Fighting Tigers with a Stick: An Evaluation of U.S. Army Recruitment, Training, and Their Combat Outcomes in the Korean War
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
War and Society
After the Korean War, most people regarded the performance of the U.S Army in that conflict as largely checkered. It had not once, but twice retreated disgracefully, losing to theoretically inferior third world armies. Its soldiers often performed poorly, not just in battle, but also prison camps. Many scholars, military commentators, and journalists have since tried to dissect the failures of the U.S. Army in Korea. Some have examined whether or not American GIs received proper combat training before and during the war. Indeed, problems existed with American infantry training before and during the early phases of the Korean War. Recruitment standards slipped while leaders reduced the length of basic training. Unit level training also suffered from personnel turnover as well as a lack of training areas, equipment, and focus from leadership. Training largely became inconsistent and unrealistic as the military slipped into a peacetime mentality. As a result, the average American infantryman deploying to Korea in 1950 lacked training and education in how to fight a ground war. Thus, the U.S Army’s infantry training system prior to Korean War deservedly warranted criticism and reform. However, it was not the only factor in the Army’s defeats. Instead, it reflected a larger, underlying issue. The ambivalent attitude of American civil and military society regarding ground warfare shaped the outcome of Korean War. This outlook not only created conditions leading to poor training for infantrymen, but other issues like a lack of equipment and manpower, poor leadership, and weak national morale that adversely affected the soldier’s performance on the battlefields and prison camps of Korea.
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Banks, Jonathan. "Fighting Tigers with a Stick: An Evaluation of U.S. Army Recruitment, Training, and Their Combat Outcomes in the Korean War." Master's thesis, Chapman University, 2021. https://doi.org/10.36837/chapman.000215