237. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Porter) to President Nixon, Washington, June 15, 1973.1 2


June 15, 1973
NSC-U/DM 105

SUBJECT: Reexamination of the Korea Force Modernization Plan

In his memorandum to you of December 27, 1972, the Acting Chairman of the NSC Under Secretaries Committee reported that he had directed the Korea Force Modernization Steering Group to undertake a comprehensive reexamination of the Korea Force Modernization Plan. Mr. Kissinger’s memorandum of February 7 conveyed your request that the NSC Under Secretaries Committee develop policy alternatives and recommendations based on this reexamination on how to fulfill our modernization commitments to the ROKG.

The Interagency Steering Group on Korea Force Modernization has completed the required reexamination of the Korea Force Modernization Plan; results are reflected in the attached report. (The Department of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff have provided a modified concurrence which is appended to this memorandum.)


The Steering Group has recommended that:

The United States should continue to strive to provide a total of $1.5 billion in security assistance to the Republic of Korea, with a maximum of $1.25 billion in grant and FMS.
The emphasis in modernizing ROK forces should be shifted from ground forces to air defense. First priority should be to develop an adequate active and passive air defense capability and provide fighter aircraft in accordance with the original Plan. Provision of additional aircraft would be determined by subsequent threat developments, U.S. force deployments, possible arms limitations, etc.
Negotiations with the ROKG should commence as early as possible. Our objectives should include having the Koreans agree to increase their defense spending sufficiently to assume a greater share of their own defense responsibilities in a move toward increasing their military self-sufficiency.
We should inform the ROKG of our intent to assist in the modernization of a 16 division ground force, but should in no way pressure it to reduce the size of its forces. Should the ROKG decide that it will reduce its forces rather than bear the expense of supporting the existing larger force of 19 divisions, we should begin discussions with them on whether and how a reduction can be related to the current South-North talks.
Funding of the modernization commitment should be stretched out through FY 1977, with a steep increase in substituting FMS for Grant funds.
Every effort be made to provide excess defense articles to meet our modernization commitment.

Negotiating Considerations

The Steering Group identified several difficult and sensitive problems that can be anticipated in negotiating the above with the ROKG. These include discussions related to a cut in the size of the ROK Army, which has a great deal of influence within the ROKG, and the cumulative effect of negotiating not only the above policy changes, but others relating to Korea including those dealing with the issues in NSSM 154. The Steering Group believes that all the preceding should be addressed together, and that decisions regarding negotiations related to the Korea Force Modernization Plan should be reached after consideration of all factors involved with our general policy toward Korea.


The Steering Group was unable to reach unanimous agreement on several points. These exceptions are indicated by footnotes in the report and may be summarized as follows:

  • — The Department of Defense believes that the Government of Japan should be solicited to assist in the modernization of ROK forces by providing non-lethal items of equipment.
  • — The NSC member believes that we should not tell the ROKG that the U.S. will assist in modernizing a ROK ground force of not more than 16 divisions; he believes instead that U.S. assistance for the three additional ROK divisions currently in existence should be given lowest priority.
  • — The NSC member believes that the shift from grant aid to FMS credit for Korea’s modernization requirements should be much slower than the comparatively rapid shift recommended by the Steering Group.

William J. Porter
Acting Chairman

1. Memorandum from Acting Secretary Clements.
2. Report.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–241, NSDMs, NSDM 227, folder 6. Secret; Norforn. Attached but not published are the December 27, 1972 memorandum of U. Alexis Johnson, Acting Chairman of the NSC Under Secretaries Committee; the February 7 memorandum from Kissinger to the Chairman of the Under Secretaries Committee; and the May 31 Report of the Korea Force Modernization Interagency Steering Group. The memorandum from Clements, 13 June, and the June 13 response of the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the paper are ibid., H–68, SRG Meetings, NSSM 154, 6/15/73 [4 of 4].
  2. Porter reported on the recommendations of the Korea Force Modernization Steering Group.