Capital Mechanized Infantry Division (Republic of Korea)
|Active||20 June 1948 - present|
|Country||Republic of Korea|
|Branch||Republic of Korea Army|
|Type||Mechanized infantry division|
|Part of||VII Corps|
|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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Operation Flying Tiger VI, a search and destroy operation with the ARVN in Bình Định Province from 9 to 11 January 1966 kills 192 VC for the loss of 11 ROK
- Operation Masher-White Wing/Thang Phong II, a 1st Regiment search and destroy operation with the 1st Cavalry Division and ARVN 22nd Division and Airborne Brigade in Bình Định Province from 24 January to 6 March 1966 results in 2232 VC killed, 10 ROK are killed
- Operation Mang Ho V, a search and destroy operation in Bình Định Province from 23 to 27 March 1966 results in 349 VC killed for the loss of 17 ROK
- Operation Su Bok in Bình Định Province from 26 March to 23 September 1966 results in 299 VC killed and 88 weapons captured for the loss of 23 ROK
- Operation Bun Kae 66-5 in Bình Định Province from 2 to 13 April 1966 results in 292 VC killed for the loss of 23 ROK
- Operation Bun Kae 66-7 between the Vĩnh Thạnh and Soui Ca Valleys of Bình Định Province from 16 May to 5 June 1966, in conjunction with the 1st Cavalry Division (Operation Crazy Horse) and ARVN results in 501 VC killed
- Operation Bun Kae 66-9 in Pleiku Province from 9 July until mid August 1966 results in 106 VC killed for the loss of 7 ROK
- Operation Mang Ho VI, a search and destroy operation with the 1st Cavalry Division and ARVN 22nd Division in Bình Định Province from 2 to 24 October 1966 results in 240 VC killed
- Operation Mang Ho VIII, a search and clear operation along Route 1 in Phú Yên Province from 3 to 31 January 1967 results in 150 VC killed
- Operation Pershing, a search and destroy operation with the 1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division and ARVN 22nd Division in Bình Định Province from 12 February 1967 to 19 January 1968 results in 5401 NVA/VC killed
- Operation Oh Kak Kyo, to link up the Division's tactical area of responsibility with the 9th Infantry Division in Phú Yên Province from 8 March to 18 April 1967 results in 831 VC killed and 659 weapons captured for the loss of 23 ROK
- Operation Hong Kil Dong, with the 9th Infantry Division in Tuy Hòa Province from 9 July to 21 August 1967, kills 638 NVA for the loss of 26 ROK. 98 crew-served and 359 individual weapons were captured
- Operation Mang Ho IX, a search and destroy operation in Bình Định Province from 17 December 1967 to 31 January 1968 results in 749 VC killed
- Battle near Phu Cat from 23–29 January results in 278 NVA killed for the loss of 11 ROKA. The U.S Army manual on Korean participation in Vietnam states that "[a]n analysis of the action clearly illustrates the Korean technique. After contact with an enemy force... the Koreans reacting swiftly...deployed six companies in an encircling maneuver and trapped the enemy force in their cordon. The Korean troops gradually tightened the circle, fighting the enemy during the day and maintaining their tight cordon at night, thus preventing the enemy's escape. At the conclusion of the sixth day of fighting, 278 NVA had been KIA with the loss of just 11 Koreans, a kill ratio of 25.3 to 1.
- Operation Mang Ho X, a search and destroy operation in Bình Định Province from 16 February to 1 March 1968 results in 664 VC killed
- Operation Baek Ma 9 (Korean for white horse) from 11 October to 4 November 1968 results in 382 NVA killed and the NVA 7th Battalion, 18th Regiment, rendered ineffective. During this operation, on 25 October, the eighteenth anniversary of the Division, 204 of the enemy were killed without the loss of a single Korean soldier.
Commanders during the Vietnam War
- 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
- 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
|Start Date||End Date||Deployed||Combat||KIA||WIA|
|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
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
- 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
- Prince Yi Seok of the defunct Korean Imperial Household volunteered and served as an enlisted man in a regiment in the Division.
- 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.
- Republic of Korea Armed Forces
- Republic of Korea Army
- Korean War
- Vietnam War
- 2nd Marine Brigade
- 9th Infantry Division
- List of massacres in Vietnam
- Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất massacre
- Hà My massacre
- Gò Dài massacre
- Diên Niên - Phước Bình massacre
- Bình Hòa massacre
- Binh Tai Massacre
- Tây Vinh Massacre
- North Korea Invades
- The Korean War: The Outbreak
- The Korean War: The UN Offensive
- ADVANCE INTO NORTH KOREA October 1 to November 22, 1950
- Larsen, Stanley (1985). Allied Participation in Vietnam. Department of the Army. p. 130. ISBN 978-1-4102-2501-6.
- Larsen, p. 135
- Larsen, p. 136
- "Vietnam Studies: Allied Participation in Vietnam, Chapter VI: The Republic of Korea." page 148.
- ROMAD with Korean Tiger Division, DASF's No's 1-7 listed with photos
- Photo of Commanding General of ROKF-V, LTG. Chae Myung Shin
- Photo of a Forward Observation Post (OP) of the 6th Company, ROK Blue Dragon Marine Corp.(2)-Vietnam 1970