Department of Defense files: Telegram

The Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (Clark) to the Chief of Staff, United States Army (Collins)

top secret

C 62098. Exclusive for Gen Collins. Refs: A. DA 937410.1 B. CX 61976.2 C. SecState msg 2522 Apr 24.3

Bob Murphy dlvrd the aide-mémoire from the ROK Government late 25 Apr4 and I have discussed the subject in detail with him.
The meaning of Rhee’s ultimatum as to the time at which he would withdraw the ROK mil forces from the UNC is not clear. This may be due to translation, however it is further complicated by the fact that the solution of the Korean problem will be the result of two separate agreements. It is therefore difficult to determine from reading ref C as to exactly when Rhee intends to implement his threat. It is capable of two interpretations as fols:
That he will remove ROK forces from UNC control after an armistice, if and when provisions of political conference do not provide [Page 941] for the withdrawal of Chinese Communist troops north of the Yalu—“The northern boundary of the Republic of Korea”.
That he will withdraw ROK forces from UNC control immediately folg the signing of an armistice if its terms do not prov the withdrawal of Chinese Communist trps north of the Yalu—”The northern boundary of the Republic of Korea”.
If the first interpretation is correct, it, of course, must be solved at governmental level during the political conference to be held folg the conclusion of an armistice agreement. If Rhee intends to implement his threat only after the political conf has failed to prov for a unified Korea and for the withdrawal of all Chinese Communists to the north of the Yalu River my problem will be much easier of solution. I consider that I can arrange the logistical support folg the withdrawal from the demilitarized zone in such a manner as to prov me with an excellent control of the capabilities of the ROK Army. There are some dangers to this in that it would reduce the efficiency of the ROK Army were the Communists to renew their aggression while I was effecting this re-arrangement of the logistical support.
If the second interpretation is correct and Rhee takes this action immediately upon signing of an armistice, it will, of course, present by far the most dangerous sit for the UNC. In fact, if the ROK Army were to, at this time, violate the armistice agreement by launching an atk against the Communists, hostilities would be renewed and we might in fact have to defend ourselves not only against the Communists but for a short time against the ROK Army. If this second interpretation is correct there would at first appear to be two courses of action:
To include within the armistice agreement itself an arrangement for the withdrawal of all fgn trps from Korea within a specified pd of time. You will recall that this was one of the items the Communists desired to have included on the agenda in the early days of the armistice negotiations. They might still consider that the inclusion of provisions for the withdrawal of all fgn trps from Korea is a desirable point to be settled by the armistice agreement itself. In light of ref C, my government may consider it desirable to include such provisions which now appear to have some advantages in view of increased str of ROKA. However, attn is called to the fact that Rhee has also inferred in ref C that the northernmost boundary of the Republic of Korea is the Yalu River, to wit, a unified Korea. Therefore, the inclusion of provisions for the withdrawal of all fgn trps from Korea within the armistice agreement itself would not in itself fulfill all of Rhee’s apparent demands. I consider the latter condition, which is a unified Korea, to be impracticable, if not impossible, of inclusion within the terms of a mil armistice and may rule out this course of action.
A second course of action is to be prepared to meet the contingency implied in ref C by drastic action on the part of the UNC. Plans to carry out such a course of action are all prepd and have been recently brought up to date. These plans cover our action under the folg conditions: [Page 942]
ROK trps, while not overtly hostile, are not responsive to UNC directives.
ROK Government and mil units, through ofl announcements, pub statements and other means, indicate a refusal to carry out UNC directives and a determination to proceed along an independent course of action.

ROK Government, mil units and/or people are overtly hostile to UNC trps.

Note: In each of the above three conditions our plans call for progressive control and limitation of sups aval to ROKA and the concentration of UN forces other than ROK, and protection of United States supplies and installations.

Establishment of an interim government in the event of breakdown of ROK Government admin. This contemplates as an initial step the placing of Rhee in protective custody.
In view of the present sit, I am considering postponing Gen Paik’s trip to the states, as I consider the present scd [schedule] to be untimely. I will advise you further on this subject. Paik is a strong supporter of the UNC and I believe he can be depended upon under adverse conditions to remain loyal to the UNC and that he may have the ability to keep the ROK Army in hand.
I still believe that Rhee is bluffing and attempting to put on a dictatorial act. However, he is carrying it to extremes. Rhee made the ROK Army aval to the UNC Commander, ref part 1, para d, ref B. Inasmuch as this is at this time largely a UNC problem, I propose to go and see him without delay. I desire to talk to him informally, personally and alone as I have found from experience that this method produces the most fruitful results. I intend to find out exactly what he means as to the time at which he intends to implement his threat and to learn as much as I can as to his future intentions. Unless I hear from you to the contrary, I will plan to see him on Mon.5 I again wish to emphasize that I consider the command relationship of ROK to the UNC to be a UNC problem which I alone should handle at this time as the UNC Mil Commander.
Briggs had planned to be here today. However, last night I learned from the pilot of my plane that he had cancelled his trip. I immediately phoned him to verify this info and learned he had recd instructions to call on Rhee. He further informed me he would send me a msg as he could not discuss this subject by phone. I recd the “Eyes only” msg at 09001 this morning sent by Dept of State to Ambassador Briggs on 25 Apr directing him to dlvr a specific msg to Pres Rhee.6
This msg probably will change the timing of my visit with Rhee as I should have prior knowledge of Rhee’s reaction to the msg and if by any chance whether Briggs discussed the ques of comd relationship of the ROKA with the UNC. In this connection Ambassador Murphy and I feel that we would have been in a far better psn to have affected coordination had the “Eyes only” msg been transmitted simultaneously to Korea and Tokyo for dlvr to us yesterday. I also would have been able to have ansd ref A with more dispatch.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Dated Apr. 18, p. 917.
  3. The reference was to telegram 673 to Pusan, repeated to Tokyo as 2522, not printed, but see footnote 4, supra.
  4. The aide-mémoire is printed as an attachment to a memorandum of conversation by Robertson, Apr. 24, p. 935.
  5. Apr. 27.
  6. This presumably was a reference to telegram 669 to Pusan, Apr. 24, 1953, which has not been found in Department of State files.