236. Telegram From the Embassy in the Republic of China to the Department of State0

746. 1. Admiral Smoot, General Doan and I called on President Chiang late yesterday at his request. He referred to recent discussions between MAAG and MND re augmentation of matériel for defense of offshores in reduction of manpower.1

2. Chiang said at outset he would agree to manpower reduction in principle, but could not undertake reduction under fire. He said problem is to suppress communist artillery fire. He stressed importance of making Kinmen impregnable, adding strengthening of Matsu defenses not nearly so pressing and could be looked into after Kinmen requirements met.

3. Indicating he was thoroughly familiar with MAAG MND studies and findings, Chiang suggested all 12 of 240MM Howitzers now on way here be sent Kinmen. He hoped say four more could be made available for delivery to Matsu. With regard to 36 155 MM guns on way here, [Page 485]he hoped they would arrive soon; he suggested 12 be sent Kinmen and a few to Matsu. He said study should be made meanwhile to determine what proportion of 155 Howitzers vs guns should be placed on off-shores.

4. Replying, Doan suggested counter battery artillery be augmented as follows:

Kinmen; 240 MM Howitzers 12, 155 MM guns 12.
Matsu: 240 MM Howitzers four or more when available, 155 MM guns, one battalion when available.
Further study to be made of possible additional artillery which should be placed following emplacement and effectiveness of foregoing guns.
Lacrosse Missile to be considered later if operational and available.

5. Chiang said he Felt infantry reduction should be compensated by augmentation of tank units. He Felt this problem should be studied; meanwhile, he not prepared to recommend how many tanks should be sent Kinmen. In response, Doan proposed Kinmen armor be augmented as follows:

One tank battalion (to be made up of M–24 tanks already in GRC possession).
Study be made of optimum and strength required support revised defense plans.
If local experiment to modify excess M–8 assault gun carriages into armored personnel carriers feasible, provide sufficient converted vehicles to motorize two battalions of infantry.

In return for foregoing, Doan proposed Kinmen force reduction of one infantry division plus additional units and individuals to obtain net reduction in supported forces of not less than 15,000 men.2

6. Chiang then made a plea for provision of two additional battalions of M–41 tanks to supplement one battalion already provided. He evinced knowledge of MAAG recommendations for 205 M–41 tanks to replace obsolete WW II tanks which are obsolete, difficult to maintain and expensive. Chiang solicited my personal assistance in transmitting his plea direct to Secretary and Robertson. I said I would do so.

7. Doan believes there are sound military reasons for providing 114 additional M–41 tanks which, with those already on hand would equip three battalions. These tanks would be retained on Taiwan and M–24s on Taiwan would then replace obsolescent M–5s on Kinmen. This would conform to Defense Department’s requirement that new tanks be used [Page 486]only for Taiwan defense. In this connection, CINCPAC’s 240016Z September 19583 recommended US continue modernize GRC armor with M–41s as rapidly as conditions permit.

8. I personally hope we will find it possible to move toward modernization of armor as recommended by Doan and CINCPAC. I believe agreement to do so will remove snag which might impede troop reduction we seek on off-shores.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.5/11–1458. Secret; Limit Distribution. Received at 1:57 p.m. Repeated to CINCPAC. The documents cited in footnotes 1, 2, and 4 below are in the Supplement.
  2. Telegram 131013Z from Chief MAAG Taiwan, November 13, reported that Generals Doan and Wang had reached oral agreement on this subject on November 1. (Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/11–1358)
  3. A memorandum of understanding along these lines was signed by Doan and Wang on November 17; a copy was enclosed with despatch 256 from Taipei, November 25. (Ibid., 793.00/11–2558)
  4. Not found.
  5. Telegram 436 to Taipei, November 20, stated that the Department considered these questions essentially military in nature and thought decisions on them should be reached primarily on military considerations. (Department of State, Central Files, 793.5/11–1458)