General Military Relations With Latin America

The United States, during the decade 1929-39, laid the foundation for closer military relations with the Latin American nations by pursuing what has been so aptly termed the "Good Neighbor" policy. The essence of this policy was United States support by word and action for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Western Hemisphere nations. During the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations, the United States proceeded to abolish both the form and substance of protectorates in the Caribbean area. When in the mid-1930's an upsurge of totalitarianism and aggression in the Old World foreshadowed the possibility of another general war, the United States Congress with the President's acquiescence tried to insulate the nation from involvement in such a conflict by passing neutrality acts in 1935 and 1937. In this same period President Roosevelt took the initiative in fashioning a front of hemispheric neutrality toward Old World wars by calling and attending in person the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, which met in Buenos Aires in December 1936.

The Buenos Aires conference adopted principles of far-reaching significance. The United States and the other American republics foreswore individual intervention in each other's internal or external affairs of any sort and for whatever reason. The conference also approved a Declaration of Principles of Inter-American Solidarity and Cooperation, which stated that "every act susceptible of disturbing the peace of America affects each and every" American republic and "justifies the initiation of the procedure of consultation." 1 Two years later the Declaration of Lima reaffirmed the intention of the American republics to support each other in case of any non-American attack on any one of them and provided specifically, when an emergency arose, for assembling their foreign ministers to decide on policies and plans for common action. Such meetings took place at Panama in October 1939, following the outbreak of war in Europe; at Havana in July 1940, following the defeat of France; and at Rio de Janeiro in January 1942, after Japan's


attack plunged the United States into the war. Despite the stresses of the international situation and its own growing military preponderance, the United States by means of these conferences managed to maintain with rather remarkable fidelity the principles of the Good Neighbor policy in its arrangements with the Latin American nations for hemisphere defense.

The Good Neighbor policy evolved during a period in which the United States Army had the slenderest of associations with its Latin American counterparts. At the beginning of 1938 the Army had only six military attaches assigned among the twenty Latin American republics. Three represented the Army in Mexico, Cuba, and Brazil; the other three were accredited to two or more countries. Lt. Col. Joseph B. Pate, stationed in Panama, was also expected to represent the Army in Venezuela, Colombia, and the five republics of Central America. No military attaches were accredited to Peru, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. In addition to the attaches, the Army had two military missions serving in Latin America-a four-man group in Brazil and a one-man mission in Guatemala .2  The very limited Army representation in Latin America reflected two policies: first, a political policy of avoiding anything that might be construed as an intrusion in Latin American military affairs, carried out even to the extent of discouraging private munitions sales by American manufacturers; and second, until late 1938, a military policy of limiting the mission of the armed forces to the defense of the continental United States and its outlying territories.

Alarmed by the increasing volume of German Nazi and Italian Fascist activity in Latin America, the Department of State, rather than the armed services, took the initiative in convening an informal interdepartmental conference on 10 January 1938 to discuss ways and means of providing greater military assistance to the other American republics. After this meeting, the Department of State proposed such limited measures of cooperation as training additional Latin American students in United States service schools; more frequent visits of naval vessels and demonstration flights of service aircraft in Latin America; visits by high-ranking Latin American officers to the United States; and providing Army and Navy publications to military libraries in Latin America. A month later the Department of State added to this list a recommendation that additional qualified military and naval attaches be appointed to the Latin American capitals, including air attaches at certain key points.3  To buttress these proposals, the Department of State transmitted


a review of current Nazi and Fascist activity, which noted that practically everywhere in Latin America the German and Italian "colonies" had been organized and brought under party control. Their activity was being backed up by the German and Italian Governments with free international news services, subsidies for Latin American newspapers, underwriting of arm sales, provision of military missions, and, in the economic sphere, an "aggressive commercial policy founded on bilateral balancing, subsidization, and currency depreciation." 4

The Department of State's proposals led the War Department to make a serious study of methods by which the military relations of the United States with Latin America could be expanded and improved. As a result, the Military Intelligence Division in April 1938 recommended a broader range of activities than the Department of State had suggested, and the Chief of Staff approved these recommendations on 20 May. The War Department, though handicapped by a shortage of qualified officers, was immediately ready to appoint three more military attaches. It was also prepared to act on the other proposals made by the Department of State-to accept a maximum of fifty Latin American students at Army service schools, to arrange for Army training flights from Panama to Central and South American countries, and to supply unclassified technical publications if funds could be obtained to pay for them. In addition, the Army advocated the establishment of additional military missions and advanced two proposals that were to be of outstanding importance in the years to come: the backing of American-owned commercial aviation interests in Latin America, and the active promotion of American munitions sales.5

While the State, War, and Navy Departments were formulating plans for closer military collaboration, a new vehicle for supervising and coordinating the execution of a Latin American program evolved, the Standing Liaison Committee. Established with the President's approval in April 1938, it consisted of the Under Secretary of State, the Chief of Staff, and the Chief of Naval Operations. Though originally intended to provide a means for coordinating all diplomatic-military problems between the Department of State and the services, from its first recorded meeting on 20 June 1938 it concerned itself principally with Latin American military problems.6


Despite this rather auspicious beginning, the Army's plans for closer military collaboration with Latin America did not get very far in terms of action until after Hitler's armies swarmed into France in May 1940. Brazil was the important exception. An exchange of visits between General Marshall and the Chief of Staff of the Brazilian Army in the early summer of 1939 established a plane of intimacy between the armies of the two nations and started them on the road toward a full wartime collaboration.7  Not much was accomplished in other directions. Although there was much talk on the subject, the Department of State continued to reject any backing of American aviation interests in Latin America for military purposes until May 1940.8  Until after the war in Europe began in September 1939, the Army likewise made no progress in finding ways and means to supply the Latin Americans with munitions.9  The Army did succeed between 1938 and June 1940 in doubling the number of its military attachés in Latin America, though the twelve officers then assigned to this duty were hardly adequate in number or sufficiently high in rank to give the Army the liaison with Latin American armies that it needed when the crisis in hemisphere defense arrived in May 1940.10  Then the United States had to move fast to secure assurances of military collaboration from the Latin American nations, since it looked as if plans for hemisphere defense might soon have to be translated into practice.

The Staff Conversations and Agreements of 1940

President Roosevelt, who for some time had been concerned over the vulnerability of the island of Fernando de Noronha off the Brazilian coast, on 30 April 1940 directed Admiral Stark, the Chief of Naval Operations, to arrange for conversations with Brazilian authorities to insure the security of the island against a transoceanic attack. After consultation, Admiral Stark and General Marshall on 7 May sent Under Secretary of State Welles an outline for conversations, on the assumption that diplomatic representatives would do the actual conferring.11  Three days later German forces moved against France, and their precipitous advance created a new and altogether ominous outlook by 15 May. On 16 May, the President directed his military


advisers to prepare plans at once for developing closer military relations with Latin America. Thus the proposal for conversations with Brazil broadened into a plan for conversations with most of the Latin American nations.

