S/P Files: Lot 64 D 563

Memorandum on the Substance of Discussions at a Department of State–Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting 1

top secret


General Bradley General Bolte11
Admiral Sherman2 Mr. Matthews
General Collins3 Mr. Nitze
General Twining4 Mr. Lay
Admiral Davis5 Mr Gleason12
Admiral Wooldridge6 Mr. Tufts
Admiral Lalor7 Mr. Marshall
General White8 Mr. McGhee13
General Landon9 Mr. Rusk
Admiral Blandy [Duncan]10 Mr. Jones14

[Here follows discussion of the situation in the Middle East.]

General Bradley: I suggest that we now take up the Far East and that we take NSC 101/115 as the basis for our discussion.

(After some discussion, it was agreed to use a State Department redraft of NSC 101/1, as revised by the NSC Senior Staff.)16

General Collins: Could we discuss the objectives section of this paper for perhaps an hour?

(Mr. Nitze then read paragraph 1a: “To avoid the extension of hostilities in Korea into general war with China or the Soviet Union”.)

[Page 1537]

General Collins: This expresses the thought which we had in mind in paragraph 2c of our draft and in my opinion it is a better expression of the thought.

There was general agreement to this view.

Mr. Rusk: Although I do not question the language, I believe that there may be a problem here. In the event of general war with both the Soviet Union and Communist China, there are probably a number of things which we would not do in the Far East. Some of these things might, however, be done in the event of a limited war with China or of a general war with China alone. I think we should bear this in mind.

Mr. Nitze: We in the Planning Staff think that there is a bearing of our position in the Far East on Soviet intentions with respect to Yugoslavia. Our present disposition in the Far East somewhat increases in our opinion the risk of an attack on Yugoslavia, The Soviet Union, if it extends the war in the Far East, might have a better chance, in its view, of attacking Yugoslavia without incurring a total reaction. If it is our estimate that there is a real risk of an attack on Yugoslavia in, say, 60 to 90 days, then this is another consideration which we need to bear in mind in discussing the Far East.

General agreement on this point of view was indicated.

General Bradley: The second objective, paragraph 1b, is stated as follows: “To maintain the security of the off-shore defense line of Japan, the Ryukus, Philippines.”

Mr. Rusk: Are we ready to extend the off-shore defense line to include Australia and New Zealand?

Admiral Sherman: The off-shore defense line is a defense line for the U.S. and also for Australia and New Zealand. I do not think that we should specify the latter two countries in this paragraph unless we also specify the United States.

General agreement on objective 2 as drafted was indicated.

General Bradley: The third objective, paragraph 1c, is stated as follows: “To support the United Nations, preserve solidarity of our principal allies and maintain continued cooperation of other friendly states.”

General Collins: That is a very worthy objective.

Admiral Sherman: It is a very important objective because it bears significantly on our actions in the Far East.

General Bradley: The threat to the solidarity of our position in the United Nations and to our relations with our allies is one of the principal threats we face at this time.

General agreement to objective 3 as drafted was indicated.

General Bradley: The fourth objective, paragraph 1d, is stated as [Page 1538] follows: “To support the Republic of Korea as much as, and as long as, practicable, keeping alive resistance if the UN is forced to evacuate Korean territory.”

Admiral Sherman: I think that statement is satisfactory in view of the qualifying remarks which introduce these objectives. I refer to the opening statement which indicates that all of these objectives must be considered in relation to the national security of the United States.

General agreement was expressed.

General Bradley: The fifth objective, paragraph 1e, is stated as follows: “To break the Kremlin control over China or to support the replacement of any government in China which is under control of and in alliance with Moscow.”

Mr. Rusk: The major problem in connection with this objective is the distinction between overt and covert action. We will have a hard time with some of our friends who do not want to get involved in any civil war in China. I do not think that any change in language is needed but I think we should be aware of this problem.

General agreement was expressed.

General Bradley: The sixth objective, paragraph 1f, is stated as follows: “To deny Formosa to any hostile Chinese Government”.

