215. Letter From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Nitze) to Secretary of State Rusk 1

Dear Dean:

I refer to your letter of August 8 concerning a possible reduction of the US military presence in Spain, and to my reply on August 172 that DoD would do its best to reach a decision with regard to this matter in advance of your forthcoming meeting with Foreign Minister Castiella on September 16. I am aware of the Spanish Ambassador’s recent proposal to us that, if we are unable to meet fully Spain’s requests for military equipment, we should consider a reduction in our military presence as a means of helping the Spanish government to accept an extension of the Base Agreement; and I have noted the SIG conclusion3 that a statement concerning our intentions on future force levels is probably essential to such a Spanish acceptance.

Bearing these several factors in mind, we have studied the matter intensively within DoD and have now reached certain tentative conclusions; these would permit you to advise Foreign Minister Castiella along the following lines:

The US is currently studying its European deployments; while no decisions have yet been made, we do anticipate some reductions and consolidations of noncombat activities.
Within a program of consolidations and reductions, we would anticipate placing one more of the bases in Spain in standby status, comparable to the present status of Zaragoza; this would probably be Moron. Such a move would involve personnel reductions of about 4500, approximately half of whom would be civilian employees and dependents.
We would anticipate the continued use of Torrejon at approximately the present level of activity.
We have sympathetically considered your expressed concern about Torrejon, but have concluded that there are serious obstacles to its closure. It is far better equipped than the other bases in terms of communications equipment, administrative buildings, and a wide range of support facilities. Any attempt to move present activities from Torrejon to one of the other bases would cost the United States a good deal of money and time; and in view of our present stringencies, the requirement to fund such a move might well affect adversely the grant-sales package we are proposing to strengthen the Spanish armed forces. Moreover, if the United States should leave Torrejon and the Spanish Air Force wishes to continue to use that base, the Spanish government would of course have to pick up the operating costs.
We will consult with you further as we approach decisions on these matters.

I hope these suggestions will be helpful to you in your meeting with the Spanish Foreign Minister.


  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 14-5 SP-US. Secret.
  2. See Document 211 and footnote 2 thereto.
  3. See Document 213.