S/S–NSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 143 Series
Record of Meeting of the Ad Hoc
Committee on NSC 143, Friday,
March 27, 19531
a. Members present at the meeting:
- Lt. General Willis D. Crittenberger, Chairman
- Mr. Charles B. Marshall, State Member
- Maj. General Clark L. Ruffner, Defense Member
- Brig. General John Weckerling, CIA Member
- Mr. Edmund Taylor, PSB Member
b. Also present were:
- Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge
- Mr. Aldo L. Raffa, CIA
- Colonel Paul C. Davis, Support Plans Branch, HQ, U.S. Army Europe
- Lt. Col. G. E. Levings, Office, Chief Legislative Liaison,U.S.A.
- Lt. Col. E. F. Black, Department of Defense
- Mr. Leon Fuller, State Department
- Mrs. Margaret Grubb
- After introducing Ambassador Lodge, the chairman explained that the committee would like his views on VFC because of his unique experience in legislative, diplomatic, political and military posts. He explained that Mr. Lodge’s statement of January 1951,2 had been distributed to the committee, which would appreciate having the Ambassador’s ideas on the military and psychological value of a Volunteer Freedom Corps.
Mr. Lodge said he would like to place his statement in the context that he has reached the conclusion since joining UN that the thing that bothers the Russians most is our escapee program. It gets “under their skins” he said because it is (1) indication of failure on their part, (2) represents loss of manpower and (3) because [Page 200] the Soviets fear escapees will be damaging to them. To get the USSR in a “peaceful posture”, he recommends intensifying escapee programs and propaganda to the extent where the Russians will ask us to “lay off”.
He pointed out that the fact that the U.S. was founded by escapees from oppression is precedence for U.S. solicitude for escapees from behind the Iron Curtain.
- The issue can be a tremendous political weapon for use in UN, Mr. Lodge said. He reported that he had attended a meeting to discuss obtaining information from escapees on monstrosities behind the Curtain for use as the basis of a resolution before the UN. Escapees can, he said, give the U.S. the initiative in psychological warfare, and can be the biggest, single, constructive, creative element in our foreign policy.
- The previous administration, Mr. Lodge said, took a negative, passive attitude on escapees. We should take an active attitude and encourage them. He expressed his opinion that the increase in escapees since the death of Stalin, despite tightening of border controls, is indication of increased repression behind the Iron Curtain.
- He reported that Marshal DeLattre believes that an outright appeal for escapees in Europe will get two million men; and “undertable” appeal promising escapees good care should get 250,000 men, Ambassador Lodge said.
- The speaker emphasized that the proposed corps should not be a Foreign Legion or a force of mercenaries and that promoting it on the basis of “relieving our own men” would be the “beginning of the end”. The proposed corps should be our allies, and there is no reason for them to be under a different uniform or flag.
- Mr. Lodge expressed
admiration for the way the USSR is running the Chinese
Communists while the U.S. uses her own men in Korea because of
failure to see the advisability of enlisting the aid of sincere
non-Communists around the world. As other reasons he mentioned:
- The belief that U.S. soldiers are easier to handle than foreign troops.
- Failure to think back of the U.S. soldier to the cost of having him in Korea.
- Reluctance of the Army to endanger its prestige by admitting foreign soldiers.
U.S. manhood is the country’s greatest asset, Mr. Lodge said, but it is not a bottomless pit. We must gain allies to bear arms with us. Failure in this has caused the American people to blame UN for the situation in Korea whereas the Defense Department is responsible because of its unwillingness stated in writing to take [Page 201] any more foreign soldiers unless they could provide their own equipment due to a “diminished sense of urgency” on the part of the public in the Korean war.
The objective of tapping the great source of manpower that escapees can provide must be achieved, Mr. Lodge concluded.
- General Crittenberger asked the Ambassador if he had personal knowledge of young men from behind the Iron Curtain who would join VFC. Mr. Lodge answered that, due to his sponsorship of the Lodge Act he had received many letters from young men asking to join the U.S. forces and that he had spent a day talking to Lodge Act recruits who told him many candidates were available. He expressed the opinions that citizenship and a chance to fight Communism would be powerful incentives and that the psychological value of a successful VFC would be tremendous.
General Crittenberger asked how our Allies would react to a VFC. Mr. Lodge thought they would receive it very well. He pointed out that the British Air Corps recruited Bulgarians and others in World War II and that the French have compensated for their diminishing manpower by recruiting North Africans and other nationalities for many years. On the question of possible difficulties with other nations, Mr. Lodge felt there would be no trouble if the State Department coordinated with other governments. He commented that although German law prohibits Germans from enlisting in foreign armies this would not affect VFC since its target is Iron Curtain men.
Mr. Lodge foresaw no difficulties as far as the UN Charter is concerned; he believes VFC is within its purview and that VFC troops could be attached to UN forces.
Success on all of these points, however, will take leadership and “follow-through”, he said. The commander must be a man of sufficient prestige to cut through the obstacles, since anything new requires drive and imagination to “get rolling”.
- Mr. Marshall asked if there is conflict between the two inducements of (1) offering escape and U.S. citizenship to recruits and (2) offering the chance to liberate their homelands. Mr. Lodge replied that the two are separate and distinct ideas and that the prime purpose of VFC should be to get men to go to Korea or wherever else they are needed. He thought that the promise of U.S. citizenship would be very attractive and that applicants would come in numbers. The Lodge Act, he commented, had not had this result because it was unintentionally sabotaged by the Defense Department—for example by placing a major instead of a general officer in charge.
