the initial phases of their invasion, thy encounter a standoff around the Pusan perimeter following the US Eighth Army and UN forces’ gallant determination to stand against the onslaught of the communists. McArthur perceives the weakness of the enemy’s communication lines as early as possible. In addition, North Koreans are disadvantaged due to their terrain induced flanks. The operational art by McArthur’s forces capitalize on harmonized amphibious maneuver and interdiction for purposes of attacking the enemy’s center of gravity (Heinl, 1968).

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Joint fires

  • Landing forces at Inchon

Inchon was chosen by MacArthur as the landing point due to its strategic position as the port for the capital city of Seoul. The first assault was made by the 3rd Battalion on Wolmi-do with the high tide at dawn on the 15th of September. As a result, the enemy’s resistance was crushed. The rest of the divisions landed on the next high tide. This caused massive surprise to the enemy. The preparation of gunfire support ships and naval air for the Inchon landing occurred on the 13th of September.

  • Attacking the NKPA’s lines of communications

The 1st Marines and the rest of the 5th Marines landed at the enemy’s lines of departure. One hour later, the 5th Marines had lodged an assault on the sea wall through charged bamboo ladders that had been hurriedly built by Japanese workers before their embarkation. By midnight, the Marines had taken control of the main high terrain of Observation Hill and Cemetery Hill.

At dawn, the Marines destroyed North Korean T-34 tanks on the Seoul highway, which prevented North Korean artillery fire from spreading to the beachhead area. The 7th Division also made their landing at Inchon and advanced hastily inland, with the aim of preventing enemy attacks from Suwom and the south. Few hours later, the 5th Marines were in full control of the Seoul highway.

  • Interdicting any NKPA’s attempts to counterattack or reinforce forces vicinity Inchon and Seoul

Having secured its flanks, the 1st Marine Division moved to the north on 20th September in order to stage the 6-day battle aimed at clearing Seoul. NKPA’s bitter counterattcks eventually compelled the commitment of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, 7th Division’s 32 Infantry Regiment, and the Republic of Korea’s Marines to the battle for Seoul. Ultimately, NKPA’s resistance broke out and the army collapsed as a result of constant attacks from all sides (Woodhouse, 2011).

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Operational Reach

  • How the other Services (Air Force, Marines, and Navy) provided General MacArthur with operational reach in Operation Chromite

Operation Chromite demonstrates that the scope of amphibious operations plays a vital role in all military operations. Whereas the Fleet-Marine had an inherent interplay, the Army and the Air Force also played significant roles in the execution of MacArthur’s masterstroke. In addition, the military operation in Inchon was done collaboratively. The US and the Allies worked on establishing and maintaining air and naval superiority in the area of operations, which would help in conducting an amphibious assault on Inchon, securing the beachhead and seizing Kimpo artfield, crossing the River of Han and recapturing Seoul.

The Far East Air Forces under the command of Lieutenant General George E. Stratemeyer played a vital role in the delivery of supplies and personnel to reinforce ROK and U.S. forces during the initial stages of the war. The Naval Forces under the command of Vice Admiral Charles T. Joy helped in improving the naval posture (Kortegaard, 2005).

  • How the operational reach provided an advantage to the Allies over just reinforcing the Eighth Army inside the Pusan Perimeter

The synchronization of land, sea and air operations was vital in the theater for the accomplishment of the strategic objective. Operation Chromite was successful due to the joint execution of the US Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and Army. This realization demonstrates the need for employment of a joint force in order to establish synergies among the services, thus yielding greater combat capabilities and power for purposes of responding to aggressions and contingencies.

This realization demonstrates the need for employment of a joint force in order to establish synergies among the services, thus yielding greater combat capabilities and power for purposes of responding to aggressions and contingencies. Accordingly, the operational reach allowed the Eighth Army to ensure that the restricted flow of their supplies occurred along a secure path. The Eighth Army exploited in-depth echeloned fires across the operational area and further utilized transitions and phasing for purposes of setting the tempo.

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Arranging Operations

  • How General McArthur’s staff used (1) simultaneity, (2) depth, (3) timing, and (4) tempo in executing Operation Chromite in conjunction with Eighth Army activities inside the Pusan Perimeter

Simultaneity refers to the process of simultaneously applying power against vital adversary capabilities and sources of strength. Marine Air, Navy and Air Force are to strike targets ranging from the strategic marshaling areas of the enemy to tactical forces. This involves both the amphibious turning movement and the breakout from Pusan.

Operational depth was realized by Air support from the Air Force, Navy and Marines, which occurred in the months of September and early October. 4 squadrons of Panthers, 3 squadrons of Skyraiders, and 10 squadrons of Corsairs were exploited by planners for purposes of providing coverage for the landings at Inchon.

General MacArthur was in charge of the speed and rhythm of military operations. He calculated the timings of every action and essentially determined the best speed for the lodgment of amphibious assault on Inchon.

Despite supply problems, UN forces took control of the tempo of operations in the course of landings and breakout. The landing of U.S. forces consisted of a significantly high operational tempo, with the 1st Marine Division advancing in a direct and rapid manner towards Seoul so as to ease the pressures from the Pusan defense perimeter.

