Lieutenant Colonel Michael Bonura, U.S. Army; Major Michael Padilla, U.S. Air Force;
Major Kwan Seop Lee, Republic of Korea Army, bios pending

The Importance of Professionalism:

An Analysis of the 1st Marine Division Planning Process for the Ambhibiouis Assault on Inchon

by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Bonura, U.S. Army; Major Michael Padilla, U.S. Air Force;
Major Kwan Seop Lee, Republic of Korea Army




On 15 September 1950, the commander in chief of U.S. Far East Command (CinCFE), Army General Douglas MacArthur, ordered an amphibious assault at Inchon, which turned the tide of the Korean War. MacArthur envisioned using an amphibious landing to strategically envelope the North Korean advance in the first weeks of the war. Based on his experience commanding amphibious assaults in the Pacific Theater of World War II, he knew the strategic maneuver would require the experience and capabilities of a U.S. Marine Corps division.1 However, at that time, the only Marine division available was the partially mobilized 1st Marine Division under Major General Oliver P. Smith.2 Because of the requirements of the mobilization, the entire planning effort for the landing forces fell on a small portion of the 1st Marine Division staff that at the time was forward deployed to Japan ahead of the rest of the division. These hard-pressed staff officers planned the difficult amphibious assault in less than two weeks, issuing to the dispersed units of the division a detailed operations and administrative order that set the stage for the successful landing.
      The 1st Marine Division staff officers who planned the Inchon landing were as competent as MacArthur knew they would be, but the assault planning took more than competence to complete. The staff officers coordinated the efforts of supporting U.S. Army and Navy headquarters into a single team that increased their effectiveness and provided the extra effort needed to plan the Inchon landing. Joint Publication 1 states that competence and teamwork are considered elements of professionalism.3 The actions of individual staff officers, and the 1st Marine Division Staff as a whole, demonstrated a commitment to these elements of professionalism. This professionalism played a key role in distributing a detailed plan to the 1st Marine Division in time for the Inchon landing. For the 1st Marine Division Staff, professionalism was a vitally important component of the planning process.

