The NKPA offensive on the northeast front, designed to recapture Pohang and drive on Taegu through the "back door," was to be carried out by the four NKPA divisions already in place: the 8th and 15th in the TAEBAEK Mountains; the 5th and 12th on the coast. These divisions, chewed to pieces in the August fighting, were reinforced by independent NKPA units or raw fillers to an average strength of about 6,500 men each (for a total of about 26,000 men). In keeping with the NKPA strategy of attacking everywhere at once, the four divisions were not concentrated but rather spread across a rugged front, forty miles wide.[9-74]
This sector was still defended by four ROK divisions: 3d, 6th, 8th, and Capital. Since early August these ROKs, supported by American warships and carriers operating in the Sea of Japan and advised by KMAG, had been fighting with increased Úlan and skill, inflicting heavy casualties on the NKPA. However, the ROKs were still an unstable quantity: valorous one moment; panicky the next. They could not be completely trusted.[9-75]
For that reason Walker had moved John Church's rebuilding 24th Division to Taegu, in position to backstop the ROKs. Inasmuch as Walker had deactivated the 34th Regiment and delayed the attachment of Throckmorton's 5th Regiment, Church had only two regiments: Ned Dalton Moore's 19th and Richard W. (Dick) Stephens's 21st. However, these regiments had been brought up to full strength by the addition of Red Ayres's 1/34 (now 3/19) and Gines Perez's 3/34 (now 2/21) and by fillers from the States.
Should the ROK divisions fail, these two American regiments, comprising six infantry battalions, were available to reinforce them. In addition, D. M. ("Mac") McMains's black 3/9, plus support forces, was still in the area near Pohang.
Up to this time Walker had been commanding Eighth Army without the benefit of subordinate corps headquarters. In the occupation years the four divisions of Eighth Army had been organized into I and IX Corps (each commanding two divisions), but these corps headquarters had been abolished before the war for economy reasons. In his July shopping list MacArthur had requested that the Pentagon send him two corps headquarters; but other reinforcements had taken priority, and the first of these headquarters I Corps did not arrive in Korea until mid-August.[9-76]