The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Netherlands (Hornbeck)
31. Deptel 12 Sept 11, 8 p.m.; urtel 41, Sept 22, 3 p.m.1 The JCS have informed Dept that the mission of U.S. forces in Aruba has been completed and these forces are being currently withdrawn.
With regard to Curacao and Surinam, U.S. forces are presently located at Hato Field, Curaçao and Zandery Field, Surinam for the primary purpose of providing landing, communications, navigation, and servicing facilities for U.S. military aircraft in connection with operation of U.S.–Canal Zone–Natal–Dakar military air route to South America, Europe, and Middle East. The need for these services in connection with World War II will continue as long as U.S. maintains substantial occupation forces in Europe. These fields are particularly valuable during periods of unfavorable weather conditions along north and east coasts of South America.
You may inform Foreign Office that, while it is considered a military necessity that these fields and ancillary facilities continue to be available during this period for use of United States military aircraft, it is not considered essential that they should be maintained and operated by U.S. military or civilian personnel. If the Netherlands Govt, therefore, would agree to maintain and operate the fields and required air facilities and make them available to U.S. military aircraft, U.S. would be entirely agreeable to withdrawal of its military personnel from these fields as soon as Netherlands personnel were prepared to assume maintenance responsibilities involved in accordance with maintenance and operations standards to be jointly agreed upon. To aid the Netherlands Govt in assuming these responsibilities U.S. would, of course, be glad to provide technical instruction for Netherlands maintenance personnel, should this be desired.
On the other hand, should the Netherlands Govt feel that it is unable to maintain these facilities U.S. Govt would wish to continue their [Page 956]operation and maintenance by its own personnel during such time as U.S. may maintain occupation forces in Europe, as mentioned above.
The foregoing should be conveyed to the FonOff in writing. In delivering your note you should orally emphasize that arrangements discussed therein are concerned only with U.S.-Netherlands cooperation in Allied commitments connected with the war and its aftermath. In all candor we feel that we should take this opportunity to say that at some time in the future this Govt will undoubtedly wish to discuss with the Netherlands Govt mutually satisfactory arrangements which will take into account relationship of Surinam and Curaçao to Caribbean defensive systems. We wish you to emphasize, however, that there is no connection whatsoever between the interim arrangements which we are now proposing (namely, the operation of facilities in Curaçao and Surinam by the U.S. Govt or the Netherlands Govt, whichever the latter prefers) and the discussions which we will hope to initiate at some future date with respect to long-term arrangements in those two territories. In other words, please make clear that present proposals are not in any sense an entering wedge designed to give us any special advantage for the future, but are put forward strictly on their own merit as a matter of present military necessity.
Loudon2 confidentially informed substance foregoing.