893.50 Recovery/6–1148

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State45

Subject: China Aid Act of 1948; Relation of the U. S. Army Advisory Group to Military Type Aid under the Act

Participants: Mr. Royall, Secretary of the Army
Mr. Draper, Under Secretary of the Army
General Bradley, Chief of Staff
General Wedemeyer, Director, Plans and Operations
Mr. Marshall, Secretary of State
Mr. Thorp, Assistant Secretary of State
Mr. Butterworth, Director for Far Eastern Affairs
Mr. Sprouse, CA
[Page 91]

Secretary Royall explained that discussion of the above-mentioned subjects was necessary because he and General Wedemeyer had been called upon to testify in this regard before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the preceding day46 and were expected to testify also on June 12. He stated that the issue was U. S. supervision of military expenditures by the Chinese Government under the $125 million grants and the related issue of tactical or strategic control of the Chinese Government military operations. He continued that the newspapers have drawn a distinction between his views and those of General Wedemeyer as expressed in the hearings before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the preceding day, but that actually their views were not so divergent as the press had indicated. He pointed out that General Wedemeyer had said that he favored “strong supervision” while he himself had said that he did not want the United States to become intimately involved in the Chinese civil war but at the same time did not want the aid to China wasted. He had then read the three conditions established by the President to govern the extension of the aid to China under the $125 million grants. Secretary Royall said that it was his desire that the same line be taken by all concerned in this matter and that the views of the Department of the Army not differ from those of the Department of State. Referring to the recent top secret telegrams47 on the China situation received from General Barr and the Air Division of the U. S. Army Advisory Group, Secretary Royall said that they gave him pause for concern in that they were logical telegrams indicating the great need for control of military operations in China. In view of these telegrams, he asked, should the terms established by the President be altered and should the matter be taken to the President? He requested General Bradley to state his views on this subject.

General Bradley replied that judging from the telegrams the situation in China had deteriorated seriously and it was questionable whether the Chinese could do anything on the offensive side without U. S. aid. He said that such aid was probably necessary to spur them on and instill spirit in them. He added that this was, however, a question of U. S. Government policy and that, while it seemed logical to have U. S. supervision, he did not know to what degree or the feasibility of such action.

I expressed the opinion that the supervision of the expenditures under the enabling act of the $125 million grants was sufficiently covered by the terms established by the President. I continued that these terms avoided a serious dilemma for the U. S. and were sufficient to protect U. S. interests. I said that I had read the recent telegrams [Page 92]from the U. S. Army Advisory Group and similar telegrams from Ambassador Stuart. The latter, I pointed out, indicated that the Generalissimo had registered his assent to having U. S. supervision but this meant nothing because of his customary willingness to say “yes” without, however, accepting the advice given. I explained that I had arrived at what I considered a single solution, that is, for the naval side of the problem, and had had prepared this morning a statement along the following lines which would cover this: “The Department of State would have no objection to U. S. Naval officers assisting in the instruction and training of Chinese naval crews both at sea and in port.”48 I said that I had asked that something be prepared covering the air side of Chinese military operations and then read the following statement: “The Department of State would have no objection to the Air Division of the U. S. Army Advisory Group assisting the Chinese Air Force by furnishing instruction and advice in logistics, organization, tactics, administration and other related military subjects provided that U. S. officers so engaged shall not participate in official or other activities in areas of actual hostilities.” I added that I agreed with the first part of this statement but that the other part (which I did not read aloud) contained too many provisos.

Referring to the instructions which had been issued to the U. S. Army Advisory Group, I said that they were probably confusing: from the Army side and then read the pertinent telegrams from the U. S. Army Advisory Group and from the Department of the Army in regard to the question of training of Chinese troops. I said that these might have given considerable latitude but for the stipulations governing the establishment of the training center in Formosa. I pointed out that General Barr, during his discussions with me prior to his departure for China, had expressed his desire to have a directive and that I had indicated that he would be better off without a directive since that would give him latitude not possible if such a directive were issued. I was not aware at that time, I added, of the stipulations regarding the training in Formosa. When the question arose regarding the establishment of a training center in Nanking, I had considered that he had freedom to take such action and had sent a telegram to Ambassador Stuart asking why General Barr felt the need for authorization therefor.49

In reply to Secretary Royall’s query whether these instructions referred specifically to Formosa, I said that they did. After discussion regarding the directives issued to the U. S. Army Advisory Group, it was agreed that the Presidential directive governed their [Page 93]activities and that this was a general directive. I then read the telegram from the Department of the Army to the U. S. Army Advisory Group containing the stipulations concerning the establishment of the training center in Formosa and added that I had overlooked this instruction when the question of the training center in Nanking had arisen.

