810.20 Defense/5–2648

The Secretary of State to Representative Charles A. Eaton 1


Dear Dr. Eaton: I am most anxious that the Congress give consideration during this session to the proposed Inter-American Military Cooperation Act which the President submitted to the Congress on May 23, 1947.

A similar proposal was submitted to the 79th Congress but died with that Congress after it had been reported favorably by the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives. H. R. 3836 was reported favorably by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last spring but no further action has been taken on it.

As you know, a number of Latin American countries have, since the war, delayed purchases of military equipment from outside of the hemisphere in the expectation that the United States would be able to make available to them surplus military equipment to the end that there may be a standardization of the arms of the United States and the Latin American countries. I have recently received a telegram from Santiago indicating that the General Staff of the Chilean Navy [Page 214] is considering the purchase of the British cruiser, Ajax, if arrangements cannot be made for the procurement of a similar vessel from the United States. I have asked that the Chief of the Chilean Naval General Staff be requested to defer purchase of a non-standard vessel until after adjournment of the Congress in the hope that it will be possible for us to make a surplus naval vessel available to Chile.

Although I understand that surplus military supplies which would be made available to the Latin American countries under the terms of the proposed legislation are not as extensive as they were a year ago, there are still considerable quantities of supplies which would be available. My attention has been called particularly to a number of naval vessels, including some eight cruisers and 36 destroyer escorts. The expense of maintaining these vessels even though in storage is considerable. The same is also true with reference to certain older type aircraft that are in storage as well as with reference to certain types of arms and ammunition.

The proposed legislation, of course, is not confined to providing for the transfer of surplus military equipment to Latin American countries. It also authorizes giving instruction and training to military or naval personnel of those countries and rendering them other assistance necessary to their defense.

I am sending a similar letter to Senator Vandenberg.

I have discussed this matter with Secretary Forrestal who is most anxious that we move ahead with this legislation during this session of Congress.

Faithfully yours,

George C. Marshall
  1. Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, House of Representatives.