S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63D351: NSC 56 Series
Report by the National Security Council to the President 1
United States Policy Toward Inter-American Collaboration
1. To determine the policies of the United States with respect to military collaboration among the American states.
Background of the Present Situation
2. In World War II the United States was required to divert from the main offensive effort to the security of the Caribbean, Central and South American areas a force at one time totaling about 130,000 men with their equipment. Because of antiquated military methods, European military influences, lack of modern equipment and know-how, the Latin American countries, with only one major exception, were unable to make any contribution to Western Hemisphere defense. In the event of a third world war, the military tasks of the United States would be facilitated if a repetition of this situation could be avoided. Recognizing this, the United States has since 1945 made various efforts to establish a practicable basis for more effective inter-American military collaboration.
3. In July 1945, the President approved a statement2 enunciating policies and principles to be followed by the United States in the interests of collective hemisphere defense. This statement provided that the United States insofar as possible should:
- Establish U.S. military training missions in the other American republics.
- Provide training in the United States for Latin American military personnel.
- Participate in the making of combined joint plans for hemisphere defense.
- Provide military equipment to the other American republics.
4. This statement also provided that the policy should be carried out in compliance with the following principles:
- Military cooperation should not be extended any American republic so as to provide it with a military establishment beyond its economic means to support.
- Training and equipment should not be provided an American republic where there is good reason to believe that they would be used for aggression, or in order to threaten aggression, against neighboring American republics, thus prejudicing the primary objective of inter-American unity.
- In accordance with the democratic principles that the United States represents and upholds throughout the world, and on which its moral credit is largely based, every effort should be made to assure that U.S. training and equipment not be used to deprive the peoples of the American republics of their democratic rights and liberties.
- All plans made and all measures taken to carry out this program shall be with the approval of the Department of Defense in respect to defense policy and with the approval of the Department of State in respect to foreign policy.
5. The following measures have been taken in implementation of the approved policies and principles set forth above:
- In 1945, the War and Navy Departments conducted exploratory bilateral staff conversations with the armed forces of the other American republics for the purpose of determining the approximate strengths of Latin American armed forces and the armaments required to support these strengths. Although these conversations could not result in any agreement by the United States to supply military equipment or in any agreement by the other governments to limit the composition and size of their armed forces, they served to focus the attention of the other American republics upon the United States as a source of procurement.
- Pending enactment of the Inter-American Military Cooperation Act, an interim program was instituted by which limited amounts of surplus equipment were offered for sale to the other American republics under the Surplus Property Act.3 The Inter-American Military Cooperation Act was never enacted and the interim program was terminated in 1948.4
- The President requested Congress to provide authorization in the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949 for selling to the other American republics equipment compatible with their economic condition and with the needs of hemisphere defense, the United States to be reimbursed by the recipient countries for the value of such equipment. [Page 630] As enacted by Congress, this law authorizes the transfer by sale of such equipment to countries which have ratified the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, but only with full cash reimbursement of the original cost to the United States, including necessary rehabilitation and service charges.
- The United States Delegation to the Inter-American Defense Board has recommended to the Board that the latter undertake the preparation of a common defense scheme for the maintenance of the peace and security of the continent, for approval by the American states as a basis for further planning toward the defense of the Hemisphere. The Inter-American Defense Board has adopted the recommendation of the United States Delegation, and the member governments of the Organization of American States have been notified accordingly.
- The United States has complied with requests of most of the other American republics for U.S. military training missions.5
- Latin American military personnel have received, and are receiving, training in U.S. military installations under existing legislation.
The Present Situation
6. The Latin American countries could make their greatest contribution to collective effort in global war by providing for regional security to the maximum of their capabilities, thereby minimizing diversion of United States forces from the main effort. In addition some Latin American countries could provide offensive forces. However, full realization of the Latin American potential for contributing to the prosecution of a war requires more effective inter-American military collaboration than now exists. Failure to achieve satisfactory collaboration would impose on United States forces requirements in excess of their efforts in World War II, and engender a situation detrimental to the security interests of the United States.
7. In addition to such external hostile threats as might be projected against Latin America, communists in Latin America have the capability of severely weakening any war effort of the United States by interfering with the source and transit of strategic materials, by damaging vital installations and by fomenting unrest and instability. In the event of war, the main deterrent to execution of this capability is the ability of the security forces of the Latin American nations to maintain internal security in support of their governments. Their employment to this end can be facilitated through military collaboration under established inter-American procedures.
8. Experience in military collaboration with Latin American countries since the war has shown that many of them have a desire for military equipment in excess of their economic capability to support. [Page 631] Some Latin American countries are overwhelmed by financial obligations which they cannot meet; most of them have a severe shortage of dollars; their position in international trade is precarious; they are seeking United States assistance to solve these problems and are receiving it in the form of loans and constructive, but expensive, economic projects. In approaching the problem of inter-American military collaboration most of the Latin American leaders will be inspired more by their own ambitions, and by fears regarding their neighbors, than by the basic requirements of hemisphere defense. Implied United States commitments almost inevitably develop in the minds of the Latin Americans following any military discussions with this country. It is difficult in such discussions to avoid stimulation of their desires for military equipment which this country cannot deliver. When the United States is successful in reaching military agreements with the Latin American countries it is likely that those countries will expect the United States to provide the means to implement the agreements. It is therefore important constantly to be on guard to avoid stimulating desires and giving rise to an assumption on their part of implied commitments beyond our intention or capacity to fulfill. No matter how sound a policy and program for inter-American military collaboration may be, the difficulties of timing and implementation will require constant coordination of all the changing political, economic, and military factors affecting United States over-all security interests in Latin America.
9. When the Latin American countries are unable to expend their budgeted funds to procure military equipment from the United States they turn to whatever markets are available (including the satellite nations of the USSR) for such equipment and may develop resentment toward the United States. While standardization of military equipment for all Latin American countries remains an ultimate objective, its realization is not necessary for the early undertaking of a program of inter-American military collaboration. Procurement by Latin American countries of military equipment from European sources may well involve the sending of European military missions to the American countries which would be detrimental to the ultimate objective of standardization. It must be recognized that the attainment of this ultimate objective is blocked at the present time by obvious practical difficulties, particularly the high cost of United States armaments, higher priorities accorded to non-hemisphere countries, and the limitations on United States subsidies during peace time. Furthermore, as desirable as standardization may be, it is not an overriding consideration taking precedence over all other military or political factors in the situation. Under present circumstances, the emphasis on standardization must be weighed against other factors [Page 632] such as the varying importance of the roles of the individual countries in hemisphere defense, the cheaper price of certain arms in friendly European countries and the availability of such arms to Latin American countries.
10. Despite these difficulties, it is important, in view of the probable conditions which we will face in the event of another war, that every effort be made through prior planning and agreement to develop effective inter-American military collaboration in time of peace to assure effective collective hemisphere defense immediately upon the outbreak of war. Development by the IADB of a collective defense scheme would facilitate its acceptance by the Latin American republics. Determination on the basis of that scheme of the individual roles would likewise facilitate acceptance of those roles by the respective Latin American republics. When all or a sufficient number of the American states shall have approved the collective defense scheme and accepted their military roles there will have been provided the basis for further detailed planning by the various countries preparatory to the discharge of accepted responsibility and maintenance of armed forces consistent with these roles.
11. A Western Hemisphere Defense Scheme can be developed only in broad terms for acceptance by the United States and the Latin American governments. Such a defense scheme must not jeopardize or unduly influence global strategy in favor of either direct military assistance or distribution of equipment solely for the achievement of political objectives. The defense scheme to be proposed for acceptance should include:
- A strategic concept of the defense of the American states within the Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance.
- A statement of the strategic military objectives of the American states designed to achieve the maximum of Western Hemisphere cooperative strength under the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, 1947, for the accomplishment of that concept.
- A statement of collective strategic military requirements of the collaborating American states for accomplishing their objectives.
Military Concept, Principles and Objectives
12. In global war, the basic United States military undertakings required to achieve the objectives of the United States include, inter alia:
- Insuring the integrity of the Western Hemisphere and promoting and developing its war-making capacity.
- In conjunction with our allies, securing such bases as are essential for the projection of operations.
- Initiating development of the offensive power of the armed forces for such operations as may be necessary for achievement of the national war objectives.
- Supporting the war effort of our allies by the provision of all feasible military assistance.
13. The principal strategic military objectives of the United States in Latin America are:
- The continued and increasing production and delivery of essential strategic materials.
- While allowing scope for normal political change, the maintenance within each nation of political stability and of internal security to insure protection of the installations upon which the production and delivery of strategic materials depend.6
- The mutual cooperation of all of the Latin American nations in support of the United States.
- The protection of vital lines of communication.
- The provision, development, operation and protection of those bases that may be required for the use of the United States and for the protection of lines of communication.
- The coordinated protection of Latin America from invasion and from raids.
- The provision of those Latin American armed forces necessary for the accomplishment of the foregoing.
- The provision by Latin American nations, for the support of collective action in other theaters, of those forces beyond their requirements for the accomplishment of the foregoing.
14. The United States concept of hemisphere defense is based on a regional rather than a national (country by country) approach. For example, the problems incident to security of sea lines of communication are divided into South Atlantic, South Pacific, Caribbean, and Western Mexican areas, and must be the joint responsibility of nations contiguous to those areas. By the same token, whereas the security of the source of Bolivian tin is a responsibility inherent to Bolivia, the transit of such tin to the United States is a responsibility shared by at least half a dozen other countries. Also, instability or defection of one country will divert from the concerted war effort of its neighbors. Accordingly any examination of the military requirements of a single nation must be judged in the light of the whole.
15. Principal regional areas in Latin America for Western Hemisphere defense, subject to defense by joint hemisphere forces, include: [Page 634] Panama Canal Zone and Approaches, which control the vital east-west line of communications; Mexico, which is necessary for the protection of the continental United States and as a base for the protection of major north-south lines of communication; the Venezuelan oil area including Curaçao-Aruba and Trinidad, which constitutes one of the world’s great oil reserves and which would have correspondingly increased importance in the event Middle East oil should be unavailable; Northeast Brazil, which controls the “Straits of Natal-Dakar” from the west and therefore the major north-south lines of communication in the Atlantic Ocean; River Plate Estuary and Approaches, through which supplies of basic foodstuffs are shipped to many Western Hemisphere nations and Great Britain; Mollendo, Peru—Antofagasta, Chile, which contains the rail and harbor outlets for shipments of Bolivian strategic materials; and Straits of Magellan, which is an alternate worldwide east-west line of communications in the event of loss or damage of the Panama Canal.
16. The foregoing envisages that armed forces should be maintained by the other American republics generally for the following principal purposes:
- To minimize diversion of the armed forces of the United States in maintaining the security of the Western Hemisphere.
- To maintain internal order and security.
- To provide local defenses against isolated attacks or raids.
- To protect coastwise shipping.
- To augment the armed forces of the United States in protecting overseas commerce.
- To provide facilities for the use of such United States or other American forces as may be required for protection against external aggression.
- In some cases to provide forces for augmenting United States forces outside this Hemisphere.
17. On the basis of the foregoing, U.S. objectives may be stated with specific reference to (1) the role of each Latin American armed force in collective hemisphere defense and (2) the character of the training, equipment and doctrine of the armed force to be maintained by each Latin American country:
- With respect to roles in hemisphere defense, it is envisaged, that each Latin American armed force should be capable of maintaining security within its own territory, including prevention of revolutionary disturbances, prevention of clandestine enemy operations, defense against isolated attacks or raids, protection of the sources and installations of strategic materials, assistance as appropriate in the protection of vital lines of communications, and local security of bases and military facilities. Beyond these roles applicable to each Latin American armed force, certain countries should be capable of performing additional tasks as appropriate.
- As a long-range objective, the United States seeks the complete standardization along U.S. lines of the training, equipment and doctrine of the armed force of each Latin American country.
18. In global war, the security of the Western Hemisphere and U.S. access to its resources and manpower would be essential to the transoceanic projection of major U.S. offensive power.
19. To minimize diversion of U.S. forces for defense of the Western Hemisphere, the United States should make every effort to assure the availability and use of indigenous armed forces in Latin America for the execution of military tasks within their capabilities.
20. The security interests of the United States would be advanced by the maintenance and further development of inter-American military collaboration, including standardization, continued military orientation of the Latin American states toward the United States, and development of agreed collective defense plans.
21. The Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance constitutes the political framework of the regional defense arrangement required to secure Latin American participation in the defense of the Western Hemisphere. Because of its position among the American republics, it devolves upon the United States to take the lead in the accomplishment of these arrangements. Existing U.S. policies respecting Inter-American military collaboration should be continued.
22. Further measures are now required to enable the United States to promote sound collective security and to accomplish in the event of war the prompt and effective implementation of an agreed plan for hemisphere defense. As the first measure to this end a Western Hemisphere Defense Scheme, in form acceptable to this Government should be evolved within the Inter-American Defense Board.7 This Defense Scheme should be within the general framework of the U.S. military concept, principles and objectives for collective security of the Western Hemisphere and should include a statement of the strategic aims and defense principles of the American states for the collective security of the zone established in the Rio Treaty.
