76. 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 3 February to review State’s comments on the Department of Defense’s plan to draw down DOD military and civilian personnel to a ceiling of 660 by 1 August 1978.2 Fortunately we had received an informal copy of State’s comments and had begun to prepare a response. Otherwise it would have been extremely difficult to reply to your request (which was dated on Friday, arrived on Saturday and required a response on Sunday). There is no need for such timing.

With regard to the Acting Secretary of State’s comments:

—I agree with his first point. As was noted in the memorandum forwarding our plan to you, we may 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. However, I do not want to prejudge the results of these studies.

—In accordance with your initial directive, the DOD plan identifies 40 personnel spaces that would be replaced by civilian contract personnel. The functions involve administrative support, security police, munitions maintenance, and special services. I do not believe that these functions can be eliminated (although the munitions maintenance and some of the security police requirements may be eliminated if a Presidential decision is made to change the status of our WRM). In addition, the nature of each function is self-explanatory and does not require further justification, i.e., there is a need for security police, munitions maintenance personnel, etc.

—With respect to the small Human Source Intelligence (HUMINT) detachments (total of 9 persons), the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that these, like other elements of the intelligence effort on Taiwan, should be considered separately because in the JCS view they support national re[Page 287]quirements. JCS feels that if the DOD HUMINT elements are not excluded from the proposed ceiling, the ceiling should be adjusted upward. I have initiated a review of the role of the DOD HUMINT elements in the overall intelligence effort. Until this review is completed, I recommend that we defer a decision on whether these elements should be included under the 660 ceiling or the ceiling adjusted upward to accommodate them.

With regard to the Acting Secretary’s comments concerning the Aircraft Programmed Depot Maintenance facility on Taiwan, it should be noted that this is a civilian contractor doing work for the United States Government. Therefore, it is not a question of relocating it, but of finding another contractor who has the capability (or will develop the capability) to perform this type work. If we are to avoid significant unprogrammed costs and/or a severe decrease in operational readiness, a prospective contractor must be given a reasonable amount of time to prepare his physical facilities and expand and train his work force to meet U.S. contract requirements. In any case, we should not prejudge the ongoing DOD study or prematurely conclude that we must terminate the use of this facility on Taiwan in less than eighteen months. Finally, even if normalization does occur, it does not necessarily preclude some form of U.S.–PRC agreement which would provide for an orderly transition period for the phasing out of this facility.

In short, while some of State’s concerns seem appropriate and we do have an obligation to reduce our presence on Taiwan under the terms of the Shanghai Communiqué, a difference of 100 or 200 DOD personnel on Taiwan is no substitute for substantive steps that influence U.S.–PRC relations. There is little to be gained by further withdrawals beyond those in the DOD plan in the absence of significant progress of our normalization efforts or at least a change in PRC attitudes.

CW Duncan, Jr
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 8, China (People’s Republic of): 1/77–5/78. Secret.
  2. Brzezinski’s February 3 memorandum is in Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–81–0202, China (Nats) 320.2. The Department of State’s response is Document 74. For the Department of Defense plan, see Document 72.