740.00119 Control (Austria)/6–1549

The Secretary of Defense (Johnson) to the Secretary of State 1

top secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary : The views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concerning proposals dispatched to Secretary Acheson by the Department of State on 10 June 19492 are transmitted herewith. It is my understanding that the message to Secretary Acheson was intended to convey the thoughts of the Department of State and that the views of the National Military Establishment would be the subject of a further [Page 1286]communication to him. I therefore request that the following views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff be urgently transmitted to him:

“It appears that there are military implications in the following proposals in the message:

a.
Substitution of civilians in place of officers as High Commissioners for Austria;
b.
Reduction of Allied Council authority to those functions ‘specifically reserved to Allied Council by Article 5 of Control Agreement’;
c.
Reduction of occupation forces to the minimum figure required for police functions; and
d.
Proposal to obtain agreement for training gendarmerie and possibly for the formation now of the Austrian army to assume gradually security functions presently exercised by the occupying powers.

With reference to a. above, the Joint Chiefs of Staff perceive no military objection to the appointment of civilian High Commissioners on a quadripartite basis. They would recommend, however, that civilian High Commissioners not be appointed on a tripartite basis because of the disadvantage, from a military point of view, in which the commissioners would find themselves in dealing (in Austria, where a quadripartite Control Commission still functions) with a Soviet High Commissioner of military rank who could claim his rights as commander of occupation troops.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff perceive no military objection to the terms of the proposal summarized in subparagraph b. above regarding the reduction of Allied Council authority over the Austrian Government.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that authority to create an Austrian Army must be an integral part of any agreement for the reduction of the occupation forces of the Western Powers. They strongly recommend that the forces of all Occupation Powers be in equal strength and that the minimum figure for the strength in each zone be approximately 8,000. As military advisers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff cannot agree to the forces of the Soviets equaling the total forces of the Western Powers. The only concession they could accept from the military point of view, in this regard is that the strength of the forces of the Four Occupying Powers be related to the Austrian population in each zone, subject to an agreed over-all strength of all occupation forces.

In connection with the above, the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggest that if no agreement can be reached with the Soviets along the foregoing lines regarding the over-all strength of the forces of the Four Occupying Powers, the ceiling of these forces might be based upon Article 17, an agreed article of the Draft Treaty. This Article provides for a total of 53,000. If 11,000, the number of the gendarmerie now in being, is subtracted from 53,000, the remainder would be 42,000 occupation troops for Austria. This number might be divided equally among the Tour Powers or according to the Austrian population in the four zones.

[Page 1287]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are fully in accord with the proposal d. that we should seek to obtain agreement for the training of the Austrian gendarmerie and for the formation now of the Austrian Army of the strength agreed to in the Four Powers treaty discussions, to assume gradually the security functions presently exercised by occupying troops. In this connection, they re-affirm their previous position that provision should be embodied in the proposed Four Power agreement for a step-by-step reduction of occupation forces only in consonance with the ability of the Austrian Government to organize, train, and equip its forces for internal security and to assume its responsibility in accordance with the phasing. They now further recommend that present plans for equipping and training the gendarmerie regiment be implemented at the earliest practicable date regardless of Soviet agreement on a treaty for Austria.”

In view of the great importance of the entire problem of handling the Austrian situation in accordance with our national security interests, I intend to refer the matter for the consideration of the National Security Council and will appreciate your cooperation in presenting the matter and making suitable recommendations to the President.

Sincerely yours,

Louis Johnson
  1. This letter was delivered to the Department of State and a summary of its contents transmitted to the United States Delegation at the Council of Foreign Ministers in Delsec 1693, June 16, not printed (740.00119 Council/6–1649).
  2. Under reference here is Secdel 1671, p. 1282.