257. Telegram From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Sprague) to the Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (Decker)1

DEF 933850. This is a joint State–Defense Message in three parts from ASD/ISA signed Sprague. Ref: (A) UK 977475 CC,2DTG 060525Z (Nov 57).

Part I. Plans outlined State–Defense 2293 called for (1) preferably, reduction four active ROKA divisions with their supporting units (i.e. four division slices); or (2) less desirable, reduction personnel equivalent four divisions plus their supporting units; or (3) if absolutely necessary, alternative (1) or (2) and addition two ROKA reserve divisions.

Minimum acceptable plan is reduction by 30 June 1958 of 61,500 men from ROKA actual (as opposed to authorized) strength, listed by field for FY 58 submission to Congress as 618,369, plus such adjustments in other services’ actual strengths as indicated by you in Ref (A). Thus “Scope” (para 6A Ref A) should read:

Present Strength Scope of Adjustment Strength After Reduction
Army * 618,369 -61,500 556,869
Marine 27,4 83 -3,500 23,983
Navy 14,810 + 1,600 16,410
Air 16,333 + 3,400 19,733
Balance 676,995 -60,000 616,995

* Does not take into account reserve division strengths or adjustments therein. [Footnote in the source text.]

The ROKA reductions are to be made, where feasible, by means of deactivating personnel from those forces assigned to units or installations listed in Format A of FY 59 MAP submission (your estimate of personnel for these units is 524,767).

ROK proposed plan for reduction does not approach this level, would not achieve required budgetary savings, and is therefore unacceptable. ROK works from assumption 720,000 men present strength. US committed maintenance maximum 720,000 ROK military personnel [Page 526] during FY 1955 only; these spaces never filled; actual reported ROK strength 676,995. Proposed reductions thus total only 16,995. Similarly within ROKA, strength listed by field for FY 1958 submission to the Congress is 618,369, not authorized strength ROK assume of 658,460; proposed reduction 61,500 men would result actual reduction within ROKA only 21,400. Thus ROKA proposed reductions are approximately 40,100 short of desired goal. Since your FY 59 MAP submission listed total ROKA spaces for which support requested as 647,986 including (1) patients; (2) nonorganizational students; (3) general prisoners; (4) replacements; (5) fillers for reserve divisions; and (6) KATUSA personnel; (1–6 numbering total 123,219), adjusting ROKA support base to 556,869 man level should be obtainable objective in practical terms. Reduction these dimensions essential to achieve subsequent downward adjustments to eleven active ROK divisions, including Marines, and 12–15 reserve divisions eventually contemplated by US policy.

  • Part II. Since apparent ROK will not agree forces reduction unless tangible evidence US modern weapons adduced you are authorized tell President and MND that (1) US will complete soonest reorganization US 7th and 1st Cavalry Divisions as pentomic units and that Honest Johns and 280 mm. guns will soon be introduced into Korea; (2) equipment generated by reduction and re-equipping above divisions will be considered for programming in regular MAP programs; (3) ROK “shopping list” requests para 5 Ref (A) will be considered in future MAPs but no commitment on these can be made; (4) equipment from ROK deactivated units will be made available for use other ROK units; [1 line of source text not declassified] (6) Washington offices will discuss feasibility provisions AAA under MAP; (7) air wing, communications and other equipment will be introduced as outlined in State-Defense cable 229 of 16 Sept. Modernization ROK forces cannot, however, be undertaken until ROK force reduction agreed to.

    Above steps impressive symbols US determination retain requisite strength Korea and fulfill our obligations its defense. Impress on President Rhee, however, that new weapons developments lodge real deterrent to Communist aggression Korea not in massed manpower but in US overall ability retaliate and destroy bases of Communist aggression. This ability rests not near actual frontiers like Korea but in supporting bases and long-range weapons. In enormous task developing such weapons, the US is in fact spending more heavily than ever on defense of ROK.

    Cut in total foreign aid appropriations for FY 58 has necessitated decrease economic aid Korea to $215 million. If ROK forces not reduced, deficit financing and consequent economic decline will undermine ROK forces and nation. There is no alternative to force reductions [Page 527] under these circumstances. To accentuate positive, you may also wish initiate planning to utilize discharges for benefit ROK economy as labor units for reforestation, land reclamation or other public works. Hence, while recognizing serious difficulties you have faced in obtaining ROK agreement, situation does not permit US acceptance ROK counterproposal.

  • Part III. a. What percent of ROK personnel is proposed “additional units for deactivation,” such as security companies, administrative headquarters, schools, and training centers, fall within term “units and installations reported in Format A?”

    b. Does ROK proposed date for deactivation of these units fall within deadline date of 30 June?

  1. Source: Department of Defense Files. Secret; Noforn. Also sent to the Chargé in Seoul and repeated to CINCPAC, CINCUSARPAC, and CINCPACAF.
  2. Document 253.
  3. Document 247.