49. Telegram From the United States Delegation at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to the Department of State 1

Polto 1422. This is report of North Atlantic Council December 13 restricted session 3:30 p.m.2 on Agenda Item IV: Political Directive.3

Session opened with intelligence briefing presented by General Johnson, Chairman SGN. Briefing emphasized that while talking disarmament, Soviet had increased military capabilities in many ways. Re recent disturbances in satellites, said Soviet capability to mount attack not affected, as Soviet ability depends on line of communications [Page 150] and present situation did not reduce capability LOC support Soviet effort beyond already existing limitations.

. . . . . . .

Soviet capabilities continue increase, but risk of premeditated war appears unchanged. While satellite situation has not improved Soviet posture, it has lead to actions and threats whereby risk of general war increased. Soviet has flexibility to quickly reverse its intentions. Danger lies in Soviet miscalculations combined with its enormous military capability.

Military committee supports basic considerations and conclusions of foregoing SGN report, and draws attention of Council to increased risk general war by miscalculation and resulting need to increase readiness and effectiveness of forces.

Chairman (Martino) said amended Committee of Three report would go to printer Saturday. Then took up Political Directive.

Head spokesman for U.K. said U.K. played part in initiating Directive and while result not same as original draft, U.K. accepts it. U.K. thinks Directive should now go to standing group who should consult governments and Supreme Allied Commanders as to how to give effect to it. Directive especially significant for U.K. which has to deal with number of problems in own defense reappraisal in light NATO considerations. Had two specific comments: (1) U.K. has responsibilities outside NATO and is gratified that importance thereof to NATO recognized by Directive; (2) U.K. agrees on emphasis on great cost of new weapons. No one can afford to maintain both current numbers of personnel and new arms, nor afford to have old arms vis-à-vis Soviet capabilities. This means must have less men and better equipment including tactical atomic weapons. But must not rely on machinery alone. Considerable manpower in shield is needed for foreseeable future. U.K. will supply substantial proportion thereof. Chancellor of Exchequer will wish to speak later on finances.

Netherlands spoke next. Said Netherlands public opinion interested in these questions which adds to importance of Directive. Statement on assumption of stationing of forces of U.S., U.K. and Canada in Europe of greatest importance.

However, shield forces are too weak and only way to strengthen them is with atomic weapons. Public opinion recognized this, and availability of tactical atomic weapons necessary to give public confidence. … They should be integrated at corps or army level, and warheads could remain in hands of nations now possessing them.

Strauss spoke for Germany. Said tactical atomic weapons should be available down to divisional level.…

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Taviani spoke for Italy. Agreed with Part 1 of paper4 which has been confirmed by recent events. Shield forces must have high efficiency. This requires constant modernization for both conventional and new weapons. Only common effort can accomplish this, and it should include common effort in production field. SETAF is excellent evidence of integration, and Italy hopes there will be more such units in central south sectors.

Bourges-Maunoury spoke for France. Said everyone aware that nuclear weapons are required to implement forward strategy which is necessary if Europe not to be overrun. A strong and solid shield of forces of all Allied nations is required. Only thus can surprise attack with conventional weapons, accepted as possibility in Part 1 of paper, be deterred. We must realize that a swift occupancy of Western Europe might lead to hesitancy to use atomic weapons.

Analysis in Part 1 of paper stressed the necessity of firmness of intention to use nuclear weapons. Bulganin telegram to Mollet of 17 November 19565 said that balance of forces was now such that Soviets could successfully attack without nuclear weapons.…

Turkey spoke next.…

Military authorities should constantly take into account new threats to NATO area such as Syria. These should not be separate in our thinking or in the Directive as they menace NATO itself. They may require military planning changes. NATO cannot ignore disastrous effects if Soviet becomes dominant in Middle East. If competency of NATO military authorities limited to NATO area, authorities should know magnitude of Soviet threat to NATO area and deal with it perhaps in framework Baghdad Pact. Turkish Prime Minister has said we must have contact between NATO and Baghdad Pact. Permanent representatives and NATO military authorities should study this suggestion.

Macmillan (U.K.) spoke next: NATO was created in 1948 to meet pressing and immediate danger and has so far been successful as Russian advances in Europe have been halted although not reversed. Last forward move was in Czechoslovakia. Intervening years have brought immense change in character of NATO. Instead of occupying armies now have permanent alliance based on equality mainly for defense but also for other purposes joining nations of Europe with two great nations of North America.

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But founders of NATO could not have realized full financial and economic implications. There are different effects on different members. These depend not on forces which are made available, but on chance of location of where these forces are to be stationed. This is based on military considerations. Financial and economic consequences thereof are very important.

