Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Taiwan Report Index

During the past few months, I've posted pages from the "Taiwan Report - Taipei Edition," a booklet that was published by the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command in 1973. The booklet was sent to American servicemen and women being assigned to Taiwan and it was designed to ease their transition into their new surroundings. It's a great historical record of life in the Taipei area as experienced by American military personnel 35 years ago.

Les Duffin kept a copy of the booklet all these years and has been kind enough to scan and share all 118 pages. I've posted them pretty much as I've received them, but the 15 chapters (plus intro and quick reference sections) are not always easy to find in the chronological format of a blog.

So today's post contains the complete index to Taiwan Report, with individual links to each section. My objective is to make it easier for readers to "thumb through" the booklet from page 1 to page 118. I'm also adding a link somewhere in the right-hand column of the blog so you can come directly to this posting at any time in the future.

Keep in mind that if you click on each of the pages within each chapter, you'll be able to view the full-size image.

Thanks again to Les for having the foresight to preserve this historical document and for taking the time to share it with all of us.

Taiwan Report - Intro

It looks like I messed up yesterday when I said that I had already posted every chapter of the Taiwan Report. Apparently I published only certain parts of some chapters, including the introduction. Hey, I'm 65 years old so cut me some slack, huh?

So today I'll post the complete intro, including the front cover of the booklet and if I discover any other unpublished sections I'll post those in the days ahead. Once everything is posted, I'll do the index with links to each section as I promised earlier.

So here's the cover and intro of the Taiwan Report - Taipei Edition:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Taiwan Report - Chapter 13

I thought I had posted all the chapters of the Taiwan Report over the past several months, but I apparently missed chapter 13, which had to do with stores, restaurants and health precautions. Those pages are shown below. As always, you can click on any of the pages to see a larger version.

Taiwan Report was the publication we mailed out to those being assigned to USTDC and other military units in the Taipei area. The publication date was 1973, and if there were earlier or later editions I'm not aware of them.

Within the next day or two I plan to post an index to all of the chapters in the booklet.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Taiwan in 1957-1958

I found this excellent article that was written by Bob Ronald who (I believe) was a Jesuit priest who taught in Taiwan, beginning in 1957. He describes all of the sights and sounds of 1950s Taiwan as perceived by a new resident.

This is a 29-page Adobe PDF document so of course you'll need Adobe Reader to view it. If you don't already have it on your computer, you can get the free download here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another Pedicab

I've received and posted several photos of pedicabs here. By the time I arrived in Taipei, I don't think they were any longer used in the city, but when guys like Sarj and Stev were there in the late fifties and early sixties, they were apparently pretty common.

A few U.S. cities still issue permits for pedicab drivers who cater mostly to tourists, but they're pretty much a novelty in most places today as far as I know.

Taipeimarc recently alerted me to this old pedicab that was listed for sale on Craig's List. It has since been sold, but I contacted the woman who took the photos to see what I could find out about it. You can see all the rest of those photos here.

It turns out that a friend of hers participated in an auction for the contents of an unpaid storage unit. When they opened it up, this pedicab was inside. They're guessing that it might be one of the pedicabs that were imported for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. I'm not sure about that because the style -- especially the enclosed wheels -- looks older than that to me. I'm thinking it was built sometime in the 1950s. I'd guess even earlier than that, except that the nameplate is in English. The headlight that runs on a small generator is definitely an add-on.

I did a quick search for the Victory Company in Taipei but came up empty.

If you can help solve the puzzle of when this thing was built, or whether it was one of the Seattle World's Fair pedicabs from 1962, please let me know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dennis Blair

A week or so ago I wrote about Dennis Blair, who is the new Director of National Intelligence. I mentioned that he was formerly head of Pacific Command, which is the senior military authority for the entire Pacific theater. I said that I felt his background provided him with a particularly good understanding of the situation in Taiwan with regard to the People's Republic of China.

I just read a great piece about Director Blair from the January 18, 2009 edition of the Washington Times. The article, titled "Admiral takes new tack with intel position," includes this exchange between Admiral Blair and a PROC admiral:

When Adm. Dennis C. Blair was in China as commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, a Chinese admiral confronted him rather aggressively on the issue of Taiwan, warning the United States not to interfere in China's campaign to gain control of the self-governing island.

Admiral Blair listened for a minute, then said: "Admiral, let me tell you a couple of things. First, I own the water out there," gesturing toward the Pacific Ocean. "And second, I own the sky over the water out there. Now, don't you think we should talk about something more constructive?"

The anecdote, confirmed by Adm. Blair, illustrates the sort of plain speaking that characterizes the man President-elect Barack Obama has nominated to be the nation's top intelligence officer. As Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the retired admiral would be responsible for setting objectives and standards for 16 disparate intelligence agencies including the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, and for coordinating their sometimes conflicting operations.
I know that this has nothing to do directly with the focus of this blog, USTDC, but I think that most of us Taiwan veterans are still concerned about the safety and self-determination of the good people of Taiwan. I am pleased to see that at least one member of the President's administration feels the same way.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Returning to Taiwan -- Update

I just learned that the Taiwan vets who are planning to return there in September have received permission to tour The American Club In China, the private club that moved to the old Club 63 (China Seas) building after the U.S. withdrawal.

I'm sure that those who enjoyed many hours in that beautiful facility back in the day would like to see what it looks like today. If you're interested -- even if you think you might be interested -- drop Kent Mathieu a note as soon as possible.

Though I will be unable to make the trip, I recently checked the price for a round-trip ticket from Chicago to Taipei and saw that it was in the $1200 range -- not cheap, but not outrageous either. You may be able to do a lot better. Adding hotels (off-season in Taiwan), meals and incidentals, you could probably do the whole trip for less than about $2500. Maybe quite a bit less, depending on your location and tastes.

Kent's GIs Returning To Taiwan site is here and the trip details are here. His email address is as pictured here:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Record of U.S. Withdrawal From Taiwan

A year or so ago I wrote a series of pieces based on a document that I received from U.S. Pacific Command, an appendix to the 1979 Command History. It described in detail the events that occurred prior to and during the U.S. military withdrawal from Taiwan.

I just noticed that the 1979 PACOM History document that is posted at the Nautilus Institute website, includes that appendix as well. You can view the entire report by going to this link. At the top of that page you'll see that you're viewing page 1 of 639 pages. Change that 1 to 500, hit Enter and you'll go to the first page of the appendix. Keep in mind that this is a PDF document so the PDF page numbers will not be the same as the printed page numbers.

There is a lot more information in that appendix than I wrote about so I thought that some of you might be interested in reading the entire thing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Blue Angels Invitation

A big thanks to Les Duffin for sending in this invitation to an air show by the Navy's aerial demonstration team, the Blue Angels. The event was held at Tainan Air Base on November 16, 1971, and was co-hosted by the COMUSTDC, Vice Admiral Baumberger.

In 1971 the Blue Angels would have been flying these F-4 Phantoms, an aircraft that was also flying combat missions in Southeast Asia at the time. One of the birds crashed at an air show in Iowa a year earlier but the pilot punched out safely and nobody else was injured.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

CCK Orientation Publication

Titojohn sent me this link to the 1973 edition of the Ching Chuan Kang ROCAFB orientation booklet.

It describes what to bring from the States, arrival procedures, housing, utilities, transportation, recreational facilities and lots of other things -- many of them unique to CCK and the Taichung area.

It also mentions USTDC, MAAG, and the 327th Air Division at Taipei Air Station that was the senior Air Force unit on Taiwan.

Similar to USTDC's "Taiwan Report," this publication provides a great snapshot of life for U.S. military folks on Taiwan in the early 1970s.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shih Lin Area Today

I received a note from a friend regarding a piece that I wrote during March of last year titled "Getting Around In Taipei." It included this photo which I think was Shih Lin around 1973.

He checked the area in Google Maps and highlighted what he believes to be the same gray building on the hill in the background of the top photo.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Returning to Taiwan

I want to put in another plug for the Taiwan trip being prepared by Kent Mathieu and Bill Kling. If you have ever considered returning to Taiwan for a visit, this may be your best opportunity.

The details are still being worked out, but here's what they have in mind at this point:
  • Depart from the west coast, probably on China Air Lines on Wednesday, September 9th and arriving in Taipei on Friday, September 11th. The rest of the day will consist of the usual arrival routine, checking in at the hotel, exchanging cell phone numbers, etc.
  • Saturday will be spent visiting Taipei Air Station, National Taiwan University, the former HSA east and west compound areas, Taipei 101, and various other spots.
  • On Sunday, the schedule includes visits to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, the Presidential Office Building, the 228 Peace Park and other locations in the area.
  • Monday will include a visit to Keelung, then on to the artist town of Jioufen. Next will be a visit to a gold mine and a World War II POW camp at Chinghuashii. After that will be a trip through the longest tunnel in Asia to Hualien to visit a marble factory and other places, then check into a local hotel for the night.
  • Tuesday will include Taroko Gorge, Sun Moon Lake and other area sights.
  • On Wednesday the group will travel to Alishan, which is about 7,250 feet above sea level. There will be plenty of time for hiking the well marked nature trails before heading to a local hotel for the night.
  • On Thursday the group will return to Taipei with free time for the remainder of the day.
  • Friday is a free day where you can visit (or revisit) all the other places you'd like to see in Taipei.
  • Saturday will be for farewells and return to the airport for the flight home.
There is still much planning to be done, but if you're at all interested in this trip, visit this page at Kent's Taipei Air Station website for more details. If you don't have a current passport, you'll need to get the paperwork moving on that also. Kent tells me that he'll have a better handle on prices in the next few weeks, so be sure and let him know if you're interested so he can better estimate group prices for all events.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Taiwan Defense

I came across an Associated Press Article titled, "US Intel Chief Warns Against China-Taiwan Conflict."

The article quotes Dennis Blair, who is President Obama's National Intelligence Director. Though not mentioned in the article, I think it's important to note that Admiral Blair was once Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. If anyone in Washington understands China-Taiwan tensions, it is him.

The article summarizes Director Blair's recent testimony before Congress regarding China's large military buildup:

Blair told lawmakers that China's double-digit annual percentage military spending increases — last year's budget jumped 17.6 percent to about $61 billion — "pose a greater threat to Taiwan."

"Unless Taiwan does something about it, then we're really the only other country helping them do it," Blair said. "That means we're going to have to help them some more in order to maintain a balance."

Much of China's military is focused on rival Taiwan, which relies on U.S. weapons and technology to counter the hundreds of missiles China aims at the self-governing island Beijing claims as its own territory.

U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are a persistent source of U.S.-China tension — Beijing was infuriated by the Bush administration's announcement last year of a $6.5 billion arms package for Taiwan.

The United States is required by its own laws to provide the island with weapons to defend itself and has hinted it would come to Taiwan's aid if mainland forces invaded. But Washington is also wary of angering China, a major trading partner and fellow U.N. Security Council member.

Blair, a retired admiral who heads 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, told a Senate panel that the United States must continue to "make sure that military adventures are unattractive" to both sides. He indicated that the U.S. feels responsible for striking a balance in the Strait.

"Taiwan should not be so defenseless that it feels it has to do everything that China says. On the other hand, China cannot be so overwhelming that it can bully Taiwan," Blair said, answering congressional questions about the U.S. intelligence agencies' latest assessment of threats to the United States.

He also cautioned that "Taiwan has to realize that its long-term security lies in some sort of an arrangement with China. It does not lie in military defenses."

