Caracas Embassy Files, Lot 64 F 14, “400–Defense Talks US & Ven, 1950–1952”1

The Acting Secretary of Defense ( Lovett ) to the Ambassador in Venezuela ( Armour )

top secret

Dear Norman: The Department of Defense is cognizant of the problems stated in your letter of 31 August 1951. The Departments of State and Defense have been endeavoring to clarify the issues and to make available for purchase by the Government of Venezuela, with earliest possible delivery, the military materiel essential to the security of that country. Your frank statement of the situation will certainly be helpful to me in the further development of military assistance to Venezuela.

The Republic of Venezuela has submitted a number of requests for procurement of various types of Army, Navy and Air Force equipment, under the reimbursable aid provisions of Section 408(e) of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949, as amended. The status of these requests are outlined for you in the inclosure.2

Information concerning most of the materiel requested has been made available to the Venezuelan Government in various pricing and availability studies. The total value of the requests covered by these studies is approximately $10 million, including accessorial charges. Firm orders have been received from the Venezuelan Government for less than $0.5 million worth of materiel. The availability of the items concerned in these studies varies from ninety days after date of deposit of funds through Fiscal Year 1953.

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Contracts for spare parts for the F–47D and B–25 aircraft and the bomb-sight servicing equipment were signed 16–24 May 1951 by Colonel Calderon. Shipments began 25 August 1951. Consistent flow should follow with volume dependent upon status of spare parts, i.e., whether from stock or procurement. Original time estimates were for 90–120 days for stock items and longer for procurement.

Information in my office indicates that the three destroyers to be built in England are the result of negotiations begun almost two years ago. Full catalog price of new U.S. destroyer-type vessels varied at that time from $20,500,000 each for new types to $7,500,000 for the DE type built during the last war. The destroyers being built in Britain are estimated to be costing $5 million each. It would appear, therefore, that the matter of price was the controlling consideration in this case.

The agreement reached in conference at Quarry Heights, Canal Zone during the period 19–23 March 1951, with certain changes made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provides the basis for further close collaboration and planning with the Venezuelan military authorities. The requirements enumerated therein are not to be construed as a commitment by the United States Government to furnish such equipment and assistance. The purpose of this reservation does not question the need for equipment assistance from the United States, but rather points out the fact that the United States must balance Venezuelan equipment requests against the equipment demands for U.N. forces in Korea, the expansion of the United States Armed Forces, and other foreign commitments. It is considered that further military conversations in Caracas and an on-the-spot joint United States-Venezuelan survey of the entire security problem may be needed to permit an accurate assessment of the implications of the total Venezuelan requirement.

The following brief résumé shows the status of requests for the materiel indicated in the Panama Agreement Document under “Assistance Required from the U.S.”:

(1) Army

No formal requests for pricing and availability have been received from the Venezuelan Government for the additional transportation and communication equipment, gas masks and riot-type chemical ammunition; prefabricated structures similar to quonset huts, firefighting equipment and anti-aircraft equipment. Formal requests for pricing and availability have been received as indicated in the status report for Cases 8, 9 and 11.

(2) Navy

The assistance required is couched in the broadest of terms. No requests have been received from the Venezuelan Government for any of the materiel listed. Specifications and details should be furnished. Assistance in the form of advice and planning aid is a continuing [Page 1654] process through the U.S. Naval Mission in Venezuela and can he expanded.

(3) Air Force

No specific requests for pricing and availability have been received from the Venezuelan Government for the materiel listed.

Inasmuch as recent developments in Iran do emphasize the importance of Venezuelan oil, I consider it desirable to re-examine the priorities accorded Venezuela in the allocation of military equipment, and I am taking necessary steps to effect this re-examination.

The Venezuelan authorities should, however, submit firm orders and funds for materiel for which pricing and availability data have already been furnished, and should also submit requests for pricing and availability studies on other items desired, including those in the Agreement Document.

With best regards, I am

Very sincerely yours,

Robert A. Lovett
  1. Top secret central files of the Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, for the period 1948–1956, which are part of Federal Records Center Accession 68 A 5159.
  2. Not printed.