Memorandum by the Director for International Security Affairs ( Cabot ) to the Secretary of State 1


Subject: U.S. Position on Canadian Proposal to Reorganize NATO.

Mr. Spofford has informed me that you gave your blessing at lunch on Tuesday to the attached short statement of a U.S. counter-proposal to the Canadian reorganization plan. He was unable to see Mr. Lovett 2 prior to departure, but telephoned him from New York and also asked me to send Mr. Lovett copy of the document. This, I did, indicating that I understood you had approved the proposal.

Mr. Lovett referred the document to General Burns 3 and Colonel Beebe.4

In the ISAC meeting yesterday,5 General Burns said he planned to recommend to Mr. Lovett that this State proposal, together with the original Canadian proposal, be referred to the JCS.

This morning, Mr. Lovett phoned me as indicated by attached memo. I have informed Mr. Spofford.6

[Enclosure 1]

Suggested Reorganization of NATO Top Structure 7

The Council is the senior body of the NATO; its members continue to represent governments. Other ministers may be invited to participate as members of national delegations. Once a year, there shall be a plenary meeting of the NATO attended by all the national representatives of Cabinet rank (i.e., members of the Council, Defense Committee and D.F.E.C.).

The Council will be advised by the Defense Committee and by the Defense Finance and Economic Committee.

The Defense Committee consists of the Defense Ministers and shall advise the Council on military matters, including measures for the implementation of Articles 3 and 5 of the NAT.

[Page 42]

The D.F.E.C. shall advise the Council on matters of financial and economic policy. Its members shall be of cabinet rank and each government shall have full discretion in the selection of its representative.

The Council Deputies discharge the Council’s responsibilities between Council sessions on a permanent and continuous basis. When the Council is not in session, they shall furnish direction to the Military Committee and Standing Group as to political considerations on which strategic decisions should be based. The Deputies shall be responsible for coordinating the activities of and giving general direction and guidance to all the other permanent organs of the NATO (Defense Production Board, Finance Economic Board, Planning Board for Ocean Shipping). The Deputies shall be assisted by competent advisers who may be either national representatives on the permanent NATO bodies or designated by the interested ministers at the discretion of the individual governments.

The Military Committee shall consist of Chiefs of Staff or their representatives and will be responsible to the Council advised by the Defense Committee. It shall supply day-to-day guidance to the Deputies concerning military considerations entering into the formulation of policy. The Standing Group is the executive organ of the Military Committee. It consists of the U.S., U.K., and France, and will be in permanent session and will maintain close liaison with the Deputies. When the Military Committee is not in session the Standing Group will supply military guidance to the Deputies and will receive political guidance from the Deputies on behalf of the Military Committee.

[Enclosure 2]

Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by Cabot


Mr. Lovett called and expressed concern that the Spofford suggested reorganization of NATO top structure by subordinating the Defense Ministers might have unfortunate repercussions by weakening the Standing Group. He also said he was not sure that the British Government really supported the Canadian proposal. He thought perhaps that several of the Deputies were agreeing in principle only and that the British in particular had not, as a Government, decided favorably on the Canadian proposal. I surmise he has gained this impression from conversation with Marshal Tedder, OSD.

Mr. Lovett said that he wanted 10 days for the JCS to consider the Spofford paper8 and asked me to so advise Mr. Spofford.

  1. The source text bears the handwritten notation “Sec[retary] saw.”
  2. Robert A. Lovett, Deputy Secretary of Defense.
  3. Maj. Gen. James H. Burns.
  4. Col. Royden E. Beebe, Jr.
  5. The meeting of February 2 was the first meeting of the International Security Affairs Committee. The participants included W. Averell Harriman, Special Assistant to the President, and representatives of ECA and the Departments of State, Defense, and the Treasury.
  6. Telegram Todep 237 to London, February 3, not printed (740.5/2–351). This telegram also briefly summarized the proceedings of the ISAC meeting, most of which were concerned with organizational and procedural matters.
  7. Drafted by Ridgway B. Knight (RA).
  8. Presumably enclosure 1.