Memorandum by the War Department to the Department of State 41a


Subject: Minimum Strength of U. S. Forces in Europe

The War Department has restudied the problem of minimum strengths which should be provided by the United States for the accomplishment of occupational objectives in Europe. Consideration has been given to the present and probable future strengths of Allied troops on foreign soil in Europe. The War Department considers that [Page 178] conditions have not changed to allow a reduction in the troop strengths which should be provided for Europe since the U.S. view was transmitted to the Council of Foreign Ministers in December 1946. (See Tab “C”42)
A staff study, which outlines pertinent details of the problem, is inclosed herewith. Appended to the Staff Study as Tab “B”43 is a War Department study which was furnished Mr. Byrnes and Mr. Cohen by the War Department during their discussion of the question of reduction of Allied forces in Europe in the Council of Foreign Ministers in November 1946.
For the Secretary of War:
J. E. Bastion, Jr.

Colonel, GSC

War Department Staff Study


the problem

1. To outline War Department views on minimum U.S. forces which should be authorized for the accomplishment of occupation missions in Europe as of 1 July 1947 and 1 July 1948.

facts bearing on the problem

2. a. As of 1 February 1947 the following armed forces were on foreign soil in Europe: (See Tab “A”44 for detailed tabulation)

United States 202,000
British 247,000
French 80,000
U.S.S.R. 1,110,000

b. The following factors in connection with U.S. troop strengths are pertinent:

U.S. forces in Italy will be withdrawn when the Italian Peace Treaty comes into force. A total of 5000 troops will remain in Trieste for an indeterminate period.
U.S. forces in Austria totalling 11,500 should not be reduced until after the conclusion of an Austrian peace treaty.
Of the present 150,000 U.S. troops in Germany, approximately 38,000 are in AAF units. General McNarney, AAF and the War Department concur that this air strength could be reduced to between 8,000 and 12,000 without jeopardizing the occupation mission. The State Department, considering the overall situation in Europe, has been reluctant to see such a major removal of U.S. forces from Germany for fear it might be interpreted as partial abandonment of the U.S. occupational commitment and thus adversely affect the U.S. negotiating position in the conferences on Germany. Action is in progress to request the State Department to reconsider its position on this matter.

c. In connection with U.S.S.R. troops on foreign soil in Europe the War Department Intelligence Division estimates that some sizeable reduction will be effected by 1 July 1947. These reductions should be viewed with reserve because of the Soviet practice of retaining demobilized soldiers in civilian and quasi-military capacities in countries where Soviet troops are stationed.

d. Consultation between the War Department and the State Department in November 1946 during discussion of the question of reduction of Allied forces in Europe in the Council of Foreign Ministers resulted in the following U.S. proposal for troop ceilings: (See Tab “B” for War Department study furnished Mr. Byrnes and Mr. Cohen)

Germany (Allied Occupation)
U.S. 140,000
U.K. 140,000
France 70,000 (approximate existing forces not subject to reduction in 1948)
U.S.S.R. 200,000
Poland (Protection of Communication Lines)
U.S.S.R. 20,000
Austria (Aid for re-establishment of Independence)
U.S., U.K., France, and U.S.S.R. 10,000 each
Hungary (Protection of Communication Lines pending Austrian Treaty)
U.S.S.R. 5,000
Rumania (Protection of Communication Lines pending Austrian Treaty)
U.S.S.R. 5,000


3. During the past several months, War Department concern over budget and manpower restrictions has caused a concentrated effort to reduce U.S. forces in occupation areas to a “bed-rock” minimum which is consistent with the accomplishment of occupational objectives. In [Page 180] November 1946, General McNarney advised the War Department as follows: “The occupation forces must be such as to provide the small amount of leeway to permit our governmental authority to operate in the event of a refusal or failure of the German people or quadripartite agencies to function, rather than be completely at their mercy. The ground strength (117,000 other than air for Germany and Austria) presently authorized for 1 July 1947 is the minimum which can accomplish the missions in the areas assigned.” It is the view of the War Department that this force might be unable to maintain order in the event budgetary restrictions force a drastic reduction in the food which is supplied the German people. Assuming that conditions continue to be most favorable, however, some reductions in troop strength might be possible by abandoning or reducing such activities as:

Commitment to displaced persons.
Occupation of Austria.

Reduction of air strength in Europe will also reflect a minor saving in service type personnel.

General McNarney reaffirmed his position in a message to the War Department on 20 February 1947 that reductions in resources available to him below those presently planned could not be absorbed without jeopardizing his occupational mission.

4. Troops in Italy must be withdrawn within 90 days after the Italian peace treaty comes into force. It is assumed that the treaty will be ratified by the signatories and no discussion is believed necessary except to note a maximum of 5,000 troops from each the U.S., Britain, and Yugoslavia will automatically be available to the Governor in Trieste for a period of 90 days after he assumes office. These forces must then be withdrawn unless the governor requests their retention through the Security Council of the United Nations.

5. War Department Intelligence reports an increase in the Soviet practice of retaining demobilized soldiers in foreign countries in civilian or quasi-military capacities. These former soldiers are recruited into the Russian Secret Police, put in charge of cooperative farms, placed in responsible positions in industrial concerns, etc. All of these activities are largely controlled by the Kremlin and give the Soviets a degree of control disproportionate to the troop strength in such countries as Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Finland, Austria, and Poland.

6. It is considered that Russia will correctly appreciate U.S., French, and British difficulties in maintaining sizeable occupation forces during peacetime. This appreciation will probably cause Russia to view troop ceilings as a stratagem on the part of the Western Powers to force a material reduction in Russian military strength in Europe, [Page 181] while at the same time resulting in no real reduction in planned strengths on the part of the Western Powers. Another important factor is the Russian capability for rapid mobilization which puts her in a position to upset any agreed balance of force in Europe practically overnight.

7. This analysis is premised on continued occupation of Germany for a considerable period or until a treaty is concluded along the lines of the text of the U.S. Draft Treaty on the Disarmament and Demilitarization of Germany announced on 30 April 1946 and Mr. Byrnes’ Stuttgart speech of 6 September 1946. It is considered that if such a treaty were concluded the troop strengths shown herein will still apply during the interim period until the treaty takes effect.


8. a. Conditions have not changed to allow a reduction in the troop ceilings for 1 July 1947 which should be provided for the Allies in the various European countries since the U.S. view was transmitted to the Council of Foreign Ministers in December 1946.

b. In the absence of unforeseeable difficulties these forces might be reduced by one quarter to one third by 1 July 1948. This reduction is subject to such earlier withdrawal from Austria, Rumania and Hungary as may be required by an Austrian treaty, and in the case of the U.S. would consist mainly of Air Force troops.


9. It is recommended that: A copy of this study be furnished to the Department of State for guidance in the forthcoming Moscow Conference.

  1. This memorandum was directed to Assistant Secretary of State, Major General Hilldring.
  2. Tab “C” under reference here was a copy of document C.F.M.(46) (NY) 59, December 6, 1946, a proposal by the United States Delegation at the 3rd Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in New York regarding the limitation of European occupational forces; for the text of the document, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. ii, p. 1466.
  3. The Staff Study under reference here, dated November 21, 1946, is not printed.
  4. Not printed.