108. Memorandum of Conversation0

SUBJECT

  • NATO Defense Strategy and Planning

PARTICIPANTS

  • Mr. Dirk Stikker, Secretary-General, NATO
  • The Secretary
  • The Under Secretary
  • Mr. Dean Acheson
  • Mr. A. Saint-Mleux, NATO International Staff
  • Ambassador Thomas K. Finletter
  • Mr. George C. McGhee, Counselor & Chairman of Policy Planning
  • Mr. Foy D. Kohler, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
  • Mr. Paul Nitze, Assistant Secretary of Defense
  • Mr. Russell Fessenden, Director RA
  • Mr. Robert N. Magill, Deputy Director RA
[Page 317]

The Secretary asked Ambassador Finletter for his views as to how he thought the U.S. “Green Book” proposals2 should be worked out in NATO. Ambassador Finletter characterized existing procedures for the development of military requirements and programs, pointing out that the role of the Council under this procedure was an extremely general and limited one. He said this procedure was in effect being challenged by the U.S. “Green Book” policy. The U.S. approach was one that we wanted to negotiate with our Allies in NATO, not rigidly, but with conviction. These negotiations should not be a general theoretical exercise but should deal with the practical problems involved. The main problem in Ambassador Finletter’s view was how to conduct these negotiations and translate agreement on general principles into concrete programs. He and Mr. Stikker were consulting intensively in an effort to evolve a procedure for this purpose. Ambassador Finletter noted that one of the key problems was how the Council should work with the NATO Military Authorities and with which military authorities. He hoped that a dialogue between the Council and the Military Authorities could be arranged and thought that real progress was being made in Paris toward this objective.

Mr. Stikker agreed but said the progress was slow. The problem as he saw it lay in the apparent conflict between existing and proposed military requirements on the one hand, and the application of the U.S: April 26 paper3 on the other. He pointed out that SACEUR and SACLANT were proceeding to brief Ministers of Defense on their proposed 1966 requirements (MC–96)4 while the Council was considering the U.S. paper of April 26. This created a confusing situation which should not exist. Mr. Stikker emphasized that he and the Council were not equipped to pass judgment on the relative merits of the April 26 paper and MC–96, and that the Council must have competent advice in order to have a basis for judgment. In the absence of a convincing new judgment, European NATO Governments would not be willing to commit themselves to any significant changes in defense programs. [9 lines of source text not declassified]

Ambassador Finletter agreed with these observations but said many countries had not been doing what they should in the past because [Page 318]they were not persuaded that the existing military requirements were essential. He thought it was necessary for us to translate the Green Book into new and convincing requirements and said that the U.S. Delegation in Paris was studying this problem urgently with the able assistance of Mr. Levy. If the results of these studies could not be agreed in the Council, the U.S. Delegation would refer the views of other governments back to Washington for further consideration. Mr. Stikker interjected that this process must also involve a dialogue with the military authorities. The Secretary asked Mr. Nitze whether the studies referred to by Ambassador Finletter were being guided by the Defense Department. Mr. Nitze said Defense had issued no instructions to Paris and that the USRO studies were being conducted independently.

Mr. Kohler referred in this connection to Mr. Stikker’s observation, made earlier in the day, that he obtained very little information from the Standing Group.5 Mr. Stikker elaborated this point, explaining that he now obtained almost none of the Standing Group papers that he had previously received as the Netherlands representative. He added that he could not, of course, become an expert on military questions in such a manner as to put him in conflict with SACEUR’s judgment. He thought it would be extremely dangerous to degrade SACEUR whose role in Europe was extremely influential and in whom the Europeans rested great confidence for their defense. The Secretary asked whether it was not generally believed in Europe that General Norstad spoke for the U.S. Government. Mr. Stikker said this was not the case at all and that General Norstad was regarded as an international commander with a completely independent status.

The Secretary wondered whether other NATO Governments would be prepared to make their positions known in the Council or would use the existing uncertain situation as an excuse for delaying any increased defense effort. Mr. Stikker felt the latter would be the case. Ambassador Finletter said there was really no alternative but to continue to follow existing procedures for the time being. We must carry forward on the basis of existing requirements until new requirements are developed. Mr. Stikker doubted that any progress could be made on the basis of existing requirements because everyone knew that MC–70 was no longer valid and that the proposed MC–96 requirements would not be approved. The Secretary asked whether we were not working at cross purposes in that the Commanders were pursuing MC–96 while the Council was trying to study the new U.S. approach. Ambassador Finletter reiterated that we should not interfere with existing procedures [Page 319]as this would create a vacuum. He hoped that Secretary McNamara would be able to bring proposals to Paris in July for a modification of MC–96 and that these proposals could then be discussed in NATO. He was sure that the U.K. would also be proposing modifications. Mr. Stikker said that a U.S. paper with concrete force proposals was needed as soon as possible as a means of starting a dialogue. The Secretary asked whether this paper should really be a U.S. paper. He said that he had thought the next move was up to the Europeans. If the U.S. were to submit another paper, he was afraid the U.S. might then be so committed as to confront other NATO members with a “take it or leave it” position. Mr. Stikker said he would like to be able to study the U.S. paper privately before it was submitted to the Council. The Secretary pointed out that the U.S. had not decided whether it should put in another paper as the next step.