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Defeat Mechanisms

  • Destroy

The war campaign was tailored towards destroying communists and preventing the spread of communism in the Republic of Korea. While North Koreans aimed at reunifying the two Koreas, and it had been difficult to achieve this goal using political means, they decided to resort to military means in order to gain a political edge. However, the U.S. came in to help South Koreans in order to destroy communists and prevent them from spreading their ideologists in the area.

During the initial stages, the U.S. commissioned MacArthur to assume the coordination of naval and air support for evacuations from South Korea. The 7th Fleet landed at Formosa to prevent war from occurring between communists and exiled Chinese Nationalists on mainland China. Task Force Smith, comprising of over 500 American soldiers that posted as sentries and clerks in Japan were assembled on June 29, 1950 for purposes of assisting the overwhelmed South Korean forces.

As South Koreans flew in panic, Task Force Smith confronted the communists and hastily destroyed them. Whereas North Koreans seemed to have won during the early stages of their invasion, General MacArthur had studied their weakness and quickly devised a plan on how to destroy the enemy (Kim, 1973).

  • Disintegrate:

MacArthur’s campaign targeted the NKPA for disintegration in order to provide him with choices in regards to the tactical employment of forces to support strategic objectives. The U.S. intended to prevent the spread of communism and to ensure that North Korean forces were pushed out of the friendly South Korea.

Thus, a successful operation was capable of poising the United Nations forces for exploitation of operational benefits and possible taking of the fight into North Korea. Accordingly, the forces worked towards disrupting the enemy’s command and control systems, destabilizing the enemy from conducting operations in order to cause the rapid collapse of the enemy’s capabilities or will to continue fighting.

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Direct and Indirect Approach

  • Approach used by General MacArthur in attacking the NKPA

MacArthur used the indirect approach, in which joint force capabilities and strengths were applied against the weakness of NKPA across the whole battle space to allow MacArthur’s team time for stabilizing the situation and finding a way for exploitation of their potential.  The first time MacArthur considered an amphibious landing in the rear area of the enemy was while he was standing on the south bank of Han River.

MacArthur was inclined towards an amphibious operation due to his successes in previous campaigns throughout the Pacific in World War II, which were based on the doctrine of applying Allied ground, naval and air strengths against the weak points of the enemy. There were high chances of amphibious operations in unsuspecting areas because the enemy could be kept off balance and this gave the Allies the opportunity to maintain the initiative.

  • Why he chooses the approach

According to MacArthur, reliance on strategic maneuver to overcome great odds from the enemy is the best approach to winning a battle. However, direct approach merely insinuates a frontal attack that can only result to a prolonged and costly campaign. The ability of MacArthur’s forces to operate at sea and in the air, where NKPA could not, was a vital element of success. By continuously leveraging dimensional advantages, MacArthur was able to fully utilize UN strengths and to slow the invasion of statistically superior forces which operated along ordinarily advantageous internal lines.

His previous application of amphibious landings in the Pacific against the Japanese had provided MacArthur with the requisite experience for decision making on an amphibious landing at Inchon, far at the rear of the enemy lines, with the aim of cutting off communication lines and quickly capturing Seoul (Ballard, 2001).

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  1. Operational Risks
Risk 1: UnpreparednessMitigation: U.S. forces recovered from their earlier unpreparedness due to the residual skills of the reserve forces.        
Risk 2: McArthur’s ROK forces were few, with limited transport available to hastily commit themMitigation: He expeditiously informed the JSC about the need to commit American power        
Risk 3: Necessity to secure the Pusan perimeterMitigation: Joint amphibious operations were adopted, through inter-service collaboration. The skillful use of the Army, the Air Force and the Fleet-Marine helped in the successful execution of Operation Chromite        
Risk 4: Scarcity and piecemeal arrival of trained and ready forcesMitigation: MacArthur made crucial determinations on the time, place and methods of Operation Chromite. As such, the fact that there were highly skilled amphibious specialists available was utilized to the advantage of the U.S. and her Allies.      
Risk 5: Limited range of operation and numbers of land-based close air support aircraftMitigation: McArthur’s strong visionary leadership enabled him to convince JSC that the risks were minimal and that the operation would succeed anyway. His confidence brought more stronger Allies to the equation.          


Ballard, J. R. (2001). Operation Chromite Counterattack at Inchon. NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES.

Doughty, R. E. (nd). The Evolution of U.S. Army Tactical Doctrine, 1946-76. Leavenworth Papers No. 1. Ft. Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Heineman, J. A. (2001). The Operational Leadership of General Douglas McArthur in OPERATION CHROMITE. A paper submitted to the Faculty of the Naval War College in partial satisfaction of the requirements of the Department of Joint Military Operations.

Heinl, R. D. (1968). Victory at High Tide: The Inchon-Seoul Campaign. Lippincott.

Kim, C. K. (1973). The Korean War. Kwangmyong Publishing Company.

Kortegaard, B. L. (2005). Inchon–Operation Chromite.


Sweeney, E. D. (2000). The United Nations Landing at Inchon: Operation Chromite. NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT.

Totten, J. (1976). Operation Chromite: A Study of Generalship. Armor85, 33-38.

Woodhouse, D. B. (2011). Operational Lessons Learned in the Korean War. School of Advanced Military Studies.

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