73. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Secretary Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Withdrawal of US Forces on Taiwan

State and Defense have studied the question of when to withdraw the most significant part of our forces from Taiwan—[less than 1 line not declassified] our two F–4 squadrons [1 line not declassified].2 Removal of these forces will reduce our presence on the island to about 2800 men who could all be termed logistics, support, and communications personnel. I originally believed all these moves could be accomplished by the end of 1974—without liability to the GNP.

However, removing the second F–4 squadron by the end of this year would create serious problems for GNP Prime Minister Chiang Ching-Kuo. Even if suitable replacement aircraft (F–5Es) were diverted to the GNP (from both Korea and Vietnam), his Air Force could not assimilate them due to training problems, and in the interim his air defense capability would be substantially degraded. The spirit if not the letter of our Enhance Plus agreement with the GNP 3 would be called [Page 467] into question, and this could be interpreted in Taipei as forcing on them an agreement made in Peking. The impact of the diversions would also fall heavily on the GVN.

To avoid these problems, State and Defense—with my approval—recommend that you delay withdrawal of the second F–4 squadron for five months, until the end of May 1975. The delay of five months will allow the GNP to train its F–5E pilots and crews while still under a USAF umbrella. Prime Minister Chiang would presumably be able to accommodate this schedule, and we would have more time for diversions, allowing us to depend on planes now earmarked for Korea rather than Vietnam.

Otherwise, the NSDM at Tab A allows us to withdraw other units on Taiwan by the end of this year, and directs CIA and Defense to review US communications and intelligence activities on Taiwan as a basis for making decisions about further personnel reductions on the island.

Recommendation

That you authorize me to sign the NSDM at Tab A,4 delaying the withdrawal of the second F–4 squadron by five months to May 1975 but withdrawing most of our other units and personnel by the end of 1974; and ordering studies of further reduction in communications and intelligence personnel.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–245, National Security Decision Memoranda, NSDM 248. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Kennedy, Smyser, and Solomon sent this memorandum to Kissinger on March 7, with the recommendation that he sign and send it to the President. (Ibid.) A stamped notation at the top of the page indicates the President did see it.
  2. On December 5, 1973, Hummel sent Kissinger a memorandum on the withdrawal of U.S. forces on Taiwan. (Ibid.) William P. Clements, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, sent Kissinger a February 20, 1974, memorandum, on the withdrawal of U.S. F–4 squadrons from Taiwan. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files:FRC 330–78–0010, Box 3, China Nats, 320.2, 1974)
  3. The Republic of China had assisted the United States in implementing the “Enhance Plus” program (an effort by the United States to expand and improve the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam) by providing 48 F–5E aircraft from its active inventory for use in South Vietnam. (Memorandum from Laird to Nixon, January 13; ibid., FRC 330–78–0001, Box 65, China Nats, 091.3, 1973)
  4. See Document 74.
  5. Nixon initialed the Approve option.