Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

History of U.S. Military Assistance to Taiwan -- 1950-1959, Part 3

Today I'm wrapping up the history of U.S. military assistance to Taiwan during the period 1950-1959.  As I mentioned earlier, the source for this information was a Joint Chiefs of Staff report from 1961.  It filled in a lot of gaps in the information I had and I hope that it does the same for readers of this blog as well.

One thing I neglected to mention yesterday is that while Vice Admiral Ingersoll was Commander of the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command, he was also Commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, according to Naval records.  That seems odd to me and I could find no explanation for it.

On 5 September 1958, as Communist pressure against the offshore islands continued to mount, CINCPAC informed the JCS that he must have a single commander in the Taiwan area who was directly responsible to him.  CINCPAC then noted the proposed command relationships set forth in his plan to counter Chinese aggression in the vicinity of Taiwan without American use of nuclear weapons.  Under this arrangement, the Commander, Taiwan Defense Command, would exercise operational control over the forces allocated for the execution of his assigned task.  He was to exercise this control through the chief of the advisory group, the Commander, Taiwan Patrol Force, and the Commander, 13th Air Task Force (Provisional).  The commander of the defense command also would coordinate the activities of American forces assigned to support his efforts.  Finally, he was to coordinate the actions of American and Chinese Nationalist forces.  (CINCPAC msg to JCS, 050330Z Sep 58 (CCS 381 Formosa, 11-8-48, Section 38A)

Three days later, in a message to the Chief of Naval Operations, CINCPAC elaborated upon his system of command relationships.  The Air Force subordinate commander, he pointed out, would be assigned the responsibilities of Air Defense Commander.  Should the JCS prefer to establish a joint task force to deal with the current emergency, CINCPAC would be equally satisfied.  If such a task force were created, however, he would propose the Commander, Taiwan Defense Command, as its commander, with the Commander, Taiwan Patrol Force, as Navy task group commander, the Chief, Military Assistance Advisory Group, as Army task group commander, and the Commander 13th Air Task Force as Air Force task group and air defense commander.  Whatever the arrangement, the chief of the advisory group would remain responsible for the functions of that organization (CINCPAC msg to CNO, 082010Z Sep 58 (CCS 381 Formosa, 11-8-48, Section 38A).

At their meeting on 9 September 1958, the Joint Chiefs of Staff concurred in the CINCPAC recommendation that the Commander, Taiwan Defense Command, become the commander of a unified subordinate command comprising all force assigned for the accomplishment of his mission.  The JCS message sent on the following day designated the Chief, Military Assistance Advisory Group, as subordinate Army commander, the Commander, Taiwan Patrol Force, as subordinate Navy commander, and the Commander, 13th Air Task Force, as subordinate Air Force commander with responsibility as air defense commander.  Advisory group personnel were excluded from the Army forces under the operational control of the Taiwan Defense Command (JCS 2118/114, Note by the Secretaries to the JCS on the Establishment of U.S. Taiwan Defense Command, with enclosure, dtd 10 Sep 58; JCS msg to ComNavPhil, JCS 947808, dtd 10 Sep 58 (CCS 381 Formosa, 11-8-48, Section 39).

While the American forces, except for the advisory group, were being brought under the operational control of the Taiwan Defense Command, the separation of the Military Assistance Advisory Group and the defense command staffs continued.  On 24 September, the Commander, Taiwan Defense Command/Military Assistance Advisory Group directed the continuation on an interim basis of the organizational plan used during the recent emergency (ComUSTDC/MAAG Coordinating Authority Instruction 5400.4, dtd 24 Sep 58, Appendix 5 to Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436).   CINCPAC, however, continued to urge completion of the consolidation begun in March 1958 (Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436).

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, unable to agree on the completion of the merger, on 8 May 1959 forwarded their views to the Secretary of Defense.  The Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, objected to the consolidation because the two commands involved had radically different duties.  Although they agreed that an operational command which excluded advisory personnel had been necessary during the 1958 crisis, they recommended that the Taiwan Defense Command be replaced by a planning and liaison group as soon as the existing tensions had eased.  The Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps recommended the approval of the CINCPAC plan of consolidation, provided that, when the advisory group's duties were divided along functional staff lines, the separate service sections be retained as major subordinate staff components.  Those who favored the proposal believed that its acceptance would simplify the military structure on Taiwan and of the Pacific unified command, establish a single headquarters to deal with the Chinese, simplify command lines and insure unity of effort, and reduce facilities as well as the number of Americans needed on Taiwan (JCSM 175-59 to SecDef, with appendices, dtd 8 May 59 (JMF 5166, 9 Jan 59).

The Secretary of Defense, after studying the divergent views and holding additional discussions with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed the Chairman on 15 June that consolidation did not appear desirable.  On 8 July, the Joint Chiefs of Staff informed CINCPAC that the Taiwan Defense Command and the Military Assistance Advisory Group were to remain separate but that this decision did not affect CINCPAC's authority to select a senior officer at Taiwan as his representative (JCS 1259/477, Note by the Secretaries to the JCS on Consolidation of Command Structure on Taiwan, with enclosure, dtd 26 Jun 59; Decision on JCS 1259/477, dtd 8 Jul 59 JCS msg to CINCPAC,JCS 962043, dtd 8 Jul 59 (JMF 5166 9 Jan 59).

The decision to abandon the uncompleted program of consolidation had, in the opinion of CINCPAC, no effect on the existing Military Assistance Advisory Group agreement with the Nationalist Government.  The principal change was the separation of military assistance activities from the Taiwan Defense Command, a planning and operational headquarters.  The status of the defense command also was unchanged, save that its commander would have no additional responsibility toward the advisory group CINCPAC msg to AsstSecDef (Public Affairs), 010154Z Aug 59 (JMF 5166, 9 Jan 59).

Summary

The Military Assistance Advisory Group, Taiwan, encountered some opposition from Nationalist authority.  The reorganization of the Chinese logistical effort, the decreasing of the authority of political commissars, and the attempt to convince higher echelons not to interfere in the conduct of their subordinates were elements of the American program that held little appeal for the Generalissimo.  The advisors, however, did succeed in vastly increasing the Nationalist combat capability (Historical Division, JCS, History of the Formosa Situation, dtd 15 Sep 55, Series B, pp. 321-326).

Because of the need to coordinate Chinese and American efforts in defense of the island, the advisory group formed a liaison center, which was expanded by CINCPAC into the Taiwan Defense Command.  The defense command provided CINCPAC with direct access to the Chinese high command and enabled him to keep abreast of Nationalist plans.  Since it dealt primarily with planning for the Sino-American defense of Taiwan, attempts to enlarge the scope of the defense command to include the advisory group's duties of providing military assistance met with no success.  The crisis of September 1958 emphasized the essential differences between the Taiwan Defense Command and the Military Advisory Group, and in the following year the Secretary of Defense decided that the two organization should not be consolidated.

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