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Report article RSS Feed U.S. Intimidates North Korea ... by Cutting Down a Tree

Posted by Havoc_frost on Nov 7th, 2011

This is one of those stories that's so stupid it's actually difficult to explain. But to understand how the U.S. military decided that they needed to embark on a huge 800-man mission to assassinate a tree, you need a little context.

In 1976, the border between North and South Korea was even more tense than it is today. There were numerous outposts in the Demilitarised Zone, the unofficial border between Cool Korea and Crazy Korea, and there were constant violent incidents between the soldiers manning them.In the middle of that powder keg stood a tree. It was a huge tree that was blocking the view between two South Korean outposts, meaning one could be attacked by the North without the other outpost realizing anything had gone wrong (and in fact that had happened more than once). So the South Koreans, with their U.S. cohorts, decided to give the branches a good trim.

The North Koreans, however, were in the mood for a fight, so they came up, too, barking orders. You can probably picture the cartoony mess that followed. Shots were fired and, after the dust settled, two American soldiers were killed. Kim Il Sung, father of Kim Jong Il, mourned this mainly by patting the responsible soldiers on the back and making neener-neener noises across the DMZ at the Americans and South Koreans.

The U.S. was in an impossible situation. They couldn't let the attack go without a response, but they didn't want to trigger World War III either. So they came up with an operation that they thought would make Kim Il Sung back down. Its name? Operation Paul Bunyan.Their target? That damn tree.How It Worked:The equipment they sent for the task included an armed platoon, 27 helicopters, some B-52 bombers and -- because why the hell not? -- a bunch of freaking martial arts experts, presumably just to make cool poses with their backs turned to the explosions. The operation involved 813 men total.Together, they wiped the tree off the face of the earth with extreme prejudice, in full view of the North Koreans. Then they went up to the charred site, built a small monument in memory of their fallen comrades, gave the North Koreans a long look ... and walked away.

Well, that probably just confused them more than anything, right? What good could possibly come from something so aggressively pointless?How about this: Kim Il Sung came forward and expressed regret for the original killings that day.He also wrote a letter to the Americans, pretty much telling them that he would never attack them. Within days, the formerly so arrogant Kim also agreed to an official partition of Korea along the demarcation line. Killing that stupid tree had solved everything.


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