Biography

Roberts, William Lynn,
[BGen Chief KMAG]

biography  biography

 


(1890 1968)


1935 - 1936 Commanding Officer 3rd Battalion, 66th Infantry Regiment

1937 - 1940 Executive Officer, 21st Infantry Brigade

1940 - 1941 Professor of Military Science & Tactics, The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina

1940 - 1941 Commandant of Cadets, The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina

1941 - 1942 Commanding Officer 36th Armored Infantry Regiment

1942 - 1943 Instructor at the Command & General Staff School

1943 Attached to 20th Armored Division

1943 - 1945 Commanding Officer Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division
[North West Europe]

1945 - 1946 Assistant Commanding General 4th Armored Division

1946 Commanding General 4th Armored Division

1946 Assistant Commanding General 9th Division

1946 - 1947 Commanding Officer Fort Huachuca, Arizona

1947 - 1948 Chief of Dist World War Dead Program

1948 - 1949 Chief of the US Army Military Government in Korea

1949 - 1950 Chief of Military Advisory Group to Korea 1950 Retired

 

Biography

Roberts,William Lynn .Cielf_of_KMAG_USA

The Forgotten War : America in Korea, 1950-1953Clay BlairNaval Institure Press, 219 Wood Road, Annapolis, Marylandpage 51-52

http://www.generals.dk/general/Roberts/William_Lynn/USA.html
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biography


In South Korea Lynn Roberts, chief of KMAG, had initiated a training program for the ROK Army which, by a remarkable coincidence, ran almost exactly parallel to that of Walker's Eighth Army.


Then fifty-nine years old, Roberts had been "passed over" for promotion to two stars, and as a result, he faced mandatory retirement in July 1950. His Army career had been undistinguished. He was a West Pointer (1913) who was an infantryman in World War I and a tanker in World War II. In the latter war many of his classmates were two-star generals commanding divisions, and two were corps commanders. But by December 1944 Roberts was still only a colonel commanding a combat unit of the 10th Armored Division. He finished the war with one star, serving as assistant commander of the 4th Armored Division.[2-53]


Having been passed over and facing retirement, Roberts might well have sat back and enjoyed himself. But he elected the opposite course. Like Johnnie Walker, Roberts seemed suddenly obsessed with a kind of messianic zeal to field a credible army in the one year of active service he had left.


He, too, faced a difficult challenge. By this time the ROK Army had grown to about 100,000 men. As planned, 35,000 were assigned to headquarters and service outfits and 65,000 to the eight infantry divisions authorized and equipped by Washington. The American equipment, supplies, and spare parts were running out at an alarming rate, and there was little hope for substantial replacements from Washington. Rhee provided some uniforms, ammo, and other gear from newly established South Korean factories, but this placed a heavy strain on the chaotic economy. The upshot was not only inferior equipment but also a chronic shortage of everything from beans to bullets - especially bullets. The embryonic, untrained ROK units were wasting millions of rounds of ammo in operations against bandits and guerrillas all over South Korea.[2-54]


There was another serious problem: the uneven quality and integrity in the ROK Army officer corps. This was led by the thirty-six-year-old chief of staff, Major General Chae Byong Duk, who was five feet five inches and weighed an unmilitary 250 pounds. The majority of ROK officers were patriotic and dedicated, but the corps became a haven for too many venal opportunists who used their newly acquired power for personal gain. Among this element theft, bribery, blackmail, and kickbacks were commonplace.[2-55]


The ROK enlisted manpower was also a problem. It was mostly raw, and the majority was illiterate. There were no military phrases in the Korean language, such as "sector," "zone," "phase line," "regiment," "squad." A language had to be improvised, and the result was usually cumbersome or faintly comical: A machine gun became "a-gun-that-shoots-very-fast," and a vehicle headlight became "a-candle-in-a-shiny-bowl." Such transliterations made radio communications, encoding, or written instructions a nightmare. Oriental pride, or "face," greatly complicated and often undermined the training. An inexperienced or incompetent ROK noncommissioned officer (NCO) who gave an incorrect or foolish order could not openly admit to a mistake, nor could he be "advised" or "corrected" in the traditional direct American Army way without disastrous "loss of face."[2-56]


