Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee 1

top secret
SWNCC 38/46

Subject: Over-all Examination of U.S. Requirements for Military Bases and Base Rights.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff request that the Secretary of State be informed as follows:

“In view of national and international trends, the Joint Chiefs of Staff wish to supplement and revise the contents of their memorandum of 4 June 1946 (SWNCC 38/35)2 relative to military rights desired on the territory of foreign nations.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff are aware of the difficulties attendant upon negotiations and the reluctance of foreign nations to grant ‘rights’ to any outside power, and accordingly have established the requirements for a minimum of such rights. However, there are certain areas, vital to the security of the United States, in which rights should be obtained as soon as possible so that our utilization of such rights can be effected with the least delay and within the legal framework of such rights. In such cases it may be expedient to conclude temporary arrangements for rights based upon occupation requirements, pending the obtaining of the required rights.

“In their previous memorandum (SWNCC 38/35) the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the term ‘base’ was not intended to imply necessarily the permanent garrisoning of troops or stationing of aircraft or naval vessels during peacetime. Except for transit air bases and subject to the limitations of budgetary and personnel authorizations, the Joint Chiefs of Staff contemplate the peacetime garrisoning of all bases listed in the Appendix.

“The present strategic situation indicates the need of stationing U.S. armed forces in Iceland, Greenland, Labrador, the Azores, the Ryukyus, the Bonins and Volcanos, and Port Lyautey at the earliest practicable date and, accordingly, any interim arrangement that will make this possible will be acceptable, pending the ultimate obtaining of desired long-term rights.

[Page 767]

“It should be noted that the Ryukyus and the Bonins–Volcano Islands are included in those locations for which suitable arrangements are desired. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have noted the acceptance by the Security Council of the United Nations and ratification by the U.S. Senate of the U.S. trusteeship of the former Japanese Mandated Islands, and consider that U.S. rights in these islands are adequately met. The status of certain former Japanese islands, namely the Ryukyus, the Bonins–Volcano Island and Marcus, however, has not yet been settled. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have under further study the status of these islands, and will communicate their views to you separately regarding the desired status of these islands.

“The locations mentioned above and other locations at which rights are desired have been summarized in the Appendix which the Joint Chiefs of Staff desire to be considered as their appraisal of military rights desired on the territory of foreign nations. In addition to locations at which rights are desired, there are certain areas of the world in which the United States, by reason of budgetary limitations on personnel and funds available to the armed forces, is not able to maintain, bases, but which areas should be kept under surveillance with a view to denying or restricting military development by other powers. Such areas are also indicated in the Appendix.

“As will be seen in the Appendix, the locations at which rights are desired have been considerably reduced from previous estimates which in turn places additional emphasis on our previous statements that failure to obtain the stated requirements for any particular area will necessitate a re-evaluation of the importance of adjacent areas.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff request, therefore, that they be kept advised of the progress of negotiations for all base rights in order that they may promptly revise the rights desired at alternate sites should the need arise.

“In conclusion, the Joint Chiefs of Staff stress the importance to the security of the United States of obtaining the military rights set forth in the Appendix. These military rights are required in peacetime, under currently estimated world conditions if the United States is to have that adequate military posture which is essential to United States security.”

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
W. G. Lalor

Captain, U.S. Navy Secretary
[Page 768]


