27. Draft Study Prepared by the Interagency Korean Task Force1

[Omitted here are the Foreword and Table of Contents.]


Chapter One

Force and Program Alternatives

Contents: Decisions, p. 1; The setting for US policy, p. 3; US goals with respect to Korea, p. 4; Alternative program packages, p. 5; Preliminary program evaluation, p. 17; Variants on the program alternatives, p. 23; Observations on implementation, p. 45.

Section 1: Key Decisions

The United States is at a turning point with respect to Korea. A number of major policy decisions are in the offing which could alter fundamentally the US-Korea relationship. These decisions could be made individually, as circumstances demand, with a view toward stabilizing our current policy, which centers on direct employment of US forces. Alternatively, taking cognizance of the growing strength of Korea and other Asian countries, our actions vis-à-vis Korea could indicate a policy of increased Asian self-reliance, at least for lesser-power conflicts. Either way, the high cost implications and the strong interactions between various programs—US deployments, military assistance, economic aid, and other US expenditures—argue for viewing them in the broadest perspective and in relation to each other.

The more immediate actions and decisions concern:

North Korean Infiltration and DMZ Incidents—Should the US endorse and support the Korean plan to meet NK provocative incidents, including arming a two million man militia (costing about $26 million) and developing an integrated counter-infiltration system for the DMZ and coast line (costs ranging from $20 to $158 million)?
US Land Force Deployments and Readiness—Should the US move toward stabilizing current deployments by improving the readiness of our two divisions in Korea, increasing their strength by 8,500 to 13,100 (costing another $140–$220 million annually)?
US Tactical Air Force Deployments to Korea—Should the US continue to maintain the present temporary air augmentation to Korea—151 aircraft—at an added marginal cost of approximately $20 million annually?
[3 lines not declassified]
Economic Aid to Korea—Should the current US aid phase-out schedule be maintained or interrupted (this schedule entails phase-out of supporting assistance in 1969 and development loans in 1972; PL 480 and technical assistance would continue)? Should the preferential position of Korea with respect to US textile purchases be altered, as has been suggested informally?

In addition to these more immediate decisions, others, larger and more far reaching, also bear consideration in the near future. They concern:

ROK Land Force Improvement—Should the US endorse and assist in modernizing the current level of ROK forces (costing up to $950 million in new equipment and entailing about $135 million annually in foreign exchange for operating expenses after 1974)?
ROK Air Force Developments—Should the US assist the ROK to develop an air force capable of contending with the North Korean air threat (costing from $375–$875 million for modernization and entailing $74–$176 million annually in foreign exchange for operating costs)?
ROK Regional Security Forces—Should the ROK divisions in Vietnam be repatriated in a manner facilitating further use of them in regional contingency roles?
ROK Presidential Succession—Should the US attempt to influence the course of the ROK 1971 presidential election?

Section 2: The Setting for US Policy

There are reasons for viewing Korea with optimism. Since 1963, when the Park government was ratified by a close vote, Korea has seen steady improvements in economic performance, military strength, political effectiveness, and international stature. The economy has grown by some ten percent per year, inflation has been controlled, and exports have surged. Improvements in military capabilities have been confirmed by the strong performance of the two ROK divisions in Vietnam; the country’s first expeditionary force provides evidence that ROK forces might well assume a larger defense role at home, at least against North Korean attacks. The growing confidence of the regime was also demonstrated in 1965 by the “normalization” of Korean relations with Japan. ROK contributions to the SVN conflict, combined with Korea’s progress on a broad front, have served to shift Korea’s relationship with the US from dependence toward partnership.

Despite these developments, for some observers Park’s handling of his 1967 re-election suggests that Korea had not matured politically. [Page 67] Though assured of victory over a weak opposition, the Park regime discredited itself by visible election irregularities. Moreover, with victory in hand, the regime took repressive measures against the opposition leadership. If this tendency continues, the 1971 presidential election may become a major test of the South Korean political system: It could result in a constitutional amendment permitting a third-term bid by President Park, an orderly transfer of power to a successor, or abandonment of the constitutional process.

Another factor of concern is the stance of North Korea. The stated political objective of the North is to reunify the Korean peninsula under a Communist regime. To achieve this objective, North Korean Premier Kim-Il Sung appears committed to a strategy of “revolutionary struggle” in South Korea, and his campaign will probably continue to include harassment of the DMZ area and armed infiltration of rear areas. However, because of the strength of the ROKG, the consensus is that North Korea is unlikely to establish guerrilla bases in South Korea or to develop significant political support among the people. Nevertheless, the self-confidence of the Korean government and the confidence it gains from the people will depend substantially upon success in coping with incursions from the North.

Perhaps the most important element affecting US/Korea programs is the evolving US role in Asia. Neo-isolationist sentiment in the US has given rise to doubts about the long-run US commitment to Asian security. The US response to the EC–121 incident failed to reassure the Koreans on the firmness of future US reactions to North Korean affronts. The impending renegotiation of the US security treaty with Japan and its possible implications for the US military posture in Okinawa add to the uncertainty. Korea may also feel uncomfortable with its dependence upon US decisions in Vietnam for the vindication of its first regional security undertaking. This line of questioning assumes increased importance when it is recognized that the ROKG will remain heavily dependent on the US for the severest contingencies and will probably continue to judge US reliability not only by US actions in Korea but in the rest of Asia as well.

Section 3: US Goals in Korea

The US goals set forth in the original terms of reference for this study taken from the study “US Policy Toward Korea”2 served as a guide [Page 68] for the alternative programs. The goals are: (1) To prevent large-scale North-South hostilities; (2) To maintain a stable compromise among the great powers with interests in Korea; (3) To keep South Korea out of hostile hands; (4) To increase ROK ability to defend itself; (5) To promote South Korea’s economic development and political stability; (6) To encourage Japan to make a greater contribution to the security and prosperity of the ROK. The first four, which have direct program implications, can be met without jeopardizing economic development, political stability, or an increased Japanese role in Korea.

There are many ways to meet these goals. In this analysis program alternatives have been developed for US deployments, ROK land and air force improvement, US air forces, ROK naval forces, US/ROK logistic supplies, ROK combat service support, counter-infiltration and economic aid. Two policy perspectives are useful in providing a conceptual framework and giving coherence to program decisions. We have called these alternative program packages “policy continuity” and “accelerated self-reliance.” Both are based on the same evidence, but the emphasis given to certain factors has been changed. Each is a way of viewing the current situation in all its complexity. Each has been presented in its most favorable aspect with a tone of advocacy.

[Omitted here are the remaining sections of Chapter One on “Force and Program Alternatives” and Chapters Two–Five on “Land, Air, Naval Requirements for Korean Defense;” the “Infiltration Problem;” the “ROK Economy;” and “Political Factors.”]

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 72 A 6308, NSSM General File, 040 NSC, July 1969. Secret. This study, which is over 380 pages long, was prepared in response to NSSM 27, Document 2.
  2. Dated June 15, 1968, this study was prepared by the Policy Planning Council of the Department of State, with contributions from the Department of Defense, the Joint Staff, the CIA, AID, and the Bureau of the Budget. (National Archives, RG 59, Senior Interdepartmental Group Files: Lot 70 D 263) The Abstract of the 70-page paper is printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XXIX, part 1, Korea, Document 201.