Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Special Political Problems, Office of Regional American Affairs (Jamison)


Subject: Mutual Security Program, FY 1952—Latin America.

[Page 1025]
Participants: Assistant Secretary Miller
General Robert L. Walsh1 (USAF)
Major General John L. McKee2 (USA)
Rear Admiral Milton E. Miles3 (USN)
Lt. Col. Ralph A. Collins (USMC)
Capt. Jacob A. Lark (USN)
Col. Stuart M. Crawford (USA)
Col. Francis Hill (USA)
Col. James D. Alger (OSD)
Lt. Col. Craig Davis (OSD)
Col. Willis F. Lewis (USAF)
Lt. Col. Roderic D. O’Connor (USAF)
Col. Willis M. Smyser (USAF)
Col. John H. Anderson (USA)
Col. T. W. Sharkey4 (USA)
S/ISA—Mr. Bingham5
S/ISA—Mr. Schoenfeld
AR—Mr. Jamison

Mr. Miller opened the discussion by saying that it had occurred to him that the most effective utilization of the military grant-aid program funds appropriated by Congress for Latin America might be achieved by allocating the major share of the amount to Brazil. He emphasized that this was not a formal position of the State Department, but that he wished to explore the idea with those planning the program in Defense, since they were in possession of details on which he had not been informed and were, therefore, in a better position to consider the matter. He suggested that in view of the relatively small size of the appropriation, as well as the fact that it has become available so late in the Fiscal Year, there might be merit in concentrating on Brazil, particularly in view of the extensive discussions which had been held with General Goes Monteiro.

General Walsh, pointing out that he was only speaking for the Air Force, indicated that he had an open mind on the matter, and implied that there might be some room for allocation of a greater share of the funds to Brazil. In this connection, he mentioned that consideration was being given to the possible re-establishment of what he referred to as the “South Atlantic Group”, in which case there would be considerable chance that we would want to reopen bases in Brazil. In connection with this, it would be reasonable to expect Brazil to perform more air defense missions and, therefore, to have additional units of its air force assisted by us. He added that he felt that there was a strong possibility that we would be unable to obtain from Mexico the agreements necessary to carry out the program, thus leaving funds which it might prove desirable to use in assisting Brazil. Mr. Miller said that General Walsh’s comment on Mexico illustrated what he believed would be an important problem in dealing at this stage with a considerable number of the countries, i.e., that we would be unable to obtain the necessary agreements in the time available.

General McKee, speaking for the Army, said that it was also disposed to have an open mind on the subject, but that he did feel that there was considerable danger of incurring the resentment of a number of the countries if all of the funds were allocated to only one or two, and that this had been a consideration in the Army’s decision to recommend initiation of negotiations with several countries.

Admiral Miles said that his viewpoint was different from that of his two colleagues in that the Navy would like to get naval cooperation from as many countries as possible. He mentioned Argentina’s naval [Page 1026] role in the defense of the River Plate and the Straits of Magellan trade routes. He subsequently acknowledged that the naval program did not at present contemplate an allocation to Argentina, except for the possibility of its being included in on-the-spot training, requiring provision of training equipment. Admiral Miles also mentioned that of the ten and one-half million dollars tentatively allocated to the Navy, it was planned that two million would be used for training and that countries not now contemplated in the navy program for defense missions might be included in this training. He mentioned specifically training naval personnel by those countries in the use of certain types of modern naval equipment, which we alone could furnish.

Mr. Miller asked what proportion of the funds it was contemplated to allocate under the present plans to Brazil, and was told that the amount was something over thirteen million, or about ⅓ of the total amount available. He asked what specific tasks Brazil would be expected to perform and was told that on the Army side it was expected that the funds would be utilized to rehabilitate a regimental combat team and three anti-aircraft battalions. Mr. Miller then asked whether, if one of the other countries was unwilling to perform a task contemplated, funds would be available for additional tasks for Brazil. With reference to the inclusion of Argentina, which was referred to repeatedly, it seemed to be the consensus that the likely decision not to approach that country would leave funds available for allocation to additional Brazilian units, and that this might well prove to be the case with regard to Mexico as well.

(During this discussion, it became apparent that the present planning in Defense only goes to the point of determining types of armed force units within countries which can be made more effective with U.S. assistance to perform defense tasks, and that there has not been a determination of specific tasks which any given country will be expected to perform. Presumably, units brought up to standard efficiency will be available for the performance of such tasks as an emergency may call forth. It was also pointed out that all discussions with foreign governments regarding military assistance under the program is confined to end-items of equipment and other services and does not include any discussion in terms of dollars.)

There was no final determination and no statement of the position the State Department will finally take with regard to Defense’s proposals for countries with whom negotiations should be initiated, which proposals will soon be sent to State by Secretary Lovett. The Defense representatives indicated, however, that the determination to be contained in the letter from Secretary Lovett had been approved by the JCS and that there might be considerable difficulty in getting it reversed or altered in any significant way. It was agreed, however, that no time should be lost in reaching the necessary decisions, since implementation [Page 1027] of the program should proceed as rapidly as possible.

At one point in the discussion, question was raised as to whether equipment found to be necessary for distribution to the Latin American countries will be available, and it was indicated that the problem of obtaining the necessary priorities would be extremely tough to deal with, and that it might prove to be very difficult to obtain the priorities necessary to transfer even the relatively small amount of equipment which $38.15 million now authorized6 could be used to pay for.

  1. Chairman and Air Member, Joint Mexican-United States Defense Commission; and Chairman, United States Delegation to the Inter-American Defense Board.
  2. Army Member, Joint Mexican-United States Defense Commission; Delegate to the Inter-American Defense Board.
  3. Navy Member, Joint Mexican-United States Defense Commission; Delegate to the Inter-American Defense Board.
  4. Thomas W. Sharkey.
  5. Jonathan B. Bingham, Assistant Director, Non-European Affairs, Office of the Director, International Security Affairs.
  6. The Mutual Security Act of 1951 (Public Law 165), approved October 10, 1951, authorized $38,150,000 for the purpose of furnishing military grant aid to the other American Republics; for text of the act, see 65 Stat. 373. An appropriation for this amount was included in the Mutual Security Appropriation Act of 1952 (Public Law 249), approved October 31, 1951; for text, see 65 Stat. 731.