242. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt) to the Chief of Naval Operations (Burke)0
250317Z. As reflected in CNO 112047Z1 fully realize that there are many aspects of Taiwan situation in addition to military factors. Recognizing facts of life, I feel strongly that military considerations must be continuously stirred into pot along with political and psychological factors that are influencing our policy with regard to operations in Taiwan area.
With regard to our policy of non-provocation, GRC aircraft have been overflying mainland for years. These overflights have been made with the encouragement of the US to obviate necessity for use US forces to procure vital intelligence. We have recently turned over 2 RB–57D to them for this purpose. Additionally, RF–101 and 100’s are programmed in near future.
Military importance of photo recon is equally as great now as in past for following reasons: (1) Before further phase down of US forces in Taiwan area there is vital requirement for confirmation of intelligence information as to possible build up ChiCom forces opposite Taiwan. (2) Intelligence information as to presence newer high performance aircraft in China requires confirmation. (3) Urgent requirement for photo recon ChiCom installations in Kinmen area in order to be prepared fully for resumption heavy artillery bombardment. Request authority execute RB–57D mission to fulfill highest priority intelligence requirements as a trial balloon.2 This, if successful, to be followed by other missions. Do not contemplate requesting approval any fighter recce overflights at this time.
- Source: Department of State, FE Files: Lot 65 D 497, FE 3500–3699. Top Secret; Routine. Received at 1:43 a.m. on November 25. Repeated to JCS, COMUSTDC, CINCPACAF, CINCPACFLT, and CINCUSARPAC.↩
- Document 235.↩
A memorandum by John Eisenhower of a meeting on November 28 among the President, Secretary McElroy, and General Twining reads as follows:
“General Twining requested permission to fly an RB57 photo reconnaissance flight over the mainland of China. The purpose is to determine any ChiCom buildup opposite Taiwan and the Offshore islands. CIA and State concur. Permission granted.” (Eisenhower Library, White House Office Files, Project Clean Up, Intelligence Matters)
A memorandum of January 8, 1959, by Goodpaster states that the President had received a Department of the Navy proposal, which had been cleared by Quarles and Herter and with CIA, for the “resumption of certain high-altitude reconnaissance operations over the Chinese Mainland, employing RB57s turned over to the Chinese Nationalists, and Chinese Nationalist pilots.” The President approved the proposal after revisions were made at his request to exclude “the northern sector” from the area to be covered and to provide that bases in Korea should not be used. (Ibid.)↩