Undertaking The Inchon Landing on a Short Timeline

Almost from the beginning of the Korean War, Mac Arthur envisioned using an amphibious assault to envelop the North Korean advance and cut their lines of communication thus relieving pressure on the Pusan perimeter. In the first week of July 1950, MacArthur created the Joint Strategic Plans and Operations Group led by General Edwin K. Wright to plan a landing in the Seoul area named Operation Bluehearts.4 As part of the initial planning for Operation Bluehearts, MacArthur tasked the Amphibious Group I (PhibGruOne) staff to undertake a study of Inchon as a potential landing site. Led by the experienced amphibious assault commander Navy Rear Admiral James H. Doyle, PhibGruOne consisted of the amphibious command ship USS Mount McKinley (AGC 7), an attack transport ship, and an attack cargo ship. Doyle’s group arrived in Japan just before the start of the Korean War to conduct amphibious exercises, and the staff was immediately available to begin the amphibious planning effort.5 The arrival of Doyle and his task force was one of the most fortuitous coincidences of the war for MacArthur and his dream for a strategic envelopment.
      James Doyle was one of the most experienced amphibious assault commanders of the Second World War. After distinguishing himself as the commander of a destroyer in the North Atlantic, Doyle was transferred to the Pacific where he served on the Amphibious Force staff. While on the staff, he earned the Legion of Merit for meritorious service during the Soloman Islands Campaign. In particular, he played especially important roles in the landing and occupation of Guadalcanal and Tulagi. It was during the Soloman Islands Campaign that Doyle earned his reputation for amphibious warfare. In 1948, he took command of the Navy’s Amphibious Training Command, Pacific Fleet, and for two years was responsible for the training of all amphibious groups in the Pacific. With experience in command of amphibious operations, on the staff of amphibious operations for the Pacific Fleet, and then as the commander of all amphibious training for the Pacific Fleet, the Navy made Doyle the commander of Amphibious Group One for the Pacific Fleet in January 1950.6 This was the command that Doyle led to Japan in the weeks before the Korean War.
      The PhibGruOne study looked at all the beaches in the Seoul area that could support a landing. The study became the basis for all subsequent planning for the Inchon landing. However, when MacArthur deployed the divisions allocated for Operation Bluehearts to the Pusan perimeter, he cancelled the planning for Bluehearts. Thus by the end of June, the strategic envelopment by amphibious landing was nothing more than an idea. On 10 July during a conference at Far East Command (FECom) headquarters, Marine Corps officers assured MacArthur that the 1st Marine Division could be mobilized and ready for amphibious operations by September.7 That same day, MacArthur sent an official request to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the use of the 1st Marine Division for an amphibious assault. Subsequently, on 13 July, during an update on the war effort, MacArthur briefed Army Chief of Staff General J. Lawton Collins on the amphibious plans.8 Collins took Mac Arthur’s preliminary plans to the Joint Chiefs for review. MacArthur required approval from the Joint Chiefs of Staff for an amphibious landing and getting that approval delayed the planning process.
      Planning for the amphibious envelopment was abbreviated at every echelon of the process. MacArthur ordered his staff to develop three plans, focused on three different landing areas that threatened Seoul, for what would become Operation Chromite. However, even then, MacArthur favored Inchon as the landing site. The FECom staff issued these plans as CinCFE Operations Plans 100-B, 100-C, and 100- D on 12 August. It took several high-level meetings of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to come to a consensus and approve an amphibious landing. MacArthur received authorization on 23 August to proceed with the Inchon landing as outlined in Plan 100-B.9 Due to the complex nature of the tides and the shallow approaches to the Inchon harbor, the landing would only be feasible a few days each month.10 With a renewed North Korean offensive underway, Mac Arthur ordered Operation Chromite to begin on 15 September 1950.11
      Army doctrine, during the Korean War, required 160 days from conception to execution for an amphibious landing.12 From the FECom staff’s initial planning date on 10 July to the landing date of 15 September, U.S. forces had only 68 days to execute the plan. FECom used 34 of those days to issue the operations plan that, after 11 days of deliberation, left the 1st Marine Division with only 23 days for planning and preparation for the Inchon landing.
