Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War Page: 322
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to the UN line. The ultimate decision in the war, after the Spring of 1951, would come
not from the guns of the fighting forces, but from the pens of negotiators.46
However, it is doubtful that the infantryman on the ground had realized the
foregoing at this point in the war. Most men knew the Communists had walked out of
negotiations. In their minds, that meant the war was back on in the same way as before
Kaesong. It was a turning point in morale and the nature of the war in the eyes of the
men fighting it.
The men's not knowing they were fighting for a line rather than the more
traditional and cultural objective of destroying the enemy's armed forces changed in the
fifth phase of the war (this battle was in the fourth phase). Here both sides had resigned
themselves to military stalemate in exchange for diplomatic firefights of words and
propaganda on the one hand, while casualties continued to mount on the other to hold
and adjust the line already in hand. Here, the men realized the talks would drag on
indefinitely, and that their lives when lost on the battlefield would be lost for seemingly
useless gains or just the status quo. This was a most disheartening prospect, and the
state of morale in EUSAK became a real problem for the rest of the war. It became the
tendency among more and more troops to fight not for the overall mission in Korea, not
for the cause, but simply to survive one's tour or protect ones companions on the line, to
avoid dying and simply await rotation home. There was no longer any vision of purpose
that commanders could hold up before their men's eyes as a motivation for the combat
and to inspire them. The decision to fight and negotiate simultaneously with the
emphasis on the latter at the expense of the former, had robbed them of that.
46 Burton Kaufman, The Korean War, Chapter Five.
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Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War, thesis, August 2007; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/m1/337/?rotate=90: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .