Army Quartermaster Museum - Fort Lee, Virginia

Winter Program Planning Korea
by Lt. Col. Vincent L. Corrado, Q.M.C.
Quartermaster Review January-February 1954

SELF preservation is the greatest single motivating factor in man's existence. Physiologists, for the most part, agree that when survival is the prime issue, protection from the elements takes precedence over food. Pampered by the luxuries of today, the human body is considered to be exceedingly frail. However, with proper protection, it can endure extreme hardship and function adequately under the most adverse conditions. Expansive research is being conducted to provide protection for the frontline soldier against the inconsistencies of nature. Great strides have been made in this field since the termination of World War II. Many of the valuable discoveries developed jointly by the Quartermaster Corps and cooperative industries in the United States have been put to test in the frozen valleys and bleak hills of Korea.

The Quartermaster Corps, Army Forces Far East, as part of its mission, must furnish the frontline soldier in Korea with the clothing, equipment and food necessary to maintain maximum fighting potential. Supplies must be available in sufficient quantities at the proper place and at the required time.

The Quartermaster Corps Winter Issue Program for 1952-53 was fraught with many problems and in most cases the solution required the cooperation of all supply personnel. To illustrate the type of difficulty encountered, the 443rd QM Base Depot in Korea, charged with the receipt, storage and issue of Class II and IV supplies to units of the Eighth Army for the winter of 1952-53, was simultaneously receiving and issuing supplies from the same storage areas. Limited storage space, shortages of personnel and inconsistent arrival of supplies created problems that were solved only by long hours of work and expeditious issuance of supplies.

Due to changes in the tactical situation, the Eighth Army Quartermaster was confronted with problems concerning the issuance of winter clothing on a priority basis to the northernmost units. In one such change, a unit with top priority for supply was moved into reserve in an area far to the south. It was replaced by a unit which had been in reserve and had not been scheduled for early issue of winter clothing.

The resulting situation could have been prevented if supplies had been available in sufficient quantities to make priority allocation unnecessary.

In late 1952, one of the popular weekly news reviews reported that frontline troops in Korea were being supplied with winter issue clothing and equipment efficiently and expeditiously. This is evidence that Quartermasters at all levels gave highest priority to supplies for the man in the foxhole. Reports of staff visits, supply correspondence and personal observation of the 1952-53 Winter Issue Program prove that frontline troops have been adequately supplied despite the many problems encountered. To prevent a recurrence of these difficulties, however, the Quartermaster, AFFE, directed that action be taken to insure a well-regulated program for the winter of 1953-54. Theater planning along these lines began in November, 1952.

Definite consideration had to be given to rotation of personnel particularly in Korea. It was not uncommon to have one officer accomplish the planning of an operation and his successor attempt to carry out the program. As a consequence, newly-assigned officers often injected ideas entirely foreign to previously completed plans. This led to the conclusion that a complete and detailed documentation of the plans and operating procedures at all levels must be developed. Newly-assigned personnel would then be able to assimilate quickly current and projected plans.

The AFFE Quartermaster emphasized the fact that the liberal exchange of information and ideas between key personnel concerned had to be reduced to a talk it-over basis. This axiom was placed in actual practice in early December 1952 at a conference held in Japan to discuss winter clothing requirements for the 1953-54 winter season. The conference was attended by key Quartermaster officers from Japan and Korea. Actions contemplated for the 1953-54 winter season were discussed in detail, including the turn-in and rehabilitation of winter clothing during the 1952-53 winter season. Each conferee had an opportunity to explain his plan.

The outcome of the meeting was the publication on 16 December 1953 of a supply directive which established responsibilities and announced policies applicable to the determination of requirements, requisitioning, storage, and issue of clothing and individual equipment for the 1953-54 winter season.

Although T/A 21 (Mbl) is the prescribed basis for the supply of individual clothing and equipment in Korea, the development of new uniform items, local geographical characteristics, and preferences on the part of field commanders and troops have made necessary the modification of these authorizations.

Troop dispositions in Korea necessitated a change in the definition of A, B and C troop classes in T/A 21 (Mbl). The definition adopted made possible a clear-cut determination of requirements by classes, and will facilitate requisitioning and distribution by the various units. The definitions adopted were as follows:

Class A-Those units which normally operate in the division area of the combat zone.

Class B-Those units which normally operate within that portion of the corps area which is to the rear of the division area of the combat zone.

Class C-Those units which normally operate in that portion of the Army area which is to the rear of the corps area of the combat zone.

Class D and E-Definitions are as prescribed in TIA 21 (Mbl).

The supply directive also announced the bases to be considered. These bases included the allowances, replacement factors, number of months each item was to be used and the troop strength. The troop strength was developed from the latest available troop basis and in coordination with the theater general staff.

