721.5 MSP/12–854

Memorandum by George O. Spencer of the Office of Regional American Affairs to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Sparks)


Colombia is receiving grant military assistance required to activate the following military units which Colombia has agreed, under a bilateral military assistance agreement and a secret military plan, to prepare and commit for collective hemisphere defense: one anti-aircraft battalion, one infantry battalion, two destroyers, two patrol craft, one fighter squadron and one light bomber squadron.

The Colombian commitment to designate the infantry battalion specified above for hemisphere defense was made very recently and the commitment made it possible for us to permit the Colombian battalion returning from Korea to retain military equipment in their possession valued at about $400,000.

Several months ago the Colombians submitted a note1 which complained rather bitterly that Colombia had not received its fair share of U.S. military and economic assistance provided Latin American countries during the last few years. The Colombian Ambassador was informed that if he would indicate specifically the additional military equipment desired by Colombia, we would take the request under consideration in consultation with the Pentagon. About ten days ago we received a cable1 from our Embassy at Bogota warning us that the [Page 817] Colombians would submit a detailed list of equipment which, in the opinion of the Embassy and the U.S. military representatives in Colombia, had no relationship to Colombia’s bona fide military requirements or capabilities for maintaining and using such equipment. Shortly afterwards we received a formal Colombian request2 attaching several long lists of equipment which have been transmitted to the translators and duplicating people in the Department to be put in shape for submission to the Pentagon. The lists bear out our Embassy’s view that the Colombians appear to be literally asking for the moon. Among other things they want equipment for several infantry units, a squadron or more of aircraft, a submarine, several destroyers, etc.

There is no money available out of existing appropriations to meet a request of this size submitted by any Latin American country. No final decision on the amount of money to be requested from the Congress for the Latin American program next year has been made, but preliminary plans for next year’s program developed by the Pentagon call for no increase in the number of Colombian units to be supported by U.S. grant assistance. However, we understand that the Joint Chiefs plan to review the whole problem of grant assistance for Latin America and it is barely possible that they will recommend a small increase for Colombia, although it is extremely unlikely that they would approve anything like the increase desired by the Colombians.


(1) The Colombian Ambassador may be informed that we do not have funds to comply with the Colombian request during the present fiscal year; (2) he may be told that the Pentagon and other concerned agencies are at present developing plans for foreign military assistance programs to be conducted during FY 1956 and that the Colombian request is being referred to the Pentagon for consideration in connection with the development of those plans; (3) it should be made plain to the Ambassador that if it is considered desirable from the U.S. military point of view to comply with the request, necessary funds will be required from our Congress next year; (4) the Ambassador should in no way be encouraged to believe that it will be possible for the U.S. to comply with the request.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Department of State files indicate that the referenced request was handed to Mr. Sparks at the Department on Nov. 29, 1954, but no copy of the request was found in the files.