740.00119 EW/8–646

Memorandum by the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee to the Secretary of State


Subject: Military Implications in Internationalization of Trieste.

In response to a request7 from the Acting State Member of 15 July 1946 on the above subject, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have advised the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee as follows:

“In accordance with the request contained in State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee memorandum of 16 July 1946, subject: ‘Security of the Proposed Free Territory of Trieste’, the following views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding the military features of arrangement [Page 823] to insure the integrity and independence of the proposed Free Territory of Trieste are submitted:

“The development of the military situation in the proposed Free Territory of Trieste will depend largely on the political development of the area, the nature of which is yet to be determined. At this time it would appear that the transition of the subject area from its present status to that of a free territory will occur in three stages as follows:

a. An initial period from the present time until United States and British forces evacuate Italy (within 90 days after ratification of the Italian peace treaty).

b. An interim period from withdrawal of British and United States forces from Italy until arrangements for establishment of a provisional government come into effect. If the political situation permits, it would be preferable to eliminate this period or to reduce its duration to a minimum by obtaining early agreement on the nature of the provisional government to be established and the time it comes into existence. Should rapid progress be made in this respect while delays are encountered in ratification of the Italian peace treaty (thus delaying evacuation of British and United States troops from Italy), this interim period will in fact be reduced and may even be completely eliminated.

c. A final period beginning with the establishment of the provisional government and lasting until the permanent government of the Free Territory of Trieste becomes firmly established and is able to take over full responsibility to the United Nations for maintenance of internal order and frontier protection. This period may last for some time after establishment of the permanent government.

“It is considered that the following general principles should apply in the solution of the military problem presented:

  • a. United States and British forces should remain in the area in sufficient strength to prevent either Italy or Yugoslavia from interfering with the establishment of the government of the Free Territory and to maintain internal order and frontier protection until the local government is capable of taking over these responsibilities. The troops should remain in the Free Territory as long as necessary to insure establishment of a firm local government free from Italian or Yugoslav compulsion or influence.
  • b. During the transition from the present until the final establishment of the Free Territory of Trieste, the strength and composition of the internal security forces (police and border guards) should be such as to provide only for internal security and frontier control. They should in no sense be designed to withstand aggression by neighboring states since the Free Territory must rely on the United Nations for protection from such acts.
  • c. Yugoslav forces should be withdrawn at the earliest possible date from those areas included in the Free Territory, and under no circumstances should they be permitted to remain in the area later than the date the provisional government comes into existence. In view of the conduct of the members of the Yugoslav detachment in [Page 824] Zone ‘A’ of Venezia Giulia since the conclusion of the Morgan-Jovanovic Agreement8 and the current Italian and Yugoslav antagonism toward the decision of the Council of Foreign Ministers to create a Free Territory, the presence of either Yugoslav or Italian troops in any part of the area comprising the Free Territory would be a constant source of trouble and a great handicap to the successful functioning of the provisional government, which will be faced with a most difficult task in the early stages of its existence.
  • d. Russian military participation should be avoided during all stages, since their participation might delay final military settlement through the raising of many additional problems, including those of command and staff organization of combined forces. Furthermore, employment of Russian troops in the Trieste area would greatly extend their lines of communication in Europe and would thereby provide grounds for increasing the strength of Soviet occupational forces under the guise of protecting lines of communication.

“During the initial period (from the present until British and United States forces evacuate Italy) maintenance of the status quo is believed to be the most desirable and practical solution. While it would be highly desirable to have Yugoslav forces withdrawn during this period from all areas included in the Free Territory, such action should not be pressed at the expense of admitting Russian forces under a new agreement. During this period agreements must be reached and arrangements completed for adequate British and United States forces to remain in the Free Territory after the evacuation of Allied forces from Italy. In view of the impasse which Russia has produced in the Military Staff Committee with regard to United Nations military forces,9 completion of these arrangements would be expedited if they were covered by the statute establishing the Free Territory instead of by submitting them to the United Nations for resolution. It is essential that arrangements which provide for the evacuation of British and United States forces from Italy (within 90 days after the ratification of the Italian peace treaty), should also provide for the simultaneous evacuation of the Yugoslav Detachment now located in Zone ‘A’ of Venezia Giulia in accordance with the terms of the Morgan–Jovanovic Agreement.

“During the interim period (between the evacuation of Allied forces from Italy and the establishment of the provisional government) continued maintenance of the status quo and retention of sufficient British and United States forces to maintain internal order and guard frontiers will be the best practical solution. It is estimated that there [Page 825] will be required a British-United States force of approximately one composite Allied division with an integrated Allied staff and comprising one British brigade group and a U.S. regimental combat team. Early evacuation of Yugoslav forces from areas to be included in the Free Territory would be desirable but may not be politically attainable until the provisional government comes into existence. During this interim period military government of the area and the command of the military forces should continue under present Allied arrangements. In the event that the area passes to the United Nations control before the provisional government is established there should be as little alteration of existing arrangements as possible.

