S/PNSC Files, Lot 61 D 167

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

top secret

Subject: Fifth 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 September 6, 1951 be circulated to the members of the Council for their information.

1. As a result of unanimous acceptance by the Fourth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the principle of collective defense, and a directive (Resolution III) to the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) to prepare a plan for the common defense of the hemisphere for the consideration and decision of the governments, the Staff of the IADB has completed a “General Military Plan for the Defense of the American Continent” and presented it to the Council of Delegates who will submit their comments by October 15, 1951. There has been close consultation on this plan between representatives of the U.S. Delegation to the IADB and officers of the Department of State.

2. The Departments of Defense and State have approved in substance an initial “Agreement Document” resulting from joint discussions held at Quarry Heights, March 19–23, 1951, between the Commander-in-Chief, Caribbean, and the Chief of Staff of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, concerning the security of vital installations in Venezuela. The Document lists requirements for military supplies and equipment which were presented unilaterally by the Venezuelan representatives. Since, under current priorities, other U.S. commitments for military supplies and equipment take precedence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff desire further conversations, including a detailed joint survey of the requirements, before making any decision to award Venezuela an equipment priority which would permit furnishing the items requested. Venezuela has agreed to bear the entire cost of any equipment found needed.

3. Agreement has been reached with the Cuban Government for the establishment of a U.S. Army and Navy Mission in Cuba. The establishment of these Missions, in addition to the Air Mission, which was authorized in December 1950, was part of a series of recommendations made by a Joint U.S. Military Survey Team requested by the President of Cuba to study Cuba’s defense needs. Negotiations are in progress with the Uruguayan Government to conclude an agreement for the establishment of a U.S. Air Force Mission in Uruguay.2 The [Page 1022] Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Nicaragua remain the only Latin American countries, in which there is at present no U.S. service mission.

4. Authorization for an appropriation for grant military aid to Latin America, included in the general Mutual Security Bill, has been approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House version included a sum not to exceed $40 million for this purpose, while the measure as approved by the Senate authorized $38,150,000. The grant aid is to be used to assist those Latin American governments who will agree to undertake specific hemispheric defense roles, for which otherwise the U.S. would have to provide forces. Agreement has been reached between the State and Defense Departments on the general procedures which would be followed in negotiating agreements with these governments, once an authorization for military grant aid has been given, and the necessary appropriation made.

5. Because of the high costs of available equipment and the low priority assigned to Latin America for its allocation, the U.S. is at the present time unable to provide Latin American nations with many major items of new equipment or spare parts and maintenance items necessary for equipment previously received from the U.S. As a result, several of these countries are now seeking fulfillment of their needs from European sources, including sources behind the Iron Curtain. The acquisition of such European types of equipment is likely to conflict with the long-range objectives, outlined in NSC 56/2, for standardizing Latin American training, equipment and doctrine along U.S. lines. The Departments of State and Defense are presently reviewing this problem.

James E. Webb
  1. Drafted by Mr. Mackay.
  2. The agreement was signed at Washington on December 4, 1951; it entered into force on the same date. For text of the agreement, see TIAS No. 2369, or 2 UST (pt. 2) 2517.