810.20 Defense/7–545

The Chargé in Cuba ( Wright ) to the Secretary of State

No. 9602

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s secret telegram No. 383 of June 28, 1945,6 calling for a full summary of salient points, conclusions, and recommendations arrived at in the report received from General Brett7 regarding staff conversations held in Habana between officials of the American and Cuban armies, together with the Embassy’s comments.

In reply I have the honor to enclose herewith a memorandum prepared by an officer of the Embassy, in which the four points of interest [Page 899] to the Department are separately discussed. It may be remarked that the Cuban Government’s eventual request for the establishment of United States army (ground force and air force) missions to its army would, in ordinary procedure, most probably be directed to the Department of State through the Cuban Embassy at Washington, and that therefore the fact that this Embassy has as yet received no word regarding the preparation of such a request need not for the time being be regarded as an unpropitious circumstance.

Respectfully yours,

James H. Wright
[Enclosure]

Memorandum by Mr. H. Bartlett Wells, Second Secretary of Embassy in Cuba

I.

The conclusions embodied in General Brett’s report on the staff conversations held between representatives of the American and Cuban Armies in Habana may be summarized, in their essential parts, as follows:

The Government of Cuba indicated, through its military representatives, its willingness to standardize on United States tables of organization and equipment; to standardize on United States armament, and to continue to depend on the United States for the supply of arms, matériel, and equipment; to lend assistance to maintain hemispheric defense within the capabilities of the army; and to take advantage of a long-range program for training Cuban army students in the continental United States and Panama Canal Department Service Schools. The above undertakings are within the capabilities of the proposed Cuban army and can be accomplished.

The appropriations allocated in the 1945–46 budget for the Cuban Armed Forces is adequate to maintain the armed forces desired.

Requested Tables of Organization and Equipment made by the Cuban representatives are well suited to the topography of the country, its available manpower, and its fiscal capacity.

The Cuban Army representatives expressed the desire to receive Ground and Air Force Missions, which the author of the report feels they should be encouraged to request as soon as practicable.

The Cuban Air Force as currently organized and equipped is capable of conducting primary, basic, and advanced flight training, but is not at present capable of engaging in effective combat operations. Progress has been sufficient to justify the receipt of a limited number of [Page 900] United States combat aircraft. The present number of trained enlisted technicians is inadequate.

The Cuban Air Force desires to maintain a minimum supply of spare parts in Cuba, and to receive major items of Air Corps supply from the Panama Air Depot. It desires to expand its aviation overhaul facilities to provide for complete overhaul of all aircraft; this will require additional shop facilities and new construction.

The Cuban Air Force desires to conduct primary flight training and the corresponding ground schooling in Cuba, with advanced and transitional flight training to be conducted in schools of the continental United States. There is an immediate need for additional United States training aids and devices.

II.

The recommendations embodied in the report may be summarized briefly as follows:

The staff conversations had resulted in an agreement that the Cuban Army eventually be supplied with matériel for the following units, and it was recommended that this agreement be accepted as a basis for establishing the size, organization and composition of the Cuban Armed Forces:

  • One light division, war strength, with certain modifications;
  • (One regimental combat team to be supplied with arms and equipment with minimum delay)
  • One squadron cavalry, horse, training strength, with certain additions;
  • One battery 155 mm guns, with certain modifications;
  • The following matériel: 7,000 carbines cal. 30; 4,000 horses, 86 ¼ ton trucks, and 60 2½ ton trucks, to re-equip the Rural Guard.
  • The following aircraft: One C–47 (transport); two AT–11 (trainers); four B–25 (bombers); one CA–9 (amphibian).

It was recommended that Cuba be encouraged to accept a Ground Force and Air Force Mission at the earliest practicable date. The Ground Force Mission should include the following:

  • 1—Infantry Officer
  • 1—Field Artillery Officer (pack trained)
  • 1—Engineer Officer
  • 1—Signal Corps Officer (radio and wire trained)
  • 1—Medical Officer (Bn and/or Regt surgeon trained)
  • 1—Cavalry Officer (advanced horseman, pack trained)
  • 1—Ordnance or Quartermaster Officer (Division and pack trained)
  • 1—Veterinary Officer (field trained with pack or horse unit) (Plus the necessary non-commissioned assistants and clerks. The necessity of reasonable fluency in Spanish and the desirability of battle experience, as well as of combat decorations, were stressed.)

With regard to the Air Force Mission, the designation of the Chief was recommended for the earliest possible date, and the designation of “such additional air mission members as are required” as soon as practicable. It was pointed out that one officer should have extensive supply experience, and one additional officer extensive experience in aircraft maintenance.

It was recommended that quotas be authorized for approximately 90 officers and 700 men annually at the various Panama Canal Department and Continental United States Service Schools.

Coincident with the furnishing of the aircraft listed above, it was recommended that refresher courses and transition training for Cuban pilots and ground crews be conducted in the United States on B–25 aircraft.

It was further recommended that the Cuban Government be authorized to requisition upon the Panama Air Depot for necessary training aids, spare parts, accessories, engines, equipment, and general aviation supplies; that student pilots of the Cuban Air Force be given advanced and specialized flight training and associated ground school instruction in Panama Canal Department or Continental United States Service Schools; and that the United States Army Air Forces translate and publish in Spanish six sets of specified technical publications.

Finally, it was recommended that prior to the release of Air Force or Ground Force equipment by the United States, the Cuban Government be required to furnish positive assurance and make definite commitments that it will meet the financial obligations incident to the proposed reorganization of the Cuban Ground and Air Forces.

III.

Careful study of the report does not reveal any points of a salient character which fail to be reviewed and emphasized in the conclusions and recommendations summarized above.

IV.

The conclusions and recommendations which are summarized above are succinctly set forth in Folder 02 (Covering Report, general), in Folder 03 (Exhibit A, Annex I, Army Ground Force Plan), and in Folder 15 (Exhibit B, Annex II, Army Air Force Plan). No features [Page 902] of them appear to be objectionable or impracticable from the point of view of the Embassy.

While it might appear that the recommendation transcribed in the last paragraph of Section II above is superfluous (the report having already indicated that the appropriations allocated in the 1945–46 budget for the Cuban Armed Forces was adequate to maintain the armed forces desired, and the body of the report having shown that the appropriations for the Cuban Armed Forces would almost certainly be maintained no matter what financial crises might beset the country), it is assumed that this recommendation calls merely for a formal assertion of what is already acknowledged to be probable and natural.

With regard to the recommendation that the Cuban Government be encouraged to accept the missions referred to, it may be stated that shortly after the receipt of the report the Acting Military Attaché9 called on the Cuban Chief of Staff,10 who in his presence dictated a letter to the Minister of National Defense11 recommending that the missions be formally requested of the American Government. The Embassy has not yet, however, received any intimation that such a formal request is being made through the Ministry of State.

H. B[artlett] W[ells]
  1. Not printed.
  2. Lt.Gen. Georag H. Brett, Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command.
  3. Lt. Col. William E. Boone.
  4. Gen. Genevo Perez.
  5. Commandante Salvador Menéndez Villoch.