753.5 MSP/9–2652

No. 806
Report by the Country Team in Portugal to the Secretary of State1

top secret
u.s. eyes only
  • Subject: Country Team, Portugal, Recommendations on the Portuguese Ability to Receive and Support an Air Force Composed of Three or Five Jet Squadrons

After giving due consideration to the political, the military, and the economic considerations involved in this problem, the Country Team reached the conclusion that an air force composed of five jet squadrons could be supported by Portugal but that, as of the target date of the Medium Term Defense Plan, she could only support three squadrons, and that the Country Team should recommend that the Calendar 1953 MDAP end-item program toward this end should be supported, even though the immediate utilization will be weak. As regards the Calendar 1954 program, the Team believes that this should be considered later in the light of the Annual Review and such circumstances as might then obtain.

Due weight should also be given the fact that these papers have not been written on the basis of consultation with the Portuguese; and that, while we have some facts from which to draw conclusions, we must also make considerable use of unconfirmed reports, conjectures, and careful guesses.

What she can do and what she will do may turn out to be two very different things. Therefore, in order to present any study at all, the Team was forced to use two assumptions. The first of these is that “MSA assumes Portugal can spend on defense up to $90 millions annually.” This runs contrary to what MSA believes Portugal will do. The second assumption is that “Portugal really does intend to have an air force and will devote to that air force any financial availability not assigned under her present TCC position even at the expense of other governmental projects.” This assumption flies into the face of: [Page 1733]

what Portugal has said she would do;
the National Development Plan (See Tab B.);
the interests of the Army and the Navy.

The Team found the economic and the military factors involved relatively simple of approach, while, on the other hand, it found the political factors somewhat more difficult and yet, in all probability, the factors which, from the standpoint of the U.S. national interest, should in the last analysis be controlling.

From the purely military point of view, she is capable of supporting a 5-jet squadron air force and of bringing three squadrons to effective capabilities by the MTDP target date of July 1, 1954. She has the manpower; she can develop the training; she can set up infrastructure and organizational support; and she can develop the leadership, although this is the most difficult target for her in this field. Indeed, if she really wanted to do so, and again from a purely military point of view, subsequent to the MTDP target date, she can bring in the remaining two squadrons. (Please see Tab A.)

From the purely economic angle, Portugal can, and probably will, support 3 jet squadrons to July 1, 1954, supposing that we continue support in terms of MDAP end-item aid. When we desist from MDAP, she still could continue 3-jet support on her own, but present indications are that she is not prepared to do so. (Please see Tab B.)

As to the political considerations, the Team reached the conclusion that her internal political situation will permit a 3 to 5 squadron air force, and, indeed, she might even maintain a larger force without developing such internal stresses as would create a domestic political problem. (Please see Tab C.) The Team then found itself faced with a second political consideration: should this problem not be approached from the point of view of US–Portuguese relations rather than from the point of purely domestic Portuguese political factors? And, if so, granted the scarcity of jets and the lower standard of effective Portuguese use thereof, what would be the minimum number of squadrons while still maintaining an atmosphere favorable to our other requirements? Necessarily, the question came up, exactly how much do we want from Portugal and what are we prepared to pay for what we want? In discussing this problem, the Team reached the following conclusions:

US–Portuguese relations are the controlling factor in this problem;
these relations would be impaired if we failed to implement the 3-jet program for 1953 regardless of the requirements for completely effective support and end-use;
these relations would be impaired if we failed to implement the 2-jet additional program for 1954 if the Annual Review priority classifications warranted such a program;
but, if the Annual Review did not warrant such a program, some of the onus might be transferred to, but still shared with other NATO countries, and our relations might not be seriously affected.

As the Team was unable to estimate the values to the United States of those other requirements the United States expects Portugal to grant and how to translate these values into the price we are willing to pay, it found it difficult to reach a recommendation. On the basis of instructions the Team and its components have received concerning our requirements in and from Portugal, we believe it appropriate to assume the values to be such that it should recommend implementation of the 5-jet squadron program if the Annual Review approves of adequate priorities; that, if the Annual Review does not approve of adequate priorities, this matter should be reconsidered in the light of what we at that time still require from Portugal; and that, in any event, the MDAP-programmed deliveries of 3 jet squadrons for 1953 should go forward. (Please see Tab D.)

The considerations, the conclusions, and the recommendations are all premised on the assumption that war will not break out between the Western Powers and the USSR prior to July 1, 1954.

  • James Minotto
  • Cavendish W. Cannon
  • Frank Camm
  1. The Country Team, consisting of the political, economic, and military representatives of the United States in Portugal, represented respectively by Ambassador Cannon, James Minotto of the MSA, and Gen. Frank Camm of the MAAG, submitted this report at the joint request of the Deputy Commander in Chief of the U.S. European Command and the U.S. Special Representative in Europe. The report, of which only a covering summary is printed here, consists of four parts identified as Tabs A through D. Tab A dealt with military aspects, Tab B with economic aspects, and Tabs C and D with political aspects. The report was transmitted to Washington in despatch 166 from Lisbon, Sept. 26.