The Secretary of War (Patterson) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: At the meeting of the Committee of Three57 on 20 November, it was agreed to refer the whole matter of the United States military program in Latin America to the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee for further study.

I fear that this course of action may result in further delay and the failure on the part of this Government to take positive action prior to this time is a matter of increasing concern to the War Department.

I think it well to give you a summary of the proposed action under this program, much of which has been initiated but little implemented. You will recall that this program was agreed to between the three departments in SWNCC 4/1058 which was approved by the President last July.

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It is becoming increasingly apparent to the Governments of countries with whom staff conversations have been held that they cannot depend on our promises to furnish them with arms and training. We are frequently receiving reports of efforts on the part of other nations to dispose of surplus arms and military equipment in Latin America. You will recall that, prior to the war, we were faced with a polyglot collection of military and naval missions throughout Latin America and I fear that, unless the United States Government takes some positive step, we will, in a short time, be faced with a similar situation. You must agree with me that such a situation would constitute a grave danger to the military security of the United States. All preparatory steps necessary to carry out the program approved by the President in SWNCC 4/10 have been taken by the War Department. By letters of 4 September and 30 October 1945 to the State Department59 the War Department proposed small interim allocations of equipment to be disposed of to Latin American countries under surplus property procedures. No reply has been received from the State Department to either of these communications. Another point in this connection is the establishment of a policy for pricing the surplus equipment to be sold to Latin American countries under this program. I have been advised that no such policy has yet been established by the appropriate disposal agency. A draft of a proposed law to permit full implementation of the program of military collaboration of other Latin American republics has been prepared in the Latin American Subcommittee of the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee but due to prolonged study by representatives of the Department of State has not yet been presented to the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee. I am convinced that further delay is inadvisable and earnestly request that you give the entire matter your personal attention to the end that the matters mentioned in the preceding paragraph in addition to the overall study now before the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee be expedited.

In the event that you are not presently prepared to approve the shipment of the interim allocation to certain of the Latin American countries for political reasons, it is strongly urged that approval of shipment to countries where the political situation is not an impediment be not withheld.

I am sending a copy of this letter to the Secretary of the Navy and would be pleased to discuss the subject further at the next meeting of the Committee of Three.

Sincerely yours,

Robert P. Patterson
  1. Committee composed of the Secretaries of State, War, and the Navy.
  2. See footnote 48, p. 251.
  3. Latter not printed.