842.20 Defense/10–146

Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State to President Truman


The Canadian Ambassador, Mr. Pearson, who is to call on you Wednesday4 at 12 noon is leaving to become the active head (Under Secretary) of the External Affairs Department at Ottawa, where he will be in daily contact with the Prime Minister. …

[Page 56]

The planning and application of joint defense measures remains the most active and important aspect of our current relations with Canada. Our military authorities are naturally insistent on closing the gap between Alaska and Greenland . . . . For this we are dependent on the cooperation of the Canadian Government.

The Canadian military authorities are in full agreement with ours and planning under the Permanent Joint Board on Defense is progressing steadily. The Canadian Government has, however, not as yet formally approved the 35th Recommendation of the Board (approved by you on May 6),5 although tacitly permitting its practical application to be commenced. This Recommendation laid down principles for close peacetime collaboration between the armed forces of the two countries.

In view of Canada’s traditional close association with the United Kingdom, the shift to an even closer association with the United States armed forces is a matter of great moment in Canada and one which involves considerable political risk for the present Government. Some Canadians fear we would encroach on their sovereignty and some fear that Canada might ultimately have to withdraw from the British Commonwealth.

I am sure that it would help a great deal if you felt inclined to express to the Ambassador your interest in the effective carrying out of joint defense plans.

Dean Acheson
  1. October 2.
  2. The text of the 35th Recommendation reads as follows:

    “Discussions which have taken place in the Permanent Joint Board on Defence, established on August 17th, 1940, have reaffirmed the importance of continuing to maintain in peacetime a close relationship between the Armed Forces of Canada and the United States. It is submitted that the obligations of the Governments of Canada and the United States under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security would be fulfilled more effectively through such a relationship. The Board, accordingly, makes the following recommendation:

    In order to make more effective provision for the security of the northern part of the western hemisphere, Canada and the United States should provide for close cooperation between their Armed Forces in all matters relating thereto, and in particular, through the following measures:

    Interchange of personnel between the Armed Forces of both countries in such numbers and upon such terms as may be agreed upon from time to time by the respective military, naval and air authorities.
    Adoption, as far as practicable, of common designs and standards in arms, equipment, organization, methods of training and new developments to be encouraged, due recognition being given by each country to the special circumstances prevailing therein.
    Cooperation and exchange of observers in connection with exercises and with the development and tests of material of common interest to the armed services to be encouraged.
    Reciprocal provision of its military, naval and air facilities by each country to the Armed Forces of the other country; each country continuing to provide reciprocally for transit through its territory and territorial waters of military aircraft and public vessels of the other country.
    Allocation of responsibility to each country for mapping and surveying its own territory and providing maps to the other country in accordance with agreed needs.

    Approved 5/6/46
    Harry S Truman”