740.5/1–1051: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Bruce ) to the Embassy in the Netherlands 1

top secret

115. Eyes only for MacArthur. Suggest you pass following to Generals Eisenhower and Gruenther:

Following Generals’ departure Paris yesterday French Government found to its consternation that neither Pleven nor Moch had discussed question French representation in NATO command structure. Apparently each expected the other to handle this matter, or that General Eisenhower might bring it up himself with them.

As you know, French had hoped one deputy might be their nationality as well as their supplying commander-in-chief troops of the western European regional group.2 Of the two, they attach greater importance to the latter, asserting in view of fact they will furnish about one-half of presently proposed continental ground forces their [Page 407] public opinion would never accept appointment to this command of other than French general and would overthrow any cabinet that was not persuasive enough to secure such appointment.

Perhaps only in France could it happen that certain local journalists and some politicians immediately assumed because General Eisenhower saw Marshal Montgomery twice during his French visit3 General must therefore have offered Marshal two positions, namely, one as deputy and the other as commander western European regional group.

In any event, French have asked me to say that they hope that General will not make any commitment on second position before they present their point of view to him on this subject. When and where they would do so would depend on his wishes.

General Gruenther is familiar, I know, with General Juin’s feelings about the necessity of his remaining in Morocco for some time.4 The problem there is complex and potentially dangerous. Juin is undoubtedly the best man to try to resolve it. If he does so, he should be available to General Eisenhower if his services are desired in a few months. The French Government is fully aware that Juin is their best if not only satisfactory possibility for the new post under consideration and as I understand it would immediately release him from his Moroccan duties. Juin, however, feels an obligation to continue their exercise for the present.

If you can send me any advice in this regard, I would much appreciate it.5

  1. This telegram was repeated to the Department of State, eyes only for Assistant Secretary of State Perkins. General Eisenhower and his party arrived in The Hague from Brussels on January 10.
  2. French Ambassador Bonnet called on Secretary of State Acheson on December 29, 1950, on instructions from his government to emphasize the importance which the French Government and people attached to adequate French participation in the command structure of the NATO integrated forces. Bonnet said that in view of the very substantial contributions which the French Government planned to make available to the NATO integrated force, the French Government believed that a French General should command the planned NATO European Central Theater. Bonnet also noted that the French attached importance to the projected position of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander for Ground Forces and felt that it would be logical for a French General to fill that post. Acheson explained that he had not yet had an opportunity to talk to General Eisenhower, but he knew that the General had made no decisions about NATO command structure and had a completely open mind on these questions. (Memorandum of conversation by MacArthur, December 29, 1950, 740.5/12–2950)
  3. No reports have been found regarding Eisenhower’s conversations with Montgomery in Paris at this time.
  4. General Juin had apparently invited General Eisenhower to visit him in Rabat, Morocco. Regarding this possible visit, see the editorial note, infra.
  5. In telegram 162, January 11, from The Hague, repeated to the Department of State, General Gruenther advised the Embassy at Paris that it could inform the French verbally that Eisenhower had high regard for French military talent and that he intended to make the greatest possible use of it in filling positions in the integrated force command structure. Thus far, however, no commitments had been made. (740.5/1–1151)