Military Relations With Brazil Before Pearl Harbor

The progress of navigation by air in the decade preceding World War II radically altered the framework of planning for the defense of the United States and the Western Hemisphere. Commercial airways bridged the 1,800 mile ocean span between Africa and Brazil and pointed out the Brazilian bulge as the air approach that an Old World aggressor would find most practicable. The adoption of a new policy of hemisphere defense in November 1938 necessarily focused the attention of American military planners on Brazil. A hostile military lodgment in Northeast Brazil would have immediately threatened the meager existing Caribbean defenses of the United States to the north and, to the south, the most populous and highly developed region of South America.1 In 1939 protection of the Brazilian bulge against Axis aggression became the keystone of American military plans for defending the hemisphere's Atlantic front. The Army was well aware that the successful execution of plans and measures to this end would require the friendly cooperation and collaboration of Brazil, and its staff discussions with Brazilian military authorities, which began in June 1939, eventually led to a full military partnership during World War II between the United States and Brazil.

Fortunately, a tradition of friendship existed between the United States of America and the United States of Brazil.. Their relations had been particularly cordial in the preceding half century, during which their economies had become increasingly interdependent. Only Brazil among the South American nations became an active belligerent in World War I. Brazilians had enthusiastically espoused the Pan-American concept from its beginnings and had worked in complete harmony with the United States in establishing the political framework of inter-American solidarity climaxed in 1938 by the Declaration of Lima. 2


Brazil has nearly half the area and about half the population of the South American continent, and great natural resources make it one of the potentially strong powers of the world. But in 1939 Brazil's military strength was no match for its size and natural wealth. The Brazilian Navy was so antiquated that both American and Brazilian experts considered it of little worth for action against modern naval vessels. The Army, which had an active strength of about sixty-six thousand in 1939, lacked modern combat equipment. The Air Force, which was to be organized as an independent service in January 1941, had no modern combat planes and was far weaker than those of Argentina and Peru. Brazil's military policy called for the concentration of its Army in the populous southeastern part of the country, adjacent to the Argentine and Uruguayan borders and to the large Italian, German, and Japanese minorities in the southern states. These foreign elements-especially the Germans and Japanese-had been only partially integrated into Brazil's population, and during the 1930's the Nazi and Fascist regimes in Europe had fostered movements among the German and Italian minorities that threatened the security of the Brazilian Government.

In consequence of Brazilian military concentration in the south, the 2,500 mile coast line north of Rio de Janeiro was virtually defenseless in 1939. It had no installations whatsoever for coastal defense, no defenses against air attack, and almost no ground troops to fend off an invader. Nor did it have any means of land communication-road or railway-with central and southern Brazil that would have permitted rapid deployment of Brazilian forces toward the northeast to resist an external attack. While a surface attack on Northeast Brazil was fairly unthinkable as long as friendly naval powers Great Britain, France, and the United States-controlled the Atlantic, the development of airpower and of the airway across the South Atlantic made an air attack feasible. Combined with a fifth-column movement among the foreign minorities in the south, such an attack could conceivably have brought a quick overthrow of the administration of President Getulio Vargas and produced a situation gravely inimical to the national interests of the United States and of the other American nations. Analyzing the situation in March 1939, an Army War College group concluded that only the United States could provide forces that would be adequate to protect the Brazilian bulge.3


Brazilian civilian and military authorities readily acknowledged the defenselessness of Northeast Brazil. The Minister of War, General Eurico Gaspar Dutra, and the Army Chief of Staff, General Pedro de Goes Monteiro, naturally wanted to mend the situation by building up the strength of the Brazilian Army. The Brazilian Army's objective, from 1939 onward, was to improve and increase its ground forces so that it could provide an adequate defense of the Brazilian bulge without American ground assistance. But Brazil's meager industrial development and lack of accessible industrial raw materials (notably iron and coal) made it almost wholly dependent on foreign armament supplies. Therefore, the Army's objective could be attained only by securing large quantities of arms from abroad-either by obtaining deliveries on a big munitions order placed with the German Krupp works in 1938 or by securing an equivalent arms supply from the United States. Throughout the pre-Pearl Harbor period the Brazilians realized that they had no real chance of adequately modernizing their naval and air arms, and they were therefore more willing to accept United States air and naval support than ground support in the defense of Northeast Brazil. Between 1939 and 1942 the fundamental issue in Brazilian-American defense planning was the method of conducting a ground defense of the Brazilian bulge against the threat of external attack. The changed military situation of 1942 finally permitted a resolution of this issue in accordance with Brazilian desires.

The United States and Brazilian Armies had maintained relations before 1939 through military attaches in Washington and Rio de Janeiro, and also through a four-man United States Military Mission that since 1934 had helped advise and instruct the Brazilian Army in coast defense, ordnance, and chemical warfare matters. A thirteen-man United States Navy mission served the Brazilian Navy in a similar capacity. 4  A more intimate relationship followed the visit of Foreign Minister Oswaldo Aranha to the United States in February 1939, during which the Department of State had arranged for him to discuss military matters with the Chief of Staff and the Chief of Naval Operations.5  As a result an official invitation was issued to the Chief of Staff designate, General Marshall, to visit Brazil. General Marshall, accompanied by War Plans and Air officers, arrived in Rio de Janeiro on 24 May 1939. There he established a personal relationship with the Brazilian Chief of Staff. In mid June General Goes Monteiro accompanied General Marshall to the


United States on a return visit. This exchange of visits laid the groundwork for subsequent Brazilian-American military collaboration.6

The Problem of Arms Supply

General Goes Monteiro, in his talks with American staff officers during June and July 1939, took the position that Brazil must continue the concentration of its existing military strength in the south and depend on American military aid for the defense of Northeast Brazil. For this purpose he proposed the installation of coast defense and antiaircraft guns and construction of air and naval bases, and suggested that the base sites be selected jointly by American and Brazilian staff officers. These proposals hinged on the ability and willingness of the United States to supply Brazil with large quantities of arms and other war material and to grant technical and financial assistance in the construction of the proposed air and naval bases. General Goes Monteiro informally submitted a list of the ordnance and air equipment Brazil wanted. The "first priority" items on this list included 156 heavy artillery pieces, 196 antiaircraft guns, 102 combat aircraft, 41 tanks, 252 armored cars, and 722 automatic weapons of various types. The total requirements of Brazil would be about thrice these amounts. The Brazilians hoped to pay for munitions principally by a direct exchange of raw materials. While the armaments request included air and naval items, the apparent implication of the Brazilian proposals was that if Brazil and the United States became jointly involved in a war, American naval and air forces could use the new Brazilian bases, while ground defense would be supplied by newly organized units of the Brazilian Army equipped with American arms. President Vargas approved these proposals upon General Goes Monteiro's return to Rio de Janeiro in August. 7

In summarizing the Rio conversations for General Marshall, Major Ridgway of the War Plans Division concluded that the crucial factor in carrying out General Goes Monteiro's plan for defending Northeast Brazil would be the supply of munitions. If the United States could furnish them (though not necessarily in the large quantities requested), "the remaining steps will be relatively easy of accomplishment," Major Ridgway noted. 8  The


difficulty was that legal restrictions prevented the United States Army from providing from its own stocks or arsenals the type of military material that Brazil wanted, and Brazil certainly could not expect any American private manufacturer to negotiate the type of barter deal that it had made with the German Krupp works. Major Ridgway could only urge that the arms supply question be considered, that the United States provide such technical assistance and training to Brazilian Army officers as might be practicable, and that, in the meantime, American plans for formation of a joint Army-Navy expeditionary force to be employed in defense of the Brazilian bulge in an emergency be developed with a minimum of delay.9

The day before Germany invaded Poland, President Roosevelt and the Department of State became alarmed by reports that the Germans intended to seize the island of Fernando de Noronha, lying about 215 miles off the Brazilian coast, and turn it into a submarine base. Brazilian authorities assured the United States that they had previously taken adequate measures to insure the security of Fernando de Noronha, but they again asked that the United States hasten to supply them with munitions, especially coast defense guns. Their request now received President Roosevelt's personal attention and backing. 10

After the outbreak of the European war, the Brazilian Army was doubly anxious to get American arms, since it appeared probable that there would be great difficulty in securing deliveries on the Krupp order. General Marshall in October explained to General Goes Monteiro the existing difficulties that prevented the United States Army from readily providing all the types of equipment Brazil wanted, but he did offer to sell some surplus coast artillery weapons to Brazil at nominal prices.11  In mid-November the Secretary of War and President Roosevelt approved the terms on which surplus material could be offered.12

During the summer conversations, arrangements had been made for a good-will visit of American Flying Fortresses to Brazil. This flight, when undertaken in November under the leadership of General Headquarters Air Force commander General Emmons, provided the means not only for publicizing Brazilian-American friendship but also for furthering military col-


laboration. As previously mentioned, General Emmons and his party used this opportunity to conduct a careful survey of the west and east coast air routes to the Brazilian bulge, and of the Natal area on the bulge as the prospective major air base site. 13  General Marshall had arranged for Major Ridgway to accompany the flight, and he, together with Col. Allen Kimberly, Chief of the United States Military Mission, discussed problems of strategy and arms supply with General Goes Monteiro. They offered the Brazilian Chief of Staff the surplus coast artillery weapons that the President had approved for sale and also gave him a list of strategic raw materials that the United States wished to acquire. The Department of State had vetoed the Brazilian proposal that the United States follow Germany's example of bartering military equipment for raw materials directly; instead, the American plan was to purchase in both directions on a cash basis-the exchanges to parallel each other insofar as possible. 14  The Brazilians agreed to this procedure and arranged for three of their artillery officers to return with General Emmons to inspect the material offered. 15

The surplus coast defense equipment offered to Brazil in November 1939 consisted of 6-inch mobile guns, 7-inch railway guns, and 12-inch guns, and gun tubes, of various models. None of the material was in an immediately usable condition, but apparently neither Americans nor Brazilians foresaw the difficulties that lay ahead in getting the weapons ready for actual use. At the time, coast defense guns appear to have been considered an interim contribution that the United States Army could make immediately to Brazil's defenses, pending arrangements to supply field equipment. Between January and May 1940, Brazil purchased for cash ninety-nine of the 6-inch guns, eighteen of the 7-inch guns and gun tubes with 2,300 empty projectiles for them, and twenty-six 12-inch gun tubes, at a total cost of more than $100,000. All of the guns and gun tubes required extensive overhauling and additional parts, and there was no currently available ammunition supply for any of them-indeed, the drawings for the ammunition could not even be located. At General Marshall's urging, the War Department from the spring of 1940 onward seems to have done all that it could to expedite work on this equipment. In November 1940 the Chief of Staff arranged to attach Lt. Col. Morgan L. Brett, a retired ordnance expert, to the Brazilian Purchasing Com-


mission in Washington in order to forward this work. Actually, only the reconditioned 6-inch guns reached Brazil before the end of 1941 (only nine of them before February 1941). The procurement of the 6-inch guns added nothing to the defenses of Brazil, since the Brazilians were not able to get any ammunition for them in the United States or to manufacture it themselves. In February 1942 the Brazilians were still trying to get better priorities in the United States in order to make some of the 6-inch and 7-inch guns usable.16

The United States was actually considerably more successful in getting German arms rather than American arms into Brazil during 1940 and 1941. Deliveries on the order that Brazil had placed with the Krupp works in 1938 had just started to arrive when the war in Europe began. Between September 1939 and June 1940, the British permitted two shipments of German arms to reach Brazil via Italy. When Italy entered the war, the British clamped down on further German arms shipments. Nevertheless, the Germans in June 1940 were promising the Brazilians September deliveries, and in fact they continued to turn over title to armaments produced under the Krupp contract to a large Brazilian Army purchasing commission that remained in Essen, Germany, until December 1941.

The British in November 1940 seized a Brazilian vessel, the Siquiera Campos, that was attempting to carry some of these arms from Lisbon to Brazil. The Brazilians immediately requested that the United States intercede with the British to get the arms released. Primarily at General Marshall's urging, the United States persuaded the British to release the ship, but the episode stirred anti-British sentiment in Brazil, especially among the higher officers of the Brazilian Army. Finally, in the summer of 1941, the British permitted an American vessel to pick up a load of German arms (mostly missing parts for equipment already delivered) at Lisbon and carry it to New York for transshipment to Brazil. Again, the intervention of General Marshall in securing this permission was perhaps decisive. Throughout, the United States Army seems to have done all it could to help the Brazilian Army secure delivery on their German armament order. By November 1941 Brazil had actually obtained about two hundred guns of various types from Germany, many of them not usable because of missing parts. While these guns repre-


sented only a fraction of the original order, they were far more than the United States was able to supply Brazil during the prewar period.17

The failure of the United States, for whatever good reasons, to make effective delivery of the coast defense equipment purchased by the Brazilians in early 1940, together with the Brazilian Army's failure to get more than a fraction of the arms ordered from Germany before the war, introduced a factor of irritation in Brazilian-American military relations that made it increasingly difficult to plan for the defense of the Brazilian bulge. Knowing that they could not obtain more than a small part of their German armaments order, the Brazilians realized that they must get large quantities of arms in the United States if they were to achieve their defense objective-responsibility for ground defensive measures in any joint United States-Brazilian operations that might have to be undertaken. On the other hand, until 1942 the United States found it utterly impracticable, in view of its own and other nations' more urgent requirements for munitions, to make more than small token shipments of modern military equipment to Brazil.18  The arms supply problem made the planning and execution of Army defense measures in Brazil far more complicated than the friendly preliminary staff conversations of 1939 and the general prewar cordiality in Brazilian-American relations had seemed to augur.

War Plans and Staff Agreements, 1940

The war plans of the United States had recognized the vital importance of the Brazilian bulge in hemisphere defense long before Hitler loosed his onslaught against western Europe in the spring of 1940. The basic joint RAINBOW 1 plan, approved in August 1939, placed the defense of Brazil at the top of the list of specific tasks to be undertaken by United States forces.19  General Emmons' survey in November 1939 reinforced the conviction that "the Natal area is of critical and utmost importance in the defense of the continental United States and the Panama Canal against a possible coalition of European nations." 20  The Army's Air Board in 1939 used the prospective


task of evicting a hostile air force from the Brazilian bulge as the yardstick for determining the strength required by the Army's air arm in hemisphere defense.21 During the fall and winter of 1939-40, the Army and Navy planners worked on detailed RAINBOW 1 plans for dispatching an expeditionary force to Brazil, although the services did nothing more than plan until Hitler opened his western European offensive.

Just before the German attack on France, President Roosevelt again expressed concern about the security of Fernando de Noronha and suggested the immediate renewal of conversations with Brazil "to make definitely certain that this Island will not be used by any European nations in case the European war spreads." 22  Fernando de Noronha had a usable airfield and would have been a logical steppingstone in any German or Italian air approach to the Natal area. In response to the President's message, the Army and Navy proposed that the Department of State open conversations with the Brazilians to determine if they were prepared to act on the basis of the views expressed by Foreign Minister Aranha and General Goes Monteiro in 1939. 23  Immediately after the German attack began, General Goes Monteiro sent a message to General Marshall indicating his feeling "that closest collaboration between the United States and Brazil is vitally necessary as there is now a real and imminent danger confronting both countries." 24  The way toward intimate military collaboration with Brazil appeared clear.

When the Germans smashed through the front of the western European Allies within a week, the United States Government feared that it might have to take drastic action to protect the vital and vulnerable Brazilian bulge. While the President's proposal for conversations with Brazil broadened into preparations for conducting military staff conversations with the American republics generally, United States authorities realized that any sort of conversations would take time and that it was essential for the United States to be prepared to take emergency action to deal with either an external attack or an internal Nazi-inspired revolutionary movement in South America. At the President's direction, over one week end (25-27 May) the armed services hatched the impracticable POT OF GOLD plan for rushing a 100,000-man force to Brazil. 25  The Department of State agreed to send consular representatives to the Natal area to obtain a variety of current information needed


for planning the movement of American troops to the bulge.26 A Nazi plot uncovered in Uruguay during the last week in May helped to confirm American fears and sufficiently alarmed the Brazilians themselves so that they sent five thousand rifles to the Uruguayan Army.27

By mid June Army detailed planning, based on the new joint RAINBOW 4 plan, projected a Northeastern Brazil theater as a prospective major area of operations in the event that Great Britain followed France in defeat. 28 In July both the Army and Navy planning staffs believed that a highly probable development of the war, if Great Britain were defeated, would be a German drive through Africa and across the South Atlantic to Brazil. They feared this drive would be preceded or accompanied by Axis-inspired Latin-American revolutionary movements, and they felt the prospect constituted the most serious military threat to the Western Hemisphere.29

When it appeared in the fall of 1940 that Great Britain could hold out at least until the following spring, the sense of urgency in planning for operations in Northeast Brazil subsided. Nevertheless, the Army considered it "well recognized" that a German penetration of North and West Africa and occupation of Dakar would make it "imperative for the United States to anticipate such action by the preventive occupation of the air fields and ports in northeastern Brazil." 30  It was to facilitate an operation of this sort that the Army in November 1940 contracted with Pan American Airways for the improvement of and new construction of airfields between the United States and eastern South America, so that all types of combat aircraft could be deployed under their own power to the Brazilian bulge.31

All of these emergency plans required advance arrangements for "closest collaboration," as urged by the Brazilian Chief of Staff the preceding May. To make the arrangements the Army chose Lt. Col. Lehman W. Miller, an Engineer officer who had previously served with the Military Mission in Rio de Janeiro. Unlike the other officers dispatched from Washington at the beginning of June 1940 to conduct staff discussions in Latin America, Colonel Miller was to remain in the Brazilian capital, where he would serve as Chief of the Military Mission. Ambassador Jefferson Caffery and General


Goes Monteiro both had requested his appointment to this position, and it was also planned to raise Colonel Miller to general officer rank to lend prestige to his mission and to emphasize American concern for the security of Brazil.

Arriving in Rio de Janeiro during the final week of the French debacle, Colonel Miller found the Brazilians thoroughly alarmed over the turn of events in Europe and dubious of the ability of the United States to protect them or to help them to protect themselves against future Nazi aggression. The Brazilian Army immediately presented Colonel Miller with a list of the armaments it wanted-a long list of material estimated to cost about $180,000,000. At first, the Brazilians insisted that the problem of arms supply must be settled before any staff discussion of mutual defense plans began, but presently they agreed that the two problems might be considered together.32

Analyzing the situation the day after his first discussion with Brazilian staff officers on the preparation of mutual defense plans, Colonel Miller reported to Ambassador Caffery:

The present turn of events of the war in Europe is having a profound influence upon all the authorities here in the Brazilian army, navy, and civil government. Although they do not trust Germany, they do have great admiration of the fighting machine of that country. They have no love for the English. They do not wish to arouse the antagonism of Germany, because they know that Brazil is not prepared and they believe that Germany is the only country that will furnish them with arms at reasonable terms. They strongly doubt that the United States will be able to assist them with material. The fate of neutral countries in Europe has raised doubts of the ability of the United States to protect there from aggression, especially in the case of a coalition of powers acting against us. All of these considerations tend to strengthen the pro-Nazi element in Brazil, and as Germany consolidates her gains in Europe the situation here in Brazil will grow worse unless immediate action is taken by our Government to combat it effectively.33

A few days earlier, Foreign Minister Aranha in a conversation with Ambassador Caffery had "made it forcibly clear . . . that if the United States cannot find means to assist Brazil in acquiring armament, necessarily the Brazilian military authorities will turn toward Germany and acquire armaments there . . . at the end of the war." 34  Until the United States indicated what action it could take on the armament list submitted by the Brazilians, then, there was scant prospect of reaching any agreement on mutual defense plans.

Brazil's armaments request became the vehicle for determining a Latin American arms supply policy. In presenting the problem for decision, Colonel


Ridgway virtually reiterated the statement he had made a year previously: "Upon our willingness to supply, or definitely to promise to supply, this armament in the near future, appears to depend our future relations with Brazil." 35  After President Roosevelt approved a new Latin American arms policy on 1 August, the Department of State informed the Brazilians through Ambassador Caffery that their Army could "procure some of its equipment in the United States within the next few months" and all of it "within an estimated maximum period of three years." The Brazilians from President Vargas on down expressed their great pleasure on receiving the news.36  Seemingly, the way was now open for negotiation and execution of an agreement with Brazil on mutual hemisphere defense plans and preparations. Actually, grounds for a continued misunderstanding between the Brazilian and United States Armies remained. What the Brazilians wanted most was modern combat equipment. The Army had informed the Department of State that only automotive equipment and some noncombat aviation material (training planes) could be made available to Brazil in the near future. Apparently this point was not made clear to the Brazilians in August 1940.37  The Brazilians also seem to have been led to anticipate that they could get actual deliveries of some equipment "within the next few months," whereas the Army had meant that it would assist the Brazilians in placing orders for this equipment in the near future, but that it would be many months before the equipment could actually be delivered in Brazil. Finally, in the autumn of 1940 the United States Army began its own rapid expansion, and the United States Government veered toward a policy of all-out aid to Great Britain. With American industrial mobilization for war just getting under way, prospects of delivering any significant amounts of modern military equipment to Brazil were to become increasingly slim.

The War Department in August authorized Colonel Miller to begin formal staff conversations with Brazilian Army representatives in order to work out a definite plan for military collaboration. The United States goal was a plan that would provide adequate means of insuring "the maintenance in Brazil of a Government, both determined and able, to preserve its territorial integrity and freedom from European control, and to cooperate fully with the United


States in hemisphere defense." 38  Colonel Miller's instructions, similar in context to those issued other Army officers sent out from Washington for the second round of staff conversations, emphasized the paramount concern of the Army for the security of the Brazilian bulge.39 Although Colonel Miller carried on informal conversations with the Brazilian staff during August and September, General Goes Monteiro presently indicated his preference for concluding the conversations in Washington. The Brazilian Chief of Staff, who was joining other Latin American military chiefs in a visit to the United States in October, wished to negotiate a staff agreement directly with General Marshall and his advisers. Through Colonel Miller, General Goes Monteiro transmitted to Washington a draft of the type of agreement Brazil wished.40

In Washington General Goes Monteiro conferred first with General Marshall and afterward with his staff subordinates. He left with the latter a new draft for a staff agreement, dated 29 October 1940, that with some modifications was eventually accepted by both governments. The agreement in its final form contained a mutual pledge of armed assistance under two hypotheses: by Brazil, to any American nation (except Canada) attacked by any non-American power; by the United States, to Brazil if it were attacked by any non-American state. Brazilian aid under the first hypothesis would include the use of its air and naval bases and the supply of strategic raw materials, and Brazil pledged itself to prepare for rendering such aid by building up its defenses as rapidly as possible. Brazil also agreed to take the proper steps to suppress alien subversive activity within its borders. The United States promised to supply Brazil with arms and with material to develop its war industries and railway system to the degree that American resources, current programs, and legal restrictions permitted; in principle, the United States agreed to accept raw materials in payment for the armaments and other material furnished Brazil. The United States also promised "to bring up its armed forces to join Brazilian forces" in the defense of Brazil, in the event of an external attack before Brazil had completed its defense preparations.41  Although the staff agreement made no specific mention of Northeast Brazil, General Marshall subsequently recalled that he had had to fend off General Goes Monteiro's request for a definite pledge that the United States would employ its armed forces to guarantee the integrity of the bulge.


Also, the Brazilian Chief of Staff told American staff officers with whom he conferred that he thought Brazil would not object to an American aerial photographic survey of strategic points along the Brazilian coast, or to a survey "on the ground" by United States Army medical officers. Underlying the Brazilian Army's proposals and United States Army's acceptance of them was the understanding that the United States would render substantial material assistance in strengthening Brazilian defenses and defense forces.42

United States Navy staff conversations paralleled those of the Army during September and October 1940. The Navy reached a satisfactory agreement with its Brazilian counterpart, the Brazilian Navy promising "to interpose no objections to advance discreet operations of United States Naval Forces in the Natal area and outlying Islands, both ashore and afloat." These operations could be carried on in advance of any actual attack from abroad against this area.43

The Army and Navy staff agreements with Brazil negotiated in the autumn of 1940 provided the base for the subsequent military cooperation of the United States with Brazil during World War II. General Goes Monteiro on his return to the Brazilian capital gave President Vargas a favorable report on his reception in the United States, on the progress of American defense preparations, and on the prospect for close cooperation with the United States in hemisphere defense measures. General Marshall's intervention during November on behalf of Brazil in the Siquiera Campos affair provided an additional impetus to the spirit of friendship that had characterized the staff conversations.44  But troubled waters lay ahead. Nearly two years were to elapse before Brazil and the United States achieved the close plane of military collaboration forecast by the staff agreements of 1940.

