After UN forces reached the 38th parallel, the question arose once again: should it be crossed? What were American objectives in Korea? It was clear that it was no longer possible to reunify Korea by military means. The Chinese had over half a million men in Korea, with a large number in reserves in Manchuria. Thus, the only possible outcome was a negotiated settlement. The decision was made to ignore the 38th parallel to obtain the best possible tactical advantage. In a series of operations, American forces advanced cautiously into North Korea, always taking care to insure that the lines were defensible and there were ready positions to withdraw to.