      At the tactical level, a published operations order culminates a military planning effort. During the Korean War, Marine doctrine divided the orders process into two parts: an operations order that contained all of the planning devoted to the actual assault and an administrative order that covered all of the logistical requirements to support the operation. On 4 September 1950, the 1st Marine Division issued Operations Order 2-50 and Administrative Order 2-50. Operations Order 2-50 was two pages long and included a succinct description of the missions for each of the units that made up the landing force.13 The details of the plan were distributed in 84 pages of annexes that included the task organization, an intelligence analysis, an operations overlay, and a landing plan. Operations Order 2-50 also referenced Administrative Order 2-50 for the logistics details of the amphibious landing. Administrative Order 2-50 was nine pages and laid out a complete logistical support plan for the operation.14 Following the base order, 52 pages of annexes detailed the plans for personnel administration, shore party, medical, engineering, baggage, and beach and port development for the exploitation of Inchon by other American forces. Issuing the order on 4 September provided ample time for distributing the orders to the scattered division elements before sailing to Inchon on 8 September. However, the delay reduced the planning time for the Inchon landing to twelve days.
      Twelve days presented a significant challenge for the 1st Marine Division staff because the mobilization and embarkation of the division limited the staff officers available to plan the landing. At the beginning of the war, 33 staff officers from 1st Marine Division deployed to Korea with the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade to bring the brigade staff to full strength. Additionally, the division had pulled Marines from a mixture of existing formations, security detachments, and recalled reservists to fully man the 1st Marine Division.15 This mobilization included Reserve units from California and Arizona and Marines from Hawaii, Guam, and units afloat. For example, the Marine Corps activated the 7th Marine Regiment on 17 August 1950, with Marines from the 3d Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, afloat in the Mediterranean Sea, and Marines from the 1st Marine Division rear echelon and Camp Pendleton, California.16 Fifty-one staff officers and noncommissioned officers organized and transported the division to Japan. The remaining 23 staff officers became the division’s initial planning staff, which arrived in Tokyo, Japan, by air on 19 and 22 August.17 The short planning timeline for the Inchon landing forced 1st Marine Division staff to focus only on the most critical planning elements required to produce a detailed operations and administrative order. This presents an opportunity to identify the most significant factors that contributed to the Marine’s successful planning effort.

Analyzing the 1st Marine Division Planning Process

It is important to analyze the planning process of the 1st Marine Division staff based on the staff sections used to divide the planning effort for Operation Chromite as opposed to using the staff sections currently being used by the United States Marine Corps.
The 1st Marine Division staff that served throughout the Korean War had nearly the same organization as the Marine divisions that served during World War II. The organization included 26 staff sections, consisting of the adjutant, chaplain, chemical warfare and radiological defense, operations, legal, ordinance, supply, and civil affairs to name a few.18 Many sections were unrepresented in the small planning staff sent to Tokyo for the Inchon landing. Therefore, to understand the 1st Marine Division planning process, this article will analyze only the command and control relationships created for the Inchon landing and the staff sections of personnel (G-1), intelligence (G-2), operations (G-3), and logistics (G-4). The 1st Marine Division staff produced a special action report detailing the planning, preparation, and execution of Operation Chromite with annexes written by the G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 staff sections. Historians often overlook the more mundane and administrative efforts of staff officers, and instead concentrate on the more exciting and interesting actions of combat leaders and troops. The special action report, written by division staff sections and officers, pro- vides a detailed look into the planning process for Operation Chromite that includes not only the challenges the staff faced, but also recommendations for future operations. The report provides a significant amount of information on the division’s planning effort from which this analysis is largely drawn.

