The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (Marshall)


My Dear Mr. Secretary: I refer to the letter of September 12, 1950, of the Secretary of Defense to Secretary Acheson which sets forth the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding Latin American military participation in the Korean operation, as this matter is dealt with in certain proposals by the Department of State which were transmitted with my letter of August 9, 1950 to Major General James H. Burns.

It is gratifying to learn that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in general agreement with the Department of State upon the desirability that Latin American forces join the United Nations forces in Korea and that they concur in the view that positive assistance from this Government is essential to any effective Latin American military contributions to the action in Korea.

Of most immediate concern in this connection, I believe, is the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the Department of State take prompt action to obtain offers from Latin American governments of completely organized and, in so far as possible, fully equipped and self-sustaining army, navy or air force units for utilization in one or another aspect of the Korean operation. Since it is our view that a precise understanding of the conditions of reimbursement for equipment, supplies and services furnished by this Government for organized units which may be offered is required for further consultations which we may have with Latin American governments, I shall appreciate your informing me as to whether the Department of Defense is in agreement that, based upon Secretary Johnson’s letter [Page 665] under reference, this matter may be discussed with representatives of Latin American governments along the following lines:

Latin American governments should be encouraged to offer organized combat or service army, navy or air force units, according to the general criteria as to size and composition which are set forth in the September 12 letter of the Secretary of Defense. If such units are determined, according to established procedures to be acceptable, such equipment, supplies and services as the Latin American government concerned is unable to provide for their effective use in the Korean operation will be provided by the United States. A government to which such equipment, supplies or services are furnished by the United States should make prompt reimbursement in U.S. dollars to the United States. If payment cannot be made immediately by that government in dollars, the terms and method of payment for the cost of equipment, supplies or services made available by the United States will become a matter of diplomatic negotiation between that government and the government of the United States. While it is recognized that, in negotiating with a foreign government every reasonable effort will be made to secure reimbursement in full or in part in dollars, it may be necessary, in some cases, to accept full or partial payment in the currency of that government, or some other form of settlement.

Although the above conditions appear to the Department to offer a possible basis for further consultations with the Latin American governments in which they would be encouraged to offer assistance, it is conceivable that there may develop special circumstances in connection with one or another specific offer which will make it desirable, from the point of view of the general foreign policy of this Government, for the Department of State to seek terms or considerations for settlement which might not be as limiting as those outlined above.

In view of the urgency of reaching a definite understanding regarding the immediate problem of reimbursement as it affects possible Latin American contributions, I should appreciate an early indication of the views of the Department of Defense upon the above indented statement.

The views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on other aspects of the Department of State’s proposal, which was directed primarily toward the immediate problem of Korea, but which may have much wider application in the future, will be given further consideration in the Department of State. I am sure you will agree that no effort should be spared in search for methods whereby the governments of the other American Republics may be encouraged by the United States to increase their active participation in the defense of the free world against aggression.

Sincerely yours,

For the Secretary of State:
H. Freeman Matthews

Deputy Under Secretary