148. Telegram From the Commander in Chief of the United Nations Command and of United States Forces, Korea (Bonesteel) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler)1

271025Z UK 56313. 1. General Bonesteel sends.

2. I met with the ROK JCS this morning (270200Z). I started out by saying now it more important than ever that ROK and US military work closely together with mutual trust and confidence. One objective Communist actions is to disrupt excellent US/ROK relations. I then updated them, on broad basis, of US actions within bounds of cautions contained in numerous incoming action messages. I had not received guidance regarding informing them on drone flight2 by time of meeting so excluded same.

[Page 317]

3. Important points made by ROKs were as follows: First, need for them to be adequately and timely informed on US intentions because they affect their mobilization planning, national emergency planning, martial law plans and numerous other vital plans conducted by ROK Government.

4. Second point was expression of strong feeling at all levels of the republic, that US at our governmental level had taken no adequately drastic action following attempt attack on President and Blue House. However, seizure Pueblo we had reacted drastically. They all expressed views along this line, making plain their object was not obstructive but that they were speaking as real friends of the US in whom they have great faith and trust. They reiterated nevertheless that actions taken by US in and from Korea should stress point that we view attack on Blue House—“The national symbol of the republic”—equally as important as Pueblo. They said mere oral protestation to this effect would not correct Korean opinion but that we should take immediate, tangible steps such as “air lifting immediately into Korea increments of CIGCOREP equipment,” make firm announcement of commitment to deliver destroyers and other actions which can be taken within days.

5. The third point was expressed by all in one way or another. This is importance of taking clear, punitive action to teach Kim Il-Sung a lesson. Defensive action only within ROK alone would, they said, insure continuation and increase in North Korean infiltration and raids up to 10 or 100 times current levels. Several expressed concern that US would mount massive effort until Pueblo and crew returned but then would not continue to press to insure the stop of North Korean subversive war, they feared build-up and carrier task force would be retracted from Korea and vicinity when Pueblo incident settled. This, they said, would have grave effect of ROK/US relations and only encourage Communists. I attempted allay their fears and pointed out none of resources which might be directed to Korea were being supplied from Vietnam.

6. All the chiefs seemed deeply to appreciate the meeting and their expressions above were obviously sincere and well-meaning. They unquestionably need more information on basic US intentions with regard both Pueblo incident and Kim Il-Sung’s subversive war activities. None seemed alarmed over imminence North Korea would take overt large-scale aggressive action unless these develop as result continuing actions.

7. I would like to operate on basis of informing ROK JCS on close-hold basis of all intended moves we plan to make except those in which message traffic explicitly prohibits discussion with ROKs. I will proceed on this basis unless I hear to contrary.

[Page 318]

8. I wish to emphasize, from other sources as well as ROK JCS, that concern lest US reaction is only in regard to Pueblo is widespread and serious in many circles of ROK Government and public. I concur in ROK statement at end para 4 above and recommend feasible action to this end.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Korea—Pueblo Incident, Military Cables, Vol. I, January 1968. Secret; Immediate. Also sent to CINCPAC.
  2. Flights over North Korea were authorized to gather information on the whereabouts of the Pueblo and its crew.