The Acting Secretary of Defense (Foster) to the Secretary of State

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Dear Mr. Secretary: I am forwarding to you for your information a copy of my letter to the President dated 5 December 1951 regarding the Title IV Mutual Security Program. In this letter I have recommended that the President make a finding to the effect that United States defense plans establish a need for the participation in missions important to the defense of the Western Hemisphere of certain designated Latin American countries. I further recommended that because of this requirement, the President find that military assistance may be furnished these countries in accordance with the provisions of Section 401 of the Mutual Security Act of 1951. This letter was coordinated with your Department.

You will note that the list of countries and the forces each is to be requested to make available reflects the recommendation regarding Ecuador made by you in your letter to me dated 9 November 1951.1

[Page 1033]

Furthermore in addition to the tabulated countries and their force contributions, I have recommended to the President that Venezuela be included tentatively in the list of countries eligible to receive military grant aid. This action again reflects another of the recommendations contained in your letter referred to above. In the case of this latter country, I consider that every effort should be made to secure the full participation of Venezuela in the Mutual Security Program by means of reimbursable aid; however, if in the course of future conversations or negotiations it appears from a political point of view that Venezuela’s omission from the list of countries to receive military grant aid may threaten the defense and continued flow of Venezuela’s strategic materials, this consideration would be overriding. In such an event, the eligibility of Venezuela to receive grant aid will have been established in the finding by the President.

With further reference to your letter of 9 November 1951, I agree that Brazil should be granted a high priority if any reallocation of funds which may be required as a result of failure of one or more of the other governments to qualify for inclusion in this year’s program. However, the amount of military grant aid to be given to Brazil should be in consonance with Brazil’s willingness to accept hemisphere defense tasks, and also her ability to absorb efficiently and utilize effectively such materiel assistance. Further any reallocation of funds among the Latin American countries must be effected so as to insure the balanced progress of the total program.

On notification of the President’s action with reference to the recommended findings, I understand that you are prepared to issue the necessary instructions to the diplomatic missions in the countries to be approached with a view to ascertaining whether the governments of these countries are willing to enter upon negotiations for the conclusions of the required agreements.

Sincerely yours,

William C. Foster

The Secretary of Defense (Lovett) to the President

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Dear Mr. President: Section 401 of the Mutual Security Act of 1951 authorized the appropriation of $38,150,000 for the purpose of furnishing grant military assistance to the other American Republics. The Congress, in the Mutual Security Appropriation Act, 1952, made such an appropriation. However, the furnishing of such assistance is contingent upon compliance with the relevant general provisions of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949, as amended, and upon several [Page 1034] special provisions of the Mutual Security Act of 1951. Among the latter is this requirement: “That such assistance may be furnished only in accordance with defense plans which are found by the President to require the recipient country to participate in missions important to the defense of the Western Hemisphere.”

The Department of Defense has for a number of years been giving careful study to the roles which the various Latin American countries might play in support of Western Hemisphere defense. This study has resulted in the conclusion that in addition to maintaining the minimum armed forces required to preserve internal security (including the performance of such tasks as protection against enemy clandestine operations or raids; protection of sources, and of installations required in the production or distribution, of strategic materials; safeguarding vital lines of communication; and insuring the local security of bases and other military installations), selected Latin American countries could, provided that they were furnished adequate equipment and training, supply forces capable of executing certain specific and essential common defense missions within this hemisphere. These missions, if not performed by the selected countries, would necessitate the diversion of substantial United States forces to the area in time of war. The specific missions are based on a current United States war plan, but the general concept of this plan is in consonance with the Common Defense Scheme which was prepared multilaterally by the Inter-American Defense Board and will also be reflected in the defense plan currently being developed by the Board. Ten Latin American governments and the United States have approved the Common Defense Scheme and formal approval of this document, or of the defense plan, by each of the proposed countries will be a prerequisite to receipt of military grant aid under this Program.

In accordance with the war plan, each of the Latin American countries concerned will be asked to provide specific forces to perform hemisphere defense missions. These forces will generally be employed extra-territorially and the details regarding the units to be provided by each country will be contained in the military understandings which, together with the bilateral agreements required by the Mutual Security Act of 1951, will be negotiated with each country. It is considered highly desirable from a military standpoint that the several Latin American governments indicated in Tab (A), provided they can be assisted by adequate military grant aid, make forces of the general types and sizes shown available for the performance of hemisphere defense missions in accordance with the war plan.

In advance of negotiations, it is of course not possible to know within any accuracy the extent to which individual governments are prepared to agree to provide specific forces of the types indicated to [Page 1035] perform hemisphere defense missions. Consequently, the details with respect to the precise units which would be furnished by each country will need to be negotiated with each government and incorporated in the military understanding.

