No. 841


Memorandum by the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Burns) to the Special Assistant to the President (Harriman)1

top secret

Subject: Military Assistance Programs for Yugoslavia

1. This memorandum will advise you of the status of the above subject.

2. Heretofore approved policy (NSC 18/42) calls for, in consultation with France and U.K.:

Facilitating arms purchases by Yugoslavia currently.
Furnishing arms assistance when an emergency occurs in Yugoslavia.

The Department of State is now drafting a revision of NSC 18/4 further developing the above policy along the lines recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and outlined below.

3. As a result of NSC 18/4, a working-level committee of French, U.K., and U.S. representatives drafted, during October 1950, a plan for stockpiling in Europe estimated Yugoslav emergency matériel needs, for quick delivery when the emergency occurred. The three Governments are now considering the committee report.3

4. In recent actions, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have recommended:

Acceptance of the tripartite committee report.
Initiation of stockpiling as soon as possible.
Inclusion in FY 1952 MDAP funds requests of $160 million for this purpose. The JCS have made the determination as to Yugoslavia’s strategic importance to the U.S. as required by the MDA act.

5. As regards procurement of matériel for the stockpile, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have recommended, in the light of present circumstances, a priority equal to that of the NATO countries. In view of current programs, no significant quantities of U.S. equipment would become available from current production until January 1952. Matériel for the stockpile will therefore be drawn from the following sources:

Excess U.S. items.
Soviet matériel captured in Korea. Small, but useful, quantities can be made serviceable. Yugoslav forces now have, and apparently can maintain much Soviet matériel.
Captured German matériel in France and Norway, excess to their needs. Yugoslav forces also have quantities of such matériel. Appreciable quantities are available, although some French holdings might not be released until certain MDAP deliveries scheduled for April 1951 are made to France. The matter of release of this matériel to the U.S. for Yugoslavia as a measure of mutual aid or on other terms has yet to be worked out by the Department of State.
British matériel owned by Canada and becoming surplus to Canadian needs as a result of U.S. equipment purchases.

6. A fairly good stockpile can probably be assembled from the above sources. If when the emergency arises circumstances warrant and permit, additional quantities can probably be made available by diversions of matériel in MDAP pipelines.

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7. As regards certain statutory requirements (a bilateral agreement, consultations with Congress and with the NATO countries) stockpiling action with FY 1951 funds poses no security problem since these requirements need be met only when the emergency occurs or is imminent, and the matériel is actually transferred. It is not expected that FY 1952 fund requests will identify a Yugoslav program, but will permit such a program within its framework.

J.H. Burns
  1. A copy of this memorandum was sent to Matthews.
  2. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, p. 1341.
  3. Regarding the Tripartite Committee on Military Assistance to Yugoslavia, including information on their final report which was issued in October 1950, see the editorial note, Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, p. 1482.