Mr. Rusk: The question in this objective is to what extent are we willing to pursue this objective to the end of the trail? I think we can distinguish three major attitudes on the question of Formosa: (1) some countries—perhaps most countries except the Philippines and the U.S.—believe that Formosa is not of any strategic importance and that it can be regarded as a pawn to be played in any way that suits their interests; (2) some countries regard the Cairo commitment more seriously than we do—we feel that the Cairo agreement has already been compromised by the actions of the Soviet Union; (3) some countries feel that, although it is important to ensure the physical separation of Formosa from the control of the government on the mainland, the fact that Formosa is the seat of a rival Chinese Government is a troublesome and complicating factor. For example, the U.K., I believe, agrees that we should keep Formosa out of the hands of a hostile power but the U.K. does not see how this can be managed without involvement in internal Chinese affairs under present circumstances. It would be very helpful if the U.K. could agree with us on the strategic importance of Formosa. I am not familiar with the discussions you have had with the British Chiefs.17 We in State could well use the reinforcement of a decision by the British Chiefs on the strategic importance [Page 1539] of Formosa. I wonder whether you see any likelihood of a meeting of the minds with the British Chiefs on this question or do you feel that the British Chiefs express in this connection the Foreign Office point of view?

The Joint Chiefs indicated that the British Chiefs probably did express the Foreign Office point of view on this issue.

General Bradley: The problem is also complicated I think by the question of Hong Kong.

Admiral Sherman: I think that the British would not wish to extend the principle that when an ally is confined to an off-shore island we should write them off on that account.

Mr. Rusk: I would also like to inquire what is the mission of the 7th Fleet. In our view if Formosa is attacked and we come to its defense and fail in the attempt to defend the island, a bad political situation will arise. Is our commitment a limited one? For example, what will happen if a landing is achieved and the Communists are advancing with some success? How much do we intend to back up the 7th Fleet in such a situation?

General Bradley: I think we are all agreed that we do not want to commit ground forces to the defense of Formosa. The island should be defensible by the Chinese ground forces with our sea and air support. With a little help from us on equipment the Chinese Nationalists should be able to do the job. However, if they are infiltrated and cannot do the job, the question is what are our responsibilities in that situation. I doubt whether we are responsible for any further action if the island is lost as the result of defection by Chinese Nationalists.

Admiral Sherman: The interposition of the 7th Fleet was announced at a particular time for a particular purpose, namely to localize the fighting in Korea and to prevent the extension of hostilities in the Far East. If the large number of soldiers now in Formosa cannot defend the Island against an attack, even with the help of the 7th Fleet, then I think the same conclusion must apply to Japan and the Philippines. However, I do not accept that conclusion. In the foreseeable future we should be able to deny Formosa to the Chinese Communists with the 7th Fleet, some air support and the Chinese Nationalist ground forces. If we come to the point where this cannot be done, then I think we should revise our position on Formosa.

Mr. Nitze: Does this responsibility in Formosa increase the size of the forces which it is necessary for us to maintain in the Far East? Or is it thought that there would be sufficient notice of an attack so that we could pull the necessary ships back from Korean waters?

The Joint Chiefs indicated that the Formosan assignment did not in general increase the size of the forces which the U.S. must maintain [Page 1540] in the Far East. General Collins indicated in addition that the assignment would of course impose some additional requirements for ammunition and certain other materiel.

Mr. Nitze: It is my understanding that the Fox Report indicated a requirement for something in the order of $500,000,000 of additional supplies and equipment for Chinese Nationalist forces on Formosa.

General Collins: I am not familiar with the Fox Report and did not realize that large additional assistance was required. It is a very difficult job for the Chinese Communists to stage a large amphibious assault.

Mr. Matthews: What do we know about the morale situation on the island?

General Collins: I have been asking G–2 about this. I have the impression that the situation there is quite good and that the men are well trained.

Mr. Matthews: Then it is your opinion that defection does not pose a serious problem?

General Collins: No, apparently it does not. We have a man out there who is very familiar with the China situation and I will have our people get his evaluation of the morale situation.

Mr. Rusk: That would be a good idea. I think the situation on Formosa does require investigation by someone with experience in China.

General Collins: We have been considering a mission by General McClure.18 As you know, he had a good deal of experience with General Wedemeyer.

Admiral Sherman indicated that the Navy also had a man who might possibly be able to do a useful on-the-spot investigation. Admiral Sherman also inquired why the language of paragraph 1f had been revised to read “hostile Chinese Government” rather than “hostile government”. Mr. Rusk said he would be glad to delete the word “Chinese”.

Mr. Rusk: We have the impression that the situation top-side is bad. We have reports that indicate that Chiang’s leadership is not the best that could be provided, that his sons are being put in positions for which they are not well qualified, that the Secret Police are intervening in local politics in ways which are prejudicial to the defense of the island etc. Sun Li-Jen19 is under house arrest and other good men [Page 1541] are being employed in the wrong positions. We very much need good information on the situation on the island.

