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


Outline of Defense Department Positions Concerning State Department Proposals to Reorganization of NATO

Mr. Knight spent the morning discussing the Defense Department’s position concerning State’s NATO reorganization proposals with the following: (a) Admiral Wright and Colonel Hughlin of the U.S. Standing Group team; (b) Colonel Beebe and Mr. Ernst of the Office of the Secretary of Defense; (c) Commander Richardson and Colonel Ashworth of the JCS; (d) Mr. Dickenson, Assistant to the Joint Secretaries. The following were determined to be the main subjects of concern to Defense:

State’s proposal concerning the Military Committee was interpreted as an attempt to bring in all twelve nations into the Standing [Page 57] Group operation through “day-to-day” supervision. This is fundamentally unacceptable to Defense which insists that the present Standing Group membership and method of operation be preserved to insure the necessary speed and efficiency for a command operation.
Defense is concerned over the difference in the words “direction” and “guidance” in describing the special relationship between the Deputies and the Military Committee and Standing Group. On the one hand, State has proposed that the Deputies shall furnish direction to the Military Committee and Standing Group as to political considerations on which strategic decisions should be based. On the other hand, we have proposed that the Military Committee, or the Standing Group in its stead, supply day-to-day guidance to the Deputies concerning military considerations entering into the formulation of policy. Defense’s concern is that “direction” may give the Deputies too much influence in “purely military matters”.
Defense is worried about the general reduction in influence of the Defense Ministers by taking the Defense Committee out of the line of command and making it purely advisory.

The Standing Group is primarily worried by (1) and, to a lesser extent, by (2). The Office of the Secretary of Defense is primarily worried by (3). The JCS is worried by (1) and (2). Mr. Dickenson is worried by (1) and (2) and, to a lesser extent, by (3).

State’s position was stated as follows:

State considers that the organization from the Military Committee level on down is primarily a Defense matter and would accept any reasonable Defense view, including perpetuation of the present status quo. It was explained that our tentative suggestion was based on our belief that Defense might welcome some kind of a military “screen” between the Standing Group and the Deputies.
With reference to political “direction”, we referred to the grave concern on the part of the smaller countries that a three-nation purely military body, such as the Standing Group, might free-wheel and take certain measures leading to war without the smaller countries having had the opportunity of stating their views.
The State proposal concerning the Council organization was strongly supported on the grounds of efficiency and of the necessity to establish responsibility clearly. It was pointed out, however, that Government instructions would be fully coordinated with Defense and that there was no intention to try in any way to reduce the stature or influence of the defense establishments of the NATO countries.

It is expected that the JCS position will be completed sometime tomorrow. Likewise, the Joint Secretaries2 will meet on this Question tomorrow.

  1. Drafted by Knight (RA) and sent through the Executive Secretariat.
  2. The Secretaries of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.