14. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Hensel) to the Secretary of State2

Dear Mr. Secretary: Reference is made to a letter dated 2 December 1954, from the Deputy Under Secretary of State,3 regarding the role Guatemala might be requested to assume in the defense of the Western Hemisphere, as well as its participation in the Mutual Security Program.

In view of the recent military survey completed by the Chairman, U.S. Delegation, Inter-American Defense Board,4 the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that the specific tasks which Guatemala could perform in furtherance of a Western Hemisphere defense role would be comparable to those assigned to Nicaragua and Honduras and, hence, of negligible value. However, in light of the views expressed in your letter of 27 October 1954,5 the Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize that political considerations will dictate that a Military Assistance Program be initiated for Guatemala as in the case of Nicaragua and Honduras. Since Guatemala is considered to have approximately the same military potential as both Nicaragua and Honduras, similar force bases and defense roles should be assigned to that country.

In keeping with national policy with respect to the problem of standardization in Latin America, and a recommendation contained in the survey report concerning non-U.S. equipment held by Guatemala, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider it appropriate that the Department of State, in coordination with the Department of Defense … make representation to the Guatemalan Government to [Page 48] encourage and assist that government to dispose of non-U.S. military equipment surplus to its normal needs.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that, for the purpose of qualifying Guatemala for grant aid, the draft Bilateral Military Plan used in negotiation with Honduras and Nicaragua contains the necessary missions and plans for employment of forces for Western Hemisphere defense, and is appropriate for use in negotiations with that country.

The views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are approved. Accordingly, the Department of State may wish to consider initiating a request that the President find that such military assistance as may be furnished Guatemala is in accordance with defense plans which require Guatemala to participate in missions important to the defense of the Western Hemisphere. Upon receipt of the Presidential Determination required by Section 105 (b) (4) of the Mutual Security Act of 1954,6 and notification that the country has agreed to conclude a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement, the Chairman, U.S. Delegation, Inter-American Defense Board, will be prepared to participate in negotiations with Guatemala, in accordance with instructions already furnished.

It is emphasized that, in view of the limited military assistance funds available, the MDA Program for Guatemala can be implemented only by diversion of funds from other MDA programs world-wide. For example, funds are to be taken from the French and Italian MDA Programs to provide military assistance to Haiti in FY 1955. Since such diversion of funds affects adversely the attainment of high priority military objectives in other areas, it is the opinion of the Department of Defense that programs in Latin America cannot be considered in isolation from other programs world-wide. In this connection, your attention is invited to a letter dated 31 December 1954 (file No. I–9060), to the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Mutual Security Affairs, from the Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs),7 which outlines the availability of funds from FY 1955 appropriations for MDA Matériel Programs. After deducting transfers to the Foreign Operations Administration, the yearly administrative and operating costs and losses due to Section 1311, Supplemental Appropriation Act of 1955, Public Law 663, the Department of Defense estimates it will have only $53.4 million available for worldwide MDA matériel programs.

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Copies of this letter are being furnished to the Secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force,8 the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Chairman, U.S. Delegation, Inter-American Defense Board, for their information.

Sincerely yours,

H. Strove Hensel
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 714.5–MSP/1–1255. Secret.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., 714.5–MSP/11–2454)
  3. Major General Robert W. Douglass, Jr.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. iv, p. 1234.
  5. Reference is to the Mutual Security Act of 1954 (P.L. 665), enacted August 26, 1954; for text, see 68 Stat. 832.
  6. Not found in Department of State files.
  7. Robert T. Stevens, Charles S. Thomas, and Harold E. Talbott, respectively.