740.5/1–351: Telegram

The United States Deputy Representative on the North Atlantic Council (Spofford) to the Secretary of State


Depto 382. Perkins from Spofford. Canadian memorandum1 “revised in light of conclusions reached by military committee2 and by groups of experts in London” has just been received and is being circulated among deputies.3 All pertinent parts text reads as follows:

“4. Canadian approach to problem is based on two assumptions:

  • “(a) That there is general recognition by member governments that increased responsibilities of NATO now makes necessary [Page 7] some degree of reorganization, and that it is timely to examine problem as whole;
  • “(b) That any changes in organization that may be necessary or advisable should be made without alteration of treaty, that is by appropriate revision of ‘by-laws’ of NATO rather than by amendment to its ‘constitution’. (In Canadian view, this can be accomplished by revising previous decisions of Council and Defense Committee.4)

“5. Under present structure, with three separate Committees of Ministers,5 problem of coordination arises and this problem is difficult to resolve simply through Council Deputies. Moreover, quick action is often impeded because if meeting of a Ministerial Committee is pending governments may tend to defer approval proposals under consideration in Council Deputies. With accelerated transformation from period of planning to period of action, it is desirable to limit number treaty bodies which meet periodically. Changed circumstances dictate that “all subsidiary bodies of organization should be on continuing basis, with only NAC meeting periodically to review progress and work of subsidiary bodies and make decisions on higher and general policy.

Council of Governments:

“6. Canadian Government is, therefore, of view that considerations in preceding paragraph emphasize necessity for combining all activities of NATO under single council which would represent governments. At such council, governments might according to their own domestic requirements and nature of agenda, be represented by one or more ministers. (Occasional representation by Prime Ministers should not be excluded.)

“7. It is recognized that such solution might increase number of persons attending meetings of Council. Nevertheless, advantages to be gained by introducing into highest body of NATO where policy is formulated, Ministers directly responsible in their own governments for defense, finance and supply seem sufficient to outweigh disadvantages of numbers. Council sessions could be made less cumbersome by setting up ministerial subcommittees on functional basis.

“8. March of events has made it essential there should be immediately available (and consequently in continuous session) a body of representatives of all governments. Such body would be Council Deputies. This body should be representative of governments. Under proposed reorganization Council Deputies would no longer be merely deputies of Foreign Ministers, as they are now at least in form, but would also represent all their Ministers concerned with North Atlantic matters. In fact, between Council sessions, Council Deputies would represent governments and be in position to speak for NATO. It would not seem that any new directive would be required for this development, since it would follow directly from transformation of present council into ‘council of governments’.

[Page 8]

Military side:

“9. On military side, reorganization we have in mind would be to redesignate military representatives committee6 (referred to in document MC 22/5) the ‘defense committee’ in order comply with requirements of Article 9 of treaty. This defense committee would be permanent body responsible to Council, meeting in same place as SG.7 Defense committee would meet as often as necessary, but at least once fortnight. Governments would be represented on defense committee either by chiefs of staff or their representatives. Chiefs of staff would attend whenever they considered it advisable, or at request of chairman.

“10. Under this arrangement there would be no need for separate military committee, since all NATO governments would be represented continuously on defense committee at level of chiefs of staff (or representatives). SG would act as steering and executive agency of defense committee and would provide its chairman. SG would be required consult at early stage with defense committee or military representatives of individual nations when their interests were involved in formulation or implementation of plans. Defense committee would be guided on political matters by Council, and when Council not in session by Council Deputies. SG would be channel through which this political guidance would be passed to supreme commander. Council Deputies would obtain military guidance from defense committee.

“11. At New York meeting,8 Council requested defense committee examine problem of establishment of closer relationship between SG and accredited representatives. Military committee has now approved certain recommendations to this end, set forth in document MC–22/5. It is felt that proposed redefinition of functions of defense committee and SG, as outlined in paragraphs 9 and 10 above, would further strengthen effectiveness of measures already proposed by military committee. It is suggested that proposals in these two paragraphs should be considered by appropriate NATO military agency.

Production side:

“12. To ensure efficiency and prompt attainment NATO objectives in production field, proposals for establishment of Defense Production Board and Director of Production have been approved. While advice on military aspects production would be provided by defense committee or SG, it is essential that DPB should be responsible to and operate under general direction of Council Deputies.

Financial and economic side:

“13. Similar considerations apply to machinery best suited for efficient and prompt attainment of NATO objectives in finance and economic field. We agree in principle with approach to problem now being worked out by Council Deputies and consider that advisory groups and working group to be constituted in this field should be responsible [Page 9] to arid obtain general guidance from Council Deputies. Under Canadian proposals, present responsibilities of DFEC would be exercised through reorganized NAC.


“14. It is also felt it will be necessary to strengthen to sonic extent secretariats both in London and Washington, and develop ways of integrating secretariat services of various NATO agencies as closely as possible.”

Believe effort will be made to put Canadian paper on agenda promptly. Therefore request Washington’s reaction soonest.

Todep 1899 just received. Will cable views shortly.

[ Spofford ]
  1. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iii, pp. 461 ff.
  2. NATO Military Committee, composed of one military representative of each member country, preferably a Chief of Staff.
  3. North Atlantic Council Deputies, in continuous session in London under the permanent chairmanship of Charles M. Spofford. The 12 regular members of the Council Deputies in 1951 were: André de Staercke for Belgium, L. Dana Wilgress for Canada, V. de Steensen-Leth for Denmark, Hervé Alphand for France, Gunnlaugur Petursson for Iceland, Alberto Rossi Longlii for Italy, André Clasen for Luxembourg, Jonkheer Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer for the Netherlands, Dag Bryn for Norway, Ruy Ennes Ulrich for Portugal, Sir Frederick Hoyer-Millar for the United Kingdom, and Charles M. Spofford for the United States.
  4. NAT Defense Committee, composed ordinarily of the Defense Ministers of the member countries.
  5. The Defense Committee, the Defense Financial and Economic Committee composed of the Finance Ministers, and the North Atlantic Council.
  6. The NATO Military Representatives Committee, a permanent committee meeting in Washington, composed of representatives of the Military Committee.
  7. The Standing Group, the executive agency of the Military Committee, was composed of the Chiefs of Staff of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, or their representatives, functioning continuously in Washington.
  8. North Atlantic Council meeting, September 1950. For documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iii, pp.1 ff.
  9. January 2, not printed. This message stated that the Departments of State and Defense were still considering the subject of NATO reorganization and that, in this interim period, Spofford should continue to obtain the views of the other NATO nations while seeking to postpone crystallization of debate until the U. S. position could be firmed up. (740.5/12–2850)