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Garret troopers

“The United States would go to war [in Korea] totally unprepared. The first American units thrown into battle were poorly armed, in terrible shape physically, and, more often than not, poorly led. The mighty army that had stood victorious in two great theaters of war, Europe and Asia, just five years earlier was a mere shell of itself. Militarily, America was a country trying to get by on the cheap, and in Korea it showed immediately. The blame for the poor condition of the Army belonged to everyone—the president, who wanted to keep taxes down, pay off the debt from the last war, and keep the defense budget down to a bare-bones level; the Congress, which if anything wanted to cut the budget even more; and the theater commander, MacArthur, under whose aegis the troops had been so poorly trained, and who had only five years earlier said that he did not really need all the troops Washington had assigned him. But mostly it was Truman—the president has to take full responsibility in a matter like this: the Army of this immensely prosperous country, rich now in a world that was still poor and war-ravaged, was threadbare. It had been on such short rations, so desperately underfinanced, that artillery units had not been able to practice adequately because there was no ammo; armored groups had done a kind of faux training because they lacked gas for real maneuvers; and troops at famed bases like Fort Lewis were being told to use only two sheets of toilet paper each time they visited the latrine.” – David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter

Published inDavid HalberstamEconomicsPolitics & LawThe Korean War

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