256. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Republic of China 1

192357. Subject: Enhance Plus. Strictly Eyes Only Ambassador.

You should immediately2 approach highest available level GRC which we assume to be Prime Minister, and in the name of the President seek his immediate agreement for the transfer to USG, which will immediately transfer to GVN, all F–5A’s in possession of ROCAF. As GRC is aware, USG is now engaged in all-out effort to achieve settlement in VN consistent with the principles that have previously been announced by the President. It is too early to say whether this effort can or will be successful. However, in event it is successful, we want to place GVN in strongest possible military position prior to coming into effect of any agreement. As part of this effort we desire immediately to deliver to GVN maximum possible number of F–5 aircraft (which is type of aircraft for which VNAF is trained and equipped). In order to achieve this we are asking ROC and some other countries which hold F–5A’s for this major contribution to achievement of peace and strengthening of GVN military capabilities. We recognize unprecedented nature of this request which is done only for reasons of unparallelled importance.
We will, of course, credit GRC with value of aircraft and will be prepared promptly and on extraordinary basis to work out method of replacements, including possibility of F–5E co-production scheme. In meanwhile, we will, if GRC desires, be prepared to discuss deployment of US F–4’s and US pilots to Taiwan to fill gap this creates GRC defense.3
We very much need reply during course of Saturday, October 21, Washington time.

Request you stress importance of tightest security on this matter, at least up to time of delivery of aircraft.

FYI. In event subject comes up or you feel it would be useful, you may inform Prime Minister that US is prepared to make transfer to GRC of two ASW configured diesel submarines and the 60 M–48 tanks which we have had under review. Also it may be necessary to request help of some GRC pilots to deliver aircraft.4 End FYI.

Taipei also repeat response to Saigon.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 19–8 USCHINAT. Top Secret; Nodis; Flash. Drafted and approved by U. Alexis Johnson and cleared by Eliot. Repeated to Saigon strictly eyes only for the Ambassador.
  2. Telegram 191868 to Taipei, October 20, strictly eyes only for the Ambassador, reads in its entirety: “Pending further instructions, you should keep yourself immediately available to carry out urgent instructions which will require your seeing highest available GRC official, whose whereabouts you should seek to determine without in any way alerting GRC or any member of your staff.” (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 5209 from Taipei, October 21, McConaughy reported that he met with Chiang Ching-Kuo that morning. “His [Chiang’s] reaction was essentially favorable with certain qualifications based on questions which could not be fully answered at the first meeting.” Chiang wanted to know when the F–5’s could be transferred to the ROC, when the United States would deploy F–4’s to Taiwan, and would the F–4’s stay on the island until the F–5’s were provided. (Ibid.) The Department responded in telegram 192705 to Taipei, October 21, that the United States hoped to supply the F–5E’s in FY 1974 and would try to deploy the F–4’s with U.S. pilots within 90 days. “We would do our best to cover gap but would have to be able to respond to unexpected emergencies elsewhere.” (Ibid.)
  4. In telegram 5218 from Taipei, October 22, McConaughy reported that he informed Chiang Ching-Kuo at their October 21 meeting that the United States was willing to transfer two ASW submarines and 60 M–48 tanks. (Ibid.)