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What are the reasons behind the success of the Inchon Landing despite the dissatisfaction within the UN troops and surprise & deception measures adopted by both the warring parties?

Maj Bishwonath Timilsina
Army War College
Nepal Army




Dear Major Timilsina,

The success of General Douglas MacArthur’s landing at Inchon was fundamentally due to the overwhelming advantage United Nations forces held at sea and in the air, but as far as intelligence goes there were added reasons for it going as successfully as it did. When it came to deception, the North Korean People’s Army, buoyed by its earlier success at maintaining the initiative, was largely guilty of self-deception, committing itself primarily to one last five-pronged offensive designed to break through the Pusan Perimeter. This started on September 1, but thanks to Lt. Gen. Walton Walker’s brilliance at parrying each enemy thrust, had been stalemated at all points by September 15. Meanwhile, on September 5, Boeing B-29s of the U.S. Air Force had begun mass bombing roads and railroads around Kunsan, 113 miles south of Inchon, as if to isolate it in preparation for a landing—and on the following day UN naval forces began staging close to Kunsan. Further activity climaxed on the night of September 12-13, when U.S. special operations troops and Royal Marines, landed from the British frigate Whitesand Bay, landed at the Kunsan docks. While this was going on, Central Intelligence Agency members were infiltrating Inchon, gathering intelligence and stationing themselves to transmit it to the landing force. As a result of all these factors the North Koreans were inadequately prepared when UN forces bombarded the real landing zone on September 10 (including their minelaying, which did not present much problem for the naval forces) and when they landed on September 15, on top of which the commander on Wolmido island assured his superiors that his garrison could deal with the UN landings there (it didn’t). The overall upshot was an overwhelming victory that secured the area by September 19. Moreover, besides leading to the liberation of Seoul the presence of so many UN troops behind it just as UN forces around Pusan were taking the offensive caused a general rout in the NKPA. Only Chinese intervention late in October prevented complete collapse in North Korea.



Jon Guttman

Research Director

World History

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