753.5/8–1452: Telegram

No. 803
The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Portugal1

top secret

76. Paris pass SRE and US CINCEUR, London pass Director MAD, Frankfurt pass US CINCEUR, ref: Lisbon to Dept 39,2 Defto 79,3 and Defto 99.4

Agree time has come for general reexamination Portugal Force Program in light demonstrated capabilities. Washington now engaged in US eyes only study each NATO country’s Force Plan in preparation for NATO Annual Review. Your further views re extent and direction politically feasible reductions welcomed.
Believe question of changing Jet program can best be resolved in Annual Review process. Current USAF Programming will permit delivery of 3 squadrons as scheduled for CY 1953 and 2 additional squadrons in CY 1954. This is and remains present US Program. As we see it, US should continue programming 5 Jet squadrons until Annual Review completed but, with due regard for essentiality of Azores bases, give Portugal clear understanding as recommended Defto 79 that both Program and rate deliveries depend upon their ability establish and maintain squadrons.
Suggest reply to DefMin make following points: [Page 1727]
US has been forced consider reduction Portuguese Jet program in view lag in Portuguese air program and lack effective Portuguese efforts rectify this situation. Consideration of such action further necessitated by limited availability of jets to meet NATO requirements and applicability of NATO priority system (See Defense Cable DA 91452 sent to Director MAD London August 1 for transmission to MAAGs5);
US remains prepared deliver necessary Jet planes for 5 squadrons, if and when Portugal ready and able use, support and maintain them effectively, and program remains consistent with agreed NATO plans. Contingent upon effective and progressive implementation of program by Portugal which would assure full utilization of aircraft, US current programming will permit delivery of 3 squadrons as scheduled for CY 1953 and 2 additional squadrons in CY 1954;
On basis info available to US have grave doubts that Portugal, in fact, taking necessary steps to effectively utilize 3 squadrons, and certainly no present indication could receive entire program of 5 without violating basic concept MDAP requiring efficient use End Item Aid as well as corresponding SHAPE principles in recommending NATO priorities. Therefore, must request advice from Portuguese government as to Jet forces it will undertake to establish and maintain effectively and when will be ready to receive them. Actual delivery schedules will necessarily depend upon MAAG recommendations re ability Portugal to utilize programmed aircraft consistent with NATO priority criteria and available US resources to meet MDAP requirements;
US desires assist and cooperate with Portugal in this matter but considers responsibility for making Jet program possible other than supply of planes is Portugal’s. US cannot undertake to underwrite through Defense Support financial burden of supporting and maintaining jets although will do everything reasonable to assist Portugal in developing and implementing necessary steps to make possible scheduled delivery of planes for 5 squadrons.6
  1. Repeated to Paris, London, and Frankfurt.
  2. Document 801.
  3. Dated Aug. 2, this telegram advocated that the Country Team in Portugal undertake a campaign to persuade the Portuguese to take the necessary steps to prepare for the receipt of three squadrons of U.S. jet fighters. (Lisbon Embassy files, lot 59 F 53, “Portuguese Air Force Program, 1950–1952”)
  4. Not found in Department of State files.
  5. Not found in Department of State files.
  6. For a response to this telegram, see Document 805.