In this article I discuss the war leadership of the General Van Fleet, who served as the commander of the Eighth United States Army during the Korean War, and the role he assumed for the growth and development of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. I believe, as an ROK Army officer who had more contact with the general than any other, that my experience with and perspective upon him will be of value to scholars.
During the two years he was the Eighth Army commander, Van Fleet focused his attention on the battles and on enhancing the battle capacity of the ROK Armed Forces. He mounted a particular effort to increase the ROK officers' efficiency in commanding their units and battle performance. For that aim he had many officers study at American educational institutes, and founded in Korea various educational institutes, among them the Korea Military Academy. He was also the founder of numerous corps-level units and many divisions. As a result the ROK Army achieved rapid growth and exhibited distinct signs of progress.
Many ROK officers, including myself, received positive impression of his individuality, and were fond of his assertive character and affable, honest attitude. His experience and knowledge of guerrilla warfare were of particular value to us.
General Van Fleet took the forerunner's place in nurturing the ROK Army to a well-trained military organization through education, training and increased battle capacity. That his efforts contributed to securing the foundation of the present ROK Armed Forces is undeniable.