Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Regional American Affairs (Dreier) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Miller)1

top secret

Subject: US policy toward inter-American military collaboration

(1) The NME has proposed in the attached paper2 that the Inter-American Defense Board formulate (a) a hemisphere defense scheme, [Page 623] setting forth very broad strategic concepts of hemisphere defense, and (b) a detailed defense plan, specifying the individual roles each country should assume in hemisphere defense. An attempt would be made to formalize these recommendations of the IADB in a multilateral agreement.

It is my considered judgment that if we should embark on such a program, the result would be a series of highly inflated military roles and programs for practically all of the Latin American countries. This would create new problems conflicting with our political and economic policies in Latin America today.

Since there is no time for a complete analysis of the NME paper before you leave, I suggest our position at this point be to have the IADB stop after completing the “defense scheme” on which they are apparently already engaged,3 and have the NME prepare its own realistic appraisals of the specific roles that each Latin American country should be expected to fill. Such plans could then be presented to other countries in whatever way seemed best at the time—whether through multilateral or bilateral channels. Do you agree?

(2) Mr. Bruce’s office4 has asked us to state our views regarding military assistance for Latin American countries during FY 1951. This information is necessary in the development of the budget for foreign military assistance for FY 1951. I believe that we should continue to use existing legislation in making available to Latin American countries small amounts of equipment on a cash basis, but that we should not request Congress for funds to subsidize a program of equipment for Latin America. I believe, however, that we should try to obtain authority from Congress making it possible for the Navy to sell at their present value, rather than at their original cost to the US, the old naval vessels which are in excess of the US Navy’s needs.5 Do you agree?6

John C. Dreier
  1. Memorandum addressed also to Mr. Willard F. Barber, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.
  2. Draft by the Staff of the National Security Council, “U.S. Policy toward Inter-American Military Collaboration,” February 2, 1950, not printed. (710.5/2–750) The final draft of this paper was NSC 56/2, May 18, 1950; see p. 628.
  3. All later drafts of the mentioned paper omitted reference to IADB formulation of defense roles for individual American states. Mr. Dreier’s letter to Mr. Miller of March 1, 1950, not printed, stated in part that the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs was responsible for this deletion. (710.5/3–150)
  4. James Bruce was Director of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program.
  5. In a memorandum of February 3, 1950, to Messrs. Miller, Barber, and Dreier, George O. Spencer of the Office of Regional American Affairs had said in part: “In my opinion, it is unfortunate that we failed to obtain authority last session for the sale of these ships. They are the most sensible type of military equipment for Latin American countries to have. They are showy pieces of armament which would cater to the national pride of the other governments and it would be difficult for military governments to use them in suppressing their peoples. In the event of war, the other countries could make good use of them by patrolling the supply lines between Latin America and the United States.” (720.5621/2–350)

    For text of Public Law 621, approved July 26, 1950, see 64 Stat. 373. See also the letter from Secretary Johnson to Secretary Acheson, September 12, 1950, p. 651.

  6. Two pencilled marginal notes reading “OK E[dward] G M[iller]” appear beside each numbered portion of the source text.