795B.5/11–1850: Circular airgram

The Secretary of State to Diplomatic Offices in the American Republics


It now appears that the general UN military situation in Korea makes advisable renewed efforts to encourage offers for the participation of organized military units of Latin American governments.1 Should the Embassy believe local circumstances to be such that there [Page 676] would be favorable reaction to suggestion that government consider making military offer, or to renewal previous discussions this subject, this matter should be discussed with FonMin along general lines outlined in Depciragram October 5, 4:25 p. m.2 It should be pointed out that, even if developments should make utilization of military units for the Korean operation unnecessary, any constructive action toward making a contribution to that operation will probably be helpful to that government in determining the action it may wish to take in implementation of the pertinent sections of Resolution A, Section C, of the action taken by the UNGA under the general heading “Uniting for Peace” (For text, see Wireless Bulletin, No. 258, October 21).3

In this connection, Embassy should bear in mind, however, that conditions under which this government can furnish training and equipment for the Korean operation, as outlined in reference Depciragram, do not at present apply in respect of the longer-range program.4 Embassy should also note that UNGA Resolution as finally approved recommends that member governments “maintain” units for possible [Page 677] UN action and does not call for specific designation of such units, as the reference airgram indicated it might. The resolution also indicates that any action taken shall be “without prejudice to the use of such elements in exercise of right of individual or collective self-defense recognized in Article 51 of the Charter”.

For Embassy’s background information, the only Latin American offers of organized units for direct military participation in Korean theater formally made to date are those of a frigate and a battalion of troops by Colombia. According to the Department’s information, however, discussions have been carried on either in Washington or the field, or both, with Uruguay, Chile, Cuba, Costa Rica and Peru.5

Report by telegram results of any action taken. Dept recognizes that circumstances may make an approach along above lines inadvisable at this time, but would nevertheless appreciate Embassy’s evaluation of local situation in this respect.

  1. In a letter of November 16, 1950, to Secretary Acheson, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert A. Lovett had said in part: “. . . regarding general reductions in forces to be deployed by members of the United Nations to Korea, it is requested that due to the fluid situation in Korea, action be held in abeyance pending further study and recommendation by this Department.” (795B.5/11–1650)
  2. Not printed (795 B.5/10–550); in this airgram the Department had in part instructed diplomatic officers in the American Republics to seek, for duty with the UN forces in Korea, military units of the types outlined in Secretary Johnson’s letter to Secretary Acheson of September 12, 1950 (p. 649), on the terms outlined in Secretary Acheson’s letter to Secretary Marshall of September 27 (p. 655).
  3. Not printed. 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.
  4. In the airgram mentioned in footnote 2 above, the Department had said regarding an inter-American force that “. . . the possibility that relatively small organized units offered by Latin American governments and accepted by the Unified Command may be integrated into an inter-American force of national units is also being considered. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have indicated that they would give sympathetic consideration to the organization and employment of such a force provided the plan for this is worked out through the Inter-American Defense Board. Since the primary problem is to obtain offers, it would appear that the development of such a plan can be worked out most usefully when tangible contributions are forthcoming.

    Even though the development of an integrated Latin American military force should prove to be unattainable in the period which may remain in the Korean operation, it is believed that this concept should continue under careful study in order that there may be created a suitable plan for the possible utilization of such a force in United Nations or other international action against aggression which may be required in the future. In this connection it should be noted that an important part of the program for united action for peace, outlined by the U.S. to the General Assembly, is the recommendation that each U.N. member designate a unit or Units of its national armed forces to be so trained and equipped that it could be made available for prompt service upon determination by the Security Council or recommendation by the General Assembly. If a resolution along these lines should actually be approved by UNGA, it is possible that action might be taken by the OAS, through its appropriate bodies, leading to the adoption by the states which are members of the OAS of a plan for the integration of units which they may designate into an effective military inter-American force against aggression. The Department will continue to explore this problem With the Department of Defense in order that if it seems appropriate, the OAS machinery will be utilized effectively in the furtherance of useful planning.” (795B.5/10–550)

  5. Documentation on discussions between the United States and individual American nations regarding Korean force contributions is in decimal files 795B.00 and 795B.5 for 1950. A summary of Korean assistance offers made publicly by UN members (other than the United States) to the Unified Command as of January 1, 1951, is in United Nations, Yearbook of the United Nations, 1950, pp. 226–228. Certain additional offers made during 1950 are printed ibid., 1951, pp. 249–257.