A control for the distribution of items to troops was established by placing each authorized item into one of four phases, each phase corresponding to a specific distribution period. Phase-I items include those items required to provide protection during the early fall chills and are to be distributed beginning 1 September. Phase-II items are to be distributed beginning 15 September, with additional items provided as the temperature drops. Remaining cold-weather clothing is to be distributed beginning 15 October as Phase-III items. Phase-IV items consist primarily of snow gear and are to be available on demand after 15 October. The actual distribution to troops is determined finally at unit and organizational level and is based on actual weather conditions. Specific instructions were issued concerning the application of substitute items in the development of net requirements. A table of authorized substitutes was prepared and distributed with the supply directive.

Conference discussion included the issuance of new olive-green uniforms during the 1952-53 winter. As far as possible, the initial issue was made with the old style olive-drab trousers and shirts. The popularity and troop acceptability of the new olive-green items however, exceeded all expectations, and it became increasingly difficult to move the olive drab trousers and flannel shirts. The two types of shirts and trousers created an undesirable situation in that many troops were, in time, clothed in a mixture of uniform items. Nevertheless, maximum use was made of the olive drab trousers and shirts. Plans for the 1953-54 season call for a complete issue of olive-green shirts and trousers to all troops in Korea.

The conference also brought before supply personnel the difficulties encountered in the different sizing systems. Olive-green trousers are sized adjectivally, whereas the olive-drab trousers are sized numerically. Experience in Korea during the past winter has demonstrated conclusively that the sizing systems are not-interchangeable unless complete and detailed instructions are available to issuing and requisitioning agencies at the operational level. It was concluded that to provide a man with trousers that fit, it is necessary to maintain two separate requisitioning and size distribution systems. Similar problems were encountered in the distribution of the olive-green and flannel shirts.

A clear understanding of applicable tables to be used at all echelons of supply is essential. Supply directives listed replacement factors to be used in preparing requirements, applicable tariffs, and special tariffs. This information is to be applied to returns from the previous winter when processed through reclamation facilities both in Korea and Japan. In developing the amounts of available stocks to be applied against the over-all theater requirement for the 1953-54 winter-issue program, it was necessary to deduct from the stocks available, as of a cut-off date, those items which would be issued during the remainder of the 1952-53 season. The amounts remaining were applied as assets against the 1953-54 requirement. The development of net requirements was accomplished jointly by the Quartermaster Section, Headquarters, AFFE, and the Tokyo Quartermaster Depot.

Specific requisitioning and shipping requirements were prescribed in order to control the flow of clothing into Korea and to integrate outshipments from Japan to Korea with ship arrivals from the Zone of Interior. The arrival of required supplies into depots in Korea well before the time for distribution will insure adequate issue to troops. It will also enable depots to maintain sufficient stocks on hand to supply all units with immediate requirements for cold-weather operations.

The Korean Communications Zone was directed to submit separate requisitions for initial issue and 60-day maintenance requirements for Eighth Army and KCOMZ troops. These requisitions were further segregated into the four issue phases. Although several requisitions were required, the advantage of close control far offsets any disadvantages that might otherwise result. The submission of separate requisitions will assist greatly in shipping out to the two major ports in Korea, thereby placing supplies at the port nearest the ultimate consumer. As each requisition will call for a specific port of discharge, considerable time will be saved by the Tokyo QM Depot in setting up shipments.

Consideration was given to the supply of used and non-standard items along with new items of supply. Priority on new items will be given to frontline units. Maximum utilization is planned for the issue of all used serviceable items.

A detailed timetable of actions and target dates was included in the supply directive. This timetable. in effect, summarizes the actions required on the part of supply agencies. For example, items to be supplied in Phase I were scheduled to arrive in Korea not later than 1 August 1953, to be available for issue to units by 1 September 1953. Such detailed planning will give the 443rd QM Base Depot in the Eighth Army area time to receive and edit requisitions.

Gross requirements forwarded by the Korean Communications Zone for all troops in Korea were received in the Quartermaster Section, Headquarters, AFFE, the latter part of December 1952. Two requisitions were prepared and submitted to the Zone of Interior. One, for items necessary for initial issue and 60-day maintenance, and the second for remaining maintenance requirements. Shipments to Korea by the Tokyo Quartermaster Depot will be made on this same basis.

In the development of quantities anticipated to be returned from classification and reclamation facilities, projections were based on quantities estimated to be in the hands of troops at the conclusion of the 1952-53 winter season to which reclamation factors were applied. Tariff tables, prepared for this activity, take into consideration the element of shrinkage brought about by repeated washings of an item. Based on the assumption that the rehabilitation process would produce only a limited quantity of given items in for initial issue the following winter season, all projected classification and reclamation assets were quantity remaining was applies against the initial issue requirement. This necessitates many combat serviceable items being consumed as maintenance and generally new items being issued initially.

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