893.50 Recovery/9–1348

The Secretary of Defense ( Forrestal ) to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Secretary: There is forwarded, for your information, a copy of a memorandum to me from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dated 9 September 1948, and entitled “Military Aid for Chinese Armies”. I have forwarded this memorandum to the Secretaries of Army, Navy and Air Force with the request that they proceed in conformity with the recommendations set forth therein.

Sincerely yours,

James Forrestal

Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense ( Forrestal )

Subject: Military Aid for Chinese Armies.

At the request of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered three dispatches, copies enclosed, received by him from the Commander, Naval Forces, Western Pacific.

It appears from these dispatches that, in order to give priority to the support of his forces in North China and Shantung, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek has directed that certain arms, common type, and [Page 168] ammunition for these forces be requisitioned from the United States. Following this decision, United States Ambassador Stuart, Major General David G. Barr, Chief, Army Advisory Group, China, and Vice Admiral Oscar C. Badger, Commander, Naval Forces, Western Pacific, met and agreed that Admiral Badger should forward to the Chief of Naval Operations their proposal that the United, States supply these munitions from United States reserve stocks via Navy or other United States Government shipping consigned to the Commander, Naval Forces, Western Pacific, for custody and as United States agent for delivering to the Chinese.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have studied this proposal and are of the opinion that, from the military point of view, it is sound and is consistent with the President’s recent directive to the Secretary of Defense to take action to facilitate, in connection with the China Aid Act of 1948, the acquisition by the Chinese Government of such military supplies as the Chinese Government may request, either by making available existing stocks of the National Defense Establishment or by arranging for the procurement of such supplies on behalf of that government.

It is understood that the Chinese National Government is handling its requests for military supplies through the Chinese Military Procurement Technical Group in Washington. It is assumed, therefore, that Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s requisition for the North China and Shantung supplies will be or is being handled through this same channel. This must, in any case, be done; otherwise there may be confusion or duplication in the requests presented by the Chinese Military Procurement Technical Group and total requests may exceed the authorized sum of $125,000,000.

In addition to originating a specific request for North China and Shantung military supplies, the Chinese National Government must request that they be shipped to Tsingtao rather than to Shanghai (the usual destination of supplies for China) if, as jointly recommended by the Ambassador, Commander, Naval Forces, Western Pacific, and the Chief of the Army Advisory Group in China, early delivery and direct channeling of equipment to proper military areas are to be assured.

The possibility is noted that some question might be raised as to the propriety, in terms of our policy toward China, of the recommended procedure of shipping the North China and Shantung military supplies to Tsingtao in custody of the Commander, Naval Forces, Western Pacific. This procedure cannot, however, logically be construed as direct military assistance, which we are committed to avoid, while it is, as pointed out above, consistent with the manifest need to [Page 169] provide military equipment assistance in such a manner as best to insure its usefulness. In the case under discussion, both unacceptable delay land the possibility of diversion of this equipment to other areas will be involved unless the recommended procedure is followed, whereas the North China–Shantung situation is a matter of extreme urgency and importance with respect to the basic purpose for which Chinese military supply equipment has been directed by the President.

Biased on the foregoing discussion, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that:

Action taken by the several Departments of the National Military Establishment on the latest dispatch from the Commander, Naval Forces, Western Pacific (1933 of 24 August 1948—Enclosure “A”) be contingent on receipt through the Chinese Military Procurement Technical Group in Washington of a request from the Chinese National Government for the military supplies and for their delivery at Tsingtao, and
The procedure recommended in the dispatch from the Commander, Naval Forces, Western Pacific, be followed as soon as such request has been transmitted by the Chinese Military Procurement Technical Group and necessary authorization has been given by the Department of State.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
William D. Leahy

Fleet Admiral, U. S. Navy Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces
[Subenclosure A]

The Commander of U. S. Naval Forces in the Western Pacific ( Badger ) to the Chief of Naval Operations ( Denfeld )

240715Z (or 1933). In conference with Ambassador Stuart and myself Generalissimo affirmed his decision to give priority to support of his forces in North China and Shantung and his desire that certain arms common type and ammunition be made available to him. He stated that he had directed submittal requisition through specified channels for this equipment. His position and urgency situation substantially same as presented my dispatches 160609Z and 090855Z July.16a His statement further indicates method payment by Chinese.

At a subsequent conference between the Ambassador, General Barr and myself it was agreed by all that this project was to best interest [Page 170] of United States position in China as well as Chinese Government. To insure early delivery and direct channeling of equipment to proper military areas conferees recommended that material be supplied from U. S. reserve stock via Navy or other U. S. Government shipping consigned to this command for custody and directly as U. S. agent to Chinese. Will thus avoid shipping complications and delays and assure delivery for purposes intended. Although now based on equipment for 4 complete armies North China and 3 divisions Shantung, proposed procedure gives flexibility which may be needed at a later date as result of readjustment requirements between areas.