The Command Structure for Operation Chromite

The abbreviated planning timeline for Operation Chromite created a nondoctrinal and, at times, convoluted command structure for the 1st Marine Division. The command relationships for Operation Chromite followed two different phases: figure 1 represents the initial planning relationships and figure 2 represents the relationships during the landing operation. The figures are reprints from the 1st Marine Division special report and represent the division’s understanding of its chain of command. 
      On paper, the command relationships outlined in figures 1 and 2 appear straightforward and in line with the amphibious assault doctrine of both the Army and the Navy going into the Korean War. The Navy’s amphibious landing doctrine remained un- changed since World War II. The 1943 document, Landing Operations Doctrine, established the attack force, which consisted of the naval task group and the landing force. This attack force usually included the senior naval commander of the naval task group, while the landing force consisted of the Marine or Army units comprising the troops landing on the beach. The landing force commander was usually the senior commander of the service, whether Army or Marine, that contributed the largest number of troops to the landing.19 The landing doctrine outlined the specific duties and responsibilities of the attack and landing forces in an amphibious operation. While the command relationships seem straightforward, in practice, a great deal of friction existed between the commands in relation to the 1st Marine Division.
      The friction was due largely to the piecemeal creation of the headquarters charged with exercising command and control over the entire operation. The headquarters that began the initial planning for Operation Chromite was the PhibGruOne staff, which conducted the initial study of the Inchon harbor. This allowed the PhibGruOne staff to begin planning for the Inchon landing before any other headquarters. However, they were not the headquarters in charge of the entire Inchon landing. The senior naval commander over both PhibGruOne (as the naval task force) and the 1st Marine Division (as the landing force) was the Seventh U.S. Fleet commander, Navy Vice Admiral Arthur D. Struble.20 In CinCFE Operation Plan 100-B, MacArthur designated the Seventh Fleet as Combined Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF-7) and made Struble the attack force commander.21 CJTF-7 was in charge of the entire Inchon landing operation, but not in the way described in Landing Operations Doctrine. Doctrinally, Admiral Doyle should have been the attack force commander as the senior officer of the naval task force, but MacArthur personally gave command of the CJTF-7 to Admiral Struble. This led to misunderstandings for the 1st Marine Division staff when they received guidance and verbal orders from Admiral Struble.22 The confusing chain of command was exacerbated by the fact that Admiral Struble arrived in Tokyo on 25 August while the CJTF-7 staff, onboard the USS Rochester (CA 124), was still steaming toward Japan. Therefore, while Admiral Struble gave guidance for the planning pro- cess, the CJTF-7 staff did not issue an order before the PhibGruOne and 1st Marine Division staffs began planning their portions of the operation. This led to conflicting guidance from the commanders of CJTF-7 and the naval task force that adversely affected the 1st Marine Division’s parallel planning process.
      While CJTF-7 was responsible for the entire approach and landing at Inchon, MacArthur wanted a corps headquarters to command the ground attack from Inchon to Seoul, in accordance with the joint operations doctrine between the Army and the Navy from before World War II. The document, Joint Action of the Army and the Navy, states that the military Service with paramount interest will be identified for each phase of a joint operation and that the command relationships will be defined for each phase.23 Therefore, the designation of an Army corps to command the 1st Marine Division ashore complied with the existing doctrine for the execution of joint operations. On 15 August, MacArthur created the U.S. Army X Corps, under the command of Major General Edward M. Almond, to exercise command and control over both the 1st Marine Division and the Army’s 7th Infantry Division. MacArthur created the X Corps staff out of the special planning group of the FECom general staff that planned Operation Chromite.24 This small group of planners led the effort to produce the CinCFE Operations Plans 100-B, 100-C, and 100-D, and benefited from the fact that Almond was also MacArthur’s chief of staff. Due to operational security concerns, the headquarters was not activated as X Corps until 26 August when it began issuing directives and orders for Operation Chromite.25 The activation posed no threat to the unity of command needed to plan a difficult operation on an extremely shortened timeline.
      The Army entered the Korean War using landing doctrine that closely mirrored Landing Operations Doctrine. Although Army officers continued discussing amphibious operations in the years after World War II and compared the way Army and Marine units conducted such landings, no new doctrine for Army amphibious operations existed in 1950.26 The Army published Landing Operations on Hostile Shores in 1941 based on the Navy’s existing landing doctrine.27 The Army went to war in 1950 with essentially the same landing doctrine as the Navy, doctrine that was familiar to the officers of the 1st Marine Division. Therefore, the 1st Marine Division staff had no reason to believe that the orders and directives of X Corps prior to the landing would contain unexpected guidance or attempt to direct actions outside the purview of the commander of the operation after the successful landing. However, the 1st Marine Division staff did receive confusing and often conflicting guidance from the X Corps staff.28 Consequently, the division staff had no clear expectations of what guidance and control to expect from CJTF-7 or X Corps. For example, X Corps Operations Order No. 1, issued on 28 August 1950, identified the 1st Marine Division as the landing force for Operation Chromite and established the task organization for the landing.29 The task organization was reflected in Annex A of 1st Marine Division Operations Order 2-50.30 The guidance, however, should have come from the attack force commander, not the commander of the ground operations following the landing. One recommendation from 1st Marine Division staff, included in the Special Action Report, was to use command relationships established in the applicable doctrinal publications along with their doctrinal titles to clearly delineate the status and authority afforded to each echelon of the chain of command.31 From the perspective of the 1st Marine Division staff, the higher headquarters MacArthur established for the Inchon landing did not contribute to the success of the operation or to the planning effort for the landing force.
      One command relationship vital to 1st Marine Division’s success during Operation Chromite was the relationship with the PhibGruOne staff. After ar- riving in Japan, the division staff colocated with the PhibGruOne staff on the Mount McKinley.32 Conditions onboard the McKinley were barely adequate to meet the needs of one operations staff, much less two staffs simultaneously. There was a shortage of desk and workspace, reproduction facilities, and even typewriters aboard the Mount McKinley.33 Additionally, 1st Marine Division staff requested significant support from the PhibGruOne staff to cover personnel gaps, including reproduction assistance and clerks.34 The crew of the McKinley supported every request from the 1st Marine Division staff in addition to supporting PhibGruOne. Both staffs had knowledge of and consented to the others planning activities and operational decisions. No rivalries existed between the organizations. And the limited planning resources and short timeline served to synergize the efforts of both staffs. Without direction from their respective commanders, the 1st Marine Division and PhibGruOne staffs came together to form a single joint planning team.
      In addition to the teamwork that grew between the PhibGruOne staff and the 1st Marine Division planning staff in Tokyo, the doctrinal nature of the staffs’ relationship facilitated their cooperative efforts. Landing Operations Doctrine detailed the responsibilities and duties of both the attack force and the landing force during amphibious operations. From the start, the 1st Marine Division staff considered Admiral Doyle to be the attack force commander and the PhibGruOne staff to be the attack force staff.35 Thus, the Marines expected PhibGruOne to organize the naval task force according to doctrine, to be responsible for ship-to-shore communications, and to organize the transportation group to land forces and supplies on the shore. Similarly, the Marines were responsible for organizing the embarkation groups and landing groups, which correspond- ed to the transportation division organization of the naval task force.36 Because both staffs understood their doctrinal responsibilities, their planning efforts were efficient as each staff understood exactly how their efforts fit into planning for the other force. This relationship enabled the Marines to issue Operation Order 2-50 for the Inchon landing in only 12 days, which left enough time to distribute the order before the initial movement to Inchon on 8 September.

