As we begin this summer, we are marking two anniversaries of significance: the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Association of the United States Army and the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War.
There are parallels with today. The nation finds itself again at war and never more has there been a need for AUSA to be the “Voice for the Soldier – Support for the Army” because in these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq it is the land forces, primarily soldiers from all components in the Army, who are carrying the burden of the fight.
The anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War was marked by a special ceremony in the courtyard of the Pentagon June 25, the day the North Koreans launched a massive surprise attack across the 38th Parallel.
An estimated 230,000 soldiers, hundreds of aircraft, tanks and artillery participated in the attacks. At the time, the South Korean army had about 100,000 soldiers, no armor and few aircraft. Seoul, the capital of the south, fell June 28.
President Harry S Truman was determined not to let that act of aggression stand.
Truman ordered U.S. air and naval forces to defend South Korea, and committed ground troops as part of a combined United Nations effort. The 24th Infantry Division, part of the U.S. occupation forces in Japan under Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s command following World War II, deployed the first U.S. troops to Korea. Advanced elements of the 24th Infantry Division rushed to Korea on transport planes to block the enemy advance.
As they awaited follow-on deployments, the 24th Infantry Division troops, known as Task Force Smith and named for its commander Bradley Smith, suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Osan. Although these soldiers were positioned well, they did not have the anti-tank weapons to destroy the North Korean tanks. Numbering several hundred, the task force also did not have manpower to do much more than slow the attack that came steadily southward through the Korean passes and valleys.
Even when the reinforcements arrived, they were outgunned and overpowered. The division reported 3,600 dead and wounded and almost 3,000 captured.
By September, the U.N. Command controlled only about 10 percent of Korea in a small southeastern corner of the country around Pusan.
That was the beginning of the three-year war that ended with an armistice.
No more Task Force Smiths!
AUSA will press the fight that the Army needs to be trained, equipped and resourced to succeed today and tomorrow. To carry out all its missions successfully around the world, that means an active force of 750,000 soldiers and a 28 percent share of the overall defense budget. It also means defense spending should be 5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.
We can do no less.
As we mark the Association’s anniversary, I am proud to say AUSA is open to all Army ranks and all components -- including Active, National Guard and Reserve -- and Department of the Army civilians, retirees, concerned citizens and family members. Indeed, AUSA welcomes anyone who subscribes to the philosophy of a strong national defense with special concern for the Army.