- Mr. Marshall asked for an estimate of how far Congress will go in granting citizenship. The Ambassador replied that to put [Page 202] through the Lodge Act he had to talk individually to many Senators, allay their suspicions that the Act was a way of getting around the immigration laws and convince them that citizenship granted under the Act would be a reward for service. Congress now, he said, strongly favors getting foreign troops to help us carry the load. As to details of the citizenship offer, he advised, “give as little as you can and still get your men”.
- In answer to questioning, Mr. Lodge said that Congress would be suspicious that the Communists would unload agents through VFC but that he thought the intimacy of U.S. Army life would result in closer supervision of men than the normal Immigration Service supervision. Agents have not come in under the Lodge Act since there are easier ways to enter the U.S. General Weckerling added that VFC would be a laborious way to get agents in but that the Communists would probably make special effort to infiltrate some, particularly if the program were accompanied by strong psychological exploitation.
- General Weckerling asked Mr. Lodge’s opinion on whether VFC should be limited to Europe or broadened. The Ambassador replied that he felt the program could include Kazakhs, Uzbeks and others on the USSR’s Asian border. Koreans, he thought, could be of greatest advantage if used in the Korean army and Marshall DeLattre felt Indo-Chinese could similarly best be used in their own army. VFC should, in short, be kept for stateless people.
- On the question of whether new legislation should be introduced to implement VFC or whether it should be fitted into the framework of existing legislation, Mr. Lodge advised new legislation to show Congress this is part of a total stepped-up escapee program. He hoped that State and other departments would augment VFC by programs to bring in lawyers, teachers and many others—with their wives and children. This would present emotional appeal to the U.S. public and lend support to the principle that VFC troops are not mercenaries.
- General Weckerling asked if an attempt should be made to make VFC not only an ally of the U.S. Army but an EDC, NATO or over-all freedom force even though the U.S. foots the bill. The Ambassador thought that since U.S. money would be used, the U.S. Army should run and command the force. Field grade U.S. officers, he added, ought to look forward to commanding VFC troops as a great opportunity. Lodge Act recruits, he commented, might supply interpreters and staff officers.
- The Ambassador said he could not fully answer General Weckerling’s question on the advisability of drawing on émigrés who are now working as miners, farmers, etc. in other countries—such as the Poles in England—if the VFC does not attract as many [Page 203] new escapees from behind the Curtain as needed at the start. Enlisting Poles in England would, however, require clearance with the British, he commented, adding that the Polish émigrés are reaching middle-age.
- In answer to Mr. Taylor’s question on enlisting neutrals such as Spanish and Irish, Mr. Lodge said he was not enthusiastic. A few could be recruited but it would be more desirable to have Czechs and similar nationalities who could be organized in units and battalions with distinctive nationality insignia.
- Mr. Lodge answered Mr. Taylor’s question on sending an early detachment to Korea by stating that sending a battalion as soon as it is mentally, spiritually and physically ready would have tremendous psychological impact.
- Mr. Taylor asked whether the legislative preamble, psychological exploitation and oath of allegiance of VFC should state allegiance to the purposes and principles of UN. Mr. Lodge thought not, though he felt the question required more study than he had given it. The fact that UN is not a sovereignty raises legal questions and the oath should require the troops to obey the orders of the U.S. Army. He thought some phrase such as, “in keeping with the provisions of the UN Charter, I promise to obey the orders of the U.S. Army”, might be a good idea from the standpoint of world politics. He thought this might allay contentions that the troops are mercenaries. Mr. Lodge agreed with the chairman that the program should aim always for a high plane to avoid the taint of mercenaries and commented that that is why he had named it Volunteer Freedom Corps instead of Foreign Legion.
Colonel Black asked the Ambassador’s advice on how specific the legislation should be and how best to introduce it in Congress. Mr. Lodge recommended asking General Persons’ excellent judgement, getting the White House to give it a push, and making the bill as specific as possible since nothing makes Congress more suspicious than a bill written by the executive branch in general terms and leaving details to be filled in later by the executive branch.
Mr. Lodge agreed with the chairman that it would be advantageous to have Gen. Persons appear before the committee.
General Ruffner asked if the psychological value of VFC outweighed the immediate value of equipping a fighting force from the 84,000 Koreans ready to fight in Korea. Under the present division of U.S. production between military and civilian output, military equipment cannot be obtained for the six extra divisions available in Korea. Yet the best way he knows to relieve the American soldier, General Ruffner said, is to relieve him in Korea where he is getting killed, which raises the question of the advisability of diverting [Page 204] equipment to VFC. The Ambassador did not think there was conflict between equipping Korean and VFC forces. It would take months to complete legislation and establishment of VFC and the Korean problem is immediate and may be ended before VFC is started. A decision will come from the White House, he thought, on the percentage of the economy that should be devoted to the military. Priorities in dividing up the military share will then be up to the Pentagon.
Enlarging on this point, Mr. Lodge commented that Congress and the American people are going to have to accept the idea that it is advantageous to make weapons available to foreign nations willing to fight with us and that this holds true whether VFC goes through or not.
- In answer to Mr. Raffa’s question, Mr. Lodge did not favor referring to the VFC as a “supplement” to U.S. forces because of the criticism expressed in UN that the “U.S. is always trying to get someone else to fight her battles”.
- General Crittenberger asked whether, in summary, the Ambassador is entirely in favor of VFC from a military and psychological point of view to which he answered yes.
- Answering General Ruffner’s question, he said he would be willing to testify before Congress in favor of the legislation and to help in any way he could.
- The meeting adjourned at four o’clock.