65. Record of Discussion and Decisions of 22nd Meeting of the Senior Interdepartmental Group1


  • Under Secretary of State, Chairman
  • Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • General Johnson for the Chairman, JCS
  • Admiral Taylor for the Director of Central Intelligence
  • Director, United States Information Agency
  • Administrator, Agency for International Development
  • Under Secretary of the Treasury
  • Under Secretary of Agriculture
  • The Special Assistant to the President, Mr. Walt W. Rostow
  • The Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
  • The Staff Director
  • Ambassador Foster, ACDA
  • Mr. Oliver, Chairman IRG/ARA
  • General Orwat, JCS
  • Mr. Lang, ISA

[Omitted here is discussion of future agenda suggestions and the status of talks on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.]

3. US Regional Policy Toward Latin American Security Forces

A. Summary of Discussion

The Chairman of IRG/ARA introduced the subject with a brief review of the report itself and its current status.2 He mentioned the ACDA dissent and the fact that, owing to time pressures, staffing by the Services had not yet been completed.3 He listed the main reappraisals and [Page 156] reformulations of policies contained in the report. He noted that the Navy wished to give further consideration to the specific lines of action (page 20) suggested for navies in the area. On the sale of F–5s, to which the ACDA dissent was addressed, he pointed out that this kind of question had been raised at each of the previous plateaus of air force re-equipment—T–5 to 600 mph and now to near supersonic.

The Chairman stated his view that this policy paper should be considered a general re-statement of our present policies with some new emphasis, but that SIG should not give approval to the paper in all its details. Gen. Johnson summed up his view that the general thrust of the policy was good and a simple adjustment would probably meet the one criticism noted. (He mentioned that a paper 36 months in preparation4 should not have to be staffed in five days.)

Mr. Barr explained his difficulty in presenting the case for arms sales to Latin America in his recent Congressional appearances. He welcomed the detailed statement and reasoning behind US objectives and thought these would be useful to him in the future, although he foresaw continued opposition on the Hill. Some important and influential leaders saw our activities in this field as only aiding military dictatorships. Others on the SIG thought opinion was less opposed in the Armed Services and Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Mr. Gaud thought that, leaving the F–5 problem aside, the other policies would win support in the Congress. Gen. Johnson suggested that Gen. Porter had good relations on the Hill and would be willing to help with any Congressman who might benefit from a first hand view of the practical problems in this area.

Mr. Rostow summed up the case to be made as follows: the military play an important role in the countries which is not well understood; they can be a force for progress; and we do have some leverage through equipment modernization. Therefore, we should aim to guide the military leadership toward support of democratic institutions, toward the right military tasks, toward a reduced share of GNP for military purposes and toward keeping the modernization impulse in line [Page 157] with US interest as against outsiders (e.g., the French). A strong case can be made using such examples as Venezuela and Peru.

Mr. Foster agreed that the policy paper was a good one but maintained that the F–5 sales were contrary to it. He queried whether the “commitments” mentioned in the paper circulated by Mr. Oliver were in fact definitive. Mr. Rostow cited the letter to the Brazilian President and Ambassador Tuthill’s authorized oral remarks.5 Gen. Johnson said he had no knowledge of the letter but on his recent trip to Brazil he was left in no doubt by his Brazilian hosts that they considered we had a commitment to sell F–5s and that they expected the authorization for talks with Northrop to come shortly after October 1. Mr. Foster also recalled the Punta del Este recommendation on arms limitation but Mr. Nitze thought the Latin Americans would consider F–5 purchases as “necessary expenditure” in the terms of the resolution.

Mr. Foster thought the Foreign Relations Committee particularly would take the line that we aren’t holding down the appetites. Mr. Oliver thought a good case could be made that we are. On a comparative basis Latin America’s military expenditures were smaller than those of other areas on military expenditure and of those sums only a small part went for matèriel. The Latin American forces were in many cases used more as CCC-type camps and, said Gen. Johnson, for vocational training. The Chairman said that the comparative element should be added to the IRG/ARA paper.

The Chairman thought we had delayed the sale as long as feasible but we were now faced with imminent Mirage sales. Gen. Johnson pointed out that F–5 deliveries would not be made before 1969, whereas the Mirage was available now.