Mr. Acheson thought a U.S. paper would be helpful to the Council in coming to grips with the problem in concrete terms. He said that in the past the Council had been able to provide only generalized directives to the Military Authorities and that SHAPE had then gone ahead and done whatever it wanted to do. If the Council and the International Staff were given the competence to deal with the practical aspects of the problem, this process could be reversed. Ambassador Finletter said he shared the Secretary’s concern regarding the possibility of undue U.S. pressure but thought this could be avoided through the attitude adopted by the U.S. The U.S. should welcome the concrete views of other members and be prepared to take them fully into account.

Mr. Stikker thought that after the U.S. paper was ready, the International Staff could consider how it might best be presented, either as a U.S. or as an International Staff paper. The Secretary explained that his concern was partly with respect to the scope of the U.S. paper. He thought it would be inappropriate for the U.S. at this stage to be definitive regarding the use of nuclear weapons because we were looking to our Allies for suggestions in this regard. On the other hand, it would be appropriate for the U.S. to be more specific in its views on NATO force requirements. The Secretary asked when the U.S. paper would be ready. Mr. Nitze said it was not due until July 15 in first draft and that it would have to be completed in time for Secretary McNamara to take it to Paris for his July 25 meeting with General Norstad. The Secretary observed that if the U.S. was able to reach solid conclusions in its paper, we would have to press hard to obtain the necessary action from other NATO members. Mr. Stikker agreed but said it was important to remember that each Government had its own parliamentary problems and hard political decisions to make. Ambassador Finletter commented that progress would necessarily be gradual and that we could not assume overnight changes.

[Page 320]

Mr. Nitze said he had been thinking the Council should give a directive to the Military Authorities so that they could be working on the problem concurrently with Council consideration of military requirements. The Secretary felt the Council’s guidance to the Military Authorities should be clear and precise. Ambassador Finletter agreed with this and said that USRO had been trying to frame careful questions which the Council could use to get the right answers from the Military Authorities. There should be no loopholes. The Secretary asked when the new requirements would replace the proposed MC–96 requirements. Ambassador Finletter thought the new requirements would differ significantly from MC–96, particularly with respect to MRBMs. However, the MC–96 requirements for 1962, which formed the basis for this year’s Annual Review, do not involve any significant change as compared with present requirements. He anticipated that it would take some time to negotiate acceptance of the U.S. paper and that there probably would be confusion during this period, but that major changes would eventually be made.

Mr. Stikker thought there would be major problems involved in making basic changes. If certain force requirements were deleted, the Military Authorities would want to offset the reduction with other types of forces and equipment. For example, if MRBMs were sharply reduced, there would be a greatly increased requirement for manned strike aircraft. He pointed out that delays in resolution of these problems would create increasing difficulties and confusion. SACEUR would be persuading Ministries of Defense of the importance of his proposed MC–96 requirements. However, SACEUR must not be inhibited in his efforts as that would derogate SACEUR. Ambassador Finletter agreed fully, but thought the International Staff should be strengthened to play a more important role in the process. Mr. Gregh is now struggling almost alone. The Secretary observed that the central problem seemed to be one of drawing together in NATO national decisions on NATO programs and relating these to a collective judgment regarding the nature and magnitude of the force structure NATO needs. Mr. Kohler commented that we must keep in mind the utility of U.S. military assistance in persuading governments to make an increased effort toward meeting military requirements.

The Secretary asked Mr. Stikker if it would be useful for the U.S. to provide him with someone of great stature who could help him with military planning after the U.S. paper had been made available. Mr. Stikker observed that this was now Mr. Gregh’s function. Mr. Kohler said that he admired Mr. Gregh, but that he and his staff were not equipped for the job that must be done. Mr. Stikker thought it would be helpful to have someone at a very high level who could work effectively with him in bringing pressure to bear on governments. Ambassador [Page 321]Finletter cautioned against derogating the function of the Council, emphasizing that the Council must not be permitted to deal only in generalities but must get down to specific problems. Mr. Acheson thought it would be useful for the U.S. to submit a paper giving a concrete application of its views. If the Secretary-General were then provided with staff assistance competent in this field, he would be in a position to make a realistic assessment for the Council.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 375/6–1461. Secret. Drafted by Magill, initialed by Kohler, and approved in S on June 26.
  2. The time of the meeting is from Rusk’s Appointment Book. (Johnson Library)
  3. Under reference here is the Acheson report (see the source note, Document 100), which had a green cover in the final draft approved by the President.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 103.
  5. Not found.
  6. A memorandum of Stikker’s conversation with Kohler is in Department of State, Central Files, 375/6–1461.