795.00/1–3152: Telegram


The Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (Ridgway) to the Department of the Army2

top secret

C 60961. Refs:

Para 1, part 4, HNC 588, 18 Dec 51, under “Agenda item 3”.
Para 1, part 5, HNC 588, 18 Dec 51, under “Agenda item 3”.
Para 4, part 1, JCS 90083, 20 [19] Dec 51.4

I am apprehensive that the potential consequences of the action proposed in ref C, above, may yet lack full recognition.
This comd would have very little capability to bring “full retribution” militarily upon Communist China, under the assumptions which follow: [Page 11]
That the US Govt will auth and dir the UNC delegation substantially to abandon its present position which, if successfully maintained, would prohibit construction or rehabilitation of airfields for jet opns in North Korea following an armistice.
That if such directive were issued and subsequently an armistice were concluded, Communist China and North Korea would without delay construct and rehabilitate such airfields in North Korea as would permit the sudden surprise basing of combat aircraft thereon in strength, including jets.
That the US would not auth the use of atomic weapons against Communist China, including Manchuria.
That no substantial augmentation of our air potential would be practicable in less than from 6 months to 1 year.
If these assumptions materialized, the capability of this comd to penetrate into Communist China, including Manchuria, to a sufficient depth to inflict any serious lasting damage upon its economy and war potential would not exist. The present air strength of this comd is incapable of successfully extending opns into Manchuria against an air strength of over 800 high performance jet fighters arrayed against us. Without a major increase in our air capability it is questionable if the nations which subscribe to the proposed declaration could offer an effective deterrent to Communist China’s renewal of hostilities. This would be particularly true if the USSR were to respond to such a UN declaration by openly or privately reassuring Communist China of her support, even if the support were limited to employment of figher defense forces in Communist China or Manchuria. Moreover, UN ability to launch limited aerial offensives would decrease proportionally to the southward displacement in Korea of Communist jet fighter concentrations, even if such fighters were restrained to a defensive role.
It is my belief that Communist Chinese military authorities have already reached the same conclusions I have indicated above. In my opinion the retributive potentiality of UN military power against Red China would be noneffective unless the full results of precipitating World War 3 were to be accepted, and the use of atomic weapons auth.
Assumption “a” in para 2, above, is admittedly conjectural. However it has some foundation, deriving in part from your decision not to permit me to direct the UNC delegation to inform the Communists that our present position on the point in question is final and irrevocable, and in part from continuing allusions in responsible press quarters that the US Govt is contemplating further concessions to the Communists in the armistice negotiations. One of these reports, an AP release datelined Wash, 5 Jan, is quoted below:

“America is seen prepared to make new concessions.

Nippon Times 6 Jan 52.

“But it would take firm stand if Reds break truce once it is decided.


[Page 12]

“Washington, Jan 5—while America intends neither to give any more ground at the Korean truce talks than is found nec nor to retreat on any points to which the Reds already have agreed, the US is authoritatively described as prepared to make certain further concessions if deemed necessary.

“There was great official reluctance to discuss what form these concessions might take.

“The United States was reported Friday night to be advising its allies that a Korean armistice—if obtained—should be supported by an implied ultimatum to the Reds. This would put them on notice that an all out air-sea war will be waged against Red China if the truce is violated by new aggression.

“Word of this reported stand by the United States circulated in official circles after American Government departments concerned had reviewed the whole prolonged history of the truce parley and weighed political and military possibilities of the new position.

“From what could be ascertained in diplomatic and military quarters, the American position was apparently taking this form:

  • “1. All United Nations prisoners held by the enemy would be released, with a definite deadline for the prisoner exchange to be completed.
  • “2. The line would be at the battlefront existing at the time of settlement, presumably about where it is now.
  • “3. If Communist Forces crossed that line and broke the truce terms, the war would no longer be confined to the Korean peninsula. Red China would cease to have the sanctuary she has enjoyed.
  • “4. But the United States would not again be drawn into another stalemate land campaign. Army troops would not be used nor any invasion of the Chinese mainland contemplated.

    “Instead, a tight blockade of Red China’s coast by US air and sea forces, coupled with bombardment of strategic targets within reach of land or sea-based aviation or of naval gunfire would be applied.”

I appreciate that political discussions now proceeding in Wash as well as in the UN Councils may have a determining effect on US Govt decisions with respect to the current positions taken, and auth to be taken, by the UNC delegation here. Therefore, I do not at this time rqst further instructions.
I am, however, rqst that the views herein offered receive full consideration.
If the US Govt should decide to support our present position, even to the breaking pnt, then I suggest that the sooner the UNC delegation is empowered to inform the Communists to that effect, the sooner might we reasonably expect an acceptable armistice.
  1. This telegram was one of a number of top secret Army communications for January 1952 filed together in a bound folder, which was given a single file number when received at the Department of State. Thus all top secret telegrams for January 1952 and subsequent months or half months in the 795.00 file will have the same file number.
  2. In this compilation, the title supplied for General Ridgway, and subsequently General Clark, follows the designation given in the source text. The military telegrams indicated either CINCFE or CINCUNC, the commands held by both men.
  3. The time of dispatch of military telegrams incoming to Washington from Tokyo was indicated in the source text in terms of Greenwich Mean Time. In this compilation, unless otherwise indicated, the time is given in Local (Tokyo) Standard Time, which is 9 hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time.
  4. For text of telegrams HNC 588 and JCS 90083, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. vii, Part 1, pp. 1366 and 1377, respectively.