State–JCS meetings, lot 61 D 417, Jan–June 1951

Draft Record of Department of State–Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, Pentagon Building, Washington, February 20, 1951, 3 p.m.1

top secret


General Bradley Ambassador Jessup
General Collins Mr. Matthews
Admiral Sherman Mr. Nitze
General Vandenberg Mr. Mann
Admiral Duncan Mr. Tufts
General Bolte Mr. Ferguson
General White Mr. Bonbright
Admiral Davis Mr. Lay
Admiral Lalor Mr. Gleason
Admiral Wooldridge
Colonel Carns

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Western Europe

Mr. Nitze: We might begin our consideration of the problem of the defense of Western Europe by taking up the morale problem and the problems associated with the Medium Term Defense Plan. On the political side, it is clear that the basic problem is the problem of developing confidence in Western Europe that Western Europe can be defended. General Eisenhower’s visit was extremely helpful in this respect. I think that the announcement concerning the sending of additional U.S. forces to Europe has also been helpful, and that the steady increase in U.S. production of defense items is also having a helpful effect. We in State believe that it is very important for the U.S. Government to do whatever it can to back up General Eisenhower. His assignment is a particularly difficult one, and his success depends in large part on his ability to exercise personal leadership. That in turn depends to some extent upon the backing he receives from Washington. Such things as flexibility in the MDAP program will be helpful in giving him the support he will need.

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The recent splits in the Italian Communist Party are also a very promising development. There are a range of problems of a straight political character like this which we have well in mind and to which we are giving full attention.

As regards the MTDP, the problem of particular concern to us is that of the deficiencies. As we understand it, the national submissions leave a considerable gap between the requirements set in the MTDP and the forces which the European countries are actually planning to create. These deficiencies amount, we are told, to about 19 divisions on D plus 30, to 3800 planes, and to about 450 ships. The problem of what to do about these deficiencies has been thrown back to the countries. They have been asked to make additional submissions. This process is very slow and from the returns which have come in, it seems unlikely that these additional submissions will meet the gap. We are quite worried whether we can continue to let this problem drag and at the same time make the necessary presentation of our MDAP program to the Congress.

General Bradley: Those deficiencies do not take into account what forces the Germans may provide. Is that correct?

Mr. Nitze: That is correct. We understand that whatever forces Germany supplies are matched in effect by an additional requirement. In other words, as we understand it, the problem of defending Western Europe as far to the east as possible requires forces in addition to those called for in the MTDP. It is hoped that these additional forces will be supplied by Germany.

General Collins: I am not sure that that is right.

General Bradley: I think the problem is rather more complicated than that. For instance, the adoption of a forward strategy will, to some extent, reduce the requirement for forces for the defense of Denmark and Italy, and so forth.

General Collins: But the offset is not complete. It will be harder to defend Western Europe the farther east we attempt to hold.

General Bradley: It seems to me that before we start worrying about meeting the gap, we should obtain more progress toward the accomplishment of the present goals contained in the national submissions. The improved spirit and morale coming from such progress will itself provide a basis for the additional efforts required to fill the gap. General Eisenhower’s assignment, the steady increase in military production, and gradual improvement in morale will all help to get the Western European defense effort rolling. Then we can talk to the French about increasing their targets. It would not accomplish much to get the French steamed up at this time about the need to create 35 divisions instead of 28. The biggest problem now is to revive the spirit of the French and Germans and others.

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General Collins: Korea can contribute to the improvement of morale. The excellent showing which the French troops have made in Korea ought to be emphasized to the French. If we can get the French as proud of their military prowess as the Turks, we will have a very different situation.

General Vandenberg: There are many discouraging factors. I have been talking with General Lechere and Marshal Slessor about the problem of tactical air. I don’t know where we are going to get the necessary tactical air forces. General Lechere told me about his plans and about how far short he is going to fall. He asked me what we could contribute, and the answer I had to give him was that we could not contribute a damn thing. Then the question arises of how these people are going to protect their cities and people against air attack. What we have available is a drop in the bucket compared to the size of the problem. We have got to get a realistic allocation of manufacturing capacity and we have got to persuade the Europeans that this problem is a manageable one. But right now a big number is staring everybody in the face and no one is doing anything about it. Even after they get moving, it will be 2½ years until any planes are produced.