U.K. forces are stationed overseas in Germany. This requires local costs of 60–70 million pounds a year. Arrangements for support costs expire soon, and unless some fresh arrangements are made soon, foreign exchange burdens will fall solely on U.K. This poses very serious problem for U.K. and NATO.

U.K. has had some preliminary discussions with FedRep which shows Germans recognize problem and are prepared negotiate solution. U.K. hopeful solution for this short term problem will be reached through negotiation as it cannot accept responsibility for foreign exchange payments. Such negotiations particularly fitting as FedRep forces not yet in being.

Even when FedRep forces are available, problem will exist re troops stationed abroad. This problem should be studied in NATO and some equalizing fund or other multilateral solution found to long term problem. Should be no misunderstanding that unless long term solution found, future of overseas forces jeopardized.

On general U.K. defense effort, said U.K. spending 1.5–1.6 billion pounds a year. This highest proportion of money for any European member.

U.K. supplies 120,000 men for NATO and also bomber force in U.K. Defense expenditures outside NATO area are 160 million pounds a year. Two-thirds of U.K. research and development element is for defense. Fifteen percent of metal goods production is for defense and this affects industry and export. For last four years U.K. has spent 400 million pounds a year for under-developed countries, helping NATO generally. This total tremendous effort has two dangers. By reason large contribution to defense, U.K. devoting less to investment than any European member. Other danger is balance of payments difficulty. Inequity jeopardizes movements toward economic unity on which U.K. hopes to make policy statements soon. For all these reasons U.K. reviewing expenditures and manpower problems and welcomes NATO reappraisal. While NATO successful in containing Russian advances, must recognize danger of outflanking of NATO. Reappraisal must take account of defense burdens and circumstances of members.

Macmillan concluded, saying he had spoken long and frankly at turning point of Western Alliance. While he had listed difficulties to be faced, he could give assurance U.K. would continue large defense [Page 153] program although its composition would be changed. So long as equitable arrangement reached, U.K. will provide fair contribution.

Secretary spoke next. Said Secretary Wilson will talk later on annual review and give details current U.S. approach.6

On Directive, Secretary said he shared view of Macmillan that thorough review NATO defense planning needed to determine how within resources likely to be available defense effort of Alliance and each individual member can best achieve most effective pattern of forces. Problem of resources likely to be available is difficult one. Considerations Macmillan had referred to must realistically be taken into account.

U.S. plans continue very large effort, and perhaps overall effort appreciably greater than last year in terms of dollars. How to do this to best advantage particularly re NATO is difficult problem.

Secretary referred to paragraph 3 of Directive,7 to effect fully effective nuclear retaliatory force provided with all necessary facilities must be maintained and protected. Said he fully agreed. This is area where primary responsibility rests on U.S. maintenance and also protection of this force is very heavy burden and part of contribution U.S. can appropriately make. Recognized U.S. has facilities in other countries where we rely on assistance and good will of allies as contribution to this part of defense effort.

Secretary referred to last sentence of paragraph 4 reassumption U.S., U.K., Canadian forces will continue be stationed in Europe. Said it is intent of U.S. to continue station troops in Europe and fully comply with spirit and understanding of statement under which they are here. In this respect he referred to President’s assurances of March 10, 1955 and read paragraph 3 thereof.8

Re reference to “fair share” in President’s assurances, Secretary stated following figures (1955 calendar year statistics):

Total U.S. defense expenditures were $40.5 billion or 11.2 percent GNP. Of 13,700,000 male population 18–30 years old, three million or 21 percent under arms. U.S. has 24 months period of service. U.S. ground forces in Europe constitute one-third of M-day ground forces in Central European area. U.S. supplies 75 squadrons or 1,605 aircraft which is 25 percent of NATO aircraft in all Europe.

We now have task to adapt NATO defense to needs of modern warfare. Must have atomic weapons for not only strategic but also [Page 154] tactical purposes. But this burden cannot be added to burden already assumed.

U.S. proceeding to streamline its divisions to make them fit effectively into pattern of modern warfare, a practice being generally adopted. Maybe presence of atomic weapons and units may permit reduction in manpower without loss of effectiveness. That is for military authorities to consider. But this cannot add additional defense burden to one that already exists.

Given conditions that may arise in Europe, NATO should not rely wholly on atomic weapons, although proper to say we have primary reliance on them. Conventional forces are necessary, and burden of supplying conventional forces should increasingly be assumed by Europeans. This will, of course, be consequence of German build up.

U.S. has no present intention or plans cutting across Political Directive, which we support. U.S. believes it should be acted on with all speed.

There remain problems that can only be resolved as we get responses to Directive. Given unity of spirit, determination and resolution by all members to build common defense to deter war and if need be to repel attack, treaty programs can be accomplished without impairment of economy of any member. Impairment of economy could have as serious consequences as lack of military preparation.

