21. National Security Decision Memorandum 2301


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense


  • U.S. Strategy and Forces for Asia

Based on a review of the NSSM 171 study,2 the President has decided that the following guidance should govern our future military planning for Asia.

Strategic Planning

The basic strategic guidance for Asia as originally defined by NSDM 273 shall remain in force. U.S. forces should be planned so that U.S. and Allied forces would be capable of conducting a combined con [Page 98] ventional defense against a joint PRC/Communist ally attack in either Northeast or Southeast Asia as well as a non-PRC attack in the other Asian theater. The U.S. should continue to plan for an adequate capability to reinforce our Allies in support of this strategy, including the full range of land, naval, and tactical air forces.

Tactical nuclear forces should be planned in Asia as a hedge against the failure of a conventional defense. However, this does not preclude early use of tactical nuclear weapons in the event of a major PRC attack.

Security Assistance planning will continue to focus on assisting our Allies to meet indigenous and non-PRC communist nation threats. Planning will not be based on building Allied self-sufficiency in meeting major threats from the PRC. However, improvements in Allied capabilities to enhance a joint U.S./Allied defense will be planned as a lower priority goal.

U.S. Deployments

U.S. planning for the next five years should include Asian baseline deployments at essentially current levels in Korea, Japan/Okinawa, and the Philippines. Normal minor adjustments in manning and support forces would be made; but, any proposed changes in combat force levels or major changes in manpower levels should be submitted to the President for approval. Deployments on Taiwan and in Thailand will be kept under continuous review. There will be no increases in forces or manpower on Taiwan without prior Presidential approval.

The Department of State should develop a scenario4 for informing the governments of Korea, Philippines, and Japan and other governments they believe appropriate of our deployment plans for FY 74. This scenario should be submitted to the President for approval by August 15, 1973.5

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–242, Policy Papers, NSDM 230. Top Secret. Copies were sent to Ikle, Walters, Moorer, and Ash. Kissinger, following the July 26 DPRC meeting (Document 18), forwarded the NSDM to Nixon under a covering memorandum, August 1, with the recommendation that he approve its issuance. (Ibid.)
  2. An 83-page study, April 27, submitted in response to NSSM 171 (Document 5) identified issues for presidential decision, summarized current U.S. force planning for Asia, discussed U.S. deployments in the region for FY 1974–78, and examined uncertainties that affected planning. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–196, Study Memoranda, NSSM 171)
  3. NSDM 27, “U.S. Military Posture,” October 11, 1969, is Document 56 in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XXXIV, National Security Policy, 1969–1972.
  4. On August 28, Rush sent a memorandum to the President outlining the scenario. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–242, Policy Papers, NSDM 230)
  5. During their December 5 breakfast meeting, Schlesinger told Kissinger that the strategy delineated by NSDM 230 had been “overtaken” by Kissinger’s trip to China, November 10–14. “We must shift forces toward stabilization of the area and not counter the Chinese,” Schlesinger said. “There is no possibility of PRC fighting us,” Kissinger agreed, adding that United States strategy and deployments in Asia should again be reviewed. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Schlesinger Papers, Box 14, Kissinger Meetings) According to another record of the meeting, however, Kissinger said that there was another, political, “reason for our forces in Asia, that is, China policy.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations—Nixon Administration, Box 3) For the record of Kissinger’s talks with Chinese leaders while in the PRC, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XVIII, China, 1973–1976, Documents 814.