740.00119 Control (Italy)/10–2446: Telegram

The United States Deputy Political Adviser at Allied Force Headquarters (Byington) to the Secretary of State

top secret
urgent

778. When SAC inquired of me specifically whether I considered important the removal of military stores within the 90-day period after ratification of peace treaty I inquired whether present stores could not be withdrawn in 90-day period under present circumstances. No conclusive opinion in this was vouchsafed by supply sections present although US G–4 felt US side could just make it. General Harding questioned whether sufficient shipping would be available in 90-day period to take care of heavy equipment of armored division. I went on to say that this question of stores was a secondary part of whole problem. I expressed personal view that Department for reasons of policy would be against weakening of military situation that if stores were needed to strengthen military situation Department would be adverse to seeing them prematurely rundown. I also stressed that in my opinion maintenance of internal security and prevention of a coup de main more nearly represented role of military forces from political view rather than maintenance of internal security and delaying action in case of Yugo aggression.

Unless there are reasons not known here for confidence that weakness in Allied military situation may not encourage Yugo forces across Morgan Line to attempt a coup de main, premature weakening of military strength in VG and Italy and resulting adoption of policy advocated in Naf 1224 seems unwise and possibly incurs the risk that phrase “too little and too late” may once more be reached.

Regarding my 764 September 30 11 a.m.

Please see 1224 dated October 23 from SAC to CCS8 in which SAC reviews Allied tasks in VG and action it would be possible to take to counter possible aggression by Yugos. He points out that he considers capabilities of his forces have now been reduced to maintenance of law and order in case of serious internal disorders or delaying action only, in case of major attack. He recommends that Allied tasks in VG should be: (1) maintenance of law and order up to Morgan Line; (2) in event of serious attack to inflicting maximum damage and delay consistent with maintaining security of his forces. He points out that this would of course entail disposition of his troops in such a manner as to enable him to carry out above tasks if such an attack appeared imminent. SAC also points out that adoption of such policy would enable him to begin reduction of certain stores held in [Page 971] theater against possibility of major operations and thus insure that Allied troops are in a position to leave Italy within 90 days of peace treaty ratification. He concludes by requesting guidance as to policy to be followed should he be forced to abandon Piave Line.

Both at MJRS meetings and at SAC’s conference to consider final draft of above message I said that policy of US Government to maintain present position in VG until an agreed settlement had been reached and put into effect (Dept’s 93, March 20, 7 p.m.) remained unchanged and that from political view there had been no decrease in Allied responsibility for that area. My British colleague has held similar view re British policy. I pointed out discrepancy between our political policy and course of action outlined in Naf 1224 which because of military developments merely proposes maintenance of law and order and delaying action to maintain security of Allied forces. I expressed personal opinion that this message to CCS was declaration of military bankruptcy in terms of political policy laid down by both Governments re VG. It remained to be seen what decision CCS would reach in choice between authorizing adequate military strength in Italy or possibly risking our announced policy.9

Repeated Rome 552.

Byington
  1. Not printed.
  2. The Department replied as follows in telegram 234, November 1, to Caserta: “Premise first part your 778, Oct 24 not clear to Dept, as provision Ital treaty requiring withdrawal Allied forces from Italy within 90 days from ratification not applicable to Free Territory of Trieste. Both US and UK Govts intend to maintain forces in Free Territory until new administration is able to maintain internal security and guard frontiers.” (740.00119 Control (Italy)/10–2246)