The Secretary of State to the Minister in Canada (Moffat)
Sir: I refer to your telegram no. 218 of August 18, noon, reporting your conversation with the Prime Minister in which he requested a reconsideration by the Government of the United States of the Canadian proposal to send a military mission to Washington.
This matter was, upon the receipt of your telegram, taken up again with the Secretaries of War and Navy in formal communications in which the Prime Minister’s views and your own comments in the telegram under reference were fully set forth.
I now enclose a copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Navy dated September 30, 1941 and from the Secretary of War dated October 8, 194116 in reply to the request of this Department that the Canadian proposal be reconsidered in the light of Mr. King’s request. [Page 135] Before these letters from the War and Navy Departments were drafted, officers of those Departments conferred at length informally with officers of the Department of State in regard to this matter. As a consequence of Mr. King’s request, the matter again was given the most careful study in the three Departments.
You will observe that both the War and Navy Departments, after a careful reconsideration of this question, suggest that a counter proposal be made to the Canadian Government for the early establishment in Washington of permanent offices of the Canadian military members of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense. You will note that the War and Navy Departments state that the work of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense has been most valuable and that this work should not be interrupted nor weakened by the establishment of any additional agency having an overlapping cognizance of military matters as would necessarily be the case were a separate military mission to be established. The War and Navy Departments further feel that if the military members of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense were frequently present in the same city a far better and more direct liaison would be established and the value of the Board’s work would be enhanced; they further express the view that the Permanent Joint Board on Defense actually would accomplish all that a separate military mission could accomplish, and even more.
The War and Navy Departments, you will note, further point out that an acceptance of this counter proposal by the Canadian Government would avoid creating a precedent which might be cited by other members of the British Commonwealth and foreign governments for the establishment of military missions in Washington.
You are requested to take up this matter informally with the Prime Minister, or if you deem it desirable, with Mr. Robertson, the Under Secretary of State for External Affairs, along the lines of the letters from the War and Navy Departments. You should point out that the Department of State has again given the most careful consideration to this whole question but that it is inclined to the view that the Secretaries of War and the Navy make an excellent case for the counter proposal that the Canadian military members of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense establish offices in Washington.
You may add that should it be found desirable by the Canadian Government to send to Washington, permanently or from time to time, alternates to the Canadian service members of the Board, there would be no objection to this procedure on the part of the United States authorities; indeed the practice of alternates to the service members attending meetings of the Board has on several occasions in the past already been employed.
Similarly, if the Canadian Government should feel that it would be desirable for the Canadian service members of the Permanent Joint [Page 136] Board on Defense to have a working title to distinguish their activities in Washington from the proceedings of the entire Board, no difficulty is anticipated on that score.
The Navy Department’s letter of September 30 suggests that if this counter proposal is acceptable to the Canadian Government, it would appear desirable that most of the formal meetings of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense be held in Washington. In an informal discussion of this suggestion with an officer of the Department of State, it has been further suggested that a regular monthly meeting in Washington of the entire Board might well be found desirable.
It is our hope that this counter proposal will be found acceptable by the Canadian Government.
Very truly yours,
- Neither printed. Bath Secretaries requested that “… the State Department make a formal proposal to the Canadian Government for the early establishment in Washington of permanent offices of the Canadian military members of the Canadian-United States Permanent Joint Board on Defense.” (842.20/200, 201)↩