72. Memorandum From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Duncan) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1
- Resumption of Taiwan Troop Drawdowns
This memorandum responds to your request of 10 November 1977 to submit for the President’s approval a plan to draw down Department of Defense military and civilian personnel on Taiwan to a ceiling of 500 by August 1, 1978.2[Page 281]
The JCS believe that a reduction to 500 Department of Defense personnel by the cited date is possible but will have the following impact:
—“a degraded but acceptable U.S. capability” to fulfill our obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) can be maintained only if qualified civilian contractors can be hired to perform certain tasks;
—elimination of all non-MDT related activities on Taiwan, such as aircraft programmed depot maintenance (PDM), adverse effects on PACOM readiness and other military requirements and at considerable unprogrammed expense;
—little, if any, remaining flexibility without degrading our ability to carry out Taiwan contingency functions.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff do not believe that such a reduction is warranted under present circumstances. Annex A presents details on the specific nature of the required reductions and the resultant impact.3
In order to avoid the heavy penalty costs and degradation of PACOM operational readiness involved in the above plan, an alternate plan has been prepared (Annex B) which would retain approximately 660 Department of Defense personnel on Taiwan.4 The additional personnel under this plan would:
—permit retention of essential MDT support functions at a near minimum manning level;
—permit retention of the Aircraft Programmed Depot Maintenance Facility, the Naval Medical Research Unit, and other theater support functions until plans for an orderly relocation of these units can be implemented; and,
—reduce financial impacts, for example, relocation of the PDM facility would significantly increase costs of PDM service (estimated at $11.3 million for USAF aircraft during FY 77—Part II, PRM–24)5 and the USAF could be liable for additional unprogrammed costs in excess of $2.5 million.
Finally, I believe it important to note that we might achieve a sounder reduction below the 660 level after we examine contingency plans (due March 1) for relocation of the USAF Aircraft Maintenance Center and the War Reserve Materiel Storage.
I recommend that we move to implement the alternative Joint Chiefs of Staff plan (Tab [Annex] B). The political purposes of the reduction are met by the resultant 53% reduction in authorized strength. I see no further political benefits at this time and considerable operational [Page 282] and financial costs in implementing a reduction to a 500 ceiling by August 1978. Obviously, this problem must be kept under constant review.