Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 102

Memorandum of Conversation, by Lucius D. Battle
top secret

Mr. Lange and Mr. Kraft asked to see the Secretary to discuss “regional problems”. The Secretary invited them for luncheon, at which Mr. Perkins, Ambassador MacVeagh, and Mr. Battle were present.

After a few general observations, Mr. Lange stated the problem which the two wanted to present to the Secretary.

He said that it was politically impossible for Norway and Denmark to agree to the permanent stationing of forces on their territory in peace time. He referred to the recent exchanges of notes with the Russians regarding this matter and stated that he had no alternative but to adhere to this policy of not permitting permanent stationing. He said that he realized it was a calculated risk which the two took. [Page 127] Mr. Kraft then said that certainly for the time being the two countries had to adhere to this policy.

Mr. Lange went on to say that Norway and Denmark were building airfields as rapidly as possible, which could receive the planes and personnel needed in the event of emergency. He said that to meet partially their problem they had worked out an arrangement whereby the two countries received visiting airplanes for short periods of time, which would not be interpreted as permanent stationing of forces. He said that these visitors would rotate and that they would try to extend their terms of stay as long as possible.

He said that approximately 450 planes were to be in the forces of the two countries, but that approximately 900 were considered necessary by SHAPE headquarters and the military men. He said that this meant that airfields must be constructed in other parts of Europe where the difference between 450 and 900 planes could be stationed. This, of course, resulted in duplicate facilities in view of the airfield construction program in the two countries.

Mr. Acheson said that these facilities would probably not really be duplicate because if they were needed, they would all be needed and we would be very glad that we had the extra ones.

Mr. Lange said that both countries had a serious problem of financing the construction program, which they had undertaken and that there was a gap of between $2 million and $7 million needed for the program. He said that since the fields under construction could not be made available for permanent stationing of personnel, Norway and Denmark were not getting credit for them under infrastructure arrangements. While he did not so state, he seemed to hope that the two countries could receive credit for the cost of construction of these fields. Mr. Kraft said twice that after sufficient strength was acquired it would be possible to use these fields permanently regardless. of the existence of an emergency.

Mr. Lange’s primary points seemed to be that they did not want to run any risk of being told that they must provide for permanent stationing of troops and that he hopes the necessity for duplicating airfields in other parts of Europe would not be charged against them under the infrastructure arrangement.

With regard to the first point, the Secretary said that he thought it would be most unwise politically for either of the countries to have to accept troops for permanent stationing now. He said he realized all the political difficulties for them and thought that, it was proper that they not try to arrange for permanent stationing. He said nothing could be more foolish at this time.

With regard to the second point the Secretary said that he understood the situation and would do what he could to help them. He promised to get to work on the problem.

[Page 128]

Mr. Lange said that a journalist from Norway had been here and had written an article which had caused great excitement in Norway and which he thought would stir up some trouble. He thought the article might lead people in Norway and Denmark to the conclusion that they must accept permanent stationing.

Mr. Acheson assured the two foreign ministers of his understanding of the problem and of his endeavor to cooperate in its solution.1

  1. A 90-word summary report on the topic discussed here was transmitted in telegram Secto 66, Feb. 24, from Lisbon, not printed. (740.5/2–2452)