Eighth Army (United States)

Eighth Army (United States)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Eighth Army

caption=Eighth Army shoulder sleeve insignia
dates= 1944 10 January - Present
country=United States of America
branch=Regular Army
type=Field Army
current_commander=LTG Joseph F. Fil, Jr.
garrison=Yongsan Army Garrison, South Korea
motto=Pacific Victors
battles=World War II
Korean War
notable_commanders=Robert Eichelberger
Walton Walker
Matthew Ridgway

The Eighth Army—often unofficially abbreviated EUSA— is the commanding formation of all US Army troops in South Korea. Its headquarters will eventually be merged with that of the United States Army Pacific in Hawaii.


World War II

The unit first activated on 10 June, 1944 in the United States, being commanded by Lieutenant General Robert Eichelberger. The Eighth Army took part in many of the great amphibious assaults in the Pacific during World War II, eventually participating in no less than sixty. The first mission of the Army, in September 1944, was to take over from the Sixth Army in New Guinea, New Britain, the Admiralties and Morotai, in order to free up Sixth Army for operations in the Philippines.

December saw Eighth Army again following in the wake of Sixth Army, when it took over control of operations on Leyte on December 26. In January, the Eighth Army entered combat on Luzon, landing the XI Corps on 29 January near San Antonio and the 11th Airborne Division on the other side of Manila Bay two days later. Combining with I Corps and XIV Corps of Sixth Army, the forces of Eighth Army then enveloped Manila in a great pincer movement. Eighth Army's final operation of the Pacific War was the clearance of the southern Philippines, including the major island of Mindanao. It was occupied with these operations for the rest of the war.


Eighth Army was to have participated in Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan. It would have taken part in Operation Coronet, the second phase of the invasion, which would have seen the occupation of the Kanto Plain on Honshū. However, instead of invading Japan, Eighth Army found itself in charge of occupying Japan peacefully. Occupation forces landed on 30 August 1945, and Eighth Army assumed responsibility for the occupation of the whole of Japan at the beginning of 1946. Four quiet years then followed. During this time Eighth Army gradually deteriorated from a combat ready fighting force into a soft, minimally trained constabulary. Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker took command in 1948 and tried to re-invigorate the army's training but was largely unsuccessful. This was to have disastrous consequences.

Korean War

had been reactivated in the United States and then shipped over to Korea to control the subordinate divisions of Eighth Army.

The stalemate was broken by the Inchon landings of X Corps. The North Korean forces, when confronted with this enormous threat to their supplies, combined with a breakout operation at Pusan, broke and fled. South Korea was liberated, and North Korea was almost entirely occupied.

However, once American units neared the Yalu River, the frontier between North Korea and China, the Chinese intervened, and drastically changed the character of the war. The Eighth Army was decisively defeated at the Battle of the Chongchon River and forced to retreat all the way back to South Korea. General Walker was killed in a jeep accident and replaced by Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway. The huge manpower reserves of China meant that they steadily drove the American forces south. Although not pushed back to anything like the Pusan perimeter, US forces again lost Seoul, the South Korean capital. The Eighth Army's morale and esprit de corps hit rock bottom. It was widely regarded as a broken, defeated rabble.

General Ridgway forcefully restored Eighth Army to combat effectiveness over several months. Under his leadership, it slowed and finally halted the Chinese advance at the battles of Chipyong-ni and Wonju. It then counter-attacked the Chinese, liberating Seoul and driving communist forces back above the 38th parallel into North Korea, where the front stabilized.

When Ridgway replaced Douglas MacArthur as overall U.N. commander, Lieutenant General James Van Fleet took command of Eighth Army. After the war of movement during the first stages, the fighting settled down to a war of attrition. Ceasefire negotiations were begun at the village of Panmunjom in the summer of 1951 and dragged on for two years. When the ceasefire was finally agreed, Eighth Army had succeeded in its mission of liberating South Korea, but the realities of limited war in a world of nuclear weapons had become obvious. North Korea still survived as a state and the pattern of the next 53 years had been set.

Post Korean War

In the aftermath of the Korean War, Eighth Army remained in Korea, but the forces under its control were steadily reduced as the demands of first Europe and then Vietnam increased. By the 1960s, only I Corps, controlling the 7th and 2nd Infantry Divisions, remained under Eighth Army. In 1971 further reductions occurred. 7th Division was withdrawn, along with I Corps, leaving only 2nd Division to watch the frontier.

The occasional armed clash aside, relations between the two Koreas remained as stable as could be expected. The US forces in South Korea were by the end of the Cold War regarded as a tripwire force, not so much deployed for their military, but their political value. An attack on South Korea by North Korea would mean an attack on the US as well. However, in 2003, plans were announced to move almost all of Eighth Army back from the border. It would mean that the US forces would be more able to operate in a militarily correct fashion, but it would reduce their political value greatly. This provoked a heated debate in South Korea, where the future of Eighth Army is a contentious topic.

The Headquarters of the Eighth Army is located at Yongsan Garrison, but it is scheduled to move south to Camp Humphreys by 2012. Competing with the scheduled move to Camp Humphreys is a possible redeployment of US ground forces from South Korea back to the United States. Tentative plans include the redeployment of Eighth Army to Hawaii where it will merge with US Army Pacific. US Army Pacific and Eighth Army will then serve as the Army component command of US Pacific Command (PACOM). This is akin to the Army merged command structure (i.e. US Army Europe and Seventh Army) that supports US European Command (EUCOM).

Current Composition

Command Group

*Commanding General: Lieutenant General Joseph Fil
*Command Sergeant Major: Command Sergeant Major Robert Winzenried

Current Structure

, South Korea) [ [http://8tharmy.korea.army.mil/ Eighth Army homepage] , accessed August 2008. Note that the actual command relationships of the many formations and units listed on the EUSA site are a little unclear; US Army Corps of Engineers forces, for example, do not generally report to the senior theatre command, but to USACE headquarters in the continental United States.]
* 2nd Infantry Division, (South Korea)
** 1st Brigade Combat Team & Combat Aviation Brigade stationed in Korea; rest of Division in Fort Lewis (Washington)
* 18th Medical Command, (Deployment Support)
* 19th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), (Taegu, South Korea)
** 501st Sustainment Brigade, (Camp Carroll, South Korea)
* [http://8tharmy.korea.army.mil/35ada/ 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade]
*other formations and units

External links and references

* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/8army.htm GlobalSecurity: Eighth Army]
* [http://8tharmy.korea.army.mil/1sig/ 1st Signal Brigade Homepage]
* [http://8tharmy.korea.army.mil/1sig/ 18th Medical Command Homepage]

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