155. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1


  • Troop Drawdowns in Taiwan

You will recall from our discussion on Saturday2 that I said the impact of the proposed troop drawdown from Taiwan could be moderated in important measure by moving ahead promptly with the deployment of the [less than 1 line not declassified]. As explained below, most of the remainder has already been taken care of by natural attrition. I have also modified the proposed NSDM to narrow its focus to troop drawdowns only.

When you originally told the Chinese in Peking in December 1975 that we intended to cut in half our then-current force levels on Taiwan (from 2800 to 1400) by the end of 1976, we contemplated that the drawdowns would come from a broad spectrum of units.3 Although no specific plans were ever approved, DOD was considering a number of highly visible moves, including complete closure of our two air bases and return of the facilities to the ROC.

[1 paragraph (4½ lines) not declassified]

It was against the above background that you originally approved the issuance of the Taiwan troop drawdown NSDM last spring. (Attached at Tab B is the original package which you approved last spring. The original NSDM is at Tab B of that package.)4

[Page 959]

A number of events in the last few months, however, have changed the picture significantly, permitting the proposed drawdown to be made with minimum adverse fallout.

[1 paragraph (8 lines) not declassified]

Moreover, since the beginning of the year, the number of DOD personnel actually on Taiwan has fallen below authorized levels to around 2300. This means that to achieve the goal of 1400, the number of [less than 1 line not declassified] personnel required to be drawn down will be in the range of 200–400. None of the drastic steps contemplated earlier (e.g., turning over air bases to the ROC) will be necessary.

Finally, to reduce the potential negative impact even further, I have eliminated a number of provisions in the earlier version of the NSDM, cutting out those measures which can be postponed. I have eliminated:

  • —A requirement that DOD submit to the NSC plans to transfer out of Taiwan the U.S. Army Communications Command and the War Reserve Matériel storage facility during 1977.
  • —The prohibition against any deployment of new military units or War Reserve Matériel to Taiwan.

[1 paragraph (2 lines) not declassified]

In light of the above, I believe the problems posed by the troop drawdown NSDM are manageable.


That you authorize me to release the verbal hold on the NSDM directing deployment [less than 1 line not declassified]

and that you authorize me to sign the revised NSDM at Tab A calling for an authorized level of DOD personnel on Taiwan by December 31, 1976 of no more than 1400.5

  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Boxes H–67, NSDM 339, U.S. Force Reductions on Taiwan. Top Secret; Umbra; Sensitive. Sent for action. The attached NSC correspondence profile indicates that Ford approved the recommendations in this memorandum on September 20. Scowcroft received this memorandum under a September 15 covering memorandum from Gleysteen. (Ibid.)
  2. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Ford met with Scowcroft on Saturday, September 11, from 9:35 to 10:15 a.m. Kissinger was also present. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary)
  3. On December 4, 1975, President Ford told Vice Premier Deng that the United States had about 2,800 military personnel on Taiwan and planned “within the next year” to “reduce that by 50%, down to a figure roughly of 1,400.” see Document 137.
  4. Attached but not printed. In the spring of 1976, Ford approved a memorandum from Scowcroft that recommended the issuance of a NSDM that would have reduced Defense Department personnel to a level of 1,400 or less. (Memorandum from Scowcroft to Ford, April 23; Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–67, NSDM 339, U.S. Force Reductions on Taiwan) This NSDM was not issued, however, and was superseded by NSDM 339 (Document 156).
  5. Ford initialed the Approve option under both recommendations. See also footnote 1 above.