State–JCS Meetings, lot 61 D 417

No. 86
Memorandum of the Substance of Discussion at a Department of State–Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, Held at the Pentagon, March 27, 1953, 11:30 a.m.1

top secret

[Here follows a list of 16 persons present, including Generals Bradley, Collins, and Vandenberg and Admiral Fechteler. The Department of State Delegation was headed by Nitze and Allison. S. Everett Gleason represented the National Security Council Staff.

[The meeting opened with a brief discussion concerning a bill before Congress pertaining to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.]

Revision of CINCPAC Orders

General Bradley: We wanted to discuss the question of changing CINCPAC’s orders about Formosa. As of now, he does base a few reconnaissance planes in the Pescadores, but none on Formosa. Now that his mission has become a little more touchy than it was before, we thought that some extra steps were called for.

Admiral Fechteler: We propose under these draft instructions2 to permit him to base patrol and reconnaissance aircraft on Formosa and to undertake development of those installations which would permit him to base other planes on Formosa in case of emergency. We propose to give him authority to install communications against an emergency. Further, the draft directive would give him authority to conduct reconnaissance over all Chinese coastal areas. As of now, he is limited on the south to Hong Kong. It calls for authority for him to talk to Chinese Nationalists on plans for the defense of Formosa and to participate in combined training as necessary. It would give him authority in event of an attack to base other aircraft on Formosa and to augment other American personnel, with the exception of ground forces. It also gives him authority to pre-stock materials and equipment which might be necessary in an emergency.

Mr. Allison: We have gone over the draft directive. In general, it seems to us to be all right, although there are a few points on which we think some clarification is needed. We have recommended to our Secretary that we should agree in principle. He has not yet had time to study the question and we thought that it would be [Page 165]helpful today to get some clarification on the points that we believe need to be cleared up so that we can brief our Secretary before he makes a decision.

In the first place, is my understanding correct that the directive will be accompanied by a supplementary letter describing the manner in which it is to be implemented? If so, we think it would be helpful to have State and Defense jointly draft such a message which would lay out the general considerations that Radford should keep in mind in implementing this directive.

Admiral Fechteler: That would be fine with us.

Mr. Allison: One specific question we have is in Section 3, a, (6) where Radford is instructed to coordinate with the Chinese Nationalists plans for defense of the island. We would like to suggest additional language to the effect that in coordinating plans for the defense there should be no commitment made for U.S. support which is not required by U.S. interests or which might jeopardize other commitments of the U.S. such as, for example, with regard to Japan.

General Vandenberg: I would like to raise the general question as to whether we are completely clear on what we may be getting into. As I understand it, we are getting ready, unilaterally, since this is a purely U.S. undertaking, to protect Formosa. If the Chinese Communists should mount an air attack on Formosa, we would counter it. This would undoubtedly involve attacks on the mainland. Given the Sino-Russian agreement,3 there would be every possibility that Russia would assist the Chinese Communists. In that case, we would be really getting into a war with the U.S.S.R. and China all by ourselves. It seems to me that if that is the policy, everybody involved should clearly recognize the implications.

General Bradley: When we acted on this paper, we acted on the basis that Radford already had instructions to defend Formosa, but that he had no collateral instructions as to how to carry out this defense.

General Vandenberg: I am not disagreeing with the directive. I agree with the paper completely. The only thing is that I think everybody should be clear as to what the possible implications are. As I see it, we have to realize that Chiang Kai-shek is a strong-headed sort of person. He is going to have planes with which he can, if he wants to, attack the Communist mainland. If he does, and if there are Communist attacks in retaliation, I think we should fully understand the kind of flypaper that we are stuck on.

[Page 166]

Mr. Allison: That is undoubtedly a serious question and there are undoubtedly serious implications in our position, but if to some degree we can get in and plan with the Chinese Nationalists, we would, I think, know better what they are doing and have more influence on what they might do. This wouldn’t eliminate the danger which you are talking about, but it would reduce it.

General Vandenberg: I guess my real question is as to whether the Secretary of State has been fully advised from the purely military point of view what the ramifications and implications of our position are with respect to Formosa. It seems to me that the change of mission of the 7th Fleet was addressed primarily to a cold war effect. I am not questioning the decision in any way, but I do think that the Secretary of State should be fully advised on the military implications of the decision.

Mr. Allison: I think that some of your worries are what I had in mind when I suggested that we should carefully draft a supplementary message which would give Radford advice as to how he should handle himself in this situation.

General Vandenberg: Radford is in a position where he has to be damned careful if he is not to get into a war with Russia and still is to carry out the mission that he has been given.

General Collins: I think I should point out that this directive is not an approved JCS paper. It is approved only for discussion with State. I myself have very serious reservations about the language in 4, b, which instructs Radford to “participate in planning defensively or offensively.”4

Mr. Allison: One of the questions that I had was whether Radford was being instructed to participate in offensive plans with the Chinese or whether he was being instructed to undertake such planning in CINCPAC alone.

Mr. Nitze: Paragraph 3 instructs him to coordinate with the Nationalist Government the plans referred to in both 2 and 4.

General Collins: I personally part company with the directive when it calls for Radford to conduct joint offensive planning with the Chinese.

General Vandenberg: I really have no question about doing that, but I do have a question as to whether everybody knows precisely what we may be getting into.

