Memorandum Distributed by the Secretary of Defense (Wilson) at the 193d Meeting of the National Security Council Tuesday, April 13, 19541

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Rough Costs Involved in Expansion of Republic of Korea Armed Forces Cost of Initial Equipment

The equipment and supplies required to implement the JCS recommendations with respect to the ROK Army and Marine forces are physically available in Korea. A substantial, but undetermined, amount of this has already been turned over to the ROK forces. The remaining equipment and supplies will be turned over from existing Army stocks.

Since all the equipment in question is already in Korea at the present time, turning it over to the ROK forces does not involve an immediate or direct expenditure by the Army. Additional Army expenditures of an undetermined amount may be involved in future, however, if such equipment and supplies are replaced by the Army. If the supplies and equipment were not given to the ROK forces, they would be available as part of Army mobilization reserves, but an undetermined amount of money would be required to cover the costs of packing, handling and transportation of the items involved to return them to the U.S. or other areas in which they would be stored.

A major part of the cost of equipping the ROK ground forces involves providing equipment for the non-divisional and service support units. The Department of the Army is currently reviewing the tables of organization and equipment for these ROK units. If the build-up continues on the basis of the recommendations of the U.S. Far East Command, which appears to be susceptible to downward revision, the ROK Army would be provided with initial equipment valued at roughly $750 million, and the ROK Marines would be given equipment valued at approximately $25 million.

In the case of the Air Force, the aircraft required to convert the existing ROK fighter wing to jets are not expected to be made available prior to FY 1956. It is estimated that it would cost about $43.5 million [Page 1789] to provide the jet aircraft required for the conversion and undertake the necessary transition training.

In the case of the Navy, it is estimated that it would cost between $11 and $12 million to activate and completely outfit 27 additional ships involved in the recommended augmentation of the ROK Navy. To the extent that any of these ships were actually released from the Active Fleet, rather than from the Reserve Fleet, this cost would be reduced.

Annual Maintenance Costs

It is estimated that it would require an outlay of at least $1 billion per year to operate the proposed ROK forces under peacetime conditions. About $400 million of this annual cost would consist of military equipment and supplies, virtually all of which would have to be provided under the Military Assistance program. The Koreans would have to budget for the remaining $600 million or more per year to cover the costs of military pay and allowances, food, clothing, maintenance and operation, military construction, etc. It is clear that the ROK civilian economy cannot carry this burden. Consequently, the U.S. would have to be prepared to meet an annual bill of roughly $1 billion per year for maintenance of the presently approved ROK forces, partly through direct military assistance and partly through economic or defense support aid.

  1. According to a covering memorandum by J.S. Cottman of S/S to Harold N. Waddell of FE, Apr. 13, this memorandum was prepared in the Department of Defense to familiarize the NSC with the costing problem involved in expansion of the ROK forces.