On the continued assumption that Department of State representatives would conduct the preliminary conversations, General Marshall directed his planners to draft suggestions for them. He specified that all nations approached were to be asked how, and how extensively, they could cooperate in hemisphere defense. The South American nations, in particular, were to be asked what assistance they could offer to actual operations by United States forces. Army and Navy planners collaborated on 17 May in preparing suggestions, and the Chief of Staff was able to present their proposals to the Department of State on the following day. In them, the military planners suggested that each nation approached should be asked to reaffirm its adherence to the Declaration of Lima and to indicate whether or not it would be willing to accept aid from, and extend aid to, other American republics (including the United States) in the event that its security or the security of other American nations was threatened by attack or intervention from overseas. Nations that expressed a willingness to extend such aid were then to be asked to agree to make available their existing bases for land, air, and naval forces, and also the essential communications facilities that would make that aid effective. The Department of State was also asked to emphasize in the conversations the strategic and critical ,importance of the Brazilian bulge in the defense of the Americas. Each nation indicating a willingness to collaborate with United States forces in such military operations as the emergency might require was then to be asked to authorize further military staff conversations between its designated representatives and officers of the United States Army and Navy.12

President Roosevelt approved these proposals on 23 May, and the procedure they outlined was in general that followed between June and October 1940. The only significant change came on the same day, when it was decided that both preliminary and subsequent conversations should be conducted by Army and Navy staff officers. Accordingly, the Department of State instructed its representatives to seek the approval of the governments concerned to secret and informal discussions at their capitals between United States and Latin American officers, to deal with the currently critical international situation and common measures to combat it.13


All of the countries approached (Bolivia, Paraguay, and Panama being omitted) approved the Department of State's proposal, although with some reservations; Mexico, for example, expressed its preference for discussing military matters in Washington, and Army and Navy representatives participated in a preliminary conference with the Mexican ambassador there on 11 June that led to more formal military staff conferences in July.14  The Army and Navy prepared instructions for their designated representatives-officers selected principally from their War Plans Divisions-on 29 May, and these officers departed in early June.15  They were instructed to propound approximately the same questions suggested to the Department of State on 18 May. In effect, they sought fulfillment of one item in the new RAINBOW 4 war plan, completed and approved at this same time, which read:

With respect to the Latin American Republics, universal assurance should be sought that each State will make available to the armed forces of the United States, immediately as the necessity arises in carrying out our operations for Hemisphere Defense or in behalf of any State, the use of its available sea, air, and land bases.16

The first round of United States-Latin American military staff discussions took place in sixteen of the twenty Latin American capitals between 9 and 24 June, each under the auspices of the local senior diplomatic representative of the United States.17  All of the nations approached, except Argentina, indicated their general willingness to cooperate with the United States in military measures for hemisphere defense and to engage in further and more formal staff conversations. The principal and nearly universal qualification to this Latin American pledge of support was an acknowledgment of inability to cope with any serious external attack because of a general lack of modern armaments. Therefore, they all wanted arms, in greater or lesser quantities, from the United States, and none could afford to pay for them.18  All of the nations approached (again, except Argentina) agreed that the danger to the Western Hemisphere was very real, although each tended to anticipate an attack in the direction of its own territory. The period of the discussions was the period of the French collapse and armistice and of general agreement in


Washington that the immediate future was dark indeed. Also, in the midst of these conversations the United States issued the call for the Havana Conference of Foreign Ministers. On 10 July, therefore, it was decided to postpone any further military staff conversations until the results of the Havana meeting became known, and the Latin American nations were so informed.19

There were a number of developments between the June staff discussions and the more formal staff conversations that began in August that helped to define the framework for military collaboration with Latin America. In late June the President authorized the Army to make arrangements with Pan American Airways to develop airway facilities in the Latin American nations that would permit deployment in an emergency of American airpower toward the South American continent.20  At the Havana Conference, which assembled on 21 July, the American nations agreed on procedures for the temporary occupation, if necessary, of European possessions in the New World, including a provision that sanctioned emergency action by United States forces acting alone. Also, the United States announced its intention of bolstering sagging Latin American economies by large-scale loans. Soon after the Havana meeting, the Destroyer-Base Agreement with Great Britain provided the means for introducing United States forces into a chain of defensive positions along the Atlantic front. Furthermore, by the end of summer the chances of Britain's survival appeared much brighter than they had in June, and therefore the threat of an early German attack across the Atlantic seemed to have faded.21

Between the two rounds of staff conversations, the War Department adopted a basic policy toward Latin America that it consistently followed until after the entry of the United States into the war. On 8 July the Military Intelligence Division, in presenting proposals for various measures of military cooperation, asked for a decision on the basic objective of the United States in Latin America. Specifically, it asked:

Do we wish to embark seriously upon a program of raising the military efficiency of Latin American forces to a point where they would be of material aid to us as allies in hemisphere defense? Or, alternatively, shall we limit our efforts to obtaining the indirect results which would follow a better mutual understanding . . . ? 22

For a variety of reasons G-2 urged the second course. It believed the crucial argument in its favor was the time factor: the critical period in hemisphere defense would be the succeeding twelve months, and within that time the


United States, because of its own acute shortage of modern equipment, could do very little to improve the strength of the Latin American armed forces G-2's recommendation, concurred in by the other staff divisions and approved by the Chief of Staff and Secretary of War on 26 July, resulted in a definition of the Army's basic Latin American objective in the following terms:

Objective-better mutual understanding; impressing Latin American officers with our military preparedness and our determination to uphold the Monroe Doctrine; affording selected officers of our Army opportunity of studying Latin America. In attaining our objective, we should concentrate on those countries of the most immediate military importance to us. Our objective does not comprise expectations on our part of being able to use Latin American forces as effective allies in war.23

A few days later President Roosevelt approved a Latin American arms policy in consonance with this basic objective: to supply the principal nations with enough arms to ward off an external attack until United States forces could arrive.24  The 1940 staff conversations and agreements that followed were intended primarily to insure that Latin American land, air, and sea base facilities would be available to United States forces when they did arrive.

The Army and Navy officers chosen to conduct the new round of staff conversations received instructions authorizing them to make detailed inquiries of each of the Latin American states approached about their military readiness to deal with external attacks and internal disorders. Their objective was the conclusion of military staff agreements that would provide for the continued exchange of military information and for the coordination of hemisphere defense measures-particularly for the dispatch on request of United States forces to any nation in danger of external attack. As an integral part of the staff` agreement, the conferees were authorized to pledge:

The United States will employ its armed forces to assist any republic to defeat attacks on it by the armed forces of a non-American state or by fifth column groups supported by a non-American state, when requested to do so by the recognized government of the republic concerned . . . .

The United States will assist American republics to acquire armaments, to train their personnel, and to provide the assistance of such advisers as may be desired and available. In the supply of armaments, the United States will assist to the extent that its resources, present programs, and legal restrictions permit, either by releasing material from its existing stocks, or by making available the necessary manufacturing capacity in government or commercial plants.25

The staff agreements made were to be subject to the subsequent political approval of the governments concerned.


Between mid-August and the end of October 1940, Army and Navy officers engaged in military staff conversations with all of the American republics save Mexico and Panama.26  In return for the pledges of United States assistance, they sought assurances regarding all or most of the following points, that reach nation would be ready

1. To call upon the United States for armed assistance in the event of an actual or threatened attack.

2. To report to the United States, by the fastest means available, the origin, apparent objective, and initial progress of any non-American attack.

3. To explain, by broadcast, to the rest of the world, and particularly to the other American republics, the reason for its action in the event they requested the armed assistance of the United States.

4. To ask for the aid of the other republics {as] if the proceedings of the Havana Conference had been ratified and a general Pan American agreement were in existence.

5. To permit the transit of United States forces going to the aid of a neighbor, making available its railways, seaports, airports, and other facilities.

6. To effect the most appropriate and efficient distribution of its own forces to defend vital installations within its territory.

7. In the event of attack and pending the arrival of United States forces to assist:

a. To take such steps as were necessary to maintain internal order and to insure that the existing government remained in office and continued to exercise authority.

b. To continue to defend and prevent damage to transport and signal communications systems.

c. To defeat, delay, or interfere with enemy operations so far as remaining available means permit.

8. To develop and maintain an effective and complete interchange of intelligence relating to continental security.

9. To develop and maintain an adequate and efficient secret service in order to keep under surveillance the activities and movements of all aliens and their sympathizers, and to control subversive groups.

10. To eliminate anti-United States propaganda in time of emergency.

11. To furnish such air photographs or to permit the taking of such air photographs as might be needed in connection with plans for specific operations, after being informed of the nature and intended use of such photographs.

12. To permit such medical, engineering, and signal surveys of conditions and facilities as the United States might wish to make.27

The staff conversations resulted in the conclusion of military staff agreements between the United States and each nation approached, except Argentina. All of the agreements contained pledges of United States assistance in


a form more or less similar to that included in the conferees' instructions, and all of them contained assurances that approximated in most particulars those sought by the United States, though in some instances in guarded and qualified terms. Despite such qualifications, the War and Navy Departments approved all of the agreements. Before the end of 1940 the Department of State also gave its formal political approval to all of them except that with Brazil, which was approved in revised form in April 1941. The Latin American governments were slower in giving formal political approval to the staff agreements, only three of them doing so before the end of 1940. Irrespective of formal approvals, the staff agreements were generally honored after 1940 by all of the nations concerned. In December 1940 the Army assured the Department of State that it believed the staff agreements had established "a satisfactory bilateral basis for the cooperation of the respective army forces . . . in every case," 28  and it had no real reason to change that opinion during the following year.

The War Department, though generally satisfied with the 1940 staff conversations and agreements, believed further conversations necessary or at least desirable in several instances. Brazil's central importance in plans for hemisphere defense resulted in the continuation of military conversations in one form or another throughout 1941. Mexico's contiguity likewise called for frequent consultations from February 1941 onward. Army attempts to reopen military conversations with other nations were less successful before the entry of the United States into the war, principally because the Army found itself virtually unable to do anything about furnishing them with arms. This circumstance led the American ambassadors in several nations to recommend against further military conversations until the United States was in a position to offer concrete help toward local external and internal defense. Since in most instances the Army's chief concern was to maintain the interest in defense problems that had already been engendered, it did not press a general renewal of conversations until after Pearl Harbor .29

Only Argentina among the American republics rebuffed United States overtures of military cooperation during 1940 and 1941. Argentina, as the most powerful of the Spanish-speaking South American countries, had long aspired to leadership among them. In years past it had contested leadership in the Pan-American movement, and now it resisted the efforts of the United


States to weld a common front of New World solidarity. Geographic, economic, and cultural factors, rather than pro-Axis sympathies, governed Argentine attitudes during the war. Argentina's economic and cultural ties were with Europe, and if Germany won they would still have to be with Europe. Furthermore, the Argentineans believed that they must dominate the defenses of the La Plata region. When United States Army and Navy officers conferred separately with Paraguay and Uruguay during 1940, and particularly when the United States showed an interest in the construction of naval and air bases in Uruguay, Argentina objected. It countered with efforts to construct a bloc of South American states (including Chile, Peru, and Brazil) that would work for its own common defense, but that would also resist United States leadership in hemisphere defense and maintain neutrality toward the war. Argentine policy and plans thus conflicted rather sharply with United States plans for close military collaboration with Brazil and for the military support, if necessary, of the other nations concerned, especially Uruguay.30

Since Army plans for hemisphere defense never contemplated major operations below the Brazilian bulge, Argentina's recalcitrance was of more immediate concern to the Navy, which wanted the cooperation of the Argentine Navy in patrolling the South Atlantic. Only a Navy spokesman visited Buenos Aires in June 1940 during the preliminary round of conversations, and he found the Argentineans very reluctant to agree to any common defense measures. Representatives of both the Army and the Navy went to Buenos Aires in September and October, and although the conversations were friendly enough they discovered that their Argentine counterparts were unwilling to commit their country to anything unless and until the United States and Argentina made a political agreement delineating their respective roles in hemisphere defense and prescribing the economic and military advantages that would be forthcoming for Argentina in return for its cooperation From November 1940 onward the War Department favored a renewal of military conversations at Buenos Aires, but it deferred to the Navy's judgment because of the latter's primary interest. In July 1941 Argentina finally decided to send a staff mission to Washington; but it did not arrive until after Pearl Harbor, and then it accomplished nothing because Argentina refused to break with the Axis Powers or check Axis activity within its borders. Although Argentina's refusal of military collaboration had little effect on Army defense plans during the prewar period, its opposition on a broader


front had been a serious matter that was only to be resolved with reasonable success at the Foreign Ministers Conference in Rio de Janeiro in January 1942.31

In considering the question of reopening military conversations with Argentina during the summer of 1941, the War Plans Division laid down five basic principles that were equally applicable in negotiations with other American republics:

(1) That we are determined to oppose the extension to this hemisphere of Axis political, economic or military influence, and that we are determined to defend this hemisphere against all external aggression.
(2) That we will conduct this defense with or without the help of the Argentine Government.
(3) That we should very much like Argentine cooperation.
(4) That we have no territorial ambitions toward any foreign government.
(5) That if the Argentine Government desires to extend military cooperation, we have certain definite proposals to make, which, in view of the history of recent Axis operations, should be made operative at once and not made contingent upon decisions of deliberative bodies called together after Axis aggression becomes a fact.

The major purpose of the staff conversations and agreements with Latin America had been to achieve point five, and in negotiations toward this end the Army and Navy managed before Pearl Harbor to keep within the bounds of prewar political policy. This was the key to the success of their negotiations. But the United States had also to be prepared to act, and its war plans during 1940 and 1941 provided for the dispatch of sizable expeditionary forces to either or both coasts of South America, if necessary to protect it against major external attack.33  Though plans for expeditionary forces were not discussed in the staff conversations, the Latin American republics undoubtedly were aware of American intentions and understood that the staff agreements of 1940 were designed primarily to facilitate the execution of American military plans. For its part, the War Department believed that the staff agreements did assure Latin American military cooperation should a real emergency arise.

Other Measures To Improve Military Relations

Meanwhile, in the summer of 1940, the War Department prepared to carry out some of the other measures that had been proposed more than two


years earlier for improving military relations with Latin America-increasing the number of Army officers stationed in Latin America, inviting high-ranking Latin American officers to visit the United States, and arranging for more Latin American officers to attend Army service schools. Since these measures would cost money that the War Department could not pay out of its regular appropriation, President Roosevelt, at the Army's initiative, on 22 June approved the allocation from his recently voted Emergency Fund of $500,000 to the War Department and $300,000 to the Navy Department for use at the departments' discretion in improving military contacts with Latin America.34  The War Department earmarked four fifths of its allocation for new military missions to Latin America and visits by Latin American officers to the United States and allotted the remainder to confidential military intelligence activities .35

Since 1938 the number of military missions in Latin America had grown from two to seven, and in July 1940 a total of twenty-four officers were assigned to them. The Army's new goal was to establish military missions in most if not all of the Latin American nations and to enlarge the missions already established. Because many nations could not afford to pay for such missions, G-2 wanted them all paid for by the United States and not by the receiving nations. This seemingly minor question of payment was in reality a thorny problem. Wide differences in pay scales and in living costs between the United States and Latin America, as well as among the Latin American countries themselves, made it very difficult in practice to send officers to them. The Joint Board finally approved a policy for United States military mission members under which they were to receive normal pay and allowances for their grades from both the recipient nation and the United States. Because of lower Latin American pay scales, this meant in effect that the United States Army thereafter bore the bulk of the expense for maintaining military missions, though not all of it as G-2 had recommended. Nor was G-2 able to carry out in full its plan for doubling the number of officers on military missions in Latin America. At the beginning of December 1941 the number of Army missions had increased to twelve, but only thirty-two officers were assigned to them. 36  A more significant increase occurred in the number of military attaches assigned to Latin American posts. Their number


nearly trebled between June 1940 and December 1941, and by then the Army was represented by attaches or missions in all of the Latin American capitals.

