Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War

Establishment; 3,871 in Special Assignment; and 5,492 who were hospitalized,
imprisoned or otherwise incapacitated. In the Operating Forces, the FMF at this time
numbered 27,703 men; security detachments 11,087; and 1,574 Marines were on sea-
duty. The FMF was divided between FMFPac (Fleet Marine Force Pacific) and FMFLant
(Fleet Marine Force Atlantic). FMFPac numbered 11,853; 7,779 of which were in the 1st
Mar Div (based in Camp Pendleton, California), and 3,733 of which made up the 1st
MAW. The other 15,803 Marines were in FMFLant: 8,973 in the 2nd Mar Div (based in
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina), 5,297 in the 2d MAW. Since the wartime strength of a
reinforced Mar Div was then from 22-26,000 men, it is obvious that the entire FMF
barely had enough numbers to constitute one full strength division, much less two (later,
the Douglas-Mansfield Act of 1952, which amended the National Security Act, included
a third division in the Marine Corps's strength, based in Okinawa). In addition, the
Marine Corps had a total of 128,959 reserve Marines (about twice as many as the
Marines then on active duty) - a force the Corps relied on, in planning for a war, to
expand the peacetime establishment to war strength. By the end of the war, Marines
had suffered 26,043 casualties with 4,262 dead, but the Marine Corps's total strength
had been rebuilt to a total of 230,488 on active duty.8
8Lynn Montross, et al., Marine Operations in Korea Vol. II, 20-21; James Donovan, U.S. Marine Corps,
65. "In basic combat units this pitifully small figure equated to three infantry battalions and three tactical
aircraft squadrons on the West Coast and three infantry battalions and four tactical aircraft squadrons on
the East Coast. All of these formations, plus units of supporting artillery, engineers, tanks, air control, and
supply were gravely understrength. Despite the [Secretary of Defense Louis]Johnson austerities,
however, the Marines had managed to attain a respectable state of training .... Put in other terms, on 25
June when the North Korean blitz of some 75,000 men drove south across the 38th Parallel, the Marines'
existing air/ground expeditionary force was tiny and emaciated. But what there was of it was ready to go..
. To... provide a reinforced regiment and a Marine aircraft group at anything approaching full war
strength . . would take the bulk of the Fleet Marine Force resources on the West Coast. Only bits and
pieces would be left of the 1st Marine Division and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. Realistically, however, that is
what they were there for." - Victor Krulak, First to Fight: An Inside View of the United States Marine Corps
(Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1984): 122-24.

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Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/. Accessed May 26, 2015.