The Communist enemy in Korea was still attacking, but his attacks no longer had the fearsome power he had put into his drives three weeks before. The tides of war were setting against him. The Allies were steadily getting more manpower, weapons, supplies, mobility; Allied morale was skyhigh; Communists were beginning to surrender in situations where they could easily have got back to their own units. The enemy even seemed, as one observer said, to be running out of plans.
General Walker, who only a month ago had once issued a stand-or-die order, now found it necessary to voice a warning against overconfidence.
By Thanksgiving? The U.S. now had five divisions (or parts of divisions) in Korea—the and, 24th and 25th Infantry, the ist Cavalry, the 1st Marine—plus the 5th RCT (regimental combat team) from Hawaii, plus unidentified reinforcements which went into the line last week. The South Koreans had five divisions more on the line. Admiral Forrest Sherman, Chief of Naval Operations, revealed that thousands of marines were en route from the U.S. The first ground troops from other United Nations were also en route.
Even so, there were still not enough troops to man the 120-mile beachhead perimeter adequately, and the U.S. was still making fast shifts of fighting units to prevent enemy probings from becoming breakthroughs. The Reds’ shifts of strength, on the other hand, were increasingly slow and cumbersome.
The military improvement signaled an open season for prophecies on when the
Allies would begin a general counteroffensive. In the lines it was widely taken for granted that a breakout would be made in a matter of weeks. “We’ll never even find a North Korean soldier,” said a colonel. “They’ll all take off their uniforms and become refugees.” In Tokyo, one of General MacArthur’s comfortable spokesmen said that the war might, just possibly, be won by Thanksgiving.
Quick Recovery. Such predictions left out of account not only the facts of life of the Korean war itself, but the facts of life in the rest of Asia and the world. Moscow may have been severely disconcerted by the bold U.S. intervention in Korea, but Stalin’s men have a way of recovering quickly from surprises. Facing this week’s situation, they were well aware that nearly all combat-ready ground troops at U.S. disposal, except for thin minimum needs for garrison duty, were committed, or soon would be, in Korea. No man could soundly predict victory in Korea by Thanksgiving or for that matter by the next Thanksgiving unless he ignored the possibility that Moscow might set up a brushfire somewhere else, or intensify the force in Korea, e.g., by getting China’s Communist troops into the battle.