At the beginning of turn 6, the map of Korea resembled something like a UN commander’s dream. A pitiful North Korean division sat huddled up towards the south bank of the Han Estuary near Incheon. Out of supply range and with only a garrison in the city to the south, there was little hope it could last out much longer against the massive UN forces arriving near Seoul just to the east. The road north from Seoul to Pyongyang lay nearly wide open with only a single lonely division to prepare a desperate defense against the vengeful American, ROK, and Nationalist Chinese that were surely on the way in short order.
The UN player, now on the offense, loosened the rules of engagement for UN aircraft from level 1 to 2. This allowed the American B26 Invaders to ruthlesssly pound the provinces just north of the 38th parallel. Although the Soviets complained loudly about the ongoing “American aggression” in its state media organs, diplomatic channels were still open with the Americans and the Global Tension Level remained at zero.
With the bite of winter setting in during November of 1950, the Americans had some trouble keeping all of their planes in the air and cloud cover made it much more difficult to find targets. It was a troubling contrast to the clear beautiful skies of July and August, which helped the US bombers find North Korean supply trains and routes with relative ease. Nevertheless, the pilots did a remarkable job and a level “5” interdiction level was achieved for the month. The North Korean supply situation would suffer greatly as a result.
But the North Koreans were not finished yet. After months of talking to the Communist Chinese, help had finally come in the form of limited intervention. The involvement of Nationalist Chinese on the UN side eased the task of the NK diplomats considerably and no doubt they secretly hoped that they could wrangle a full Chinese intervention sooner rather than later.
With limited commitment levels and no reinforcements coming from overseas, the UN generals were unhappily surprised by the turn of events. What looked like an easy victory only a few short weeks ago had turned into a potential nightmare. Intelligence intercepts about potential Communist Chinese involvement had been circulating for some time and the rumors had caught the attention of the American commanders and the Pentagon had been closely monitoring the situation. Now the rumors had given way to firm reports that 12 Chinese divisions were preparing to move across the border to help their North Korean “brothers”.
Having learned the lesson the hard way in previous months, the North Korean generals placed their supply depots more carefully this time. As a division of reinforcements arrived in Pyongyang, they were ordered to build and defend a depot in the city. The plan was for the North Korean combat units to sit and defend while the Chinese moved across the Yalu and took up attack positions to strike at the oncoming UN forces. With luck, the Chinese would be able to push back against the Americans and perhaps recapture Seoul.
The UN began the month by cleaning up the area around Seoul and taking Incheon back from the nearby North Korean division and garrison. The task was considerably eased by the fact that the defenders were out of supplies. The minesweepers went to work in the waters off Incheon with the hope that the port could soon be used to bring in reinforcements and supplies instead of relying on Pusan (too far from the action) or Kunsan (closer to Seoul but much too small).
An American heavy division pushed north of Seoul and completely wiped out the only North Korean division defending the road to Pyongyang while two US regiments moved towards Wonsan on the east coast and took up positions to attack the North Korean garrison there in the next turn. Further south of Wonsan, a US division sat nervously along the road skirting the east coast of the peninsula. Having taken a beating from a poorly coordinated attack last month, it licked its wounds and hoped a nearby North Korean division wouldn’t attack before replacements and fresh supplies arrived.
The Chinese arrived in force. Six full divisions crossed the Yalu River along the western fringes of the border with North Korea. They moved quickly, marching down the road from Sinuju, passing through Pyongyang and stopping within only a short distance north of Seoul. The Americans responded by sending a division and two regiments to set up ambushes along the road while moving in a Commonwealth regiment to protect the city. Suddenly, the emphasis on defense began. There was a real possibility that Seoul might exchange hands a third time if the Chinese had their way. The other remaining Chinese divisions arrived far to the east, hoping to reinforce the vulnerable ports along the coast.
By the middle of November, the character of the war had irrevocably changed. The principal actors in the affair were no longer two small nations in a localized conflict. Instead, it had quickly grown into a battle of giants and the only certainty was that there would be no easy way out for anyone.
|End Action Phase 1: Turn 6|
|Same thing: Different Angle – Chinese approach towards Seoul en masse|