720.5 MAP/11–1550

Memorandum by the Officer in Charge, Special Political Problems, in the Office of Regional American Affairs (Jamison)



Should legislative authorization and appropriations be sought to pay the costs of providing certain types of military training and assistance to the other American Republics?


Under present legislation, the United States is severely limited in its ability to assist the people and governments of the other American Republics in fulfilling the positive roles which many of them wish to take, and are potentially capable of taking, in the struggle of the free world against communist aggression. This is in sharp contrast with the military assistance being given to governments in other areas of the world in the form of outright grants. Military supplies and equipment now made available to Latin American governments, with the [Page 673] exception of a rapidly diminishing amount of materiel defined as “excess”, must be paid for in cash at full cost, and the “excess” items must be paid for at a rate of approximately 10% of cost plus certain other expenses. These requirements, which dollar-short Latin American governments find it difficult to meet, together with the priorities given to supplies for other areas, have made it difficult for these governments in some cases to fill their immediate needs.

Recent United Nations action in Korea, and that section of the recently approved U.N. General Assembly resolution on “Uniting for Peace”,1 which recommends that governments maintain units of their armed forces for possible use in U.N action against aggression, have focussed attention on the desirability that all friendly U.N. members, of which there are 20 Latin American countries, should be in a position not only to maintain internal order and contribute to local self-defense, but also to contribute to U.N. action against aggression in any part of the world. While the individual prospective contributions of the respective Latin American governments may not be large, the psychological advantage of participation by many countries and the potential practical value of the collective Latin American effort are significant. They would become increasingly significant should the struggle against aggression move closer to the Western Hemisphere.

The experience in Korea to date has amply demonstrated (1) that several, at least, of the Latin American governments sincerely desire to participate in U.N. military action against aggression, (2) that most, if not all, of these governments are unable to meet the requirements of participation in such action without positive military assistance. This latter situation was recognized by the Department of Defense in the letter of September 12, 1950 replying to certain proposal[s] by the Department of State regarding Latin American participation in the Korean operation.

In these circumstances, it is believed that immediate steps should be taken to obtain the legislative authorization necessary to permit this government to furnish other American governments at their request with military training, equipment and supplies, on a grant basis, for those units of their armed forces which they maintain for action against aggression in conformity with the pertinent section of the General Assembly resolution on “Uniting for Peace”. As a means of assuring that there will be a degree of coordination respecting units which the various countries decide to maintain for this purpose, the U.S. Delegation to the Inter-American Defense Board should be requested to study and determine whether that body should develop [Page 674] plans for the organization of such units in an inter-American force, and put itself in a position to render technical advice to the respective governments.

It is recognized that the initiation of such a program will involve certain risks. It will be stated, for example: (1) that such grant aid for Latin America will detract from U.S. military aid to other areas whose needs have a higher priority, (2) that the Korean experience has proved that few Latin American countries actually desire to participate in possible U.N. action beyond the hemisphere or even beyond their own territory, (3) that such aid will strengthen the military juntas now in control in some countries and others which aspire to control to the disparagement of democratic processes, (4) that the units which may receive such aid will gain so much in strength and prestige that jealousy and demoralization of other military units in the same country will result, (5) that the U.S. will be accused of seeking to create mercenary forces under U.N. auspices.

With regard to these points, however, it may be pointed out that: (1) The aid initially given will probably not be extensive, since the units Latin American countries agree to maintain for such purposes are not likely to be large. Unless the free world suffers an early and sharp reversal, the program should be developed gradually and should concentrate on the creation of relatively small units from a number of countries rather than large ones from a few. Under any circumstances, the importance of the long range objective to be gained should weigh heavily in determining and assigning priorities. (2) In spite of the unwillingness of several of the more important countries to offer aid to Korea, some of which was due to local conditions of immediate but temporary significance, there has also been a clear indication that a sufficient number of governments desire to participate in such action to warrant an attempt to meet their requirements. Furthermore, once the cooperation of a few countries has been obtained, it is believed that others will fall quickly in line. (3) It will be very difficult for unscrupulous military leaders to face the consequences of misuse of military units which, as is pointedly indicated in the General Assembly resolution, are to be clearly and expressly maintained for possible action against aggression. (4) The danger of such units incurring the jealousy of other military units is recognized, but it is believed that the desire to emulate the efficiency and capabilities of such units may be a morale-building rather than a demoralizing process. (5) The argument that U.S. aid will turn such units into “mercenaries” can only be met by making clear the obvious fact that the dangers which such units are organized to deal with are as great to the country receiving aid as to the U.S.

[Page 675]

It appears that the most expeditious method for obtaining the necessary legislative authority would be to seek an amendment to the present MDAA legislation to authorize grant-aid assistance to the Latin American countries. This could be done by adding the countries which are parties to the Rio Treaty to Title III of the present legislation.


That the agreement of the Department of Defense be sought to a request to Congress for legislative authorization to permit this Government to make available to governments of the other American Republics military training, equipment and supplies, on a grant basis,2 for units of their armed forces which they decide, in conformity with Section C of the United Nations General Assembly resolution entitled “Uniting for Peace” to maintain for possible service as United Nations units.3

  1. For Resolution 377(V) of the General Assembly, November 3, 1950, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifth Session, Supplement No. 20 (A/1775), pp. 10–12.
  2. In a memorandum of December 15, 1950, to Mr. Miller, Mr. Warren said in part that General Ridgway had told him the same day that the Defense Department was studying legislation that would allow a modest program of grant military aid to Latin American countries. Mr. Warren told the General of his bureau’s interest in this change. (710.5/12–1550) For an extract from another section of this memorandum, see p. 678.
  3. In a memorandum of November 15, 1950, to Mr. Miller, Mr. Warren said that the above memorandum had been prepared as a statement of the views of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs which might obtain the Department’s concurrence. “If you approve, we shall initiate consultations with other interested offices.” In the margin of the original is penciled “OK E[dward] G M[iller].” (720.5 MAP/11–1550)

    Jack K. McFall, Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, said in part in a memorandum of December 12, 1950, to Mr. Warren, that he had seen the above paper and that he believed inclusion of a relatively small amount of grant military aid to the other American Republics would not impede passage of forthcoming military assistance legislation. (720.5 MAP/12–1250)