The Mission of General Amaro Bittencourt

When Ambassador Caffery in August 1940 officially informed the Brazilian Government that it could expect in time to receive substantial quantities of armaments from the United States, he suggested that Brazil send a ranking officer to the United States to negotiate for the material. In September Brazil chose General Amato Soares Bittencourt, First Sub-Chief of the General Staff, to carry out this mission. After the tentative approval by both govern-


ments of a military staff agreement, General Amaro's mission was broadened to include the detailed negotiations that would be required to put the agreement into effect. His credentials, delivered to General Marshall in mid-December, stated that as soon as an understanding on the question of arms supply had been reached, he would become "Head of the Brazilian Military Committee" in the United States and the main channel for all military communications between the two governments.45

General Amato opened his formal conversations with American authorities on 8 January 1941. He first talked with Under Secretary of State Welles, who assured him that the Department of State would arrange for credits to finance the purchase of as much war material as the Army could release to Brazil-either surplus from its own stocks or new equipment to be ordered from private manufacturers. On the same day, General Amato discussed his problems with General Marshall and his staff assistants. The Chief of Staff explained frankly that, while the Army would do all it could to help Brazil obtain modern armaments as soon as possible, there was very little that could be done in the immediate future. The rapidly expanding United States Army and the fighting forces of the democracies abroad had to have first claim on American munitions production. General Marshall promised only that Brazil's requests would be given preference over those of the other Latin American nations.46

The list of armaments presented by General Amaro was identical with that delivered to Colonel Miller the preceding June, except that Brazil now added to it the items that had been ordered from Germany but never delivered. War Department officers calculated that the expanded Brazilian requests would cost about $250,000,000, and they noted that Brazil wanted some items "in quantities in excess of the total amount available to United States forces and in at least one item, 37-mm. AP [armor-piercing] shell, in in a quantity 50 percent greater than the combined total of United States and British requirements." Obviously, they concluded, the Brazilian request would have to be reduced.47 General Amaro himself made a preliminary reduction by submitting a "first priority" listing, but this still amounted to nearly one half of the total. United States officers then worked out a tentative schedule specifying when the Brazilians could expect the items on the


priority list to become available. They divided it into three groups: (1) material that could be made available at once out of Army stocks-a few controlled mines and Waco primary training planes; (2) material that could be obtained in the near future if orders for it were placed immediately-other types of primary trainers and various items of military automotive equipment; and (3) material on which no deliveries could be made before November 1941 at the earliest-the great bulk of the items asked for, and all of the combat items. The three lists were communicated to General Amaro on 15 January 1941, and on the next day he replied that Brazil now had a clear picture of what it could expect from the United States in the way of arms supply.48

Toward the end of January the Army proposed that a credit of $12,000,000 be made available to Brazil immediately to permit the procurement of the material in the first two groupings, as well as to finance the remaining expense for modernizing and making usable the coast defense guns sold to Brazil in 1940. Working from the Brazilian first priority list, the Army also calculated an over-all schedule that would provide Brazil with arms valued at $80,000,000 within the ensuing two and a half years. This schedule in turn became the yardstick for calculating the arms allotments for all of the other Latin American nations. On 7 February the Army recommended that the Department of State arrange for credits for all items on the new schedule, so that Brazil could at least place orders for these items with American manufacturers. The Department of State wanted to postpone the question of credits until the passage of the Lend-Lease Act, but was finally persuaded in March to arrange with the Export-Import Bank for the $12,000,000 credit initially recommended by the Army.49

The American-Brazilian arms negotiation during January and February 1941 had in effect cleared the air by letting the United States Army know what Brazil wanted most and by letting the Brazilian Army know what the real chances of procurement were. But it had not produced a promise of early delivery of any modern combat equipment to Brazil, and therefore held no promise that Brazil could prepare its Army for joint defensive operations with American forces in Northeast Brazil.

In December 1940 the Army had wanted to hasten the preparations for operations on the Brazilian bulge. The current joint war plan (RAINBOW 4)


called for the movement of a reinforced triangular division to Brazil immediately after a war emergency required putting the plan into full effect. Indeed, this movement to Brazil was to precede any other deployment or reinforcement of Army forces in the Atlantic and Caribbean areas.50  Extensive advance preparations would, of course, be needed to receive this force. Work on the Brazilian airfields to be constructed or improved by Pan American was about to begin. But in addition to the work contracted for, the fields needed bomb and gasoline storage and other service facilities, and quarters for technicians and troop guards. The Navy also needed many new facilities at ports around the Brazilian bulge for its projected South Atlantic operations. The War Plans Division thought that what the Army ought to do in advance of any RAINBOW 4 situation, if it could, was to put small American troop units near the major airfields in order to insure against sudden and surprise seizure of them by Axis air forces. The United States should then finance further military improvements in the area to prepare it for large-scale troop occupation if necessary, and also should draft joint war plans with Brazil to govern the conduct of such military operations in Northeast Brazil as might develop. Solely from the military point of view, the Army would have much preferred that the United States lease bases in Brazil, since leased bases could have been occupied at will by United States forces. On the other hand, War Plans recognized the high improbability of Brazil agreeing to any such lease arrangement.51

During the October conversations, General Goes Monteiro and Colonel Ridgway had discussed the possibility of sending some modern equipment and a small body of American troops to the Brazilian bulge. Initially, the American troops would teach Brazilian soldiers how to use the material, but afterward the Americans might be permitted to remain to help guard the airfields. In meetings on 3 January 1941, General Marshall discussed this proposal first with his staff and then with Admiral Stark and Under Secretary of State Welles. By that time the proposal involved placing one company of American soldiers at each of five airfield sites. Both Mr. Welles and Admiral Stark approved the idea, and suggested that the Army take the matter up directly with General Amato.52  Late in January, having made some


progress on the arms supply question, Colonels Ridgway and Miller (the latter having been summoned to Washington to participate in the conferences with General Amaro) broached the subject. General Amato doubted that Brazil would allow American troops to be stationed at five different locations for any purpose. As an alternative, he suggested that a troop training center be set up in the vicinity of Natal or Recife and that the United States "send there small groups and the necessary material to instruct Brazilian personnel in the use of bombardment and fighter aircraft, antiaircraft artillery and coast defense material (155-mm. gun), communications, and organization of base facilities." General Amaro's plan contemplated that after the training period the material would be turned over to the Brazilian Army and the American personnel would be returned to the United States. 53 Acting on General Amaro's suggestion, the Army worked out a plan for sending a total force of nearly fourteen hundred officers and enlisted men, equipped with forty-six airplanes and a substantial number of antiaircraft and coast defense guns. General Amaro, when shown this plan, urged a reduction in the number of personnel and insisted that the training center must be under Brazilian command. Since he also indicated rather clearly that he wanted a more definite commitment on arms supply before urging his government to accept any training center proposal, nothing further came of the project. 54

