Telegraphic Summary, by the United States Delegation1
top secret

Foreign Ministers second meeting December 6 p.m. follows.2


  • NATO

Ismay stated report to Ministers re NATO progress just completed [Page 1792] before his departure.3 This report does not touch upon “new look” or “long haul” concept re defense build-up. He believes time ripe for such work in NATO as we should know “what we want and how to obtain it.” His mention this subject not caused by pessimism over defense build-up. On contrary, this not unsatisfactory. Annual Review will show 39 M Day divisions and 35 brigade groups and 83 M plus 30 divisions and 42 brigade groups. Of course, all these units not up to SACEUR standards; however, even though they may not constitute deterrent to Soviets they certainly are “discouragement.” Re air strength, annual review will show 5,112 planes on M Day of which 4,090 under SACEUR. Furthermore, recent NATO international maneuvers revealed great progress in standardization in training and procedures. Equipment and armament has [have] been improved and there is well integrated command structure. As result, NATO forces now have real cohesion. Finally, infrastructure at last going well: 120 airfields this year compared to 60 last year.

Nevertheless, we must face certain facts:

Military budgets are leveling off after three years steady increase and could conceivably show slight reduction at later stage.
Forces in being are definitely less than military requirements. Ismay “absolutely certain,” however, that these military requirements levels cannot be attained on basis present peace-time economies.

While essential take new look at NATO defense build-up, selection individuals to perform this exacting task also important. Existing NATO bodies cannot do it. Present NATO personnel cannot do it alone unless divorced from all other duties for at least three months. While Ismay has no definite plan, he suggested following general ideas: work should be under authority Secretary General. Most important very good man be chosen head up group which should be small as possible. Group should include representatives from non-Standing Group countries. Finally, Ismay said important Ministers also decide terms reference and suggested following general points for inclusion:

NATO build-up should be placed on “long pull” basis which apparently agreed by three Foreign Ministers.
There should be no change in present strategic concept of forward strategy (i.e., defense as far east as possible). Any change therein would have extremely grave political effects in Europe.
Terms reference should provide definite assumptions re new weapons.
Terms reference should include agreed orders of magnitude of future military expenditures.

Ismay expressed hope that if above agreed Bermuda one of Ministers [Page 1793] present there would raise it at forthcoming NAC and suggested appropriate opportunity would be in connection Annual Review.4

Bidault, in name French Government, agreed Ismay statement. He had several refinements to suggest which he trusted would be acceptable:

Heartily endorsed suggestion work should proceed under supervision Secretary General as “Wise Men of TCC had left not always best of memories behind them”.5 In particular, Bidault criticized their lack of drive and initiative. (Bidault carefully stated his remark only against collective work of Wise Men and against no individual.)
Existing organizations such as Standing Group on military side, and permanent representatives on civilian side, should be called upon to participate in new look, however and whenever they can assist.
Selection of members of group should be agreed by the US, UK and French Governments.

Eden expressed UK’s entire agreement with Ismay proposals and expressed hope for real progress at next NAC. Eden then asked Ismay about status Bidault suggestion divert part of NAC work from plenaries to separate groups Defense and Foreign Ministers. Ismay answered question put to permanent representatives and, that while no decision reached, he believed most agree.

Secretary then raised question guidance Ismay re latter’s report permanent council. After some discussion, following was agreed: Ismay would discreetly expand on communiqué exercising particular discretion concerning topics which would be more profitably developed by three Ministers themselves at NAC. In addition thereto, Ismay should report fully his presentation to three Foreign Ministers. Secretary cautioned Ismay particularly against repeating anything he had said re US NATO plans and atomic matters which he wishes present himself to NAC. Finally, at Bidault’s suggestion, it was agreed that care would be exercised in communiqué to avoid giving impression Big Three had sought prepare forthcoming Council meeting in advance. Ismay thereupon left room.

Balance meeting devoted discussion organization and agenda subsequent meetings Foreign Ministers and heads delegations. Only two noteworthy aspects:

Bidault’s dissatisfaction with manner in which separation items between Foreign Ministers and heads governments for primary consideration appeared to have resulted in “two simultaneous conferences”; and
Bidault expressed concern that matter of security assurances be treated “with seriousness which subject deserves”.

  1. The telegraphic summary printed here was transmitted in Secto 17 from Bermuda, Dec. 7 (1 a.m.). It was sent in two sections and repeated to London, Paris, and Bonn. No other record of the fourth Foreign Ministers meeting has been found in the Department of State files.
  2. For a report on the first Foreign Ministers meeting on Dec. 6, see FM MIN 3, p. 1787 and the telegraphic summary, p. 1788.
  3. Presumably Ismay is referring to C–M (53) 162, “Report by the Secretary General of Progress during the Period 17th April 1953 to 3rd December 1953”, dated Dec. 7, which was prepared for the North Atlantic Council meeting scheduled for mid-December in Paris. Documentation on the meeting is presented on pp. 454 ff. A copy of C–M (53) 162 is in the Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 170.
  4. In Secto 19, Dec. 7, not printed, Merchant urged that the Department of State should immediately give thought to this proposal by Ismay. (396.1/12–753)
  5. Documentation on the origin of the Temporary Council Committee (TCC) is presented in Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. iii, Part 1, pp. 1 ff.; for documentation on the report of the TCC Wisemen to NATO, see pp. 203 ff.