February 2020 Handgrenade

John T Kuehn's picture

February  2020

Handgrenade of the Month

The Myth of MacArthur and Inchon

By John T. Kuehn


            This will be a short Handgrenade.  It was longer until my government computer’s hard drive took an unscheduled “holiday” and so the longer post is being held captive by IT guys right now.  No matter, the proposition is simple.  Was the Inchon operation in 1950 (CHROMITE) an incredibly risky “gamble”?  Indeed.  But was it even necessary?  And did unintended consequences flow from it, perhaps, as a result?

            To the first question, no, in all likelihood the combat power of the North Korea People’s Army (NKPA) was broken already at Pusan and it had culminated with its lines of communications and supply stretched, vulnerable and increasingly untenable as the US built up more naval and air power on the seaward and deep flanks. 

            Which leads to the second question-- entirely speculative—and as a rule unintended consequences (good and bad) flow from every human event.  Assuming Truman had listened to the joint chiefs instead General MacArthur, and Chromite was not approved, what happens then?  Increasing seaward pressure on NKPA’s flanks and to its front—as more UN troops to include Smith’s marines flow in—and  likely would lead to  a much slower, fighting, withdrawal up the peninsula.  This happened with the Chinese  the following year after their offensive culminated.  A hasty line of defense could be established somewhere north of the Naktong river, perhaps along the Han.  A slower advance means that settling for a reestablishment of the front along the 38th parallel or in that vicinity much more likely.  South Korea’s security assured. Declare victory and hunker down.

The wild optimism generated in actuality by the NKPA defeat-- in part accelerated by CHROMITE’s unwarranted success leading to a rout—is no longer there.  A more restrained political environment thus exists and there is more time for everyone to listen to the CIA, which was forecasting Chinese intervention (as the Chinese were saying they would do) if the UN forces pushed north of the Han River and the 38th parallel.  With no more glorious victories and only a stalemate, status quo ante bellum, to look forward to, Doug quietly retires and is replaced by Ridgeway (although Walker is still alive, but his assumption of the theater command was always unlikely).  And Truman wins in 1952….What say you HG readers, as we approach the June 70th anniversary of that sad year?

            All entirely speculative.  Have fun.

 Go Chiefs!

I must disagree to some extent with the premises of John Kuehn's question. It seems to me that he is contradicting himself on the question of North Korean strength.

To conduct a fighting withdrawal, when pressed by a stronger enemy force, is among the most difficult of all military maneuvers. If the North Koreans were strong enough to have been capable of conducting a fighting withdrawal from the Pusan perimeter to the Han River, they were more than strong enough to have been capable of turning the Inchon landing into a bloody disaster. If one is going to argue that the landing was not a risky gamble, the argument needs to be based on details: That if the North Koreans had realized the Inchon landing was coming, the realization could not have occurred more than X days before the landing, and the North Koreans did not have enough troops close enough to Inchon to have gotten them there with X days notice.

If the North Koreans were strong enough to have conducted a fighting withdrawal to the Han, there would be no way for anyone, looking back from the year 2020, to know that they were that strong. But let us hypothesize that they were. I agree with Dr. Kuehn that this probably would have meant no American drive to the Yalu. That would have meant no Chinese intervention to push the Americans out of North Korea, which would have meant a very different relationship between the United States and China in the following decades, but I cannot begin to guess what that different relationship would have been. Only that it would have been different.

Imagine a bar fight in which the larger opponent is hemmed in a corner and held in a headlock, The time runs in the favor of the other fighter. The only way to disengage is to find a soft spot (groin or stomach) and kick the person on top of you to make it disengage at least temporarily. Common sense in fact demanded a daring, "behind the scenes" operation.

Unfortunately Mr Kuenh has not taken the opinion of the most formidable 'Lady' Mrs Generalissimo and President Chiang Kai-shek, Soong May-ling. Madam Chiang probably had the ear of most US politicians and diplomats, and could twist such very effectively. She wanted Mao defeated, and who better to do it than the controllers of the American nuclear weapons.

Her influence is not to be underestimated.

This is based on leading several Inch'eon staff rides for different audiences/groups when I was Command Historian in Korea.

Interesting supposition but MacArthur was too good a salesman and his concept was sound and a big gamble, and he was able to use every bit of leverage he had as the Army's most senior commander and the only one engaged in hostilities. Harriman and Ridgway were convinced and he was able to convince the JCS - face to face conversations with Collins and Sherman. Remember, Collions was a lieutenant when MacArthur was a general and Ridgway and Bradley were instructors at West Point when MacArthur was Commandant.

