721.5 MSP/6–2552

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs ( Mann )

  • Participants: [Lt.] General Charles L. Bolte, [Maj.] General R. L. Walsh, [Brig.] General George C. Stewart;
  • Mr. Edward G. Miller, Jr.,
  • Mr. Thomas C. Mann

The problems arising out of the request of the Colombian Government for equipment for thirteen Colombian battalions were discussed.

Mr. Miller and Mr. Mann discussed the general political situation in Colombia. They said that according to Colombian representatives, the arms were to be used for the purpose of maintaining internal order and explained the problems which this presented, both for the Department of Defense and the Department of State. They also explained that the arms going to Colombia under the hemisphere defense program were in an entirely different category, both because of the purpose for which the arms were being supplied and because the anti-aircraft equipment given to Colombia was not so easily adaptable to use against Colombians.

It was the consensus of the meeting that the best procedure would be for the Defense Department to accept whatever funds the Colombians [Page 780] wished to deposit for the equipment described in the lists furnished to us by the Colombians and to delay delivery of those items of an anti-personnel character until the situation should become better clarified in Colombia. At the same time equipment such as trucks, radios, and things of a similar character would be made available without delay additional to that imposed by circumstances. Representatives of the State Department and the Pentagon would consult with each other concerning the different categories of equipment and the timing of their delivery.

It was also the consensus of the meeting that it is important for the Defense and State Departments to present a united front on this issue to the Colombians and to explain to them delays by referring to problems of priorities and other technical considerations rather than our fears that the equipment would be mis-used.

Mr. Miller handed to General Bolte a copy of the State Department’s letter1 to the Defense Department concerning the problem of reimbursement for equipment furnished the Colombian battalion in Korea. General Bolte expressed informally his sympathy with the approach suggested in that lettter.

  1. Apparent reference to the letter dated June 25, 1952; for a draft, see p. 770.