Iberian Desk files, lot 58 D 481, “Azores, 1952–1954”

No. 809
Memorandum by the Second Secretary of Embassy in Portugal (Carrigan) to the Ambassador in Portugal (Guggenheim)1

As on January 1, 1957, the present Azores Agreement will come to an end.2
It is felt that it is not too early to begin thinking, among ourselves alone, as to the atmosphere which may prevail during the negotiations we assume will be undertaken looking toward renewal of the Agreement; as to the timing of the negotiations; and as to the methods we might follow.
Accordingly, we feel that the entire question of military or economic support cannot be dismissed if we seek a favorable atmosphere during the Azores talks. (See underlying notes.)
As to timing, it would of course be preferable if it were possible to take up these talks before any unpleasant atmosphere has been created. However, it is the consensus of present opinion that to discuss the Agreement a year or more before it comes to an end would bring about no results, and that it would be better to bring up the question as near to the actual termination date as possible.
As to methods, the Embassy has learned, informally, of the thought that the renewal of the facilities arrangements should be on the basis of an entirely new agreement in which would be injected a large number of new factors and requirements. The Embassy feels that it would be preferable to think in terms of the simplest possible exchange of notes, merely arranging for the continuation for a given period of the actual basic accord, and to take up, subsequently, the new requirements and factors as matters to be injected into annexes to the basic agreement. Our problem, and the compensations the Portuguese will ask, render the situation far too complicated for us to revamp the entire approach.

Notes on “Atmosphere”

Our principal assistance, on the Portuguese side, the last time the Azores were discussed, came from the Defense Minister, Col. [Page 1739] Santos Costa. It is probable that he will still be Defense Minister at the time we open the new talks. It is also probable that we will again be looking to him for assistance. His own attitude, therefore, is one we should take into consideration.
Our principal problem, with him, over the last two years, has concerned the Portuguese Air Force, and this problem has been coming to a critical point in connection with jet planes.
He has received one squadron of jets, and there is another due shortly. Scheduled for year’s end is the arrival of a third squadron, although MAAG, within the strict terms of the concept of its mission, has been forced to recommend that this squadron should not be sent.
Its recommendation is based on the assumptions that, first, our spare parts support to Portugal will be nil in Fiscal Year 1955; and, secondly, that Santos Costa will not be able to devote the budgetary support which would be necessary to operate the three jet squadrons.
MAAG reached the first assumption on the basis of the following:

The Joint Chiefs (CINCEUR telegram to MAAG, December 9, 19533 decided that the end-item support would be cut out in Fiscal Year 1955.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense (Air Force Matériel telegraphed MAAG December 223) was studying the eligibility of various countries to continue receiving such support in FY 1955, basing their studies on the Country Team evaluations of the countries’ capabilities to support forces. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (Air Force Matériel to MAAG, January 63) stated that no spare parts were programmed for FY 1955 for Portugal as OSD held her ineligible under the ground rules for the determination of eligibility.

MAAG reached its second assumption (budgetary incapability to support three squadrons) on the basis of the following:

The Defense Minister is presently budgeting the escudo equivalent of $12,000,000 for Air. If spare parts support is cut off, the three squadrons, on an austerity basis, will cost him $25,000,000 annually.

The total military budget (1955–1956) will probably run around $50 millions to $52 millions (regular—$43 millions; NATO, $7 millions).

The Defense Minister will find it difficult to justify allocation of some fifty per cent of his entire defense budget to one service.

If the present assumptions are correct, Santos Costa will not have the financial ability to support his planes.
His Air Chief of Staff was advised of the cut-off date for spares just recently. He sent this advice to the Defense Minister who (according to the PAF C/S) merely filed it, placing thereon the word “Noted”. There was no known immediate reaction on his part.
Santos Costa has assumed full responsibility for the Air Force. He will have the blame for failure, or for having to approach Salazar asking for more money.
Santos Costa, we can only assume, rather than accept this blame, will then make the Azores the subject of a “quid pro quo” arrangement.

It will be recalled that, in discussing SACLANT’s Espinho and Montijo, requirements, Santos Costa attempted to “price” these in terms of jet planes. The Azores will certainly have a higher price.

Recently, also, our Air Force renewed its interest in Sal Island (Cape Verde group) where they may eventually want facilities similar to those in the Azores.

It may be more realistic to attempt to keep the “quid” and the “quo” apart, and, as a tactical matter, it might be better for us to set up our “quo” before we try to obtain, from him, his “quid”. In other words, let us determine how far we will go on the basis of our needs.
  1. This memorandum was transmitted to Ambassador Guggenheim, then in Washington for consultations, under a covering letter from Carrigan, Jan. 29. Guggenheim had been appointed to replace Cannon, who left his post Aug. 1, on June 24, 1953. Guggenheim presented his credentials on Aug. 12.
  2. Reference is to the Defense Agreement Between the United States and Portugal Respecting Use of Facilities in the Azores, signed Sept. 6, 1951. The text of this agreement is in 5 UST (pt. 3) 2263.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.
  4. Not found in Department of State files.
  5. Not found in Department of State files.