810.20 Defense/6–448

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Armour) to the Secretary of State 1

Subject: Inter-American Military Cooperation Bill

I wish to report that it is highly unlikely that action can be obtained by the Congress on legislation to authorize transfer of military equipment to Latin American countries.

Despite the letters which you addressed to Senator Vandenberg and Congressman Eaton on May 26, requesting action this session, it appears that no effort will be made to act on this Bill in either the Senate or the House unless you personally speak to Senator Vandenberg and Mr. Eaton, or unless the White House intervenes in further support of the Bill. Even in this event the short time remaining leaves it extremely doubtful whether favorable action can be taken.

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Failure to obtain such legislation will in effect prohibit any further transfers of arms to Latin American countries for the time being. Equipment required by the Latin American countries no longer exists in surplus, or if it does, maintenance parts are unavailable. The Navy is forbidden by law to transfer destroyers and cruisers which it has reserved for transfer to Latin America. Only by extreme efforts, including an appeal to the President, is the Department of the Army able to make available to Argentina, at a high cost, equipment requested urgently by the Argentine War Minister during his visit here.

As an alternative to obtaining action on the Inter-American Military Cooperation Bill, ARA has suggested the possibility of getting a brief amendment to Public Resolution No. 83 of 1940. This Resolution authorized the transfer to the American republics at cost of coast defense and anti-aircraft equipment. The amendment would broaden the authorization to cover any type of military equipment needed for standardization in the American States, and would specifically authorize the transfer of any naval vessels found to be excess to the needs of the United States. It is the opinion of the Counselor’s office that even this simplified form of legislation would require a personal appeal from you to Senator Vandenberg and Congressman Eaton to receive sympathetic attention. Since the proposed amendment to Resolution 83 of 1940 would have to go through the Committees of both the House and Senate, and take its chances on favorable action in the rush of business at the end of the session, the likelihood of favorable action on it is also considered to be very small.2

Norman Armour
  1. Initialed: G[eorge] C. M[arshall].
  2. In a memorandum of June 16 to the Chief of the Division of Special Inter-American Affairs (Dreier), not printed, the Counselor (Bohlen) reported that Dr. Eaton had discouraged any attempt to get the 1940 resolution amended as he felt there would be no possibility whatsoever of favorable action before adjournment of the Congress (810.20 Defense/6–448).