[Page 769]
Base Sovereignty Rights Desired Use Ref. SWNCC Paper 3
1. Required
Iceland Joint (par. 3) Naval, Air, & Ground 38/41
Greenland Denmark Participating (par. 3) (with Canada) Naval, Air, & Ground 38/41
Goose Bay, Labrador Newfound-land (British) Participating (with British Empire only) Air & Ground
Bonin—Volcano Islands Japan Will be communicated by separate memorandum Air & Ground
Azores Portugal Participating (with U.K. only) Naval, Air & Ground 38/40
Ryukyus Islands Japan Will be communicated by separate memorandum Naval, Air, & Ground
Panama Republic Joint Air & Ground 38/42
2. Desired
Port Lyautey (or Canary Islands if rights at Port Lyautey are unobtainable) French (Spanish) Joint (Joint) Naval & Air (Naval & Air) 38/36
Galápagos Islands Ecuador Participating (with other American nations only) Naval & Air 38/41
Marcus Japan Will be communicated by separate memorandum Air
Ascension Island British Participating (with British Empire only) Air 38/39
Talara Peru Participating (with other American nations only) Air 38/41
Batista Field and St. Julian–LaFe Cuba Transit (par. 3) Air 38/41
Surinam Dutch Transit Air 38/37
Curacao–Aruba Dutch Transit Naval & Air 38/37
Casablanca French Transit Air 38/43
Dakar French Transit Naval & Air 38/36
Monrovia Liberia Transit Air 38/34
Cayenne, French Guiana French Transit Air 38/36
Noumea, New Caledonia French Transit Naval & Air 38/36
Viti Levu, Fiji Islands British Transit Naval & Air 38/39
Algiers French Transit Air 438/30
Tripoli Italy Transit Air 38/30
Cairo, Egypt Egypt Transit Air 38/30
Dhahran Saudi Arabia Transit Air 38/30
Karachi Pakistan Transit Air 38/30
Agra India Transit Air 38/30
Kharagpur India Transit Air 38/30
Rangoon, Burma British Transit Air 38/30
Bangkok Siam Transit Air 38/30
Saigon, French Indo-China French Transit Air 38/30

3. a. Joint right is the right to use for military purposes, in common with the nation exercising sovereignty, mandate or trusteeship, an area, installation or facility, and to debar any other nation from such use unless it is mutually agreed between the United States and the nation exercising sovereignty, mandate or trusteeship, that another nation or nations may share use.

b. Participating right is the right to share, on the most favored nation principle, with the nation exercising sovereignty, mandate or trusteeship, and with any other nation which that nation may accord the right to participate, in the use for military purposes of an area installation or facility.

c. Transit right is the right of military air transit and technical stop as defined in SWNCC 38/30.

4. Strategic Areas. Specific areas in addition to such obvious ones as Northwestern Europe, United Kingdom and South America, for which surveillance is particularly necessary with the objective of denying or restricting therein the development of military potential either directly or indirectly by possible enemy powers. These areas include:

Islands of the Pacific Ocean generally south of the equator, north of Australia and New Zealand and east of the Malay Peninsula; including all of the Malay Archipelago.
Clipperton Island.
Northwest and North Africa, the southern shores of the Mediterraean, the Near and Middle East, and including the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Crete, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Rio de Oro, French West Africa, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

5. The above list is predicated on the following assumptions:

The U.S. strategic trusteeship of the former Japanese Mandated Islands continues effective.
Military base rights and air transit privileges in South and Central America and Mexico will be available as required from the implementation of the Act of Chapultepec (J.C.S. 570/51).5
Bases and locations at which the U.S. already has long-term [Page 770] rights such as the Panama Canal Zone, Guantanamo, and the destroyer-lease bases remain unaffected.
The recently negotiated base rights in the Philippines remain unaffected.
Presently effective understandings between Canada and the United States recognize the mutual acceptance by the two nations of their responsibilities for collective security for the northern part of the Western Hemisphere. It is expected that all provisions for military security evolved by the Permanent Joint Board on Defense Canada-United States will provide for joint use of facilities in Canadian territory rather than exclusive U.S. bases.
An extension of the present Brazil–U.S. Base Agreement, or a satisfactory similar agreement, will be negotiated.

  1. The State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee approved SWNCC 38/46 by informal action on October 21. In approving this paper the State Member indicated that the Department of State agreed to transmit these views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of State, but that the Department was not to be understood as approving these views in their entirety at that time. (SWNCC Files)
  2. Foreign Relations, 1946, Vol. i, p. 1174.
  3. SWNCC reference papers not printed unless otherwise indicated.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1946, Vol. i, p. 1142.
  5. Not printed.