State-JCS Meetings, lot 61 D 417

Memorandum of the Substance of Discussion at a Department of State Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting 1


top secret

. . . . . . .

Korean Neutralized Zone

General Bradley: I was supposed to brief the NSC on this telegram to Clark.2 When we discussed this the other day3 I asked why we were making a show of carrying on negotiations and maintaining the neutralized zone from Kaesong to Munsan. There was a question whether we should end the whole thing. If there was a real threat of attack we should do something right now. The intelligence reports that came in [Page 774] yesterday show these forces moving in to be replacements. I told the President that the question of timing was something we could work out and that on the basis of this new report it was probably not a rush job. That is where the matter stands now. I think everybody agrees you could not give Clark the authority over there to attack when he wants to.

There is a problem of whether you call off the whole business relating to the neutralized zone or just the neutralization of Kaesong and Munsan. The question now is whether we should wait for a fait accompli with respect to the POWs. So many times we have seemed to be on the verge of getting something and then something has happened—maybe this would be just too much and would spoil the fait accompli and spoil a truce.

We talked to our Secretary after the meeting at the White House and pointed out that the General Assembly was about to meet and that there would be a problem with our allies. We felt that if we could protect ourselves militarily in the Kaesong area and still maintain the thin thread at Panmunjom it would be better. This telegram would maintain Panmunjom itself as a demilitarized zone.

Mr. Matthews: We talked to our Secretary and he said he would go along.

Mr. Nitze: Where would you have negotiations after carrying out the fait accompli with respect to the POWs?

Mr. Matthews: Under this proposal you could still have them at Panmunjom. You could not have negotiations in the UN on this.

General Bradley: From the military point of view, we think we should go ahead with the fait accompli and do it now, but we leave the timing to you.

Mr. Johnson: We think it should follow closely on the General Assembly.

General Bradley: Around the first of April?

Mr. Johnson: About then.

Mr. Matthews: The Assembly might end earlier, but Vishinsky is coming over and he could go on talking indefinitely. I gather you decided last week not to send the message to Clark requesting his views on the fait accompli

General Bradley: No, we decided not to let the matter go out of this room for the time being.

Mr. Johnson: That is right.

General Bradley: Then is this message to Clark on the neutralized zone all right with you? (Message attached)4

Mr. Matthews: Yes.

[Page 775]

General Bradley: There is one question of wording—whether a “now” should go in the seventh line. I think it should.

Did you want to discuss the timing of the fait accompli any further today?

Mr. Nitze: I think we should have someone go out and talk to Clark as early as possible, as we agreed last week.

General Bradley: We did not think the message should go out now. But the question is whether someone should make a trip there. Are any of the Chiefs going over soon?

General Vandenberg: General White is going on the 24th of February.

General Bradley: We could have White do it.

Mr. Matthews: Yes.

General Bradley: Vandenberg, will you talk to White?

General Vandenberg: Yes, and I will have him talk to you Brad and to Johnson.

General Lemnitzer: I think Colonel Matthews should be in this too; he is following the thing.

General Bradley: All right. Anything more?

Mr. Matthews: Not on this.

. . . . . . .

Economic Situation in Korea

General Collins: Have you gotten in on the over-all economic business in Korea?

Mr. Johnson: Yes.

General Collins: Clark is very concerned. Stevens and I may discuss it with the Secretary after lunch today. There is the immediate problem and the long-range one on how we handle economic matters and rehabilitation in Korea. The NSC discussed this the other day and appointed a committee of Humphrey, Dodge, the Secretary of the Navy and McNeil.5 They suggested sending a single representative of the President and the Defense Department who would operate under CINCUNC on all these problems. I am very much concerned with what will happen behind the front lines. Clark’s point is that we should let him settle immediately the back payment of won—he can settle it on the basis of 84 million. If it is settled, they will agree on a new exchange rate with an escalator clause.

Mr. Johnson: We have consistently supported Clark’s position.

General Collins: I am glad to know that. The fellow who goes out, however good he is, isn’t going to settle this in a month. In three months we will have lost more than we would lose by a settlement now.

[Page 776]

Mr. Matthews: We are supporting you in this position.

. . . . . . .

  1. A note on the title page read: “State Draft. Not cleared with any of the participants.”

    Of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Generals Bradley, Collins, and Vandenberg and Admiral Fechteler attended. Matthews headed the Department of State contingent, General Ruffner represented the Department of Defense, and Lay and Gleason the NSC. In all, 21 persons were present. Southeast Asia was also discussed at this meeting.

  2. The reference was to a draft of telegram JCS 931311, to Clark, Feb. 13, 1953; for the text as it was transmitted, see infra .
  3. Presumably reference was to the NSC meeting of Feb. 11; see the memorandum of discussion, p. 769.
  4. The message was not attached to the source text, but see footnote 2, above.
  5. Wilfred J. McNeil, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller).