The Chargé in Bolwia (Woodward) to the Secretary of State

No. 1650

Sir: I have the honor to report that, prior to his departure for the United States as a member of the Official Party of President Peñaranda, General Felipe M. Eivera41 requested the United States Military Mission to Bolivia to assist him in preparing a detailed plan of organization and a list of all equipment that would be necessary to form a series of model units in the Bolivian armed forces which would be brought together at Cochabamba as an instructional force at the Bolivian Army Staff Schools in that city. This project contemplates the possibility of obtaining from the Government of the United States a considerable variety and quantity of materiel to equip various proposed units. There is enclosed a copy of a memorandum42 presented to General Rivera by the Chief of the United States Military Mission, with which there were transmitted the detailed tables of equipment and organization which General Rivera had requested.

The idea for this project appears to have begun when Colonel Walter E. Buchly, Chief of the United States Military Mission, suggested that a much more efficient system of instruction could be instituted at the Bolivian Army Staff Schools in Cochabamba if the Bolivian Military Authorities would call in to Cochabamba typical units of Cavalry, Infantry, Artillery and an Engineer Combat Unit, and arrange for the concentration of the best equipment now available in Bolivia under the control of small sections of these units in order to provide practical demonstration, on a small scale, of efficient military organization and operation. Colonel Buchly’s suggestion contemplated the possibility of obtaining a small additional supply of [Page 550] matériel from the United States—possibly consigned to the United States Military Mission in the same way that other sample materiel has already been assigned to the Mission—but he made his suggestion in full consideration of the great difficulty of obtaining any quantities of miscellaneous materiel at this time. Colonel Buchly thought that it might be possible to equip efficiently: one troop of a Cavalry Squadron, one company of an Infantry Battalion (with various pieces of extra equipment of a general nature for the entire Battalion); one company of an Engineer Combat Battalion; and one battery of 105 mm Howitzer Artillery.

As indicated in the organization list in the attached memorandum, General Rivera’s project goes much beyond the original suggestion of Colonel Buchly and contemplates the obtaining of equipment from the United States which it may be impracticable to obtain during the active prosecution of the war. Although Colonel Buchly does not have an estimate of the total probable cost of the equipment that is desired by General Rivera, he believes that it would probably cost several million dollars, and, accordingly, constitute a large proportion of the Bolivian Lend-Lease quota.45

A further consideration in the possible organization of a series of model units, on the scale suggested by General Rivera, would be the possibility that the Chilean authorities and people might be alarmed by the carrying out of such a project, particularly when there has recently been considerable publicity in both Bolivia and Chile concerning the Bolivian desire for sovereignty over a port on the Pacific.

Respectfully yours,

Robert F. Woodward
  1. Aide to President Peñaranda.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The Department’s liaison officer with the War Department (Wilson) advised the Chief of the Foreign Branch, Collection Unit, IG (Colonel Adams), on June 12, 1943, that the equipment indicated by Colonel Buchly should be requisitioned in the regular way by the Bolivian Embassy in Washington.