S/S–NSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 143 Series
Record of Meeting of the Ad Hoc
Committee on NSC 143, Monday,
March 30, 1953
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. Others present:
- Mr. C. D. Jackson, Special Assistant to the President (morning)
- Mr. Allen W. Dulles,CIA (afternoon)
- Colonel Charles Busbee, U.S. Army, Europe
- Colonel Paul C. Davis, U.S. Army, Europe
- Lt. Colonel G. E. Levings, Office, Chief Legislative Liaison,U.S.A.
- Lt. Colonel E. F. Black, Department of Defense
- Mr. Leon Fuller, State Department
- Mr. Aldo Raffa, CIA
- Mrs. Margaret Grubb, Reporter
- Distributed to the committee were:
- The chairman introduced Mr. Jackson and explained that the committee would like his views on the desirability and feasibility of VFC.
- Mr. Jackson said his interest in the subject dated from the Kersten Amendment in 1951,4 at which time he was in charge of NCFE and RFE. He watched the Kersten Amendment become a powerful propaganda weapon not for the U.S., but for the Communists. For about ten days the U.S. did not even reply to the Communist charges. (Mr. Marshall explained later that the Amendment passed quickly and that the State Department had not been notified about it.)
Much discussion was held on Mr. Jackson’s suggestion that the VFC be organized on international lines, like the French Foreign Legion, rather than by national units. “International,” he said, refers to composition rather than auspices. He felt that an international force could be used in Korea or anywhere. In his unprofessional opinion, he said, an international corps would develop better spirit and pride and would be more maneuverable than a corps organized in national units which might result in esprit de corps built around the theme of “marching to liberate our homelands.” International organization would also, he thought, withhold from the enemy an issue which he would otherwise use as adverse propaganda. The American public, he thought, would be entirely favorable to international organization. On Congressional reaction, he suggested asking General Person’s opinion.[Page 206]
Mr. Jackson pointed out that nationalities—including Czechs and Slovaks—fraternize in RFE offices in Europe because they have a job to do. Mr. Marshall commented that the problem might be different in military training. Colonel Busbee thought that in company size mixing nationalities might cause trouble but might not in battalion size. Colonel Black commented that since national organization had worked successfully in Colonel Busbee’s experience the solution might be to organize nationally in small units—companies, platoons and squads—and combine these into larger international units. He added the thought that the Jackson idea be given serious consideration; though national units have seemed best in hot war situations they might not be in cold war.
Mr. Raffa pointed out that studies of the French Foreign Legion indicated that nationalities in the Legion tend to gravitate with the result that the smaller units are national. Mr. Jackson thought this might be because recruits join in nationality blocks—Spaniards after the Spanish Civil War, Germans now.
The chairman explained the committee’s apprehension about premature publicity of VFC and asked Mr. Jackson’s opinion as to when, if approved, it should be announced. Mr. Jackson thought the outside limit should be when the President approves the plan. He would favor the President’s calling in Congressonal leaders, including Kersten and Democrats and Republicans, and explaining to them that the NSC had submitted the plan for his approval. The Congressmen should be asked to coordinate their statements for best psychological effect. The President, he thought, should send the bill to Congress with a special message and should introduce VFC as an indication of the new initiative of the new administration.
From the standpoint of alarming the enemy, Mr. Jackson felt the initial announcement would give the greatest opportunity, implementation the second opportunity. Escapees are a troublesome area to the Communists, he said, as evidenced by the recent Czech resolution in UN.5
- Answering a question by the chairman, Mr. Jackson said VFC would fit in with over-all cold war planning if properly implemented and introduced.
- Mr. Marshall pointed out that concurrence of other countries is needed and will require time. Mr. Jackson thought the project could be kept secret while it is at NSC and that concurrence with major powers might be undertaken between approval by NSC and transmission to the President. Mr. Marshall stated that he would have to ask State’s area divisions how long it would take to negotiate with England, France, etc.
- The chairman asked the speaker’s opinion on UN reaction to VFC. He did not think our Allies would be “wildly enthusiastic” but believes Ambassador Lodge can skillfully handle the situation. The Soviet bloc can be expected to react loudly and fast, but one advantageous by-product of the Kersten Amendment is that it somewhat paved the way for VFC.
- General Crittenberger asked if Mr. Jackson agreed with committee sentiment on starting VFC on a modest, austere basis of several battalions which would have good chance of success, and expanding later. Mr. Jackson was in complete agreement.