New weapons, costs and concept all require review. If adequately followed up, U.S. will do what is necessary to enable us to maintain an equal and fair participation in this essential task.

Greece spoke next. Said forward strategy should be used in south, including Greece, and expressed hope this could be studied.

Staf spoke for Netherlands. Was concerned at problem of NATO intelligence which was insufficient in recent crisis. NATO commanders lacked necessary intelligence because they were dependent on national intelligence. Understood commanders were making proposals on this subject and urged all to meet NATO needs to greatest extent possible.

Further, NATO governments did not get sufficient information from NATO on which to base national action. Netherlands had to take decisions by itself while had expected guidance from NATO. Also, on increase of forces issue, had received advice from commanders after specifically requesting, but specific request had been necessary. New procedure is required to give guidance to subordinate commanders and Defense Ministers after consultation in Council.

SACEUR is physically available for consultation with Council, but not SACLANT and CINCCHAN. Solution should be found to this. Requested Secretary General put issue to Permanent Council.

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Brentano for Germany spoke to Macmillan’s statement. Said he had discussed problem with Macmillan yesterday and considered that they could settle it in friendly way.

Strauss for Germany supported Dutch on intelligence question.

SACEUR asked to speak. Said regretted first appearance was to plead guilty to inefficiency. SHAPE had anticipated intelligence breakdown in time of crisis and for over five years had emphasized to Council needs of military authorities. In view thereof responsibility did not lie with SHAPE. NATO military structure does not have intelligence organization, and did not think NATO should have it, as would be beyond our capacity. Military authorities depend on intelligence provided by members. In normal times this is sufficient. But in critical times, countries, particularly large ones who are principal sources of intelligence, become preoccupied with own requirements. During recent sensitive and critical period there had been complete breakdown on receipt useful intelligence at SHAPE. He has raised this directly with MOD’s and has had immediate responses which he believes will bear fruit. Is taking action to provide positive link so flow will be prompt and adequate providing all support. Strongly prefers and urges nations to make intelligence available on cosmic basis so it can be distributed to all. However, understandable some may wish to protect certain data and expressed his anxiety to receive such data on private or restricted basis if this necessary, which limitations he would observe. On Staf’s comment on lack of guidance from SHAPE, said it true that for first few days did not supply guidance that should have been given. Major reason was lack of intelligence and in addition had not recognized need for advice early enough. Had given advice on third day even though only on basis limited intelligence and continued give guidance considered necessary.

Made strong plea to Council to get behind providing intelligence that was required. Emphasized that all NATO expenditures on men, material, and infrastructure was useless unless he had intelligence on how to employ it.

Chairman, on behalf Council, thanked Norstad and offered him best wishes. Ismay added that during critical period Council had met 23 times and kept in close touch with military. Obviously, many faults in machinery existed, first thing after crisis had been post mortem by Permanent Council with view to cure defects.

Chairman turned to draft Directive, CM(56)138. Said Part 1 excellent and turned to Part 2.…

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… After much discussion, Secretary suggested using phrase “to deal with armed aggression other than as referred to in paragraph 4 b.” This was accepted.

No comment on any other paragraph of Directive which was adopted as amended.9 Meeting adjourned until 10:30 December 14.10

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/12–1456. Secret; Limited Distribution. Approved by Elbrick. Transmitted in five sections and repeated to the other NATO capitals and Moscow.
  2. The summary, C–R(56)74, and verbatim, C–VR(56)74, records of this session, both dated December 13, are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 822.
  3. Not printed; a copy of the draft Directive to the NATO Military Authorities from the North Atlantic Council, C–M(56)138, dated December 7, is ibid. This 8-page Directive was divided in two parts: Part I, an analysis of Soviet intentions, discussed general trends of Soviet policy; Part II contained the Directive.
  4. See footnote 3 above.
  5. Reference is to the Declaration of the Soviet Government Concerning the Question of Disarmament and Reduction of International Tension, November 17, 1956, transmitted by Bulganin to Eisenhower, Eden, Mollet, Nehru, and Chou En-lai. For text of the Declaration and the covering letter, see Department of State Bulletin, January 21, 1957, pp. 89–93.
  6. See Document 51.
  7. Paragraph 3 stated that for NATO defense and as a major deterrent to Soviet aggression a fully effective nuclear retaliatory force provided with all the necessary facilities must be maintained and protected.
  8. For text of Eisenhower’s message to the Seven Nations Signatory to the Protocol Establishing the Western European Union, March 10, 1955, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1955, pp. 325–328.
  9. A copy of the Directive adopted at this meeting, dated December 13, is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 822.
  10. See Polto 1425, infra .