Secretary Royall stated that he might have thought this instruction was indicative of policy elsewhere.

I then read the Department’s telegram to Nanking50 regarding General Barr’s functions sent by Mr. Lovett with my concurrence while I was in London and also read my telegram to Nanking in February51 on this same subject. These telegrams, I said, gave General Barr considerable latitude. I explained that I was trying to find a formula like this for the naval side of the problem. For example, I said, if a U. S. naval officer on board a Chinese ship should ask for instructions as to what he should do in action, he should be relieved. I pointed out that while we might be able to simplify the air side of the military operations it was difficult to know what could be done with the ground forces operations. I then asked General Wedemeyer to describe the set-up he had while in China.

General Wedemeyer explained that he had had a staff of 50 U. S. officers who worked on the staff level with General Ho Ying-chin, then Chinese Chief of Staff. He continued that he had had U. S. units of about 20 men with Chinese Army Group organizations and on down to divisions and units of 5 Americans with each combat regiment. In reply to my question regarding the withdrawal of such American units, General Wedemeyer said that they had been withdrawn at the time Chinese troops went into Indochina. When I referred to General Barr’s recommendation that advisory teams be attached to selected Chinese Army Headquarters, General Wedemeyer pointed out that the Chinese had only 50 combat divisions and that U. S. observers would be needed with not more than 25 such divisions.

I observed that the important thing was to find out how to do this without “getting sucked in”, since it was obviously the Chinese purpose so to involve the United States.

General Wedemeyer observed that two years ago the objectives of U. S. policy could have been achieved by such action and that one year ago a solution in north China could have been found through the use of U. S. advisers in that area, but that now there was no moral courage in the Chinese Government and it could not control its commanders. He stated that he would now hesitate to advise that U. S. advisers be placed with Chinese Army units as is being done in Greece.

[Page 94]

When I asked what difficulties would be encountered if one U. S. adviser were stationed with each Chinese Army Group, General Wedemeyer said that the difficulty was that they wouldn’t take advice. He explained that when he was in China questions were sometimes referred all the way up to the Generalissimo and when such action was taken and when he discussed the matter with the Generalissimo, the latter issued orders and the advice was accepted. General Wedemeyer pointed out that the main thing was the problem of logistics with respect to food and equipment for the troops and that U. S. military personnel were not permitted to go into operational areas where they were needed. He added that he would, however, hesitate to advise such action now.

Mr. Butterworth observed that the sorry state of the Chinese Army was only a part of the problem and that he was not at all sure that U. S. military advisers constituted an adequate answer even to that part. The larger problem was the rate of loss by the Government of its prestige, authority and effectiveness of which the morale of the troops was but one aspect.

General Bradley pointed out that, while General Barr’s recommendations perhaps represented the only way by which effective results might be achieved, it was not likely that we could now get effective results and that such a course of action would lead to the capture or killing of U. S. officers by the Chinese Communists.

I pointed out that we would have to accept this hazard and recalled that U. S. Marines had on several occasions during my mission to China been captured or killed, some of them while on hunting trips. I continued that the thing that concerned me was that the Chinese have long been intent on the U. S. going to war with the Soviet Union with the expectation that the U. S. would drag the Chinese Government out of its difficulties. I recalled that Chinese political leaders had said as much to me in 1946. I said that if we now set up a command relationship such as that which General Wedemeyer had with the Generalissimo this action would only serve to confirm this position.

General Wedemeyer observed that could now be done only at a great cost in personnel and U. S. prestige.

I stated that this would mean U. S. responsibility for the Chinese Government’s military campaign and explained my own experience in China as follows: We had reached agreement on the reorganization of the Chinese armies in February 1946 following the Chinese agreement on the political side and I had returned to the United States in an effort to obtain approval for a loan to China. After 5 weeks I returned to find that the Generalissimo was charging me with responsibility for the Communist capture of Changchun and the Chinese Army commanders were blaming me for their lack of supplies. They [Page 95]did this even though I had scoured the Pacific and the Aleutians for supplies, which ended up in storage in Hulutao while the Chinese soldiers were suffering from frozen feet. I had also differed with the Generalissimo with respect to getting replacements for the armies. He wanted to send new divisions into Manchuria while I had advised that he train replacements so that he would keep his good armies up to strength instead of allowing them to be dissipated. My advice on this point was not accepted and the things that have happened have been much as I predicted.

