740.00119 Control (Italy)/4–1247: Telegram

The Acting Political Adviser (Greene),1 at Leghorn to the Secretary of State

top secret

5. MTOUSA has shown me War Department’s W 95575 of April 42 and W 95664 of April 73 regarding possible reduction US troop strength by June 30 to 5,000 designated for Trieste. I have discussed following comments with the Ambassador who has also talked to General Lee and urges they be given most serious consideration.

Question whether MTOUSA forces can be reduced by June 30 is purely military but whether they should be involves serious political implications. I understand any substantial reduction from present forces would make it difficult to assure maintenance of law and order up to Morgan Line until treaty fully effective (see Fan 7094). Furthermore, if as contemplated in Fan 7375 and Deptel 322 March 6 to Rome6 Yugoslavs fail to ratify treaty, maintenance of status quo in VG, guarding against threats to internal security organized from outside and maintenance of law and order up to Morgan Line and in Pola after R Day difficult in any case will be practically impossible with only 5,000 troops US. Military authorities have told Italians they will stay if Yugoslavs do not ratify (Rome’s 752, April 7 to Department) and Italians may well consider this an Allied commitment. I believe it of utmost importance that present and future missions as contemplated above not be prejudiced by untimely or premature withdrawal any part US troops.

Furthermore in face US reduction British would be faced with two alternatives: (a) maintain present British strength or (b) reduce proportionately so as to maintain present British-American troops ratio. I seriously question that we want to ask British to adopt (a) and attempt maintain present commitments and adoption by them of (b) can only mean substantive reduction of those commitments. In addition to question of our own relations with the British I suggest it would create most unfortunate impression in Italy and abroad if [Page 70] at this juncture we leave British holding the bag by returning troops to the US from Italy in advance of joint withdrawal to meet requirements of peace treaty.

Another consideration is that given the constant attention which we know Yugoslavs pay to our activities in VG any reduction in Allied forces might well lead to increased Yugoslav pressure there and even affect their decision on ratification.

In addition to VG operational commitments US troops also bearing share of civil functions incumbent on SAC as an Allied commander under armistice terms (such as DPs, supervision of Italian armed forces, etc.) and until treaty comes into force it is of most doubtful wisdom to leave British alone or even force complete discontinuance of these civil functions.7

Sent Department 51; repeated Rome 20.

  1. Joseph N. Greene, Jr., Acting United States Political Adviser to the Acting Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater (Lee).
  2. Not printed; in it the War Department advised General Lee that because of the delay in ratification of the Peace Treaty with Italy it was necessary to consider reduction of U.S. troop strength to the 5,000 designated for Trieste (Defense Files).
  3. Not printed.
  4. Dated January 10, p. 54.
  5. In Fan 737, March 12, not printed, the Combined Chiefs of Staff directed SACMED that, in case Yugoslavia failed to ratify the treaty, the role of the Anglo-American forces on the Morgan Line and in Pola would be: to maintain the status quo in Zone “A”; to guard against internal threats organized from the outside; and to maintain law and order in the area. (Defense Files)
  6. See footnote 2, p. 68.
  7. See also telegram F75932, April 14, from Leghorn, and exchange of letters between the State and War Departments dated April 23 and May 5, included in the documentation on the maintenance of democratic government in Italy, in volume iii .