53. Telegram From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt)0

JCS 947298. From JCS. Ref COMTAIWANDEFCOM(US) msg 281105Z Aug;1 CINCPAC 282307Z;2 and CINCPAC 282358Z NOTAL.3

The following actions are directed supplementing those in JCS 947046 DTG 252147Z:4
Within international waters, that is, beyond the three-mile limit, give convoy protection and escort to the extent you feel militarily necessary and to the extent GRC Forces cannot fulfill this task.
US forces will maintain the principle of “freedom of the sea” in the Taiwan Straits by actions confined to international waters.
Commander, Taiwan Defense Command, at his discretion and at a time of his choosing, after consultation with GRC authorities, assume responsibility for air defense of Taiwan and Penghus using US forces to extent practicable. GRC Air Forces thus released will be available for defense of Offshore Islands and air cover for convoys.
In event ChiComs launch air attack on Kinmens or Matsus and such attacks were met by GRC aircraft, the United States would consider that GRC inherent right of self-defense would include GRC air attacks on ChiCom aircraft conducting the attack and that the right to pursue existed, i.e., GRC aircraft would be justified in following ChiCom aircraft to their bases and attacking aircraft at these bases.
ComSeventh Fleet turn over to GRC when requested by CTDC, up to 8 LCMs and 28 LCVPs from US amphibious lift now enroute from SPORE.
Make clear to GRC authorities that we do not share the feeling of inevitability of loss of islands through bombardment alone.
Ref CINCPAC DTG 282307Z. Tactical CASF XT to include one squadron of F–100 aircraft, sidewinder equipped; one squadron C–130 [Page 101] aircraft; and one-half squadron of KB–50 tanker aircraft being deployed at once.
The Ambassador is being furnished following information:

“We met with Defense and JCS yesterday afternoon and evening, followed by a meeting this morning at White House.

“As a result, you may inform Chiang Kai Shek that President Eisenhower has authorized certain actions to help prevent and deter Communist seizure of the Offshore Islands. Details are being sent in an operational message to CINCPAC and CTDC and will be communicated to you by Admiral Smoot. These actions supplement those already known to Chiang as a result of your call on him August 26.

“In addition call his attention to the President’s remarks at his press conference August 275and to Department’s release August 28 re Peiping radio broadcast.6 Inform Chiang that in view of fast breaking developments it will not be possible at this time to express definitive views on various measures proposed in his letter. We nevertheless have all his views and proposals under urgent continuous study and will keep in closest touch with him. Tell Chiang that meanwhile you and Admiral Smoot are under instructions to remain at his disposal for the most effective consultation possible.”7


For information:

We note the meager counter-battery fire. Request immediate information as to ammunition situation and comment on need for emergency resupply.
Shipment of 12 howitzers, 8 inch, with ammunition to Taiwan as additional 1959 MAP is being expedited, including 6 howitzers with conventional ammunition to be furnished by Marines on Okinawa.
As background information, for US eyes only, the discussions this morning at governmental level considered the possible actions in three phases:
Phase I, during which there is absence of evidence that the ChiComs have launched an assault on the principal Offshore Islands to capture them, the United States would furnish material and logistic assistance but not take direct military action other than as specifically set forth above.
Phase II, would be the Phase in which the ChiComs start an assault with evident intent to capture one or more of the principal [Page 102] Offshore Islands. During this Phase, the United States forces, when directed by the JCS, would directly assist in the defense of the Offshore Islands, including attack on enemy artillery positions and on local airfields in the vicinity of the Offshore Islands under attack. During Phase II it is anticipated that atomic weapons would not be used.
Phase III would start when, in the opinion of United States authorities, the ChiComs have extended the battle to the international waters in the vicinity of Taiwan and the Penghus. In this Phase, United States forces would extend action as appropriate.

It was emphasized that during all three Phases, atomic weapons could not be used until after specific authority had been obtained from the President.

No objection informing ChiNats of contents of this message except paragraphs 2, 3 and 4C.
  1. Source: Department of State, ROC Files: Lot 71 D 517, Offshore Islands (Telegrams), May 26–Sept. 4, 1958. Top Secret; Operational Immediate; Noforn. Also sent to COMTAIWANDEFCOM(US). Repeated to CINCAL, CINCLANT, CINCARIB, CINCONAD, USCINCEUR, CINCNELM, CINCSAC, COMUSFJ, COMTAC, USNMR, HICOMRY, COMUSKOREA, CINCSPECOMME.
  2. See footnote 1, Document 51.
  3. Telegram 282307Z from CINCPAC to JCS, August 28, requested additional forces. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Records, 381 Formosa (11–8–48), Section 38)
  4. Telegram 282358Z from CINCPAC to JCS, August 28, recommended that the escort of Nationalist supply ships to the offshore islands be initiated immediately and that recommendation (C) in Smoot’s telegram 281105Z (see footnote 1, Document 51) be approved if Smoot considered it essential. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Records, 381 Formosa (11–8–48), Section 38; see Supplement)
  5. Document 44.
  6. At his August 27 press conference, the President indicated support of the views in Dulles’ letter to Morgan (see footnote 1, Document 40). For a transcript of the press conference, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958, pp. 639–650; excerpts are printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1958, pp. 1144-1145.
  7. For text of the Department’s August 28 press release, see ibid., p. 1145. The Chinese broadcast under reference, beamed at the Nationalist forces on Quemoy, declared that the People’s Liberation Army was determined to liberate Taiwan and the offshore islands and that a landing on Quemoy was imminent; a translation is printed in The New York Times, August 28, 1958.
  8. The quoted message was sent as telegram 157 to Taipei, August 29. (Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/8–2958)