No. 348

757.5–MAP/10–2551: Telegram

The Ambassador in Norway (Bay) to the Secretary of State


396. Toisa. Text requested Dept cir airgram Oct 2, 4:35 p.m.1 transmitted below (ref London 64 Oct 19).2 Photos requested Depcirtel 335 Oct 123 being airpouched today.

Text as fols:

Progress of mutual security program for Norway during April-Oct 1951 period can be understood best in light of certain circumstances peculiar to country. Norway is unique among NATO countries in that it has common frontier with Sov Union, in exposed, strategic position on Europe’s northern flank, in ruggedness of its terrain, paucity developed natural resources, and small number inhabitants. Industry and enterprise of Nors is illustrated, however, by fact they have rebuilt their merchant fleet, over half of which destroyed during last war, to position third largest in world. Nors are peace-loving people and, with exception World War II when govt in exile, supported by Nor underground, vigorously resisted Ger occupation, have had long history of neutrality. Decision Nor Govt in 1949 to join NATO, despite Russian intimidation, was courageous [Page 763] undertaking, especially since it confronted Norway with unprecedented mil responsibilities. Despite Norway’s lack of experience with modern mil org and equipment its leaders helped set pace in NATO by adopting ambitious targets for build-up mil forces. As consequence of these targets and deficiencies Nor mil equipment, program of US mil aid was of necessity developed on very substantial scale.

During period under review, general scope Norway’s def program was publicly considered and approved by Parliament, which passed ordinary def budget early May and unanimously approved extraordinary def appropriation end June. These appropriations authorized 2/3 increase Nor’s def expenditures during FY ‘52 compared to FY ‘51. Parliament also late May authorized increases in training periods for conscriptees and reserves which had actually been put into effect by administrative action Dec 1950. US mil equipment was delivered to Norway throughout period in progressively larger quantities enabling gradual increase in effectiveness and mobility Nor forces. On other hand, it became apparent during spring that Nor plans for achievement mil force goals required considerable further development, and Nor Govt and mil services have become increasingly aware of complexities involved in building modern mil establishment. In late spring Def Ministry and MAAG jointly undertook to study organization of Nors mil services, with particular attention to requirements full time personnel. Shortages such personnel, a reflection of Norway’s traditional reliance on mobilizable forces (a “citizens army”), and problems associated with construction of mil facilities, are two of most serious difficulties to be overcome by Norway in its achievement of effective military build-up. These inadequacies were illustrated during period by emergence of some problems in storage, maintenance, and utilization of US equipment. MAAG, however, carefully adjusts flow of equipment to ensure that deliveries are made in accordance with capacity of Nor services to maintain and utilize them properly.4

Norway has continued to follow econ policies designed to support its def program. The govt has not permitted civ consumption to rise [Page 764] despite improved econ conditions. Sales tax was increased in April 1951 from 6¼ to 10 percent on all transactions, substantial addition to already heavy tax burden. Controls over scarce industrial materials and over investments were tightened. During period, Norway’s external econ position was also greatly improved by increased ship earnings and favorable trend in terms trade. As result these factors plus rigorous policies pursued by govt, Norway has reduced substantially its need for US econ assistance, while at same time it has undertaken substantial increase in its defense expenditures. In field mil production, for which Nor capacity extremely limited, April–Oct period saw gradual but steady implementation of projects for products such as arms and ammunition, Quartermaster material and communications equipment, several of which had been allocated dol aid by United States Govt for procurement materials and machinery outside Norway.

