715.5 MSP/8–1054

The Deputy Under Secretary of State (Murphy) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Hensel)1


Dear Mr. Hensel : Since the conclusion of a bilateral military assistance agreement between the United States and Honduras on May 20, 1954, the Government of Honduras has been the recipient of grant military assistance furnished under the provisions of Section 401 of the Mutual Security Act of 1949,2 as amended. According to the secret bilateral military plan, signed by United States and Honduran military representatives, and according to a letter of November 25, 1953,3 from the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs4 to the Secretary of State, grant military assistance provided Honduras is being furnished for the purpose of assisting that country to prepare one infantry battalion for a hemisphere defense mission developed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and defined in the bilateral military plan.

[Page 1312]

After a careful on-the-scene study of Honduran army capability for developing an infantry battalion and using it in the performance of a hemisphere defense mission, the Acting Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group assigned to Honduras and the United States Ambassador are strongly of the opinion that such a unit would be unable to perform effectively and expeditiously any type of a military mission requiring the rapid movement of battalion troops and equipment from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, without military aircraft, which are not at present planned for inclusion in the program. The Ambassador and Acting Chief of the MAAG have pointed out that lack of accessible roads leading from the frontiers of Honduras to Tegucigalpa, where the battalion is stationed, would make it difficult, if not impossible, to move the battalion expeditiously by land to a number of locations outside and within Honduras where the battalion might be required to perform a defense mission. According to the Ambassador, the Acting Chief of MAAG is of the opinion that the minimum number of planes required to give the infantry battalion necessary mobility would be two C–47 aircraft. The Department of State is of the opinion that communist activity within Honduras, which has recently been manifested in labor strikes and riots, and that other types of communist activity in the Central American area, pose a threat to the stability of the present Honduran Government. It is of overriding political importance to the interest of the United States that such disturbances be prevented at this time. In the event of a communist inspired emergency within Honduras, the Department of State believes that it might be necessary to consider the desirability of permitting the Honduran army battalion to be used for resisting communist subversion, which is not, of course, the specific purpose for which the unit is being developed. It is conceivable that a type of emergency dictating such a course of action might arise during the Honduran national elections, which are to be held October 10, 1954.

In view of the considerations mentioned above, which are in part political, the Department of State strongly recommends that the necessary C–47 aircraft be added to the grant military assistance program to provide the Honduran army battalion the capability for rapid movement, and that the aircraft be delivered to Honduras at a date as far in advance of the Honduran national elections as possible. The Department of State recommends that, if necessary, appropriated funds required to include the planes in the Honduran program be made available by means of small adjustments in other Latin American country programs.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Murphy
  1. Drafted by Mr. Spencer; cleared with Assistant Secretary Holland, the Office of Middle American Affairs, and the Office of the Special Assistant to the Secretary for Mutual Security Affairs.
  2. Public Law 329, approved Oct. 6, 1949; for text, see 63 Stat. 715.
  3. Not printed (716.5 MSP/11–2553).
  4. Frank C. Nash.