Before Colonel Miller returned to Rio de Janeiro, he left his impressions for War Department guidance. He insisted that the great majority of the Brazilians were "pro-American, pro-British, and anti-Axis." Nevertheless, they were highly nationalistic, jealous of their sovereignty, and opposed to any measure that could be interpreted as an infringement on Brazilian sovereignty. The Brazilians wanted to participate in hemisphere defense measures, not merely to acquiesce in them. The United States ought therefore to furnish Brazil with what arms it could, and it ought also to assist rather than hinder the development of a Brazilian armaments industry. While the United States, with Brazilian approval, might properly help prepare air and naval bases in Northeast Brazil, this should be done "with the understanding that such bases are Brazilian and will be defended by Brazilian forces until such time as the Brazilian Government requests their defense by our forces." Colonel Miller cautioned against any attempt by the United States to lease bases in Brazil or to place American armed forces in Brazilian


bases before "the realization by the Brazilians that an armed attack against them is imminent." 55  All of this was sound advice, but it did not solve the problem that worried the United States Army most-how to insure that Brazil would call on the United States for armed assistance in time to ward off an actual attack. The presence of only token American forces in Northeast Brazil would probably discourage any Axis attack, whereas to evict even a token Axis force would be a large undertaking.

Military negotiations with Brazil were at a virtual standstill for three months after the January and February conferences. General Amato remained in charge of Brazilian military purchasing activities in Washington, but after February defense negotiations were conducted through Ambassador Caffery and Colonel Miller in Rio de Janeiro. Internal differences of opinion among Brazilian civilian and military officials seem to have been primarily responsible for the failure of Brazil to take immediate advantage of the $12,000,000 credit for military material extended in early March.

With respect to plans and projects for joint defense operations, the Brazilian Army at the beginning of March informed Colonel Miller of a new scheme for strengthening Northeast Brazil. It proposed to station permanently three of its five existing infantry divisions in Northeast Brazil and to organize three new antiaircraft battalions to reinforce the three divisions. It asked that the United States send modern equipment for the units by September 1941 and also that the United States supply the equipment for new Brazilian infantry divisions to be recruited to guard the vital southern part of the country. The War Plans Division in Washington expressed some concern over this projected redistribution of the Brazilian Army and termed it "impracticable" to supply the quantity of equipment that Brazil wanted.56  In April Brazil abandoned this scheme and proposed, instead, to schedule maneuvers for three divisions plus supporting naval and air forces in Northeast Brazil during August and September. This proposal prompted the American planners to suggest that American forces be sent to participate in the maneuvers. They proposed an American force, consisting of a composite air group, antiaircraft, signal, and engineer battalions, and some medical troops, to operate during the maneuvers under Brazilian command. After Mr. Welles approved the proposal, General Marshall asked Brig. Gen. Lehman W. Miller to sound out the Brazilians.57


The Security Force Plan, June 1941

At this point, the Army's concern for the security of the Brazilian bulge flared anew. Secret Nazi negotiations with Vichy's Admiral Darlan, climaxed on 15 May by a public announcement that Darlan had reached an agreement with Hitler, created a state of genuine alarm in Washington.58 German occupation of Dakar seemed imminent. On the morning of 16 May the chiefs of the War Plans and Military Intelligence Divisions, after conferring with each other, urged General Marshall to take immediate action on Brazil. With Department of State approval, the Chief of Staff sent Colonel Ridgway to Rio de Janeiro that afternoon, with the mission of securing immediate Brazilian agreement to joint staff planning in Brazil and to dispatching United States Army forces to Northeast Brazil at the earliest possible moment.59  In conferences on 20 and 22 May, with Ambassador Caffery present, Colonel Ridgway conveyed his messages and the sense of urgency behind them, but he did not get any specific answer on either point. Foreign Minister Aranha advised that only a strong personal appeal to President Vargas would be likely to secure Brazil's approval of these measures. By such an appeal, Brazilian consent was obtained on 31 May to sending an American Army joint staff planning group to Brazil, but the Foreign Minister, the Ambassador, and General Miller all advised Colonel Ridgway that President Vargas would not be likely to approve the stationing of American troops in Northeast Brazil unless President Roosevelt personally requested it. The Brazilians, Colonel Ridgway reported, were looking to Mr. Roosevelt for strong leadership-as also were the American Secretaries of War and Navy at this time.60

In the meantime, the Army and Navy planning staffs in Washington were preparing for what appeared to be an imminent threat of American involvement in the war. On 22 May the Joint Plans and Projects Section of the Army's War Plans Division proposed the American garrisoning of naval and air bases in Northeast Brazil as the most immediately practicable move to counter the German threat. On the same day, President Roosevelt gave the Army and Navy a directive to prepare for the occupation of the Azores within thirty days. As between the Azores and Northeast Brazil projects, the Army planners unanimously favored the latter. The most telling argu-


ment in its favor was that the establishment of a comparatively small, balanced American force on the shoulder of Brazil would be the most effective hemisphere defense measure that the United States could then undertake indeed, the only one that it could undertake with any certainty of success. In cooperation with the Brazilian Army, small American forces could hold Northeast Brazil against a strong Axis attack-and an Axis force from Africa could not bypass the Brazilian bulge and attack any other South American position. With the Brazilian flank secure, the United States could prepare the great bulk of its forces for operations that might have to be undertaken in the decisive European theater.61

After Colonel Ridgway's return to Washington, General Marshall directed him to draft a memorandum for .Under Secretary of State Welles recommending immediate action to get troops into Brazil. On his own initiative Colonel Ridgway broadened the scope of his recommendations. In order, as he put it, "to avoid the fault line of cleavage which divides Portuguese speaking from Spanish speaking Latin America," he recommended that simultaneous requests be made to Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela for permission to garrison bases within their territory, and also for unrestricted transit privileges for armed American aircraft. Other War Plans officers not only approved Colonel Ridgway's proposals but also thought them so urgent and important that they ought to go direct from the Chief of Staff or Secretary of War to the President. For this reason Colonel Ridgway's draft was converted into a joint Planning Committee paper that, after joint Board approval, would go directly to President Roosevelt. This maneuver backfired. The chief Navy planner held that the Navy had no immediate interest in the use of Colombian, Venezuelan, or Ecuadoran ports, and preferred to negotiate separately with Mexico. The Navy, furthermore, had already obtained Brazil's approval for the use of the ports of Recife and Belem by surface vessels of the Atlantic patrol force. To the Army planners it seemed, "the Navy, having secured from Brazil permission for immediate use of its northeast harbors for such preparations as it may desire, does not see the urgency of the action we propose." 62 From this point onward, the Army, in planning for Brazilian operations, had to cope with Navy as well as Department of State and Brazilian objections.


The immediate consequence was that the recommendations on Brazil jointly approved in early June were considerably milder than those desired by the Army. Even so, they stated forthrightly:

a. That the present military situation is such as to warrant securing immediately the consent of the Government of Brazil to the movement of United States Army and Navy security forces to Northeast Brazil.

b. That this permission should be secured now without waiting for an actual attack by a non-American power and a request for armed aid which, under existing staff agreements, are the conditions precedent to the entrance of United States armed forces into Brazil.

c. That permission be obtained concurrently for the transit of United States military armed aircraft across the territory and territorial waters of Colombia and Venezuela; and for the use of their airports, sea ports, and other facilities as may be necessary incident to such movement.

The Joint Board approved the recommendations on 7 June and formally transmitted them to the President six, days later.63  A copy of the recommendations also went to Mr. Welles, who gave them his qualified approval at the Standing Liaison Committee meeting on 10 June. He thought Army troops could be introduced into Brazil "on a basis of participation in maneuvers." 64  On 17 June General Marshall informed the Under Secretary that the Army wished to send a balanced force consisting of "aviation, antiaircraft artillery, infantry, field artillery, and service elements totaling approximately 9,300 troops and 43 planes," and that the Army and Navy were prepared to move this force on twenty days' notice.65

The War Plans Division in the meantime had continued to urge a movement of Army troops to Brazil as the one above all others under consideration that would place an "effective bar to Axis penetration without {risking Army) involvement in major operations," that would provide the Latin Americans with an absolute assurance that the United States intended to implement real hemisphere defense, and that would also "serve as definite support to friendly South American governments now faced with very dangerous Axis political and subversive activities." 66 On the morning of 19 June three days before the German attack on the Soviet Union-Secretary Stimson drafted a letter to the President stating, "recent news from North Africa makes it very clear that we must act immediately to save the situation in


Brazil." 67 When Mr. Stimson talked with General Marshall about the matter, they decided it ought to be presented to the President in person at once. They did so the same morning, and President Roosevelt promised he would direct the Department of State to find ways and means of getting American troops into Brazil in the very near future. The President said that he thought the best way would be to get Brazil to offer the United States a limited lease on an Army air base site in the Natal region, and he proposed to talk with Mr. Welles along this line. Since General Marshall knew that the Department of State was as strongly opposed as the Latin Americans themselves were to the lease by the United States of military bases in other American nations, he had good reason for doubting the results of the President's directive to the Department of State.68

The German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June unquestionably had much to do with postponing the movement of American troops to Brazil. Nevertheless, though this attack ended the immediate threat of German penetration into West Africa, the Army still wanted to put a security force on the Brazilian bulge as soon as possible. Secretary Stimson considered that the new strategic situation provided the United States with a golden opportunity for securing "the protection of one hemisphere in the South Atlantic" as well as for strengthening the Anglo-American position in the North Atlantic.69  In early July Mr. Stimson wanted the President to announce the impending movement of Army troops to Brazil along with his public disclosure of the arrival of American forces in Iceland.70  General Gerow hoped to get the Army excused from participation in the Iceland occupation and to earmark the troops being prepared for that purpose as expeditionary forces for Brazil and other southern Atlantic danger points.71 General Miller in Rio was instructed "to take every practicable measure to obtain the desired consent of the Brazilian Government" to the movement of the 9,300-man security force to the Natal area, ostensibly for participation in the Brazilian Army maneuvers scheduled for August and September 1941. Before this instruction reached him, General Miller reported that the Brazilian Chief of Staff had expressed an opinion that some sort of American participation in the maneuvers might be arranged, but he also stated that Foreign Minister


Aranha and Ambassador Caffery were opposed to the idea. This report led General Marshall once again to urge Mr. Welles to renewed efforts to attain the Army's objective, "upon which," the Chief of Staff noted, "you, Admiral Stark and I are all agreed, and which has the President's approval." The Under Secretary responded that President Roosevelt had addressed a personal and confidential message to President Vargas, that a reply to it was anticipated in the near future, and therefore that he thought it undesirable to take any new step to secure Brazilian consent to American participation in the maneuvers.72  Actually, the plan for immediately putting troops into Brazil had already been sidetracked, presumably because the changed strategic outlook had, from the nonmilitary point of view, reduced its urgency.

The scheme suggested in April of having a United States Army force participate in Brazilian maneuvers had contemplated sending auxiliary troops only, not infantry; the June plan, in contrast, proposed a balanced composite force built around an infantry regiment. Though Brazilian Army leaders had been cautiously receptive (though not enthusiastic) toward the first idea, they wanted no part of the second. After receiving General Marshall's memorandum of 17 June on the subject, Under Secretary Welles promptly informed Ambassador Caffery of the new security force proposal. When the Ambassador mentioned it informally to Foreign Minister Aranha, the latter "literally threw up his hands in consternation." Because of this reaction Mr. Caffery instructed General Miller not to engage in any discussion of the project with Brazilian military authorities, and General Miller himself characterized the June plan as "a wolf in sheep's clothing which seemed very dangerous and capable of producing a very unfavorable reaction in Brazil." 73  In a subsequent conversation with Ambassador Caffery, Mr. Aranha echoed the sentiment of Chief of Staff Goes Monteiro that under existing circumstances no Brazilian government could survive the approval of a proposition such as that advanced by the United States Army in June. The Brazilians avoided a direct refusal by abandoning their planned maneuvers.74

President Roosevelt never did issue a clear directive to the Department of State to find ways and means of getting Army troops into Brazil, either during June or at any time before 7 December 1941. The personal message that Mr. Roosevelt finally sent to President Vargas on 10 July did not even


mention the possible movement of Army troops to Brazil. Instead, it embodied Ambassador Caffery's suggestion that Brazil be asked to agree to the use of token Brazilian forces to help guard Dutch Guiana and the Azores, and President Vargas gave his consent to this proposal.75  But this approach, designed to lead to an exchange of Brazilian and American defense forces, accomplished nothing. A subsequent proposal to put a contingent of Brazilian troops into Puerto Rico likewise came to naught, since for technical reasons neither the Brazilian nor the American Army regarded it with any enthusiasm.76  In effect, then, the Army failed to persuade President Roosevelt to make the strong personal appeal to President Vargas that the situation had seemed to warrant from the military point of view.

