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Office of the Historian

147. Memorandum From Michael Forrestal of the White House Staff to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0


  • GRC War Plans

I attach the full version of the GRC war plan which I spoke to you about the other day.1 It was received in Taipei on May 23rd and sent to Washington on June 1. The Agency summarized it by cable on May 25 and again on July 20 and 23. As a result it didn't get the kind of attention that I would have hoped had I known about it.

One can speculate that the existence of this document in Taiwan may have come to the attention of the ChiComs, and if so, may have some connection with their buildup during the month of June. I don't think the Agency agrees with me on this, but it's a thought which I cannot quite get rid of.2

[Page 300]

I think you should look at the phases set out on page 2, paragraph B. You will note that Phase 1 in effect is the program for the 200-man drop, which we have already agreed to prepare, although not necessarily to implement. Phase 2 is obviously a consequence of Phase 1.

This document, together with conversations I had in Taipei3 with Admiral Kirk, his DCM and CAS Station Chief has brought me to suspect that we may have made a mistake last May in going along with Ray Cline's proposals for the 200-man teams. I think there is a significant difference between the 20-man drop concept, which is more clearly in intelligence collection operation, and the 200-man drop concept, which comes close to the first stage of active military operations.

I visualize a situation where the 200 men have been dropped on a hillside and are in the process of collecting a certain amount of support. Meanwhile the People's Army of Liberation (or whatever they call themselves) begin marching in regimental strength from its base some distance away towards our 200 men. Several days go by and in the meantime there have been a certain amount of defections, and our 200 men are joined by say a thousand or so mainland Chinese.

At this point the regiment arrives and our 200 men augmented call the Gimo, who calls us, for help. What do we do?

Admiral Kirk suggested that we should try to find a time when we could go to the Gimo and be more frank with him. We should point out, perhaps, that the President of the United States cannot surrender his decision whether or not to commit his country to major military action to any other person, no matter who may be allied with us; and by the same token the President cannot put another person in a position to force the United States into such an action. (Vide De Gaulle.)

Thus, we will do everything necessary for the defense of Taiwan. We will help in doing everything possible to obtain intelligence information on the situation on the Mainland, both for the benefit of the GRC and also to put ourselves in the position to make an intelligent decision when the occasion arises. But we must stop short of deliberately supplying an offensive capability under circumstances which makes it possible for others to take the ultimate decision away from us.

A possible time for having Admiral Kirk go to the Gimo with such thoughts would be at the end of the year when a decision to permit a 200-man drop has to be taken.

The consequences of any frank talk with the Gimo would, I understand, be fairly sharp in Taiwan and perhaps also in Congress if the GRC decided to make a public noise about it. But I think that such a noise is far [Page 301]more endurable than the prospect of being caught in a sequence of events over which we have less and less control.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Staff Memoranda, Michael Forrestal. Top Secret and Personal. A note in Bundy's handwriting reads, “Hold for meeting on China this PM. MGB.”
  2. See footnote 3, Document 144.
  3. Forrestal stated in an August 7 memorandum to Bundy that when he was in Hong Kong on July 22, an officer of the Consulate General told him that when Forrestal and Harriman were in Hong Kong in March, a journalist had asked the officer to arrange an interview with Forrestal, stating that he wanted to confirm a story he had “picked up in Taipei from the ‘Naval Auxiliary Communications Center’” to the effect that the United States had recently agreed to assist the dropping of GRC teams on the China mainland that fall. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Staff Memoranda, Michael Forrestal)
  4. According to Forrestal's August 7 memorandum he was in Taipei on July 23.