105. Memorandum From K. Wayne Smith and John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- ROK Forces in South Vietnam
The Secretary reports that 10,000 ROK forces will be withdrawn from South Vietnam beginning around December 1, 1971, and terminating six months later.
This redeployment will leave two ROK divisions in South Vietnam in mid-1972. NSDM 113 stipulated that the U.S. would support the continued presence of two ROK divisions through CY 1972.
While the Secretary is technically correct in concluding that, “So far the decisions they [the ROK’s]4 have reached are not in conflict with the U.S. position” he does not point out that several signals point to future ROK withdrawals in CY 1972 that may not be consistent with NSDM 113. Ambassador Porter has reported from Seoul (cable at Tab D)5 that: (a) there is pressure from several quarters within the ROK government for further redeployments, (b) further ROK redeployments will be gauged in part on U.S. plans, and (c) additional decisions on ROK redeployments may follow the October Presidential elections in South Vietnam.
In other words if events are allowed to take their own course, there is a good chance that the ROKs will announce further redeployments in CY 1972 after President Nixon announces our redeployment plans for 1972.
Two Choices—In the face of these circumstances there are two ways the U.S. could proceed:
- —Follow the course implicit in the State Department’s response to NSDM 113 which is to let the GVN and ROKs determine the level of [Page 271] ROK presence without any U.S. intervention whatsoever. Thus far we have conveyed neither to the GVN nor ROK governments our preference that two ROK divisions should remain in South Vietnam through CY 1972. If we continue this policy, there is a good chance events will foreclose the option we prefer because the Koreans will probably announce further withdrawals when we do.
- —Inform the GVN and Koreans of the terms of NSDM 113, i.e. we want two divisions to stay through CY 1972 and we are willing to continue our support at past levels accordingly.6
Proposed Memorandum to Secretary Rogers —At Tab A is a memorandum for Secretary Rogers instructing him to make known to the GVN and South Korean governments our position that two ROK divisions should remain in South Vietnam through CY 1972.7 You recall that President Nixon’s memorandum (also at Tab C) to Secretary Laird (responding to Laird’s reclama)8 directed that the GVN and ROK governments be informed of the NSDM 113 decision. Therefore the President has already made the decision you are asking Secretary Rogers to implement, although Secretary Rogers may not have been informed of the decision.
On a subsidiary issue, NSDM 113 directs that the issue of U.S. force presence in Korea and ROK presence in South Vietnam should not be linked. Now that the President has decided to keep a U.S. division in South Korea through FY 1973, our leverage in support of a continued ROK presence should be increased. However, such an explosive bargaining chip need not be played now if ever.
That you sign the memorandum for Secretary Rogers at Tab A. This memorandum instructs him, at an appropriate time before a further announcement is made on U.S. redeployments, to inform the South Vietnamese and Republic of Korea governments of our preferences with regard to ROK troop redeployments.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–224, National Security Decision Memoranda, NSDM 113. Top Secret; Nodis. Sent for action. Froebe initialed for Holdridge.↩
- Printed as Document 96.↩
- A memorandum from Rogers to Nixon, August 11, attached but not printed.↩
- Brackets are in the original.↩
- Telegram 4703 from Seoul, August 6, attached but not printed.↩
- In the margin, Kissinger wrote: “Didn’t I say that to them.”↩
- Attached but not printed is the signed September 23 memorandum from Kissinger to Rogers.↩
- Nixon’s memorandum is printed as Document 99. Laird’s reclama is Document 97.↩