Policy Planning Staff Files1

Policy Problem Statement Prepared in the Office of United Nations Affairs2


Provision of Armed Forces for Use by the Security Council


To bring about the early conclusion of agreements under Article 43 of the United Nations Charter making armed forces, assistance, and facilities available to the Security Council.


On February 16, 1946, the Security Council directed the Military Staff Committee to examine Article 43 from the military point of view and report on it “in due course.” The dilatory and obstructive tactics of the Soviet delegation made progress very slow until the early part of 1947.

On December 14, 1946, the General Assembly recommended that the Council “accelerate as much as possible” the conclusion of agreements under Article 43. On February 13, 1947, the Council requested the Military Staff Committee to submit not later than April 30, 1947, “its recommendations with regard to the basic principles which should govern the organization of the United Nations Armed Force.” The outcome was a report3 revealing important differences (more fully described in the attached Appendix)4 between the views of the US, UK, France, and China and those of the USSR on 1) the principle which should govern the strength and composition of the forces made available to the Council on call by each permanent member, 2) the areas within which forces made available should remain when not employed by the Council, 3) the arrangements governing the return [Page 338] of the forces to these areas after carrying out any task assigned to them by the Council, and 4) the question of whether or not bases are embraced in the “assistance and facilities” mentioned in Article 43.

The Security Council considered this report at eleven meetings held from June 4 to July 15, 1947. No apparent progress was made toward the resolution of the divergences of view; the Soviet representative plainly indicated that the USSR does not intend to modify its views and that it considers acceptance of its version of each of the disputed principles to be a prerequisite to the negotiation of agreements under Article 43.

On December 15, 1947, a subcommittee submitted to the Military Staff Committee a report on the overall strength and the composition of forces which should be made available to the Security Council on its call. On land forces the tentative estimates of the five delegations given in this report are substantially in agreement. On naval forces, there is a considerable area of agreement with three important exceptions: the USSR will not agree to the inclusion of battleships or aircraft carriers; the US estimate of submarines is considerably higher than the agreed estimates of the other four; and with respect to the number of divisions for which assault shipping should be made available, the US, France and China are close to agreement, whereas the Soviet Union considers that none should be made available, and the UK considers it premature to discuss the question. On aircraft the permanent members other than the US are close to agreement; and the US, whose original figures were over three times those of the others, has indicated its willingness to reduce its figures to approximately twice those of the others in order to reach agreement. The Military Staff Committee is now considering the subcommittee report.

action taken

The Policy Planning Staff has been asked to consider, with the assistance of UNA and the geographic offices, whether the US should offer to make specific armed forces, assistance, and facilities available to the Security Council pursuant to Article 43, and if so under what circumstances and after what preparatory steps;5 and SAHACC has been asked 1) to determine what forces, assistance, and facilities the US should make available to the Council and on what terms, and 2) to approve the conclusion that an offer of such forces, assistance and facilities should be made if and when the Secretary of State considers it desirable to do so, after consultation with other permanent [Page 339] members of the Security Council and study by the Department of the political implications.6

  1. Lot 64D563, files of the Policy Planning Staff of the Department of State, 1947–1953.
  2. This statement was placed in the Secretary of State’s “Policy Problem Summary,” a frequently updated briefing book. In a memorandum to Dean Rusk, Director of the Office of United Nations Affairs, May 6, 1948, Carlisle H. Humelsine, the Director of the Executive Secretariat, stated that after reading the present statement the Secretary of State had made the following comment: “I am in more doubt about the logic or justification of the U.S. attitude in this matter of armed forces than on any other question concerned with the UN at this time. For me it needs a great deal of clarification.” (Policy Planning Staff Files)
  3. For the text of the Report by the Military Staff Committee to the Security Council, April 30, 1947, see United Nations, Official Records of the Security Council, Second Year, Special Supplement No. 1, or Department of State Bulletin, August 3, 1947, Supplement, “Arming the United Nations,” pp. 247–273.
  4. Not printed.
  5. See PPS/34, June 29, p. 359.
  6. In a memorandum of January 22, 1948, to the Under Secretary of State, the Counselor, and the State Member on the State-Army-Navy-Air Force Coordinating Committee (SANACC), Rusk had urged that this proposal be given consideration (501/1–2248). SANACC 219/18, April 21, 1948, not printed, “Implementation of Article 43 of the United Nations Charter,” a study presented to SANACC by the State Member, also included the recommendation that the question of a United States offer of forces be examined. The Committee referred SANACC 219/18 to its ad hoc Committee to Effect Collaboration Between the State, Army, Navy, and Air Force Departments on Security Functions of the United Nations for study and recommendation. However, SANACC took no final action on the paper prior to its dissolution in 1949. (SANACC Files)