132. Response to National Security Study Memorandum 471


[Omitted here is the table of contents.]

I. Current Setting

French Attitudes

Over the past year there have been numerous indications of greater French interest in military cooperation with NATO and with the US. President Pompidou told Ambassador Shriver on 23 July that France was dedicated to working with its allies for the defense of Western Europe, that France was willing to enter into bilateral military talks with the US, and that no question should be permitted to arise in our [Page 480] minds concerning the commitments of France to its allies and especially to the US. French officials have told us of their interest in early bilateral discussions in Washington concerning US-French military cooperation and how it might be expanded. A noticeable new example of French interest was their decision in mid-August to allow one class (100 cadets) of the French Air Force Academy to visit the US.

Concerning the relationship to NATO, Pompidou has stated that the French alliance with the US “should be carried out within the framework of the [Atlantic]2 Treaty and outside of any organization of the NATO type.” There is no reason to believe that the Pompidou Government will move to reintegrate French military forces in NATO. Debré as Minister of State for Defense will remain a powerful voice against such a move. There has been progress, nevertheless, during the past 18 months in expanding US and NATO cooperation with France, and the atmosphere seems generally favorable for exploring additional possibilities.

Incentives to Greater French-NATO and French-US Cooperation

NATO authorities candidly stated in 1966, at the time of French withdrawal from the integrated command arrangements, that the security of Western Europe cannot be at maximum strength without French participation in the collective system. All of the other members of the Alliance would prefer to see France return to the system and a recommitment of its forces to the Alliance. On the French side, we have received reports that their military authorities realize that the security of France is necessarily based on increased participation in the collective effort. While this realization is undoubtedly nothing new to French military planners, the change is manifested in their willingness to say this to others, and to program their own command post exercises to bring out this basic truth. US military planners, on their part, still consider that France’s central geographic location makes it particularly valuable to the Alliance and still regard access to France in wartime as extremely important.

Other factors which favor greater cooperation with France include the problem of increasing Soviet activities in the Mediterranean, growing pressures on the DOD budget which could cause further cutbacks in US military activities, and the growing uncertainty concerning US military access to Spain after 1970. If base rights in Spain are lost, US access to and activity in the Mediterranean area will be complicated considerably, and US contingency and war planning will be seriously affected. Improved military cooperation with France could ease the impact of losses in Spain. For example, loss of beddown capability for [Page 481] transport aircraft provided by the Spanish air bases might be in part compensated for by arrangements for contingency use of French air bases for reinforcement in case of emergency.

Policy Issues and Questions

The policy questions presented in Parts II and III of this paper represent a spectrum of policy options in several areas of military relations with France. If there is a Presidential decision to pursue one or more of these possibilities, the agencies concerned would then proceed to define in detail the possible specific courses of action, for further White House consideration and approval, where necessary. The policy questions include one that is of expressed current interest to the French: participation in the NATO communications satellite project (TACSATCOM). The other options include French participation in the NATO Nuclear Planning Group, some form of cooperation in targeting of strategic weapons, possible UK-French cooperation in the nuclear area whether targeting or something more, US nuclear weapons support or assistance to France, possible US use of military facilities in France, and settlement of the US and NATO claims against France. Some of these possibilities for exploration were mentioned to President Pompidou by Ambassador Shriver on a personal basis on 23 July. There has been no French reaction to these suggestions. The visit of General Fourquet, the Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces, to Washington on 13 and 14 November as the guest of General Wheeler, may provide some clue to French thinking about future specific courses of action in their military relations with the US and NATO. (Fourquet will precede his tour of the US with a one-day visit to London.)

In the discussion which follows, pertinent background material either introduces each of the issues or precedes a group of related issues. Each of these policy questions either requires new US decisions or, if not, must nevertheless be weighed in considering the advisability of close military relationships with France.

Part IV of this paper describes areas in which progress can be made within the present framework of US policy toward France; no new decisions are required. The extent to which cooperation can develop will depend in part on whether a forthcoming or a restrictive interpretation is given to present guidelines.

Additional background materials on French military relations with NATO and the US, remaining ties, and the current status of France-NATO contingency planning are set forth in Annexes A, B, and C.

[Omitted here are Sections II, III, and IV, and Annexes A, B, and C.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–147, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSM 47. Secret. NSSM 47 is Document 123.
  2. Brackets are in the original.