9. Memorandum From the Officer in Charge of Korean Affairs (Jones) to the Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs (McClurkin)1


  • Anticipated Difficulties in Carrying out Annex B of Agreed Minute of Understanding with ROK Government

Indications that difficulties are arising in carrying out the provisions of the confidential annex of the Agreed Minute of Understanding with respect to planned strength of the ROK Army were clarified by officers working on Korean Affairs in Operations Division of G–3 in their briefing of Mr. Norred on January 28. These officers asked that the information they provided be closely held.

Standing in the way of establishing ten reserve divisions by the end of 1955 are construction difficulties, arising from the extremely ambitious plans for the reserve submitted by the theater command. According to these plans, each division would have a permanent cadre of about 2,000 on active duty and approximately 2,000 more per division on active duty for training at any given time. Barracks and other necessary buildings alone reportedly would cost approximately $255,000 per division, despite the cheap cost of construction in Korea. Other costs would be correspondingly heavy.

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A second major problem is developing out of efforts to reduce the size of ROK military forces on active duty. United States Army officers are already encountering opposition from the ROK military to the new TO and E for a ROK “reinforced” division, inasmuch as it entails substantial reduction of transport and other special units. According to the plan of the theater command, even this “reinforced” division TO and E would apply only to reserve divisions. Divisions on active duty would use a TO and E “standard” division, entailing another heavy reduction. The “standard” division would have only six infantry battalions. The missing elements, including three battalions, needed to fill the “standard” division out to form a “reinforced” division, would be put in reserve, but would be earmarked for particular divisions and kept separate from the reserve divisions. The theater command plan calls for a ROK Army at the end of 1957 consisting of nine “standard” divisions on active duty, reserve “augmentations” for those divisions, and twenty-one “reinforced” divisions in the reserve.

The ROK surely will be exercised by these delays and reductions. Moreover, Operations Division of G–3 is having great difficulty in defending the theater command’s plan from cuts by other Army agencies, and is not itself trying to justify the plans in entirety. The Army elements of the plan alone would require close to a billion dollars over a two to three year period. There appears to be much feeling in the United States Army agencies, shared in part by the officers in Operations Division, that the ROK Army is far out of proportion to those of more powerful states. It was pointed out also that over half of the United States Army advisory personnel throughout the world are in KMAG. The recent transfer of police advisory functions from KMAG to KCAC was the beginning of an effort to cut KMAG down to a normal military advisory group.

I think we should make every effort we can to emphasize the importance of developing and maintaining ROK military strength. While my layman’s estimate of the military requirement would lead me to place this emphasis on military grounds, we probably should base our official views on the serious political and moral repercussions in the ROK of a shortcoming in meeting our commitments. To permit administrative difficulties to impede the establishment of the ten reserve divisions would be a breach of faith with the ROK which I hope we will not incur. We should urge that every effort be made to carry out our commitments and that the reserve divisions be created at least on paper and that strong efforts be made to make them real reserve units by the end of the year. Particular emphasis on building the reserve is needed because of the clear implication in the Agreed Minute that divisions will not be removed from active duty until a trained reserve has been prepared. The ROK Army is now a [Page 15] highly effective military instrument, developed by nine years of advisory activity by the United States and three years of heavy fighting side by side with United States and other Western forces, and we should certainly be slow to dissipate its strength in these critical times.


That a letter be drafted to Secretary of Defense Wilson for Secretary Dulles’ signature, emphasizing the political importance of carrying out our military commitments in this respect with the ROK and expressing the hope that he will lend every effort to see that this is done.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795.5/2–155. Secret.
  2. A marginal notation on another copy of this memorandum indicates that no such letter was sent. (Ibid., NA Files: Lot 60 D 680, ROK-US Agreed Minute 1954–58)