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

DEF 934500. This is a joint State–Defense message in two parts from OASD/ISA. Ref: a. Defense 933850 dated 11 Dec 1957;2 b. UK 977635CC DTG 180315Z Dec 1957.3

Part I. The US will assist in supporting following maximum number active military personnel during US FY 59 (see “Active Strength After Reduction” column):

Present Active Strength Scope of Adjustment Active Strength After Reduction
Army* 618,369 -61,500 556,869
Marine 27,483 -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

The above is same plan, with identical terms, as that outlined in Joint State–Defense cable, reference a, Part I.

Figure for 30 November 1956 of 676,995 ROK active strength considered meaningful because (1) it had been used in FY 58 presentation to Congress as best figure available and (2) ROKA figure of 618,369 was only 6,500 less than active strength reported by you on 27 June 1957 as 624,908, which figure was footnoted with statement as follows: “Includes reserves on active duty and varies with reserve training cycles.”

Re your para 5, referenced cable b: reduction on basis active strength rather than authorized spaces only means effect actual savings. Because the number involved in reduction from actual strength numerically is less than two-thirds that of reduction from authorized strength (i.e. 60,000 vs. 100,000), negotiations on basis of former could be better from public relations viewpoint (see Part II).

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Agree that CINCUNC continues have authority under paragraph 1, Appendix B, Agreed Minute Understanding of 17 November 1954 to authorize adjustments in ROK service components. Should adjustment between ROK Army active strength and Air Force active strength be necessary to accommodate additional ROKAF fighter-bomber wing, you may proceed to make internal change within overall active strength ceiling approximately 617,000.

Part II. If necessary, and without necessitating renegotiation of Agreed Minute of Understanding of 17 November 1954, instead of using procedure outlined in Part I (reduction on basis active strength levels) you can inform MND maximum authorized ceiling ROK armed forces after force reduction, to be supported by US in USFY 1959, will be 620,000. In terms over-all authorized strength ROK armed forces, therefore, magnitude desired reduction is 100,000. Scope of reduction would be as follows:

Scope of Reduction
Present Strength Authorized Scope of Adjustment Authorized Strength After Reduction
Army 658,460 -101,500 556,960
Marine 27,500 -3,500 24,000
Navy 15,000 + 1,600 16,600
Air 19,040 + 3,400 22,400
Balance 720,000 -100,000 620,000

  1. Source: Department of Defense Files. Secret; Priority. Also sent to the Chargé in Seoul and repeated to CINCUNC, CINCUSARPAC, and CINCPACAF.
  2. Document 257.
  3. Document 258.
  4. Does not take into account reserve division strengths or adjustments therein. [Footnote in the source text.]