Mr. Nitze: There really are a series of questions. The first is, are we prepared to defend Formosa against an unprovoked Communist attack? This question we really settled two years ago when the 7th Fleet was given its original mission. The second question is, whether [Page 167]we are prepared to defend Formosa against Chinese Communist attack if the attack is in response to Chinese Nationalist action. This is the question on which I don’t think as yet we have a firm decision. The third question is the degree to which we should coordinate planning with the Chinese Nationalists.

General Vandenberg: I wouldn’t worry about the third question if the implications of the second question were clearly evident in the minds of the Secretary of State and the President.

Admiral Fechteler: I think we do have some control over Chiang Kai-shek by reason of the paucity of his capabilities.

General Bandenberg: He is getting fighters now that he can use if he wants to.

General Bradley: He could bomb the Chinese coast and that might well bring Communist retaliation. I am inclined to share Collins’ worry about joint offensive planning.

Mr. Nitze: Would Collins’ point be met if we omitted reference to 4, b in paragraph 3?

General Collins: I think that would take care of it. Radford obviously has to coordinate with the Chinese Nationalists to carry out a defensive mission.

Mr. Allison: There is, however, some language I believe in 48/55 which calls for the U.S. itself to prepare plans for possible use of the Chinese Nationalist forces.

Mr. Gleason: There is a new Formosa paper6 now being worked on in the Planning Board7 which, as I remember, repeats some such language.8

[Page 168]

Admiral Fechteler: It seems to me that we shouldn’t wait for any N.S.C. paper before proceeding with this directive. Radford is in a way in a vacuum. His general instructions have been changed, but he has no collateral instructions. I think we should get ahead with this as rapidly as possible.

Mr. Allison: Can’t we take the reference to 4 out of 3, and then send out the directive?

General Collins: I still don’t see how Radford can really plan, even by himself, to make Chinese forces effective for both the defensive and offensive without going into coordination of plans with the Chinese.

General Bradley: Why couldn’t we strike the reference to 4, b out of paragraph 3, and then strike the words “or offensively” from 4, b?

General Collins: I think that would be okeh.

General Bradley: Then why don’t we do that and add the language of caution which Allison has suggested?

Mr. Nitze: Going back to the question that Vandenberg raised on fighters, what degree of control do we have over their use?

General Bradley: We still have some control. We are due to give them interceptors and fighter bombers. The interceptors are 86’s, which have a very limited range. Perhaps we should give them 86’s and not 84’s.

General Vandenberg: They won’t actually get 86’s for a long time, but the 84’s are actually going forward. With 86’s they might be able to carry out limited strafing of Chinese coastal positions, but the 84’s are fighter bombers of considerable range, and with these they could undertake bombardment well into Chinese Communist territory.

General Collins: The new situation that we are in really arises from two things. We have revised the mission of the 7th Fleet so that now a barrier is removed against offensive action by the Chinese Nationalists and, whereas before the Nationalists had no offensive capability, we are now providing them with an offensive capability in the form of jet aircraft and it will be difficult if not impossible for Radford to judge whether any Chinese Communist attack is provoked or unprovoked.

General Vandenberg: I am concerned that the military implications of this should be clearly set forth and understood by our responsible officials.

General Bradley: I should think we could present them in connection with the April 8 meeting,9 or the Chiefs could comment on the new Formosa paper.

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Mr. Nitze: It would be helpful to have a paper from you which we could use to brief our Secretary and Under Secretary before the April 8 meeting.

General Bradley: We will try and prepare a paper.

Admiral Fechteler: As I understand it on the directive, we are going to strike out the phrase, “or offensively”, use Allison’s language, and then Allison and Libby can work out a supplementary message.

Mr. Allison: That’s fine, but I would like to remind you that our Secretary has not yet studied or approved the directive.

[Here follows discussion concerning the Korean war, Switzerland, and Panama.]

  1. A note on the title page reads: “Draft. Not cleared with any of participants.”
  2. See footnote 2, supra.
  3. The Sino-Soviet Treaty of Feb. 14, 1950; see footnote †, Document 50.
  4. The quotation is inaccurate; section 4.b of the draft directive was identical to section 4.b of JCS telegram 935782, Document 90.
  5. For text of NSC 48/5, “United States Objectives, Policies and Courses of Action in Asia”, May 17, 1951, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. vi, Part 1, p. 33.
  6. Reference is to NSC 146, “United States Objectives and Courses of Action With Respect to Formosa and the National Government of China,” Mar. 27, 1953, a paper prepared by the NSC Planning Board. (S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 146 Series) The statement of policy in NSC 146/2, Document 150, is a revised version of NSC 146.
  7. The NSC Planning Board, created in March 1953, had assumed the functions formerly performed by the NSC Senior Staff. The Planning Board consisted of the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, chairman, and representatives from the Departments of State, Treasury, and Defense; the Office of Defense Mobilization; and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President on Disarmament.
  8. Paragraph 13 of NSC 146 reads as follows: “Enter into a program of coordinated military planning with the Chinese National Government designed to achieve maximum cooperation from the Nationalists in furtherance of over-all U.S. military strategy in the Far East.” A memorandum of Apr. 6 by Lay to the National Security Council, incorporated into the copy of NSC 146 cited above, requested that the paragraph be revised, as agreed by the Planning Board, by deleting the words “in the Far East” and adding the following sentence: “In undertaking such a program of coordinated military planning, secure a commitment that Chinese National Forces will not engage in offensive operations considered by the United States to be inimical to the best interest of the United States.”
  9. NSC 146 was scheduled for discussion at the Apr. 8 meeting of the National Security Council; see the memorandum of discussion, Document 93.