The Deputy Under Secretary of State (Matthews) to the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Burns)


My Dear General Burns: The Department of State has been informed by Brigadier General Edwin L. Sibert1 of the United States Delegation, Inter-American Defense Board,2 that the Argentine and Chilean Delegations have indicated their intention of bringing up the subject of preparation of defense plans for a portion of Antarctica. The Department of State has prepared a United States position for use by the Delegation in discussion of the subject. This position is set forth in the memorandum of Mr. C. R. Burrows3 of the Department of State to General Sibert, a copy of which is attached.4

As the basis for a more definite position with respect to this matter, the Department of State considers that an estimate by the Defense Department of the importance of the area to the defense of the United States and the Western Hemisphere, and the extent of the need for multilateral planning concerning such defense, would be helpful. It has been assumed that the previous estimate, contained in the letter of the Secretary of Defense dated April 12, 1948 to the Secretary of State,5 still applies.

It is possible that the defense of the Antarctic might be related to the importance of nearby areas such as the Falkland Islands. For this reason, it would be helpful to have a separate determination of the [Page 1732] extent to which such areas should figure in the defense plans of the hemisphere. In the case of these areas as well as of the Antarctic, United Kingdom interests would be concerned.

Very sincerely yours,

H. Freeman Matthews
  1. Brig. Gen. Edwin L. Sibert, U.S. Army, Director of the Staff, Inter-American Defense Board.
  2. For documentation relating to the Inter-American Defense Board, see vol. ii. pp. 985 ff.
  3. Charles R. Burrows, Deputy Director, Office of Regional American Affairs.
  4. The memorandum from Burrows to Sibert, dated July 23, is not attached to the source text.
  5. For the text of the letter from James V. Forrestal to Secretary of State George C. Marshall, April 12, 1948, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. i, Part 2, p. 971.