The Acting Secretary of Defense ( McNeil )1 to the Secretary of State


Dear Mr. Secretary: Reference is made to a letter from Assistant Secretary of State Hickerson dated 4 December 19522

Attached is a memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff dated 5 January 1953 containing conclusions and recommendations concerning this matter, with which I concur.

In any discussions with Colombia of a 105mm howitzer battery to supplement Colombia’s infantry battalion, it appears likely that the financial obligation to be assumed by Colombia would be an important consideration from Colombia’s viewpoint. It would be undesirable if Colombia were to gain an impression that the United States affirmatively desires that Colombia supplement its infantry battalion with an artillery battery. If the matter is discussed, it is suggested that it be made clear to Colombia that the United States is simply attempting to cooperate with Colombia’s stated desire to obtain a nucleus of combat-trained artillerymen, and that Colombia should expect to reimburse the United States for services, equipment and logistic support furnished to the unit by the United States.

Sincerely yours,

W. J. McNeil


Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense ( Lovett )



  • Substitution of a Field Artillery Battalion for the Colombian Infantry Battalion in Korea
[Page 794]
In response to your memorandum, dated 12 December 1952,3 subject as above, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the proposal by the Colombian Government to replace its infantry battalion in Korea with a field artillery battalion and have concluded that, from a military point of view, it is neither practicable nor desirable to effect this change-over.
The foregoing conclusion is based on the following considerations:
The requirement for infantry units in Korea exceeds the requirement for additional 105mm artillery units.
Such substitution could conceivably form the basis for similar requests from other nations.
The language barrier inherent in having a Colombian artillery battalion supporting U.S. infantry units.
The logistical problem created by the addition of another battalion of artillery from the standpoint primarily of availability of weapons and ammunition.
Although it is desirable that member nations of the United Nations be encouraged to increase their contributions in Korea to units of at least regimental combat team size, it is recognized that Colombia and other small nations cannot afford to contribute and support such large units. The substitution of an artillery battalion for an infantry battalion would constitute an actual reduction in personnel and over all combat effectiveness.
If the Colombian request is prompted by a desire to obtain a nucleus of combat-trained artillerymen, this objective could be attained by their furnishing a 105mm artillery battery to supplement their infantry battalion, such as presently provided by the Philippine Government. However, it is recognized that the administrative burden placed upon the U.S. unit to which the Colombian battery is attached would far outweigh any tactical value such a unit would have.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the request of the Colombian Government to substitute a 105mm artillery battalion for their infantry battalion in Korea be denied.
It is further recommended that, should the Colombian Government offer to furnish a 105mm howitzer battalion in addition to their infantry battalion, such an offer be refused. Such a unit would not have the same utility to the United Nations Command as a similar U.S. battalion, and for such a battalion to continuously support the Colombian infantry battalion would be economically and tactically unsound, based upon the number of artillery units presently available. Moreover, it is understood that Colombia does not have more than 8 105mm [Page 795] howitzers at the present time, thus requiring a considerable number of 105mm howitzers to be furnished by the United States. However, in view of the expressed desire of the Colombian Government to train artillerymen as well as infantrymen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend favorable consideration be given to the furnishing by the Colombians of a 105mm howitzer battery in addition to their infantry battalion. The Colombian Government should be requested to provide the major items of equipment for this unit to the maximum extent practicable.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Omar N. Bradley

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. W. J. McNeil, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller).
  2. The referenced letter reads in part as follows:

    “The Department is considering the political implications of such a change on the United Nations collective effort in Korea. While we assume it would be preferable that the contingent of Colombian infantry in Korea be maintained in its present form, we recognize that the Colombian Government might become more insistent that its request for substitution be granted. In order to assist the Department in its consideration, it would be helpful if the Department of Defense would determine whether such a change-over would be desirable and feasible from a military point of view.” (795B.5/12–452) concerning a proposal by Colombia to substitute a field artillery battalion for its infantry battalion in Korea.

  3. No copy found in Department of State files.