Admiral Sherman: There is another problem which has been giving me some concern. I am frank to admit that I am not sure of my analysis. This is the problem of the attitude of the U.K. The Royal Air Force and the Home Fleet are not allocated to General Eisenhower. They have not been made available for the Western European region or for the North Atlantic region. In effect, the U.K. home islands are an enclave in the NATO area. What bothers me are the implications of this. The British are not prepared to put their homeland into NATO to the extent that the French and Dutch and others have done. It seems to me that the British must have reservations regarding the defense of the U.K., and that they must have some internal political difficulties. I suppose that the British are troubled about the survival of the British people in the event of war. We, of course, are sitting in a more comfortable position. We are not committing our home defense forces and the British are acting as we are, but everything that the French have is at the disposal of NATO. I have the impression that the British are waiting for the establishment of a combined Chiefs of Staff apart from NATO or for some other development of this kind. They appear to be holding back.

General Collins: General Eisenhower is planning to do something about this problem. This was indicated to me recently by General Gruenther. There is a good argument—especially as regards air—for full British participation in the defense of Western Europe. They still remember that they fought the Battle of Britain over the English Channel. Some of them perhaps do not realize that this will not happen [Page 61] again. It is in the British interest that the Battle of Britain be fought as far to the east in Europe as possible. The Soviet Union will have a large capability in guided missiles and will be able to make it very hot in the U.K. if the U.K. does not succeed in stopping a Soviet advance before it reaches the Channel coast. They should be particularly interested in the security of the North Sea area, the defense of the continental coast and the holding up of a Soviet advance across the North German plain.

Mr. Matthews: I am sure that the psychology of 1940 is still an important factor in the U.K.

General Collins: Conditions are different, however.

Mr. Matthews: I recognize that, but the same psychology probably still exists.

General Vandenrerg: The real problem is that the U.K. has nothing to throw into the defense of the continent.

Admiral Sherman: But the U.K. will not throw in what it does have.

General Vandenberg: We can hardly blame them for this attitude. There is this great big hole between what Western Europe has for defense and what it needs for defense. No one can see where this hole is going to be filled. No one but the U.S. is producing any substantial quantities of equipment.

General Collins: There has been too much talk about the shortage of ground forces and not enough talk about the shortages in tactical air. When the DPB was set up, Mr. Pace and I thought that it should be strengthened by the appointment of a good executive who would [be] comparable to General Eisenhower in stature. We could see no other way in which to get production moving in the U.K., France and Belgium.

General Vandenberg: There is also a good capacity for production in Italy, but nothing is happening.

Mr. Nitze: We have appointed Mr. Herod, former President of the International General Electric Company to head the DPB.

General Bradley: I talked with Mr. Herod and Mr. Batt this morning. They feel that the U.K. is really getting underway on its production program now. Of course, the British are real individualists when it comes to production. Mr. Herod and Mr. Batt have already found that it is necessary to talk to British industrialists one at a time. Apparently it is not possible to call in the representatives of the entire industry and to work out a program with the group.

Admiral Sherman: Basically what is bothering the British—if we get to the real roots of the matter—is the poverty of their resources and the implications of this for the future of the U.K.

General Bradley: None of us will get this problem solved until we get production going.

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General Vandenberg: The European countries have got to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The NATO machinery in the production field is bogged down. Once it gets started it will take two years to get much in the way of results.

Mr. Nitze: The deficiency of 3,800 aircraft seems to us to be pretty important.

General Vandenberg: If we look at that problem coldly the deficiency is really on the order of 8,000 aircraft. Only a coordinated production program will be adequate. For example, we need a program under which air frames can be produced in France, motors in Italy, instruments and special equipment in the U.K. and some special items in the U.S. That is a very difficult kind of program to develop. Yet nothing has been done on the apportionment of production tasks.

General Bradley: As I understand it the U.K. is setting up production lines to produce about 8,400 jet engines per year.

General Vandenberg: That will supply only about 1,000 airplanes and, of course, though that program will supply some engines the question remains where are we going to get frames, tires, electronic equipment, and so forth. Nothing we have heard about is more than a drop in the bucket. We have got to get going in France, Italy and some of the other countries. I can’t find anyone who is looking at the whole problem—all the way from gasoline to airfields. The whole thing is completely uncoordinated and is stuck at dead center.