Director Blair's testimony provides a few clues to the administration's attitude toward Taiwan, but of course nothing in Washington is ever guaranteed. Still, it's encouraging to me that despite the many changes in our relationship with Taiwan since the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command was established back in 1955, we are still at least somewhat committed to helping them defend themselves against aggression.

I hope that nothing happens to change that commitment.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Quemoy, Matsu and 8/23

Lloyd Evans, president of the Taiwan Veterans Badge of Honor Association, recently sent me a link to a document that was prepared back in January 1966 for the Defense Department by the Rand Corporation.

It describes the events surrounding the 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis and provides insight into the decision making process during those events. Many will recall the shelling of the islands by the Communists, the naval blockades, and the dire threats to the United States from both Peking and Moscow.

Fortunately for President Eisenhower, all he had to contend with was possible nuclear war with the Chinese Communists and with Khrushchev's Soviet Union. He wasn't bound by trillions of dollars in Chinese loans as the United States is today and could base his decisions simply on what was best for us and our allies on Taiwan.

It was a scary time and, as with other flash points during the cold war, nobody at the time knew how it might end. You can read or download the document at the Rand Corporation website. Depending on your connection speed, it may take a few minutes to load. Unfortunately, just like the CINCPAC histories that I've been writing about, this is a large (647 page) PDF document that can't be searched for key words. I did find that the author's exhaustive list of sources begins on page 579, so that makes it a little less lengthy -- probably about the size of an average novel.

If you think that a similar crisis could not happen today, then you need to read this article in today's Taipei Times. Despite what seems to be a gradual warming between the Taipei government and the People's Republic, there are now approximately 1,500 missiles aimed at Taiwan, an increase of about 200 missiles within the past year.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Electronics at the Exchange

Like a lot of the buildings in the compounds, I can't recall what the interior of the Navy Exchange looked like back in '73-'74. I'm sure they had all the usual items like clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, etc., but I just can't picture the layout of the place.

It seems to me that their cameras and electronics were located in a small room toward the back and to the right, but I can't swear to it. I bought a small Sony portable TV and a Panasonic portable radio shortly after I arrived in Taipei, just so I'd have something to watch and listen to in my spare time at the hostel.

I remember that Pete Ayling, one of my Army buddies and a great deal-maker, scoffed at my proud purchases, saying that I wouldn't be able to make a big profit on them when it was time to head back to the States. He was right, of course, but I didn't buy them to resell. Now my fridge, on the other hand....

Many of my friends bought expensive cameras, televisions and stereo equipment at the Exchange. I remember that one of my Navy buddies, Ken Royce, had a really nice reel-to-reel Akai tape deck and amplifier at the apartment where he and his wife lived that probably drove his neighbors crazy. Another Navy friend, Larry Driscoll and his roommate had a monster sound system with Bose speakers -- the first of that brand I'd ever heard. I was stunned at how clear and crisp they sounded, even back then.

My TV and radio both lasted for many years and I got a lot of use out of both. This morning I searched the internet and was pleased to find these photos of the same models that I bought. My radio was black instead of white but that's definitely the same model.

Do any of you recall what you blew your money on (in the Exchange!) while you were there?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Taiwan in 1975 -- Part 2

Today I'll wrap up my review of the CINCPAC Command History for 1975.

There were several passages discussing weapons systems for the ROC, including those deemed necessary to offset newer systems purchased by the People's Republic. I'll not comment on those because there were only brief references to USTDC. If you're interested, just follow the above link and you can scroll through the entire document.

The only other passages that I found interesting had to do with crime and punishment.

In 1975, the drug threat continued to be amphetamines and barbiturates sold without prescription in Chinese drug stores. The marijuana distribution system was fragmented. Glue-sniffing by pre-teenagers had surfaced again. There was little or no cocaine or hashish use. With the down-island phasedown, the hard drug situation was expected to disappear. Interestingly, the illegal drug situation appeared to be much worse in Okinawa, Korea, the Philippines, Guam and elsewhere in the Pacific region.

