Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (MALA)


Liberal Arts

Document Type



The America intelligence community in 1950, unprepared to perform its missions, failed to provide adequate indications and warning to U.S. national leaders and to the Commander, Far East Command (FEC), about the North Korean invasion of South Korea and Red Chinese intervention in the Korean War. Post-World War II policies that reduced the size of the military, cut systems and training, and reorganized intelligence services are responsible for that failure. Training deficiencies meant that intelligence soldiers deployed to Korea without required skills. The military trained analysts to assess enemy capabilities rather than intentions, contributing to poor predictive analysis. Shortages of analysts, photo interpreters, and linguists further plagued the intelligence community and degraded intelligence collection and production. The post-war political climate focused on the Soviet threat. American estimates saw the Soviet Union as the center of control for other communist states, such as Red China and that paradigm framed analysis of Chinese intentions. Assessments by General MacArthur, head of the FEC and Supreme Commander of United Nations Forces in Korea, of Chinese intentions proved decisive in shaping the course of the war in the fall of 1950. The Far Eastern Command (FEC) G-2 shared MacArthur's view that the Chinese would not intervene and spread that appraisal throughout the FEC intelligence community. In MacArthur opinion, the Chinese would not attack late in 1950 because the opportune time to do so had passed; furthermore, he thought since the Red Chinese lacked an Air Force, they would be annihilated by U.S. airpower. Analysts at all levels underestimated the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and failed to understand Chinese operational art and tactics. Consequently, they did not recognize the Chinese first phase offensive in North Korea, and erroneously concluded that the Chinese would withdraw and defend its border. The intelligence community's poor readiness and lack of capability to provide indications and warning resulted in the enemy's achieving surprise. The first surprise led to the deployment, and near defeat, of Task Force Smith at Pusan. The second surprise led to the withdrawal and rout of U.N. forces, which led to a prolonged war of attrition.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

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Committee Chair

Stanley Hilton