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Old 06-27-2018, 06:33 AM
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Arrow Truman orders U.S. military intervention in Korea, June 27, 1950

Truman orders U.S. military intervention in Korea, June 27, 1950
By ANDREW GLASS 06/27/2018 05:27 AM EDT

On this day in 1950, two days after the North Korean People’s Army invaded South Korea by crossing the border at the 38th parallel, President Harry S. Truman ordered the U.S. Air Force and Navy to help the South Koreans repel the invaders. He initially refrained from committing ground forces after being advised that North Koreans could be stopped solely by America’s superior air and naval power.

Truman acted after the U.N. Security Council unanimously called for member nations to offer military assistance to the government in Seoul headed by Syngman Rhee. (As a permanent member, the Soviet Union could have exercised a veto had it not been boycotting the council’s meetings. The Kremlin had been absent since January 1950 because it held that the People’s Republic of China, the communist-led government on the mainland, rather than the Taiwan-based Republic of China, should hold the seat.)

On the same day, Rhee and other government officials fled the beleaguered South Korean capital. As the fighting escalated, Rhee put South Korea’s forces under U.N. command. In all, 21 United Nations’ members contributed to the force charged with countering the invasion. The United States provided about 90 percent of the military personnel and nearly all the funding.

Before the invasion, which caught the United States by surprise, Korea wasn’t specifically included in the strategic Asian defense perimeter described by Secretary of State Dean Acheson. The administration, however, feared that the war on the Korean Peninsula could soon widen into a global conflict should Communist China and/or the Soviet Union decide to become involved.

On June 29, Truman told reporters that “most of the members of the United Nations are in full accord with what we are doing.”

“Mr. President, everybody is asking in this country, are we or are we not at war?” a reporter said. “We are not at war,” Truman replied. (As an undeclared war by all participants, the conflict helped bring the term “police action" into wide use.)

The fighting ended on July 27, 1953, with the signing of an armistice. Under the agreement, a demilitarized zone separated North and South Korea. In April 2018, the leaders of two nations met at the demilitarized zone and vowed to sign a peace treaty by the end of the year that would formally end the war.

“The recognition that the security of Japan required a non-hostile Korea led directly to [Truman’s] decision to intervene. … The essential point … is that the American response to the North Korean attack stemmed from considerations of U.S. policy toward Japan,” Kim Yong-jin, an analyst at the University of Maryland, wrote in 1973, 20 years after the truce had ended the fighting.

Recent studies put the full death toll in battle on all sides at about 1.2 million.


O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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