238. Letter From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Davis) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy)2
Dear Mr. Murphy : Department of State telegram to Paris Tosec 9 of 20 October 19543 advanced certain proposals for the strengthening of Yugoslav military ties with the West. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have now given consideration to the military implications of these proposals, and their comments are forwarded as an enclosure. I concur with their views in the premises, subject the following comments.
Such a program is important to insure that Yugoslavia’s military potential will be a positive asset to the United States and its Allies. It should be pursued, however, slowly and carefully, in order to insure that Yugoslavia’s forces will not be allowed to become a liability through growing neutralist tendencies. The coordination of Yugoslav and Western defense planning cannot be delayed pending an Italo-Yugoslav rapprochement.
You may recall that representatives of the Departments of State and Defense reached general agreement on the advisability of a low-level approach to the question of improvement in Italo-Yugoslav relations at the informal meeting held on 21 October 1954 in which Admiral Fechteler and Ambassador Riddleberger participated.4 Paragraph 7 of the attached JCS memorandum is to be read in the light of this general understanding. The specific steps envisaged for CINCSOUTH constitute an approach on the military level which would support, in time, diplomatic or political moves to further Italo-Yugoslav military cooperation.[Page 612]
Italian officers in the integrated international staff of Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe, are representatives of NATO, and not of the Italian national military establishment. In view of this relationship, you will appreciate that it is within the role of CINCSOUTH, once he is authorized by appropriate NATO agencies to conduct planning discussions with the Yugoslavs, to foster good will, informally at first, between Italian officers on his staff and Yugoslav military officers; and then to judge the timing of the follow-up for encouraging cooperation through bringing them together in military planning discussions.
The Department of Defense is convinced that all future discussions on U.S. Mutual Defense Assistance for Yugoslavia should be undertaken on a bilateral U.S.-Yugoslav basis. The resumption of the Tripartite-Yugoslav military talks of 19535 would be pointed inevitably toward increasing MDAP for Yugoslavia. In the light of the unfavorable balance between world-wide military assistance commitments and budgetary limitations, it would be unwise to give the impression at this time that an increase in MDAP for Yugoslavia is possible.
As you know, the extent of military assistance to non-NATO countries in other strategic areas is determined on various criteria, including an assessment of how much initiative the respective countries show in military cooperation with their neighbors in the general interest of regional defense. The general objective of military assistance for Yugoslavia is to serve the security interests both of the U.S. and of other NATO member nations (a) by assisting Yugoslavia to remain free of Soviet domination, and (b) by militarily orienting Yugoslavia to the West.
The purpose of any further military assistance discussion with Yugoslavia would be to reorient the present MDAP to meet such Yugoslav requirements for regional defense as can be realistically determined from the prior coordination of NATO and Yugoslav defense plans. Consequently, such coordination will not lead necessarily to increasing military aid to Yugoslavia.
You will agree, I am sure, that the steps which the Department of State and Defense have taken jointly during recent weeks to promote informal liaison between NATO and Yugoslav military authorities are in consonance with the above. The Department of Defense will continue to cooperate with the Department of State in this program in any way that we can be of effective assistance.
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 768.5/2–755. Top Secret.↩
- Not printed.↩
- The record of this meeting is not printed.↩
- The talks were held in Washington August 24–28, 1953.↩
- Top Secret.↩
- Neither memorandum has been found in Department of State files.↩
- Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.↩