The circumstances of mid-1940 led the Military Intelligence Division to believe that one of the most fruitful moves toward a better military understanding with the Latin American nations would be to invite groups of their senior officers to visit the United States so that they could see the extent of its military preparations. This proposal took shape in General Marshall's invitation to the chief of staff or ranking Army commander of each of the Latin American countries to visit the United States as his guest. In response, two groups of about twenty officers each came to the United States for two-week tours in October 1940. After visiting military establishments they were entertained by General Marshall and his staff in Washington. More than half of the ranking military commanders of Latin America came to the United States on these visits, which provided an unprecedented opportunity for establishing a personal acquaintance between United States and Latin American military leaders. The Brazilian Chief of Staff, who had exchanged visits with General Marshall the year before, availed himself of this opportunity to discuss and conclude the Brazilian-American staff agreement of 29 October 1940, but the other visitors generally refrained during their visits from trying to discuss hemisphere defense plans or their own defense needs. Subsequent reports from Latin America attested the value of this sort of an approach to mutual understanding in military relations.37

In July 1940 the Military Intelligence Division renewed its earlier proposal to increase the number of Latin American junior officers in attendance at United States Army service schools. Twenty-nine officers from eight countries were in attendance at their own governments' expense in the summer of 1940, a number that declined to eighteen by the time G-2 prepared a new student training plan in December. In its July proposal G-2 had frankly recognized the difficulties in receiving students when it advised:

Language presents a great barrier. Our ways are not their ways. A Latin American officer in an American training camp would find none of the pleasures of life that he would enjoy in his own or in a European garrison town .... Unless foreign officers are selected who can overcome these disadvantages, the net result is likely to be actually detrimental to mutual understanding.  38

Although G-3 believed that a good many more Latin American students could be accommodated, G-2 recommended seventy-five as the maximum


number that should be invited at any one time. It was finally decided to invite groups of forty or fifty officers for six months' training with the ground arms and, after 1 January 1941, to have the United States Army pay the traveling and training expenses of all the student officers. The newly invited officers were to spend three months in schools and then three months with troop units of the school's arm. Two groups came to the United States during 1941. The Department of State was well pleased with the results of the training program. In response to its urging, invitations went out in the spring of 1942 to all of the American republics to send students for a third training program,' to be inaugurated about 1 June 1942.39

Collectively, these several measures helped to promote closer inter-American military relations. What probably most impressed Latin American military men, and influenced them most in favor of cooperation in hemisphere defense, was the rapid growth and modernization of the armed forces of the United States during late 1940 and 1941, coupled with the repeatedly expressed intention of the United States Government to defend the Western Hemisphere against any external aggression. By the beginning of 1941 America's strength and determination were overcoming the effect of Hitler's smashing victories of 1939 and 1940.40

Planning for the Support of Friendly Governments

On 7 January 1941, after returning from a South American trip, President William S. Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System reported to President Roosevelt, "Latin Americans on the whole now have a friendly feeling toward the United States," and, "our Good Neighbor Policy has, in the main, destroyed the specters of `Yankee Imperialism' and `Dollar Diplomacy."' But Mr. Paley also observed that there were inherent dangers in the Latin American situation that had to be taken into account. He reported that everywhere in Latin America the Nazis were well organized and well financed and they posed a threat that the Latin Americans themselves were inclined to minimize. In addition, the loss of normal European markets had subjected most Latin American countries to serious economic strain, and economic


distress was a major factor in the political instability of many of them, especially of those in Central and northern South America. Although pro-Axis sentiment was not strong enough anywhere to command wide popular support, the economic and political instability of a number of these nations appeared to threaten Nazi-inspired revolutions that might lead to the installation of governments unfriendly to the United States. As Mr. Paley put it, "it is the judgment of some well qualified observers that a well planned revolution backed by not very many well aimed guns and a few airplanes can succeed in some of the weaker Latin American countries, countries which, unfortunately from our standpoint, are near the Canal Zone."41

In July 1940 the foreign ministers at Havana had agreed that if the peace of any Latin American state were menaced by Axis activities, the American republics should immediately consult among themselves to determine how to deal with the situation, provided the interested state requested consultation. In the subsequent staff agreements, the United States had pledged that, when asked for, its armed forces would come to the aid of any recognized government threatened by an external attack or an internal fifth-column movement supported by a non-American state. Because of the military weakness of Latin America, the United States had assumed that it would have to use its own forces to deal with any imminent threat or actuality of a major external attack and that the Latin American states would cooperate (as provided for in the staff agreements) by opening to these forces their land, air, and naval bases. For this purpose American war plans during late 1940 and 1941 earmarked the Army's best-trained division for emergency use in Brazil or elsewhere in the southern Atlantic area and provided, in the general strategic reserve, for one reinforced division to be sent to the west coast of South America and for a three-division corps to be available for dispatch to eastern South America, as needed to protect those areas from overseas attack.42  In January 1941 the Army and Navy began to plan for the other phase of the pledge of armed support-military assistance to help avert internal Axis-inspired revolutionary movements.

The Commanding General, Panama Canal Department, Lt. Gen. Daniel Van Voorhis, first suggested plans of the latter sort in August 1940. Point-


ing out how much easier it would be to help maintain a friendly government in power than to oust a pro-Axis government once it were established, General Van Voorhis expressed the opinion that a few hundred infantrymen and a battery of pack howitzers transported by air from the Canal Zone could probably handle the first of these situations in nearby countries at least until additional forces could be dispatched from the continental United States. The drafting of such plans seems to have been precipitated by Nazi activity in Colombia rather than the Panama commander's earlier proposal. On 15 January 1941, the Chief of Staff, at the urging of the War Plans Division, asked the joint Board to develop a plan for the effective support of Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and the five Central American republics, providing for the stationing on forty-eight hours' notice in seaports and strategic interior points of United States forces dispatched from the Canal Zone and for their reinforcement, if necessary, by an Army expeditionary force from the United States.43

The Joint Board's plan, approved by President Roosevelt on 29 April 1941, acknowledged the protection of the Panama Canal as its primary purpose, but it also emphasized the importance of preventing any Nazi success of a sort that would be bound to influence the whole of Latin America. The joint plan assumed that the assistance of United States forces would be requested by a recognized government while it was still in control of the situation, that the forces would not encounter organized opposition on their arrival, and that not more than one such operation would have to be undertaken at a time among the eight republics for which detailed plans were to be drafted. On 20 May the War Department instructed General Van Voorhis, in his capacity of Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command, to draft separate Army plans for each country in collaboration with the Commandant, 15th Naval District, who would prepare the corresponding Navy plans. Any operation undertaken jointly was to be coordinated by mutual cooperation, and no operations were to commence until expressly ordered by the War and Navy Departments.44

The initial plans of the Washington authorities and of the Caribbean commander contemplated transporting an airborne infantry battalion preceded by a platoon of parachute troops from the Canal Zone to the capital


of the country concerned, while naval forces from the Canal Zone, including a small Marine contingent, were to enter strategic seaports. In May the War Department decided that the plans needed a full parachute battalion. General Van Voorhis activated the 550th Infantry Airborne Battalion on 1 July 1941, filling it with volunteers from combat units already in Panama. In August the 501st Parachute Battalion arrived in the Canal Zone from Fort Benning, Georgia. Both battalions participated in a mock operation at the Rio Hato airfield on 12 September 1941, in the presence of General Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Forces. Two weeks later the airborne units were put under the Caribbean Air Force to facilitate their training and readiness.45