23. As the next step, the United States should seek to obtain acceptance by the Latin American governments of the Hemisphere Defense Scheme.
24. When all or a sufficient number of the American states have approved the Hemisphere Defense Scheme, it should be the basis for the formulation by United States and Latin American military representatives [Page 636] of the military role of each of the American states in the collective defense of the Hemisphere.8
25. When these roles are formulated, the United States should support necessary and desirable measures leading to the acceptance by the various governments of their military roles in Hemisphere defense.
26. When the Western Hemisphere Defense Scheme is approved by the United States and the other American republics and upon consequent acceptance of military roles the United States should then prepare for its own purposes a careful estimate of the requirement of each of the other American republics for the maintenance of forces essential to Hemisphere defense. These estimates should serve as a guide in arrangements for the provision of such mutual assistance among the American republics as may be necessary to assure adequate implementation of the Hemisphere Defense Scheme.
27. The United States should seek to persuade the Latin American nations to minimize their military expenditures in time of peace by maintaining only those armed forces necessary to meet their obligations for collective defense. To accomplish the foregoing it may be necessary in some cases for the United States:
- To assist Latin American nations to obtain from U.S. sources the armaments required for the maintenance of such forces.
- To encourage and advise Latin American nations through U.S. missions and other training media to make optimum use of their forces in the interests of collective defense.
28. The development and implementation of this program at all stages as well as the timing of individual steps should be carried out with the closest coordination between the Departments of State and Defense and should be guided by:9
- The military requirements of the United States in the event of war.
- The strategic justification for the defense roles assumed by the American republics.
- The need for limitation or exclusion of extra-Hemisphere military influence in Latin America.
- The economic condition of each Latin American state.
- Relative priorities for the allocation of U.S. assistance to foreign countries.
- Political factors in the foreign relations of the United States, particularly inter-American relationships such as those involving political instability.
- NSC 56/1 was the penultimate draft of April 27, 1950, not printed. (S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63D351: NSC 56 Series) In a note of May 18, 1950, James S. Lay, Jr., Executive Secretary of the NSC, said in part that the NSC and the Acting Secretary of the Treasury had that day adopted NSC 56/2. (S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63D351: NSC 56 Series) In a memorandum of May 19 for the NSC, Mr. Lay stated that the President on the same day had approved the Conclusions contained in NSC 56/2 and directed their implementation by all appropriate executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government under the coordination of the Secretary of State. (S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63D351: NSC 56 Series)↩
- Reference is apparently to SWNCC 4/10, July 7, 1945, “Statement of Policy Governing the Provision by the United States of Indoctrination, Training and Equipment for the Armed Forces of the Other American Republics,” approved by President Truman on July 29, 1945. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ix, pp. 251–254.↩
- Of 1944. See 58 Stat. 765.↩
- For pertinent documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. vii, pp. 101 ff. and ibid., 1948, vol. ix, pp. 207 ff.↩
- For pertinent information, see vol. ii, p. 671.↩
In a draft of February 14, 1950, prepared by the NSC Staff, the equivalent paragraph read: “The maintenance within each nation of political stability and of internal security to insure protection of the installations upon which the production and delivery of strategic materials depend.” (720.5 MAP/2–1450)
According to an unsigned memorandum that summarized discussion at the Under Secretary’s staff meeting of February 24, 1950, Mr. Barber commented that this draft paragraph should not be construed as favoring an absolute freezing of existing situations. (710.5/2–2450) In a memorandum of March 1 to Mr. Dreier, Mr. Spencer indicated that the Department was emphasizing rewriting of this paragraph at both Staff and Consultant levels of the NSC. (710.5/3–450)↩
- For the IADB’s “Common Defense Scheme for the American Continent,” October 27, 1950, see footnote 2 to Secretary Marshall’s letter to Secretary Acheson, December 16, 1950, p. 679.↩
- In a memorandum of March 2, 1950, to Mr. Barber, Mr. Dreier had mentioned that Max W. Bishop, State Department representative on the NSC Staff, had unsuccessfully attempted to secure Defense Department approval of this additional sentence: “the formulation of these roles should be carried out with the closest coordination between the Departments of State and Defense.” (710.5/3–250)↩
- The equivalent sentence in the NSC Staff’s draft of February 14, 1950, read: “The development and implementation of this program should be guided by: …” (720.5 MAP/2–1450) According to the memorandum cited in footnote 8 above, the altered language in later drafts represented a compromise with the State Department’s proposal there mentioned.↩