The South African Ambassador (Jooste) to the Secretary of State


Sir: In implementation of the undertaking given by Mr. Erasmus, South African Minister of Defence to the Secretary for Defence in the course of the interview on October 5th,1 I have to confirm in broad outline the policy of the Union Government with regard to the defence of Africa, viz.—

Any military attack by a communistic power or powers on the Continent of Africa will be regarded by the Union of South Africa as a direct attack upon itself and will be resisted with all the force at the Union’s disposal.
A military threat to Africa might have to be met beyond the confines of the African Continent.
In furtherance of its continental defence policy as now enunciated the Union Government has in mind the provision of an expeditionary force consisting of one Armoured Division and an Air Fighter Group of nine Squadrons.
The strengthening of the South African Naval Forces to afford adequate protection for the lengthy South African seaboard. A strengthened South African Navy would permit of additional cover being given to allied convoys beyond the northern limits of South African waters.
In order that full effect may be given to this policy it will be necessary for the Government of the Union of South Africa to procure the major portion of the equipment it requires from external [Page 1842] sources. For all practical purposes this means from the United Kingdom or the United States of America.
The Union Government’s equipment requirements may conveniently be classified into two groups—
that required immediately for the training of its normal peace-time forces, and
that required for equipping an expeditionary force.
With regard to (i) the Government of the Union of South Africa would follow its normal practice of paying for equipment. Insofar as (ii) is concerned it is the hope of the Government of the Union of South Africa that the Government of the United States will find it possible to extend the least onerous financial terms bearing in mind the fact that the Union Government has already incurred and is committed to heavy expenditure on equipment for normal training purposes and for the equipping of 125,000 men in the event of war, and also that the South African Expeditionary Force will, if and when it is required in the Middle East, be undertaking “front line” responsibilities. The equipment for the Expeditionary Force would not be required until the Force arrives in the theatre of operations.
It is my Government’s understanding that informal discussions as to the Union’s requirements will now take place between the Service Attachés of this Embassy and representatives of the United States Department of Defence. Thereafter the matter will be dealt with further in the light of the information received.2

Accept [etc.]

G. P. Jooste
  1. See General Lemnitzer’s record of the meeting under reference, supra.
  2. In a note of November 9, Secretary Acheson acknowledged this note and expressed appreciation for the information contained therein concerning South Africa’s intentions in the event of a military attack by a communist power on the continent of Africa. The Secretary’s note concluded as follows:

    “It is the understanding of the Department that informal technical discussions are now taking place between the South African Service Attachés and representatives of the Department of Defense concerning the Union’s defense requirements and that the Ambassador will communicate with the Department again in the light of the information which these discussions develop.” (745A.5/10–950)