Operationally, the immediate outcomes were 1) The primary line of communication in the west for NKPA was interdicted, exacerbating an already dire logistical situation on the Pusan front. 2) NKPA replacements earmarked for the Pusan Perimeter were diverted to the Inch'eon-Seoul area. 3) Kimpo Airport, the largest in Korea, was restored to U.N. control and denied to the NKPA. 4) The Inchon port facilities were restored to U.N. control and denied to the NKPA. 5) Seoul was liberated with consequent political and psychological benefits. 6) Frustrated NKPA forces engaged along the Pusan Perimeter were further demoralized (after a 4 day delay). It took 8th Army these 4 days to break through the NKPA lines. 7) The U.S. armed forces’ reputation was greatly restored following the disasters of the summer.

The strategic outcomes were not as pleasant: 1) General MacArthur’s euphoria following his success in the face of near universal opposition led to his decision to withdraw X Corps in order to land on the east coast. This decision withdrew the X Corps “anvil” that was supposed to work with the Eighth Army “hammer” to block NKPA escape from South Korea thus allowing 20,000 to 25,000 enemy troops, including several key leaders, to make their way to the north to fight again another day. 2) General MacArthur’s stunning coup at Inchon enhanced his already formidable military reputation, thereby blunting any opposition to his fixation that “the Chinese had missed their opportunity to intervene after Inchon.” Efforts by some of his subordinates’ (notably Generals Walker and Smith) to offset General MacArthur’s failure to take prudent countermeasures against the possibility of massive intervention proved inadequate to stave off disaster. 3) Inch'eon gave western military leaders a renewed appreciation for the value of amphibious operations in limited wars like Korea. This, in turn, insured the survival of the U.S. Marine Corps, an issue that had been placed in doubt in the face of the implications of the nuclear battlefield. Operation Chromite was from first to last all about General MacArthur. It was his indomitable will that brought it about and his blindness in the face of his own brilliance that contributed to the subsequent disasters.

It appears that the speculative part of your proposition overlooks the casualties the U.N. forces would have suffered in a hard slog north to Seoul. How would this have affected the elections and the activities of those Dean Acheson referred to as "the primitives?"

Chinese intervention was almost assured given their strategic interest in the peninsula and Stalin's penchant for fighting in Korea to the last North Korean and Chinese. However, if you really want to get speculative, then could Stalin have given Kim he wherewithal to invade the south successfully only if the U.S. could not intervene. This would test American interest in East Asia and indirectly in NATO and Europe as well as the effectiveness of the U.N. If the U.N. forces moved north, the Chinese would intervene and a de facto Sino-American war would ensue and bind Mao closely to Moscow. The Chinese faced a dilemma - would the Soviets provide meaningful aid?

Anyway, that is the extent of my kn wledge and speculation.

Lew Bernstein

Prof. Kuehn,

As hand grenades go,,,

...this is something of a damp squib.

It was logistically impossible for the US Military to execute your alternate reality plan as there was neither the artillery park in Japan & Korea nor ammunition in theater to execute it.

Nor was there any prospect that the dead cold US artillery industrial base could provide the sort of ammunition your war plan requires in less than 18 months.

What made General MacArthur so persuasive to the Wash. DC Flag Ranks in executing the war of maneuver that he did wasn't his charisma. It was the utter lack of artillery ammunition to do anything else!

For which see:

Artillery Ammunition in the Korean War
by Captain David A. Martin

See this passage on Demobilization first:

"Effects of Demobilization
After World War II, the United States quickly demobilized. The Ordnance Department almost ceased to exist.
Eventually, the munitions inventory became unbalanced. For example, for every five propellant canisters of 105-mm
ammunition, there was only one shell casing and fuse. The number of management personnel was insufficient to
examine this imbalance and supervise ammunition stockpiles.

The defense industrial base of the United States also throttled down from its wartime footing. When hostilities broke
out in Korea in June 1950, businesses were reluctant to convert to munitions manufacture, figuring that the Korean
situation would be settled in weeks. Once Congress appropriated funds for munitions, manufacturers needed 18 to 24
months to fulfill the contracts. In the war's initial stages, the Army's lack of field artillery pieces was probably
fortunate—at least from a logistics standpoint—because it depressed the demand for ammunition. Fewer guns required
fewer rounds.