The principal difficulty that General Van Voorhis encountered in preparing his plans was the lack of adequate air transport on hand or in prospect to carry all of the airborne and parachute troops in a single movement. Even if the War Department had been able to furnish him with enough planes, none of the landing fields in the capitals of the various countries could have handled the number of planes required to transport all of the Army's troops together. In their final form, each of the seven plans approved by the War Department proposed the initial movement of about three hundred troops by air and of about the same number by sea. Air transports would then shuttle troops and supplies into the capital and other strategic points as rapidly as possible after the first landing. Until more transport planes could be furnished to the 20th Transport Squadron in Panama, most of the troops in the initial movement would have to be transported in heavy and medium bombers, and General Van Voorhis reluctantly allocated half of his B-17 and B-18 strength for this purpose. The execution of any of these plans would temporarily have cut heavily into the air protection of the Canal and would have virtually stripped it of its scanty local naval protection.46

Each plan contained a draft letter of instructions to the Commanding Officer of Troops stating that he was to act directly under the authority of the president of the country concerned and on his own responsibility rather than under the auspices of local American diplomatic and military representatives. Immediately upon arrival, he was to call upon the president and


thereafter comply with all reasonable requests made by him for support. The commander was also to ask the president to proclaim the fact that United States troops were present at his request, that they were only taking actions that were directed by him, and that all citizens should therefore comply with orders received from United States military and naval personnel.47

During the preparation of the plans, the Caribbean commander sent officers into the various countries to collect information and establish liaison with United States diplomatic representatives and military attaches. General Van Voorhis had discretionary authority to inform them of as much of the details of his planning as he thought desirable. Under his supervision the attaches prepared auxiliary plans for billeting United States forces and providing them with hospital facilities, local supplies, ground transportation, and other types of assistance. In October 1941 the Caribbean commander assembled all of the attaches in the Canal Zone to acquaint them with the details of his planning. More or less unanimously they criticized the plans that had been drafted as unrealistic, principally because of the assumption that no opposition would be encountered when the first troops landed. The Army planners in Washington recognized that the plans envisaged United States support only in anticipation of hostilities, rather than action after hostilities had commenced. They acknowledged that plans of a much wider scope would be required in the latter case, but no such plans (other than the provision for expeditionary forces in general war plans) were ever drafted.48

In the summer of 1941 the possibility arose that a plan of the sort being developed by General Van Voorhis might have to be put into effect. An undeclared war broke out between Peru and Ecuador on 23 July over a century-old boundary dispute that had created a growing tension during the preceding months. The proffered mediation of the United States, Argentina, and Brazil had failed to avert hostilities. Because of Ecuador's military weakness and precarious stability, the War Department was most concerned over the situation there. It directed the Caribbean commander to give priority to Ecuador in his planning for the support of friendly governments, and the Ecuador plan, transmitted to Washington on 26 August, was the first to be completed by him.49  Since further Department of State and G-2 investiga-


tions indicated there was no real evidence of Axis exploitation of the Ecuador-Peru conflict, there was never any serious danger that the plan would have to be invoked. Instead, the War and State Departments arranged to send small teams of Army observers to both Ecuador and Peru, not only to observe but also to help persuade the forces of each country to stop fighting. Only desultory armed action occurred after August, and as a result of measures taken during the Rio de Janeiro Conference of Foreign Ministers the two countries negotiated an agreement on 29 January 1942 that put a temporary end to the dispute-the only significant armed clash among the American nations themselves during the period of World War II.50

The Organization of Military Relationships, 1941-42

In August 1941 the Navy War Plans Division proposed a new plan for handling military matters with Latin American nations in a more or less uniform manner. The Navy planners pointed out that the principal fault of the existing staff agreements was that they provided for using Latin American base facilities and for collaboration in operations only when a Latin American state specifically asked for the assistance of United States forces. What the United States needed was assurance that such facilities would become available to its forces automatically in case of a non-American attack on the Western Hemisphere. With the increasing likelihood that the United States might become an active belligerent in the war, it also needed revised agreements to govern the situation that would exist should that happen and the particular Latin American state concerned either remain a neutral or likewise become a belligerent. To coordinate joint United States-Latin American operations that might occur in the latter situation, the Navy advocated the general establishment of joint Army and Navy missions in Latin America and urged their establishment immediately so that there would be an easy transition to their wartime task of coordinating all aspects of military collaboration.51

The Navy planners held that general Latin American adherence to the Declaration of Uruguay was the best practical solution in case the United States declared war and the other American republics failed to do so and also failed to ask for its protection against non-American aggression. On 19 June


1941 Uruguay had reaffirmed a declaration originally made during World War I, stating:

That no American country, which in defense of its own rights, should find itself in a state of war with nations of other continents, will be treated as a belligerent; and that existing decrees which may be in contravention to this resolution shall be null and of no effect.52

By way of clarification, Uruguay in 1917 had assured the United States that "all ships of the American Navy, of any kind whatsoever, may now and henceforth visit the ports of Uruguay, for any purpose whatsoever, where they will be received as friend, and not as belligerent, and without restrictions." 53

After Uruguay's reiteration of these principles in June 1941, several other Latin American nations followed suit, and none expressed opposition to them. Universal and unqualified acceptance of these principles would have opened Latin American base facilities to Navy craft of all sorts if an Old World power attacked the United States. But it would not similarly open Latin American bases to Army air and ground forces, and the immediate application of airpower had now become crucial to effective hemisphere defense. The Army needed revised staff agreements to cover not only the projection of airpower in an emergency but also the provision in advance of prepared airfields stocked with gasoline, bombs, and machine gun ammunition. It therefore rejected the Declaration of Uruguay as an alternative to the renegotiation of existing agreements.54

The Army planners also contended that a uniform method of representation and military negotiation was not applicable to Latin America, though they agreed that joint Army-Navy missions to certain countries might be desirable. They insisted that in any new staff agreements there should be provision for United States security forces to guard the air and naval bases being constructed with United States funds. Army and Navy planning officers collaborated in producing a revised draft of the Navy's original proposals that took these objections into account and completed it just before Pearl Harbor. When Rear Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner, the head of the Navy War Plans Division, rejected this draft and insisted on a new one calling for the establishment of joint Army and Navy missions in all or most of the Latin American countries, General Gerow, in turn rejected that. By this time


the United States was in the war, and both the Army and the Navy turned to Department of State channels as the quickest way to secure permission from individual nations for the entry of United States forces and the rapid development of new base facilities.55

Three days after the United States entered the war, Secretary of State Hull asked for a new foreign ministers meeting to be assembled in Rio de Janeiro during January. Under Secretary of State Welles prepared to represent the United States at the conference, scheduled to convene on 15 January, and the Department of State on 27 December provided the Army with a copy of its proposed agenda. General Marshall and Admiral Stark used the Standing Liaison Committee meeting of 3 January as the means to inform Mr. Welles about the objectives the War and Navy Departments wished the Department of State to seek at Rio. The Chief of Staff's statement called for:

a. Declaration of war by all the American Republics upon all members of the Axis.
b. Failing this, the severance of diplomatic relations with all of the Axis Powers.
c. Agreement to permit the movement of United States air power into or across the territory of each of the American Republics, advance notice to be given where practicable, but this not to be an imperative requirement.
d. Agreement by each of the American Republics which has not already so agreed to permit the entrance into or across their territory and the stationing therein of the essential base, maintenance, communications and weather detachments, together with their own equipment and local security elements essential for the logistical support of our operating aircraft.
e. Agreement by each of the American Republics to grant to such United States forces as enter or cross its territory in accordance with agreements referred to above, and in the course of operations in the defense of this hemisphere, the use of all facilities which such forces may require . . . .

