PPS Files, Lot 64 D 563

Memorandum for the Record of State-Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting Held in the Pentagon Building, March 15, 1951, 11 a. m.1

top secret


  • General Bradley2
  • General Collins3
  • Admiral Sherman4
  • General Vandenberg5
  • General Bolte6
  • General White7
  • Admiral Wooldridge
  • Admiral Lalor8
  • Colonel Cams9
  • Mr. Matthews
  • Mr. Nitze
  • Mr. Perkins10
  • Mr. Ferguson
  • Mr. Marshall11
  • Mr. Tufts
  • Mr. Lay12

[Here follows discussion of the United States position should a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers occur, and of problems relating to Germany.]

Mr. Nitze said that State has been considering a proposal for a continuing census and verification of all armaments. State did not believe [Page 464]that the Soviets could accept this and that it would probably be advantageous to us if they did. If we could advance such a proposal, we could build the rest of our program for a peaceful settlement around this. Admiral Sherman asked whether the proposal related to the census and verification of all armed forces and armaments or was restricted to those in Central Europe. Mr. Nitze said we had been considering the former. Admiral Sherman suggested that another possibility was a census and inspection of Central Europe—of the countries that have, in effect, been occupied countries. He expressed some concern over a universal census and recalled our previous experience in China when the number of troops we had stationed in Tsingtao at the time of a census became a virtual ceiling beyond which we could not increase. General Bradley also saw some dangers in this proposal, largely because of the difficulties inherent in inspecting the Soviet Union and particularly Soviet atomic energy stockpiles. Mr. Nitze reviewed briefly the technical possibility of determining how much fissionable material had been produced by examination of the production facility and of requiring an accounting for the total output thus calculated.

7. General Collins suggested that it might be wise to put forward a proposal which we were quite sure the Soviets could not accept in order to establish a good political position, provided this proposal would be acceptable to us—though not perhaps greatly to our advantage, in the event the Soviets did accept it. Mr. Nitze thought an armaments proposal might provide the foundation on which we could positively support German unification and the solution of other troublesome issues. Admiral Sherman felt that we should take the firm position that the German problem is one which cannot be considered in isolation from the whole European problem. It was agreed that a State-Joint Chiefs of Staff group should be established to consider what kind of an inspection and verification system we would require and could permit. It was also agreed that this group should make recommendations on how data on the existing level of armaments could best be presented in its relation to causes of present tensions. (The terms of reference and composition of the group are indicated in Annex A to this memorandum.)13

[Here follows discussion on aspects of a possible settlement with the Soviet Union in Europe, and on the situation in Korea.]

  1. For information on the nature of the State–JCS meetings, see footnote 1, p. 33.
  2. General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  3. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.
  4. Adm. Forrest P. Sherman, Chief of Naval Operations.
  5. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force.
  6. Lt. Gen. C. L. Bolte, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, U.S. Army.
  7. Maj. Gen. Thomas D. White, Director of Plans, Headquarters, U.S. Air Force.
  8. Rear Adm. William G. Lalor, U.S. Navy (ret.), Secretary, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  9. Col. Edwin H. J. Cams, Deputy Secretary, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  10. George W. Perkins, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs.
  11. Charles Burton Marshall, Member of the Policy Planning Staff.
  12. James S. Lay, Jr., Executive Secretary of the National Security Council.
  13. No annexes accompany the source text, but for the terms of reference and composition of the working group, see memorandum by Tufts and Lalor, March 17, infra.