S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 143 Series

No. 75
Record of Meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on NSC 143, Monday, March 23, 19531

top secret

a. Members present were:

  • Lt. General Willis D. Crittenberger, chairman
  • Mr. Charles B. Marshall, State member
  • Brig. General John Weckerling, CIA member
  • Mr. Edmund Taylor, PSB member
  • Colonel Roy A. Murray, Executive Secretary

b. Others attending were:

  • General James A. Van Fleet, part-time
  • General J. Lawton Collins, afternoon
  • Brig. General Robert Cutler, part-time
  • Lt. Colonel Edward T. McConnell, part-time
  • Mr. Aldo L. Raffa, CIA
  • Lt. Colonel E. F. Black, Department of Defense
  • Lt. Colonel G. E. Levings, Office, Chief Legislative Liaison,U.S.A., afternoon
  • Mrs. Margaret Grubb


General Crittenberger asked General Cutler to outline the background of NSC 1432 and President Eisenhower’s views on the subject.

General Cutler said the first sentence of the President’s statement is the keynote—that NSC 143 is a possible means of stopping the drain on our manpower from the Korean situation. He reported that the President feels there are anti-Communist men of combat capacity who would like to volunteer to rid the world of Communism, and that the purpose of VFC is to find some way to relieve the U.S. The President wants the committee to formulate whatever plan seems best and strict adherence to all the details in NSC 143 is not necessary. General Cutler stressed the voluntary aspect. He said the appointment of General Crittenberger to head the committee is evidence of the importance the President attaches to it. He believes that Stalin’s death adds impetus to VFC and that the President will make recurrent queries on its progress.

General Crittenberger asked if this is one of a number of factors in the President’s over-all thinking on ways of ending the Korean stalemate. General Cutler said it was.

