Capital Mechanized Infantry Division (Republic of Korea)

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Capital Division
Capital Division (South Korea).gif
Active 20 June 1948 - present
Country  Republic of Korea
Branch Republic of Korea Army
Type Mechanized infantry division
Role Offensive force
Part of VII Corps
Nickname Maengho (Tiger)
Engagements Korean War
Vietnam War
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Lt. Gen. Chae Myung-shin

The Capital Mechanized Infantry Division (hangul: 수도기계화보병사단; hanja:首都機械化步兵師團), also known as Tiger Division (hangul:맹호사단; hanja:猛虎師團), is currently one of the five mechanized infantry divisions in the Republic of Korea Army. It is part of the VII Corps, 3rd ROK Army (TROKA), tasked with covering approaches to Seoul from North Korea and counterattack operations.

This division saw extensive combat both during the Korean War and the Vietnam War, where it was despatched in September 1965, as a part of the Republic of Korea's contribution to the South Vietnamese war effort. The 1965 deployment became possible when in August of that year the Republic of Korea's National Assembly passed a bill authorizing the action. Recently, elements of this division were sent as Republic of Korea's contribution to the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq.

History[edit]

Korean War[edit]

The Capital Division was a military formation of the Republic of Korea Army during the 20th Century. It was formed June 20, 1948 from the Capital Security Command. Included in the new division was the 1st Cavalry Regiment which was equipped with twenty-four M8 and M20 armored cars plus twelve M3 halftracks.[1]

Became part of I Corps after the first fall of Seoul.

Was part of the defensive line to slow the North Korean advance from Seoul to Taejon.

Fought in the Battle of Pusan Perimeter.[2]

On September 16, 1950, in the I Corps sector, elements of the Capital Division fought their way through the streets of Angang-ni. The next day, advancing from the west in the II Corps sector, a battalion of the 7th Division linked up with elements of the Capital Division, closing a two-week-old gap between the ROK I and II Corps. The NKPA’s 12th Division waged a series of stubborn delaying actions against the Capital Division in the vicinity of Kigye as the North Koreans retreated northward into the mountains. Kigye fell back under South Korean control on September 22, 1950.[3]

On September 29, a message, dropped from a light plane by an officer with the Military Advisory Group to the Republic of Korea, was delivered to the U.S. adviser to the ROK 3rd Division, Lt. Col. Rollins S. Emmerich. According to the message, the ROK 3rd Division was to cross the 38th Parallel and proceed to Wonsan as soon as possible. The next day the division crossed the parallel and advanced up the east coast. The Capital Division followed. After establishing command posts at Yangyang, eight miles (13 km) north of the parallel, on October 2, both divisions proceeded to Wonsan and captured the town on the tenth, well before the X Corps had landed.

On October 17, 1950, the Capital Division captures Hamhung and its port, Hungnam.[4]

On October 28, 1950, in far northeast Korea, a"flying column" from the Capital Division captures Songjin, 105 miles (169 km) northeast of Hungnam. Meanwhile the Capital Division's 1st Regiment approached Pungsan, a town inland approximately halfway between the coast and Korea-China border on Iwon-Cinch'ong-ni-Hyesanjin road.

Vietnam War[edit]

The Capital Division arrived in South Vietnam on September 22, 1965. The Division was deployed just outside of Qui Nhơn in Bình Định Province, from where it could protect vital arteries such as Route 1 and Route 19, as well as rice-growing areas and foothills to the north and west.[5]

The 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division was stationed in the Qui Nhơn area prior to the arrival of the Capital Division and gradually turned over responsibility for the area during October 1965.[6]

By June 1966 the Capital Division controlled all the area north of Qui Nhơn to the east of Route 1 and up to the base of Phù Cát Mountain. It extended its control also to the north and south of Route 19 up to the pass leading into An Khê. Working south along Highway 1 down toward Tuy Hoa and within Bình Định Province, the Division sent out reconnaissance parties and carried out small operations as far south as the border between Bình Định Province and Phú Yên Province.[7]

Korean soldiers that volunteered for service in Vietnam were given bonuses: they would “receive credit for three years of military duty for each year served in Vietnam as well as additional monetary entitlements; further, combat duty would enhance their future Army careers.”

All the ROKA units sent to Vietnam (the Tiger Division, White Horse Division and (Blue Dragon) Brigade) were chosen because they were considered to have the longest and best records from the Korean War.

