Memorandum by Mr. Henry Dearborn, Division of North and West Coast Affairs49

Our activities with respect to military affairs in Ecuador do not appear to me to make sense and I believe we should do something about it before it is too late to do anything but reap a harvest of bad feeling.

We have sent a Military Mission and an Air Mission to Ecuador principally, I think, for two purposes: (1) to keep other countries from setting up missions there, and (2) to standardize military methods and equipment along US lines so that if faced with another emergency we will be able to work with the Ecuadorans in defensive warfare instead of being hampered by them.

Ecuador has received our military missions well and has stated that it wishes to standardize along American lines and to be trained by us. That country has received overtures from Argentina to send military students there but has not done so up to now, still hoping to benefit from its association with us.

Under Lend-Lease we outfitted an Ecuadoran mechanized battalion. This benefited about 3 per cent of the whole Ecuadoran Army. It is significant that this small, well-organized unit has been the one segment of the Army on which the Velasco Government has been able to rely. Rumors of disaffection are heard elsewhere, in large part because other parts of the Army feel neglected in one way or another. (Our Lend-Lease shipments to Ecuador were appreciated but somewhat bewildered the recipients in some respects. For example, the 43 M3A1 tanks which we sent were not accompanied by ammunition for their 37 mm. guns, and those guns have never yet been fired.)

Our Military Mission in Ecuador is now practically stymied owing to the lack of American matériel in the Ecuadoran Army. Mission-trained [Page 859] graduates of Ecuadoran schools, when they have completed their training, must return to using matériel of European make which the Chief of our Mission (Colonel Earl Macherey) describes as “museum pieces” in many instances. This matériel is 40 to 60 years old and more. Ammunition is 20 or 30 years old, and owing to oxidation of cases and to other sorts of degeneration is, in fact, dangerous to use. It is obvious that when Ecuadorans trained by us return to using this 19th century equipment they soon lose all benefit of what our Mission has taught them. Perhaps even more serious is the effect on their morale and their thinking. It is only to be expected that they are dissatisfied with the Government in power which cannot provide better equipment. Impelled by this pressure the Government seeks to obtain new matériel from us. Not being able to do so, that Government will doubtless eventually turn elsewhere, not only for equipment, but also for Missions.

Ecuador now seeks from us that ground equipment promised to it on March 11, 1946,50 under the interim program. The amount is small and I am told is not valued at more than $40,000 or $45,000. The Chief of our Mission informs me that in his opinion the receipt of this matériel is essential to the success of his work. He believes that this small amount will raise the morale of the artillery and the infantry (65 per cent of the Army), will prevent his Mission from being regarded as a failure, and will help to take the Army’s mind off politics. I asked Colonel Macherey what he thought would happen if we did not let Ecuador have this matériel. He replied that he did not know but thought that country would be justified in dismissing our Mission as not being worth while.

We have a policy not to extend credit to the American Republics to purchase matériel under the interim program. Doesn’t this conflict with some of our other policies in the case of Ecuador?51 We have Missions there for purposes thought to be valid. It is reasonable to suppose that these Missions depend for their success, and in fact for their continued existence, on the receipt of a small amount of equipment to supplement and eventually replace Ecuador’s ancient European equipment. We have suddenly offered new matériel for which that country’s annual budget is wholly unprepared. Ecuador requests us, in the attached memorandum, to permit her to pay $40,000 or $45,000 for interim program ground matériel out of her next year’s budget.52 I think it would be wise to comply with this request.

  1. Addressed to NWC: Mr. Hall; Mr. Wells; IA: Mr. Dreier; ARA: Mr. Briggs.
  2. See footnote 34, p. 849.
  3. A marginal note reads: “A dilemma from which I fear it is up to Ecuador to extract us. M. K. W[ells].”
  4. The following comment appears: “Perhaps they would not have to make payment until next year anyway if billed c.i.f. Guayaquil. M. K. W[ells].”