Honolulu, September 20, 1962.
IMPRESSIONS FROM TAIWAN
1. MAP Objectives
The MAAG mission which is currently in effect in Taiwan is stated in the following terms:
a. Continue to assist the Chinese to develop a military force which is capable of:
(1) Maintaining internal security;
(2) Deterring a Communist attack; or
(3) Defeating such an attack if short of an all-out Communist effort.
(4) Assisting US forces extensively in the event of a general war in the Far East.
The foregoing language emanates from The Military Assistance Planning Document and is applicable to Korea as well as to Taiwan. Because of the open-ended nature of objective (4), under this language, it is possible to justify the maintenance of a ChiNat force structure of almost any size. Where there is no mention of the defense of the Off-shore Islands as a specific objective, the language is broad enough to provide for this mission.
Although guidance such as the foregoing does not offer precise guidelines to assist the MAAG, it is my opinion that the dollar ceiling of $160 million MAP per year has resulted in establishing reasonable priorities consistent with the most pressing needs of the defense of Taiwan, the Penghus and the Off-shore Islands. However, it would be useful in justifying this program to Congress to have more precise objectives, devoid of the open-ended features noted above. It is interesting also to note that the foregoing statement of mission is not the same as that contained in the CINCPAC Military Assistance Plan, FY 64-68, another example of the need for a thoroughgoing overhaul of the statements of MAP objectives in all the countries visited thus far.
2. Possible New MAP Objectives for Taiwan
If a revision of the statement of objectives is undertaken I would suggest stating the mission as follows:
a. The maintenance of Chinese National military forces to accomplish:
(1) Internal security.
(2) The defense of Taiwan, the Penghus and the Off-shore Islands with such U.S. assistance as may be agreed.
(3) The maintenance of an expeditionary force of three divisions for use elsewhere in the Western Pacific.
The effect of taking such objectives would have little effect upon the Air Force and Navy as now planned. In the case of the Army, it would reduce the military requirement to not more than 15 divisions, of which three would receive special treatment. The priorities in the hardware program would thus be:
a. Modernized air defense (semi-automatic AC&W, introduction of the F104G, more SAM).
b. Army and Navy equipment related to the defense of the Off-shore Islands.
c. Modernization of three divisions.
d. Modernization of the remaining 12 divisions.
Items which should not be included in the revised program would be: tanks in any significant number; amphibious lift beyond the present one division level; and any ASW capability directed at the ChiCom submarine threat (this to remain a U.S. responsibility).
3. Air Defense
As in the case of Japan and Korea, the most pressing military problem in Taiwan is the provision of a modernized air defense. Here the conditions are as elsewhere—the growing threat of an improving ChiCom air force equipped with airplanes generally superior to those in the hands of our Allies and deployed in depth on an extensive land mass. The restricted areas of Japan, South Korea, Okinawa and Taiwan offer vulnerable targets to this superior, modernized ChiCom air force. In all areas arises the question of how to offset this danger.
I am impressed with the need to study this problem, not by individual country but as an entity consisting of the entire Western Pacific area. In planning for AC&W, it is highly important that any new system introduced to one country be made common to all. In all countries, we are faced with the problem of introducing a high performance, all-weather interceptor, usually the F104G. Based upon justifiable military requirements, it is quite easy to run up an excessively high bill for interceptors which will require an improved AC&W to exploit their full capability. Thus, there are two heavy bills in the offing.
In contemplating the foregoing prospect, one is inclined to ask whether there may not be some better solution to offset the ChiCom air superiority in the Far East. I believe that we should look at the possibility of a higher reliance upon surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles as a more effective response to the threat. The exact mix of surface-to-air missiles and interceptors for each country is a problem for the experts to determine. However, any SAM-interceptor combination is purely defensive and offers no deterrent to the aggressive employment of the ChiCom air force. If, on the other hand, the ChiCom knew that we had their airfields zeroed in by surface-to-surface missiles or Polaris type missiles, the situation would improve to our advantage. Further, these missiles should be publicized to be appreciated by ChiComs and others. Before embarking upon a large and costly program for improved local air defense, we should evaluate closely present plans versus a solution based largely on missiles supplemented by carrier aircraft.
4. Defense of the Off-shore Islands
A visit to Kinmen provides visible evidence of the determination of the ChiNats to defend the Off-shore Islands to the last ditch. Whether this is sensible or not is academic. The ChiNats are on the Off-shore Islands and intend to stay. Their defenses are impressive and could be overcome only at a prohibitive cost to the ChiComs.
In discussing the most dangerous kind of attack against Kinmen, I found the Chinese officials in general accord. They believe that a surprise attack under cover of darkness or bad weather would be the most likely to succeed, particularly if the ChiComs treated the situation as a river crossing rather than an amphibious landing. In the former case, they would bring small craft in numbers down to the coast from inland without producing any detectable alteration of activity in the coastal waters. After assembling secretly, they would have a good chance of crossing quickly the narrow waters separating Kinmen from the mainland and of establishing a foothold before the ChiNats could react effectively. Such a landing would probably be accompanied by parachute drops throughout the island. The outcome, in my judgment, would be uncertain. But, even if the island were taken, the price exacted from the ChiComs would make it a Pyrrhic victory.
All American officials contacted in Taiwan agreed that the U.S. should recognize, however reluctantly, that the ChiNats will continue to hold and defend the Off-shore Islands. The Islands are valuable as outposts for the main defense of Taiwan and the Penghus, as the site of early warning radar and as a symbol of the determination of the ChiNats some day to return to the mainland.
5. The Return to the Mainland
In an hour's discussion with Chiang Kai-shek, the President showed his unshakable confidence in the readiness of the mainland to receive his liberating forces. He does concede, however, the need for a preparatory phase in which the people of the mainland would be given assurance of assistance and of arms in case they rose in revolt. The parachute drops which he desires to make are for this purpose. He regrets that the US withholds assistance from his grand design and explains our reluctance as fear that our assistance might provoke Khrushchev into initiating World War III.
I assured him that, personally, I had no such fear but that we Americans could not forget the experience of Cuba where overly optimistic friends had undertaken an expedition of liberation in anticipation of a friendly uprising ashore which did not occur. It was natural for us to ask for hard evidence before sharing the Gimo's confidence. The President assured me that he had ample agent reports to support his view, but offered to produce nothing tangible.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to respond to the Gimo's demands to be allowed to try to return to the mainland. Local U.S. officials feel that some U.S. participation in realistic studies of possible landings would help to show the Gimo and his associates the vast military requirements for a return to the mainland. I understand that such planning is underway and hopefully will demonstrate the magnitude of the problem. While I am doubtful that this exercise will deflate the optimism of the Gimo, it should have a salutary effect upon his advisors.
It may be that we are storing up trouble for ourselves in not being more frank with the Gimo in stating what our intentions are and are not with regard to supporting him in a return to the mainland. He has considerable justification to retain his hopes as long as we give a certain approval to his maintenance of a force structure justified only if he is indeed going to assault the mainland. Furthermore, we have allowed him to raise his special budget for defense purposes, while continuing to help him to meet the deficit in his over-all budget. It must be hard for him to believe that there are not some situations in which we will see him ashore.