284. Telegram 190720Z From the Commander in Chief of the United Nations Command (Stillwell) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State Kissinger, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, August 19, 1976, 0720Z.1 2

TELEGRAM

Z 190726Z AUG 76

FM CINCUNC SEOUL
TO JCS WASH DC
SEC STATE WASH DC
SEC DEF WASH DC

INFO CINCPAC HONOLULU HI
CNFK CHINHAE
I CORPS (ROCK/US) GP UIJONGBU

SUBJECT: MEETING WITH PRESIDENT PARK.

1.
PER INSTRUCTIONS OF THE ACTING CJCS, AS RELAYED TELEPHONICALLY BY LTG SITTON, I MET MND SUH THIS MORNING; AND THEN PROCEEDED TO A QUICKLY ARRANGED MEETING AT THE BLUE HOUSE.
2.
AT THE MEETING WITH MINISTER SUH, I STATED THAT I WAS UNDER INSTRUCTIONS TO MOVE THE UNITED NATIONS COMMAND TO DEFCON 3. THAT I HAD TOLD WASHINGTON THAT I WAS CONFIDENT THAT THE MND WOULD ENDORSE THAT ACTION; AND THAT THE FIRST PURPOSE OF THIS MEETING WAS TO CONFIRM THAT. SUH AGREED AND WE SET 190200Z AS THE TIME DEFCON 3 WOULD BECOME EFFECTIVE. I ALSO REPORTED TO HIM THAT AN F4 SQUADRON WOULD BEGIN DEPLOYMENT FROM OKINAWA IN THE NEXT FEW HOURS. FINALLY, I TOLD HIM THAT WE WERE DEVELOPING A PLAN TO COMPLETE THE TREE OPERATION.
3.
MND SUH, GENERAL RO (THE ROK CJCS) AND I THEN PROCEEDED TO THE BLUE HOUSE. MND STARTED OFF BY SUMMARIZING FOR THE PRESIDENT THE KEY ASPECTS OF OUR EARLIER DISCUSSION, NOTABLY INCLUDING THE COORDINATED MOVE TO DEFCON 3 AND THE F4 DEPLOYMENT.
4.
PRESIDENT PARK-CALM, DELIBERATE AND POSITIVE THROUGHOUT- STARTED OFF WITH FOLLOWING COMMENTS:
A.
FIRST EXPRESSION OF HIS DEEP PERSONAL CONCERN ABOUT AN INCIDENT WHICH HE FOUND "BEYOND HUMAN REASON," AND TRANSMITTAL OF HIS HEARTFELT CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILIES OF THE TWO OFFICERS CONCERNED.
B.
CONVICTION THAT THE SITUATION WAS SUFFICIENTLY GRAVE TO [Page 2]DEMAND MORE THAN PROTEST FOR, IF REACTION SO LIMITED, MORE SERIOUS INCIDENTS WOULD LIKELY OCCUR IN THE FUTURE.
C.
VIEW THAT THE MOVE TO DEFCON 3 AND DEPLOYMENT OF THE F4 SQUADRON WERE APPROPRIATE.
D.
BELIEF THAT ONE NEEDED TO PROCEED ON TWO TRACKS:
(1)
ISSUANCE OF THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE PROTEST TO INCLUDE DEMAND FOR APOLOGY, FOR REPARATION, AND FOR GUARANTEE OF NON- RECURRENCE—ALL WITH THE RECOGNITION THAT THE COMMUNISTS ARE NOT LIKELY TO BE FORTHCOMING.
(2)
DELIBERATE DEVELOPMENT OF APPROPRIATE COUNTERACTION, EMPHASIZING THAT "WE DO NOT WANT OT PLAY INTO THEIR HANDS." HE SAID THAT WE SHOULD TEACH THE NORTH KOREANS A LESSON; AND SHOULD DO SO WITHOUT USE OF ARMS (A POINT WHICH HE WAS SUBSEQUENTLY TO RE- EMPHASIZE). HERE, I CONJECTURE THAT THE PRESIDENT WAS REFERRING TO THE OVERALL DISPOSITION AND PROCEDURES LONG IN EFFECT AT PANMUNJOM, WHICH THE ROKS BELIEVE OPERATE TO OUR DISADVANTAGE.
5.
I TOLD PRESIDENT THAT, FROM WHAT I COULD GLEAN, THE USG FELT VERY STRONGLY ABOUT THE INCIDENT AND THAT ITS VIEWS ON COUNTERMEASURE GENERALLY PARALLELED HIS. THERE WOULD MOST CERTAINLY BE A STRONG PROTEST LODGED, IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, BY ME THROUGH MAC. IT WAS DISTINCTLY POSSIBLE THAT MORE AUTHORITATIVE CHANNELS WOULD ALSO BE USED. SECOND, THERE WERE THE MEASURES OF THIS TYPE MIGHT WELL BE UNDER CONSIDERATION. THE PRESIDENT INTERJECTED TO SAY THAT A SHOW OF FORCE, BY ITSELF WOULD NOT IMPRESS THE NORTH, AND MADE PASSING REFERENCE TO THE FACT THAT DEPLOYMENTS AFTER THE PUEBLO INCIDENT DID NOT PREVENT THE DOWNING OF THE EC-121. I CONTINUED THAT A THIRD ACTION WHICH I FELT TO BE ESSENTIALS WAS TO COMPLETE THE TREE OPERATION, FOR REASONS BOTH OF THE PRINCIPAL AND PRACTICAL SECURITY.
6.
PICKING UP HIS LAST POINT, THE PRESIDENT AGREED THAT THE TREE PROBLEM SHOULD BE DEALT WITH. THE NORTH KOREANS MIGHT NOT INTERFERE BUT WE HAD TO BE FULLY PREPARED FOR THE MORE LIKELY CONTINGENCY THAT THEY WOULD. IF THEY DID, IT WAS ESSENTIAL THAT THEY COME OUT SECOND BEST. IN HIS ESTIMATE, THE BEST WAY TO INSURE THE SUCCESS OF THE OPERATION WAS TO HAVE AVAILABLE, FOR USE AS NEEDED, ADEQUATE PERSONNEL HIGHLY SKILLED IN THE "MARTIAL ARTS" BY WHICH HE MEANT TAEKWONDO. TO THAT END HE WAS PREPARED TO MAKE AVAILABLE TO ME 50 OR MORE MULTIPLE BLACK BELT HOLDERS FROM THE ROK SPECIAL FORCES FOR INTEGRATION INTO MY FORCES AS KATUSA. I THANKED HIM FOR HIS OFFER AND TOLD HIM I WOULD TAKE IT INTO CONSIDERATION IN DEVELOPMENT OF THE PLAN WHICH I EXPECTED TO SUBMIT TO MY JCS WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS. WHEN I MENTIONED THAT IF THE OPERATION WERE SWIFTLY MOUNTED, THE KPA MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO REACT IN TIME TO INTERFERE, THE PRESIDENT OPINED THAT IT MIGHT BE BETTER TO PROCEED MORE DELIBERATELY IN ORDER TO INSURE KPA REACTION AND A RESULTANT SOUND THRASHING TO BE ADMINISTERED, HE AGAIN EMPHASIZED WITHOUT FIRE ARMS. THE MEETING [Page 3]CONCLUDED ON THIS NOTE.
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for East Asia and the Pacific, Box 10, Korea, North Korean Tree Incident, August 18, 1976, Telegrams (3). Secret.
  2. Stilwell described his meeting with Park on the response to the North Korean attack.