[Page 21]

9. National Security Action Memorandum No. 2981


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Administrator, Agency for International Development


  • Study of Possible Redeployment of U.S. Division now Stationed in Korea

This is to request that the Secretary of State coordinate a joint State-AID-Defense study which will enable me to weigh and resolve the choices facing us with respect to the possible redeployment2 of one of the U.S. Divisions now stationed in Korea. The study should explore what sequence of U.S. actions, involving economic assistance, military assistance, diplomatic communications, and public statements, would minimize the negative effects and maximize the benefit of such a redeployment, taking into account

  • —Korea’s military security
  • —Korea’s short-term political stability
  • —the long-term U.S. objective of stimulating sustainable economic expansion and strengthening Korea’s social and political institutions.

Specific requirements follow:

In considering changes in the level and composition of U.S. assistance, the study should offer both a bare-bones minimum program and a more generous variant which would fully compensate the Korean Government for the loss of a U.S. Division. In connection with the latter, attention should be given to the internal economic and military measures by the ROK which we might bargain for—measures that might appreciably shorten the period of Korea’s dependence on extraordinary economic assistance.
The study should assess the value of such a redeployment for the balance and flexibility of the U.S. military posture.
The study should contain estimates of the budgetary gains and costs.
As regards the U.S. balance of payments, the study should estimate both the gross gain of withdrawing a U.S. Division, and the net gain that will result, after account is taken of the recommended changes in U.S. assistance.
The study should include recommendations as to the steps we should take, in the event of a redeployment, (a) to avoid any misreading of our intentions in Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe—and in Russia and Communist China, and (b) to explain the good sense of the move to the Congress and the U.S. public.
As regards timing, I should like two alternatives to be explored: one with a decision date of June 1, 1964; the other with a decision date of December 1, 1964. With respect to each alternative, the study should elaborate a detailed plan of action, giving announcement dates and implementation dates for all major actions.

The study should be completed in time for NSC consideration on May 23

The White House staff officer assigned to follow the study will be Mr. Robert Komer. Mr. Francis Bator will act in his stead until Mr. Komer’s return.

Lyndon B. Johnson
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Robert W. Komer, Korea, December 1963 to March 1966 [2 of 2]. Secret. Copies were sent to McCone, McGeorge Bundy, Komer, Bator, and Charles Johnson.
  2. President Johnson instructed that the words “to Hawaii” be removed here and in paragraph 2 below so that redeployment proposals would not be restricted to that destination. (Memorandum to holders of NSAM No. 298 from McGeorge Bundy, May 11; ibid.)
  3. Accepting the views of McNamara and Rusk expressed in discussions with McGeorge Bundy that the time was not right to address this issue, the President agreed to postpone the requested study until an unspecified future date. (Memorandum from U. Alexis Johnson to Bundy, June 6; ibid., National Security Action Memoranda, NSAM 298) Since a draft report had already been prepared, Bundy suggested it be circulated. (Memorandum from Bundy to Rusk and McNamara, June 9; ibid., Files of Robert W. Komer, Korea, December 1963 to March 1966 [2 of 2]) The JCS also recommended postponing any decision on redeployment until ongoing studies had been completed. (Memorandum from Taylor to McNamara, May 30; ibid.)