63. Memorandum From John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • U.S. Troop Reductions in Korea: Possible Bureaucratic Dispute over Who Instructed Porter to Inform Park of “Deadline” in Effectuating Reductions

At Tab A2 is a telegram of July 6 from Saigon describing Secretary Rogers’ conversation that day with ROK Foreign Minister Choi, in which the latter called under instructions from President Park to express shock over a telegram presented to him by Ambassador Porter putting forward a “deadline” to effectuate U.S. troop reductions. Since there has been no telegram from State telling Ambassador Porter to pass the word to Park in this way (at least in regular channels), it is conceivable that Secretary Rogers may attribute Porter’s actions to instructions sent him by someone else, e.g. the White House. This could become a troublesome issue, given President Park’s temperament and strong objections to U.S. troop reductions, as is amply brought out in the rest of the telegram.

In piecing together what may have happened, I believe it is highly likely that the prime mover in this series of events was Secretary Rogers himself. At Tab B is a telegram from Saigon describing the Secretary’s previous conversation with Foreign Minister Choi on July 3, in which the Secretary really laid it on the line to Choi to the effect that we had already made a decision to reduce our forces in Korea, that Ambassador Porter was “instructed on the details,” and that it “was necessary to agree immediately on troop reductions.” You will note that this telegram was sent to Seoul for information on July 6 and that its transmission time was 3 hours and 20 minutes earlier than the telegram at Tab A (1300 Z versus 1620 Z.) Thus there was plenty of time for Ambassador Porter, who already was “instructed on the details,” to take this line from the Secretary as his marching orders and go to Park on his own initiative. Everything which the Secretary said on July 3 is consistent with what Park chose to construe as a “deadline” on effectuating U.S. troop reductions. While Ambassador Porter is not normally [Page 164] one to jump the gun or to operate without instructions, he may well have felt that he already had these instructions3 and just needed a go ahead sign. Certainly the Secretary made it very plain to Choi where we stand.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 542, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. III, 6/70–Dec 70. Secret; Nodis. Sent for information. In the upper right hand corner, Kissinger wrote next to his initials: “Al, see my note on reporting cable.” The memorandum bears Haig’s initials and the word “clipped” in parentheses. Kissinger’s note has not been found.
  2. Tabs A and B are attached but not printed.
  3. Instructions to Porter were sent in telegram 107269 to Seoul. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 542, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. III, 6/70–Dec 70)