General Collins: We have a man—Barrett20—there on Formosa and I will see to it that we get his evaluation of the local situation.

Admiral Sherman: If Sun Li-Jen’s loyalty to Chiang is in question, the fact that he is under house arrest may actually contribute to the defense of Formosa.

General Bradley: We had better see what information we can obtain on this problem of defections.

General Collins: I do not feel myself that Formosa is essential to the security of the United States. I feel sure that we do not need it for airfields—our installations elsewhere are, I believe, adequate for our purposes—and I am not informed about the utility of the ports.

Admiral Sherman: I think our objective is to deny the island to a hostile government.

General Collins: Our objective is to deny it to the Communists. This is all a part of our effort to stop the spread of Communism in Asia. I can’t see that it matters to us what kind of a Government is in control in China so long as that government is not trying to extend its powers throughout the Far East.

Mr. Rusk: It had been our impression that a different line of thought had developed in the military establishment. It was our impression that you wanted Formosa as a potential base for offensive operations.

General Collins: Okinawa is adequate for that purpose—except possibly, as I indicated earlier, for ports.

Admiral Sherman: It is our objective to deny Formosa to the Chinese Communists but I doubt that Formosa is important enough for this to be one of our basic objectives.

Mr. Rusk: Then it is not your view that our policy must shift from denial to retention with a view to its possible exploitation as a base?

Admiral Sherman: The latter might be important in the event of an open war with the Chinese Communists.

General Bradley: If we were engaged in general war with the Chinese Communists, then Formosa would be useful. It would not even then be important enough as a base to warrant a large investment for its capture for that purpose but if it fell into [our?]21 hands, that would be helpful.

General Collins: I have just been informed that a recommendation is being made to the JCS—which is on the JCS Agenda for tomorrow—that the United States provide $237,000,000 in additional aid to [Page 1542] the Chinese Nationalists. Our people have trimmed the Fox recommendations rather substantially.

General Bradley: In summary we do want to prevent an invasion from the mainland. However, if Formosa falls from within, although we would regard that as unfortunate, we would not be able to help in that situation.

Mr. Rusk: Then the problem is a problem of denial.

General agreement was expressed.

[Here follows a brief discussion of the situation in Southeast Asia. The meeting concluded with some discussion of the war in Korea.]

  1. The source text represents a State Department draft, not cleared with any of the participants. It was drafted by Robert W. Tufts of the Policy Planning Staff and dated February 6, 1951.
  2. Maj. Gen. C. L. Bolté, Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, U.S. Army.
  3. Adm. Forrest P. Sherman, Chief of Naval Operations.
  4. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.
  5. Gen. Nathan F. Twining, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force.
  6. Rear Adm. Arthur C. Davis, Director of the Joint Staff.
  7. S. Everett Gleason, Deputy Executive Secretary, National Security Council.
  8. Rear Adm. Edmund T. Wooldridge, Representative of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the Senior Staff, NSC.
  9. Rear Adm. William G. Lalor, U.S. Navy (ret.), Secretary, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  10. Maj. Gen. Thomas D. White, Director of Plans, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, designate.
  11. George C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs.
  12. Maj. Gen. Truman H. Landon, Director of Plans, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
  13. Probably Vice Adm. Donald B. Duncan, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Operations). Adm. William H. P. Blandy, former Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, had retired in 1950. An agreed State–JCS memorandum of the meeting lists Duncan, but not Blandy, among the participants (S/P Files: Lot 64 D 563).
  14. G. Lewis Jones, Director of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs.
  15. For text of NSC 101/1, January 15, see p. 79.
  16. For text of the State Department draft of NSC 101/1, January 17, see p. 1515; the Senior Staff revision is not printed.
  17. Documentation concerning political-military discussions between the United States and the United Kingdom may be found in volume iv in the compilation on U.S. relations with the United Kingdom.
  18. Maj. Gen. Robert B. McClure, U.S. Army, had served as General Wedemeyer’s Chief of Staff when the latter was Commanding General, U.S. Forces in the China Theater and concurrently Chief of Staff in the China Theater by appointment of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, 1944–1946.
  19. Lt.-Gen. Sun Li-jen, Commander-in-Chief, Ground Forces, Republic of China.
  20. Col. David D. Barrett, Army Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Taipei.
  21. The word is illegible in the source text.