795B. 5/4–651

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Edgar L. McGinnis, Jr., of the Office of South American Affairs 1

confidential

[Subject:] Need for Peruvian Troops for the Unified Command in Korea2

[Participants:] Dr. Gallagher—Peruvian Foreign Minister
Señor Berckemeyer—Peruvian Ambassador
General Morla Concha3 —Chief of the General Staff of the Peruvian Army
Brigadier General Sibert4IADB
Major General Walsh5IADB
Mr. Miller—ARA
Mr. White—AR
Mr. McGinnis—OSA

Mr. Miller described the grave situation in Korea confronted by the Unified Command and the need for fresh ground troops to relieve those troops who have been in the lines since last summer. The Assistant Secretary told Dr. Gallagher that he had not intended to bring up this matter again since his visit to Lima early in March, but that General Marshall6 had specially requested the Department to discuss [Page 1590]it with the Foreign Ministers of certain of the other American republics because of the very serious need for additional troops in Korea. Mr. Miller added that he realized the delicacy of this matter with respect to Peru and did not ask for any comments from Dr. Gallagher.

Mr. Miller said that naturally the question of quantities arose when a possible contribution of troops on the part of Peru was to be considered. He said that it appeared that a combat regiment (4,000 or 5,000 troops) might be in line with Peru’s capabilities provided, of course, that that country felt that it were in a position to furnish troops. The Assistant Secretary added that the Unified Command was not in particular need of aircraft or naval contributions but that any offers of this type would nevertheless be considered. He emphasized the need for ground troops and said that the United States would supply any deficiencies in equipment for such troops. This would be done on a reimbursable basis, the amount as well as the terms of payment to be negotiated at some future time. The United States would also supply transportation, medical care, rations, etc.

Mr. Miller said that we were not in a position to furnish all of the equipment necessary and referred to the fact that our resources of military equipment were strained because of the drain to Indo China, Western Europe, for our own rearmament, etc.

Dr. Gallagher said that he was not surprised to hear Mr. Miller refer to this matter and that, while his Government was in agreement that Peru should contribute to the Unified Command in Korea, public opinion in Peru had to be prepared to accept the need of sending Peruvian troops outside the country. He indicated that he himself was convinced of the desirability as well as of the need of Peru to furnish military assistance to the Unified Command.

General Morla remarked that not only Peruvian public opinion but also opinion within the Peruvian military establishment would have to be “reoriented” in order to accept the idea of a Peruvian military contribution to the Unified Command. General Morla said that, since 1949, Peru had made a number of requests to purchase United States military equipment and that these requests had not yet been filled. While there were doubtless good reasons for this, the General said that it was difficult to convince Peruvian military leaders of the need for Peru to assist in Korea when the United States could not furnish basic training and other equipment to the Peruvian forces. The General emphasized the need for training equipment and referred to the fact that 46 percent of the Peruvian ground forces were Indians who required lengthy training and indoctrination.

Mr. Miller replied that the United States had doubtless made errors in the past but that we must look to the future. He said that present legislation only permitted us to make military equipment available against cash payments in advance. He said that he did not know what [Page 1591]legislation Congress might pass at this session respecting the sale of military equipment but that it was quite likely that it would require that the delivery of such equipment must be directly linked with the aid that a given country would be able to furnish in Korea.

General Sibert then said that he would be pleased to confer further with General Morla regarding the military aspects of this matter on Monday, and the two agreed to meet to discuss the matter on April 9.

In conclusion, Dr. Gallagher said that he would not return to Peru until April 20 but assured Mr. Miller that he would take up this matter with the President as soon as possible after his arrival there.

  1. Source text is unsigned copy attached to a memorandum from the Director of the Office of Regional American Affairs, Ivan B. White, to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, Livingston T. Merchant, April 12, 1951, not printed (795B.5/4–1251).
  2. For additional documentation on the efforts of the United States to secure offers from Latin American governments of troop participation in Korea, see pp. 985 ff.
  3. Manuel Morla Concha.
  4. Edwin L. Sibert, Director of the Staff, Inter-American Defense Board.
  5. Robert L. Walsh, Chairman, Joint Mexican-United States Defense Commission and member of the Inter-American Defense Board.
  6. George C. Marshall, Secretary of Defense.