The year 1975 was not good for one Air Force Sergeant. I won't use his name here, but the story begins on printed page 743 of the history. I'm not sure what the PDF page is, but if you start somewhere around page 800 or so, you can check the numbers at the bottom of the printed page and go from there.

Anyway, the Sergeant had been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment in January 1973 for the 1972 strangulation murder of a Chinese female. Against the advice of his counsel, he appealed for a retrial and on 12 July 1973, his sentence was changed to five years imprisonment for homicide under a different article of the Chinese criminal code. He appealed again and in November 1973 the case was returned to the Taiwan high court, which reconfirmed a five year sentence in May 1974.

In February 1975, the ROC authorities informed the U.S.Taiwan Defense Command that the sergeant would not be permitted to leave the ROC pending the rehearing in his case which was held on 25 February. After a series of additional appeals and postponements, he was eventually sentenced to ten years imprisonment at Taipei Prison, Tao Yuan, Taiwan in June, 1975. It appears that he shouldn't have appealed his original 18 month sentence.

Now it gets really interesting.

On 28 March 1975, the sergeant's wife (a Chinese national) was arrested by Chinese authorities for attempting to smuggle heroin and marijuana into Taiwan from Thailand. The sergeant requested that his wife be provided with counsel at U.S. Government expense. His unit (6217th Comm Squadron) recommended approval of the request but Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) recommended disapproval and the Air Force Chief of Staff denied the request. After a bit of legal maneuvering, she was sentenced in June 1975 to 15 years in the same Taipei Prison in Tao Yuan where her husband was being held. Her sentence was later reduced to ten years, the same as her husband's, so they were likely released at the same time, but well after all U.S. military forces had been withdrawn from Taiwan.

In this case, the family that did the crimes together did the times together.

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.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Where To Now?

I don't usually comment on today's Taiwan, except to point out how much things have changed since I was last there in 1974.

But with a new administration in Washington, and a relatively new administration in Taipei, I've been thinking about the future of Taiwan, especially in regard to its relations with the United States and the People's Republic of China.

By the way, I've always preferred to use the terms Taiwan and China to describe those two nations, though I know there are plenty of good folks who disagree with me. Using "Republic of" and "People's Republic of" is just too complicated -- sort of like trying to figure out why there are a dozen different flavors of Baptist churches in my town.

The United States has walked a diplomatic tightrope between Taipei and Beijing (or Peking, if you prefer), apparently eager to trade with the mainland but still wanting to have a quasi-diplomatic foothold in the neighborhood. Beijing insists that there is only one China, of which Taiwan is just a part. Taiwan, on the other hand, went from planning to retake the mainland to today's position of "let's all just get along -- but separately...for now."

President Ma certainly seems to be warming up to Beijing, but he also seems to be still holding on to the idea of an independent Taiwan -- apparently walking that same tightrope.

Michael Turton, an American educator in Taichung, wrote a very good piece yesterday on his View From Taiwan blog. He included this quote from our new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton: "The administration’s policy will be to help Taiwan and China resolve their differences peacefully while making clear that any unilateral change in the status quo is unacceptable." Sounds like more of the same to me.

What's your opinion? What do you think the US/Taiwan/China relationship will look like by the time President Obama leaves office?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Guanyin Mountain

Sarj came across this short YouTube video taken by someone atop Guanyin Mountain, overlooking Taipei.

Quite a view!

Monday, February 2, 2009

US Military Withdrawal From Taiwan -- 2

Yesterday I described the marching orders given to the Department of Defense regarding the withdrawal of all U.S. military and civilian personnel from Taiwan during 1979. Neither the CINCPAC, Admiral Weisner, nor any high ranking U.S. officers had been allowed to visit Taiwan since at least 1976 when Weisner assumed command. A specific request to visit was denied by the Secretary of Defense during July, 1978.

