Memorandum by the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Matthews) to the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Lay)1

top secret

Subject: Third Progress Report on NSC 56/2, “United States Policy Toward Inter-American Military Collaboration”.3

NSC 56/2 was approved as governmental policy on May 19, 1950. It is requested that this Progress Report as of March 23, 1951 be circulated to the members of the Council for their information.

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1. There has been continued collaboration among the Departments of State, Defense, Army, Navy and Air Force in the execution of the policy and procedures set forth in this paper. In this connection, the Secretary of Defense has designated the U.S. Delegation to the Inter-American Defense Board to represent the Department of Defense and the three services in advising the Department of State in the coordination of the implementation of the policies set forth in NSC 56/2.

2. With the concurrence of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense has designated the Chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the Inter-American Defense Board as the principal military advisor to the U.S. Representative on the Council of the Organization of American States.

3. The Hemisphere Defense Scheme called for in NSC 56/2 has been approved by the Inter-American Defense Board and submitted to the governments of the member states of the Organization of American States for their approval. The Governments of Chile, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the United States have formally indicated their approval of the Defense scheme. In addition, the Governments of Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Peru and Paraguay informally have indicated to our missions that they approve the Defense Scheme. The Department of State is taking action to encourage the expeditious approval of the Defense Scheme by the remaining governments.

4. A United States proposal for action by the Meeting of American Foreign Ministers, which starts on March 26, to further accomplishment of the objectives contained in NSC 56/2, particularly those deemed of immediate importance, has been prepared. Advantage will be taken of the presence in Washington of the Foreign Ministers and their military advisors to lay the groundwork for subsequent bilateral negotiations on the defense roles of certain countries. Progress achieved in either or both of these aspects will be the subject of a subsequent Report being prepared.

5. The Departments of State and Defense have agreed to support before the Congress the inclusion in the proposed foreign aid legislation for the fiscal year 1952 of a sum not to exceed $80 million in support of military grant aid for Latin America to assist certain governments in Latin America to undertake specific defense roles, on the basis of prior agreement, and to assure the maximum practical availability of the armed forces of these governments in the event of global war. Representatives of the Department of State and the Department of Defense have agreed that, although NSC 56/2 prescribes a chronological sequence of steps to be taken, some of these actions necessitate concurrent action to save time.

6. Planning talks between representatives of the Governments of the U.S. and Venezuela concerning the security of vital installations [Page 1013] in Venezuela were begun in the Panama Canal Zone on March 19, 1951.4 The results of these planning talks will be the subject of a subsequent report.

7. The report of the Joint U.S. Military Survey Team, requested by the President of Cuba to study Cuba’s defense needs, was completed and submitted to the Cuban Government. The Cuban Government has accepted the recommendations and has initiated discussions with a view to implementing certain of them. In this connection, an agreement was signed on December 22, 1950 with Cuba,5 establishing in Cuba a U.S. Air Force Mission under the supervision of the Commanding General, Caribbean Air Command.6 The Cuban Government has also requested the establishment of a U.S. Army and Navy Mission, and has approved draft contracts which have been submitted, subject to minor modifications.7

8. The U.S. Government has sold two light cruisers each to the Governments of Argentine, Brazil and Chile under the provisions of Section 408 (e) of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949, as amended. This is the first significant transfer of excess military equipment to Latin America under this Act as amended.8

9. The Inter-American Defense Board has prepared and forwarded to the Governments of the nations of the Western Hemisphere a study9 of the defense of inter-American maritime routes. On the basis of the reactions from the military authorities of the various Governments, this study will serve as the foundation for a plan for the employment of forces of the Western Hemisphere to protect the delivery of strategic raw materials from Latin America to the United States.

  1. Drafted by Duncan A. D. Mackay of the Office of Regional American Affairs; cleared by the Offices of South American Affairs and Middle American Affairs, and in draft by the Office of the Director, International Security Affairs.
  2. Drafting of this document began prior to the opening of the Fourth Meeting’ of Consultation, but all necessary clearances were not obtained until after the meeting had adjourned.
  3. Dated May 18, 1950; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, p. 628.
  4. For documentation concerning these talks, see pp. 1623 ff.
  5. For text of the agreement providing for the services of a United States Air Force Mission to Cuba, signed at Washington, December 22, 1950, and entered into force on the same date, see TIAS No. 2166, or United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST), vol. 1, p. 887.
  6. Brig. Gen. Emil C. Kiel.
  7. For documentation on this subject, see pp. 1329 ff.
  8. For documentation on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, pp. 599 ff.
  9. Not found in Department of State files.