The United Nations Force
The United Nations! Someone needs to tell me what is united about them?
The Korean War is acknowledged as the first United Nations military action. The number of nations participating in this effort is usually given at twenty- seven, but this figure depends a great deal on how one counts. When the call went out to member nations to come to the aid of South Korea, several countries were quick to respond; about seventeen sent military aid. Some provided troops, others vehicles, some ships and crews, a few sent planes or artillery. Other nations, either unable or unwilling to commit troops, provided materials, bases, transportation, equipment or, as in several cases, medical support. Many made the effort to at least offer some moral support for those involved.
To acknowledge fully the Korean War, it is necessary to understand something about the contributions of the various member nations. By far the majority of troops involved, other than those of the Republic of South Korea, were American. In the main, the UN war in Korea was fought by the armed forces of the United States. Something around 96 percent of the total cost in men and materials was borne by America.
The contribution of member nations was small. A number of nations had limited resources, and their contribution could only be small in comparison to the United States. But the political and psychological impact of United Nations sponsorship, the advantage of fighting under the United Nations flag, was of major significance. Still, while there has been some recognition of the role of the United Nations as an institution, there has been little acknowledgment of the nature and extent of the contributions made by other nations. Interestingly, one of the nations whose role has been minimized is the Republic of South Korea. Despite its lack of economic and political stability, it placed a significant force in the field and fought with desperation for its freedom.