Friday, October 3, 2014

Turkish troops in the Korean War

The other day, the Obama administration announced with great fanfare that Turkey had agreed to provide land forces in the Iraq Islamic State war, though their number and mission is still unknown.

Despite the Turks' reputation as fierce fighters, the Turkish Brigade's performance during the Korean was far from stellar.

Lt. General Walton Walker was commander of Eight Army in the western salient of North Korea, comprised of mostly American troops with some South Korean infantry. 

After weeks of denial and faulty intelligence, and the annihilation of an entire South Korean Army corps that was supposed to protect Eighth Army's right flank, on November 26, 1950, Walker finally realized the Chinese had launched a major offensive down from the Yalu River. General Walker began to move his forces around on the North Korean chessboard. 

A crucial part of his juggling of forces relied on the Turkish Brigade, which was to secure Eighth Army’s right flank because ROK II Corps no longer existed. 

As it turned out, the Turks were nearly worthless, despite their reputation . The Brigade’s training had been subpar and the troops had no prior combat experience. Hardly any spoke English. No Americans in the vicinity spoke Turkish.  

 The Turkish commander was long over the hill. A brigadier general, he had fought the British at Gallipoli in 1916, 35 years earlier, in an entirely different kind of war.

Worse than all that, much worse, to secure the right flank of Eighth Army’s line the Turkish commander was ordered to dig in at a place called Tokchon but, supposedly misunderstanding, went elsewhere—and left Walker’s right flank wide open. Again!

 Although on the day the Turks moved to the wrong location they did capture 125 prisoners.

 But the POWs were actually South Korean soldiers.

Let's hope that the Turks 1950 performance in Korea doesn't do an encore against the Islamic State in Iraq.