810.20 Defense/10–2649

Memorandum by the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Thompson) to the Secretary of State

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Subject: Defense of Greater Caribbean Area in Time of War.


The Secretary of Defense has informed the Department1 that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered a proposal made to them by the British Chiefs of Staff that the United States should undertake the major responsibility for the defense of the greater Caribbean area in time of war; that, on the outbreak of war an American should be appointed Allied Commander in Chief, Caribbean, and should be responsible for the defense of the British Caribbean colonies, whereas the United Kingdom should remain responsible for the internal security of the colonies; likewise, that on the outbreak of war the Allied Commander in Chief, Atlantic Ocean, should be responsible for the defense of Bermuda and the Bahamas.

The British likewise proposed that a meeting be held to coordinate allied plans for the greater Caribbean area to be attended by the appropriate United States authorities and the following British representatives: Commander in Chief, America and West Indies Station, and Commander, Caribbean Area.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff agree with the British proposals and are of the opinion, with which the Secretary of Defense agrees, that the [Page 620] United States representatives should be: The Commander in Chief, Caribbean Command; The Commander in Chief, Atlantic, and a representative from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Secretary of Defense requests your views.


That the Secretary sign the attached letter.2

  1. In a letter (not printed) addressed to the Secretary of State on October 26, 1949 (810.20 Defense/10–2649).
  2. The Department of State’s reply was contained in a letter to Secretary of Defense Johnson by Acting Secretary of State Webb, dated December 2, 1949, which read in part as follows:

    “The Department of State agrees that the proposed meeting should take place and sees no objection, from a political point of view, to the division of responsibility for the defense of the area which is envisaged by the British Chiefs of Staff as outlined in your letter.” (810.20 Defense/10–2649)

    Discussions on the subjects under reference commenced in the following year, although at a lower level than mentioned in the above memorandum.