56. National Security Decision Memorandum 481


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Director, Bureau of the Budget
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff


  • U.S. Programs in Korea

Following NSC review of U.S. policy and programs toward Korea, the President has decided to reduce the U.S. military presence in Korea by 20,000 personnel by the end of FY 71. The President has also directed that the following priority actions be taken to implement his decision.

Consultations with President Park. The President directs that consultation be undertaken with President Park2 to inform him of the President’s intentions and explore with him the timing and conditions of withdrawal. The President wishes the objective of this consultation to be the creation of a situation in which U.S. withdrawals result from President Park’s initiative in view of present ROK strength and the agreed need for future improvements in ROK forces. The Under Secretaries Committee shall submit a plan, based on the conditions outlined below, for consultations with President Park to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs no later than April 1, 1970.

Conditions for Consultation. The President has decided that consultations with President Park shall be based on the following conditions:

Subject to approval of the Congress, the U.S. will attempt to provide annual average military assistance to Korea over FY 71–75 at a level of $200 million per year comprised either of grant MAP of $200 million per year or its equivalent in grant MAP at a lower level, such as $160 million per year, supplemented by equipment and other supplies excess to U.S. needs.
The U.S. will increase its economic assistance to Korea by continuing PL–480, Title I at or above a level of $50 million per year, depending on the availability of surplus commodities, in addition to currently-planned aid, provided that the ROK assumes, to the extent feasible, a larger defense burden through a MAP transfer or military sales program.
Further withdrawals of substantial numbers of U.S. personnel beyond the 20,000 personnel decided upon are not now planned, though they may be considered when substantial ROK forces return from Vietnam or compensating improvements in ROK forces are well underway.

Upon completion of initial consultations with President Park, these conditions will be revised as necessary.

Other Preparations for Consultation. The President has also directed that concurrently with consultations with President Park:
The Departments of State and Defense will develop a plan for consultation with the Congress on the feasibility of increasing MAP for Korea to the levels noted above.
The Department of Defense will develop a plan for the withdrawal of military personnel, noted above, and the disposition of remaining forces in such manner as to reduce the U.S. presence in the DMZ to the minimum consistent with our continuing responsibility for the security of the UN area at Panmunjon.

The Korea Program Memorandum. Following initial consultations with President Park and the Congress, the President has directed the preparation of a five-year Korea Program Memorandum covering U.S. policy and programs for Korea, including:

ROK Military Forces—The President directs that the U.S. support improvements to the ROK forces to the maximum extent possible within the available resources. The objective of these improvements shall be to develop ROK forces capable of deterring or conducting a defense against a conventional or unconventional attack by North Korea. For this purpose, a five-year force structure and resource plan for the development of the ROK armed forces toward this goal shall be prepared by the Department of Defense based on the assistance levels in 2 (a).
U.S. Military Forces—The President directs that the Department of Defense develop a five-year force structure, resource and personnel plan for U.S. forces in or clearly related to Korea. In this plan, the feasibility and timing of further reductions in the U.S. military presence in Korea should be thoroughly evaluated.
Other U.S. Programs—The President directs that the Department of State and other agencies develop five-year resource and personnel plans covering their programs in or related to Korea.

As envisaged in NSDM 4,3 the Korea Program Memorandum based on these plans will serve to guide agency planning in regard to Korea and be periodically revised as necessary.

Organization. The President directs that these plans be prepared under the direction of the NSC Under Secretaries Committee and, upon completion, submitted to the President.4
Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 363, Subject Files, National Security Decision Memoranda, Nos. 1–50. Top Secret;Nodis. Haig initialed the NSDM. Telegram 43550 to Seoul, March 25, transmitted a summary of this NSDM. (Ibid., Box 541, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. II, 10/69–5/70)
  2. Telegram 1550 from Seoul, March 28, provided a summary of the discussion between Park and Porter. According to the telegram, “Park then repeated he would like to know before agreeing to procedures [Porter] had outlined extent of modernization U.S. envisages. To this [Porter] replied I understood his desire for more precise information, but kind of detail he is seeking is not yet available but is being developed.” (Ibid.) In telegram 1634 from Seoul, April 1, Porter reported his conversation with Chung Il Kwon, who “began to probe about figures and magnitudes of program we envisage.” Porter noted that “I took same line as previously, told him all that would be developed in good time if they would come forward with positive response to our proposals.” (Ibid.)
  3. See footnote 3, Document 37.
  4. See Document 70.