851.348/3–1849

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

top secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary: Reference is made to the letter from Secretary Forrestal dated March 18, 1949 concerning the request of the French Government for certain naval aircraft and aircraft engines with sets of service life spare parts.1

Secretary Forrestal proposed that the Navy be instructed to prepare for delivery surplus naval aircraft of the type most suitable for the French Navy; that this transfer take place immediately after the Foreign Military Assistance Enabling Legislation becomes effective; and that the French Government be advised of our intentions in this matter.

The Department concurs in this proposal provided, however, that (a) the aircraft are of a type included in the list of deficiencies of the French armed forces made available to us through the Western Union Organization; (b) the aircraft and equipment are included in the program of military assistance currently being prepared under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Assistance Correlation Committee; and (c) it is understood that we cannot agree at this time to charge to the proposed military assistance program costs incurred prior to the enactment [Page 640] of the enabling legislation in the preparation of the aircraft and equipment for delivery, and that if such costs are incurred, the National Military Establishment may have to meet them out of its own funds.

If you concur in these conditions, the Department believes that it would be appropriate for both Admiral Conolly2 and the American Ambassador to France to explain to the French that naval aircraft and equipment are being included in the program being submitted to the Congress. In addition, it is agreed that at such time as the enabling legislation may be passed, a representative of the French Navy be invited to assist in arrangements for this transfer, with a further invitation to send a carrier into American waters for an official visit and acceptance of delivery of the aircraft. Arrangements for these invitations could be worked out by our representatives at that time.3

Sincerely yours,

James E. Webb
  1. Not printed. James V. Forrestal resigned as Secretary of Defense in March 1949 and was succeeded by Louis A. Johnson.
  2. Adm. Richard L. Conolly, Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe.
  3. Secretary Johnson replied on May 3 that he concurred in the conditions and had issued appropriate instructions to carry out the understanding (851.348/5–349).