No. 341


Memorandum of Conversation, by Kenneth Byrns of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs

top secret

Subject: First Formal Meeting on Norwegian Defense Negotiations

[Page 756]
Participants: Mr. Brackley Shaw—Air Force
Mr. John A. Johnson—Air Force
Col. Harris—Office of Secretary of Defense
Capt. Dingwell—U.S. Navy
Col. Malcolm—Air Force
Col. Ofsthun—Air Force
Col. Lightfoot—Air Force
Comdr. CluteMAAG Norway
Major Schroeder—Army
Comdr. Kinsella—U.S. Navy
Mr. RaynorBNA
Mr. RonhovdeBNA
Mr. RogersRA
Mr. ByrnsBNA

Mr. Raynor stated that he assumed that the requirements remained the same as those mentioned in previous informal talks. In other words, Defense wants two air fields to be available to them on D-day and will need a limited number of people to maintain them on a standby basis. He said that he believed that we could get these rights. A lot depends however on the approach. The Norwegians are opposed to foreign troops being on their soil and are influenced by their proximity to the Russians. It is our feeling that it would be unlikely (not impossible) that the Norwegians would want to enter into a base agreement like the one that we have for Iceland or Greenland.1 Mr. Raynor said that he wasn’t sure that it would be wise to put the Norwegians on the spot and ask them for such an agreement because of their common boundary with Russia. It might be advisable to proceed as we did in the case of Turkey and let the country where the bases are to be established build them, and not to have the U.S. acquire them. Our thinking is that it would be better to make arrangements to obtain the facilities needed other than by asking for an outright grant of bases. Of course, there is a question of whether or not the Norwegians can construct fields to our specifications, but if we send in construction crews, this action on our part might put them in the same spot as having a formal base agreement. We would have to assist them with equipment and give them technical advice. It might be possible to do this without a formal agreement if we use MDAP funds. I understand if we use Air Force funds that we must have an agreement.

In the general discussion that followed it was decided that Defense and State would send a team to Oslo to explore the possibilities of negotiating an agreement. The team would not enter into formal negotiations but would probably report back for briefing and further instructions.

  1. For documentation relating to negotiation of a defense treaty between the United States and Iceland, see Documents 205 ff. The agreement between the United States and Denmark concerning the defense of Greenland is in 2 UST (pt. 2), p. 1485.