The Tigers were considered uncanny for their ability to search territory and smoke out enemy soldiers and weapons. They would plan operations meticulously and sometimes even rehearse it beforehand. The soldiers would seal off a relatively small area, no more than 9 or 10 square kilometers. Troops would be brought in by air and land, but would arrive at the same time to maximize the chokehold. Slowly but surely the cordon would be tightened, and everyone and everything would be searched. Civilians were separated and interrogated, routinely offered rewards if they cooperated. It was not unusual for an area to be searched three or four times by different platoons. To prevent enemy breakouts, the Koreans had special reaction forces that could plug holes in the perimeter. General William R. Peers considered the Koreans the best at these so-called "cordon and search operations."

The Division returned home March 11, 1973.

Significant operations and actions involving the Division include:

Commanders during the Vietnam War[edit]

  • Aug 1965- Sep 1966 Maj. Gen. Chae Myung-shin
  • Sep 1966- Sep 1967 Maj.Gen. Yu Byung-hyun
  • Maj. Gen. Chung Sun-min
  • Oct 1968-Nov 1969 Maj. Gen. Yun Pil-yung
  • Maj. Gen. Kim Hak-won
  • Maj. Gen. Yi Hee-sung
  • Maj. Gen. Chung Duk-man

Order of battle during Vietnam War[edit]

  • Divisional Headquarters and Headquarters Company
  • Cavalry Regiment, composed of three infantry battalions
  • 1st Infantry Regiment, composed of three infantry battalions
  • 26th Infantry Regiment, composed of three infantry battalions
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, Division Artillery
  • 10th Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
  • 60th Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
  • 61st Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
  • 628th Field Artillery Battalion (155 mm)
  • Divisional Engineer Battalion
  • Armor company
  • Reconnaissance Company
  • Signal Company
  • Military Police Company
  • Medical Company
  • Ordnance Company
  • Quartermaster Company
  • Replacement Company
  • Aviation Section

Unit statistics for the Vietnam War[edit]

Start Date End Date Deployed Combat KIA WIA
Officer Non-officer Total Large Small Total Officer Non-officer Total Officer Non-officer Total
October 22, 1965 March 7, 1973 7,652 107,340 114,992 521 174,586 175,107 186 1,925 2,111 246 4,228 4,474
  • US Units that served alongside the Tiger Division were numerous and included:
9th Division Black Panthers.
504th Military Police Battalion, C Company

Current Status[edit]

The Tiger Division was reorganized in 1980s to parallel the reorganization taking place in United States Army at the same time. The "regiments" of the older organization were replaced by "brigades," consisting of both armor and mechanized infantry components. The 1st and Cavalry regiments were reorganized to include two mechanized infantry battalions and an armored battalion each, while the 26th regiment became an armored brigade with two armored battalions and a mechanized infantry battalion.

Current Order of Battle[edit]

  • 1 Brigade (Mechanized Infantry)
    • 1 Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company
    • 102 Mechanized Infantry Battalion
    • 133 Mechanized Infantry Battalion
    • 17 Tank Battalion
  • Cavalry Brigade (Mechanized Infantry)
    • Cavalry Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company
    • 101 Mechanized Infantry Battalion
    • 122 Mechanized Infantry Battalion
    • 18 Tank Battalion
  • 26 Brigade (Mechanized Infantry)(Armored)
    • 26 Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company
    • 8 Tank Battalion
    • 35 Tank Battalion
    • 103 Mechanized Infantry Battalion
  • Division Artillery Brigade
    • Division Artillery Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Battery
    • 10 Artillery Battalion (K55 155mm)
    • 60 Artillery Battalion (K55 155mm)
    • 61 Artillery Battalion (K55 155mm)
    • 808 Artillery Battalion (k9 155mm)
  • Signal Battalion
  • Armored Reconnaissance Battalion
  • Combat Engineer Battalion
  • Air Defense Artillery Battalion
  • Support Transport Battalion
  • Medical Battalion
  • Chemical Battalion
  • Military Police Battalion
  • Training Battalion

Trivia[edit]

  • Prince Yi Seok of the defunct Korean Imperial Household volunteered and served as an enlisted man in a regiment in the Division.[citation needed]
  • 8th Battalion, 26th Armored Brigade, Tiger Division, was the first unit to receive the K-1 MBT in 1988.
  • The Tiger Division is mentioned in the book Chickenhawk, by Robert Mason.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]