- General Crittenberger asked how to get the greatest psychological impact out of the project. Mr. Jackson said there should be a steady flow of interesting news regarding training, activities, names of recruits, etc., and that this should be utilized on a continuous basis.
- Mr. Marshall asked what reaction the project should aim to arouse behind the Iron Curtain. Mr. Jackson thought it should be “hope.” He pointed out that some dependents will accompany applicants and arrangements must be made to care for them.
- In answer to General Weckerling’s question, Mr. Jackson expressed the opinion that the offer of U.S. citizenship would be a recruitment inducement.
- Answering the chairman’s question, Mr. Jackson thinks VFC will have great military value. Escapees are “the most miserable people in the world and will fight well under good leadership,” he said.
- General Weckerling asked whether the psychological value of VFC is greater than the military value of equipping ROKs to fight in Korea. Mr. Jackson said that he would assume that since the commission’s assignment is to investigate the feasibility of VFC it could be presupposed that the two programs are not in conflict for funds. He felt that General Van Fleet’s reaction in favor of arming Koreans was normal but that the committee should assume that Koreans and VFC are separate projects. He recommended, however, that the committee resolve its thinking on the questions since Congress may ask it.6
- Mr. Jackson assented to the chairman’s question that the preamble or statement of purposes of VFC should set a high moral tone and would be influential in attracting recruits.
Mr. Jackson stated that VFC would fit in with the over-all program of taking the initiative in psychological warfare and that the sooner it was started, the better. He thought that it could not reach the target of the Soviet people, but would reach the targets of the Soviet regime and the Satellites, particularly Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland and to a lesser extent, Rumania and Bulgaria. He referred to VFC as a “very merchandisable” item for Satellite propaganda. VFC would, he said, “give discontented Rumanians something to hang on to,” that they would communicate unrest to their Communist leaders who, in turn, would convey it to Moscow and contribute to an overload there.
On this point, Colonel Davis thought VFC would at least raise hope in Satellite countries that something is being done and that the populace might malinger and add to unrest. He said, however, that U.S. Army in Europe opinion is that appealing to military recruits is not enough and that appeals must be addressed to other groups by such methods as offering university study to intellectuals.
- Mr. Raffa asked whether VFC should be kept on ice, in the
unlikely event that the Russian peace feelers are sincere. Mr.
Jackson replied that:
- If the Russian peace moves are sincere, VFC will act as a stimulus.
- If they aren’t, VFC will strengthen U. S. position, and might stimulate sincere offers.
- If VFC is held for the perfect X–Day, it will never be started.
- Mr. Jackson concluded by telling the committee to count on his close and enthusiastic support. After his departure, the chairman suggested that the committee seriously consider Mr. Jackson’s ideas on international composition of VFC even though they are contrary to previous thought on the subject.
- Colonel Levings’ revised draft No. 2 of the proposed VFC legislation was read and discussed point by point. Principal changes, Colonel Levings said, were: editorial; vestment of all authority in the President; and the insertion of a tentative cost limit of $50 million. He added that it is still too early to follow Mr. Lodge’s suggestion of making the bill specific on as many points as possible, that the bill is still subject to change from suggestions from Congressional leaders and advisers, and that the section on military justice is still open to debate.
- In discussion of the bill: [Page 209]
- Mr. Marshall questioned the phrase, “certain freedom-loving non-citizens of the U.S.” There was opinion that Congress will want this narrowed.
- Paragraph (b) of Section 4 was deleted at Mr. Marshall’s request on the grounds that it might raise objections from émigré groups.
- On the $50 million limit in the bill it was stated that, (1) $50 million is probably as much as can be spent in a year, and half of the Kersten figure; (2) General Ruffner thought the ultimate figure should depend on what can be defended before Congress; (3) Mr. Marshall believes it should be as small as possible; (4) the figure could eventually be changed.
- The first sentence of Section 6 was deleted.
- It was decided to get General Persons’ advice on paragraph (b) of Section 7 requiring consent of foreign governments.
- Mr. Marshall questioned making the oath contingent upon a system of justice; this might restrict changing the system of justice. Colonel Levings will investigate this point.
- Colonel Levings explained that Section 13, on immigration and naturalization, will be cleared with Immigration and Justice officials when security considerations permit.
- Section 14, on authorization to the President, is a standard legislative provision.
- The meeting recessed from 12:10 until 2:30, when the chairman introduced Mr. Allen Dulles.
Mr. Dulles opened his remarks by stating that a venture such as VFC is good if it works. He feels that VFC has a fair chance, but that its success is not assured.