Because Navy transportation and supply agencies involved Ambassador and Barr designated originator to present foregoing facts and proposals to Washington with unanimous recommendation that this matter be given earliest consideration and approval U. S. Departments and Agencies concerned. Accordingly, request that Chief of Naval Operations present proposals to State Department, Joint Chiefs of Staff and other interested parties and advise as soon as possible as important operations and training dependent thereon.

[Subenclosure B]

The Commander of U. S. Naval Forces in the Western Pacific ( Badger ) to the Chief of Naval Operations ( Denfeld )

090855Z (or 8479). A promising opportunity presents itself to increase economic and military security Tsingtao by Chinese training, staging, and offensive operations into now weakened Communist areas of Shantung to include control all Shantung east of Tsinan. Chinese estimate sufficient manpower locally available but lack equipment for 4 divisions (about 48,000 men). In view JCS 8380516b and to fact that increased area of control will cause critical and unfavorable economic situation both as regards food and raw materials available Shantung but not Tsingtao would urge support of such offensive effort. Accordingly request your consideration and outline any practicable procedure leading to earliest availability through Chinese or other agencies and thence Tsingtao of all or as much as possible of rifles 48,000 light machine guns 30 caliber 3000 heavy machine guns 30 caliber 576 grenade discharger 2500 and 60 millimeter mortar 1296. Total estimated cost above items two and one-half million U. S. dollars, with similar sum for reasonable ammo supply. Payment on basis cash credits from Chinese funds now available United States [Page 171] for replenishment any withdrawals existing stocks. Ambassador concurs important advantage to United States position of assistance this proposal.

Request earliest advice.

[Subenclosure C]

The Commander of U. S. Naval Forces in the Western Pacific ( Badger ) to the Chief of Naval Operations ( Denfeld )

160609Z (or 8979). United States interests in Far East are recognized by Joint Chiefs of Staff as being closely related to establishment and maintenance of friendly governments in North China including Shantung. Economically as well as strategically these areas form key to control of China between Yangtse River and Great Wall. No military operations can be decisive without including conquest of these areas.

Although military situation is now unfavorable to Nationalists situation is far from hopeless. In North China is General Fu Tso Yi who is a fighting and accomplished general enjoying confidence and loyalty of his armies as well as civilian population. In March he stated to ComNavWesPac confidence in his ability to maintain security and stabilization of his command area provided he could obtain arms and essential equipment for 4 armies which he had fully trained but which were without equipment. He provided detailed list of equipment needed which I presented to embassy and to Chief, Army Advisory Group (AAG) Nanking with recommendation to initiate positive action to render support to this vitally important command. Generalissimo was given plans by ambassador and expressed verbal approval. However no positive action was then forthcoming from Generalissimo or Chinese chiefs of staff.

Subsequent events indicate that if such action had been then undertaken at an estimated cost of about 16 million dollars U. S. currency that North China would now be fairly well stabilized and secure and it is possible that Mukden Corridor would be open for supply channels to 20,000 troops still in that detached area.

For various reasons Generalissimo failed to support this plan with resulting deterioration in North China, continued detachment of Mukden, and the loss of Shantung to Communist control as a source of important supply of food material and manpower.

Now with situation critical Generalissimo desires to support operations involving security of North China and recovery of Shantung and gives these operations highest priority which they should enjoy. With [Page 172] above background my 090855Z July17 was transmitted as of immediate concern to United States position in China and in Tsingtao in particular. Similar request regarding support of General Fu by facilitating early delivery of urgently needed equipment is justified on same grounds.

ComNavWesPac considers total cost of equipment for these 2 areas amounting only to about 20 million dollars as favorable to United States interest which might accrue. Reduced to simple terms failure of Chinese Nationalists in these areas will inevitably result in loss of all the North China to Communist control and priority of USSR influence. Whether central government continues to exist or whether the government of North China breaks up into provincial governments, assurance of any support being directed to these areas should be guaranteed. It is therefore recommended that all possible means be investigated and a favorable procedure determined for making available to Chinese government for these specific projects amounts mentioned in my 090855Z for Shantung and in addition twice these amounts for General Fu in North China. Material should be made available at earliest practicable date and at lowest possible price. Finding Chinese money to foot bill may be difficult but is considered possible. This recommendation is considered entirely consistent with specific terms of U. S. military policy.

  1. See subenclosures C and B, respectively.
  2. Apparently the message for the Commander, U. S. Naval Forces, Western Pacific, p. 320.
  3. Supra.