753.5 MSP/9–552: Despatch

No. 805
The Chargé in Portugal (Carrigan) to the Department of State

top secret
No. 117
  • Reference: Embtel 39, July 23, and Deptel 76, August 14, 19521
  • Subject: MDAP Air Force Program/Portugal.

The following is a review prepared by MAAG/Portugal and transmitted by the Country Team concerning the matter of deliveries and utilization of MDAP Air Force equipment to Portugal, subsequent to the situation reported in Embtel 39, July 23, and to the receipt of the instructions contained in Deptel 76, August 14.

  • “1. A memorandum was sent to the Minister of Defense on August 282 along the lines of Deptel 76. Copies have been furnished to SRE/Paris and MAD/EUCOM as well as informally to the Bureau of European Affairs, Department of State. The following were the major points of this memorandum:
    It reviewed past correspondence on the subject of aircraft deliveries under MDAP;
    It stated that the two F–47 and 5 jet squadrons continue to be the U.S. program;
    It reviewed activation program previously outlined by the Minister of Defense and showed that the United States equipment [Page 1730] program would permit realization of the first three phases of the Defense Minister’s program;
    It pointed out that two to three months had passed since the passage of the basic laws giving the Minister of Defense full authority to act, and that close approach of delivery date of the jets required discussion of air program;
    It stated that, in spite of reduced utilization of F–47 aircraft on hand, the United States was prepared to deliver jets at a rate consistent with the demonstrated Portuguese ability to utilize, and in the quantity consistent with NATO plans;
    It told the Minister of Defense, for his information, that from the United States point of view the minimum measures to qualify for receipt of jets on the present schedule consisted of the following: The establishment of capable Air Force Headquarters at once; activation of jet squadron at once; man jet squadron to 80% by October 1; man supporting units to 80% by January 1; the bringing of jet squadron and supporting units to 80% effectiveness standpoint of basic technical training prior to arrival of aircraft on January 1; establishment of effective supply and maintenance organization to support jets prior to January 1; intensification of airfields and runway construction to insure the availability of operational base and depot by January 1; it indicated that the United States would not undertake financial support—hence assurance should be forthcoming that Portuguese funds were available to support the program; it also indicated that if the schedule of preparation was impossible of accomplishment, the delivery schedule would have to be readjusted;
    It stated that the United States doubted that Portugal could accept the full program without violating MDAP and NATO principles;
    It outlined the United States view that Portugal was responsible for all phases of the program other than certain MDAP matériel and assured Portugal that the United States desired to cooperate in every way possible;
    It stated that actual delivery depended on factors of MAAG recommendations, NATO recommended priorities and demonstrated ability of Portugal to utilize. It asked the Minister of Defense for a detailed statement indicating the number of squadrons Portugal would support from the standpoint of budget, organization, personnel, and facilities, and for detailed schedule of activation of these squadrons;
    It assured the Minister of Defense of our understanding of the difficulty of the problems and offered the services of any MAAG officer who might assist in their solution.
  • 2. A memorandum, dated September 1,3 was received by the Chief of MAAG, from the Minister of Defense, on September 3 which is summarized as follows: [Page 1731]
    It stated that at NATO revision conference Portugal would propose program for CY 1953 total 125 aircraft (100 fighters for continental Portugal and 25 for Azores). CY 1954 total of 200 aircraft (100 fighters and 25 awx fighters for continental Portugal, 25 fighters for Azores, and 50 fighters for SHAPE committed force). For CY 1955 finally arrive at total of 250 aircraft (100 fighters and 25 awx fighters for continental Portugal, 25 fighters and 25 awx fighters for Azores, 75 fighters for SHAPE committed forces). The Minister of Defense considers the program for 53 as firm, for 54 as provisional and for 55 as in planning stage. It further stated that in presenting the program to NATO, Portugal would note that accomplishment thereof was dependent upon the United States furnishing MDAP equipment.
    The second paragraph acknowledged the receipt of MAAG’s memorandum of August 28 and stated: ‘If you will take the trouble to re-read most carefully your memorandum to me, you will certainly conclude that it is not reasonable to expect a reply signed by the Minister of Defense.’ The Minister went on in the next sentence to thank the Chief of MAAG for the helpful information on organization and maintenance which was contained in an annex to the memorandum to the Minister of Defense.
  • 3. In spite of the Minister’s curt refusal to answer the memorandum in detail, there are indications that crash action being taken to implement many of its provisions. The law establishing Headquarters of a separate Air Force was implemented on September 4 by the appointment of a Chief of Staff and key officers. The Air Force has been opened to voluntary enlistments as of August 30. Advertisement for bids for construction of the runway, taxiways, parking areas, etc., at two air bases appeared in the local press on September 1. All leaves of Air Force officers were cancelled September 2, and those who were on leave were recalled as of September 10. Informal information was received on September 4 that CCTC base had been closed, as MAAG had suggested to provide personnel to man the new jet squadron.
  • 4. As a sidelight to this problem but as an indication to the present attitude of the Minister of Defense, the local press report of the speech made before the Portuguese Legion on September 1st, on the occasion of the opening of a Civil Defense School stated The Minister of Defense affirmed that this school was created at an appropriate time without pressure from any country, association or foreign entity, etc.’”

The Country Team now is considering future action, and further developments will be promptly reported.

John Willard Carrigan
  1. Documents 801 and 803.
  2. Not found in Department of State files.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.