375. Report on U.S. Policy Toward Spain0

1. Review of policy toward Spain

During the ten years since the 1953 agreements were concluded with Spain, the Spanish people as well as other Europeans have become increasingly accustomed to the relationship inherent in those agreements. Most NATO countries recognize that our facilities in Spain are valuable assets in the common defense. Almost all European, African and Latin American countries have also improved their own relations with Spain during this period. In no country is criticism of our relations with Spain a serious problem in our bilateral relations with that country. Even among the Spanish opposition to Franco there is understanding of the military basis for our policy toward Franco. Continuation of our relationship with Spain for another five years, even with some concessions of a strictly military nature, would not harm our relations with third countries nor with liberal elements in Spain whose friendship would be important in the post-Franco period. However, this opinion presupposes that the relationship would continue to avoid anything which would be interpreted as indicating a markedly closer political relationship with Franco Spain.

We have been following two parallel policies during this period, (1) having close enough relations with the Spanish Government to assure Spanish cooperation in the current utilization of the military facilities, sometimes far beyond the purposes originally envisaged; [Page 1015] (2) avoiding identification as supporting the Franco regime as such, and maintaining contacts with liberal anti-Franco elements. We are placing more emphasis on the second aspect today than was the case three years ago.

While Spanish relations with other European countries have steadily improved, opposition to Franco remains strong among Socialists and labor unions. It seems clear that Belgium, Norway and Denmark would veto Spanish entry into NATO. Spanish application to associate with the Common Market is currently in abeyance. The long-run political interests of both Spain and the US would be served by closer relations between Spain and her European neighbors as well as European organizations. Such close ties would be a stabilizing factor within Spain when Franco departs, which may very well not come before 1968. [1 line of source text not declassified] we can not get Spain into either NATO or the Common Market in return for extension of our base rights.

2. Need for Military Facilities in Spain

This can best be covered in terms of the various functions served by our present or planned use of Spanish bases.

MATS/TAC operations: support of the Sixth Fleet: [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] communications. The picture with regard to the first three areas is essentially similar, in that bases in Spain are vastly superior to any alternatives from both a political and military standpoint. Regarding communications, there are no practical alternative locations because of geographical factors.

We envisage continuation, at least over the next five years, of normal peacetime operations by MATS and TAC at about current moderate levels. Even more significant, contingency operations in North Africa, the Middle East, and Tropical Africa, are now heavily dependent on use of Spanish facilities, which have been immediately granted to us in such past crises as the Lebanon. Although there may be future crises in which Spain would have political objections, the likelihood of this seems very much lower than for most European countries, and from an operational standpoint the southern route has major weather advantages. If we could not use Spanish bases for these purposes, our capacity to respond effectively to contingencies in these areas would be seriously degraded. It should be noted that TAC deployment operations require the continued availability of tanker support from Spanish bases.

Support of the Sixth Fleet now involves major logistics facilities at Rota and other bases. [1 line of source text not declassified] Removal of all these logistics facilities to any other area would entail very large gold-flow construction costs, probably undesirable concentration, and political risks.

[1 paragraph (4 lines of source text) not declassified]

[Page 1016]

Communications and auxiliary requirements in Spanish territory have been steadily increasing, notably through the installation of a European gateway to the Mediterranean tropo-scatter system, transfer of a part of the facilities previously at Kenitra in Morocco, and a number of specialized facilities. With Morocco becoming increasingly uncertain, Spain has become crucial to continuation of adequate naval communication through the Mediterranean and to the east. [3-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] There are no practical alternative locations for the communications facilities in Spain because of geographical factors.

These requirements are substantial in terms of manpower and facilities. [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] We regard them as a continuing and essentially irreducible minimum of the base rights we should seek to retain in Spain.

Strategic air operations. The actual conduct of reflex operations from Spain (currently 35 B–47’s) is now planned to continue at approximately the same rate until the B–47’s phase-out as strategic aircraft in the first-half of 1966. In connection with considerations for early B–47 reflex force phase-out, the Air Force notes that there are serious problems existing in the strategic force [1 line of source text not declassified] which may dictate retention of B–47’s in the active inventory longer than now planned. The Secretary of Defense does not believe deferrals of the phase-out of the B–A7’s will be necessary.

Use of Spanish bases to support reflex and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] will be a continuing requirement. The Spanish bases support the KC–135 refueling forces [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]. The UK bases offer a poor alternative for refueling operations, or for emergency landings when refueling malfunctions occur, due to the high incidence of uncertain weather conditions and operational limitations associated with the UK bases themselves. Spain is well aware of these refueling operations. [3 lines of source text not declassified]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that any actions which reduce or eliminate the use of the Spanish strategic air bases in the near future would impact severely on our over-all military posture and on our strategic force flexibility. These bases, with their excellent facilities (they were specifically designed and constructed for strategic operations), ideal weather conditions, and geographical location, together with the complete lack of Spanish restrictions on type of aircraft, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] or other operational matters, provide the United States with the most flexible foreign base complex we have.