I expressed the opinion that it would be easy to help the Chinese Navy along the coast since that meant no real difficulties with respect to possible involvement and that we should be able to do something to assist the Chinese Air Force but that I did not know how to act on the ground side.

General Wedemeyer and General Bradley expressed doubt regarding the air phase of assistance and General Wedemeyer said that he would hesitate to go too far on the air side since the Chinese Air Force would kill more Chinese civilians than Communists. He explained that he was dubious about having U. S. personnel flying in Chinese planes and said that he had recently read an article in an American magazine describing U. S. pilots flying L–5s in some operations in China.

I pointed out that we could do something with regard to transport planes and could assist on the maintenance side and asked General Bradley what he would suggest.

General Bradley said that he would not place U. S. advisers with Chinese units as recommended by General Barr.

I said that I had thought that General Barr would act with freedom on his own judgment and without a directive and that he had seemed to understand this during our discussions prior to his departure for China.

When General Bradley suggested that General Barr might “go around”, General Wedemeyer pointed out that General Barr could not go into operational areas and that none of the members of his Group could do so.

I then asked General Wedemeyer what his reaction was.

General Wedemeyer replied that he feared that the U. S. would be blamed for the final debacle and that he would not recommend that U. S. advisers be placed with Chinese units as recommended by General Barr. He added that a Joint Chiefs of Staff directive, which had been under consideration since February 7 and had been agreed upon on June 9,52 approved the use of U. S. advisers in such capacity but that he thought it unwise.

[Page 96]

Secretary Royall agreed with this view and said that he did not even think military supplies should be given to the Chinese Government. He continued that the recent telegrams from the U. S. Army Advisory Group had convinced him of the seriousness and hopelessness of the situation and of the necessity of the U. S. Government going all the way in if anything were to be accomplished. He said that the terms decided upon by the President to govern the $125 million grants should help in having these funds spent properly.

General Wedemeyer said that he would go further than this since he was not sure that military equipment and funds would be used for the purposes intended. He added that he believed that U. S. aid should be supervised on the spot.

Mr. Butterworth pointed out that ECA would exercise close supervision of the economic aid and that this reference was presumably only to the $125 million grants.

General Wedemeyer then stated that General Barr and his group should supervise getting military supplies under these grants on the way but not in operational areas. He explained that he felt this necessary to prevent such supplies going to warlords and thus contributing to regionalism in China. He believed that the U. S. Army Advisory Group should have representatives at the ports of delivery and should follow through to see that it got to the Chinese Government. He agreed with my suggestion that this would have to be done with the knowledge of the Chinese Government and said that the Generalissimo would accept this kind of supervision.

I pointed out that the Chinese would accept supervision in order to get the U. S. involved and that General Barr should keep his eye on the military supplies purchased from the $125 million grants as much as possible. When General Wedemeyer suggested that the U. S. Army Advisory Group could watch the trucks transporting the supplies, I recalled that jeeps had a habit of walking off if unwatched for a few minutes.

Secretary Royall suggested that General Barr could see that the supplies were delivered to the National Government Army and that he could be furnished copies of the invoices submitted by the Chinese and see that military supplies were delivered to the National Government Army upon arrival in China.

I pointed out that this could not be done as a right under the legislation but that General Barr could arrange informally to find out where the supplies go.

Mr. Butterworth suggested that copies of documents and lists submitted by the Chinese, as well as shipping schedules, be sent to General Barr for his use in this connection. But he emphasized that this question [Page 97]of supervision was one which was clearly “black and white” in that if the U. S. wished to ensure the proper end-use of military supplies it would be necessary to follow these supplies all the way to the fighting lines.

General Bradley pointed out that this had been found true by me and I added that Colonel Barrett53 had reported this to be true in the case of supplies landed at Hulutao, which were stored there and much of which never went forward where they were needed. I then asked if the Military Attaché54 could not act for General Barr in this general connection.

General Wedemeyer said that he could act for the Ambassador to see that the equipment was used properly.

