No. 817
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Davis) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Dear Mr. Secretary: The Department of Defense has developed certain additional military requirements in the Azores and in the Cape Verde Islands for facilities and operating rights. These additional military requirements are not covered by the existing Defense Agreement with the Government of Portugal signed on 6 September 1951.1 There is an urgent need to negotiate an agreement with the Portuguese which will provide the additional military facilities and operating rights to satisfy these requirements.

Inclosed for your information and use in future negotiations are: a) a statement of the additional United States military requirements in the Azores, and b) a statement of the United States military requirements in the Cape Verde Islands.2

The additional military requirements in the Azores are: a) to increase the present personnel ceiling from 1200 to approximately 5800 United States personnel, b) to station three squadrons of airborne [Page 1754] early warning aircraft, c) to station a fighter interceptor squadron at Lajes Air Base, d) to secure certain additional land areas, e) to insure that the Portuguese aircraft control and warning system being programmed for the Azores under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program is operational on a 24-hour basis and has English-speaking controllers (United States assistance, to the extent required, can be made available) and f) to equip the present air rescue unit located at Lajes Air Base with C–54 aircraft.

While it is recognized that the local defense of the Azores is a Portuguese responsibility, the United States is willing to deploy the fighter interceptor squadron either on a permanent or on a temporary basis until such time as Portugal can develop an air defense capability at that location. The United States Air Force fighter interceptor squadron can be deployed whenever adequate ground aircraft control and warning facilities are operational.

The requirements at Sal, Cape Verde Islands, are to station a minimum support unit and to develop the local airfield for use in connection with an alternate Atlantic Air Movement Route.

The Defense Agreement of September 1951 with the Government of Portugal should provide a satisfactory vehicle for the fulfillment of these new military requirements. It is suggested that this agreement be broadened to provide the additional military rights required. Although the precise wording of that agreement is not completely satisfactory, the actual working relationships existing between the United States and Portugal under the provisions of that agreement have been generally very satisfactory. Because of this, and in view of the fact that the existing agreement was concluded only after long and tedious negotiations, it is believed that the broadening of that agreement would be more desirable than attempting to renegotiate the entire agreement. However, inasmuch as important rights under the present agreement will expire in 1956, and in view of the sizable United States investment, it is requested that an attempt be made at this time to extend the Defense Agreement for the duration of NATO.

The present Defense Agreement (Technical Agreement) also contains a provision that the United States commander shall not be of higher rank that the local Portuguese commander in the Azores. At the present time both the Portuguese commander and the United States commander are colonels. The establishment of a United States unified command in the Azores has placed increased importance on the position of the United States commander to the extent that the Department of Defense considers he should be an officer of general or flag rank. It is not considered necessary to reword the present technical agreement; however, within its terms [Page 1755] it will be necessary to obtain Portuguese concurrence in raising the rank of the United States commander.

It is anticipated that the Portuguese may request that additional fighter aircraft and related support be furnished through the United States Mutual Defense Assistance Program as a quid pro quo for additional United States military rights. At the present time the Portuguese have not demonstrated a capability to utilize any aircraft effectively beyond that already contained in current Mutual Defense Assistance programs. Until and unless an improved capability is demonstrated, no additional aircraft should be promised under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program, not even as a quid pro quo for additional base rights.

It is requested that negotiations be opened with Portugal with a view toward reaching an agreement which will: a) provide the additional military rights desired both in the Azores and in the Cape Verde Islands; b) extend the duration of the present Defense Agreement; and c) permit the United States to increase the rank of the US commander in the Azores. The Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic, will be prepared to furnish military advisors to assist the United States Ambassador to Portugal during the course of negotiations.

It is requested that the Department of Defense be kept informed of the progress of the negotiations, and that any arrangements considered satisfactory by the United States representative be forwarded to this Department for review prior to signature.

Sincerely yours,

A. C. Davis
  1. The text of the Defense Agreement is in 5 UST (pt. 3) 2263.
  2. The enclosures were not found attached to the source text.