740.5/1–1651: Telegram

The United States Deputy Representative on the North Atlantic Council ( Spofford ) to the Secretary of State 1

secret
priority

Depto 417. Pass Defense. Deputies’2 fourth meeting, January 16.

1. Deputies met this morning with General Eisenhower who made profound impression.

2. Chairman opened with brief review of deputies’ work, with stress on matters of particular interest to SHAPE, and asked Eisenhower to give impressions gained during his trip.

3. Eisenhower began by stressing importance he attached to deputies’ work. No matter how NATO might be reorganized, deputies [Page 427] would be indispensable as central democratic representative body. He would look to them for much assistance.

4. He had been encouraged by spirit of growing confidence he had found but disturbed by vagueness of objectives and plans, especially as to size of planned military formations and time of their creation. Time factor was overriding. Tree could not grow in a day, but if NATO countries were convinced they should create adequate force as shield for peaceful existence, time for initiating action was now. More complicated war became more time required to equip and train forces. He had found too much talk of 1954 and not enough action in progress. Existing schedules not good enough to meet needs of present crisis. Orderliness important but speed essential. Sooner peace could be made secure through strength cheaper it would be though early costs would be high.

5. There was division of opinion in US on how its military strength should be distributed. In next two years we would produce more than anything hitherto dreamed of in peacetime, including resources for foreign aid. Only question was how they should be used. He was convinced US debate would be resolved in favor of defending entire free world if US were convinced all participating countries behind defense effort heart and soul. On his return he must report honestly and accurately to President, administration, and others. He hoped he would be able to say he had no doubts. Speaking as NATO official representing all twelve countries he would say two conditions must obtain. First, twelve equal nations of NATO must act as unit. Second, security must in each country have priority over everything else.

6. He regarded organization of his command as of secondary importance, and nothing he had yet said or done about it implied commitment or obligation of any kind.

7. Europe, which was unquestionably key strategic point, was long, narrow peninsula between seas. NAT nations were sea powers with strong air power. We must hold in center while sea and air power brought to bear. Sea power could reach any NAT nation. None were isolated but each should make itself a hedgehog.

8. In closing his remarks he reiterated importance he attached to working with deputies. He had no particular ideas about liaison but in words of Mae West “come up and see me some time”. He ended that in ten days he would be reporting to Washington and he must then have every possible bit of concrete evidence everyone was heart and soul in common effort. Only yardstick was who could do even one manhour more than others.

9. Hoyer-Millar asked how deputies could help most in next few months. Eisenhower replied he had heard number of complaints to effect that defense production capacity was going begging because of [Page 428] red tape or other delays. Deputies could act as trouble shooters and assist in breaking bottlenecks.

10. Alphand referred to Eisenhower’s remark that existing time schedules were not rapid enough, asked whether he had something different in mind from MTDP. Eisenhower replied he was not suggesting different plan but stressing extreme importance of telescoping fulfillment of existing plans into shortest possible time irrespective of formal schedules. Time of even greater value in this effort to preserve peace than in war. More quickly each nation could do its job, more it would stimulate others and more aid it would be apt to get from US.

11. Starkenborgh observed one of greatest hindrances to progress in production had been inability to obtain timely data from military on such matters as acceptability of types. Perhaps Eisenhower could help. Eisenhower said he would try to light fire, and urged deputies to bring pressure wherever and whenever necessary to obtain required action. Concentrated effort saved lives whether in preparation or on battlefield.

12. Comments after meeting revealed depth of impression Eisenhower made on deputies. One said his talk inspired more confidence than 10 new divisions. General feeling Eisenhower’s advent marked emergence NATO as going concern and that neither defeatism nor petty bickering could survive under his leadership. We are getting inquiries from individual deputies as to shortcomings he found in their countries and how they might help get them remedied. Will follow up.

[ Spofford ]
  1. Repeated to Paris for GSR and General Schuyler, to Lisbon for MacArthur, to the other NATO capitals, to Frankfurt, to Heidelberg for Handy, and to Wiesbaden for Cannon.
  2. North Atlantic Council Deputies.