In addition to the units committed to Korea, seven divisions remained in the United States, but only one, the 82d
Airborne Division, was fully operational, and it comprised the Strategic Reserve. The General Reserve, in particular,
was short of artillery, having only 11 battalions (four of 105-mm howitzers, five of 155-mm howitzers, one of 155-mm
guns, and one of 8-inch howitzers). In early 1951, General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the UN
forces in Korea, requested the immediate commitment of those battalions to the Korean theater of operations.

However, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, having decided that they had to husband assets to maintain Western European
defenses, authorized the deployment of only five battalions to Korea.

MacArthur needed the artillery battalions because the four divisions he had in Korea were short of artillery. For
example, each field artillery battalion lacked a third of its howitzers. The shortage of assets was particularly acute at
the division artillery, or DIVARTY, level. A typical DIVARTY modification table of organization and equipment
(MTOE) allocated three or four field artillery battalions of 155-mm howitzers.

The plight of the 24th Infantry Division illustrates the situation that prevailed in Korea in the war's early days. As Dr.
William Glenn Robertson observed in Leavenworth Papers ("Counterattack on the Naktong, 1950"), "The 24th
Infantry Division's artillery component was greatly reduced as a result of both the peacetime practice of deleting one
firing battery from each battalion and the wartime losses associated with forced retrograde movements." The afteraction
review went on to cite other causes for the less-than-stellar performance of the division, such as an inadequate
supply of illumination artillery ammunition and mortar rounds and a doctrinal void on how to deal with tube shortages."

And later in the same article on how Congress in the Korean War played the same sort of parsimony over artillery expenditures that then Senator Truman did in 1943 which saw the US Army run out of artillery ammunition in Sept-Oct 1945. [1]


"Politics, Economics, and Artillery Ammunition
Artillery ammunition became a significant political issue of the day. Resupply proceeded slowly, and Congress
investigated usage rates. The press reported ammunition shortages, and a major scandal broke out on the front pages of
many newspapers. President Dwight D. Eisenhower requested a briefing from General Clark on the ammunition
shortages and allegations of mismanagement and waste.

Some U.S. commanders went on record as preferring General Paik's approach. General Van Fleet said that the barrage
"allowed us to steal a march on the enemy, preventing it from launching an attack, resulting in extra weeks of quiet
which decreased friendly casualties." He felt that the quickest way to establish mastery over the Chinese was
intimidation through demonstrations of sheer firepower. President Eisenhower agreed. The press eventually lost
interest in the matter, but not before establishing a moniker for an enormous expenditure of artillery ammunition: the
"Van Fleet Supply Rate."

U.S. production lines turned out 100,000 155-mm rounds in July 1952. The authorized daily supply rate was 40 rounds
per gun. To provide those 40 rounds for each of the 486 artillery pieces in the Korean theater required the manufacture
of 583,200 rounds per month. Production was slowed when 60,000 forgers of the Christie Park Plant in Pittsburgh
went on strike in June 1952. The strike lasted for 54 days, but it had a ripple effect on ammunition supply that in
October 1952 caused Van Fleet to limit his guns to 6 rounds per day.

In response to the strike, alternative sources of ammunition were sought. The Japanese had 600,000 rounds for sale, but
the Army rejected that procurement because of its cost. (The Japanese round was one and a half times more expensive
than its U.S. counterpart).

Fierce actions in September and October 1952 reduced stockpiles to a 26-day supply—an all-time low. During this
fighting, Eighth Army fired 423,000 105-mm shells in just 6 days. To support Korea, theater stocks in Europe were
depleted even further and reached critically low levels."