There is danger of premature publicity having adverse effects, he said. He would like to see a pilot operation launched as a trial, and emphasized the importance of investigating all angles and of curbing overenthusiasm at the start. He thought 30,000 would be a better rough guess than 100,000 as a starting figure.
. . . . . . .
The chairman asked Mr. Dulles’ opinion on why the number of Iron Curtain escapees is so low. The rate is low from the USSR, in Mr. Dulles’ opinion, because so little knowledge of the outside world or of freedom has entered Russia since 1917. He added that for those who have escaped, human reasons have been the incentives, not high ideals. Escapees did come from the satellite states until border controls were tightened, he said.
. . . . . . .
General Ruffner asked whether escapees would leave their homelands to get out of them or in the hope of going back to liberate them. Mr. Dulles thought “a little of both.” Not enough would [Page 210] escape to effect liberation, he thought, but those who did would serve as symbols of liberation to some Czechs, Poles, etc.
. . . . . . .
General Ruffner commented that from a commander’s point of view, difficulties would be augmented by intermixing nationalities and mentioned the language problem.
- The chairman asked if Mr. Dulles thought infiltration would occur to an alarming extent. Mr. Dulles did not. Colonel Busbee mentioned that a leading Bulgarian Communist penetrated the Labor Service Organization.
- Mr. Marshall raised the point that in the President’s directive, sub-paragraph (2) (d) (5)7 comes after reference to enlistment in the Corps and that NSC should be advised that this should be reversed. The chairman reminded him that the directive need not be followed to the word.
- Colonel Black asked if tightening of border controls due to VFC should be of serious consideration. Mr. Dulles thought the borders would be as tight, anyway, as men and money permit, and that it would not be unadvantageous to add burdens to the Soviet system.
- The chairman asked if VFC would attract escapees from behind the Curtain. Mr. Dulles thought it would, if successfully implemented, in Czechoslovakia and Poland and to a lesser extent in Hungary and Bulgaria. He added the suggestion that rejects as well as recruits would have to be cared for and the Communists would capitalize on failure to do so. He also suggested that some may have to enlist under pseudonyms to protect relatives, which should be well-advertised from the beginning.
Mr. Taylor raised the question of recruiting Asians. Mr. Dulles thought the project would have to be confined to Europe at the start, except possibly for recruitment of Georgians, Armenians, etc., in Turkey—and might be expanded to Asia eventually.
. . . . . . .
- The chairman expressed surprise that Satellites might break diplomatic relations. General Ruffner commented that he had not considered that VFC might hurt populaces in the Satellite states more than help them.
- Mr. Dulles stated that four groups—Satellites, Balkan countries, ethnic sections of Russia and Great Russians—would each [Page 211] raise different recruiting problems. Mr. Taylor added a fifth category—other parts of the world, such as Irish and Spanish.
- Before leaving, Mr. Dulles expressed his full support of VFC.
- The chairman asked Mr. Marshall to invite Mr. Stevens to speak Wednesday morning, at which time Colonel Davis and Colonel Busbee will be available for questioning. General Persons will attend a committee meeting Friday afternoon and the chairman hopes to have all staff studies completed the following week. Mr. Marshall announced that he is preparing a memo on State Department opinion which he will present to the committee next week.8
- The morning session of the meeting convened at 10; the afternoon session began at 2:30.↩
- Not found in Department of State files.↩
- Not found in Department of State files.↩
- The record of the Mar. 27 meeting is supra . The records of the Mar. 25 and Mar. 26 meetings, neither printed, indicated that the Labor Service Organization and a psychological plan for exploiting the VFC were discussed at the former and that draft legislation for the creation of the VFC was discussed at the latter. (S/S–NSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 143 Series)↩
- Section 101(a)(1) of the Mutual Security Act of 1951, P.L. 82–265 (65 Stat. 373), Oct. 10, 1951.↩
- On Oct 15, 1952, the Czechoslovak Representative at the United Nations requested that an agenda item be scheduled concerning alleged U.S. interference in the internal affairs of other states through the medium of the Mutual Security Act of 1951, and specifically through the Kersten Amendment to the Act. A Czechoslovak draft resolution against such interference was considered by the First Committee during its meetings, Mar. 23–26, 1953. In a vote taken on Mar. 26, the draft resolution was defeated 41 to 5 with 14 abstentions.↩
- Paragraph 16 is missing from the source text.↩
- Reference is to Document 70.↩
- Not printed. (S/S–NSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 143 Series)↩