S/SNSC Files: Lot 63D351: NSC 56 Series

Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Webb) to the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Lay)

top secret

Subject: Second Progress Report on NSC 56/2 “United States Policy Toward Inter-American Military Collaboration”.

NSC 50/2 was approved as Governmental policy on May 19, 1950. It is requested that this Progress Report as of October 13, 1950 be circulated to the members of the Council for their information.

There has been continued collaboration among the Departments of State, Defense, Army, Navy and Air Force in the execution of the policy and procedures set forth in this paper. Two meetings of the designated departmental representatives have been held.
Progress in the development of defense planning may be noted in the designation, within the Department of Defense, of the United States Delegation to the Inter-American Defense Board as an agency of the Joint Chiefs of Staff responsible for (a) over-all monitorship of military planning for Latin American defense and (b) initiating action to transform U.S. plans into bilateral and multilateral plans in accordance with established U.S. guidance.
The Inter-American Defense Board has revised the draft plan for a hemisphere defense scheme, called for in NSC 56/2, and the revised draft plan1 is being distributed for the further comments and approval of the Council of Delegates of the Inter-American Defense Board after careful study and discussion. The Department of State has just received an information copy of this revised draft plan, and it is now under joint study by the Departments of State and Defense.
The Departments of Defense and State have agreed that, in view of the strategic importance of Venezuela and the vulnerability of its petroleum industry to internal sabotage and external military action, it is now opportune to discuss with the Venezuelan Government the security of these vital installations in Venezuela. The Department of State has requested the Chargé d’Affaires in Caracas to obtain the consent of the Venezuelan Government for military staff conversations.2

At the request of the President of Cuba, the U.S. Government has agreed to send to Cuba on October 24, for a period of approximately two weeks, a Joint U.S. Military Survey Team to study Cuba’s defense [Page 671] needs and make appropriate recommendations. The Commander in Chief, Caribbean, will be responsible for implementing this project. It has been agreed by the Departments of State and Defense that no commitments will be made with reference to possible U.S. assistance, and that the formal report of survey will be transmitted for the Department of Defense through the State Department to the Cuban Embassy in Washington, and will not be transmitted directly to the Cuban Government by the Survey Team.3

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The recent amendment to the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949, passed by the Congress on July 26, 1950 makes it possible for Latin American countries which are eligible to purchase military equipment in excess of U.S. needs at a “fair value” determined by the President. There is under consideration between the Departments of State and Defense at present a proposed program of sale of excess naval vessels to certain Latin American governments which would be the first significant transfer of excess military equipment to Latin America under this act as amended.
James E. Webb
  1. For additional information, see the description of Enclosure A in footnote 2 to the letter dated December 16 from Secretary Marshall to Secretary Acheson, p. 679.
  2. For pertinent information, see part 2 of editorial note, vol. ii, p. 1041.
  3. According to a letter of January 18, 1951 from Mr. Miller to Frank Pace, Jr., Secretary of the Army, the survey was conducted from October 26 to November 7, 1950, and the Survey Team’s report of November 20 was transmitted by the Department to the Cuban Embassy in Washington on January 16, 1951. (737.5/12–1950)