But Admiral Weisner finally got his chance when President James Earl Carter sent a delegation to Taipei, headed by Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Unfortunately, that was on 27 December 1978, just after Carter's announcement that he was severing diplomatic relations with the Taipei government on January 1st. That tumultuous visit is described in the 1978 CINCPAC Command History:

The President had sent a delegation led by Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Admiral Weisner and his Director for Logistics and Security Assistance, RADM A.S. Moreau, Jr., USN, were in the party, as were other State Department officers and Mr. Mike Armacost of the Office of the Secretary oof Defense (International Security Affairs). The party flew from Honolulu on Admiral Weisner's plane, arriving in Taipei on the 27th.

The motorcade, en route from the airport to the Grand Hotel, was surrounded by a mob of young people who assaulted the cars. Described in the press as "the most violent youth outburst ever experienced here," the youths pasted mud, splashed paint, threw eggs, placed national flags on the limousines, stepped on the roofs and hoods of the cars, and broke the glass in several [cars]. The front and back windows were shattered in the car in which Admiral Weisner, Admiral Moreau, and COMUSTDC, RADM James B. Linder, USN, were riding.

About halfway along the route the officers departed that car and took a taxi to the TDC Command Center. Deputy Secretary Christopher was in a car with Ambassador Unger; they finally got to the Ambassador's residence. There were no personal injuries except some cuts from the breaking glass.

The President said that he wanted the mission to be a success, but only if it could be carried on safely. If not, the party was to return to the United States. Admiral Weisner later noted that he was glad the decision was made to remain because the talks were important to both sides and he believed it was necessary that they be held at that time.

The talks were held, although several times demonstrators gathered and en route to one meeting COMUSTDC and his Chief of Staff were accosted by a group of about 100 who closed around their vehicles and kicked the sides and beat the windows.

The Christopher party departed Taiwan as scheduled, without any further harrassment.
[...and with a sigh of relief, no doubt.]

Sunday, February 1, 2009

US Military Withdrawal From Taiwan -- 1

The declassified CINCPAC History for 1978 provides some fascinating details about the events leading up to the complete withdrawal of US military forces from Taiwan in 1979.

Starting on page 62 of the report (PDF page 86/744), it reveals that shortly after President Nixon's visit to the PRC in 1972, the first steps were taken to withdraw all forces from Taiwan. It doesn't detail what specific steps were taken at that time but six years later, on 18 May 1978, the Joint Chiefs of Staff advised CINCPAC that "the highest authority" had directed that DOD military and civilian presence in Taiwan be reduced to 660 personnel by 1 October 1978 and that all U.S. forces were to be withdrawn by 30 April 1979.

Though there were some units exempted from the total count, such as MAAG, Embassy, and USTDC's J63 shop, DOD personnel strength stood at 654 by 1 October 1978 and USTDC was down to 80. That USTDC figure probably did not include some others who occupied office space in the building, such as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations which had earlier moved there from Taipei Air Station.

Last December, Les Halfhill described what it was like in Taipei after President James Earl Carter's withdrawal announcement and Barbara Auch recently shared her experiences during that period. Barbara provided some details about the arrival of the CINCPAC, Admiral Weisner, and his less than cordial reception by the citizens of Taiwan.

The Admiral had never visited Taiwan since he became the CINCPAC in August 1976 because such visits by U.S. high ranking officers had "been discouraged," according to the report. Weisner specifically requested permission to visit during July of 1978 but it was turned down by Secretary of Defense Harold Brown. After looking at Brown's biography, it's my own personal opinion that he wasn't the one making the decision. I believe it probably came directly from President Carter, with advice from Cyrus Vance, his Secretary of State, or Vance's deputy, Warren Christopher.

Admiral Weisner finally got his chance to visit Taiwan as part of a delegation headed by Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher. I'll talk about that visit tomorrow.