Discussion followed in regard to the possible use of personnel of the Military Attaché’s office stationed in localities such as Area Headquarters for the purpose of observing but it was agreed that this would be dangerous and General Wedemeyer pointed out that the Chinese would use this to try to draw the U. S. into the China situation.

I pointed out that the Chinese now wanted aid only if it were in considerable quantity and suggested that if personnel of the Military Attaché’s office could report to General Barr, we might be able to get action.

General Wedemeyer said that a year ago this might have been possible but that recent telegrams indicated that the Generalissimo’s power and authority had waned to the point where he could no longer exercise the control he formerly had.

I said that I thought it worthwhile to do what we could through General Barr to ensure that the military supplies got to the Chinese Army, with which view General Wedemeyer concurred. I also said that I was concerned about the air phase and believed that we should see that the Chinese had transport planes and were able to keep them going.

Mr. Butterworth pointed out that General McConnell55 had done this very skilfully when he was Chief of the Air Division at Nanking and went on to describe his operations and the manner in which he had ably assisted the Chinese. General Wedemeyer observed that General Thomas,56 the present Chief of the Air Division, was also doing an excellent job along these lines.

Secretary Royall interposed that the concrete problem was what he was to say the next day in the hearings before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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I replied that we had taken the line of following the terms decided upon by the President and Mr. Butterworth added that we had also followed the line that the provision regarding the $125 million grants was put in by the Senate and approved by the Congress, He continued that this was the legislative intent and that it was the view of Senators Vandenberg and Connally, as shown in the hearings attended by State Department representatives on the China aid program, that this sum should be given to the Chinese for spending by them on their own responsibility and at their own option and without the detailed supervision of ECA.

Secretary Royall said that the Committee was asking what was desired now.

General Bradley stated that, while the greater the supervision the better the expenditures of this money, such supervision was impractical and undesirable and that that was the answer.

I pointed out that the next move in such a case would be an extensive affair.

Secretary Royall said that the Committee could be informed that we would supervise the delivery of the military supplies to the National Government armies.

I said that the Army Advisory Group could follow up on such delivery and that legislation on this point was not required, a view concurred in by General Wedemeyer.

Secretary Royall observed that the proviso placing this aid in the same category as that to Greece and Turkey was not desired and asked what language should be suggested.

Mr. Butterworth replied that the President had decided upon the administrative terms governing the $125 million grants and that they were now a part of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s record and that all that was necessary, therefore, was to take out the proviso.

Mr. Butterworth went on to refer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff directive earlier in the discussion by General Wedemeyer and asked what should be done with this directive in the light of the decisions reached at this meeting.

General Wedemeyer observed that while the Joint Chiefs of Staff were aware of the military side of the situation they would not know the political implications thereof and Secretary Royall said that the Joint Chiefs of Staff should reconvene and reconsider this directive. General Bradley explained that he had not been present at the Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting at which this directive was approved and that he would take steps to arrange for reconsideration of the directive. General Wedemeyer pointed out that it should be noted that the great [Page 99]feature of the directive was that it combined all the services into one group.

Secretary Royall concluded the discussion with the following summary of the decisions reached regarding the hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 12: “It is agreed then that General Wedemeyer and I tomorrow will say that we should take out the Greco-Turkish proviso, refer to the President’s administrative terms and state that we intend to implement this part of the China Aid Act to as great an extent as possible without involvement by having the Army Advisory Group check on the deliveries of the military supplies from that end.”57

  1. Drafted by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs (Sprouse).
  2. See Economic Cooperation Administration: Hearings before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, 80th Cong., 2d sess. on H.R. 6801 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1948), pp. 470 ff.
  3. Not found in Department files.
  4. See paragraph 6 of memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs, June 15, p. 259.
  5. See telegram No. 398, March 3, 2 p.m., from the Ambassador in China and subsequent correspondence, pp. 253 ff.
  6. Telegram No. 1302, October 24, 1947, 5 p.m., to the Ambassador in China, Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. vii, p. 901.
  7. Not found in Department files.
  8. Post, p. 254.
  9. Col. David D. Barrett, Assistant Military Attaché in China.
  10. Brig. Gen. Robert H. Soule.
  11. Brig. Gen. John P. McConnell.
  12. Brig. Gen. Charles B. Thomas.
  13. Apparently these statements were made in Executive Session; the published record indicates no further appearance by Secretary Royall or General Wedemeyer.