Air defense of Spain. From a U.S. standpoint, the three U.S. air defense fighter squadrons in Spain are of very limited significance for air defense. [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

[3 paragraphs (26 lines of source text) not declassified]

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The most feasible alternative [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in light of the current political climate would be support of the second Polaris submarine squadron from the U.S. This would cause a significant reduction in the number of Polaris missiles on alert (or the time on alert for the total number of missiles on the submarines being supported from the anchorage) at a time when the U.S. is relying heavily on Polaris and the numbers of ready missiles are critical. For example:

Total Missiles Missiles on alert (average) with anchorage
No. Type 1 US (Max.2) US (to Med3)
128 (8 SSBN) A–2 85 (67%) 62 (49%) 56 (44%)
16 (1 SSBN) A–3 11 (67%) 9 (54%) 7 (44%)
144 96 71 63

The significance of these differences in alert missiles will decline gradually as additional Polaris and Minuteman missiles become available. No significant decline will occur as a result of the longer range A–3 missile being introduced into operational submarines in August 1964. The advantages [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] over U.S. basing apply as well to the A–3 missile as to the A–2, except for the relatively small difference in alert missiles as a result of the shorter transit distance to patrols in the North Atlantic. On the other hand, although the capability to shift rapidly from a follow-on role to an alert role is reduced by U.S. basing, the missiles not on alert because of added steaming time from the U.S. still would be available for follow-on strikes.

[6 lines of source text not declassified] A major decision will have to be made on proceeding with the breakwater project (costing nearly $6 million) which has been held up by the Navy pending resolution of the total Spanish base rights problem.

[1 paragraph (9 lines of source text) not declassified]

The strategic role of Spain’s armed forces and territory. The Spanish Army provides ground security for U.S. facilities, thus obviating the requirement for U.S. troops for that mission. The Spanish Air Force could assume an increasing share of the air defense role by an improvement of its capability. The Spanish Navy can contribute increasingly to the ASW capability in the adjacent areas of the Mediterranean and materially strengthen the defense of the Strait of Gibraltar. The geographic location of Spain and the nature of its terrain provide the best protected area in [Page 1018] Europe for U.S. bases. Generally favorable weather contributes to strategic importance in peace or war by facilitating training in peacetime and the execution of flight missions in peace or war. Although Spanish armed forces constitute a potential contribution to the defense of the Free World, the major strategic importance of Spain lies in its territory.

General. The initial cost of construction of U.S. military facilities in Spain exceeded $320 million. A major value of our present base rights arrangements with Spain is the unique freedom of use of all of our facilities. Spain has allowed us to use these bases for practically any purpose the U.S. deemed necessary. This lack of restraints makes our bases in Spain particularly valuable whether in time of peace, increased tension, or war [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and the staging of conventional forces for limited contingencies. In view of the essentiality of certain of our bases and the importance of the others, it would be desirable for the current base rights agreement to be renewed in its present form for another five years. Assuming the availability of acceptable alternative sites, removal of essential operations from Spain to new base facilities elsewhere would require time to negotiate new base rights agreements, construct replacement facilities and achieve an effective operational capability.

3. Political aspect of military presence in Spain

We have considered that our military presence in Spain has been a stabilizing influence and would continue to be so during any transitional period or change in the present regime. [4 lines of source text not declassified] On the negative side, we would be caught up in any internal strife in Spain through the presence of our forces.

4. The price we should pay

We have generally taken the line with Spanish officials that we want a simple extension of the 1953 Defense Agreement for five more years, as provided for in the agreement. We have asked them what changes Spain might want in the agreement and have said that we would study any Spanish suggestions. The Embassy at Madrid has not yet confirmed from any other source the allegation by Ambassador Garrigues that Franco himself holds the view that some new quid pro quo is required if Spain is to agree to an extension. We believe it would be realistic to assume that some quid pro quo will be required. Ambassador Garrigues has returned from Madrid with a letter,4 to be delivered later [Page 1019] this month, which we understand indicates a Spanish desire to negotiate in Washington.