General Crittenberger asked if it would be satisfactory to the President if the plan drawn is on a modest scale and thus easier to get through Congress, to implement militarily and for PSB to highlight psychologically. It would be understood that the plan could be expanded later. General Cutler said a modest beginning would be satisfactory and that the 250,000 figure is NSC 143 is not binding.
Mr. Marshall commented on the difficulties the State Department will have selling the plan to other governments. General Cutler asked if any thought had been given to locations of training sites and was told that to attract recruits from behind the Iron Curtain, depots would have to border on Curtain countries in Europe. Mr. Marshall said this might require parliamentary action in some countries. Lodge Act recruitment had not required such action because only West Germany was involved. General Cutler hoped that NATO countries who are receiving aid from the U.S. would not cause difficulties.
General Cutler asked if the committee’s plan might be finished by May 1; General Crittenberger thought it would be before that date.
Mr. Taylor questioned the advisability of presenting the plan as one to relieve the strain on American youth since this could cause psychological repercussions abroad. Finding the right way to present the plan for both domestic and foreign reception is a prickly problem but can be solved, he said.
General Cutler mentioned provisions put in the 1945 Recruitment Act3 by Senator Carl Hayden regarding recruitment of Filipinos to fight in Japan. Colonel McConnell reported that two divisions of Filipinos were activated but were not satisfactory and were disbanded.
When General Cutler left, General Crittenberger introduced General Van Fleet. He said that the committee, in view of General Van Fleet’s experience with troops of other nationalities, would like his views on military, psychological and security aspects of a prospective VFC.
General Van Fleet said:
The first need is an incentive to fight. Recruits must have their hearts in what they are doing. This is true of Greeks, Koreans, Americans. Building the desire to fight will require honest propaganda and indoctrination that the men are fighting for relatives in bondage to the Soviets and for their land.
Loyalty of recruits should be screened and checked continuously for agent penetration. Those evidencing disaffection, dissatisfaction or disloyalty should be eliminated.
Training program should be hard and should not introduce luxuries to spoil people who have never had any. Troops should be kept from contact with demoralizing elements.
Recruits should be apt students who do as they’re told so the U.S. gets full value for time and money spent.
The unit leaders—under American command—should be strong, aggressive, of same nationality as the unit and speaking the same language. They need not be highly intelligent since brilliant strategy should not be expected of them.
General Van Fleet has found foreign troops easy to handle, quick to learn, and prone to have blind faith in American teachings. There would be no objection, he said, to rugged and dangerous training, as foreign troops expect casualties in training. U.S. officers must, however, maintain national pride and take care not to insult foreign troops who often have more innate courtesy and better manners than Americans.
Summarizing, General Van Fleet said that if we have equipment and military missions for a VFC, we should be able to make something out of it. He felt that the plan should not, however, be predicated on a manpower shortage. There is plenty of manpower in Korea and Nationalist China.
Mr. Marshall asked about using troops recruited in Europe in Asia. General Van Fleet said it would be difficult to recruit troops for an indefinite fighting destination since this would make them prisoners rather than volunteers.
Mr. Marshall asked how to handle the question of chain of command in dealing with multi-nationals. The General suggested keeping the U.S. in top command and attaching small national units to larger U.S. units.
Mr. Marshall asked how the problem of military justice is handled in Korea. General Van Fleet said the foreign units handle their own discipline, setting up courts to pass sentences and carry them out and referring questions to their national authorities when necessary. Mr. Marshall pointed out that VFC troops would not be able to refer to their homeland authorities. General Van Fleet reiterated that it would be better to let nationalities follow their own concepts of law than to impose U.S. concepts on them.
General Weckerling asked if secondary, go-between powers could be used to organize and control troops, for example the British for the Poles in U.K. General Van Fleet thought the possibility should be examined since it might make recruiting and handling easier but that it might also open up problems with Congress.
General Weckerling asked if divisions of ROKs or Chinese Nationalists could be added to a VFC if this were found to be advisable and economical. General Van Fleet did not believe Koreans [Page 196] should be included in VFC though it might be all right to try them out in battalions to see how this would work.
General Weckerling asked if battalions could be organized from Chinese PW’s in Korea. General Van Fleet said emphatically they could, that they have been asking to fight with us. The same goes for the Koreans. This idea was used in Greece. After proper indoctrination, Greek ex-prisoners made excellent troops for our side.
Mr. Raffa asked about screening loyal troops from disloyal. General Van Fleet said PWs in Korea were screened a year ago and that half wanted to fight.
Mr. Taylor asked whether Soviet border controls would prevent recruitment on such borders as Greek and Bulgarian. General Van Fleet does not think any border can be completely closed.
General Van Fleet repeated that if a VFC can be equipped, it can be used. He added that austerity standards should prevail. The American Army, he said, doesn’t know what austerity is until it sees how other armies operate. Chinese replacements, for example, enter battle without equipment and get it from the troops they replace. He doubts if one third of all the equipment issued to U.S. troops is used.
The meeting recessed from 11:15 to 2:30.
At 2:30 General Crittenberger introduced General Collins and explained that the committee would like his views on the advantages, disadvantages and feasibility from a military point of view of a VFC
General Collins stated he has supported the general idea of a VFC for some time and testified for the Lodge Act4 before Congress. He urged the committee to read the Lodge Act hearings for clues to Congressional attitude.