G-1 Personnel Planning Process

The division’s prewar operations as well as additional planning staff requirements placed on the G-1 section created several issues for personnel planning. Before the Korean War, the 1st Marine Division had only 30 percent of its authorized strength present for duty.37 In the undermanned division, personnel operations were primarily administrative in nature, and members of the G-1 section did not participate in field training exercises. This led to a lack of preparedness in the G-1 section for understanding staff requirements for combat. Additionally, personnel operations training was nonexistent at the Marine Corps professional military educational courses, so units had few trained Marines to fulfill normal personnel functions. These included administrative responsibilities such as the processing of pay, promotion, awards, and leave actions and the creation of travel orders to name only a few. Thus, Marines in the G-1 section became involved in the personnel actions of subordinate units, which further reduced the section’s combat focus.38 The division officers’ lack of training and knowledge of personnel operations prevented the G-1 section from devoting its full attention to the planning process. G-1 Colonel Harvey S. Walseth, Assistant G-1 Lieutenant Colonel Bryghte D. Godbold, and Administrative Chief Master Sergeant Leslie W. Sherman flew to Japan with the division’s initial planning staff. However, no elements from the division adjutant section were on the initial planning staff.39 For the entirety of the planning process, the G-1 section performed tasks usually executed by the division adjutant because the adjutant section did not embark on the McKinley until 11 September 1950.40 The two most difficult adjutant tasks during the preliminary planning were the tasking to prevent all 17-year-old Marines from entering combat and the assembling, logging, and mailing of the division staff’s top-secret and secret operation and administrative orders.41 The understaffed G-1 section had difficulty executing the additional tasks while also fulfilling its regular requirements and contributing to Operation Chromite planning.
      With limited time, staff, and resources, the G-1 section used preliminary planning and the support of the PhibGruOne staff to produce the personnel annex in time for the distribution of Administrative Order 2-50. When the division mobilization began with a notification from the Commander of Fleet Marine Forces Pacific General Lemuel Sheppard on 14 July 1950, Colonel Walseth, the G-1, realized that no standard operating procedures (SOPs) existed for combat personnel operations such as requisition- ing replacements, processing casualties, and burials. During the two weeks between the initial deployment order and the departure of the division’s initial planning staff to Japan, the G-1 section produced SOPs covering all combat personnel operations for the division. These included instructions and a format for personnel daily summaries to be filled out by subordinate units, a format for a unit report that included explanations for each subsection, a casualty reporting procedure that referenced chapter 13 of the Marine Corps Manual and included a format for a report of casualties processed, a format for an embarkation roster to be used during the amphibious assault, a set of war crimes procedures that included forms for reporting and investigating war crimes, a set of burial and graves registration procedures, and a section outlining the process for awards recommendations. Colonel Walseth initiated this effort on his own authority, and Marines of the G-1 section produced the documents based on their own experience and competence with personnel operations.42 When the G-1 section began the planning process for the Inchon landings, the section incorporated the SOPs into the personnel annex as general appendices.43 The SOPs were critical to produce a complete personnel annex to Administrative Order 2-50 in only 12 days and to demonstrate the importance of competence in an abbreviated planning process. The division’s G-1 section also used the people and resources of the PhibGruOne staff to perform the planning duties of the division adjutant. The primary role of the division adjutant in the planning process is the production and distribution of orders. To accomplish this, the G-1 section required the use of the reproduction facilities onboard the McKinley. The PhibGruOne staff made these available to the 1st Marine Division staff without any prioritization issues or parochial reservations. Despite the G-1 section’s planning requirements, the section successfully carried out all of the administrative tasks of the division adjutant as well as reproduced and dis- tributed Operation Order 2-50 and Administrative Order 2-50 on time.44 The individual competence of members of the G-1 section, combined with the productive relationship with the PhibGruOne staff, was critical to the timely completion of the personnel planning in support of the Inchon landing.

G-2 Intelligence Planning

The short timeline and initial lack of intelligence collection assets such as aerial reconnaissance or scouts in the Inchon-Seoul area produced significant problems for the undermanned division G-2 section. Only G-2 Colonel B. T. Holcomb and Assistant G-2 Major J. G. Babashanian flew out to Tokyo with the initial planning staff on 19 August. At that time, the division had an almost total lack of intelligence information for the landing beaches. Even though U.S. forces had operated out of Inchon since the end of World War II, military forces had very little detailed technical information about the harbor to include maps, tidal information, geology, and harbor infrastructure specifications. Due to the fluid combat situation and distance to Inchon from the Allied front lines, very limited intelligence existed on enemy defensive tactics or units in the Inchon- Seoul area in July 1950.45 Additionally, the G-2 section was critically undermanned for the analysis of even the limited intelligence available at the beginning of the planning process. Operation Chromite’s short planning timeline, limited initial intelligence, and a personnel shortage in the G-2 section created significant planning challenges.
      To effectively analyze the battlefield situation of the Inchon-Seoul area, the G-2 section leveraged outside capabilities. The PhibGruOne G-2 section briefed the 1st Marine Division G-2 section immediately on arrival in Tokyo, and the two sections collaborated to conduct a more detailed analysis of existing information. They pored over Joint Army-Navy Intelligence Service publications, strategic engineering studies, and naval attaché reports to construct a detailed understanding of the physical problems associated with the beaches. They identified abnormally high and low tides that exposed extensive mud flats for the landing area, thereby narrowing the landing window to a three to four-hour time frame two days in each month.46 Through their own analysis, they also uncovered important information on the enemy’s position at Inchon and the surrounding areas. They were able to analyze information from photographic interpretation reports, which allowed the G-2 sections to identify only a scattering of unoccupied defense installations.47 These photographs indicated very little activity around these installations. The teamwork between the G-2 sections of PhibGruOne and 1st Marine Division staff was vital in gathering and analyzing the limited intelligence data available.

      To ensure the 1st Marine Division G-2 was capable of the difficult planning tasks required by the Inchon landing, the section was augmented with significant joint assets. Early in the planning process, FECom allocated both Army and Republic of Korea assets to support the G-2 section. The assets included the U.S. Army’s 163d Military Intelligence Service Detachment and the 441st Counter Intelligence Corps. The highly specialized competence of the units in conjunction with the amphibious expertise of the 1st Marine Division G-2 section produced a powerful joint intelligence team. Due to the increased capabilities from the additional assets, the G-2 section was able to direct the ongoing prisoner of war interrogations of the U.S. Eighth Army, which was engaged in combat operations hundreds of miles away.48 This enabled the G-2 section to write an enemy estimate that proved to be surprisingly accurate about the enemy situation in the Inchon-Seoul area. The estimate ensured the detail and completion of the intelligence annex and paragraphs contained in Operation Order 2-50. Incorporating the competence of outside intelligence organizations through close teamwork allowed the G-2 section to complete its intelligence estimate on time.

