THE NATIONAL INTEREST — On June 30, 1950, following the North Korean invasion of South Korea, an ad hoc U.S. Army unit was assembled in Japan, thrown on whatever aircraft was available and sent to delay North Korea’s army long enough for a more robust American force to Pusan. This well-led but poorly equipped and inadequately trained group of about 500 American soldiers, Task Force Smith, hastily occupied a hilly area near Osan, covering the North Korean’s approach and were pushed aside by columns of North Korean tanks and infantry. After multiple failures to destroy the enemy tanks with obsolete bazookas, and under effective enemy machine gun, mortar and artillery fire, the group withdrew in disarray. They suffered sixty dead, twenty-one wounded and eighty-two captured, several of whom were executed. This vignette of the Battle of Osan has been used for decades by the U.S. Army to remind its leaders of their obligation to never send unprepared troops into combat.
Speedbumps are meant to be run over without completely stopping, and it is as true on asphalt as it is in warfare. The mission to delay is contained under the framework of retrograde operations alongside withdrawal and retirement. All three are necessary to prepare for, however none should ever form the basis of an American security posture overseas, much less constitute the first operation of any planned use of American forces. However, the National Commission on the Future of the Army, along with a large body of contemporary analysts are proposing just that.