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

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Dear Mr. Secretary: In view of the world situation, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider it of military importance to use the occasion of the forthcoming Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics, scheduled to open in Washington on 26 March 1951, to press for the achievement of certain military objectives in Latin America. In this connection, the Joint Chiefs of Staff reaffirm the validity of the military measures and objectives outlined in both the Analysis and the Conclusions of NSC 56/2, “United States Policy Toward Inter-American Military Collaboration,” dated 18 May 1950.1 They consider, therefore, that those points should be pressed in general and in detail.

From the military point of view, action to achieve the following purposes appears to be particularly important at this time:

The acknowledgment by the American Republics of the necessity for self-help and mutual aid in preparation for meeting and defeating aggression. The principle that each nation has a moral obligation to prepare itself to contribute its full share to defense of the hemisphere should be emphasized. Likewise, the necessity for assisting neighbor republics through mutual aid should be stressed. Some of the forms of mutual aid contemplated are the use of military bases, the provision of strategic raw materials, assistance in the procurement of military equipment and the provision of military training facilities;
Approval by the several Latin American nations of the “Common Defense Scheme for the American Continent.” This scheme, adopted by the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), has as yet been approved only by the governments of the United States and Cuba;
Willingness on the part of the Latin American Republics to proceed urgently with additional military plans to assure effective collective hemisphere defense. Such plans would include statements of the strategic military objectives of the American States, of the roles and missions of the several states in meeting such objectives, and of the strategic military requirements of the several states as derived therefrom. The development of military assistance programs for Latin America, if they are to be both effective and economical, must be based upon a foundation of such objective military planning;
Acknowledgment of the necessity as a primary matter for using contingents of the armed forces of the several American Republics within the boundaries of the Western Hemisphere in order to maintain the security of the hemisphere. Its defense with Latin American forces [Page 1005] operating in Latin America should be regarded as the initial task for the Latin American nations. The machinery of the hemispheric regional organization should not be used to provide armed forces for service outside the region. Further, the Joint Chiefs of Staff would find serious military objection to the establishment, for the Western Hemisphere, of a military organization parallel or similar to that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, because such an organization would not be in consonance with the Joint Chiefs of Staff concept of operations in the Western Hemisphere and in fact would otherwise seriously interfere with the effective conduct of a global war;
Agreement that the several Latin American Governments will support actively the work of the IADB and will consider promptly the plans and recommendations of that body. In this connection, however, the Joint Chiefs of Staff would not acquiesce in any arrangement for the command participation of the IADB in western Hemisphere strategy or operations; and
Establishment of the principle of the maintenance of national armed forces tailored to meet the requirements of hemisphere defense. Such a principle is in direct contrast to the existing nationalism in Latin America which dictates a policy of military power balance in all arms vis-à-vis neighbors. Each nation should be encouraged to strengthen those military forces best adapted to the execution of the tasks which it accepts in the defense of the hemisphere.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff assume that the processes used in the subject conference relating to the approval, from the military point of view, of position papers or draft resolutions will follow the procedures already established in connection with other Meetings of Heads of State or with the Councils of Foreign Ministers.

I am in full accord with the preceding recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and urge that this Government take every advantage of the opportunity offered by the forthcoming Inter-American Meeting to secure their adoption by the other participating nations, as primary military objectives of the United States.

On the other hand, these present recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff do not, in my opinion, preclude a determined effort by this Government to awaken the Latin American nations to their responsibility to provide ground forces for service in Korea in the near future, as recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and set forth in my letter to you of 30 January 1951, to which your reply of 23 February 1951 refers.2 Such action in support of the United Nations will be consonant with the Program of United Nations Action to Stop Aggression, approved by the President as U.S. Governmental policy on September 16, 1950, following consideration in the National Security Council. Subparagraph (d) above postulates that the machinery of the Organization of American States, including the Inter-American [Page 1006] Defense Board, should not be used to provide armed forces for service outside the Western Hemisphere. Any steps in this connection should therefore be pursued by the United States in its capacity as executive agent for the United Nations in accordance with the Security Council resolutions of June 25, June 27 and July 7, 1950,3 rather than within the framework of the Inter-American System.

Faithfully yours,

G. C. Marshall
  1. For text of the National Security Council (NSC) document numbered NSC 56/2, adopted at the 57th meeting of the National Security Council, May 18, 1950, and approved by the President on May 19, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, p. 628.
  2. These letters are printed in volume vii.
  3. For text of these resolutions, see United Nations, Official Records of the Security Council, Fifth Year: Resolutions and Decisions of the Security Council, 1950, pp. 4 and 5; they are also printed in Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. vii, pp. 155, 211, and 329.