69. Telegram From the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (Gruenther) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Radford)1

ALO 382. Exclusive for Adm Radford eyes only. Earlier today I sent message number EC 91479 to JCS.2 This is an amplification of that message.

On March 8 I saw Premier Mollet for 40 minutes. On March 10 I saw General Ely for an hour and a half, and later that day Defense Minister Bourges-Maunoury for 2 hours.

The one element which evolved from these meetings is that the government does not yet have a clear idea of how to solve the Algerian crisis. All 3 of these individuals are crystal clear, however, that Algeria must remain clearly French under some new formula which has not been devised.

Premier Mollet made a strong appeal for additional helicopters from the US.3 I asked him if an official request had been made, but he didn’t know. When I saw the Defense Minister Saturday he did not know that the Prime Minister had mentioned the helicopter subject to me. I asked him if an official request had been made and he replied, “No, not yet, but we expect to submit one very soon.” He had just received a report from some French military official that 50 helicopters would be the equivalent of some 200,000 men. I expressed some skepticism over the validity of that formula, and he did not press the point further. Bourgès-Maunoury had a helicopter expert with him, and he told me that the French had not yet made [Page 239] up their minds which helicopter to ask for. But the expert said that they had to have more very soon.

I know General Valluy4 well and I realize how strongly he feels about the subject of Algeria. He is an extremely sensitive individual, and I might add that there are many other Frenchmen who are developing that same characteristic under present conditions. In his inner heart he feels that France is slipping and slipping badly. He also is somewhat resentful—although he would deny this—over the treatment he has received in the United States. Basically he considers that no one in Washington pays much attention to him. It is possible that you and the other Chiefs might be able to rectify that impression by certain extra acts of courtesy from time to time. I am sure such actions would pay a big dividend. If you could find occasion to show a keen interest in Algerian developments that also may help.

There is a stronger anti-American feeling in France now than at any time in the last 5 years. Somehow most Frenchmen would like to blame their troubles on the United States. When you ask a responsible Frenchman—as I did Mollet and Bourges-Maunoury—what the United States has failed to do that it should do, the answer is always a vague one. For example, Mollet said, “I have no objection to the actions of US officials. However, unofficial Americans, as my friend Irving Brown,5 cause us great trouble.” Bourges-Maunoury said, “Sympathy from the United States will not be enough.” I asked him specifically what he suggested but he had no answer.

All of this is by the way of illustrating that the French frame of mind is badly disorganized at this time. I will not hazard a guess as to the outcome.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File. Top Secret; Operational Immediate; Noforn. A handwritten marginal notation indicates the President noted the telegram on March 13. Gruenther was conferring with French military and civilian leaders on the impact of French withdrawal of troops from NATO to Algeria.
  2. In this telegram, General Gruenther suggested that the United States offer sympathetic support to the French, consider providing them with additional helicopters, be tolerant of their inability to maintain pledged NATO force commitments, and keep close track of the situation. (Ibid., North Africa)
  3. According to an agreement reached on August 5, 1955, the United States agreed to divert 16 helicopters to France from USAF stocks with the stipulation that 8 were to be returned. Since the British were prepared to supply some medium helicopters, the United States was unwilling to agree to a request for 60 heavy and 20 medium helicopters made by the French Defense Minister on November 1. (Memorandum of conversation by Tyler, November 11, 1955; Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199) A sale of 13 helicopters was approved in December 1955, but only 2 were to be turned over each month. Subsequently, on March 10, 1956, Mollet told Lodge that 80 helicopters and 50 slow-flying planes would make the difference. (Letter from Lodge to the President, March 10; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Administration Series, Lodge, Henry Cabot 1956)
  4. Jean Étienne Valluy was the French representative to the NATO Standing Group September 1953–October 1956. Thereafter he became Commander in Chief, Allied Forces, Central Europe.
  5. The AFL–CIO representative in Europe.