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After conducting army wide tests, Roberts and his men decided they had to start training from scratch, beginning with squad level marching drills and individual qualification on the rifle range. The plan was to progress gradually from squad level training to platoon level, then on up the line to company, battalion, and regiment level, and finally to division level training. This plan was vastly complicated by the fact that the eight infantry divisions of the ROK Army were already deployed in the fields[2-57]


Roberts did his utmost. He established several technical schools and sent his advisers to serve with the various regiments and battalions to begin and oversee basic training. But progress was slow. In KMAG's first six months - July through December 1949 - fewer than half the men in the sixty-seven ROK battalions qualified in using the M1 rifle. Only thirty battalions had progressed from squad to platoon to company level exercises. Less than one-third of the battalions were sufficiently advanced to begin battalion level exercises. Even so, Roberts remained unflinchingly optimistic.[2-58]


In all this nothing was more vitally important than the tactical disposition of the four ROK divisions at the 38th Parallel. Whether they were adequately trained or not, it was believed the mere presence of these divisions could provide a deterrent to an NKPA invasion. Accordingly, KMAG personnel applied tedious hours of study to the "traditional" or "likely" invasion routes and advised ROK dispositions accordingly.

Roberts, William Lynn, Brigadier-General (1890 1968)


1935 - 1936 Commanding Officer 3rd Battalion, 66th Infantry Regiment

1937 - 1940 Executive Officer, 21st Infantry Brigade

1940 - 1941 Professor of Military Science & Tactics, The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina 1

940 - 1941 Commandant of Cadets, The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina

1941 - 1942 Commanding Officer 36th Armored Infantry Regiment

1942 - 1943 Instructor at the Command & General Staff School

1943 Attached to 20th Armored Division

1943 - 1945 Commanding Officer Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division
[North West Europe]

1945 - 1946 Assistant Commanding General 4th Armored Division

1946 Commanding General 4th Armored Division

1946 Assistant Commanding General 9th Division

1946 - 1947 Commanding Officer Fort Huachuca, Arizona

1947 - 1948 Chief of Dist World War Dead Program

1948 - 1949 Chief of the US Army Military Government in Korea

1949 - 1950 Chief of Military Advisory Group to Korea

1950 Retired

June 25, 1950

All that day, Sunday, [3-6/25 ] Washington planners and policymakers huddled in urgent conferences. These early discussions were influenced to no small degree by the Roberts-Muccio view that the ROK Army was the best army in Asia and could handle the NKPA. That belief was reinforced that day by a memo from Bradley to the JCS. During his recent trip to Tokyo he had spent nearly an hour on June 20 in conference with Lynn Roberts, who was in Tokyo on his way home to retirement. In this private soldier-to-soldier talk, Roberts had assured Bradley the ROK Army could "meet any test the North Koreans imposed on it." Bradley memoed the JCS for planning purposes:

 "After my talk with General Roberts, I am of the opinion that South Korea will not fall in the present attack unless the Russians actively participate in the action.[3-12]

 

[3-12] A generals life

The confidence in the ROKs was reinforced by an urgent cable from John Muccio. Owing to the departure of Roberts (not yet replaced) and KMAG Chief of Staff W. H. Sterling Wright (in Tokyo, also preparing to go home), Muccio had assumed the role of military adviser to the ROK Army.

"Ammunition is critically needed," he wrote, "to meet situation. . . ."

He had simultaneously asked MacArthur to ship him a ten-day supply immediately and begged Acheson to "back up" his request. Not to do so would be "catastrophic," he went on, concluding on this upbeat note:

 "I am confident that if adequately supplied, ROK security forces will fight bravely and with distinction.[3-13]

June 25, 1950

Misled by  Roberts and Muccio, MacArthur and his GHQ continued to take a casual view of the situation in South Korea. On the first day of the alert Acheson's special representative John Foster Dulles, who was in Tokyo working on the Japanese peace treaty and who had recently visited South Korea, called on MacArthur to express his concern. Curiously MacArthur told Dulles the exact opposite of what his G2, Willoughby, had told the Pentagon: that the NKPA attack was "not an all-out effort" to subjugate South Korea. He went on to assure Dulles confidently that the ROK Army "would gain victory." In a memo describing this encounter and his ensuing experience in Tokyo, Dulles wrote that two full days elapsed before GHQ realized the NKPA attack was "serious."[3-22]

[When did MacArthur first go to Korea?] June 28th

June 25, 1950

The superiority of the North Korean Army over the South Korean in these several respects was not generally recognized, however, by United States military authorities before the invasion. In fact, there was the general feeling, apparently shared by Brig. Gen. William L. Roberts, Chief of KMAG, on the eve of invasion that if attacked from North Korea the ROK Army would have no trouble in repelling the invaders.

June 25, 0600

biography

 

When Paik began issuing orders, his three regiments were disposed as follows.

The 12th was at the parallel near Kaesŏng, outflanked by the train borne NKPA soldiers and apparently overrun.

The 13th was about fifteen miles east of Kaesŏng [near Korangp'o-ri] and

the 11th was in reserve near Sŏul.

[The 11th Regiment moved rapidly and in good order from Suisak and took position on the left of the 13th Regiment]

Paik ordered the 11th to move rapidly forward to positions behind the Imjin River. For the next two days the 11th and 13th ROK regiments would fight valiantly at the Imjin in a vain attempt to hold back nearly two full NKPA divisions, whose attack was led by a battalion of T-34 Russian tanks.[2-79]

biography

This NKPA attack was powerful and determined, but the main attack came as expected, in the Uijŏngbu Corridor. Two full NKPA divisions, each spearheaded by forty T34 tanks and other mechanized vehicles and supported by 120mm howitzers, hit the ROK 7th Division. The ROKs reeled, recovered, then mounted a surprisingly stout defense.

biography

As planned, Sŏul ordered the 2nd Division to move rapidly forward from Taejŏn to reinforce this critical corridor. But the 2nd could not get there in time. The 7th was forced to give way. It fell back on Uijŏngbu, thereby exposing the right flank of Paik's 1st Division, which was holding along the Imjin River, and forcing Paik to fall back toward Sŏul. [not for two days, I hope]

biography

Farther east, in the hills of mid-Korea, elements of two other NKPA divisions simultaneously struck the ROK 6th Division. As with Paik's 1st, only two regiments were on the line; but as it happened, he had not issued any weekend passes, and these regiments were at full strength. Besides that, the ROK 6th Division had unusually good artillery units. Its forward elements, some fighting from concrete pillboxes, held, giving the commanders time to rush the reserve regiment forward from Wŏnju, forty miles south. The division inflicted harsh casualties on the NKPA regiments and might have held longer, but the collapse of the ROK 7th Division at Uijŏngbu exposed its distant left flank, also forcing it to withdraw.

There were two other subsidiary D day NKPA attacks on the extreme flanks.

biography

West of Paik's 1st Division, on the Ongjin peninsula, which juts into the Yellow Sea, a strong NKPA force attacked the lone 17th ROK Regiment, commanded by Paik's younger brother. One ROK battalion was overrun and decimated, but the other two evacuated as planned (the ROKs correctly did not consider the peninsula defensible) on three LST's.

biography

On the opposite side of Korea, on the mountainous east coast bordering the Sea of Japan, the NKPA simultaneously hit the widely dispersed and under strength ROK 8th Division, both frontally and by multiple amphibious assaults on its coastal flanks. Caught in a well executed land-sea envelopment, the division was powerless to mount an effective defense, and was soon forced to withdraw.

biography

During these well planned and well executed quadruple assaults the NKPA Air Force was out in full force, about 100 planes. Some of the bombers attacked Sŏul and its airport, Kimp'o, causing panic among the civilians. Some of the fighters bombed and strafed ROK Army forces. But the NKPA Air Force's contribution to the battle was slight. Contrary to the predictions of Roberts and Muccio, the ROK soldiers did not panic; they all but ignored the planes. Of far greater menace and effectiveness were the Russian T34 tanks. The NKPA made a mockery of Roberts's judgment that Korea was "not good tank country." The T34s rolled southward, easily and relentlessly, creating terror and panic among most ROK units. But not all. About ninety of Paik's 1st Division troopers died valiantly in suicidal attempts to destroy the tanks with satchel charges and other makeshift explosive devices.