Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Taiwan in 1975

First of all, I want to apologize for not posting here for several days. I guess I've been distracted by the state of the nation, including the proposed printing of gazillions of dollars to be sprayed, fire-hose-like, at an endless list of projects by our leaders. I really don't want to discuss the issue here, but let's just say that I've always been pretty much of an economic conservative, especially when it comes to government control and spending and it's all head-swimmingly distressing to me. Enough said.

To get my brain rebalanced, I've started sorting through the Commander In Chief US Pacific Command (CINCPAC) Command Histories that I mentioned in a previous piece. There's a ton of information in these things, but they're quite lengthy and sorting through all of them in search of Taipei material is going to take some time.

I thought that today I'd write a little bit about the 1975 history, since that was the year after I left USTDC, and I'll continue this theme in the days ahead.

After President Nixon's visit to mainland China in 1972, plans were made for drawdowns of U.S. Forces and the closing of U.S. bases on Taiwan. In the "Shanghai Communique" issued by the President and Premier Chou En-Lai, the United States reaffirmed its interest "in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves" and the "ultimate objective of the withdrawal of all U.S. Forces and military installations from Taiwan." Despite my tendency to blame President Carter for our departure in 1979, it's certainly clear that the die was cast several years earlier.

Also during 1975 there was a study to determine the feasibility of merging USTDC and MAAG, an idea that had been first discussed back in 1958. CINCPAC favored the merger but ultimately the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided not to submit the plan to the Secretary of Defense because of a pending trip by President Ford to the PRC. Apparently nobody wanted to rock the boat until all the dust settled. Sorry, I just had a sudden metaphor attack.

Tainan Air Base had been phased down to caretaker status by the end of 1974 and the following April the JCS advised that the Office of the Secretary of Defense had requested views regarding the military requirement for continued P-3 and related operations that ccontinued out of Tainan, along with reasonable alternatives to Tainan basing. As a result, all P-3 operations were terminated as of 9 June. However, in August JCS received information that indicated there were still some support personnel for P-3 operations at Tainan -- a situation that also concerned the U.S. State Department. JCS directed that, unless there were really unusual circumstances to warrant the reopening of the whole P-3 issue, all P-3 support personnel should be redeployed as quickly as possible.

In May, 1975, the second F-4 fighter squadron was withdrawn from CCK (Ching Chuan Kang Air Base), with the final squadron of 18 F-4Cs departing for Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, between 27 and 30 May. By June, CCK had also been placed in caretaker status.

As of 31 July, the assigned strength of activities in Taiwan was 2,977, as follows:
  • American Embassy: 28
  • Joint Commands: 283
  • Army: 519
  • Navy: 450
  • Air Force: 1,684
  • Other Defense Department: 13
There were also 66 non-Defense Department civilians at the Embassy and at Taipei Transportation Management Agency, for a grand total of 3,044, distributed as follows:
  • Taipei: 1,500
  • Shu Linkou: 814
  • Tai Chung - Ching Chuan Kang: 517
  • Tainan: 120
  • Kaohsiung/Tsoying: 68
  • Five other locations: 25
In November, 1975, CINCPAC was advised in a joint State-Defense Department message that the decision had been made to proceed with the inactivation of the 327th Air Division and all support activities at Taipei Air Station and to return the station to the Republic of China. Approval was given for retention of a small USAF contingent of air control personnel at the ROC's operations center there. All of this was to be kept on a low-key basis to minimize public attention, publicity and personnel turbulence. As the Chinese already anticipated these moves, it was believed that this low-key approach through military channels was the best way to inform them of this decision. No announcement was made by the United States and it was assumed that the Chinese would not wish to make one either.

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