The Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (Eisenhower) to the Ambassador in the Netherlands (Chapin)1

On personal side, our visit to Hague was completely enjoyable. Members my party were without exception impressed by abilities, friendly attitude, breadth comprehension of government officials with [Page 417] whom we came in contact. It was instructive, of course, to learn about disruptive effects and internal difficulties caused by Indonesian war. This we fully understood.

On purely official side, our impression was one of disappointment. Strictly speaking, Dutch Government does not seem to have clearly defined goal commensurate with obvious needs, to be rapidly attained. Consequently, no description of current program would convince American Government that Hague was showing sense of urgency, readiness to sacrifice, and determination to pull its full share of load.

General Gruenther and I did not, by any means, have feeling that any Dutch official was being deliberately blind to existing threat. But we did feel that struggle for efficiency, both in training and production, was over-emphasized to point that it seemed to become predominating influence rather than secondary to over-riding importance of providing maximum of security for country at earliest possible date. Frankly, we can see no reason for rather restricted target that Dutch set for themselves. We do not understand why country of 10 million people should not plan on regular training and organizational framework something on order of four or five divisions, framework which would, over years, produce additional group of reserve divisions and necessary auxiliary troops.

We believe that 12-month period of service is not satisfactory, either from standpoint of training or real strength, unless accompanied by frequent and thorough periods refresher training. We do recognize that, as of this moment, the Dutch could not instantly undertake a 2-year program. But we feel that if this longer period of service became the accepted doctrine of country, and that even if for moment, full term had to be restricted of officers, noncommissioned officers and specialists, yet, under this kind of program, there would not only be speedier progress in the country, but there would most certainly be a great increase in the confidence that other nations feel with respect to Dutch effort. There would also be greater readiness on their part to provide help where help is needed.

You understand, of course, that it is not our function to attempt interference with internal workings of any country to advise, directly, any North Atlantic Treaty nation on methods to be used in its military program. However, questions discussed this letter are of tremendous importance, particularly at this time when picture presented by each nation to all others should, if possible, be one showing a “higher than average” performance. This applies to speed with which plan is executed and, within reason, to ultimate size of force. Consistent with these considerations, utmost in efficiency and economy should prevail, but both General Gruenther and I sincerely hope that Dutch Government will arrange these considerations in an order of priority that does not put efficiency at top.

  1. The source text printed here was transmitted in telegram 1052, January 19, from The Hague, with the following explanatory statement:

    “Text Eisenhower letter January 13 addressed Chapin quoted below. Accompanying letter was cover note stating: ‘I have no objections whatsoever your showing this letter to anyone in the government whenever you think such action would be desirable’.”

    Regarding this letter, see also telegrams 9, January 16, from The Hague; Depto 420, January 17, from London; and 1057, January 19, from The Hague, pp. 425, 430, and 436.