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The Eighth United States Army—often unofficially abbreviated EUSA— is the commanding formation of all US Army troops in South Koreamarker. Its headquarters will eventually be merged with that of the United States Army Pacific in Hawaii.

History

World War II

The unit first activated on 10 June 1944 in the United Statesmarker, being commanded by Lieutenant General Robert Eichelberger. The Eighth Army took part in many of the great amphibious assaults in the Pacificmarker during World War II, eventually participating in no less than sixty. The first mission of the Army, in September 1944, was to take over from the Sixth Army in New Guineamarker, New Britainmarker, the Admiraltiesmarker and Morotaimarker, in order to free up Sixth Army for operations in the Philippinesmarker by asset to the Philippine Commonwealth Army and recognized guerrilla units.

December saw Eighth Army again following in the wake of Sixth Army, when it took over control of operations on Leytemarker on December 26. In January, the Eighth Army entered combat on Luzonmarker, landing the XI Corps on 29 January near San Antoniomarker and the 11th Airborne Division on the other side of Manila Baymarker two days later. Combining with I Corps and XIV Corps of Sixth Army, the forces of Eighth Army then enveloped Manilamarker in a great pincer movement. Eighth Army's final operation of the Pacific War was that of clearance of the southern Philippines, including the major island of Mindanaomarker, an effort to occupy the military forces of the Philippine Commonwealth and the soldiers of the Eighth United States Army for the rest of the war.

Occupation

Eighth Army was to have participated in Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japanmarker. It would have taken part in Operation Coronet, the second phase of the invasion, which would have seen the occupation of the Kanto Plain on Honshūmarker. However, instead of invading Japan, Eighth Army found itself in charge of occupying it peacefully. Occupation forces landed on 30 August 1945, assuming responsibility for occupying all of Japan at the beginning of 1946. Four quiet years then followed, during which time Eighth Army gradually deteriorated from a combat ready fighting force into a somewhat soft, minimally-trained constabulary. Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker took command in 1948, and he tried to re-invigorate the Army's training but was largely unsuccessful. This was to have disastrous consequences in Korea.

Korean War

Fighting with the 2nd Inf.
Div. north of the Chongchon River, Sfc.
Major Cleveland, weapons squad leader, points out Communist-led North Korean position to his machine gun crew.
November 20, 1950.
Pfc.
James Cox.
peace of occupied Japan was shattered in June 1950 when North Koreamarker invaded South Korea, igniting the Korean War. American naval and air forces quickly became involved in combat operations, and it was soon clear that American ground forces would have to be committed. To stem the North Korean advance, the occupation forces in Japan were thus shipped off to South Korea as quickly as possible, but their lack of training and equipment was telling, as some of the initial American units were destroyed after being little more than speed bumps for the North Koreans. However, the stage was eventually reached as enough units of Eighth Army arrived in Korea to make a firm front. The North Koreans threw themselves against that front, the Pusan Perimeter, and failed to break it. In the meantime, Eighth Army had reorganised, since it had too many divisions under its command for it to exercise effective control directly. The I Corps and the IX Corps had been reactivated in the United States and then shipped to Korea to assume command of Eighth Army's subordinate divisions.

The stalemate was broken by the Inchon landingsmarker of the X Corps (tenth corps, consisting of soldiers and Marines). The North Korean forces, when confronted with this enormous threat to their rear areas, combined with a breakout operation at Pusan, broke away and fled.

South Korea was next liberated, and North Korea was almost entirely occupied. However, once American units neared the Yalu River and the frontier between North Korea and Chinamarker, the Chinese intervened and drastically changed the character of the war. Eighth Army was decisively defeated at the Battle of the Chongchon River and forced to retreat all the way back to South Korea. The defeat of the U.S. Eighth Army resulted in the longest retreat of any American military unit in history. General Walker was killed in a jeep accident and replaced by Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway. The huge manpower reserves of China were sufficient to steadily drive the American forces south. Although not pushed back nearly so far as the Pusan perimeter, US forces again lost Seoulmarker, the South Korean capital. Eighth Army's morale and esprit de corps hit rock bottom, to where it was widely regarded as a broken, defeated rabble.

General Ridgway forcefully restored Eighth Army to combat effectiveness over several months. Under his leadership, it slowed and finally halted the Chinese advance at the battles of Chipyong-ni and Wonjumarker. It then counter-attacked the Chinese, liberating Seoul again, and driving the communist forces back above the 38th parallel into North Korea. Next, the front stabilized in the 38th parallel area.

When General Ridgway replaced General of the Army Douglas MacArthur as the overall U.N. commander, Lieutenant General James Van Fleet assumed command of Eighth Army. After the war of movement during the first stages, the fighting in Korea settled down to a war of attrition. Cease-fire negotiations were begun at the village of Panmunjommarker in the summer of 1951, and they dragged on for two years. When the cease-fire was finally agreed to, the Eighth Army had succeeded in its mission of liberating South Korea, but the realities of a limited war in a world of nuclear weapons had become obvious. North Korea still survived as a state, and the pattern was set which, some 55 years later, continues to prevail.

Post Korean War

In the aftermath of the Korean War, Eighth Army remained in Korea, but forces under its control were steadily reduced as the demands of first Europe and then Vietnam increased. By the 1960s, only I Corps, controlling the 7th and 2nd Infantry Divisions, remained under Eighth Army. In 1971, further reductions occurred. The 7th Division was withdrawn along with the I Corps command (moved to Washington State), leaving only the 2nd Division to watch the Korean DMZ frontier, assisting the South Korean Army. Besides forming a trip-wire against another North Korean invasion, the 2nd Division remained the only unit in Korea armed with tactical nuclear weapons.

An occasional armed clash aside, relations between the two Koreas remained as stable as could be expected. US forces in South Korea were by the end of the Cold War regarded as a trip-wire force, not so much deployed for their military but their political value. An attack on South Korea by North Korea would mean an attack on the United States as well. However, in 2003, plans were announced to move almost all of the 2nd Division (Eighth Army) back from the border. This would in turn reduce the "trip wire" effect thus reducing political value and commitment to the Republic of Korea. This provoked a heated debate in South Korea, where the future of the Eighth Army is a contentious topic.

The Headquarters of the Eighth Army is located at Yongsan Garrison, but it is scheduled to move south to Camp Humphreysmarker by 2012. Competing with the scheduled move to Camp Humphreys is a possible redeployment of American ground forces away from South Korea back to Okinawa or to the United States. Tentative plans include the redeployment of the Eighth Army to Hawaii, where it will merge with US Army in the Pacific. The combined units will then serve as the Army component command of US Pacific Command (PACOM), counterpart to the merged command structure (i.e. US Army Europe and the US 7th Army) which supports the US European Command (EUCOM).

Current Composition

Eighth Army Structure (click to enlarge

Command Group



Current Structure

Eighth Army (Yongsan Garrison, South Korea)

External links and references

[54361]


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