266. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (Wilson)1
Washington , November 9, 1955 .
- U.S. Policy Toward Yugoslavia
- Reference is made to a memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA), dated 17 August 1955,2 subject as above, which requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff provide a military re-evaluation of the strategic importance of Yugoslavia under the various possible military alignments open to that country, to include recommendations as to the minimum requirements for military cooperation with Yugoslavia.
- It is considered that under existing conditions, the following
three general military alignments are open to Yugoslavia:
- Course of Action A (Pro West Yugoslavia). Cooperation with the West to include the effective coordination of defense plans.
- Course of Action B (Pro Soviet Yugoslavia). Return to the Soviet Bloc.
- Course of Action C (Flexible Position). Maintain a flexible position whereby Yugoslavia can achieve benefits from both power blocs with minimum commitments to either.
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff have evaluated the strategic importance
of Yugoslavia with respect to the above courses of action and have
- Course of Action A (Pro West Yugoslavia). Yugoslavia aligned with the West would move the entire area of the initial NATO southern European defense effort farther east, provide greater scope for defensive and limited offensive action in the eastern Mediterranean area, provide greater depth and forces for the defense of Greece and Italy, and assist in preventing the enemy from gaining access to the Mediterranean, thereby greatly facilitating the attainment of the NATO objective in southern Europe. Intelligence estimates indicate that the Tito regime is unlikely to adopt Course of Action A during the next several years (NIE 31–2–55).3
- Course of Action B (Pro Soviet Yugoslavia). Yugoslavia aligned with the Soviets would deny to NATO important depth and forces to conduct a successful defense of Italy and Greece, and would place the Soviet Bloc in a position to threaten the northeast border of Italy, the eastern shore of the Adriatic and the entire northern border of Greece, thus contributing significantly to the Soviet potential for preventing NATO achievement of its over-all objective in the southern European area. Intelligence estimates indicate that the Tito regime is unlikely to adopt Course of Action B during the next several years (NIE 31–2–55).
- Course of Action C (Flexible Position). Under Course of Action C, Yugoslavia would deny to both the West and the Soviet Bloc, the strategic advantages which would accrue from the utilization of her forces and her territory. The denial of the use of her forces could be expected to have approximately an equal effect upon both the Soviets and the West. Current estimates indicate that Yugoslavia will defend her national territory against aggression. One aspect of the over-all NATO objective in the Southern European Command is to prevent the Soviets from gaining access to the northern shore of the Mediterranean. In order to achieve this objective the West need not occupy Yugoslavia, but need only have Yugoslav territory denied the Soviets, whereas the converse is true with respect to the Soviets. It follows that the denial of Yugoslavia’s geographical territory would constitute a greater strategic disadvantage to the Soviets than it would to the West. Thus, from the strategic viewpoint, the net effect of Course of Action C would favor the West. So long as the present trend for better Tito-Soviet Bloc relations continues, Yugoslavia’s wartime usefulness to the West is uncertain and its adherence to the Balkan Pact commitments in time of war is doubtful. However, indications are that the Yugoslav regime would endeavor to remain neutral in a general war, that Tito would fight if directly attacked, and that he might also enter the war as a consequence of his judgment as to the course of hostilities and as to the advantages which he might gain from participation. We believe, in accordance with NIE 31–2–55 that Course of Action C is the course Yugoslavia has now adopted and will continue so long as Tito remains alive.
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that the minimum requirements
for military cooperation with Yugoslavia, though less than
desirable, will be met so long as Yugoslavia:
- Adheres to a position of flexibility with respect to the East and the West as outlined in subparagraph 2c above.
- Indicates a manifest determination to defend its national territory against aggression.
- Continues to support the Balkan Pact.
- Does not grant transit rights of any kind, under any circumstances, to Soviet Bloc forces.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff