6. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, United Nations Command, Korea (Howze) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor)1

60213. For General Taylor from General Howze. References: A.UK 50558, 24 Aug 63; B. JCS 2535, 18 Sep 63.2 Student demonstrations in Seoul 24 March (about 5,000 strong) and 25 March (15,000 to 20,000 strong), ostensibly against government action to conclude a normalization agreement with Japan, are expected by ROK Chief of Staff to be followed today and on subsequent days by others much larger in size. Demonstrations have also occurred in other cities.

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has information from a usually very reliable and responsible ROK opposition source that the [Page 18] student demonstrations are part of a plan which is positively designed to bring down the current ROK Government, and will continue until that end is achieved. The same ROK source indicated [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] that he hoped very much that CINCUNC would hold the combat forces of the army firmly in place in order that the anti-government effort might succeed.

Yesterday troops of the Seoul security command (old capital defense command) were deployed behind the lines of ROK National Police to stop student surges in direction of Presidential mansion. At request of ROKA Chief of Staff, to cope with the numbers expected today, I have indicated no objection to reinforcement of troops in Seoul by provisional battalions from cadres of the two locally stationed rear area security divisions and from the Special Forces Group also located nearby.

I have consulted with the Ambassador, who confirms the fact that the current government, being a duly elected one, enjoys the recognition and support of the United States Government and concurs in my decision.

We have no evidence of prospective attack by external Communist forces against the ROK.

I intend therefore, in absence of other instructions, to proceed according to the intentions expressed in paragraphs 16, 17, 18, and 19 of Reference A3 and in consonance with the instructions of Reference B.4

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Korea, Cables, Vol. I. Top Secret; Flash. Repeated to CINCPAC, CIA, Department of State, which is the source text, and the White House.
  2. The text of reference A was repeated to the Department of State in JCS telegram 260651Z, March 26; the text of reference B was repeated to the Department in JCS telegram 181428Z, March 18. (Both in National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–8 KOR S)
  3. These paragraphs established that troops were to be released to a recognized ROK Government to suppress a coup or an uprising. If pro-U.S. factions requested troops to overthrow the ROK Government, however, troops would be released only after authorization from JCS was received; the Ambassador was to be kept fully informed of all developments and consulted before any decisions were implemented; if warranted by the nature of the situation, decisions were to be made locally; and U.S. forces were to maintain a position of neutrality in any power struggle.
  4. Telegram 2535 acknowledged JCS concurrence with the procedures outlined by CINCUNC and instructed that U.S. authorities were “to support those elements in ROK armed forces who are pro-US oriented” and “to keep ROK armed forces responsive to [U.S.] operational control.”