ISAC Files, Lot 53 D 4432

Paper Prepared in the Office of the Director of International Security Affairs for the International Security Affairs Committee3

top secret

Statement of Considerations Relevant to a Judgment Regarding the Initiation of a United States Grant Military Aid Program to the Latin American Republics in Fiscal Year 1952

i. problem

Do the security interests4 of the United States require legislative authorization and appropriations for the provision of grant military assistance to the Latin American Republics in Fiscal Year 1952?

ii. background

The problem under consideration has arisen urgently in connection with the formulation of the position which the United States will take at the meeting of the American Foreign Ministers in March 1951.5

[Page 986]

This task, in turn, involves the measures which this Government will take in furthering the implementation of Section C of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly entitled “Uniting for Peace”;6 the military obligations under the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance;7 and the preparation of Fiscal Year 1952 foreign aid legislation which the Executive Branch of this Government will submit to Congress in April 1951.

iii. discussion

A. Alternative Points of View

1. That it is in the interest of the United States to provide grant military assistance which it is considered that Latin American countries now need to increase their ability to fulfill their roles in hemisphere defense; and to furnish military units to be used outside of Latin America in support of collective action against aggression.

2. That the other requirements for available and potential United States military resources are such that it is not in the interest of the United States to initiate a program of grant military aid to Latin American countries in Fiscal Year 1952.

In a memorandum drafted on November 13, 1950 (see Tab A),8 the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs of the Department of State made the following recommendations:

“That the Agreement of the Department of Defense be sought to a request to Congress for legislative authorization to permit this Government to make available to governments of the other American Republics military training, equipment and supplies on a grant basis for units of their armed forces which they may decide, in conformity with Section C of the United Nations General Assembly Resolutions entitled ‘Uniting for Peace’, to maintain for possible service as United Nations units.”

The Secretary of Defense9 in a letter of January 10, 1951 (see Tab B),10 to the Secretary of State said:

“For fiscal year 1952, it is the judgment of the Department of Defense that military grant aid in an amount not to exceed $100,000,000 [Page 987] for Latin America should be included in the Mutual Defense Assistance legislation now being drawn up.”

Task Force VI of the Foreign Aid Steering Group,11 in a memorandum of February 6, 1951 (Tab C)12 to the Chairman of Task Force I of the FASG stated that:

“If the military aid for Latin America were handled as a separate title, it would probably not have any substantial effect in the balance of the program, even if considerable opposition to that part of the program developed.”

B. Summary of the Arguments for and against Grant Military Aid to Latin America in Fiscal Year 1952 (Note: Prepared in S/ISA as a guide for developing the issues on proposals for furnishing military aid on a grant basis to the Latin American countries).

1. For Grant Military Aid to Latin America:

In the light of the United States strategic interest in Latin America and the undesirability of diverting United States forces to this area in time of emergency, it is considered militarily sound to provide such military assistance to Latin American countries as may be required in order to enable them to discharge fully their respective roles and missions.
Under present legislation the United States is severely limited in its ability to assist the people and governments of the other American Republics in fulfilling the positive roles which many of them wish to take, and are potentially capable of taking, in the struggle of the free world against Communist aggression. This is in sharp contrast with the military assistance being given to governments in other areas of the world in the form of outright grants.
The present high degree of voting support which the 20 Latin American countries provide in support of United States policies and objectives in the United Nations and in the OAS is not sufficient; in addition, a much greater degree of practical and psychological support is needed from the governments and peoples of these countries.
Any steps which elicit more tangible Latin American contribution to coordinated action against aggression will (1) strengthen recognition by Latin American Governments of the indivisibility of defense against Communist aggression; (2) increase their willingness to make contributions; and (3) eliminate what they have considered a valid basis for their failure to participate more fully.
Grant military aid will increase among the people of Latin America a sense of responsibility which their governments have for participating in collective efforts, and thus increase the ability of these governments to contribute military forces to some form of a collective action, either within, or outside the hemisphere.
Contributions which each government makes will serve as a stimulus to other governments to make contributions.
The political recommendation for grant aid is based upon the assumptions:
that military grant aid will put the Latin American Governments in an improved position to contribute to coordinated action against aggression;
that this purpose will be fully accepted by governments receiving such aid; and
that those governments will commit themselves to making tangible contributions in accordance with an approved plan.
Finally, the adoption of the draft military resolution to be submitted to the forthcoming consultative meeting of the American Foreign Ministers will serve to clarify to public opinion throughout the Hemisphere the broad concept of Inter-American defense which the United States is anxious to promote.

