Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs (Newbegin)22

There is attached a note from the Honduran Embassy, together with a routine draft reply,23 regarding the solicitation by the Honduran [Page 965] Government of our cooperation in reorganizing the Honduran Army. The note is accompanied by an organization chart and while the amount of new equipment which would be required by this Government is not shown, it is undoubtedly considerable. The Honduran authorities, according to Ambassador Cáceres in his conversation with Mr. Braden on September 4, had the cooperation of the American Military Mission in drawing up the plan.

The Honduran request points up the necessity for us to reach a definitive conclusion as to our attitude with regard to the supplying of further equipment to the Honduran Government and the related problem of our Military Mission. This opinion is shared by Mr. Dreier as will be noted by his memorandum to me and Mr. Spencer which is likewise attached.24 Dreier points out that, in general, the plan seems reasonable and generally corresponds with the conclusions reached during the bilateral staff conversations. In connection with our failure to supply arms to the Hondurans, as well as the somewhat anomalous position of our Military Mission, I am attaching a report from the Military Attaché at Tegucigalpa25 which indicates that the Mexicans are interested in superseding us in the supplying of arms to Honduras and in exerting an influence in Honduran military affairs. The Military Attaché reports President Carías as being impatient with the unexplained delay on the part of the United States in furnishing equipment.

It appears to me that whatever our final decision in the matter, either alternative leaves much to be desired. If we fail to supply equipment to Honduras, there is the possibility above mentioned that others may do so, to our ultimate disadvantage, and that the Hondurans may question the further utility of a military mission. Furthermore, I cannot feel that our line of conduct is completely honest if we continue to furnish a military mission at Honduran expense while withholding the necessary implements for that mission to function effectively. On the other hand, if we supply arms to Honduras, we are most definitely adding to the means at the disposal of the Honduran Government with which it can continue to impose its dictatorship and we lay ourselves open to criticism as supporting the dictatorship ourselves. In short, either alternative leaves us in an unsatisfactory position. I believe, however, that the time has come for us to decide which course of action is the most desirable as, obviously, we cannot have it both ways very much longer.

  1. Addressed to the Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Briggs) and to the Deputy Director (Trueblood).
  2. Neither printed.
  3. Memorandum of September 9 by John C. Dreier, Acting Chief of the Division of Special Inter-American Affairs, to Mr. Newbegin and George O. Spencer, Divisional Assistant, Division of Special Inter-American Affairs, not printed.
  4. Report of August 8 by Lt. Col. Nathan A. Brown, not printed.