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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 15, 1975

NOTE FOR LTG. BRENT SCOWSCROFT FROM JOHN A. WICKHAM, JR., “DEFENSE OF UNC CONTROLLED ISLANDS"

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    John A Wickham, Jr., writes to General Brent Scowscroft about the U.S. defense commitment to the five northwest island groups and U.S.-South Korean defense coordination.
    "Note for Ltg. Brent Scowscroft from John A. Wickham, Jr., “Defense of UNC Controlled Islands"," September 15, 1975, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, National Security Adviser Presidential Country Files for East Asia and the Pacific, Box 9, Korea (11). Obtained for NKIDP by Charles Kraus. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114060
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15 September 15

NOTE FOR LTG BRENT SCOWCROFT, USAF

DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT

FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS

Brent –



Attached message has been in the NSC for coordination and based on the SecDef’s [Secretary of Defense’s] discussions with MOD Suh, it should be released to initiate detailed planning. This planning can consider the request of MOD Suh to station a U.S. combat liaison team on the islands. Definitive guidance on this proposal can be the subject of a separate message. What is needed now is to authorize CINCUNC to discuss planning with the ROK. Request prompt clearance.

JOHN A. WICKHAM, JR.

AttachmentMajor General, USA

asMilitary Assistant

ACTION: ROUTINE SEOUL, CINCUNC

INFO: ROUTINE CINCPAC

JOINT STATE/DEFENSE MESSAGE

TAGS: PFOR, AMRR, MOPS, PBOR, PINS, KS, US

SUBJECT: DEFENSE OF UNC CONTROLLED ISLANDS

REF: (a) CINCUNC 220935Z May 75; (b) CINCUNC 140020Z May 75; (c) Seoul 3704

1. Appreciate Embassy/CINCUNC [Commander in Chief, United Nations Command] comments contained ref A and C.

2. Assumption is correct that five north west island groups fit definition of territory under ROK [Republic of Korea] administrative control and they therefore come under Article III of the MDT [Mutual Defense Treaty]. The forces there are clearly under CINCUNC operational control. We therefore agree that it is unrealistic to maintain present “hands-off” position in which CINCUNC does not have active planning responsibilities.

3. Consequently CINCUNC is authorized to discuss planning for defense of the Islands with view toward reaching understanding on the following:

(a) ROK will not act precipitously and unilaterally in defense of the islands: CINCUNC will exercise OPCON [operational control] of ROK forces.

(b) In event of attack on islands CINCUNC will immediately commit ROK forces to contain and restore situation; however, force commitment must not jeopardize the capability to defend the ROK as a whole.

4. In any main North Korean attack there would be a US response appropriate to the situation. [Redacted]