241. Memorandum on the Substance of Discussions at the Department of State-Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, Washington, August 9, 1957, 11:30 a.m.1

[Here follow a list of 30 persons present and discussion of items 1 and 2. Participants for the Joint Chiefs included Admiral Radford, General Lemnitzer, Admiral Burke, General Pate, and Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General Thomas D. White. The Department of Defense was represented by Assistant Secretary Sprague. The Department [Page 499] of State officials included Murphy, Robertson, and Benson E.L. Timmons, Director of the Office of European Regional Affairs.]

3. Modernization Program in Korea

Mr. Robertson said that representatives of the Commonwealth nations as well as French and Thai representatives had been advised of the desire of the United States to provide its forces in Korea with modern weapons. Admiral Radford said that he had told these foreign representatives that the United States desired to introduce those weapons considered necessary from a military point of view and he had read off to them a list of modern weapons to exemplify United States planning.

Mr. Robertson emphasized that no commitment had been made one way or another regarding nuclear weapons. He said that Mr. Howard Jones had met with other representatives of the 16 nations which had provided forces to the United Nations Command and had indicated to them that we have no plans to introduce nuclear weapons at this time. Mr. Robertson said that he felt there is no obligation to go back to any of these representatives at this time since our position had been made entirely clear. Admiral Radford said that he agreed and that the decision taken at the NSC meeting on August 82 clearly provided the necessary authority for the United States forces to introduce modern weapons in Korea.

Mr. Robertson said that he thought it would be a mistake to send someone out from Washington to discuss a modernization program with President Rhee. General Lemnitzer agreed and said that this would undermine our officials on the spot.

Mr. Robertson stated that he understood Mr. Sprague is preparing a paper regarding negotiations with the Korean Government on the subject of modernization. General Lemnitzer commented that we seem to be making modernization of our forces in Korea contingent upon negotiations with the ROK Government. Admiral Radford said that he thought the President had given clear authority to go ahead on the modernization program for United States forces.

General Lemnitzer said that we are reorganizing our two divisions in Korea on a pentomic pattern with the emphasis on the Honest John as the basic weapon. It is essential that modern weapons be provided to maintain the strength of the divisions. He said that President Rhee is worried about maintaining the strength of his forces if their manpower is to be reduced. The United States has not been able to satisfy President Rhee on this score. Mr. Robertson commented that we have a serious problem of procedure in going [Page 500] about the modernization of our forces and keeping President Rhee satisfied.

Mr. Murphy asked what we have actually done so far on modernization. General Lemnitzer said that there have been some overflights by modern aircraft and that this has been very helpful although the Koreans well know that the planes are based in Japan and not in Korea. Some other new equipment is going into our forces in Korea but this has not been particularly impressive. Admiral Radford noted that the airfields in Korea are not adequate and that there is only one good one. He said that it is important to rotate air groups into Korea for familiarization and also that all-weather aircraft should be brought in. Admiral Radford said that Mr. Sprague is working on a paper regarding modernization and that for this purpose the programs of the three services must be reviewed. The Admiral expressed the view that we must do a little more to modernize the Korean forces. He noted that if our own two divisions should be over-run in case of attack, the resulting impression would be most unfavorable. Mr. Robertson commented that the presence of substantial numbers of Americans is also very desirable as a form of check on the Koreans.

Both Mr. Robertson and Admiral Radford noted that President Rhee is dissatisfied with the retaliation argument: he thinks it will do his country little good to have retaliation by the United States if a hostile attack has already over-run the nation.

[Here follows discussion of items 4–7.]

  1. Source: Department of State, State–JCS Meetings: Lot 61 D 417. Top Secret. Drafted by Richard B. Finn, Special Assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs.
  2. See Document 239.