Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

History of U.S. Military Assistance to Taiwan -- 1950-1959, Part 2

Today I'm continuing with the history of the U.S. Military Advisory Group (MAAG) and the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command (USTDC) as described in the Joint Chiefs of Staff report "Selected Aspects of U.S. Military Assistance" dated 13 December 1961. This section deals directly with the creation of USTDC.

United States Taiwan Defense Command
RADM Frank Fenno
As early as October 1952, the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Taiwan, had established a Formosa Liaison Center which was responsible for the coordination and liaison needed to plan, prepare for, and execute any possible operations, including combined training, that might involve the use of Sino-American forces in defense of the island.  The Liaison Center was subordinate to MAAG, Taiwan, until April 1955, when CINCPAC (who had acquired responsibility for the defense of Formosa) directed the commander of the newly created Formosa Defense Command (U.S.) to take over responsibility for the Formosa Liaison Center.  The latter designation was retained as a cover title for the defense command until 1 November 1955 when it was abandoned in favor of the more appropriate designation, U.S. Taiwan Defense Command.  By the end of 1955, CINCPAC had converted the former Liaison Center of the advisory group in a joint headquarters that had direct access to the highest military and administrative councils of the Nationalist government. (Appendix 2 to Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436, Note by the Secretaries to the JCS on Command Structure on Taiwan, dtd 9 Jan 59; CINCPAC msg to Com TDC 232248Z Apr 55 (381 Formosa, 11-8-48, Section 23))
VADM Stuart Ingersoll

[NOTE:  As I mentioned a few days ago in my Formosa Liaison Center piece RADM Frank Fenno was Commander of the Formosa Liaison Center in 1955 until it was renamed USTDC and VADM Ingersoll assumed command of the organization.  VADM Ingersoll was Commander from 1955 until 1957.]

The Consolidation of the Military Assistance Advisory Group with the Taiwan Defense Command

By the end of 1957, in keeping with the current views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, CINCPAC began planning the eventual merger of all American commands on Taiwan into a single headquarters under the Taiwan Defense Command.  As the Nationalists became better able to defend the island, the advisory group, it was believed, would gradually shift from offering guidance on the technical and tactical levels to providing advice at higher echelons and instruction in managerial techniques.  CINCPAC became convinced that a consolidated joint staff would be better able to provide the Chinese the assistance that they would need. (Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436)

The first CINCPAC directives concerning the consolidation were issued in March 1958.  These directives, based upon decisions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, marked the beginning of a two-phase program.  Effective that month, CINCPAC redesignated the Commander, Taiwan Defense Command, as Commander, Taiwan Defense Command/Military Assistance Advisory Group.  The Chief, Military Assistance Advisory Group, who retained his old title, was also to serve as Deputy Commander, Taiwan Defense Command, while the former deputy commander assumed a new role as deputy commander and chief of the consolidated joint staff.  Since the senior Army officer had just reached Taiwan and the new senior naval officer was about to depart, CINCPAC did not anticipate a further merging of the command until February 1959 (Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436).

During the first few months following its consolidation, the combined Taiwan Defense Command/Military Assistance Advisory Group found itself in something of an anomalous  position, for the only American military organization officially recognized by the Nationalist Government was the advisory group, which was now a subordinate element of the defense command and not the echelon for dealing with the higher authorities of the Nationalist Government.  This problem seemed capable of solution, however.  In January 1959, CINCPAC reported to the JCS that "an interim agreement recognizing non-MAAG units on Taiwan and giving them status parallel to that of the MAAG is in the mill and should be signed shortly." (CINCPAC msg to JCS, 102243Z Jan 59 (JMF5166, 9 Jan 59, Group No. 1))

The program of consolidation was temporarily suspended after the Chinese Communists, in August 1958, began an intensive bombardment of the Nationalist-held offshore islands.  Because of the immediate threat, the separate defense command and advisory group staffs were re-established, so that both could operate at top speed.  The combined title, however, was retained.  (Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436)

(To be concluded tomorrow)

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