49. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Korea1

13877. Subject: MAP and U.S. Force Levels.

DOD reports that during Secretary’s meeting with Ambassador Kim January 202 conversation turned from current MAP prospects to importance of higher levels of MAP and problems of SecDef with respect to both MAP and his defense budget. In course discussion Secretary made series of statements in essence as follows:
Pressures for reduction of our forces in Korea are increasing.
ROK forces should be modernized before we withdraw any of our forces. Secretary Laird therefore attaches high priority to increased level of MAP for Korea.
It is part of the Nixon Doctrine that MAP be increased in some countries to permit reductions of U.S. forces in those countries.
Before relating MAP to troop withdrawals Secretary Laird had said that administration proposal of $425 million for world-wide MAP included $164 million for Korea, which he considers absolute minimum. He said this could be reduced to $140 million if the MAP appropriation now being considered by conference committee is not increased above the $350 million in the authorization bill. He favors an additional $50 million MAP for Korea and he favors a MAP supplemental for Korea in FY 70 if appropriation remains at $350 million figure, but these were his, rather than administration’s, views. Question of supplemental would depend in part on outcome forthcoming NSC meeting on Korea. (DOD memcon will be forwarded in due course.)
On January 21 Ambassador Kim telephoned Assistant Secretary Green regarding Secretary Laird’s comments on troop withdrawals and spoke also with Deputy Assistant Secretary Brown. DOD concurs fully with position we are taking with Kim that:
Secretary Laird was not saying any USG decisions had been made or that there would be any immediate U.S. troop withdrawals. Rather he was emphasizing the importance of additional MAP for modernization of ROK forces.
We do not have any proposal regarding troop withdrawal to make at this time. We always consult with ROKG on matters of that [Page 122] degree of importance and we would certainly do so before taking any step to reduce U.S. force level.
Kim said that there was no misunderstanding, that he had not understood Secretary Laird to be talking about immediate troop withdrawals and that in fact he did not plan to report the discussion to Seoul. He added that he personally is very much opposed to associating MAP increases with U.S. troop reductions.
This background furnished in case Kim, contrary to his statement to us, does report to Seoul.3 DOD concurs.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 541, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. II, 10/69–5/70. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Peters (EA/K), approved by Brown and S/S, and in draft by Ware (DOD/ISA). Repeated to CINCPAC.
  2. No record of Laird’s meeting with Kim has been found.
  3. In telegram 949 from Seoul, January 30, Porter informed Rogers that “I would judge from attitudes being displayed at high levels here that Kim has reported to Seoul.” Porter also suggested that “though ROK’s will claim ‘modernization’ should apply to every aspect of their forces, they have adequate material in many categories. Subject to Gen Michaelis’ views, I would say that where they need modernization is in matter of transport and small arms.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 541, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. II, 10/69–5/70)