740.5/2–2051: Telegram

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


Depto 534. 1. Reference appointment Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic. Depto 5311 reported UK concurrence still outstanding. Private inquiry indicates British desire some limitation of powers of naval commanders. Precise nature not stated. Foreign Office hopes prevail Defense Ministry concur appointment under terms proposed resolution since latter joined in approving DC–24/21 at fourth meeting DC and thresh out terms of reference later. Meantime final actions deputies held up which hope will not be for long.

2. To meet views expressed yesterday’s meeting Deps as well as your telephone message Achilles transmit below revised draft press communiqué for reconsideration at tomorrow’s meeting deputies. Revised draft also being transmitted De Greef:

Verbatim text: Admiral William M. Fechteler of the United States Navy has been named Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, the North Atlantic Council Deputies announced today.

The North Atlantic Council, acting on recommendations adopted by the Defense Committee at its October meeting in Washington and its meeting in Brussels last December, requested the United States to designate an officer to fill the post of Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic. The President of the United States subsequently designated Admiral Fechteler, whose nomination has now been unanimously approved by the North Atlantic Treaty Defense Ministers and the North Atlantic Council Deputies.

Admiral Fechteler will be supported by an integrated international staff drawn from the countries contributing forces to the North Atlantic [Page 475]Ocean Command. This command and General Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe are mutually supporting commands which will coordinate their activities under the guidance of the standing group.”

If you desire further changes above, request notification prior tomorrow’s meeting.

3. Re Todep 2592 timing release impossible pending final action deputies. Plan is Chairman Council Deputies will notify release time to all concerned thereafter.

4. Fechteler appointment carried briefly most London morning papers attributed to official announcement Copenhagen of Danish Government approval. No interpretative or speculative comment except in Mail and Telegraph which played front page with guarded speculation on scope of command. Do not believe this should change plans for simultaneous release Washington, London, Brussels.3

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  4. In telegram Depto 543 from London dated February 21, Spofford informed Knight that the British were ready to concur in the appointment of Admiral Fechteler but only if the last sentence of the American resolution pertaining to SACLANT’s powers and functions was deleted. “In these circumstances,” Spofford added, “I propose withhold US agreement pending resolution of difficulty in accordance with your telephone instruction.” (740.5/2–2151) In telegram Depto 545 of the same day, Spofford informed the Secretary of State that action on the Fechteler appointment had been deferred at the 12th meeting of the NAC Deputies pending concurrence of the United Kingdom. He added that the Netherlands stated approval of the appointment subject to the stipulation that the Atlantic Command would not infringe upon the North Sea area currently under British Home Fleet Command. (740.5/2–2151) In Telegram Todep 268 of the following day, Acheson informed Spofford that he was to use his own judgment “as to whether or not action shld be pressed at tomorrow’s mtg deputies. While we wld welcome early settlement, we wish to avoid deadlock or open split in Deps. Therefore may be advisable let dust settle to ascertain effect of debate” currently going on in the British Parliament concerning the British position on an Atlantic Command “before proceeding further. If appropriate you might remind British that UK has accepted DC 24/3 at Council level and 24/2 at Defense Comite level which clearly set forth pattern and principles for current action re appointment Fechteler.” (740.5/2–2251)