|Active||20 June 1948 - present|
|Branch||Republic of Korea Army|
|Part of||VII Corps|
|Nickname(s)||Maengho (Fierce Tiger)|
|Lt. Gen. Chae Myung-shin|
The Capital Mechanized Infantry Division (hangul: ; hanja:), also known as Fierce Tiger Division (hangul:?; hanja:?), is currently one of the six mechanized infantry divisions in the Republic of Korea Army. It is part of the VII Corps, 3rd ROK Army (TROKA), tasked with covering approaches to Seoul from North Korea and counterattack operations.
This division saw extensive combat both during the Korean War and the Vietnam War, where it was dispatched in September 1965, as a part of the Republic of Korea's contribution to the South Vietnamese war effort. The 1965 deployment became possible when in August of that year the Republic of Korea's National Assembly passed a bill authorizing the action. Recently, elements of this division were sent as Republic of Korea's contribution to the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq.
The Capital Division was a military formation of the Republic of Korea Army during the 20th Century. It was formed June 20, 1948 from the Capital Security Command. It was incorporated into I Corps after the first fall of Seoul, soon becoming part the defensive line formed in an attempt to slow the North Korean advance to Taejon. It later participated in the Battle of Pusan Perimeter.
On September 16, 1950, elements of the Capital Division fought their way through the streets of Angang-ni. The next day, advancing from the west in the II Corps sector, a battalion of the 7th Division linked up with elements of the Capital Division, closing a two-week-old gap between the ROK I and II Corps. The NKPA's 12th Division waged a series of stubborn delaying actions against the Capital Division in the vicinity of Kigye as the North Koreans retreated northward into the mountains. Kigye fell back under South Korean control on September 22, 1950.
On September 29, a message, dropped from a light plane by an officer with the Military Advisory Group to the Republic of Korea, was delivered to the U.S. adviser to the ROK 3rd Division, Lt. Col. Rollins S. Emmerich. According to the message, the ROK 3rd Division was to cross the 38th Parallel and proceed to Wonsan as soon as possible. The next day the division crossed the parallel and advanced up the east coast. The Capital Division followed. After establishing command posts at Yangyang, eight miles (13 km) north of the parallel, on October 2, both divisions proceeded to Wonsan and captured the town on the tenth, well before the X Corps had landed.
On October 28, 1950, in far northeast Korea, a"flying column" from the Capital Division captures Songjin, 105 miles (169 km) northeast of Hungnam. Meanwhile, the Capital Division's 1st Regiment approached Pungsan, a town inland approximately halfway between the coast and Korea-China border on Iwon-Cinch'ong-ni-Hyesanjin road.
The Capital Division arrived in South Vietnam on September 22, 1965. The Division was deployed just outside Qui Nh?n in Bình nh Province, from where it could protect vital arteries such as Route 1 and Route 19, as well as rice-growing areas and foothills to the north and west.
The 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division was stationed in the Qui Nh?n area prior to the arrival of the Capital Division and gradually turned over responsibility for the area during October 1965.:135
By June 1966 the Capital Division controlled all the area north of Qui Nh?n to the east of Route 1 and up to the base of Phù Cát Mountain. It extended its control also to the north and south of Route 19 up to the pass leading into An Khê. Working south along Highway 1 down toward Tuy Hoa and within Bình nh Province, the Division sent out reconnaissance parties and carried out small operations as far south as the border between Bình nh Province and Phú Yên Province.:136
Korean soldiers that volunteered for service in Vietnam were given bonuses: they would "receive credit for three years of military duty for each year served in Vietnam as well as additional monetary entitlements; further, combat duty would enhance their future Army careers."
All the ROK units sent to Vietnam (the Tiger Division, White Horse Division and (Blue Dragon) Brigade) were chosen because they were considered to have the longest and best records from the Korean War.
The Tigers were considered uncanny for their ability to search territory and smoke out enemy soldiers and weapons. They would plan operations meticulously and sometimes even rehearse it beforehand. The soldiers would seal off a relatively small area, no more than 9 or 10 square kilometers. Troops would be brought in by air and land, but would arrive at the same time to maximize the chokehold. Slowly but surely the cordon would be tightened, and everyone and everything would be searched. Civilians were separated and interrogated, routinely offered rewards if they cooperated. It was not unusual for an area to be searched three or four times by different platoons. To prevent enemy breakouts, the Koreans had special reaction forces that could plug holes in the perimeter. General William R. Peers considered the Koreans the best at these so-called "cordon and search operations."
The Division returned home March 11, 1973.
Significant operations and actions involving the Division include:
|Start Date||End Date||Deployed||Combat||KIA||WIA|
|October 22, 1965||March 7, 1973||7,652||107,340||114,992||521||174,586||175,107||186||1,925||2,111||246||4,228||4,474|
The Tiger Division was reorganized in 1980s to parallel the reorganization taking place in United States Army at the same time. The "regiments" of the older organization were replaced by "brigades," consisting of both armor and mechanized infantry components. The 1st and Cavalry regiments were reorganized to include two mechanized infantry battalions and an armored battalion each, while the 26th regiment became an armored brigade with two armored battalions and a mechanized infantry battalion.