810.20 Defense/5–2245

The Ambassador in Guatemala ( Kyle ) to the Secretary of State

No. 56

Sir: I have the honor to report that the United States Army and Navy officers scheduled to engage in a series of Staff Conversations with the Guatemalan Army staff officers arrived at Guatemala City on the afternoon of May 8, 1945; the Staff Conversations were formally opened on the morning of May 9, and formally completed on May 15, 1945.

The results of the Guatemalan-United States Staff Conversations were:

1) The Guatemalan authorities crystallized their tentative plans to reduce the size of the Guatemalan Army to a force of approximately 10,000 men and some 300 to 400 officers. This reorganized and “streamlined” Army would, of course, use United States equipment, and it was estimated that the original cost of outfitting the reorganized army with modern matériel and other supplies would be approximately $3,500,000.

The ground forces of the reorganized army would then consist of one complete but light infantry division, one mixed regiment of cavalry containing one squadron of horse cavalry and one squadron of mechanized cavalry, one battalion of field artillery using 105 mm. howitzers and one battery of coast artillery using 55 mm. guns.

The air force would include twelve BT–13 airplanes, twelve AT–6 airplanes, three C/45 airplanes, one C–47 airplane, and twelve P–36 or P–51 airplanes.

2) The Guatemalan Army would be trained by a United States Military Mission under a contract which would exclude the services of military missions or experts of any third government. In addition, it appears that the presence of high-ranking United States Military and Naval officers in Guatemala has assisted in persuading the Guatemalan military authorities to continue the services of a United States Military officer as Director of the Guatemalan Military Academy (Escuela Politecnica). …

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General Brett1 and General Underwood then discussed the Conversations with me and officers of this Embassy at the Embassy residence.

I mentioned to the visiting Generals that the Embassy had felt some concern that the Staff Conversations might lead the Guatemalan Government to believe that it would obtain large additional quantities of matériel which, in the view of this Embassy, might conceivably be misused. General Brett emphasized that one of the purposes of these Staff Conversations was to persuade the military authorities in countries such as Guatemala to reduce the size of their armed forces; that while the Staff Conversations would of course contemplate the provision of reasonable amounts of matériel from the United States, no commitments would be made on this subject and there would be no indication as to whether the matériel would be provided under Lend Lease or by straight purchase. It was also mentioned that one of the purposes of the Staff Conversations would be to replace materiel already on hand but of European manufacture, in order to get the armies of the American Republics completely out of the habit of using such materiel—and to eliminate the tendency to obtain additional supplies of such equipment for the sake of uniformity or to repair existing equipment.

General Brett mentioned that since the purpose of the Staff Conversations was to encourage uniformity in the training of the armies of the various American Republics through the use of the United States military missions, it would, of course, at the same time have the effect of reducing the possibility in the future that the services of military missions or experts from third countries might be used.

It was mentioned to General Brett that a considerable part of the fundamental work of the Staff Conversations seemed already to be accomplished since:

The Guatemalan military authorities had been talking for several months of reducing the size of the army and making it more efficient, and
A United States Military Aviation Mission had been contracted by the Guatemalan Government in February, 19452 and negotiations were practically completed in Washington for the signature of a similar agreement for a United States Military Mission3 to advise and train the Guatemalan ground forces. It is of interest to note that a report of the Military Attaché of this Embassy concerning the Staff Conversations comments that the Guatemalan Army officers who [Page 1083] participated in the Staff Conversations expressed the wish that the members of the United States Military Mission be of “company-grade” in order to foster a more intimate camaraderie between the Mission members and the Guatemalan officers they will be instructing.

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Respectfully yours,

Edwin J. Kyle
  1. Lt. Gen. George H. Brett, Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command.
  2. Agreement signed at Washington, February 21, 1945; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 466, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1488.
  3. Agreement signed at Washington, May 21, 1945; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 459, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1392.