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

top secret

Dear Mr. Secretary: In pursuance of its mission of recommending to the governments of the American Republics measures necessary for the defense of the Western Hemisphere, the Inter-American Defense Board1 has recently prepared a Common Defense Scheme for the American Continent and an Estimate of the Situation2 . . . . Copies thereof are inclosed.

The Chairman,3 United States Delegation, Inter-American Defense Board, has requested that a United States Governmental position with respect to these documents be furnished to him, in order to stimulate reaction from the other members of the Inter-American Defense Board and to encourage further staff planning with regard to Western Hemisphere defense. The conclusion of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, with which I concur, is that from a military point of view, the documents are acceptable as a basis for further planning for the collective defense of the American Continent. The Department of Defense [Page 680] therefore requests your comment or concurrence as to their acceptability for this purpose.

Since the United States has taken the lead in accelerating hemispheric defense plans, early acceptance and approval by this Government is desirable. Such approval will arm the United States Delegation to the Inter-American Defense Board with a specific proof of wholehearted support by this Government, and will further strengthen the position of our diplomatic representatives in pressing for acceptance of these documents by the other American Republics as outlined in NSC 56/2. Moreover, adoption of this Common Defense Scheme should mark an important step in the development of Inter-American military collaboration as envisaged by the Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance signed at Rio de Janeiro in 1947.4

Faithfully yours,

G. C. Marshall
  1. For the status of the IADB in this period, see Annals of the Organization of American States, 1951, pp. 7–8.
  2. Documents which were attached as Enclosures A and B, respectively, are not printed.

    Enclosure A presented general principles for organizing collective defense against all forms of aggression, a strategic concept, a defense doctrine, and objectives, and it listed factors to be considered in achieving the broadest cooperation among the American States in the political, economic, and military fields. The document referred to the principles of sovereignty and equality of States, international law and justice, the geographic unity of the American Continent, the fulfillment of obligations assumed in accordance with inter-American treaties and agreements and the United Nations Charter, and the stability of the democratic forms of government in each of the American States.

    Enclosure B reviewed (in general terms) ideological differences between the American States and Soviet Communism, the possibility of aggression, contrasting objectives, probable lines of action, and the defensive capacity of the American Continent. The document concluded with general and specific recommendations for collective defense against all forms of extracontinental aggression.

  3. Lt. Gen. Willis D. Crittenberger was at once Chairman of the IADB and of the U.S. Delegation to it.
  4. In a letter of January 15, 1951, to General Marshall, Mr. Acheson said that the Department approved of the documents in question as acceptable documents on which to base collective defense planning with the other American republics and added in part: “As you know, the problem of military cooperation for the defense of the Americas will be dealt with at the forthcoming Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics, and it is important that efforts be made prior to the Meeting to secure acceptance by the American Republics of these general principles, in order that the roles which these countries will have to play in hemisphere defense can be formulated and agreed upon without delay.” (710.5/12–1650) Documentation on the Fourth Meeting of Consultation of American Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held in Washington March 26–April 27, 1951, will appear in Foreign Relations, 1951, volume ii .