On the first two points, the Navy position was identical with that of the Army. In its list of particulars the Navy asked for definite assurances from the Latin Americans of their naval collaboration in protecting their own waters and of the unrestricted use of their port facilities for United States naval operations; it asked also for definite commitments from them "to enter into military agreements to effectuate the necessary mutual defense arrangements," joint operating plans being more or less essential from the Navy's point of view though not from the Army's. Mr. Welles promised to do what he could to attain Army and Navy objectives, aside from attempting to persuade all of the Latin American nations to join in the war as belligerents, which he termed impossible; his objective, he indicated, was a universal severance of diplomatic relations.57


The Department of State's own plan for action along military lines at Rio proposed, first, the invocation of the declaration adopted at the Havana conference of July 1940, entitled Reciprocal Assistance and Cooperation for the Defense of the Nations of the Americas; second, the establishment of an inter-American defense board to consist of military and naval representatives from each of the American republics and to meet in Washington "for the purpose of defining and coordinating essential defensive and protective measures"; and, third, the establishment of "regional" defense boards, similar to the existing joint defense board of the United States and Canada and the projected joint defense commission of the United States and Mexico. The War and Navy Departments objected very strenuously to the creation of an inter-American defense board of the sort proposed by the Department of State, and Secretaries Stimson and Knox, after a Cabinet meeting on 2 January, thought they had secured President Roosevelt's concurrence with their effort to kill the proposal; but before Mr. Welles left for Rio he managed to persuade the President that it should be restored to the agenda. The War Department was also generally opposed to the creation of additional defense commissions. Instead, the Army wanted to invoke the staff agreements of 1940 and revise and extend them as necessary in bilateral negotiations.58  "Bi-lateral agreements," General Marshall and his advisers held, "are the best means of obtaining such cooperation as is not yet in effect. Bilateral agreements which already exist are reasonably satisfactory if arrangements are made to put them into effect without delay when the need arises." 59

Although opposing the Department of State's proposal for an inter-American defense board, the Army and the Navy recognized the need for some sort of high-level coordination in Western Hemisphere military affairs. Representatives of the services and of the other government agencies most interested in Latin America met on the first day of the new year "to discuss and decide on a proposal that the President appoint either an Army or a Navy officer of high rank and great prestige as an expert consultant on military matters to whom the representatives of the other American Republics would be invited to go to discuss measures of military cooperation which their respective governments could take against the Axis."60  The conferees decided to recommend to the President that either Admiral William H. Standley or Maj. Gen. Frank R. McCoy be appointed to this position. It was assumed that the expert consultant might serve as an executive chairman to


an inter-American board somewhat similar to the one proposed by the Department of State, but Secretary Stimson's adamant opposition to any board led the Chief of Staff and his planners to propose, on 6 January, the appointment of both General McCoy and Admiral Standley as expert military consultants, "for the purpose of conferring bi-laterally, with the representatives of such of the American republics as may choose to do so, on matters of mutual concern in the defense of this Hemisphere." 61  This proposal fell by the wayside when Mr. Welles succeeded in regaining the President's support for the inter-American defense board plan.

General Marshall continued to be greatly concerned over the unsatisfactory character of the Army's Latin American relationships. After discussion with his principal subordinates and also with the President, he tentatively decided on 15 January to create a new War Department agency, to be independent of both the War Plans Division and of G-2, that could "act positively in leading South America toward an adoption of and adherence to pertinent policies of the United States War Department."62  The Chief of Staff selected his Latin American planning expert, General Ridgway, to head the new agency. Apparently, General Marshall intended the proposed organization to act both as a super-military intelligence organization for Latin America, for the better coordination and direction of intelligence activities in the field, and as an agency in Washington that would give the War Department a more powerful voice with the President and among the various government bureaus concerned with Latin America in the determination of Latin American military policy. General Ridgway's own arguments appear to have persuaded the Chief of Staff of the futility of this scheme. Any agency such as that proposed would be foredoomed to failure, General Ridgway contended, even if it began operations with a clear directive from the President, since it would necessarily have to encroach upon the functions of existing agencies and would therefore arouse their resentment and opposition. It seemed to General Ridgway that in essence General Marshall was proposing "to remedy an unsatisfactory and ineffective execution of assigned functions" by existing agencies through the creation of a new agency. Instead, he urged:

(1) A reorientation of the collective mind of the State Department, to compel acceptance of the fact that military factors are now primary and all others ancillary.
(2) A reorganization of G-2 functions and methods to bring about the highest possible degree of efficiency.
(3) Broadening of the functions of the War Plans Division to provide for the necessary preparation and presentation of the military factors, affecting our military policies, and an


increase in the authority of the Division to insure that its recommendations receive the fullest consideration, and whenever necessary by the President, in order to guarantee that no decisions of political nature contrary to these recommendations are made without reference to the President himself.63

These objectives were achieved in part through the reorganization of the War Department in March 1942 and through the new joint Chiefs of Staff organization, which gave the services a stronger voice in determining military policy. The development of the war situation and of American planning for offensive overseas operations from January 1942 onward also tended increasingly to divert the Army's attention from Latin American military problems to more pressing matters, and the proposal to create a central War Department agency for coordinating Latin American military affairs was not to be revived and put into effect until the last year of the war.64

In the weeks immediately following Pearl Harbor, when extensive military operations in Latin America loomed as a distinct possibility,65  it appeared that the Army might become more intimately involved in the work of several wartime agencies concerned with Latin American affairs. The most important of these was the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, headed by Nelson A. Rockefeller. This organization had been established by the President in August 1940, and the G-2 Division had maintained informal liaison with it since the beginning of 1941. Its most important activity until the summer of 1941 was to combat German, Italian, and Japanese commercial and propaganda efforts in Latin America, and it was primarily responsible for compiling the so-called "blacklist" of Axis-controlled commission houses and agencies and in persuading American firms not to trade with them .66  This function passed to the Department of State in July 1941, but at the same time an Executive order broadened the scope of the coordinator's responsibilities so that thereafter it included most aspects of Latin American relationships not directly under the control of the State, War, or Navy Departments,67

In early November 1941 Mr. Rockefeller's organization was proposing to undertake a $100,000,000 public works program in Latin America, which would include construction of housing, hospitals, sanitation and water supply systems, and transportation and communication facilities. So far as


possible it wanted to center these construction activities at "strategic and focal points" so that they could be used by American military forces in an emergency. Mr. Rockefeller asked the Army to list the places where it thought facilities of this sort might be needed. General Headquarters and the Army Air Forces both expressed a desire that the work be concentrated in northeastern Brazil .68  Though G-2 delivered these requests to the Office of the Coordinator, the War Plans Division confessed that it could not see "how any appreciable part of the development program within a particular country could be concentrated at the relatively few points in which the War Department has a definite potential interest without arousing suspicions that it is being done for military reasons."69

After the United States entered the war, Mr. Rockefeller revived this public works project in the more modest form in which it was eventually to be carried out during the war. On 8 January he conferred with General Marshall and his subordinates about his plans for spending $25,000,000 for sanitation and housing projects and again suggested that the War Department designate the strategic areas in which it wished such work undertaken. He also asked for and secured the services of Col. (later Maj. Gen.) George C. Dunham of the Medical Corps to head the project. Colonel Dunham was an expert on tropical medicine and had directed the Army medical survey of Brazil during late 1941 in connection with the work of the United States-Brazilian Joint Planning Group.70  In February 1942 President Roosevelt provided money for the project from his Emergency Fund, and at the end of March the Office of the Coordinator established a separate corporation, the Institute of Inter-American Affairs (directed by General Dunham throughout the war), to undertake sanitation and public health measures in Latin America.71

