S/SNSC Files: Lot 63D351: NSC 45 Series1

Report by the National Security Council to President Truman

top secret

NSC 45/1

Airfield Construction in the United Kingdom and the Cairo–Suez Area

note by the executive secretary

The National Security Council has considered and adopted the enclosed report on the subject.2

The National Security Council recommends that the President approve the recommendation contained in paragraph 3 of the enclosed report.3

It is requested that this matter be handled with special security precautions.

Sidney W. Souers
[Enclosure]

Report by the National Security Council

top secret

NSC 45/1

Airfield Construction in the United Kingdom and the Cairo–Suez Area

1.
The National Security Council has considered the enclosed memorandum on the subject from the Secretary of Defense, dated March 17, 1949, together with the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thereon contained in the attached memorandum dated March 26, 1949.
2.
The National Security Council has agreed that the development of adequate airfields in the United Kingdom and in the Cairo-Suez area, required for emergency war plans, is in the interests of national security.
3.
The Council accordingly recommends that the President direct the Secretary of State to undertake negotiations with the British Government, on the highest levels necessary, regarding the provision of funds required for the construction of the airfields envisaged in the enclosed memoranda.

[Page 286]
[Subenclosure 1]

Memorandum by the Secretary of Defense (Forrestal) to the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Souers)4

top secret

Subject: Airfield Construction in the United Kingdom and the Cairo–Suez Area

1.
I wish to submit the following problem for consideration by the National Security Council at its next meeting. It relates to discussions between the United States and British Governments regarding airfield construction in the United Kingdom and the Cairo–Suez area.
2.
As you know, current emergency war plans require the delivery of a powerful strategic air offensive as soon as possible after hostilities commence. Current plans envisage the utilization of air bases in the United Kingdom and in the Cairo-Suez area in connection with the strategic air offensive. Air bases in the United Kingdom presently suitable for this purpose are situated in East Anglia, and are extremely vulnerable to successful attack by low-flying aircraft. The Abu Sueir airfield in Egypt is presently unsuitable for bomber operations. There is, in fact, no airfield in Egypt suitable for bomber operations.
3.
Joint study by the R.A.F. and the U.S.A.F. revealed that in the United Kingdom, at least four more air bases of medium bomber standard were required. To avoid the vulnerability of the East Anglia locations, it was determined that the four additional air bases should be sited . . . . The Air Ministry agreed to initiate development of these bases as soon as funds were secured.
4.
In the case of Abu Sueir, the development needed has been agreed upon between the R.A.F. and the U.S.A.F., and arrangements have been made with the Egyptian Government for the necessary materials. In this instance, also, the initiation of work will immediately follow the securing of funds.
5.
The funds, during Fiscal Year 1950, which are needed for the development work on the four . . . air bases is 1,000,000 pounds, according to R.A.F. estimates. For the Abu Sueir air base 800,000 pounds is needed. The total ultimate cost of these developments is estimated to be 7,717,000 pounds, or $31,000,000.
6.
Efforts have been made without success to secure the use of Economic Cooperation Administration funds for the air base development required. Alternatively, the Air Ministry proposed to the British Treasury that 1,800,000 pounds be included in the British [Page 287]budget for the forthcoming fiscal year with which to finance the subject air base development. This the British Treasury declined to do, on the grounds that it could not support an appropriation of funds for U.S.A.F. requirements without agreement between the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom as to the source of funds, i.e., whether the funds would come from U.S. Air Force, E.C.A., or U.K. sources.
7.
Advices received from Ambassador Douglas and from General Johnson, Air Force Commander in the United Kingdom,5 are to the effect that no favorable action may be expected from the British Government, either in respect to E.C.A. funds or their own budget, without pressure from high quarters in the United States.
8.
I wish to request, therefore, that this problem should be considered by the National Security Council at its next meeting with a view to determining whether the development of four airfields in the United Kingdom and one in the Cairo–Suez area is in the national interest, and, if so, whether the Department of State should be authorized to undertake negotiations with the British Foreign Office regarding the provision of required funds.
9.
It is requested that this matter be handled with special security precautions.

James Forrestal
[Subenclosure 2]

Memorandum by the Secretary of Defense (Forrestal) to the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Souers)

top secret

Subject: Airfield Construction (NSC 45)

In reply to your memorandum of 23 March 1949,* requesting, pursuant to NSC Action 197, the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with respect to NSC 45, I wish to inform you that the Joint Chiefs of Staff agree that the development of the four airfields in the United Kingdom and the one airfield in the Cairo–Suez area is in the national interest.

James Forrestal
  1. Serial master files of National Security Council documentation and related Department of State material for the years 1947–1961, retired by the Executive Secretariat Of the Department of State.
  2. Adopted by NSC Action No. 204, April 15, 1949 (S/SNSC Files: Lot 66D95: NSC Actions).
  3. On April 18, President Truman approved this report and directed the Secretary of State to initiate negotiations with the British Government.
  4. Subenclosure 1 was originally circulated as NSC 45.
  5. Major General Leon W. Johnson, Commanding General, U.S. Third Air Division.
  6. Requesting the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pursuant to NSC Action No. 197 a. [Footnote in the source text.]