572. Telegram 1942 From the Embassy in Paraguay to the Department of State1 2

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Joint State/Defense Message


  • Review of US Military Presence in Latin America


  • State 202324; Asuncion 1792 of 23 Oct

1. The new NSC policy decision is particularly appropriate for Paraguay. The US military presence here has provided an easy access to highest levels of the Paraguayan military structure (including President Stroessner on Thursday, the day of the week when he holds office as Commander-in-Chief in the Department of Defense building) which, along with the Colorado Party, is the principal prop for the present regime. This access not only provides an opportunity for acquisition of political intelligence but also is a convenient channel for exertion of political influence. Except for our defense attache, our US military—mostly MILGP and some IAGs—have not been specifically charged with intelligence gathering or favorably influencing local military leaders toward US foreign policy objectives. However, in many instances such officers have assisted in this respect. As such has not been a specific requirement of their jobs, however, the amount of such activity has varied among individual officers.

2. The entire staff of the Embassy including its AID, [Page 2] USIS, as well as military components is available to carry out new NSC policy decision. More senior civilian members of my staff have frequent contact with the Paraguayan military and I think it is fair to say they can and do have a favorable influence. The contacts of our younger civilian officers with the more junior military officers have been less frequent. Although obviously of great significance to the future, the younger officers are more difficult to reach. However, we will make greater efforts in this respect. Our AID mission, the largest component of the Embassy, as well as our USIS staff now have contacts with the Paraguayan military. USIS has been making an impact through its movie and book distribution to Paraguayan military as well as supplying speakers to the Paraguayan War College. In this connection, might the rules covering the leader grant program be relaxed to permit a military officer to receive Code 210 leader grants.

3. Although the civilian staff can and will be helpful in expanding our contacts and influence with current and potential military leaders, nonetheless our US military officers are best equipped to contribute to these objectives. The Country Team is unanimous in its belief that in Paraguay all our military officers can foster specific US policy objectives which are not strictly military. The Paraguayan military are always in uniform and obviously pleased to have US uniformed colleagues in their midst. In addition to our US military, several South American countries have military attaches assigned in Paraguay and both Brazil and Argentina have military missions similar in numbers to ours. All the foreign military officers work harmoniously with the Paraguayan counterparts.

4. We have made a careful survey of our military positions and believe we can get the job done with the following changes and additions:

DATT. Replace the present administrative officer slot (warrant officer) with an officer position. The assistant Attache, who like the Defense Attache should also be an Army Attache, could be a Captain or Major.

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The senior resident Attache (our Naval and Air attaches are resident in Buenos Aires) a Lt Colonel who is daily doing business with Generals, could well be a Colonel. It is difficult to rank our military in terms of which might contribute most to the desired objectives of contact and favorable influence stated in reftel. All have the capability. However, the military Attache does derive a really meaningful advantage from the fact that he wears the braid. He is at my side at all ceremonial occasions in the same manner as the President’s aides are at his side. Also, local custom includes the Attaches on almost as many invitation lists as Ambassadors. I consider a second resident Attache as of highest priority in beefing up our military staff.

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MILGP. All reductions have now been effected reducing the total component to twelve (eight officers, four em). We now recommend changes which will increase the complement to fifteen (thirteen officers, two em). It is the consensus of the country that a medical officer (Captain, Army), an intelligence advisor (Lt Colonel, Army), and a second officer for the Navy section (a Lieutenant) could contribute significantly to our new objectives. Also, as officers are more useful for our purposes, two NCO positions (administrative and signal maintenance) should be converted to officer positions. The Chief of the Navy section, a Lt Commander, who works daily with the top Naval command should be brevetted as a commander. The more junior officer for the medical position as well as for the second Naval position can be helpful in working with more junior Paraguayan officers. It would be well if they would not only be carefully selected but be given some additional instruction or training with regard to their special duties with younger Paraguayan officers. Of course, all future assignments of military officers should include instruction with regard their new duties.

IAGS. No restoration in personnel cuts required but continuation of funding at FY-71 level is indicated [Page 5] in order to get the mapping job done as well as to maintain our influence in this special branch of the Paraguayan armed forces. One of the two IAGS officers is a Second Lieutenant who has worked well with Paraguayan junior officers and who has now been replaced by another Second Lieutenant. If we can announce that the present IAGS staff will be maintained indefinitely, the GOP reaction will be most favorable. Our IAGSs staff share offices with their Paraguayan colleagues and as such are very much a part of the family.

5. Together with the military staff changes and increases, we should continue a program of some grant materiel assistance as well as obtaining a fair share of deliveries under MIMEX/SIMEX for paraguay. in the area of military assistance, a little goes a long way in Paraguay. We should take advantage of this situation.

6. Above represents consensus all components of Country Team.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 19–9 US–PAR. Secret. Repeated to USCINCSO. The NSC policy decision is published as Document 34.
  2. The Embassy reported that the U.S. military presence in Paraguay provided a means for receiving information on Paraguayan politics and for exerting influence over the Government of Paraguay.