320.2 AC/8–2751

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


Dear Mr. Secretary: The Joint Chiefs of Staff have formulated the following views regarding the draft position paper, Facilities, Rights and Related Assistance for United Nations Armed Forces,1 prepared by the State–Defense Working Group on United Nations Collective Measures.

From the context of the subject paper it would appear that the basic concept therein is that it would be in the interests of the collective security of the United Nations for Member States, among other things, now to inform the General Assembly, or an appropriate agency thereof, as to:

The bases, rights of passage, other facilities and related assistance they would be willing to make available in support of United Nations recommendations and actions for the use of armed force to maintain or restore international peace and security as well as the terms and conditions under which such assistance would be extended; and
The bilateral or multilateral agreements which they have or may enter into concerning such facilities or assistance.

On the basis of the foregoing, the draft position paper would appear to be primarily in the military field.

Political implications, however, cannot be divorced from the basic concept. Certain Member States, unable to offer substantial armed forces for the purposes of the Uniting for Peace Resolution, may, for national prestige, desire to make available, as their contributions thereto, facilities, rights of passage, and/or other assistance of related kinds.

The experience of the Korean war has graphically demonstrated the difficulties to be encountered in obtaining national armed force contributions from Member States for the purpose of resisting aggression. If, in the first instance, insistence is not placed on force contributions, certain Member States could be expected to seek to discharge wholly their obligations for collective action through proffers of bases or [Page 664]facilities. Furthermore, such offers may be influenced by individual national interests and by hope for capital improvement. In addition, the national motive behind such offers may be the desire on the part of a proffering nation to be absolved from existing treaty obligations with respect to the bases or facilities in question. In many instances this would be directly contrary to the security interests of the United States and/or its allies.

Inasmuch as the subject paper specifically states, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff agree, that strategic planning is not to be a function of any United Nations agencies established under the Uniting for Peace Program, it is doubtful if bases, facilities, etc. in limited numbers offered now by Member States would contribute directly to future United Nations military operations except when these are by chance in the proximity of the combat area.

If the responses by the Member States to the request of the General Assembly were so general as to constitute a world-wide system of bases, rights of passage, etc., the situation might be such that the United States would have to subject itself to higher strategic direction and control by the United Nations in order to obtain promptly the bases essential for the distant projection of United States military power in world war.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are unalterably opposed to any course of action, expressed or implied, leading to assumption by the United Nations of strategic direction and control in a world war. Such direction and control must, from the United States military point of view, be exercised by those few nations who make the major worldwide contribution of armed forces and national treasure and who hold the direct responsibility for the operation of those forces in winning the world war.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are unwilling at this time to recommend any proffer by the United States of its bases and facilities which are not directly connected with armed action in which the United States is presently engaged. During the period of the cold war the Joint Chiefs of Staff could not consider making available the principal operating bases from which the United States air and sea offensives would be launched in event of global war nor could they consider making available those bases and facilities required in the development, training, and deployment of United States military forces for such a war.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff would find serious objection, from the military point of view, to a full disclosure of the bilateral or multilateral arrangements which the United States may have with other countries concerning the use of bases and facilities. They are confident that many of their allies will have similar objections. In the interest of consistency as well as of national security, therefore, the [Page 665]United States should not propose that the General Assembly call on Member States for information regarding the bilateral or multilateral agreements which they have or may enter into concerning facilities or assistance.

In the light of all of the foregoing considerations and from the military point of view, the Joint Chiefs of Staff cannot concur in the subject paper in its present form as to facilities, rights and related assistance for United Nations armed forces. Instead, they recommend that the paper be revised to call merely for an affirmation in principle by Member States of their willingness to make available to the Executive Military Authority of the United Nations, in the event of the use of armed forces in repelling aggression under Uniting for Peace action, types of facilities, rights of passage, and other assistance of related kinds.

Faithfully yours,

G. C. Marshall
  1. Reference is to document WGCMC D–18c, June 19, 1951, not printed.