The Department of Defense has therefore recommended that the several governments indicated in Tab (A) be approached and that, upon agreement between the United States and the Latin American nations concerned, programs be initiated to supply grant military assistance for the purpose of supporting the forces to be provided by each. The Department of Defense has further recommended that in the event that satisfactory agreements cannot be concluded with one of the nations, the following course of action be followed:

In the case of army forces, one of the other countries shown on the list would be asked to provide the additional forces required. The decision as to which nation to substitute would depend on the type of forces to be furnished.
In the case of navy forces, one of the other nations listed would be asked to supply the deficiency.
In the case of air forces, the following countries, in the order of priority indicated, would be approached: (a) Argentina; (b) Dominican Republic; and (c) Bolivia.

In requesting the concurrence of the Secretary of State from a political standpoint in the foregoing list of proposed recipient nations, I pointed out that the decision to include Argentina in the Mutual Security Program was made only after an extensive study and was based primarily on military considerations. I further indicated that in view of the current political situation in Argentina, the Secretary of State might wish to delay negotiations with that country until a more appropriate time.

The Secretary of State has concurred in the foregoing proposals with respect to the countries to be approached subject, however, to a specific recommendation with regard to including Venezuela as a recipient of grant aid.

Venezuela was not included in the original list because, in the course of military staff conversations earlier this year, Venezuelan military authorities stated that the Venezuelan government would purchase any of the equipment which might be required for its defense forces. The Secretary of State has recommended that Venezuela be included tentatively in the list of countries proposed as recipients of grant aid pending verification of the ability and willingness of the Venezuelan government to pay its own way in procuring the equipment required by those forces which it should support in order to carry out vital hemisphere defense missions. In order to secure the continued flow of strategic materials to the United States and in view of the possibility [Page 1036] that political considerations may become overriding as a result of future conversations, I concur in the recommendation of the Secretary of State to include Venezuela tentatively in the list of countries eligible to receive military grant aid.

The Secretary of State in addition to making the above recommendation, agreed that the political situation in Argentina was currently of such a nature that negotiations with that country on this subject should be delayed until a more appropriate time.

In view of the importance of proceeding to implement the aforementioned plans and our desire to initiate diplomatic-military negotiations with the proposed recipient governments at the earliest practicable date, it is recommended that you now make a finding to the effect that United States defense plans establish a need for the participation in missions important to the defense of the Western Hemisphere of the proposed recipient countries indicated in Tab (A), with the addition of Venezuela tentatively. It is further recommended that you find that, because of the above, military assistance may be furnished these countries in accordance with the provisions of Section 401 of the Mutual Security Act of 1951.

The Department of State concurs in this recommendation, and I am transmitting this letter through the Director for Mutual Security2 so that he may indicate his concurrence or comments. In the event that you make the finding recommended, it is proposed immediately to approach the several countries indicated (with the exception, for the reasons hereinabove set forth, of Argentina and possibly Venezuela) with a view to initiating negotiations.

With great respect, I am

Faithfully yours,

Robert A. Lovett
[Page 1037]
[Tab A]

The Department of Defense list of countries and the forces which each is expected to contribute (with the support of military grant aid) is indicated below:

Country Army Navy Air Force
Argentina 2 AAA Gun Bns.
Brazil RCT w/Sv Spt.
1 AAA Gun Bn.
2 Light Cruisers
5 Destroyers
8 Patrol Craft
5 Mine Craft
2 Ren. Sqdns. (Air)
3 Fighter Sqdns.
4 Light Bomb. Sqdns.
Chile 1 Ren. Bn. 2 Light Cruisers
13 Patrol Craft
1 Fighter Sqdn.
2 Light Bomb. Sqdns.
Colombia 1 AAA AW Bn. 4 Patrol Craft 1 Fighter Sqdn.
1 Light Bomb. Sqdn.
Cuba 1 Transport Sqdn.
1 Light Bomb. Sqdn.
Ecuador 1 AAA AW Bn. 1 Fighter Sqdn.
1 Light Bomb. Sqdn.
Mexico 1 AAA Gun Bn. 1 Fighter Sqdn.
1 Light Bomb. Sqdn.
Peru 1 AAA AW Bn. 6 Patrol Craft 2 Fighter Sqdns.
1 Light Bomb. Sqdn.
Uruguay 1 AAA AW Bn. 2 Patrol Craft
1 Ren. Sqdn. (Air)
1 Fighter Sqdn.
1 Light Bomb. Sqdn.
Air Force Alternate countries:
Dominican Republic3

  1. Ante, p. 1027.
  2. W. Averell Harriman assumed the office of Director for Mutual Security on October 31, 1951.
  3. For documentation pertaining to the effort of the Department of State to have the Department of Defense upgrade the priority assigned to the Dominican Republic vis-a-vis the military grant aid program for Latin America, see pp. 1367 ff.