2. Against Grant Military Aid to Latin America:

The geographic location and the political, religious and cultural orientation of Latin American countries toward the United States will cause them to cast their lot with us in the long run. We should, therefore, conserve military equipment now available or expected to be available in Fiscal Year 1952, as much as we can, as far as Latin America is concerned, and concentrate it where it is most immediately needed—to equip the people of Europe and the Far East who are threatened by or fighting against Communist aggression on their own ground in areas which are vital to the security of the United States.
In order to strengthen political unity, and to further effective use of the manpower resources of the free world, the United States has furnished equipment which certain United Nations members needed to participate in the United Nations action in Korea. This assistance has been furnished on a “pay if you can, if not settle up later” basis. Although several of the Latin American countries have indicated a willingness to participate in the Korean operation, the net results from all of them have not been outstanding. Accordingly, no amounts of aid which may be made available for such operations should be specifically earmarked for the Latin American countries until the relative merits of other claimants for such aid have been determined in the light of factors peculiar to the particular operations.
In addition to the larger considerations, the major serious disadvantages within Latin America of a grant military aid program are: (1) the propaganda against the substantive problem of United States hegemony, and its adverse effect on the will for self-help; (2) changes in the balance of power within the region; and (3) the dissipation of some undefined proportion of the aid [Page 989] for intra-hemisphere political reasons, rather than for the stated purposes.
It is a basic assumption implicit in both the military (Tab B) and the political (Tab A) recommendations for grant military aid that the resources of the Latin American countries are not sufficient to enable them to accomplish the mission which the United States desires them to accomplish. It does not necessarily follow from this assumption that grant military aid is the best method of achieving United States objectives in Latin America. If any form of grant aid is proven necessary to achieve these objectives, it is arguable that such aid should be furnished through the media of Point Four Assistance, Export-Import Bank loans, and MDAP offshore purchases. These methods may be expected to have the effect of freeing dollars for purchase of arms in the United States, raising the standard of living and so increasing internal security, fostering the further development of Latin America as a source of strategic materials, and improving transport and communication within the area. It should be noted in this connection that the military recommendation (Tab B) is confined to furthering hemisphere defense, without indicating whether this concept includes extra-hemisphere operations.

iv. considerations requiring elucidation by the department of defense

A. What is the present status of Inter-American defense planning, first, on an international basis, and, second, on a unilateral U.S. planing basis?

Has a strategic concept been developed, and, if so, what is it?
Has the strategic concept been translated into defense plans for all, or some parts of, the area, with objectives and missions stated and developed, and, if so, what are the salient features?
Have defense plans been converted into force requirements of a general or specific nature, first, for the area as a whole, and, second, for individual countries and, if so, what are these?

B. What is the military basis for the proposal that $100,000,000 is required to furnish military assistance to Latin America in FY 1952?

Is it based on equipment deficiencies developed from force requirements under defense plans of the character mentioned in 1 above, and, if so, to what extent will this $100,000,000 fill such deficiencies, generally, and by countries? If this is not the basis, what is the basis?
To what extent are the forces for which such assistance is intended now in being? To the extent that they are not now in being, have they been budgeted for and when will they be activated, or are there at least plans for their activation?
What proportion of the total assistance proposed is designed to provide spares, replacements, etc., to make operable U.S. equipment now in the hands of the intended recipients? What general types and quantities of such equipment are now on hand and in what countries? [Page 990] What proportion of the total assistance represents new capital equipment? What proportion represents training programs?
What is the present thinking as to the general breakdown as between countries and services of the $100,000,000 of assistance recommended?

C. What is the estimated total cost to the United States in future years, if any, of carrying forward the kind of program that would be initiated by the $100,000,000? Of implementing any defense plans which have been developed or are in process? In other words, is this a one-shot proposition, and if not, what is the general character, duration and magnitude of the commitment we are undertaking or visualize for the future?

D. To what extent, if any, will the provision of the assistance proposed interfere with the provision of assistance under other MDAP programs? From a military standpoint, and considered as of now, what priority should be accorded to any FY 1952 programs for Latin America in relation to MDAP programs for other areas? Given such a priority, and the general type of equipment to be provided, what is the best forecast as to when it would be possible to (a) make token deliveries, (b) make substantial deliveries, and (c) substantially complete the FY 1952 Latin American programs?

