S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351

Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Johnson) to the Secretary of State 1

top secret


  • United States objectives and courses of action with respect to Communist aggression in Southeast Asia (NSC 124).

The President has made it known that he wishes NSC 1242 to be presented to the National Security Council before his departure for Florida. It has accordingly been placed on the Council’s agenda for Wednesday, March 5, at which time it will be discussed if not actually considered.

The basic purpose of the paper is to anticipate the contingency of an invasion of Southeast Asia by Communist China and it is designed to concern itself with this subject to the exclusion, insofar as possible, of other related topics. In its present form it is the result of approximately two months of negotiation by the Department of a draft originally submitted by the Department of Defense. For the last fortnight it has been under consideration by the Joint Strategic Survey Committee on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Secretaries on behalf of the Department of Defense. When informed that the President wished the paper to be discussed in the Council on March 5 both the representatives of the Department of Defense and the JCS indicated that it was doubtful that their studies would be completed in time.

Nevertheless it is anticipated that the JCS and Department of Defense representatives will take the position that the analysis of the situation, the estimate of the importance of Southeast Asia and the courses of action recommended in the paper are all excellent but that the military cannot subscribe to the courses of action recommended with our military capabilities at their present level. The President and the Council will therefore undoubtedly be called upon to decide whether our present military capability including the base of mobilization shall be increased in order that the courses [Page 55] of action in NSC 124, if approved, be followed. Failure to do so will presumably make it impossible for us to accept the paper in its present form and will necessitate a complete revision.

  1. Drafted in the Office of Philippine and Southeast Asian Affairs (PSA) by Lacy and William M. Gibson, Deputy Director.
  2. Dated Feb. 13, p. 45.