In the economic field, the Office of the Coordinator and the Board of Economic Warfare 72  joined hands during the winter of 1941-42 to bolster the economies of the Latin American countries as well as to insure that the Axis Powers did not get any vital raw materials from them. An Army officer headed the American Hemisphere Division of the Board of Economic Warfare, which directed the work, and the War Department had a hand in the


formulation of policy through Secretary Stimson's membership on the board. Of more direct concern to the Army was the gathering and dissemination of information in and about Latin America, over which the Office of the Coordinator had more or less exclusive jurisdiction. The Army undoubtedly would have come into conflict with Mr. Rockefeller's office in this field if it had carried out the January 1942 proposal for establishing a high-level agency for the purpose of influencing United States and Latin American opinion. The War Department's good relations with the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs indicate its general satisfaction after early 1942 with the way nonmilitary matters were being handled with Latin America. In any event, as soon as it became clear that no large-scale Army expeditionary forces would have to help defend the territory of the Latin American nations against overseas attack, the various activities of the United States in the fields of public health, economic defense, and propaganda lost much of the immediate military significance they had seemed to have in the first weeks of direct American participation in the war.

The Rio de Janeiro Conference of Foreign Ministers, held between 15 and 28 January 1942, achieved solidarity of action toward the war marred only by the subsequent failure of Argentina and Chile to act on the recommendation to break diplomatic relations with the Axis Powers .73  Among the measures adopted at Rio was the Department of State's proposal for the establishment of an inter-American defense board. The objections the Army had initially raised to this proposal were numerous: it would be too large and unwieldy a body for effective action; Latin American military matters required immediate action, and the establishment of the board would be a time-consuming affair; it would not be possible to discuss secret plans before so large a body; the board's membership would lack authority to carry out its adopted measures; and the board would absorb the time of high-caliber men sorely needed for more pressing duties. Perhaps most of all, the War Department feared that the Latin Americans would try to use the board as a means for pressing their claims for United States munitions.74  Both before and after the Rio meeting, Under Secretary of State Welles assured the War and Navy Departments that the proposed board would not have any executive functions or responsibilities in hemisphere defense and that its work need not interfere with the continued bilateral arrangement of military matters


between the United States and its southern neighbors. To the Department of State, it was important from the political point of view to provide a channel through which all of the American republics, small and large, could voice their views and recommendations.75 The very existence of the board, the Department of State subsequently contended, served "to impress upon the nations of the inter-American community the unitary character of our defense problems" and thus contributed substantially to the fostering of a cooperative spirit among the American republics. 76

The Army and Navy selected General Embick and Vice Adm. Alfred W. Johnson as their delegates on the Inter-American Defense Board, and General Embick served as its chairman through 1942 and 1943.77  The Army also provided the board with a secretariat of about twenty officers and with a coordinator, Maj. Gen. Blanton Winship, who had been Governor of Puerto Rico following his retirement from the Army in 1933. During the war most of the Latin American countries were represented on the board by their military, naval, and air attaches in Washington. The board held plenary sessions about twice a month, and by December 1943 it had adopted thirteen resolutions embodying recommendations and suggestions for improving the defenses of the Western Hemisphere. 78

Secretary Stimson, Secretary Knox, and General Marshall spoke at the Inter-American Defense Board's first meeting on 30 March 1942, and their addresses combined warm words of welcome with admonitions that the United States could not hope to supply arms beyond its existing commitments to the Latin American nations for some time to come.79  Thereafter during 1942 and 1943, the policy of the Army and Navy was to avoid the deliberation by the board of any topic that could be satisfactorily adjusted through bilateral negotiations. In consequence the work of the board was limited to military matters of only peripheral significance in the conduct of the war. Nevertheless, General Embick was in agreement with Mr. Welles that the board served a useful purpose as a symbol of hemisphere solidarity in the prosecution of the war, and continuance of the board through the war provided the


American nations with a vehicle for maintaining a close military association in the postwar years.80

Military Assistance to Latin America in 1942

The Rio de Janeiro Conference of Foreign Ministers in January 1942 provided the impetus for certain concrete measures of military aid to the Latin American nations. After 7 December 1941 their pleas for modern arms and ammunition had poured into Washington, typical among them being Venezuela's request for sixteen 37-mm. antiaircraft guns and sixteen .50-caliber antiaircraft machine guns for the defense of its oil installations. The Army could only answer this and similar requests by pointing out that the shortage of antiaircraft guns and ammunition was so critical that none could be sent to the Latin American nations. 81 Nevertheless, it recognized that certain vital installations along the coasts of South America-such as the oil refineries of Venezuela and at Talara, Peru, and the copper refining plants along the Chilean coast-were highly vulnerable to surface and air attack. When General Miles, the chief of G-2, began an inspection trip on 17 December to Panama and around South America, one of his missions was to survey these installations and recommend how they could best be protected. The War Department at this time did not believe that military necessity required it to put any of its own combat forces and equipment in any South American country except Brazil, but it was interested in having the countries do everything within their power to guard installations vital to the war effort.82  Later, in consequence of promises made by the United States Government during the Rio conference, the Army was called upon to provide limited quantities of equipment and other assistance to protect key points along the South American coasts.

While the crucial question of a universal severance of diplomatic relations with the Axis Powers was still in the balance at Rio, President Roosevelt on 19 January telephoned General Marshall and asked him what munitions could be made immediately available to the South American nations, particularly to Brazil, to reassure them of the determination of the


United States to guard the Americas against external attack. General Marshall obtained a list of one hundred fifty coast artillery guns and mortars of varying calibers, all of which were then emplaced in coast defense positions around the continental United States. Since the United States had airpower and more modern coast defense guns available, these guns could be spared for installation around the coast of South America. The Army was prepared to sell them at a scrap value of $20.00 a ton. The Army planners estimated that it would take from two to eight months to dismantle, ship, and install the guns and believed that once emplaced they would furnish highly effective protection against attack by hostile surface vessels. The Chief of Staff informed the President that Brazil had already indicated that it did not want any of these guns, nor did Mexico or Peru, to whom they had also been offered. Mr. Roosevelt's offer of the same material to Uruguay, Chile, Ecuador, and Venezuela likewise failed to elicit any interest .83  What the South American nations wanted was modern equipment such as combat aircraft and antiaircraft guns.

