Task Force Smith at the beginning of the Korean War has often been used as a metaphor for military unreadiness. While the story of that first US action of the war provides a timeless cautionary tale for commanders, the story of unreadiness for war in June 1950 went much further than the tactical failures of one infantry battalion. The lack of readiness was caused by a very disruptive interwar period that saw drastic and often chaotic changes to Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities and Policy (DOTMLPF-P).
This case study examines the political, economic, military, and strategic environment in the years between 1945 and 1950 to illustrate the complexity of the readiness issue. Readiness in the strategic context concerned many more issues than simply personnel status or equipment availability.