Memorandum by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ( Bradley ) to the Secretary of Defense ( Johnson )


Subject: Spain.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed the Department of State position paper entitled “Spain” (FM–D B–7/1, dated 24 April 19501) and forward herewith their comments.

From the military point of view, United States relations with Spain continue to be unsatisfactory in spite of the decision of the National Security Council, approved by the President, that the United States should work toward normalization of United States-Spanish relations, both political and economic (NSC 32). While the Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize the political implications in this problem, they believe that insufficient weight has been given to the more important security and strategic interests of the United States in Spain.

There is hope, from the long-range viewpoint, that the North Atlantic Treaty countries will eventually be able to defend Western Europe successfully in event of major war. In the light of the worsening world situation and the likelihood that the North Atlantic Treaty countries could not, now or during the next several years, defend France and the Low Countries successfully in event of Soviet attack, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider it of paramount importance that the United States and its allies take proper steps to assure that Spain will be an ally in event of war.

If a major war occurs before the Western Powers have the capability of successfully defending France and the Low Countries, the situation may well develop in such a manner that Spain would become [Page 1561] the last foothold in Continental Europe for the United States and its allies. From a geographical standpoint, the Iberian Peninsula is well suited for this purpose and it is directly accessible from the Atlantic Ocean. Under present circumstances, however, the Department of Defense is not able to make military arrangements with Spain. Further delay in making these arrangements may cause a decrease in Spanish ability to resist an enemy attack regardless of assistance by the United States and its allies in an emergency. In this connection, it should be pointed out that, in the event of major war, it is highly improbable that Portugal can be successfully defended against attacks launched through Spain. If the United States and its allies do not retain a European continental foothold, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have grave doubts as to the future feasibility of re-entry there. This will make the recovery of Europe a much more difficult undertaking. Furthermore, if forced out of Europe, it is highly improbable that the United States and its allies could return in time to forestall the devastation of Western Europe.

In view of the foregoing military factors, the Joint Chiefs of Staff strongly recommend that the Department of State take action without delay to assure to the United States and its allies military accessibility to and military cooperation with Spain either bilaterally or through the acceptance of that nation as a signatory to the North Atlantic Treaty or Western Union Treaty.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff feel strongly that some way must be found to overcome the political objections of the United Kingdom and France to improvement of their relations with Spain, particularly since most European nations concerned agree on the importance of Spain from both the strategic and security points of view.3

In view of the above, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that FM D B–7/1 be rewritten to incorporate the military aspects of the problem and that the following be substituted as the Recommendation of the subject paper:

Political objections of the North Atlantic Treaty countries to improvement of political and economic relations with Spain should be overcome with the end in view of that nation participating directly, or at least indirectly, in the North Atlantic Treaty.

[Page 1562]

Additionally, in order that FM D B–7/1 be not inconsonant with the approved United States policy with respect to Spain, it is suggested that the last sentence of the first unnumbered paragraph under the heading “Discussion” be deleted.4

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Omar N. Bradley
  1. Same as the attachment to Thompson’s memorandum, supra.
  2. Printed as Policy Planning Staff paper PPS 12, October 24, 1947, Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. iii, p. 1092.
  3. The source text up to this point, with the omission of the first paragraph and the close of the first sentence of the second paragraph following the word “unsatisfactory,” was transmitted at the request of the Secretary of Defense to James S. Lay, Jr., Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, who circulated it for the information of the Council on June 8 as NSC 72. Materials concerning NSC 72 are in the S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351: NSC 72 Series. Lot 63 D 351 is a serial master file of National Security Council documents and correspondence and related Department of State memoranda for the years 1947–1961, as maintained by the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State.
  4. A copy of this memorandum was incorporated in the records of the Foreign Ministers meeting as FM D B–7/2. The Department of State commented on it in FM D B–7/4, dated May 5, stating:

    “… The Department is fully aware of the desirability, in which the JCS is interested, of developing political relations and arrangements with Spain which will permit US military cooperation with Spain either bilaterally or through the NAT. A thorough review of our Spanish policy is currently being made by the Department, having in mind such important considerations and views as those expressed in the two JCS letters, in order to devise more effective means for the implementation of that policy. Without prejudice to the strong views expressed by the JCS, the Department believes it is preferable to complete this review, and to obtain the necessary NSC approval for such a revision of our Spanish policy as may be indicated, before pressing the British, French and other Governments on the question of closer military cooperation with Spain. Any substantial changes in policy, such as those indicated in the JCS letter of May 3, will also require Presidential approval. In view of the President’s interest in this subject, it is our opinion that the question of closer military cooperation with Spain should be presented for his concurrence in the agreed context of our revised Spanish policy as a whole and not as an isolated issue.” (CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 149: May FM Meeting B Series)

    The second JCS letter under reference above, designated FM D B–7/2 and dated May 4 in the records of the Foreign Ministers meetings, commented on the paper on the Spanish question at the United Nations, FM D B–7, referred to in footnote 4, p. 1560.