E. How long will it be, taking into account the time required to furnish assistance, any training required, and the present status and the potentialities of the various Latin American military establishments, to accomplish the objectives, as they are stated in answers to questions above, of the proposed military assistance program? In other words, when, as a practical matter, is it contemplated that such forces will be in a position to do each of the following: (a) discharge their roles under any Inter-American defense plans; (b) carry out specific missions of importance to Inter-American defense; (c) perform, in any global war, important tasks for which U.S. forces would otherwise be required; (d) contribute forces of substantial size and value for overseas operations in a global war; and (e) make significant contributions to any United Nations force?


The Secretary of Defense (Marshall) to the Secretary of State 13

top secret

Dear Mr. Secretary: It is the opinion of the Department of Defense that the Mutual Defense Assistance legislation for Fiscal Year 1952 [Page 991] should include a provision for a military grant aid program to Latin America.

The primary United States strategic military objective in Latin America is to establish an Inter-American defense structure which associates the military and strategic resources of the other American Republics with those of the United States and assures an increased production and delivery of essential strategic materials.

In the light of the United States strategic interests in Latin America and the undesirability of diverting United States forces to this area in time of emergency, it is considered militarily sound to provide such military assistance to Latin American countries as may be required in order to enable them to discharge fully their respective roles and missions.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are now preparing a hemisphere defense plan14 which, supported by bilateral agreements with the Latin American countries, would be the military basis for programming aid.

For Fiscal Year 1952, it is the judgment of the Department of Defense that Military grant aid in an amount not to exceed $100,000,000 for Latin America should be included in the Mutual Defense Assistance legislation now being drawn up.

If the Department of State is in substantial agreement with the foregoing, it is recommended that this matter be referred to the Foreign Aid Steering Group for inclusion in foreign aid legislation.

Faithfully yours,

G. C. Marshall
  1. Top secret records relating to the activities of the International Security Affairs Committee for the period February–October 1951, including action summaries, memoranda of meetings, minutes, and other papers, as maintained in the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State.
  2. The International Security Affairs Committee was an interdepartmental committee comprised of representatives from the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury, and the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA); it was charged with responsibility to conduct a continuing review and coordination of policy and programs relating to international security affairs and mutual defense assistance matters. The committee was chaired by Mr. Thomas D. Cabot, Director, International Security Affairs, a position established in the Department of State effective January 8, 1951. For additional information, see the editorial note in vol. i, p. 267, and the press release, dated January 4, 1951, in Department of State Bulletin, January 22, 1951, pp. 155–156.
  3. For documentation relating to the national security policy of the United States, see vol. i, pp. 1 ff.
  4. Reference is to the Fourth Meeting of Consultation of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of American States, held at Washington, March 26–April 7, 1951. Documentation concerning the meeting may be found on pp. 925 ff.
  5. Reference is to Resolution No. 377 (V) of the General Assembly of the United Nations, November 3, 1950. For text, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifth Session, Resolutions Adopted by the General Assembly during the period 19 September to 15 December 1950, Supplement No. 20 (A/1775), pp. 10–12.
  6. For text of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty), opened for signature at Rio de Janeiro, September 2, 1947, and entered into force for the United States, December 3, 1948, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1838, or 62 Stat. (pt. 2) 1681.
  7. The cited memorandum, drafted by Mr. Edward A. Jamison, Officer in Charge, Special Political Problems, Office of Regional American Affairs, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, p. 672. It indicates that the initiative for the development of a military grant aid program for Latin America was originally taken in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
  8. George O. Marshall.
  9. Printed as an annex to the source text.
  10. The Foreign Aid Steering Group (FASG), established in late 1950, was an interagency group comprised of representatives from the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury, the Economic Cooperation Administration (EGA), the Office of the Special Assistant to the President Averell W. Harriman, and the Bureau of the Budget. Representatives from other agencies sometimes attended the group’s meetings, which were held at the Department of State. The FASG was charged with the responsibility for developing a unified foreign assistance program. For additional documentation, see vol. i, pp. 266 ff.
  11. Not printed.
  12. A copy of this letter is also filed under Department of State decimal file number 720.5–MAP/1–1051.
  13. For previous documentation concerning United States policy with respect to hemisphere defense planning, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, pp. 599 ff.