[1] Note: The US Army histories of WW2 often mention this WW2 artillery ammunition shortage, but almost never mention then Senator Truman's role in creating it. This "Green book politically correct" WW2 narrative gets repeated everywhere, For example see:


"Ammunition, particularly artillery ammunition, tended to be a much more pernicious problem. In the early stages of the Army's expansion there were plans calling for a high priority in the production of 105mm shells of all types, inasmuch as these were the standard, general-support divisional field piece. Ammunition for heavier guns was accorded a lower priority, under the assumption that mobile warfare would reduce the utility of large, unwieldy and relatively immobile large artillery pieces. Unfortunately, a number of factors then intervened. First, congressional criticism was raised over large over stocks of all types of artillery ammunition that had accumulated in Tunisia in 1943. The Army was pressured to scale back production, particularly of 105mm ammunition. Secondly, the perceived need for an expansion of the heavy and medium artillery was mirrored by an expansion of the production facilities for the heavier types of shells. The expansion in heavy shell production was facilitated by converting light ammunition production to heavy. Thus, by late 1943 priorities had shifted radically. Many plants were retooling for other production, while some 105mm plants were closed completely. Events in France and Italy in mid 1944 then changed all the assumptions again. The fierce German resistance in the bocage of Normandy and in the Appenine Mountains of Italy placed a premium on all types of ammunition - just as stocks of 105mm ammunition began to shrink. Rationing was instituted (and extended to most other types of mortar and artillery ammunition), and captured German weapons and ammunition were utilized against their former owners. By 1 January 1945 the entire ETO stock of 105mm ammunition was reduced to 2,524,000 rounds, a twenty-one-day supply according to War Department planning factors, which were widely acknowledged to be too optimistic. The poor flying weather encountered in Europe in the fall and winter exacerbated this near-disastrous situation: Allied airpower was not always available to take up the slack. Although emergency measures in theater and in the U.S. improved matters, artillery ammunition shortages were to remain a chronic problem until the end of the war in Europe."

A caveat, almost always, without access to original documets, papers, etc., some of this commentary may be very pedestrian. Yet, at the time of Korea, the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper, one original public source, published daily during Korean War, a peninsula map of Korea, showing the movement of front line divided between Communist an Allied forces. It looked and must be concluded, was very dark for the US and Allies as the perimeter frontline around Pusan grew closer and closer to actual pushing of Allied troops into Japan, thereby achieving one the Communist most important goals, to unite all of Korea under the political control and rule of Communism.

Then, just as suddenly a night and day, the perimeter line held and strengthened, in the daily map display published. It looked like the US would hold onto the final Pusan area; and, even began expanding it northward pushing back Communist forces to retake some territory.

Almost overnight, tis drama changed with a brilliant flanking maneuver, such as Gen. McArthur displayed in WW II, Pacific actions, by leap frogging Japanese strong points. This tactic of bypassing and action against rearward areas had become hallmark to his Pacific strategy. Once more the Map situation of attacking rearward areas, began returning US and Allied nations forces to the offensive as they moved north from the Pusan bridgehead so determinedly held to remain in Korea.

Possibly this success coupled with the retreating North Korean Communists created too confident and to unmindful a cautious attitude. Instead of merely stopping at the status quo 38th Parellel, Allied forces began a northward movement into North Korea, attempting to reunite the entire Korean Peninsula into a Democracy controlled land area in the Pacific. A more cautious approach might have been needed but in the times of conflict ten between Communism worldwide and Western Democracies removing Communist governments were of the highest priority and seen as a life and death struggle.

Before next month's hand grenade rolls into our bunker, I want to ask a Chromite-related question. Please forgive my not having my sources at hand, but time's a-wasting. While doing some research on troopships in the Army Transport Service and the Military Sea Transportation Service, I read about Operation Blue Hearts, which was the landing at Pohang on July 17 by 1st Cavalry Division troops that went to the Pusan perimeter. I recall from somewhere that Blue Hearts had originally been targeted as a landing at Inchon, but that the situation led to a redirection of the objective, and then Chromite became the name for the Inchon landing. Only three weeks elapsed between the North Korean invasion and the Pohang landings, and if Blue Hearts was indeed originally aimed at Inchon, then it seems that an Inchon landing was in planners' minds from the outset. Thoughts?

Bruce Castleman

Wyatt's post deserves a reply, mostly concurrence. I do think that someone in the USG and/or the Pentagon (besides George Kennan) should have seen the struggle "between Communism worldwide and Western Democracies" in something less than "life or death," a zero-sum game. A clear line should have been drawn in Korea, rather than letting South Korea kind of drop off the radar, to the point where North Korea might credibly think that we would not oppose their ingestion of the South.

