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

Enemy tactics were sound and well-executed. Contrary to the popular
conception of the enemy as "a screaming horde," the NK and CC Forces were
well-coordinated fighting machines. Enemy attacks showed considerable prior
planning and good judgment for the most part.
... Tactics employed were similar to Western tactics; especially, the old
Patton adage of "holding them by the nose and kicking them in the pants."
Envelopments were widely used. It is believed that air superiority, fire-power, and
mobility of the UN Forces provided the difference between the two forces.
Defensively, the enemy used the same tactics, on the whole, as UN
Forces; namely, that of trading terrain in an effort to gain time and inflict
maximum losses on the opposition.18
Communist soldiers did not get to rotate home after a few months on the line like
the Americans did. They either fought and survived, or they died, so those who were
veterans had much experience to draw on. The NKPA was known for outstanding
camouflage discipline, brought on as a necessity to avoid being spotted from the air.
Both his positions and his personnel were very difficult to see if not silhouetted by a
skyline, or in some other manner breaching that camouflage discipline. "They have
been forced to perfect this skill as a direct result of a lack of air support."19
The NKPA enemy used counterattacks extensively and according to his doctrine.
"North Korean defensive doctrine holds that only a well-timed and determined
counterattack can achieve eventual victory in a defensive situation. Commanders of
smaller subordinate units are therefore encouraged to launch continuous small-scale
counterattacks against penetrations in their sector. . . ." The counterattacks were "an
integral part of their defensive system and were used for various purposes: (1) to blunt
* Headquarters EUSAK, "Enemy Tactics," 128.
19 U. S. IX Corps, "Enemy Tactics, Techniques, and Doctrine," 6.


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. Accessed July 29, 2016.