20. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense Quarles0


  • USCINCEUR Air Contingency Plan Berlin
Reference is made to a memorandum forwarded to you together with a copy of a memorandum to USCINCEUR, subject “Guidance Concerning Air Access to Berlin”, dated 7 May 1958.1
In response to guidance by the Joint Chiefs of Staff USCINCEUR submitted a U.S. Air Contingency Plan Berlin which has been reviewed and approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In addition, USCINCEUR has requested additional guidance in the following areas:
Recommendations for supplemental planning and implementation of subject plan including plan implementation date.
Latitude afforded commanders to effect immediate and aggressive protective and countermeasures, including if necessary and feasible Hot Pursuit, in view of the proviso contained in subparagraph 4 (a), page 2, NSC 5604, dated 23 April 1956.2
Degree and order of magnitude of U.S. limited military force (air) action authorized to counter Soviet and/or German Democratic Republic (GDR) restrictions on U.S. air access to Berlin.
In view of the implications concerning U.S. national security involved in the implementation of USCINCEUR’s Air Contingency Plan, it is considered that the guidance to be provided USCINCEUR should be a final U.S. position.
In developing the final U.S. position, it is recommended that the Department of State be consulted. The following considerations and recommendations concerning implementing guidance are furnished:
Implementation of the testing of intentions phase of USCINCEUR’s Air Contingency Plan will be made at an appropriate date which is advantageous to the United States in achieving its cold war objectives. An early date is recommended due to the recent advent of the C–130 aircraft into the European theater and the fact that any delay in the initiation of the proposed flights above 10,000 feet would only tend to weaken our position.
Based upon the introduction of turboprop type aircraft (C–130) into USAFE, the USSR, through the Berlin Air Safety Center, will be notified of contemplated flights into the Berlin corridors in excess of altitudes normally flown by propeller type aircraft. This notification will be made with sufficient advanced warning to provide the Soviets/GDR an opportunity to revise their communications and air control procedures. The exact date of the initial flight would not be given, but they will be notified that after a specified date it is the intention of the United States to conduct flights within the Berlin air corridors as set forth above. However, the initial flights will be conducted under Visual Flight Rules. After initial visual nights, instrument flights above 10,000 feet will be initiated.
NSC 5604 provides appropriate policy guidance on U.S. actions in the event of unprovoked Communist attack against U.S. aircraft. The proviso contained in subparagraph 4 (a) of NSC 5604 is based on a situation in which a definite pattern of continued interference with or attacks on U.S. aircraft is encountered in areas outside Communist control. USCINCEUR should be governed by paragraphs 1 and 2 of the policy outlined in NSC 5604 until Soviet or GDR intentions have been disclosed and a pattern of substantial interference has been established.
The degree and order of magnitude of U.S. military air action in this situation is dependent upon the reaction of the Soviets and/or the German Democratic Republic. If the USSR and/or the GDR were to establish a complete air blockade of the Berlin Air Corridors, full use of their jet fighters, anti-aircraft weapons, and electronic countermeasures might be required. Hostile acts of the magnitude required to establish a complete air blockade will indicate that general war is probably imminent and the action to be taken by USCINCEUR under such circumstances will be directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
USCINCEUR should be delegated the authority to determine the air effort appropriate to cope with possible contingencies other than a complete air blockade of the Berlin air corridors.
Supplemental planning should cover antiaircraft artillery (AAA) firing by the Soviet or GDR on allied aircraft from positions [Page 42] above ground located within or outside the corridor. It is considered that the Hot Pursuit policy contained in NSC 5604 should be extended to include retaliatory action by combat aircraft against the AAA units concerned.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff request that they be informed of the final U.S. position at an early date.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
N.F. Twining3
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Department of State, JCS Files. Top Secret.
  2. A copy of the memorandum to USCINCEUR, SM–330–58, May 7, is attached to the two-paragraph memorandum to Secretary Quarles, ibid.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XIX, pp. 300301.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.