And of course during and after World War II one never seemed to know when we might have the "brilliant" Douglas MacArthur or the "blind and stupid" Douglas MacArthur. Do we get the man who thoroughly bungled the defense of the Philippines, or the guy who conducted a successful island-hopping campaign to recover the Asian Rim? Do we get the competent Generalissimo who rebuilt Japan into a thriving Democracy, or the guy who ignored the Korean peninsula and let the US Armed Forces in the Far East deteriorate to such an alarming degree? Fortunately, we eventually got the guy who had the strategic insight to plan and execute the Inchon Landing. (The gap in strategic insight and capability assessment between MacArthur and, say, Gen, Ridgeway (wasn't it he who said Inchon was a "million-to-one shot that paid off") is truly staggering.)

Lastly, I really have to wonder about the North Koreans and their Soviet advisors. Could they not see that the US Navy controlled the waters offshore and thereby gave the US Supreme Commander (a master of amphibious maneuver warfare) an unparalleled strategic advantage? That a surprise landing at Inchon or some other place was inevitable, and keeping forces at Pusan was untenable? Did ideology extinguish common sense and good judgment?

So, yeah, Korea -- a costly misplayed "police action" that resulted in a draw, hard to swallow in those "zero sum" days, but over time it was certainly a triumph for the Democratic West. By the same token I can see why the PRC regards it as a military success in their history books.

While I agree, we must ask about the domestic context. Truman had to contend with McCarthyism and the Red Scare, could he afford to "lose" Korea, too?
Stalin gave the North Koreans enough to win quickly if the US did not intervene in an effective manner. Stalin was willing to fight to the last North Korean and Chinese Communist. The Chinese understood what MacArthur would do and tried to warn the North Koreans to no avail.
The OPLAN was created by Kim's Soviet advisors and had to be translated into Korean - the originals are at NARA II.

Ralph, I really take issue with your characterization of MacArthur's defense of the Philippines. It was his very sound decisions that created a real road block to Japan's Pacific blitzkrieg. Got Japan's key military commander sacked , and gave U.S. Navel forces an opportunity to create a shooting gallery . of Japanese enforcement. I recall reading the Marine Corps historian Lynn Montross saying that the MacArthur defense of the Philippines was nothing less than brilliant. and a real turning point in the war in the Pacific,.. .

Walter McIntosh
Bluff, New Zealand .

Ralph, I really take issue with your characterization of MacArthur's defense of the Philippines. It was his very sound decisions that created a real road block to Japan's Pacific blitzkrieg. Got Japan's key military commander sacked , and gave U.S. Navel forces an opportunity to create a shooting gallery . of Japanese enforcement. I recall reading the Marine Corps historian Lynn Montross saying that the MacArthur defense of the Philippines was nothing less than brilliant. and a real turning point in the war in the Pacific,.. .

Walter McIntosh
Bluff, New Zealand .

Walter, I truly do not know how to react to our defense of MacArthur and the 1941-42 Philippine Campaign. It was a disaster that began at the top. MacArthur was stunned by the Clark Field attack and things went downhill from there. His initial strategy of fighting the initial Japanese landings was thwarted by the poor preparedness of the Philippine Army. While his staff (headed by Eisenhower) drew up a good plan for the defense of the islands, MacArthur was unwilling to lobby the Philippine Commonwealth government for the wherewithal to carry it to fruition. The hurried retreat to the Bataan Peninsula was a result of this flawed strategy as was the decision to abandon the relatively abundant food supplies at Fort Stotsenberg in the retreat, which put the Fil-American forces on Bataan on half rations from the beginning. Further, the Philippines was not the main object of the Japanese exercise. They wanted the Malay Peninsula and Singapore and the oil fields in the Netherlands East Indies. Oil, tin, and rubber were more important than the Philippines. Further, the Japanese were able to pivot into Burma and advance toward India while mopping up the Fil-American forces in the Philippines. And Homma was not the key military commander, it was Yamashita. The Japanese pulled forces from the Philippines to complete their conquests in Southeast Asia. The Philippines were a sideshow to the Japanese.
Lewis Bernstein

Lewis and all, The importance of the Philippines resided in its location, across the sea lines of communication to all the places south of it that did have resources. The goal of the Japanese campaign was to neutralize it as a base that the Americans could use to interdict those slocs with air and sea power. The Americans made the same calculation in their Orange planning.

Not sure how the build up of air power in the Islands played in the Japanese decision for war with the United States. Hap Arnold wanted to put 4 squadrons of heavy bombers into Clark as soon as possible after August 1941. But if the Japanese knew it must have certainly played some role in their fatal decision to attack the US along with everyone else.

