291. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Kohler) to Secretary of State Rusk1
- Berlin Air Corridors
Confirming and supplementing my oral report to you I have now talked (3:10 p.m.) with both General Wheeler and General Lemnitzer who had talked with Norstad about the situation in the Berlin air corridors with particular reference to General Clay’s recommendation (Berlin’s 1513)2 to introduce fighter escort. In brief they report the following from General Norstad.
- Norstad has the same knowledge of the situation in the air corridors at the same time as General Clay.
- In today’s operations he had deliberately decided not to introduce fighter escorts.
- With respect to the south corridor exercise tomorrow, General Norstad will not introduce fighter escort in the first instance.
- However for tomorrow Norstad has increased the American fighters on alert from 4 to 12 and he will plan to orbit some or all of them [Page 813] at the entry to the corridors if there is a recurrence of Soviet traffic comparable to today. (I believe General Norstad is fully aware that he needs a French governmental decision but there was no mention of this.)
- General Norstad is aware that he has no authority to introduce fighter escorts either from the US or the other two powers unless there is physical harassment. However if there is any harassment he intends to give the harassed planes fighter protection.
Finally General Lemnitzer told me that he had discussed the foregoing with Secretary McNamara who had approved Norstad’s actions and plans.