169. Letter From the Acting Secretary of State to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Radford)1
Dear Admiral Radford: With reference to your memorandum of March 1, 1956,2 I wish to confirm your understanding, as stated in your paragraph five, of the Department’s proposal in connection with military talks with the French and British and combined planning with the British, as conveyed to Admiral Hedding by Mr. Rountree.
I can appreciate fully the importance which you attach to combined military planning with the British at the earliest practicable time. Our suggestion was, as you know, motivated by a desire on the one hand to go forward with essential military plans, and, on the other hand, to maintain maximum secrecy on those aspects which would entail serious difficulty if they should become known.
Following receipt of your memorandum in which you agreed to implement a course of action consistent with the above, I discussed the matter with the British Ambassador. 3 I told him frankly that we had been disturbed by the recent Associated Press story from London which implied that the British and American military authorities had undertaken combined planning. I said that while we fully shared your view that such planning should go forward we attached much importance to secrecy. In view of the obvious French interest in the matter it was a joint view held by you and me that, in addition to the exchange of military information between the British and American Chiefs of Staff leading to combined planning, tripartite military talks might be held with the French within the context of the Tripartite Declaration and pursuant to the communiqué issued after the recent meeting of President Eisenhower and Sir Anthony Eden.4
The British Ambassador agreed upon the necessity of absolute secrecy with regard to the combined planning, and also expressed the view that the arrangements suggested for talks with the French would be agreeable to his Government. He undertook to communicate [Page 316]to the appropriate British authorities the substance of our conversation.