To my knowledge only Ned Willmott has proposed that the some in the Japanese imperial naval general staff considered taking the southern resources without attacking the US. Willmott speculates (in Barrier and Javelin) that this would have put the anti-colonialist FDR on the horns of a dilemma, does US remain neutral or go to war to save the colonies of colonial powers?
But I asked Sadao Asada (before he died) about this, and he assured me that there was no serious consideration of NOT attacking the US if Japan decided for a war for the southern resource area.

Also, I am weak on if the US and British planners at ABC-1 (Janaury 1941) had discussed this possibility, that the Japanese may not attack the US. I do know that the integrated operational defense planning for a coalition against a Japanese offensive was non-existent, ABDA was a pick up game AFTER hostilities began. Lewis has already captured the essence of ABC-1 for the Far East, that Singapore was the key terrain, for both the British and the Japanese.

So yes, the Philippines were a sideshow as long as everything went according to plan. And it/they did, better than expected, so much so that it was the same 14th Army in Rabaul later in 1942 that had oversight when the Americans seized Tulagi and Guadalcanal.

vr, John T. Kuehn

Lewis, I would refer you to the Marine Corps official historian , Lynn Montross, or History Net;s , account of MacArthur 's defense of the Philippines . Both accounts are praiseworthy of the decisions made by MacArthur , These accounts lined up well with the remembrances of many veterans of the experience that I interviewed in the Philippines . THe main plus was the time it gave U.S.forces to counter the Japanese blitzkrieg. .
. As an aside , MacArthur had one hellof a following in the Philippines. The only place ever that had Chesterfield cigarettes as the leading black market cigarette .And when he came cack he was smoiking salem's ,hen cenew younger gveneration philippi no s smoked Salems.
Walter McIntosh
Bluff, New Zealand .


No doubt there were some officers on the IJA and IJN general staffs who were aware of the movement of US air power (such as it was) to the Philippines — it really was little secret. But I have found no suggestion in any source that this had any effect whatever on the decision to attack the islands, let alone that to attack Pearl Harbor.

Clever though he is, I think Ned Willmott is not well informed regarding FDR and his views. FDR did indeed have the normal American aversion to European colonialism, but anti-colonialism was very far removed from his primary concerns. And keeping Britain in the fight was very definitely at the forefront; anything that might have weakened it was intolerable.

For many months FDR waffled in communications with Churchill on whether the US would go to war if Japan attacked the UK in Asia. But shortly before Pearl Harbor he gave Churchill an unequivocal commitment. Based on what we know of FDR and his caution on such matters he must surely have felt certain that he could obtain a declaration of war if it came to that. Presumably he had been sounding out Congress pretty intensively.

I note that many in this forum have been advancing views that are directly at odds with what can be seen very clearly in the many polls conducted in this period. In particular the notion that isolationism was a live force in American politics in 1941 is nonsensical. It had been almost exclusively a Republican phenomenon in the 1930s (as the polls show) and the fact that the Republicans ran Wilkie in 1940 instead of an isolationist such as Taft or Vandenberg speaks volumes about just how moribund isolationism had become.

Thank you for your reply. I didn't know about the cigarettes, I find that an interesting observation.
Indeed, MacArthur was an outsize presence in the Philippines and in Korea. I would suggest that you read Louis Morton's official Army history volumes on the Pacific War: Strategy and Command: The First two Years and The Fall of the Philippines. I would also suggest checking the first volume of the Army's official history of the Korean War, Roy E. Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu. Appleman did not write the subsequent volume of the official because, according to the notes at NARA, MacArthur did not think he was viewed favorably enough in this volume. After retiring from the National Parks Service he wrote 4 more books on the conflict: East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950, Disaster in Korea: The Chinese Confront MacArthur, Escaping the Trap: The US Army X Corps in Northeast Korea, 1950, and Ridgway Duels for Korea. These are all operational and tactical histories.
I was UNC/CFC/USFK Command Historian in Korea for 9 years and had to deal with MacArthur's legacy. On any given day or hour I could argue that he was either a charlatan or a genius. He was prone to self-delusion and was surrounded by a sycophantic staff. He was fortunate in both the Pacific and Korea in his operational commanders, who were all excellent. Richard Connaughton has done an excellent job analyzing the 1941-42 Philippine campaign and and Richard Frank's short biography is stellar but does not replace D.Clayton James' 3 volume treatment of the man.