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Old 06-27-06, 10:00 AM
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Cool Today in History, June 27th

TRUMAN ORDERS U.S. FORCES TO KOREA:
June 27, 1950


On June 27, 1950, President Harry S. Truman announces that he is ordering U.S.
air and naval forces to South Korea to aid the democratic nation in repulsing an
invasion by communist North Korea. The United States was undertaking the major
military operation, he explained, to enforce a United Nations resolution calling
for an end to hostilities, and to stem the spread of communism in Asia. In
addition to ordering U.S. forces to Korea, Truman also deployed the U.S. 7th
Fleet to Formosa (Taiwan) to guard against invasion by communist China and
ordered an acceleration of military aid to French forces fighting communist
guerrillas in Vietnam.At the Yalta Conference towards the end of World War II,
the United States, the USSR, and Great Britain agreed to divide Korea into two
separate occupation zones. The country was split along the 38th parallel, with
Soviet forces occupying the northern zone and Americans stationed in the south.
In 1947, the United States and Great Britain called for free elections
throughout Korea, but the Soviets refused to comply. In May 1948 the Korean
Democratic People's Republic--a communist state--was proclaimed in North Korea.
In August, the democratic Republic of Korea was established in South Korea. By
1949, both the United States and the USSR had withdrawn the majority of their
troops from the Korean Peninsula.At dawn on June 25, 1950 (June 24 in the United
States and Europe), 90,000 communist troops of the North Korean People's Army
invaded South Korea across the 38th parallel, catching the Republic of Korea's
forces completely off guard and throwing them into a hasty southern retreat. On
the afternoon of June 25, the U.N. Security Council met in an emergency session
and approved a U.S. resolution calling for an "immediate cessation of
hostilities" and the withdrawal of North Korean forces to the 38th parallel. At
the time, the USSR was boycotting the Security Council over the U.N.'s refusal
to admit the People's Republic of China and so missed its chance to veto this
and other crucial U.N. resolutions.On June 27, President Truman announced to the
nation and the world that America would intervene in the Korean conflict in
order to prevent the conquest of an independent nation by communism. Truman was
suggesting that the USSR was behind the North Korean invasion, and in fact the
Soviets had given tacit approval to the invasion, which was carried out with
Soviet-made tanks and weapons. Despite the fear that U.S. intervention in Korea
might lead to open warfare between the United States and Russia after years of
"cold war," Truman's decision was met with overwhelming approval from Congress
and the U.S. public. Truman did not ask for a declaration of war, but Congress
voted to extend the draft and authorized Truman to call up reservists.On June
28, the Security Council met again and in the continued absence of the Soviet
Union passed a U.S. resolution approving the use of force against North Korea.
On June 30, Truman agreed to send U.S. ground forces to Korea, and on July 7 the
Security Council recommended that all U.N. forces sent to Korea be put under
U.S. command. The next day, General Douglas MacArthur was named commander of all
U.N. forces in Korea.In the opening months of the war, the U.S.-led U.N. forces
rapidly advanced against the North Koreans, but Chinese communist troops entered
the fray in October, throwing the Allies into a hasty retreat. In April 1951,
Truman relieved MacArthur of his command after he publicly threatened to bomb
China in defiance of Truman's stated war policy. Truman feared that an
escalation of fighting with China would draw the Soviet Union into the Korean
War.By May 1951, the communists were pushed back to the 38th parallel, and the
battle line remained in that vicinity for the remainder of the war. On July 27,
1953, after two years of negotiation, an armistice was signed, ending the war
and reestablishing the 1945 division of Korea that still exists today.
Approximately 150,000 troops from South Korea, the United States, and
participating U.N. nations were killed in the Korean War, and as many as one
million South Korean civilians perished. An estimated 800,000 communist soldiers
were killed, and more than 200,000 North Korean civilians died.The original
figure of American troops lost--54,246 killed--became controversial when the
Pentagon acknowledged in 2000 that all U.S. troops killed around the world
during the period of the Korean War were incorporated into that number. For
example, any American soldier killed in a car accident anywhere in the world
from June 1950 to July 1953 was considered a casualty of the Korean War. If
these deaths are subtracted from the 54,000 total, leaving just the Americans
who died (from whatever cause) in the Korean theater of operations, the total
U.S. dead in the Korean War numbers 36,516.
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