S/PNSC Files, Lot 61 D 167

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

top secret

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

NSC 56/2 was approved as governmental policy on May 19, 1950. It is requested that this Progress Report as of June 1, 1951 be circulated to the members of the Council for their information.

[Page 1014]

1. The Fourth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs which met in Washington on March 26 to April 6, 1951, took constructive action toward the development of inter-American policy towards military collaboration in a number of respects. On the basis of full cooperation between the Departments of Defense and State, the United States, as co-sponsor with certain other governments, proposed three draft resolutions, which with relatively minor changes, were unanimously approved as Resolutions II (Preparation of the Defense of the American Republics and Support of the Action of the United Nations), III (Inter-American Military Cooperation), and IV (Importance of Maintaining Peaceful Relations Among American States) of the Final Act of the Meeting.2 The following are regarded as the principal positive results:

A recommendation (Resolution III) that the American Republics orient their military preparation so that through self-help and mutual aid they can (1) increase those resources and strengthen those armed forces best adapted to the collective defense and maintain those armed forces in such status that they can be immediately available for the defense of the continent, and (2) cooperate to develop the collective strength necessary to combat aggression against any of them. This for the first time provides an inter-American policy basis for directing the development of military strength toward collective defense of the Continent, with military forces utilized in the performance of specific roles and missions which will contribute to the common defense.
A directive to the Inter-American Defense Board (Resolution III) to prepare vigorously and keep up to date the military planning of the common defense and to submit plans formulated to the governments for consideration and decision. Emphasis was placed upon the importance of Delegations to the Board maintaining close liaison and consultation with their governments regarding the work of the Board.
A recommendation (Resolution III) that the Governments (1) maintain adequate and continuous representation not only on the Council of Delegates of the IADB but on the Staff and any other organ which the Board may establish, (2) actively support the work of the Board and consider promptly the results of its work, and (3) cooperate in organizing within the Board a coordinated system of exchange of appropriate information. Items (b) and (c) should contribute to improved recognition of the functions of the IADB, to more firm backing by the Governments, and improvement in its ability to carry out its functions.
A declaration (Resolution II) that (1) the present world situation requires positive support by the American Republics for achievement of the collective defense of the Continent through the OAS, as well as for cooperation in the United Nations, and (2) a recommendation (Resolution II) that, in accordance with the concepts of the UN General Assembly’s “Uniting for Peace” Resolution, each government immediately examine its resources and determine what it can contribute to defense of the continent and United Nations collective security efforts, particular attention being given to the development and [Page 1015] maintenance of elements of its armed forces which could promptly be made available for those purposes.
A declaration (Resolution IV) that observance of inter-American commitments on non-intervention and peaceful settlement of disputes among the American Republics makes it possible for each to concentrate the development of its capabilities upon the tasks best adapted to the role it is best qualified to assume in collective defense.

The resolution entitled “Inter-American Military Cooperation” (Resolution III) is tied closely at several points to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance. The resolution contained qualifications intended to indicate clearly that the development and possible use of military strength for common defense shall be (1) in conformity with constitutional processes, (2) in accordance with the countries’ own judgements of their capabilities, (3) without prejudice to individual self-defense and internal security.

The Resolutions approved in the economic field which have an important bearing on the objectives and conclusions of NSC 56/2 were those on “Economic Development” (Resolution XII), on “Increase of Production and Processing of Basic and Strategic Materials”, (Resolution XIII), and on “Defense and Security Controls” (Resolution XV). Also pertinent to the objectives and conclusions of NSC 56/2 was the Resolution entitled “Strengthening of Internal Security” (Resolution VIII).

2. Advantage was taken of the presence of high level political and military officials of various governments at the Foreign Ministers Conference to hold bi-lateral conversations between officials of the U.S. and representatives of Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Uruguay and Chile. Although considerable emphasis was placed upon the importance of ground force contributions to Korea, those meetings also served to more fully acquaint these governmental officials with the principles and objectives of collective continental defense in accordance with the concepts of NSC 56/2.

3. At the instigation of the U.S. Delegation, the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) has taken the first step toward assuming the new responsibilities assigned that body under Resolution III of the Fourth Meeting of Consultation noted above. By motion passed on May 17, the Board directed its Staff to proceed with the preparation of adequate plans for the common defense of the hemisphere. Those plans are to be based on the broad, general principles enunciated in the “Common Defense Scheme for the American Continent.” In the remarks preceding the introduction of this motion, the U.S. Delegation indicated that if the motion were passed, it proposed to make its views on these plans known to the Staff and hoped that the other delegations would do likewise. It is considered that this procedure will enable the U.S. Delegation more effectively to utilize the multilateral procedures [Page 1016] of the IADB in attaining the objectives of NSC 56/2 inasmuch as the Staff is under the direction of a general officer of the U.S. Army.3

4. In the period since the Third Progress Report,4 the Inter-American Defense Board has been officially informed of the approval of the Common Defense Scheme for the American Continent of the governments of Colombia, Paraguay, Venezuela, Guatemala and Ecuador. Since the governments of Chile, Cuba, the Dominician Republic, Haiti and the U.S. had previously given such notice, this brings to ten the number of governments which have so approved.

5. As a result of the planning talks held at Quarry Heights from March 19–23, 1951 agreement was reached between the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Venezuela and the U.S. Commander-in-Chief, Caribbean, outlining the general area of mutual interest in protection of the oil industry and other strategic materials in Venezuela against external aggression and internal sabotage. The general areas of vulnerability and desirable security measures were outlined. The foregoing agreement signed ad referendum was submitted to the two governments for approval and is currently being studied by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

James E. Webb
  1. Drafted by Mr. Jamison.
  2. For text of the Final Act, signed April 7, 1951, see Proceedings, pp. 234–267.
  3. Brig. Gen. Edwin L. Sibert.
  4. Supra.