G-3 Operations Planning

For the G-3 section, the planning phase commenced on 19 August after G-3 Colonel A. L. Bowser Jr. and Assistant G-3 Lieutenant Colonel F. R. Moore ar- rived in Tokyo with the initial planning staff. These two officers were responsible for the majority of the tactical planning for Operation Order 2-50. However, creating a detailed plan for the Inchon landing was impossible without additional support. The G-3 section produced the base plan for Operation Order 2-50 by incorporating officers from across the division and by relying on other division staff directorates and PhibGruOne staff. With only the G-3 and assistant G-3 officers acting as the operations planning section, division Chief of Staff Colonel G. A. Williams augmented the G-3 section with the division’s antitank officer and two tactical observers.49 He attached the officers to the G-3 section as assistant operations officers in addition to 11 enlisted Marines who provided administrative support during the orders production process. The section functioned well with the augmentees, because although they had little training or experience in planning, they had a great deal of experience in amphibious operations. These augmentee officers reflected the overall experience of the 1st Marine Division Staff, the majority of which served in WWII.50 The officers enabled the G-3 to supervise the planning process, make field visits, and attend conferences with higher and subordinate units. This freedom of movement was key to the functioning of the G-3 section and increased the quality of planning for all operations.
      As a landing beach, Inchon and the surrounding area presented a tactical problem that required the G-3 to use the entire division staff ’s competence in conducting amphibious operations. The G-3 section planned the landing with an initial attack on Wolmi-Do Island 11 hours before the main landing. The planners realized they needed to address the island first because of the physical advantage it gave the enemy in defending the beaches. The G-3 section based this assessment on the G-2 analysis of both the geographical complexity of the Inchon area and the enemy situation. During the planning process, the G-2 analysts identified extremely steep seawalls that protected the rear of the city. With this information, the G-3 was able to identify the need for scaling ladders in time for their procurement prior to the landing. This teamwork amongst the staff sections allowed the G-3 to plan an envelopment of Inchon and contributed to its successful execution. The analysis of the Inchon sea conditions was another critical element of the landing plan. With the G-2 assessment of the tides and the G-3 section’s amphibious experience, the G-3 section determined that the landing had to begin at 1730 to have enough daylight to reach all initial objectives.51 Even with a compressed time line, the G-3 section created an extremely detailed Operation Order 2-50 that synchronized the actions of several different maneuver elements for a successful landing. Teamwork allowed the G-3 section to collect all necessary information to plan the landing. The section’s competence in amphibious operations allowed for fast turnover, completing the operations order in only 12 days.

G4 Logistics Planning

Along with a short planning time line for Operation Chromite, the lack of available shipping and the unpredictable nature of trans-Pacific operations challenged the 1st Marine Division’s logistics planning. Knowing only that the division would be participating in an amphibious operation, the G-4 section used available shipping assets to load and transport the division’s equipment and personnel.52 The transportation available at such short notice fell well be- low the assets required for the combat deployment of a Marine division. The lack of transportation assets prevented all of the division’s units from being loaded in a combat configuration which allows those units to drive their equipment off of the transport ships and directly into combat. Some units were organizationally loaded, which meant they were unable to roll their equipment off of the ships and into combat but instead were reloaded prior to combat. In addition to the deployment timeline, several shipping events occurred that limited the flexibility of the division’s logistics operations. These events included a typhoon that hit the Port of Kobe, Japan—which was the division’s main assembly area in FECom prior to the operation—and the loss of one of the division’s cargo ships to a fire.53 These challenges made the logistics planning and execution for the Inchon landing as difficult as the tactical problems.
       The lack of adequate shipping required the G-4 section to decide which units to combat load and which units to organizationally load based on their experiences conducting amphibious operations. With very little detailed knowledge of future operations, the G-4 section decided to combat load two battalions while organizationally loading the rest of the division.54 The section intended to combat load the remainder of the units once they arrived in theater. However, Typhoon Jane struck Kobe on 3 September 1950 and stopped logistics operations for a critical 36-hour period, which prevented the reloading of any of the division’s units. Therefore, the units combat loaded in Camp Pendleton, California, were the only combat units available for the operation 
and became the first wave of the Inchon landing. If the G-4 had decided to organizationally load the entire division to get it into theater faster, the division would not have made the 15 September landing date. These decisions, based on the knowledge and experience of the G-4 section, represented a high level of competence.
      Like the rest of the staff, only a small G-4 section flew out to Tokyo on 22 August as part of the division’s initial planning staff. The section included G-4 Colonel F. M. McAlister and Assistant G-4 Lieutenant Colonel C. T. Hodges. The remainder of the G-4 section stayed at Camp Pendleton as the division completed its mobilization, embarkation, and departure for Korea. Part of the planning for Operation Chromite required the G-4 section to stage and supply the units in theater. As the main assembly area in Kobe did not have sufficient space, the division spread out over a large area. When the SS Noon-day caught fire with a hold full of combat uniforms and other equipment, the G-4 section operating be- tween Kobe and Tokyo had to repair the equipment on-site. The section coordinated with the Salvage Agency of Kobe Base Command to repair, clean, dry, and repack the equipment essential to the division’s sustained combat operations. Marines in the section used personal contacts with Army salvage personnel, who were themselves operating away from their higher headquarters. Salvaging the equipment and avoiding any delay in the deployment schedule was a testament to the G-4 section’s ability to work with their Army counterparts as a team. In this instance as with the entire operation, the division staff attributed the logistical success of Operation Chromite to the “ingenuity and good judgment” of the staffs and units from the division.55 During the operation, no division element ran short of mission essential equipment or supplies. The competence and teamwork of the G-4 section allowed the 1st Marine Division’s logistics operations for the Inchon landing to be a success.


