131. Editorial Note

The Defense Ministers of the 15 NATO countries met in Paris April 15–17, 1958, to discuss military matters of mutual concern. The conference was held in response to decisions made at the NATO Heads of Government Meeting in Paris December 16–19, 1957. Paragraph 22 of the communiqué issued at the end of that conference reads:

“Recognising the rapidly growing interdependence of the nations of the free world, we have, in organizing our forces, decided to bring about closer co-ordination with a view to ensuring that each NATO member country makes its most effective contribution to the requirements established by the Alliance. Better use of the resources of the Alliance and greater efficiency for its forces will be obtained through as high a degree of standardisation and integration as possible in all fields, particularly in certain aspects of air and naval defence, of logistic support and of the composition and equipment of forces. We have agreed that a military conference should be held at Ministerial level in the early months of 1958 to discuss progress made in these fields in the light, in particular, of the results of the 1957 Annual Review.” (Department of State Bulletin, January 6, 1958, page 14)

The U.S. Delegation to the Defense Ministers Conference was headed by Neil H. McElroy, Secretary of Defense, and W. Randolph Burgess, Permanent NATO Representative. A full list of the U.S. Delegation, including advisers, is in Topol 3507 to Paris, April 2. (Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/4–258)

The proceedings of the conference are summarized in Polto Circulars 22, April 15; 23, April 15; 24, April 16; and 25, April 17, from Paris. All are ibid., Central File 740.5. No formal agenda has been found, but these telegrams contain references to the following agenda items:

  • MC–70 presentations and comments by delegations;
  • coordination of defense;
  • closer coordination of research, development, and production of weapons;
  • progress report on IRBM’s and the allied stockpile plan to support MC–70 weapons;
  • the welding of NATO air defense into one integrated system of various national forces and command by SACEUR in peace and war;
  • a European Spare Parts Agency; and infrastructure program.

Much of the discussion centered on MC–70, “Minimum Essential Force Requirements, 1958–1963,” which was prepared by the Military Committee of NATO in early 1958 as guidance and a yardstick of progress in the 1958 and successive Annual Reviews. MC–70, a copy of which is at NATO headquarters in Brussels, has not been declassified. Subsequent discussion of MC–70 in the NAC is summarized in Documents 132 and 134.

A summary of the highlights of the conference prepared by Department of State advisers to the U.S. Delegation is printed as Document 133.

The final communiqué of the conference is printed in Department of State Bulletin, May 5, 1958, pages 729–730.