The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Korea

top secret
No. 31

The Secretary of State acknowledges receipt of the Embassy’s despatch No. 272 of March 16, 1950, on the subject “Request from President Rhee for excess FEAF aircraft”. Reference is made to the Embassy’s despatch No. 777 of December 7, 1949,1 on the subject “Transmitting official request from President Rhee for United States air assistance”, and to the Embassy’s despatch No. 56 of January 21, 1950, on the subject “Transmitting request from President Rhee on needs of Korean Coast Guard”.

The Department submitted the requests of the Republic of Korea for air and for Coast Guard assistance to the Department of Defense for consideration. In a memorandum dated April 5, 1950, addressed by the Director of the Office of Military Assistance, Office of the Secretary of Defense,2 to the Director of Mutual Defense Assistance, Department of State,3 the tentative views of the Department of Defense on these two requests were expressed, reference being made to the Embassy’s despatch No. 97 of January 25, 1950, which recapitulated the Embassy’s recommendations regarding an increased [Page 46]military aid program for the Republic of Korea for Fiscal Year 1950. The text of that memorandum is herewith quoted:

  • “1. Pending the completion of formal studies within the Department of Defense regarding the proposed increase in the Fiscal Year 1950 MDA Program contained in Ambassador Muccio’s despatch No. 97 of 25 January 1950, forwarded by your memorandum dated 16 February 1950,4 the following is provided as the tentative views of this office:
    • a. Based on the existing authority and intent of NSC 8/2,5 there appears to be no military necessity for an increase in the Fiscal Year 1950 MDA Program for Korea at this time.
    • b. In connection with the development of a Korean Air Force, it is pointed out that such a program would be beyond the concept of NSC 8/2, which authorizes “an Army of 65,000 men with air detachments,” since by U.S. standards air detachments are normally considered to consist of light aircraft for ground liaison and courier service under Army control. The Korean request, on the other hand, contemplates development of a separate tactical Korean Air Force and includes 25 fighters, 6 long-range reconnaissance and 9 transport aircraft, together with ground support and a U.S. Advisory and Training Mission.
    • c. With regard to the Ground Force Program, the present Fiscal Year 1950 Program for the Korean Ground Forces was proposed to provide adequate support for the existing forces in order that they may maintain internal security and protect the Republic of Korea from border incidents. This is in accordance with the provisions of NSC 8/2.
    • d. The Coast Guard is established at 4,000 men by NSC 8/2. Vessels are on hand for this number of men and the present program provides maintenance spare parts for these vessels.
  • “2. If it is anticipated that the Department of State, for political reasons, may recommend the revision of NSC 8/2 to provide for a Korean Air Force, and an increase in Army and Coast Guard strengths, it is requested that this Office be so advised.”

The whole question of aid to the Republic of Korea will be reviewed with Ambassador Muccio upon his arrival in Washington within the next few days. In the meantime, for the Embassy’s information only, the foregoing is provided in compliance with the request contained in the Embassy’s despatch No. 272.