Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

No. 295
Memorandum of Discussion at the 216th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, October 6, 1954 1
top secret
eyes only

Present at the 216th meeting of the Council were the Secretary of State, presiding; the Secretary of Defense; the Director, Foreign [Page 575] Operations Administration; and the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Attorney General (for Item 4); the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Secretary of the Army; the Secretary of the Navy; the Secretary of the Air Force; the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army; Admiral Duncan for the Chief of Naval Operations; the Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force; General Twining for the Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps; the Director of Central Intelligence; the Assistant to the President; Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; Robert R. Bowie, Department of State; the Executive Secretary, NSC; the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC; the Coordinator, NSC Planning Board Assistants.

Following is a summary of the discussion at the meeting and the main points taken.

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Trieste.]

8. Redeployment of United States Forces in Trieste (NSC Action No. 12032)

Secretary Wilson said that Deputy Secretary Anderson has suggested that the U.S. units now in Trieste be sent back to the United States, but that most of the men in those units might be sent to Austria as reinforcements.

Secretary Wilson expressed the opinion that the Trieste settlement has strengthened our position in Europe. He felt that we should not set a precedent of making up with U.S. forces for British and French withdrawals from Austria. Moreover, reinforcing Austria with our Trieste forces would be out of spirit with the current European situation. In any case, one additional regiment is not enough to hold Austria, but once it is sent it will be hard to withdraw.

Secretary Wilson pointed out that the cost of maintaining U.S. forces in Europe is two to three times the cost of allied forces. Redeployment of Trieste units to Austria would require more dependents in Austria and a bigger investment there, including housing. He understands the military point of view of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but thinks that the decision as to redeployment of our Trieste forces depends primarily on what the Secretary of State thinks should be done from the political viewpoint.

At Secretary Dulles’ request, General Ridgway said that the use of the Trieste forces, even though small, would give a much better chance of defending the key terrain north of the Italian frontier. There would then be a high probability of retaining the mountain passes in Austria. The Trieste regiment would constitute one-third [Page 576] of a proposed new U.S. division in Europe, one-third of which is already in Austria.

General Ridgway pointed out that the President has recently approved a new plan for the rotation of U.S. divisions overseas, under which career soldiers will serve about 50% of their time outside the United States. They must have their dependents with them or morale and enlistments will suffer.

Secretary Wilson said that he wants the men to have their dependents with them, but doesn’t want to go to Congress for additional housing in Austria.

Secretary Dulles thought that, on the military assessment of General Ridgway, the President is the best judge. In general, however, the problem of ever getting our troops out of Europe grows tremendously difficult. The Trieste troops may be redeployed to the United States without such political difficulties. If they are sent elsewhere, however, we may never get them out. Because the risk of war in Europe does not appear imminent, Secretary Dulles felt that it would be better to get our Trieste forces back to the United States.

Secretaries Dulles and Humphrey believed that this was a question the President will have to decide on the basis of the military requirement for our Trieste forces in Austria.

The National Security Council:

Discussed the subject in the light of the Trieste settlement, and requested that the discussion be reported to the President for his information.

Note: The President, after considering the above-mentioned discussion, directed the Secretary of Defense to proceed with the temporary redeployment of U.S. forces in Trieste to Leghorn, Italy, pursuant to NSC Action No. 1203, pending a final decision as to their ultimate redeployment after the President can discuss the matter further with the interested officials.

[Here follows discussion of a matter unrelated to Trieste.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Prepared by Gleason on Oct. 6.
  2. See Document 236.