For the 23 staff officers on the 1st Marine Division’s initial planning staff, preparing for the Inchon landing—which involved nearly 30,000 Marines and soldiers in only 23 days—was an impossible task. The geographical and maritime conditions of the Inchon harbor were among the most difficult of any port in the world, and staff could not blindly apply doctrinal templates to the tactical problems. The 1st Marine Division staff officers relied heavily on their collective amphibious experiences, their competence as staff officers, and a close working relationship with the PhibGruOne staff; thus, the division staff produced an operation and administrative order in only 12 days to ensure enough time for distribution of that order to the division’s dispersed units prior to the movement to Inchon. This close working relationship developed without direction from FECom, CJTF-7, or X Corps, as the rapidly changing situation in theater prevented close coordination or synchronization of the headquarters activities.56 Several interconnected factors led to such a productive working relationship under very difficult circumstances.
      Military professionals and historians alike believe that military officers do not read their own doctrine. If they do read it, they do not follow the doctrine, but instead rely on pragmatic decision making based on changing circumstances. The officers of the 1st Marine Division across all sections of the staff were well versed in their amphibious assault doctrine without requiring refresher training or additional staff exercises before departing California for Japan. Division staff understood the process for producing a complete order and what to expect in working with their naval peers. But also, the staff ’s knowledge of the amphibious assault doctrine was essential for integrating with the PhibGruOne staff so effortlessly and producing a complete order in such a short amount of time.
      The division staff worked with the PhibGruOne staff across all joint functions of command and control, movement and maneuver, intelligence, and sustainment. However, the importance of the teamwork between different staffs, operating in a joint operation, cannot be overlooked. Often staffs in the same chain of command have adversarial relationships due to strong personalities and the command climate established by commanders. Additionally, the potential exists for commanders and staffs to remain 
committed to parochial pursuits to the detriment of the joint endeavor, especially when one of the staffs is a joint organization and the other a service component headquarters staff (Currently, each Geographic Combatant Command has a headquarters from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Marine Corps that are designated as service component headquarters). For example, in 2011, the staffs of the Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn (a joint command of officers and noncommissioned officers from all Services) and Joint Force Maritime Component (comprised primarily of naval officers) were colocated onboard the USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), the “U.S. contribution to a multilateral military effort to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians in Libya.”57 While the commands experienced mutual cooperation, both staffs worked concurrently on their own functional efforts. The additional efforts overworked the staff officers and blurred lines of communication and authority between the staffs, which led to coordination issues from near instantaneous communication across the joint task force to disregarding the organizational chain of command.58 Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States states that adherence to the principles of professionalism is every joint officer’s responsibility.59 However, an equally strong requirement for commanders, chiefs of staff, and staff directorate leads is to actively encourage and inculcate a climate of professionalism in their staffs. Without this command reinforcement, the collective efforts of staffs, such as those with 1st Marine Division in Inchon, cannot leverage the competence of their members while simultaneously creating a joint team with other staff organizations operating in the same area of responsibility. Often thought to be the purview of only commanders, the planning effort of the 1st Marine Division Staff for the Inchon landing demonstrates that professionalism is a requirement for staff officers as much as it is for commanders in combat operations.

