Eighth United States Army
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|Eighth United States Army|
Eighth United States Army shoulder sleeve insignia
|Active||10 January 1944 – present|
|Country||United States of America|
|Allegiance||United States Army|
|Garrison/HQ||Yongsan Army Garrison
Yongsan District, Seoul, South Korea
|Engagements||World War II
|LTG John D. Johnson, USA|
Walton H. Walker
James Van Fleet
|Distinctive Unit Insignia|
The Eighth United States Army (EUSA), is a field army, the commanding formation of all United States Army forces in South Korea. A task force of troops which are composed of personnel from the Republic of Korea-United States alliance, it is based in Yongsan Garrison, in the Yongsan District of Seoul, South Korea.
 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 amphibious landings in the Southwest Pacific Theater of World War II, eventually participating in no less than sixty of them. The first mission of the Eighth Army, in September 1944, was to take over from the U.S. Sixth Army in New Guinea, New Britain, the Admiralty Islands and on Morotai, in order to free up the Sixth Army to engage in the Philippines Campaign (1944–45).
The Eighth Army again followed in the wake of the Sixth Army in December, when it took over control of operations on Leyte Island on 26 December. 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 next enveloped Manila in a great double-pincer movement. Eighth Army's final operation of the Pacific War was that of clearing out the southern Philippines of the Japanese Army, including on the major island of Mindanao, an effort that occupied the soldiers of the Eighth Army 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 invasion of the Kanto Plain on eastern Honshū. However, instead of invading Japan, Eighth Army found itself in charge of occupying it peacefully. Occupation forces landed on 30 August 1945, assuming responsibility for occupying all of Japan at the beginning of 1946. Four quiet years then followed, during which the Eighth Army gradually deteriorated from a combat-ready fighting force into a somewhat soft, minimally-trained constabulary. Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker took command in 1948, and he tried to re-invigorate the Army's training, but he was largely unsuccessful. This situation was to have serious consequences in South Korea.
 Korean War
The peace of occupied Japan was shattered in June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea, igniting the Korean War. American naval and air forces quickly became involved in combat operations, and it was soon clear that American ground forces would have to be committed. To stem the North Korean advance, the occupation forces in Japan were thus shipped off to South Korea as quickly as possible, but their lack of training and equipment was telling, as some of the initial American units were destroyed by the North Koreans. However, the stage was eventually reached as enough units of Eighth Army arrived in Korea to make a firm front. The North Koreans threw themselves against that front, the Pusan Perimeter, and failed to break it. In the meantime, Eighth Army had reorganized, since it had too many divisions under its command for it to exercise effective control directly. The I Corps and the IX Corps were reactivated in the United States and then shipped to Korea to assume command of Eighth Army's subordinate divisions.
The stalemate was broken by the Inchon landings of the X Corps (tenth corps, consisting of soldiers and Marines). The North Korean forces, when confronted with this threat to their rear areas, combined with a breakout operation at Pusan, broke away and hastily retired.
Both South and North Korea were almost entirely occupied by United Nations forces. However, once American units neared the Yalu River and the frontier between North Korea and China, the Chinese intervened and drastically changed the character of the war. Eighth Army was decisively defeated at the Battle of the Chongchon River and forced to retreat all the way back to South Korea. The defeat of the U.S. Eighth Army resulted in the longest retreat of any American military unit in history. General Walker was killed in a jeep accident and replaced by Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway. The overstretched Eighth Army suffered heavily with the Chinese offensive, who were able to benefit from shorter lines of communication and with rather casually deployed enemy forces. The Chinese broke through the American defenses despite American air supremacy and the Eighth Army and U.N. forces retreated hastily to avoid encirclement. The Chinese offensive continued pressing American forces, which lost Seoul, the South Korean capital. Eighth Army's morale and esprit de corps hit rock bottom, to where 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, taking Seoul again, and driving the communist forces back above the 38th parallel into North Korea. Next, the front stabilized in the 38th parallel area.
When General Ridgway replaced General of the Army Douglas MacArthur as the overall U.N. commander, Lieutenant General James Van Fleet assumed command of Eighth Army. After the war of movement during the first stages, the fighting in Korea settled down to a war of attrition. Ceasefire negotiations were begun at the village of Panmunjom in the summer of 1951, and they dragged on for two years. When the Military Demarcation Line was finally agreed to by the Korean Armistice Agreement, the Eighth Army had succeeded in its mission of liberating South Korea, but the realities of a limited war in a world of nuclear weapons had become obvious. South Korea and North Korea continued on as separate states.
 Post Korean War
During the aftermath of the Korean War, the Eighth Army remained in South Korea, but the forces under its command were continually reduced as the demands of the U.S. Army in Europe and then the Vietnam War increased. By the 1960s, only the I Corps, consisting of the 7th Infantry Division and the 2nd Infantry Division, remained as part of the Eighth Army. Then, in 1971, further reductions occurred. The 7th Infantry Division was withdrawn from South Korea, along with the command units of I Corps, which were moved across the Pacific Ocean to Ft. Lewis, Washington, leaving only the 2nd Infantry Division to watch the Korean Demilitarized Zone and to assist the South Korean Army in defending South Korea. Besides forming a trip-wire against another North Korean invasion, the 2nd Infantry Division remained there as the only Army unit in South Korea armed with tactical nuclear weapons. (Otherwise, there is only the U.S. Air Force in South Korea and on Okinawa.) All nuclear weapons were taken from the Army to be under Air Force control. Later, all U.S. nuclear weapons were removed from South Korea.
An occasional armed clash aside, relations between the two Koreas remained as stable as could be expected. By the end of the Cold War, the American army and Air Force in South Korea were regarded as a trip-wire force, not so much deployed for their military use but for their political value. An attack on South Korea by North Korea would mean an attack on the U.S. Army as well. However, in 2003, plans were announced to move almost all of the 2nd Infantry Division (Eighth Army) southwards, away from the border. That would in turn reduce its "trip wire" effect. This provoked a heated debate in South Korea, where the future of the Eighth Army is still a contentious topic.
 Current structure
 Command group
- Commanding General: Lieutenant General John D. Johnson
- Command Sergeant Major: Command Sergeant Major Rodney D. Harris
 Current structure
- 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Red Cloud
- 19th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Daegu
- 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Osan Air Base
- 501st Military Intelligence Brigade, Yongsan Garrison
- 1st Signal Brigade, Yongsan Garrison
- 65th Medical Brigade, Yongsan Garrison
- Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, Yongsan Garrison
- Headquarters and Headquarters Company
- Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment
- United Nations Command Honor Guard Company
- Korean Service Corps Battalion, Camp Kim
- U.N. Command Security Battalion, Joint Security Area
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