Problems in connection with a VFC which he suggested for committee consideration were:
Establishment of objectives. General Collins thinks that a VFC for Europe and a VFC to fight in Korea are two vastly different things. The first he considers worth attempting; the second would involve integrating troops into a UN force in an area entirely strange to them. His present judgment is that the latter is infeasible and its cost and difficulties would outweigh its advantages. Among the difficulties are language and the problems of replacement, morale and rotation.
The length of time envisaged for the program—three, five or ten years. Commitments would have to be made to recruits which would depend on Congressional support to fulfill.
The problem of the allegiance of the corps is one Congress will inquire about. General Collins suggested the committee examine testimony by Frank Nash, Carl Van Depsen and General Collins on EDC before the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
General Collins thought the project should not apply to Orientals because of the citizenship problems that would arise. He felt this would be a useful project in Europe to support U.S. forces. He emphasized support rather than combat.
Mr. Marshall asked if General Collins would regard VFC as an addition or a substitute for U.S. forces in Europe. The General replied he would hate to see VFC used as mercenaries to substitute for U.S. troops.
Mr. Marshall questioned the relative return per dollar spent for a VFC from the standpoint of U.S. security. In General Collins’ opinion, troops used in Europe would net good returns; in Korea he would prefer to equip Koreans to fight in their own country. He added that equipping forces for combat in Korea would be far more expensive than providing light equipment for support troops in Europe.
General Weckerling queried General Collins on the practicality of using a secondary sponsor. Border controls and the unavailability of Germans limit the number of recruits available in Europe, he said, with the result that we could probably depend heavily on émigrés now residing in England and elsewhere, such as the Poles. General Collins answered that the more nations involved, the more problems would arise. The question of allegiance would be complicated by a secondary sponsor and he doubted the advantage of dividing responsibility. EDC, however, might be used for sponsorship if it evolves as a political entity.
Mr. Taylor questioned the psychological aspects of attracting recruits to serve for support instead of combat. General Collins said he wondered about the validity of the argument that combat service has more appeal than support and that, in his opinion, offering U.S. citizenship would be the chief attraction. Furthermore, he stated, arrangements could be made to offer combat service for some volunteers. In combat service, however, the problems of replacement, rotation, treatment of wounded and liability for death would be more acute than for support troops.
Mr. Taylor asked if the concepts of the French Foreign Legion and VFC were very different. General Collins answered that VFC is not the same as the French Foreign Legion. The question of the allegiance of the French Foreign Legion was brought up, and Colonel Murray reported its allegiance is to France with a provision against being required to fight against one’s native country.
General Crittenberger asked General Collins how much inducement VFC would offer to recruits. He was told that U.S. citizenship would offer great appeal and that recruits would fall into two groups—(1) rabid anti-Communists and (2) young men separated from and unable to go back to their homelands who would like to go to the U.S. with dignity.
Colonel Black mentioned that last year an Army team took plans for a prospective VFC to Europe and U.S. Commanders there were not very receptive to it. General Collins did not know about this but stated that General Handy has given strong support to the Labor Service in Europe and that he felt other U.S. officers there would favor VFC as a means of providing needed service troops.
General Crittenberger asked General Collins’ opinion of starting VFC on the modest basis of a few battalions in locations where the difficulties with foreign governments might be least, and expanding later. General Collins favored this idea. He doubts the number could reach a goal of 250,000 and said Congress would be more likely to go along with a modest plan. Further, setting the sights too high would cause adverse psychological reaction if they were not attained. General Collins was also skeptical as to whether Congress would agree to recruiting any but Europeans and stated that termination problems in case of withdrawal of Congressional support would be less serious if VFC were confined to Europe.
Colonel Levings stated the legislative questions had been fully covered by General Collins’ statements except for the one of status in case of capture.
In answer to General Crittenberger’s question, General Collins thought European allies would have no strong objections to VFC unless it attempted to enlist their nationals. He thought neutral countries would, however, raise objections.
Asked about Lodge Act recruits, General Collins said he had had no association with them but had reports that they are valuable adjuncts.
After General Collins’ departure, General Crittenberger asked committee opinion on inviting Mr. Allen Dulles, Mr. C. D. Jackson, and a State Department representative to speak. General Weckerling reported that Mr. Dulles is out of town; Mr. Taylor will ask Mr. Jackson if he wishes to appear. It was decided to have Colonel Black invite General Donovan.5

Colonel Murray was asked to draft a cable to General Handy from General Crittenberger requesting his personal estimate on the value of a VFC and his recommendations on whether it would best [Page 199] be used for support or combat. Discussion with Colonel Davis will precede final preparation of the cable.6

The next meeting was set for 10:00 a.m. Wednesday.

  1. The meeting began at 10 a.m., adjourned at 11:10 a.m., reconvened at 2:30 p.m., and ended at 3:45 p.m.
  2. Document 70.
  3. Armed Forces Voluntary Recruitment Act of 1945,P.L. 79–190 (59 Stat. 538), Oct. 6, 1945.
  4. Reference is to the Alien Enlistment Act of 1950, P.L. 81–597 (64 Stat. 316), June 30, 1950.
  5. Allen Dulles and Jackson attended the Mar. 30 meeting (see Document 77); there is no indication that General Donovan attended any of the meetings.
  6. Not further identified.