Memorandum of Conversation, by the Liaison Officer (Wilson)

Participants: Cuban Ambassador, Dr. Aurelio Concheso
Major Felipe Munilla, Military and Air Attaché
Lieutenant Commander Rolando Peláez, Naval Attaché
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Barber, War Plans Division, War Department
Mr. Orme Wilson.
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The Ambassador stated that a law had just been enacted in Cuba providing for immediate expansion of the army and navy. Under this law about 80,000 men could be inducted into the army and navy. However, the Cuban Government at this time wishes to increase its military and naval establishment by about 25,000. This expansion would require the acquisition by the navy of light cruisers, fast torpedo launches, and a number of airplanes to a total value of over $20,000,000, as well as arms and equipment for the contemplated increase in the land forces costing an amount of over $5,000,000. All of the above expenses would be in excess of the credit of $7,200,000 allocated to Cuba under the provisions of the Lend-Lease Act.

Neither Major Munilla nor Commander Peláez was able to give me more than tentative information concerning this matériel, so I requested them to furnish me as soon as possible with written lists, and assured them that they would receive suitable consideration. The Ambassador stated that although the lists already submitted had absorbed the allotted $7,200,000, it might be necessary to replace some of the material on those lists by equipment more urgently needed under the new law for the expansion of the army and navy, particularly airplanes.

Commander Peláez referred to the urgent need for the fast patrol boats as those now owned by the Cuban Navy are not only old but antiquated in equipment. He added that it would be necessary if these boats were acquired to establish facilities for these vessels at various points along the coast of Cuba, the only places where such ships can be serviced at present being Habana and Cienfuegos. He expressed the opinion that these fast vessels would be of use in convoying sugar-laden ships from Cuba to the United States.

Colonel Barber explained at some length the critical situation that has arisen during the last week. The United States, he said, instead of merely furnishing arms and munitions to other countries resisting aggression, is now obliged to fight on two fronts and to arm itself in addition to sending large quantities of material to Great Britain, Russia, etc. Consequently, he could not give any assurances to the Cubans that they would obtain this greatly expanded quantity of material at short notice. The Ambassador and the two Attachés expressed interest in his explanation, the Ambassador intimating that he would inform the President.

They promised to send me the additional lists as soon as possible. Commander Peláez, however, said that as far as the Navy is concerned, this might not be done until after his return from Habana where he is going to spend the Christmas holidays.