Further overtures by the President and the Department of State led to the Army's allocation on 21 and 22 January of a substantial amount of ground munitions to Brazil and Chile and of fifty advanced trainer airplanes, equipped for reconnaissance and bombardment activity, to be divided among all of the South American coastal nations except Argentina. The planes began to move southward during February. Those going to the Caribbean area and to the west coast of South America were flown by American crews and provided with a three months' bomb supply. 84  After further discussion between the President, Secretary Stimson, and General Marshall, and in accordance with recommendations made by General Miles, the War Department on 26 January authorized Under Secretary of State Welles to offer some direct coast artillery assistance to Chile. This proposal broadened within the next few days into a plan for placing United States coast artillery batteries at key points in Chile, Peru, and Venezuela.85


The coast artillery project called for the dispatch of the 56th Coast Artillery Regiment,86  commanded by Col. William Sackville, to four key ports in Chile, one in Peru, and two in Venezuela, to protect them against shelling by submarines or surface raiders. The 56th was a 155-mm. mobile gun regiment of six batteries, currently in the process of deactivation but reassembled for this mission. General Miles recommended that its batteries be reinforced by antiaircraft guns, but none could be spared for the purpose. By 4 February, when the Department of State officially informed the governments that they could have the assistance of the 56th if they wanted it, the project called for sending the regimental headquarters and four batteries to Chile (16 guns, accompanied by 62 officers and 1,267 enlisted men). The batteries were to be located in northern Chile at Tocopilla, Barquitos Island, San Antonio, and Antofagasta, each of which had waterfront facilities essential to the production and export of copper and nitrates. Antofagasta was also an outlet for Bolivian tin. In Peru the battery offered was to be put at Talara, which had a large and exposed oil refinery-the only one producing aviation gasoline in western South America and the source of fuel oil for the Chilean copper industry. The battery for Venezuela was to be split between the oil ports of Las Piedras and Puerto de la Cruz. When sent, the batteries actually went to the locations selected by the Army, although the United States formally recognized that the choice of locations rested with the governments concerned. In each case the original intent was to have United States troops get the batteries ready for operations as soon as possible, but to remain with their guns only long enough to train local forces to operate them-a period estimated at four months-and then to turn over the guns to Chile, Peru, and Venezuela under lend-lease. On 4 February Colonel Sackville reported to General Headquarters in order to prepare detailed plans for the operation; the movement was scheduled to begin about 15 February.87

Chile, though accepting the offer of aid in principle, hesitated about accepting it in full. After agreeing before Pearl Harbor to the use of its ports by operating units of the United States Navy, the Chilean Government became more and more reluctant to cooperate openly in hemisphere defense measures. On 21 January it informed the United States that it would not dare break diplomatic relations with the Axis unless it were promised immediate delivery of thirty-six combat airplanes and sixty-three antiaircraft guns.88


The material was not forthcoming, and Chile did not break relations with the Axis until a year later, on 20 January 1943. As for the coast artillery batteries, Chilean objections led to scaling down personnel to two officers and twenty-five men for each battery and elimination of the regimental headquarters from the movement. The force actually sent thus had less than one tenth the strength of that originally proposed. The reduced contingent, under Colonel Sackville's command, sailed from San Francisco on 19 February 1942 and reached its Chilean positions in late March. A month later its guns were ready to fire, though the Army reminded the Department of State that these skeleton United States batteries could not be expected to function very efficiently. The training of Chilean coast artillery units progressed slowly, and it was not until April 1943 that the United States cadre was withdrawn and the guns turned over to Chile.89

A full contingent of 13 officers and 278 enlisted men accompanied the coast artillery battery that arrived at Talara, Peru, on 8 March 1942. Before the Peruvian Government received the offer of the battery, it had agreed to permit United States air operations from the vicinity of Talara in connection with the Pacific patrol instituted after Pearl Harbor as a part of the air defense system of the Panama Canal.90 Peru accepted the coast artillery proposal with enthusiasm, and the excellent cooperation of Peruvian forces permitted the battery to complete its training mission on schedule. It turned over its guns and other equipment to the Peruvians in August 1942, and at the same time most of its personnel was absorbed into two antiaircraft batteries organized to protect the new American air base then being established near Talara. 91

In a defense agreement signed by a representative of the Caribbean Defense Command and Venezuelan military authorities on 15 January 1942, the United States Army promised to furnish three batteries of 155-mm. guns to protect oil installations along the Venezuelan coast and to provide officers


to instruct Venezuelan Army forces in the operation of the guns. When Venezuela in early February received the offer of one battery of 155-mm. guns fully manned by United States troops, it hesitated to accept, but after a German submarine shelled the offshore island of Aruba on 16 February it agreed to the terms on which the battery of the 56th Coast Artillery Regiment had been offered. Known as the VELLUM Force, the troops of the battery sailed from New Orleans on 26 February, landed first in Trinidad, and reached Puerto de la Cruz in Venezuela on 13 March. Because of the delay in the shipment of its guns and equipment and in the construction of suitable barracks, the coast artillery installations at Puerto de la Cruz and at Las Piedras four hundred fifty miles westward did not become operational until the end of May 1942. The training of Venezuelan replacements began in July but proceeded so slowly that United States troops could not be withdrawn until March 1943.92

The South American coast artillery project, when first proposed in late January 1942, was looked upon as a defense measure of some value, but before any of the guns had been installed the Army shifted to the view that the 56th Coast Artillery was to be engaged in much more of a political than military mission. As early as 10 February General Marshall expressed a strong desire to turn over the guns to local forces and get the men back to the United States just as soon as possible.93  By late February the Army was saying with emphasis that, except in northeastern Brazil, the protection of vulnerable installations in the Latin American nations was their responsibility and not that of United States ground and air forces.94  With this position the Latin American countries generally agreed, although they wanted large quantities of equipment for their protective forces, equipment that the United States could not supply. The effectiveness of the twenty-four 155-mm. guns actually installed was never tested. The commander of the battery at Talara, Peru, the most favorably situated of all the batteries, believed that for a really effective defense the Talara area needed four more 155-mm. guns, two batteries of large-caliber seacoast guns, a submarine mine battery, an underwater listening


loop, at least one battery of 3-inch antiaircraft guns, a field artillery battalion, a regiment of infantry, and defensive aircraft, plus, of course, the necessary signal and other service troops to make these combat units effective in action.95  Protection of this dimension to the fourteen points along the northern and western coasts of South America listed by General Miles on 27 January as essential to the United States war effort would have absorbed a large portion of the United States Army and was impossible if the United States intended to win the war.

Placing United States Army forces on the territory of the Latin American nations raised the issue of command. In January 1942 both General Miles and General Andrews, the Caribbean commander, suggested that when small forces with nothing more than a local mission were stationed on foreign soil it would be a good idea to put them under command of the military authorities of the country concerned. Such a move, they believed, would go far toward forestalling local criticism about United States infringements on sovereignty. The War Department recognized the merit of this suggestion but did not want to accept it as customary practice. Instead, the approved policy specified that command arrangements should be made separately in accordance with the circumstances of each individual case, and in no case without advance authorization from the War Department.96  In practice, the Army agreed to put the small servicing and weather detachments stationed at various Latin American airfields under nominal local command, and it accepted Chilean command of the coast artillery contingent sent to that country.97  The Peruvian and Venezuelan coast artillery batteries were placed under the command of the local United States military attaches, on the theory that these detachments were engaged in a training rather than a tactical mission. The Army ground and air forces sent to the new bases established as part of the Panama Canal defense system remained under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, although it was agreed that if ground forces of those bases were detached for local missions they would operate under local command.98


The token assistance given by a coast artillery regiment and the very small quantities of munitions that could be furnished immediately under lend-lease were no real measure of the protection that the United States provided for the Latin American nations after Pearl Harbor. It stood ready to render military assistance on request to any friendly government threatened by an internal and Axis-inspired revolutionary movement. Its intelligence agents, civilian and military, cooperated closely with the Latin American governments in rooting out Axis agents and in curbing activities that were considered inimical to the defense and war efforts. 99  To help guard Latin America against external attack, the United States Navy operated small but active task forces off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America. The Army had sizable ground and air garrisons in Panama and Puerto Rico and smaller forces at the newer bases that could have been employed to fend off a transoceanic invader. Above all, the United States was fully committed to using as much of its general military strength as might be necessary to protect the New World against a major external attack. That was the fundamental premise in all of the war plans drafted before Pearl Harbor, and it remained the basic consideration thereafter in planning for the offensive.



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