225. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • Personnel Reductions in the Philippines

Description of Reduction Plan Recommended by Under Secretaries Committee.

U. Alexis Johnson has transmitted the Under Secretaries Committee plan for personnel reductions in the Philippines.2 A summary of [Page 477]the plan, which appears fully responsive to your instructions, is contained in the table at Tab B.3 In general its principal features are:

  • —a 33 percent reduction at Clark Field and a 25 percent reduction of other military personnel. This cuts back our military presence in the Philippines to pre-Vietnam war levels.
  • —a minimum of military redeployments to other locations in the Western Pacific. All but 400 of the military reductions involve the elimination of positions not now filled or the return of personnel to the U.S.
  • —a 32 percent reduction in the total official U.S. presence in the Philippines (including personnel of civilian agencies and dependents) to be fully accomplished by June, 1971.

Implications of the Plan for our Strategic Position in the Pacific and our Relations with the Philippines.

The recommended reductions will reduce our capacity and flexibility to deal with military contingencies in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific but should not prove unmanageable as long as they are tied to Vietnam withdrawals. They should not affect our continued tenure at bases in the Philippines which will become increasingly important in the years to come because of their unique geographical location, their capacity to handle “surge requirements” and the likelihood that it will be more difficult to maintain present base structures at a number of other pacific locations.

In the long-run, the impact of a substantial reduction in our involvement in the Philippines, which will contribute to greater Philippine self-reliance, should be favorable to U.S.–Philippines relations. In the short-run, however, there will be the following problems:

  • —As a result of the reductions, 3,000–5,000 directly hired Philippine employees of our bases will be laid off and up to 11,000 Philippine contract employees will be put out of work. This could result in strikes and protests organized by Philippine labor unions.
  • —The Philippines will loose $30–40 million a year in foreign exchange during a time of balance of payments crisis.
  • —The people of the Philippines, the majority of whom regard the retention of U.S. bases as beneficial, could interpret the reductions as a U.S. withdrawal from the Philippines. This could intensify the climate of uncertainty which now characterizes the Philippine political situation.
  • —The reductions could also be interpreted as a sign of our disapproval of President Marcos and a lack of confidence in his leadership, making his political position more difficult.

We can, however, minimize these short-run problems by:

  • —making it clear that the reductions are related to Vietnam withdrawals and to world-wide budgetary and manpower constraints.
  • —emphasizing our continued commitment to Philippine security in the context of bi-lateral military agreements.
  • —undertaking new programs, where possible in the context of multilateral approaches, to mitigate the economic effects.

Issues for Decision and Recommendations

1. Cuts in the Diplomatic Mission

Ambassador Byroade recommends only a minimum of reductions (roughly 3%) in U.S. personnel under his direct control. Under his recommendation, one American position from the diplomatic mission would be eliminated; 5 would be converted to staffing by Philippine nationals and 17 involving regional activities would be relocated else–where in the Pacific area. The Under Secretaries Committee has also described two alternate plans for Embassy cuts, but has made no recommendation.

  • —The first involves a reduction of 50, which amounts to a 12 percent cut. Although a few programs would have to be curtailed, Washington agencies involved, including the Bureau of the Budget, feel that a reduction of this magnitude would be manageable.
  • —The second envisages a 25% reduction in Embassy personnel. In the opinion of the Under Secretaries Committee, it would require termination or severe curtailment of a number of programs considered essential to achieving our current national objectives in the Philippines.


I recommend that you approve the first alternate plan proposed by the committee which calls for a 12 percent cut in the diplomatic mission. In my opinion, the 3 percent reduction recommended by Ambassador Byroade would not be consistent with the deep cuts proposed in other programs.4

2. The Timing of Reductions at Clark Field

The plan for reductions at Clark Field, which was drawn up by the Air Force, calls for 75% of the reductions to be implemented by September, 1970 (100 percent implementation by that time would involve an undesirable increase in the number of personnel who had to be redeployed elsewhere in the Western Pacific).

On the basis of your instructions, the Defense Department has already incorporated this immediate drawdown at Clark into its budget plan for FY 71 and is now reluctant to stretch out the reductions any further. Ambassador Byroade feels, however, that problems with the Philippine Government would be reduced if the immediate reductions [Page 479]at Clark were delayed a few months. The Department of State requests that you instruct the DOD that at least 50% of the scheduled reductions for Clark Air Base be completed by September 30, 1970 and that, to the extent possible, the balance of that reduction be spread out more evenly over the period ending June 30, 1971.


I believe that Ambassador Byroade is in the best position to judge the effects of the timing of the cuts. I recommend, therefore, that we leave some leeway for the Clark reductions to be slowed down. This could be done by directing that at least 50 percent of the Clark cuts be made by September 30 and that the level of any immediate reductions beyond that level be worked out between the State and Defense Departments and the Ambassador.5

A memorandum from me to the Under Secretaries Committee approving the plan recommended by the committee and incorporating the two recommendations above is attached at Tab A.6

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 65, Memoranda to the President 1970, July, Part II. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. Sent for action. Printed from a copy that indicates Kissinger signed the original.
  2. On June 20 in a memorandum to the President from the Under Secretaries Committee. (Department of State, NSC Under Secretaries Committee File: Lot 83 D 276, NSCU/DM 42, 6/22/70)
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. The President checked the approve option.
  5. The President checked the approve option.
  6. The memorandum, July 17, advised the Chairman of the Under Secretaries Committee that the personnel reductions in the Philippines should incorporate “a 12 percent reduction in our diplomatic mission” (with JUSMAG and DAO to be excepted from the cuts) and ordered that 50 percent of the reductions at Clark Field be accomplished by September 30, with the remainder to be done by June 30, 1971. Attached but not printed.