• 1775 •


  1. William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880–1964 (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1978), 277–375.
  2. Gail B. Shisler, For Country and Corps: The Life of General Oliver P. Smith (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2009); and Clifton LA Bree, The Gentle Warrior: General Oliver Prince Smith, USMC (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2001).
  3. Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States, JP-1 (Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2013), B-1, B-3.
  4. Roy E. Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, CMH Pub. 20-2-1 (Washington DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1961), 488–89.
  5. James A. Field Jr., History of United States Naval Operations: Korea (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), 1962), 46, 53, 171.
  6. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command, “James Henry Doyle, 29 August 1897–9 February 1981,”
  7. Lynn Montross and Nicholas A. Canzona, U.S Marines in Korea 1950–1953: The Inchon-Seoul Operation, vol. 2 (Washington DC: GPO, 1955), 10–11.
  8. James F. Schnabel, Policy and Direction: The First Year (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1992), 140–41.
  9. Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Military Operations Historical Collection (Washington, DC: GPO, 1997), II-5.
  10. 1st Marine Division, FMF, Special Action Report Inchon-Seoul 15 September–7 October 1950 (Washington, DC: Marine Corps History Division, 1951), hereafter 1st Marine Division, Special Action Report, 12,
  11. Appleman, South to the Naktong, 488–95.
  12. Headquarters X Corps: War Diary Summary for Operation Chromite, 15 August–30 September 1950 (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1950), 3,
  13. Operation Order 2-50: 1st MarDiv [Rein] (Washington, DC: Headquarters Marine Corps, 4 September 1950),
  14. All of the annexes were attached to Administrative Order 2-50. Administrative Order 2-50: 1st MarDiv [Rein] (Washington, DC, 4 September 1950), 1–9,
  15. Montross and Canzona, U.S Marines in Korea 1950–1953, 17–24, 30–33, 55–56.
  16. 7th Marine Regiment: Historical Diary, August 1950–January 1951 (Washington, DC: Headquarters Marine Corps, 1951)
  17. 1st Marine Division, Special Action Report, 9.
  18. 1st Marine Division, Special Action Report, 7.
  19. Office of U.S. Naval Operations, Division of Fleet Training, Landing Operations Doctrine, F. T. P. 167 (Washington DC: GPO, 1943), 29–33.
  20. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command, “Arthur Dewey Struble, 28 June 1894–1 May 1983,”
  21. CinCFE Operations Plan 100-B, LtGen Edward M. Almond Papers, RG 38, Box 5, Folder 1, MacArthur Memorial Archives and Library, Norfolk, VA.
  22. 1st Marine Division, Special Action Report, 11.
  23. The Joint Board, Joint Action of the Army and the Navy, F. T. P. 155 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1936), 1.
  24. Headquarters X Corps, 2–3.
  25. Commanding general Operation Chromite, General Order No. 1, 26 August 1950, LtGen Edward M. Almond Papers, RG 38, Box 5, Folder 1, MacArthur Memorial Archives and Library, Norfolk, VA.
  26. Donald W. Boose Jr., Over the Beach: U.S. Army Amphibious Operations in the Korean War (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2008), 65–81.
  27. U.S. Army chief of staff, Landing Operations on Hostile Shores, FM 31-5 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1941).
  28. 1st Marine Division, Special Action Report, 11.
  29. X Corps Operations Order No. 1 as cited in Montross and Canzona, U.S Marines in Korea 1950–1953, 306.
  30. Operation Order 2-50.
  31. 1st Marine Division, Special Action Report, 27.
  32. Ibid., 9.
  33. Montross and Canzona, U.S. Marines in Korea 1950–1953, 56.
  34. 1st Marine Division, Special Action Report, 11.
  35. Ibid., 9.
  36. Landing Operations Doctrine, 30–31.
  37. Montross and Canzona, U.S. Marines in Korea 1950–1953, 18.
  38. 1st Marine Division, Special Action Report, 24.
  39. See ANNEX A G-1 Report, in ibid., 3.
  40. Ibid.
  41. Ibid., 4–5.
  42. Ibid., 3.
  43. The G-1 SOPs became appendices 1–7 of Annex Able attached to Administrative Order 2-50. Administrative Order 2-50: 1st MarDiv [Rein] (Washington, DC, 4 September 1950),
  44. Ibid., 5.
  45. See ANNEX B G-2 Report, in ibid., 2, 8.
  46. Ibid., 2–3.
  47. Ibid., 3.
  48. Ibid.
  49. ANNEX C G-3 Report, in ibid., 2–3.
  50. 1st Marine Division, Special Action Report, 11.
  51. Ibid., 3.
  52. ANNEX D G-4 Report, in ibid., 4.
  53. Ibid., 7.
  54. Ibid., 6–7.
  55. Ibid., 6.
  56. John R. Ballard, “Operation Chromite: Counterattack at Inchon,” Joint Forces Quarterly 28 (2001): 33.
  57. Jeremiah Gertler, Operation Odyssey Dawn (Libya): Background and Issues for Congress (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2011), 1.
  58. Joint and Coalition Operational Analysis (JCOA), Libya: Operation Odyssey Dawn (OOD): A Case Study in Command and Control (Suffolk, VA: JCOA, 2011), 6–7.
  59. Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States, B-1,B-3.



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