Telegram 127 to Oslo, August 8, told of Department of State concern about the sweeping character of the proposed suspension of MDAP deliveries and possible adverse reaction on the part of the Norwegians. (Oslo Embassy files, lot 61F15)

In the MDAP General Monthly Report for October, transmitted to the Department on November 16 as despatch 492, the Ambassador reported that the Special Assistant and Chief, MAAG, attended an ECC meeting in Paris where it was agreed it would be undesirable at that time to bring further pressure to bear on the Norwegian Government for remedial action. (757.5–MAP/11–1651)

Foreign policy of Nor Govt continued during period to have steady support of all major political parties. Position these parties has reflected popular endorsement Norway’s participation NATO and a public attitude towards Norway’s def program as grim but necessary task. Neutralist element in Norway has been small and ineffectual. Norway’s Commies have continued highly vocal but have demonstrated little effectiveness, although their voting strength still nearly 100,000 and their activity appears to have increased in far north where exist certain degree unemployment and lower than average standard living. In sharp contrast to situation 1950, there has been widespread and full coverage by Nor press and radio of NATO activities and of Nor def measures and military exercises. Highlights in this field during period were celebration second anniversary NATO, a major def exhibit in Oslo sponsored jointly by Ministry Def and large popular org for promotion def, also colorful and impressive ceremony, attended by General Eisenhower, on occasion first 5 Thunder jet aircraft were delivered to Norway under MDAP.5 Of particular importance to popular awareness NATO was establishment Oslo during June of SHAPE Hdqrs for northern Eur region under Adm. Brind (Brit Navy) and Gen. Taylor (US Air Force).

On broad polit front, several developments recent months have demonstrated consistency and firmness Norway’s support NATO and United Nations. Immediately prior to period under review, Nor Parliament had approved North Atlantic Council Plan, adopted Brussels, for establishment joint NATO command, and had authorized [Page 765] govt to designate Nor forces to be placed under that command. Parliament also approved decision North Atlantic Council to negotiate for inclusion Western Ger forces in joint command. On July 16, in response to “uniting for peace” res United Nations General Assembly, Nor Govt indicated that, subj constitutional processes and consultation with SHAPE, Nor unit of battalion strength wld be placed at disposal United Nations. There is also a Nor brigade now participating in occupation Germany. When question NATO membership for Greece and Turkey came up for decision by North Atlantic Council Ottawa Sept, Nor Govt subordinated its reservations to larger interests western def and joined in unanimous vote for accession. On June 23, in foreign policy debate Nor Parliament, FonMin made fol statement typifying frequently expressed attitude Nor leaders: “We are strongly convinced that peace can be assured only if the democracies on both sides of the Atlantic become so strong as to leave no doubt that any form of aggressive policy is profitless”.

Immediate and widespread press repudiation Russ note of Oct 15, charging Norway with aggressive actions associated with its participation NATO, was good indication present temper Nor people.6 Fol excerpt from Oslo newspaper editorial at this time is typical of comment fol publication Russ note: “Our preparedness program is correct and above board and there is not even shadow of aggressive plan in it. … We have joined NATO based on conviction … that peace and freedom are identical. We want peace for ourselves and all peoples, but we wld betray ourselves and all peoples if we paid in freedom to purchase peace”.

  1. This circular airgram requested information for the preparation for Congress of the fourth semiannual report on MDAP, to cover the period from April 1, 1951, to September 30, 1951. (700.5–MAP/10–251)
  2. Not found in Department of State files.
  3. Circular telegram 335 requested photographs of U.S. MDAP equipment in use for inclusion in the report to the Congress. (757.5/10–1251)
  4. Telegram 121 from Oslo, July 25, reported that the Chief of MAAG in Norway recommended postponing delivery of recommended MDA equipment for Norway because of inadequate maintenance and utilization of U.S. equipment. (757.5/7–2551)
  5. Eisenhower, accompanied by General Norstad and other aides, went to Oslo on September 10 for the presentation of U.S. jets to Norway. An account of the 1-day visit is in despatch 274 from Oslo, September 17. (757.5–MAP/9–1751)
  6. Regarding the Soviet note of October 15, see Document 346. Despatch 387 from Oslo, October 17, reported on Norwegian press comments concerning the Soviet note. (657.61/10–1751)