240. Memorandum From Robert H. Johnson of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Rostow)0


  • Korea

During the last two or three days I have been trying to catch up on the situation with respect to the implementation of the Task Force report on Korea. It is very difficult, on the basis of available telegrams, to get any clear picture of where we stand in the implementation of the Task Force recommendations. The best message on this subject is the attached Foreign [Page 512] Service Despatch summarizing a conference between the Ambassador and the Economic Ministers of the Korean Government on June 29.1

You will note from this message that we have released the $28 million in remaining defense support assistance funds for FY 1961. We are currently involved in consideration of who should provide an economic team to go to Korea. We have not, so far as I have been able to determine, indicated our general willingness to aid the power industry and to support the National Construction Service. I am sure that we have had some discussion of these subjects in ICA channels, but to my knowledge they have not been raised in the manner authorized by Task Force recommendations in conversations between the Ambassador and Korean officials.

On the matter of an economic team, as I indicated to you earlier, there has been a controversy between State and ICA as to whom should be chosen. ICA has preferred the Arthur B. Little Company (economists named Cleveland and Bryce have been mentioned); State has preferred RAND primarily because of the apparent Korean preference for RAND. However there has been a recent message2 indicating that now the Koreans may prefer Arthur B. Little (perhaps as a result of ICA-USOM missionary work in Korea). State and ICA agreed yesterday that RAND should do the job, subject however, to verifying that RAND is preferred by the Koreans. Charles Wolfe is in Washington today and tomorrow, discussing possible RAND participation with State and ICA. The ICA case against retention of RAND is contained in the attached telegram.3

In view of the lack of clarity as to where we stand on some of the Task Force recommendations, I have been pressing State to prepare a status report on the recommendations which could be circulated to the Task Force and which could be the basis for a Task Force discussion.

It is anticipated that the Task Force will have a meeting some time next week to discuss a JCS paper on Korean military forces.4 Although [Page 513] the latter paper has not yet been circulated, my general feeling about it is that any action on ROK forces must await the outcome of the general MAP review now going on.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Korea, General, 7/61-2/62. Secret.
  2. Despatch 10 from Seoul, July 11. (Department of State, Central Files, 895B.00/7-1161)
  3. Not attached and not further identified.
  4. Johnson added the following handwritten note at this point: “I believe Carl Kaysen will put in a plug with the State people in support of RAND.” The attached telegram was not identified further.
  5. JCSM-512-61, August 2, to Secretary McNamara, in which the Joint Chiefs pre-sented a military assessment of the Communist threat to South Korea and ROK ability to defend itself. The Joint Chiefs concluded that although the threat in Korea remained strong, there was no evidence that the Communists would attack. ROK forces were capable of maintaining internal security and defending against minor incursions without assistance, but a successful defense of South Korea would require the use of allied forces already deployed there, PACOM air, and other support. A successful counteroffensive could not be carried out with existing forces. Current ROK force levels of 600,000 were the “minimum acceptable” as was current military assistance support. The Joint Chiefs recommended no changes in ROK force missions, U.S. and ROK force structure, or military assistance. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 65 A 3464, Korea 091)