110. Letter From the Director of the Office of Middle American Affairs (Neal) to the Ambassador in Nicaragua (Whelan)1

Dear Tom: The Department has received a note dated October 17, 1956 from the Nicaraguan Embassy concerning the desire of the Nicaraguans to purchase a considerable amount of arms and ammunition. A complete list of the items is attached.2

There appears to be good reason to question the need for this large amount of arms and ammunition on the part of the Nicaraguan Government at this time. The Department understands that equipment for a battalion sized unit which was furnished the Nicaraguans under MDAP has, up to the present, been stored and no progress has been made toward organizing a military unit or units to make use of it. Furthermore in 1955 the Nicaraguans purchased from the United States 7,000 M–1 rifles along with 7 million rounds of ammunition, which it is assumed are available to the Nicaraguan Army. It might also be noted that the U.S. Army has just delivered them four tanks, three of which are understood to be en route.

If the Nicaraguans feel the need of additional military units as a stabilizing influence, it would appear to be to their advantage to organize the MDAP battalion rather than to burden themselves with additional outlays of funds for new equipment. Should they do this, there would seem to be little real need for additional arms at this time. The same would appear to hold with regard to their need for ammunition, unless supplies have been reduced by consumption, or deterioration to a point where replacement is required.

Present United States military policy toward Latin America as set forth in NSC Paper No. 5613/13 provides that while we propose to assist Latin American countries in acquiring their minimum military needs to insure internal security and the meeting of any commitments toward hemispheric defense, we shall at the same time try to persuade the Latin Americans to keep their military requirements in line with their minimum needs. It seems to me that this is a case where such persuasion would be appropriate.

I should very much appreciate your views as to the needs of the Nicaraguans for additional arms and ammunition at this time. I should appreciate as well your thinking as to whether we might not, [Page 233] in line with our present military policy toward Latin America, attempt to persuade the Nicaraguan Government to withdraw or sharply reduce their request and concurrently to set about organizing the MDAP battalion.


Jack D. Neal4
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 717.56/10–1756. Secret; Official–Informal.
  2. Not printed.
  3. See vol. vi, Document 16.
  4. Printed from a copy which bears this typed signature.