Military assistance. We consider that military assistance will continue to be the basic quid pro quo for extension of our base rights. We have already informed the Spanish that we can visualize a modernization program for their armed forces, based upon their own statement in 1961 of their equipment requirements, of up to $250 million for the five-year period. We have told them that we would be prepared to furnish annual but decreasing programs of grant aid up to a total amount of $75 million over a five-year period, and in return we would expect them to purchase $175 million worth of U.S. equipment toward an offset to U.S. expenditures in Spain. This should be our position in the resumption of discussions with the Spanish even though we have clear indications that they will not agree to offset arrangements of $175 million in purchases. Since the $75 million aid was linked to the purchases of this amount, we could lower the grant aid figure if the Spanish should agree to a lower level of purchases. This would necessarily be at the expense of needed Spanish force modernization and maintenance.

As a fallback formula, in the last analysis, the Department of Defense believes that we should be prepared to offer $50 million outright, with MAP amounts above this on a 1:1 ratio to Spanish military purchases in the U.S., up to a total MAP ceiling of $100 million. In terms of new funds, any amounts arrived at under this formula could be reduced by $22 million, the amount already set aside to fund a Hawk Battalion, which would be a useful and attractive component of any MAP package.

Economic assistance. In 1961 we advised the Spanish Government in writing that because of the great improvements in their economy and in their balance of payments, we would expect Spain to look to conventional sources for any external assistance, such as the Export-Import Bank, the IBRD, and private money markets. We said that we would not expect Spain to apply for long-term low-interest rate development loans from the AID, but that we would be prepared to reconsider this position, should the Spanish economic situation deteriorate. In reply, Spain informed us that once they had developed an economic plan they would seek development loans on soft terms from us. We are not persuaded of the need to change our position. Meanwhile, the Export-Import Bank is continuing its lending program for investment projects primarily in the electric power and steel industries in Spain. Ex-Im Bank loans have averaged $35 million a year over the past four years. The IBRD is about to undertake its first loan to Spain. U.S. private investment in Spain is increasing and has amounted to $50 million during the past three-year period.

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While we have had extensive Public Law 480 Title I sales programs in Spain in the past, Spain is no longer considered to be eligible for such concessional sales in view of its balance of payments position and its commercial purchases from the U.S. Spanish foreign exchange reserves have remained stationary at $1 billion over the past six months, and about half of the reserves have been converted to gold. While the Spanish Government predicts a decline in reserves, the short-term outlook is for a further increase arising from the tourist season.

Political concessions. Ambassador Garrigues is anxious to get further international recognition for Spain through some new arrangement with the U.S. and it would appear that his Government has given him a free hand to try, although the Foreign Minister may remain dubious that we will offer any political concessions. A Mutual Defense Treaty would be undesirable from our viewpoint, in terms of its political effect both outside Spain and on anti-regime elements inside Spain. An executive agreement is likewise to be avoided if possible, although this would be less significant than a treaty, if confined to consultation on purely military matters. Any new arrangement should shy away from political connotations. Even if we entered into a military consultative arrangement, we should expect that the Spanish Government would give it maximum publicity, in order to serve its own political ends. The question remains whether we would discuss the defense of Spain in any military consultative arrangement.

From the foreign policy viewpoint, joint military planning with Spain would be undesirable. As a practical matter any discussions relating specifically to the defense of Spain would appear to be unrealistic: in the event of general nuclear attack the full weight of the U.S. would be involved; in a situation short of nuclear attack, NATO defenses would be fully engaged in the defense of Europe against Soviet attack before it became a threat to Spain. The U.S. should not become involved in defense problems relating to Spanish territories in Africa; we should instead be prepared to tell Spain to consult with its neighbors regarding area defense questions involving possible attack from other than Soviet sources. At the same time, we should continue to work together with Spain in such naval questions as ASW defense against Soviet submarines in the Western Mediterranean. With the withdrawal of U.S. aircraft from Spain, air defense discussions would appear to be even less practical, and the purpose to be served by any such joint discussions would have to be examined in light of the changing situation in Spain.

  1. Source: Department of State, NSAMs: Lot 72 D 316. Top Secret. The source text bears no drafting information and is not dated, but it is attached to a June 16 memorandum from McNamara and Rusk to the President that states that it was in response to NSAM No. 247 (Document 374).
  2. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]
  3. Assuming SSBNs operate from an anchorage in northeastern U.S. to patrols in the North Atlantic. [Footnote in the source text.]
  4. Assuming SSBNs operate from an anchorage in northeastern U.S. to patrols in the Mediterranean. [Footnote in the source text.]
  5. Dated May 30. (Department of State, Central Files, Def 15–4 Sp-US) A copy of this letter was given to the Department of State on June 14. At a meeting with Rusk on June 17 the Spanish Ambassador officially delivered the letter and discussed how the negotiations on an extension of the Defense Agreement might proceed. Rusk and Garrigues agreed that the discussions would take place in Washington beginning in July with general principles and following agreement on them with technical discussions. (Memorandum of Conversation; ibid.)