The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (Lovett)1


Dear Mr. Secretary: Reference is made to Acting Secretary Webb’s letter to you of November 9, 19512 in which he expressed the approval of this Department of the list of Latin American countries to be submitted to the President for the negotiation of military grant aid agreements pursuant to section 401 of the Mutual Security Act of 1951.3

Although the Dominican Republic is included in the program as a second alternate for preparation of an air force unit, it is not included in the list of countries to be approached initially concerning military grant aid agreements, despite the Department of State’s understanding that the Dominican Republic is regarded by the Department of Defense to have military potential to contribute to hemisphere defense. It is anticipated that this omission, if not counteracted in timely fashion, will be regarded by the Dominican Republic as an act of discrimination against it, particularly since Cuba, with which country the Dominican Republic’s relations are currently strained, is one of those countries with which it is contemplated that such an agreement will be negotiated in the first instance. Such an adverse reaction on the part of the Dominican Republic might diminish its willingness to cooperate with us in activities of mutual defense and, specifically, in implementation of the recently signed agreement with regard to the use of Dominican territory for testing guided missiles.

It is accordingly suggested that the Department of Defense, without altering the determination regarding the negotiations with prospective Latin American recipients of military grant aid during fiscal year 1952, give consideration to the possibility of negotiating in the first instance rather than alternatively with the Dominican Republic regarding participation in any program for military grant aid in furtherance of hemisphere defense during fiscal year 1953 and subsequent years.

Furthermore, it is believed that immediate attention should be given to the desirability of making a general approach regarding military [Page 1390] cooperation for hemisphere defense to the Dominican Republic at approximately the same time that negotiations for military grant aid are being initiated with other Latin American countries. To this end, I believe it would be helpful for Ambassador Ackerman to be authorized to discuss this matter with appropriate Dominican officials along the following lines:

The Dominican Republic constitutes in our view an important potential element in hemisphere defense, and we are giving careful consideration to the contribution which it might be requested to agree to make in accordance with common defense plans.
Since the United States has in recent years had no armed service mission in the Dominican Republic, it has not been in the same advantageous position to survey and assess the value of Dominican armed forces and facilities as in the case of those countries with which negotiations are now being conducted for military grant aid agreements. The United States Government would welcome any suggestions from the Dominican Government as to the best way to make this survey and assessment.
In the meantime, an effort will be made, within the existing critical supply situation and to the extent compatible with United States defense requirements, to comply with requests of the Dominican Republic for the purchase of equipment or material which would help to put the Dominican armed forces in readiness for a role in hemisphere defense.
Consideration is being given to possible ways in which Dominican arms production facilities might be used in a collective defense effort.

The Department would like to point out that discussions by Ambassador Ackerman along the foregoing line should facilitate any negotiations which it might subsequently be desired to undertake with the Dominican Government in connection with the military grant-aid program, and the failure to hold discussions of this general nature with the Dominican Government while initiating negotiations with other countries, particularly Cuba, would probably be prejudicial to the success of any subsequent approach to the Dominican Government for negotiation of a Military Assistance Agreement.

The Department would appreciate receiving the views of the Department of Defense at the earliest opportunity4 in order that appropriate instructions may be sent to Ambassador Ackerman.

Sincerely yours,

For the Secretary of State:
H. Freeman Matthews

Deputy Under Secretary
  1. This letter was originally drafted on December 11, 1951, by the Officer in Charge of Special Political Problems, Office of Regional American Affairs (Jamison) and Mr. Hauch; it was redrafted on December 18, by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mann) and the Acting Officer in Charge of Caribbean Affairs, Office of Middle American Affairs (Wellman). Assistant Secretary Miller concurred in the redraft
  2. Ante, p. 1027.
  3. For text of the Mutual Security Act (Public Law 165) approved October 10, 1951, see 65 Stat. 373.
  4. No response was received from the Department of Defense in 1951.