In the decades since the “forgotten war” in Korea, conventional wisdom has held that the Eighth Army consisted largely of poorly trained, undisciplined troops who fled in terror from the onslaught of the Communist forces. Now, military historian Thomas E. Hanson argues that the generalizations historians and fellow soldiers have used regarding these troops do little justice to the tens of thousands of soldiers who worked to make themselves and their army ready for war.
In Hanson's careful study of combat preparedness in the Eighth Army from 1949 to the outbreak of hostilities in 1950, he concedes that the U.S. soldiers sent to Korea suffered gaps in their professional preparation, from missing and broken equipment to unevenly trained leaders at every level of command. But after a year of progressive, focused, and developmental collective training—based largely on the lessons of combat in World War II—these soldiers expected to defeat the Communist enemy.
By recognizing the constraints under which the Eighth Army operated, Hanson asserts that scholars and soldiers will be able to discard what Douglas Macarthur called the "pernicious myth" of the Eighth Army's professional, physical, and moral ineffectiveness.
LT. COL. THOMAS E. HANSON, a former instructor in the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, has served in and commanded units at Panmunjom in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. He currently commands the 2nd Battalion, 353rd Infantry Regiment of the 162nd Infantry Training Brigade in Fort Polk, Louisiana.
What Readers Are Saying:
"This case study enhances our understanding of how the U.S. Army in peace time trains and prepares for war. Hanson makes a convincing case for reevaluating the combat readiness of the Eighth Army in 1950. America's shortcoming in the opening months of the Korean War cannot be blamed simply on occupation soldiers who had gone soft serving in Japan."--G. Kurt Piehler, founding director, Rutgers Oral History Archives of World War II and director of the Center for the Study of War and Society
". . . the author has brought together a wealth of previously unexplored sources and documentation to tell a compelling story, one that to a considerable degree refutes the dominant scholarly interpretation of what happened (or didn't happen) to the Eighth Army prior to the outbreak of the Korean War."--Theodore A. Wilson, University of Kansas, author of WW2: Readings on Critical Issues
“An admirably coherent and insightful study of the U.S. Eighth Army before it plunged into the maelstrom of the Korean War. Thomas Hanson’s history is meticulous, balanced, and highly relevant.”—Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle
“By digging deep into little-used primary sources, Thomas Hanson makes a compelling argument for overturning the long-standing portrait of the Eighth Army in June 1950 as a poorly trained force softened by the pleasures of occupation duty. This book is revisionism of the best sort and an important contribution to the history of the U.S. Army.”—William M. Donnelly, author of Under Army Orders: The Army National Guard during the Korean War
"Hanson overturns the pervasive myth that the U.S. soldiers committed to Korea in the summer of 1950 were occupation troops unfit for combat. Bolstered by extensive research, Combat Ready is a most thorough and comprehensive study of the pre-war Army, its training and preparations for war, and its strategic victory over the North Korean forces."--Brian McAllister Linn, professor of history and Claudius M. Easley Jr., Faculty Fellow Department of History