Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs (Krieg)

Participants: Dr. M. A. Falcón-Briceño, Chargé d’Affaires of Venezuelan Embassy
Colonel Jorge Marcano, Venezuelan Military Attaché
Mr. Paul C. Daniels, Director of ARA
Mr. William L. Krieg, NWC

Colonel Marcano showed Mr. Daniels an extensive list of equipment which is desired for the Venezuelan Armed Forces. The list was not broken down by individual items but specified equipment for various types of military units. Colonel Marcano stated that the list had been prepared by the Venezuelan General Staff in consultation with the American Naval, Army and Air Force Missions and added that he had already given a copy informally to our Department of National Defense.

After examining the list briefly, Mr. Daniels made the following observations: (1) He said that he had no objection in principle to assisting the representatives of the other American Republics in obtaining essential military equipment in this country. (2) With reference to the present list, he pointed out that he could not, of course, pass on its technical aspects and that it would be necessary to consult with the Department of National Defense and its components. He added that such consultation is of necessity a somewhat extended procedure. (3) He reminded Colonel Marcano that the sale of war surplus armaments has been terminated and that it would probably be necessary to obtain the material through commercial sources, if it was available at all. (4) Mr. Daniels stated that as a purely informal matter and without endeavoring to pass on matters within the individual competence of each sovereign state, he regretted the expenditure of large sums of money on military equipment when hospitals and roads were more urgently needed. He emphasized that he had made the same observation to many other foreign representatives and that there was no intention to apply it exclusively to Venezuela.

Colonel Marcano said that he was aware that no further surplus was available and that he had only hoped to find out if it was possible to procure the desired armaments in the United States because, otherwise, it would be necessary to look for it in other places. He explained that he would prefer to get equipment in the United States since replacements and spare parts would be more easily available.

Mr. Daniels replied that the U.S. Government had for some years [Page 768]pursued the policy of assisting the other American Republics to standardize their military equipment. The exhaustion of war surplus supplies had rendered this program somewhat difficult to implement for the time being, but it still remained a long-range objective of this Government. Nevertheless, if this country is not in a position to satisfy the essential military requirements of the other American Republics, we could scarcely object if they found it necessary to obtain armaments from other sources.

Colonel Marcano then stated that the present equipment of the Venezuelan Armed Forces is obsolete and did not enable the country to defend itself even against a small invasion of well-armed men, or against sporadic attacks. He emphasized that Venezuela, because of its petroleum, would undoubtedly be a military objective of high importance in the next war and that its Government did not want to have to call in foreign troops to protect the petroleum installations since this would have internal political repercussions.

Mr. Daniels concluded the interview by pointing out that the procedure for the formal consideration of requests for armaments is that the Embassy of the country concerned should present a note transmitting the list and that this Department would then give it every consideration and undertake the necessary consultations with other interested agencies of this Government.