“The final period (from the establishment of the provisional government until evacuation of British and United States military forces) should see the immediate withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from those areas included in the Free Territory, and the termination of Allied military government, if such have not been accomplished previously. During this period it will be to United States military interest to facilitate rapid and efficient progress toward conditions under which the new state is able to take over its own internal security, thus permitting the earliest possible withdrawal of our military forces.

“From the military point of view it would facilitate the orderly transfer of areas concerned, or eliminate likely sources of irritation and unrest after establishment of the provisional government, if early agreement could be reached with the Yugoslav Government to revise the Morgan–Jovanovic Agreement with a view to eliminating the Yugoslav detachment now in Zone ‘A’ and permitting readjustment of British–United States and Yugoslav forces along the French ethnic line (which is to be the basis for establishing the final Italo-Yugoslav frontier and the boundaries of the Free State) instead of along the present Morgan line. Such action would permit the early establishment of Allied military government in the large area south of Trieste which is now under Yugoslav control but which will ultimately be included in the Free Territory. This would place the entire area comprising the Free State under a common government at an early date and would greatly simplify the turnover of control to the provisional government at the proper time. The advantages of eliminating the Yugoslav detachment now in Zone ‘A’ are obvious. Notwithstanding the military advantages to such a course of action, which greatly outweigh any disadvantages, it is recognized that there may be strong Allied political or Yugoslav objections to any attempt to revise present arrangements or commitments in the area.

“Other preliminary actions which would facilitate the orderly military transition of the area are: [Page 826]

a. To mark clearly and unmistakably the various established boundaries through early action by a boundary commission.

b. To provide maximum assistance to all persons, particularly Italians and Yugoslavs living in the areas who elect to be transferred, to dispose of their holdings and move to the country of their selection. This is especially important in the case of Italians living in the Pola enclave.

c. To encourage the provisional government, while Allied military government is in control, to have its officials work alongside of Allied military government officials as long as possible before the transfer from the military to the provisional government takes place.

“It is apparently the intention of the Council of Foreign Ministers that the status of the Free Territory of Trieste will be that of a demilitarized free port with its integrity and independence guaranteed by the Security Council of the United Nations. Accordingly the requirement for internal security will demand a constabulary or police force, a coast guard, an immigration organization, and a frontier guard comparable to the frontier guards maintained by Italy and Yugoslavia at the border of the Free Territory.

“The size, composition, and character of these agencies will be determined by the local situation, particularly as it is affected by the attitude of the neighboring states of Italy and Yugoslavia. The police force and other security agencies of the Free State could well be built around the existing Venezia Giulia police force, which is soon to be increased to a strength of 6,000. This organization has had considerable success under Allied direction and its personnel has been especially selected to deal with the local situation. If the attitude is one of peaceful acceptance of the decision to establish the Free Territory, the requirement will be a diminishing one until a normal level is reached. If, on the other hand, either Italy or Yugoslavia, or both, continue their active opposition to the decision and seek by propaganda and other subversive means to incite the local population, the need to retain British and United States troops in the area may be prolonged. Under these circumstances there will be a greater requirement for maintaining substantial internal security forces. Such increases in requirements are unlikely to be met satisfactorily by recruiting solely local Italian and Yugoslav personnel. Hence, greater dependence must be placed on enlisting disinterested nationals into these agencies.

“Until more is known regarding the political details which establish the Free Territory it is not practicable to state what the proper command channels will be for the British and United States forces remaining in the area when the Territory comes under United Nations’ control. These forces, however, will be present and available to support the new government as required but should not participate in routine internal security activities. The Joint Chiefs of Staff [Page 827] understand that this question is now under study within the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee. It is also under study by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who assume that their views will be requested before a policy is determined. It seems clear, in view of the functions and nonmilitary character of the internal security agencies visualized as ultimately required for the permanent government of the Free Territory, that upon withdrawal of the military forces from the area, the governor thereof will be responsible to the Security Council for all matters, including internal security, pertaining to the Free Territory.”

For the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee:
John D. Hickerson

Acting Chairman
  1. Not printed.
  2. For documentation on U.S. concern regarding the situation in Venezia Giulia, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iv, pp. 1103 ff. Regarding U.S. occupation policy in Venezia Giulia in 1946, see ibid., 1946, vol. vi, pp. 867 ff.
  3. For documentation on U.S. policy regarding the negotiations of the United Nations Military Staff Committee, see vol. i .