Mr. Gaud described the special case of Peru, where we must make a decision on a program loan with conditions—no Mirage purchases, sound economic policies, no higher defense expenditure, but agreement to F–5 purchases. He concluded, as did Mr. Rostow, that a Peruvian purchase of Mirage aircraft could result in Congressional retaliation on the Alliance for Progress. Mr. Rostow stressed the importance of President Belaunde’s position and the consequences for him of our failure to comply with the request for F–5s. If pressed too far by us and by his military, Belaunde might denounce AID entirely, to the great damage of the Alliance, to American policy, and to the President of the United States.

Mr. Gaud and others stated their firm belief that the matter had to be discussed with Congressional leaders before action is taken or we would run a serious risk of equally strong reaction against our sale of F–5s.

[Page 158]

B. Decisions and Next Steps

The Chairman summarized the general agreement of members to continued development and implementation of the following guidelines for US action:
Increasing Latin American military role in internal defense;
Attempting to enhance OAS/UN peacekeeping role of L.A. military forces;
Continued “go slow” on more sophisticated equipment; and
Re-examining US military presence.
SIG agreed that the “general thrust” of the policy was good and its objectives were generally approved subject to possible changes as the JCS complete their staffing.
SIG further agreed that the State–Defense Study Group should not consider themselves bound in any way by this document but should be free to reexamine these policies in their review of broader area policies.
On the F–5 sales, SIG agreed that we must proceed but that it was essential to inform Congressional leaders prior to final action with the Latin American countries. The Chairman of IRG/ARA was requested to prepare a detailed, step-by-step plan for dealing with the sales of F–5s to all the countries in question and including the tactics to be used domestically.

C. Suggestions for Further Follow-Up

Should we study the actual influence of the Latin American military and also analyze what groups are represented in forces today? (IRG/ARA—Admiral Taylor suggested Major Gen. Roland del Mar would be a good person to conduct such a study. The Chairman also suggested the Rand Corporation.)
The Chairman asked that the projected State–Defense study on Latin America consider the following:
Multilateral programs to influence Latin American military;
Possible pooling of sophisticated equipment (helicopters, interceptor boats) (General Johnson mentioned the Army Regional Assistance Command);
Mr. Gaud’s suggestion to relate aid to increasing use of resources on economic development as an indirect way to hold down defense expenditure.6
Gen. Johnson requested preparation of a SIG discussion on how to give useful guidance to American military officers in their contacts with Latin American military leaders (State–G/PM to prepare paper for SIG discussion and action).
AA Hartman
Staff Director
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/SSIG Files: Lot 70 D 263, SIG/RA #22, 10/2/67, Future Agenda Suggestions. Secret.
  2. The report, approved by IRG/ARA on September 20, recommended that the United States carry out its “commitment to cooperate with the larger South American countries in obtaining jet fighter aircraft of the F–5 type in 1969–70 to replace jet fighter aircraft in existing inventory. It is recognized that air combat support could be performed by less sophisticated jets but that for primarily political reasons we are prepared to see the five large South American countries receive these aircraft.” (Ibid., SIG Agenda: #22—9/28/67)
  3. In a September 23 memorandum to the SIG Acting ACDA Director Alexander argued that the United States “should continue to resist pressure from the Latin American countries for supplying supersonic military aircraft.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, SIG, 22nd Meeting, 9/28/67, Vol. 2) In an October 20 memorandum to Katzenbach, Chairman Wheeler reported that, subject to several reservations, the JCS generally supported the paper, including the proposal to provide F–5 aircraft to the larger South American countries. (Ibid.)
  4. In a September 28 memorandum to Oliver, Sayre explained that the report was a late response to NSAM No. 297: “One of the first things I did when assigned to the White House in 1964 was to get McGeorge Bundy to ask for a study and an agreed U.S. security policy for Latin America. Defense and State appointed a study group which worked for six months. It produced a study which DOD/ISA considered satisfactory, but State, JCS and CINCSO refused to accept it. It was finally sent to the White House for information. Primarily because of the Dominican crisis, but also because DOD/ISA preferred the ad hoc system which it controlled, we have made progress slowly.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, ARA/IG Files: Lot 70 D 122, U.S. Regional Policy Toward L.A. Security Forces—1967)
  5. See Document 230.
  6. In April 1968 Ambassador Edwin M. Martin submitted the joint State–Defense study, entitled “Latin America: A Recommended U.S. National Strategy.” The SIG discussed the Martin study at its meetings on May 2 and June 13. At the latter meeting, Katzenbach directed that the Country Teams consider the study “in their policy/program planning and development.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/SSIG Files: Lot 70 D 263, SIG/RA #41, 6/26/68, Chairman’s Summary at Discussion and Decision)