|On 25 June 1950, the young Cold War suddenly turned hot, bloody and expensive. Within a few days, North Korea's invasion of South Korea brought about a United Nations' "police action" against the aggressors. That immediately produced heavy military and naval involvement by the United States. While there were no illusions that the task would be easy, nobody expected that this violent conflict would continue for more than three years.|
Throughout the summer of 1950, the U.S. and the other involved United Nations' states scrambled to contain North Korea's fast-moving army, assemble the forces necessary to defeat it and simultaneously begin to respond to what was seen as a global military challenge from the Communist world.
Though America's Armed Forces had suffered from several years' of punishing fiscal constraints, the end of World War II just five years earlier had left a vast potential for recovery.
U.S. materiel reserves held large quantities of relatively modern ships, aircraft, military equipment and production capacity that could be reactivated in a fraction of the time necessary to build them anew. More importantly, the organized Reserve forces included tens of thousands of trained people, whose World War II experiences remained reasonably fresh and relevant.
In mid-September 1950 a daring amphibous invasion at Inchon fractured the North Korean war machine. In the following two months UN armies pushed swiftly through North Korea. However, with victory seemingly in sight, China intervened openly, and the Soviet Union not-so-openly, on the side of their defeated fellow Communist neighbor.
The UN was thrown back midway into South Korea. Early in the new year, the Chinese army was in turn contained and forced to retreat.
By the middle of 1951, the front lines had stabilized near where the war started twelve months earlier. Negotiations began amid hopes that an early truce could be arranged. But this took two more frustrating years, during which the contending forces fought on, with the U.S. Navy providing extensive air and gunfire support, a constant amphibious threat, relentless minesweeping and a large logistics effort.
Finally, on 27 July 1953, with a new regime in the USSR and the blunting of a final Communist offensive, negotiations concluded and fighting ended. However, the Cold War, considerably warmed up by the Korean experience, would would maintain its costly existence for nearly four more decades.