211. Letter From Secretary of Defense Clifford to Secretary of State Rusk1

Dear Dean:

This is in reply to your letter of August 8 concerning our bases in Spain.2

Your suggestion that we attempt to break out of our studies on cost reductions in Europe those portions relating to possible US force reductions in Spain is a reasonable one. It may, however, present some difficulties, since deployments in Spain are related to considerations of our overall military posture in Europe, and more particularly to the question of our tactical air capability on the southeast flank of NATO and in the western Mediterranean. Nevertheless, we will do our best to reach decisions with regard to Spain in advance of your next discussion with Foreign Minister Castiella.

You requested in particular that we give consideration to closing the air base at Torrejon, in view of Castiella’s expressed concern over the proximity of that base to Madrid. While we are examining proposals for closure or reduction to standby status of Moron Air Force Base, near Seville, we have only been considering reductions in the level of our military population at Torrejon. I believe there are significant obstacles to closing Torrejon. The most important point is that it is our best base in Spain. It is far better equipped than the other bases in terms of communications equipment, administrative buildings, and a wide range of support facilities that relate directly to the staging of tactical and transport aircraft through Spain and to the headquarters requirements of the 16th Air Force. If we were to move the major elements at Torrejon to another base, it would require construction of additional communications, administrative, and support facilities, as well as considerable additional housing. The cost and time factors involved would depend upon the alternate base selected as an adequate substitute. At the present time the estimates on expense range from $10 to 20 million, exclusive of housing costs, but further study is required before any confidence can be felt in these figures. The moving costs would be substantially less if we returned the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing from Torrejon to CONUS, but, as Nick Katzenbach pointed out in his letter to Paul Nitze of July 22,3 it [Page 418] could have serious political implications because of its effect on our tactical air capability on the southeast flank of NATO and in the western Mediterranean.

Let me add that Castiella’s concern about our presence at Torrejon does not appear to be shared throughout the Spanish government. The Spanish military, in particular, have made no objection to our presence there. Moreover, Torrejon is a principal operating base of the Spanish Air Force, and they would probably wish to continue to use it. If we left, they would have to pay the operating costs.

We are making progress in our preparations for negotiations in September. The DOD equipment package has now been developed, and the Under Secretary of the Air Force, Tim Hoopes, has discussed it with John Leddy. I understand that State has agreed that the equipment package constitutes a point of departure for our negotiations with the Spanish.

While I believe it would be well for the IRG/EUR and the SIG to consider in general the possibility of military reductions in Spain, I think that any detailed discussions of this matter should be confined to State-Defense channels.

As I believe you know, I have charged Tim Hoopes with principal DOD responsibility for the Spanish base negotiations. He and Ralph Earle, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, will continue to deal with your staff on the particulars of the negotiations.


  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 15-4 SP-US. Secret.
  2. In his letter, Rusk suggested closing Torrejon Air Force Base. (Ibid., SIG Files: Lot 74 D 355)
  3. Not found.