General Collins: Mr. Pace and I think that it is necessary to soup up the DPB. We got the impression at Brussels that genuine progress was being made so far as ground forces were concerned. The question of sovereignty did not seem to loom very large in the question of ground forces, but everyone’s back hunched up when we talked about the allocation of production tasks. I think we are going to need as much pressure from the U.S. on production as we have on any other problem.

General Vandenberg: The only way they are going to get self-confidence is by producing.

Mr. Nitze: It is our view that the U.S. has got to make up its mind about what needs to be done before much can be accomplished in Europe.

General Vandenberg: That is the point. It seems to me that we should get U.S. teams of aviation engineers, tank engineers, and so forth, to survey the European scene and to tell Mr. Herod and Mr. Batt what countries can produce what equipment.

General Collins: That is the way we look at it also. We must remember that Mr. Herod has just been appointed. He has not even been over there yet. I think he is going to have to make a survey just as General Eisenhower did. We have been agreed that the DPB should do just the job Mr. Nitze spoke of. The DPB has got to approach tasks [Page 63] by countries on the basis of surveys of each country’s production capabilities.

General Vandenberg: Do they have the necessary contacts here to enable them to find out what can be obtained from the U.S. in the way of machine tools and other items needed for their production lines.

General Collins: There are plenty of contact points—the NSRB, the Munitions Board, the Office of Defense Mobilization, and so forth.

General Bradley: Mr. Herod has got to find out what is required. When he has determined what the requirements are he can use ECA personnel to find out what the production capabilities are. On this basis he can farm out the production tasks country by country.

Mr. Nitze: Our people are not clear what the requirements are.

General Collins: Mr. Herod and General Eisenhower have got to work closely together on that problem.

General Bradley: The Standing Group tried to work on this but it is an impossible job to do from Washington.

Mr. Nitze: Should requirements be based on the existing national submissions or should they be based on the requirements for meeting the full MTDP. The second question is whether we should accelerate the completion of the program as suggested in NSC 68/4?2 In other words, can the European countries complete their part of the job before 1954. We feel strongly that an attempt to urge them to accelerate would create serious political problems.

General Collins: I think the first thing is to get them to work on their present plans.

Mr. Nitze: Do you think that we should make an exception for air and that we should expand and accelerate the programs for the air forces.

General Collins: I think we should await Mr. Herod’s recommendations.

Admiral Sherman: We talked to General Eisenhower before he left about the purpose of his trip.3 I wonder if it would be helpful for us to have a similar conversation with Mr. Herod. We might give him an indication of how the problem looks to us. It worries me some-what that in these semi-military problems, other agencies take off without much consultation with us. I think it might be wise to talk to Mr. Herod before he leaves.

(It was generally agreed that this would be helpful.)4

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General Vandenberg: We would like to know his approach to his job.

General Collins: We might be able to assist him to get a clearer conception of what his problems will be.

Mr. Nitze: I think it would be helpful if Mr. Cabot could join that discussion.

(It was generally agreed that this would be desirable.)

General Bradley: Of course, Mr. Batt should be present also.

Mr. Nitze: We have a number of further questions regarding the Western Europe defense problem but I am not sure there is time to take them up today.

General Collins: I am anxious to get a discussion of Spain.

  1. The source text, drafted in the Department of State, recorded the discussion of the defense of Western Europe, here printed, and four other topics not printed: Latin America, Yugoslavia, Korea, and a proposed Conference of Foreign Ministers.

    Representatives of the Department of State and the Joint Chiefs of Staff met at varying intervals throughout 1951 to discuss matters of common interest. At one point (March 14–15) they met on successive days. At other times (May–June) nearly a month elapsed between meetings. Usually one or more of the Joint Chiefs was in attendance, while Department of State representation varied according to the topics under discussion. However, Mr. Nitze, the Director of the Policy Planning Staff, was almost invariably in attendance.

  2. For this National Security Council document entitled “U.S. Objectives and Programs for National Security,” December 14, 1950, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, pp. 467 ff.
  3. The reference here is presumably to Eisenhower’s tour of the North Atlantic Treaty countries in January. For documentation, see pp. 392 ff.
  4. No record of such a meeting has been found in the Department of State files.