810.20 Defense/8–845

The Ambassador in Cuba ( Norweb ) to the Secretary of State

No. 65

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s secret instruction No. 5427 of August 4, 1945, regarding the bilateral military staff conversations recently held between military representatives of the United States and Cuba.

The statement, in Section II of the enclosure to the Embassy’s despatch No. 9602 of July 5, 1945, commenting on General Brett’s report, to the effect that “the staff conversations had resulted in an agreement that the Cuban Army eventually be supplied with material 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 …” was imprecise. No agreement was made, and no commitment was undertaken.

The Acting Military Attaché, who is the only American representative participating in the staff conversations who remains in Habana, says that the Cuban and American representatives were in accord as to what would be reasonable and appropriate for Cuba to seek in the way of additional material, but that the American representatives did not inform the Cuban representatives that they would undertake to secure for Cuba the material in question.

The Department requests my comment on the possible inconsistency of the following two statements:

(Page 1 of enclosure No. 1 to the despatch under reference:) “… the budget for the Cuban armed forces for the year 1945–46 is adequate to maintain the armed forces desired.”

(Page 3 of the same memorandum:) “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 assurances and make definite commitments that it will meet the financial obligations incident to the proposed reorganization of the Cuban Ground and Air Forces.”

On page 4 of the same memorandum the Embassy commented that the latter recommendation presumably called for a mere formal assertion of what was already acknowledged to be probable and natural. The Acting Military Attaché comments that at the staff conversations the present Cuban budget for the Ground Forces was found to be adequate for maintenance of their present numbers formed into a new light division plus certain other units, while at the same time maintaining the Rural Guard at its present numbers; and that if Cuba [Page 905] were to receive free of charge the additional material proposed for the Ground Forces, the additional budgetary burden would be insignificant and perhaps nonexistent.

There is enclosed herewith a copy of his report of August 7, 1945,13 giving a résumé of Cuban army strength as of July 31, 1945. Although this does not form a basis for comparison, man for man, with the proposed new organization, the Acting Military Attaché’s statement set forth above indicates that it will not be necessary to increase the present numbers of the forces to achieve the reorganization. The proposed light division, modified, calls for 320 officers and 4,751 enlisted men, to which must be added the personnel of one squadron of cavalry (horse) and of one battery of 155 MM guns plus Panama Mounts, which is not specifically indicated in terms of figures in the report, but which is relatively small. Thus it is clear that the 969 officers and 5,469 enlisted men of the present regular army approximate or equal the number which will be required under the proposed reorganization.

Section IV–D, Finances, of Annex I (Folder 03) of the report14 indicates that “for the year 1944 Cuba expended $12,478,960.35 on her Ground Forces. This was approximately 8 percent of her total budget of $150,793,799. The proposed Ground Force organization will cost an estimated $8,751,668.52 per annum for maintenance.” Though the first and the last of these figures are not directly comparable (since the first includes the cost of the Rural Guard and staff, military academy, and other organizations which the third presumably does not), they are not disparate. The Committee did not believe that the military budget of Cuba would be materially cut no matter what the financial condition of the country might be, as “an Army such as Cuba’s is of more use to its government during periods of financial depression than at any other time except war.”

With regard to the Air Force Plan, the Acting Military Attaché did not attend the conversations in which it was discussed, and the Military Attaché for Air15 has arrived since the date of the conversations. It is stated, however (in Enclosure 4, Annex II, of the report—Folder 1914), that during the year 1944 the air corps expended $521,894.01 for all items including personnel, rations, clothing, gasoline, oil, repairs and construction, and airplanes and equipment; that the cost of additional airplanes and equipment desired would be $3,184,300; and that the total yearly operation and maintenance cost [Page 906] of the proposed air force would be $1,020,820. Again the figures for present total expenditures and proposed total operation and maintenance costs are not comparable, and this by a wide relative margin, even if the desired equipment should be acquired free of charge. The Committee, on the other hand, remarks (Annex II, Folder 15, Section IV–E) that “the proposed Cuban Air Force is of very modest proportions and unless serious national economic disturbances occur, it is reasonable to assume that the financial obligations incident to the proposed reorganization will be met.”

The report indicates present personnel of the air force as being 88 officers and 430 enlisted men, whereas the reorganized force would have a full T/O17 strength of 101 officers and 685 enlisted men and a modified strength of 91 officers and 810 enlisted men. (Full strength does not list 13 officers and 32 men at group headquarters, and 9 officers and 167 men for base services, who are listed under the totals for modified strength.)

It appears safe to conclude that the proposed reorganization in ground forces will call at most for negligible budgetary and personnel increases; and that the proposed reorganization in air forces will call for relatively considerable budgetary increases which, however, on an absolute basis will be well within Cuba’s financial capacity to meet and sustain. The cost of the new items of equipment desired has not been considered in these calculations.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
James H. Wright

Counselor of Embassy
  1. Not printed.
  2. The Brett report.
  3. Lt. Col. Orin H. Rigley, Jr.
  4. The Brett report.
  5. Tables of Organization