As soon as it began to appear that the security force plan was being stalemated, Colonel Ridgway suggested a new scheme: first, the Navy would obtain Brazilian permission to base patrol planes at Natal; then, with Brazil's consent, the Navy would request the assistance of Army long-range reconnaissance planes of the B-17 type; upon the arrival of the B-17's, the Navy would provide a Marine Corps detachment to guard the Army planes; and, finally (again, with Brazilian consent), Army security detachments would replace the Marine Corps guards. The Navy promptly approved the plan, and until 1942 supported it as the best way to get Army troops into Brazil. 77  For nearly two months after this exchange, the Army held its own troop movement plan in abeyance, awaiting the outcome of Department of State and Navy negotiations.

Joint Staff and General Headquarters Planning

The Army had better success in getting action on the other major objective of Colonel Ridgway's hurried mission to Brazil in May 1941-the joint staff planning project for combined Brazilian-American ground and air operations that might have to be undertaken in Northeast Brazil. The Brazilian Chief of Staff had suggested such planning in October 1940, and on 31 May 1941 he tentatively agreed that it should begin in Brazil in the im-


mediate future, though he requested a formal written proposal to govern its scope and conduct. The War Plans Division drafted and secured the Department of State's approval of the proposal before 11 June, but it was delayed in transmission and did not reach the Brazilian capital until the last day of the month.78  In slightly revised form, the draft became the Brazilian-American Joint Planning Agreement, signed on 24 July 1941. This agreement was based on the existing joint Staff Agreement of 29 October 1940. It provided for a joint planning group of six Brazilian and five United States staff officers that was to survey the military requirements of Northeast Brazil and plan the contribution each nation should make to the defense of the area. The group's planning was to be subject to certain limitations, among them the following:

(1) In case of a positive threat against any part of Brazilian territory, and when she considers it appropriate, Brazil will be able to request the assistance of forces of the United States, at the points and for the time determined in advance by Brazil.

(2) The air and naval bases in the territory of Brazil will be commanded and maintained by Brazilian forces and only on request of its government may they be occupied also by United States forces, as an element of reenforcement.79

The United States Army hoped that an early Brazilian request for- assistance from American forces would come out of the joint planning work.

The Army selected an Infantry officer, Col. Dennis E. McCunniff, to head the United States section of the joint Planning Group, and gave Colonel McCunniff and his colleagues a dual mission. They were to participate with Brazilian officers in joint planning, and independently they were to "engage in planning for the execution of so much of Rainbow No. 4 as applies to the Northeast Brazil Theater." 80  The Army's RAINBOW 4 theater plan, drafted the preceding summer, provided for the movement, if necessary, of more than sixty thousand United States troops to the Brazilian bulge. The United States planners before their departure spent three days at General Headquarters in early July studying the plan and other data on Brazil.81 In effect, the United States Army in the summer of 1941 was planning alternative courses of action in Brazil. If the war outlook in the Atlantic remained relatively favorable, the Army wanted to put a 9,300-man security force into Northeast Brazil as a reinforcement for Brazilian forces; if the situation worsened,


either because of the collapse of Great Britain or in the event of a German occupation of West Africa, the Army planners considered that it would be necessary to send a much larger American force to Brazil.

Before the arrival of the United States members of the joint Planning Group in Rio on 16 July, Ambassador Caffery had been rather strongly critical of the delay in getting joint planning under way, and particularly of the formal way in which the Americans had approached it. Since early May the Ambassador had also been protesting the failure of the United States Army to live up to its "commitments" to supply the Brazilians with arms. General Marshall told Mr. Welles that Mr. Caffery's "misapprehensions" ought to be corrected "for the common good." 82  On the other hand, neither Mr. Caffery nor the Department of State appears to have been informed about the RAINBOW 4 aspects of the Army's Brazil plans. Though not exactly working at cross purposes, the War and State Departments were certainly not working in close coordination between June and December 1941 in furthering the Army's plans for operations in Brazil.

After preliminary conferences in the Brazilian capital, eight of the eleven members of the joint Planning Group participated in a month's reconnaissance of the Brazilian bulge and the island of Fernando de Noronha. The United States members then prepared a Northeast Brazil defense plan, which proposed Natal and Recife at the eastern tip of the bulge and Belem at the mouth of the Amazon as the sites for major air bases and supply installations. The Brazilians accepted this plan in principle, though they contended that Brazil could furnish all the ground troops necessary to implement it. There was full agreement on the need for additional air base and communications facilities, and the Brazilians proposed that a permanent United States-Brazilian Army board be established at once "to study and prescribe the construction recommended and material required to implement the proposed plan." With this much accomplished, the United States members departed for home on 5 October. 83

During the period of joint planning the Brazilians allowed United States Army officers to make a separate medical survey of Northeast Brazil, but they would not let United States Army planes map the area, though they promised to do so themselves and make the results available to the United


States. 84  While the Brazilian Army was perfectly willing to share its information freely with the United States Army and to let American officers in civilian clothes reconnoiter Brazilian territory, the Brazilians were still opposed to any overt United States Army activity. 85

Although this attempt at joint planning was a failure as a device for getting United States Army forces into Brazil in 1941, it provided much valuable information for the correction and elaboration of earlier United States Army war plans, it prepared the way for the military improvement of Brazilian air bases undertaken in the spring of 1942, and it induced the Brazilian Army to take a definite stand in respect to the movement of American forces to Brazil. By October 1941 it was clear that the Brazilians were prepared to accept virtually unlimited naval assistance from the United States, and to accept air assistance if a serious external threat loomed before the end of 1942. They were not prepared to allow United States Army ground combat forces in Brazil, either in 1941 or later. Instead, they insisted that if United States equipment were forthcoming they could supply adequate ground defense forces, and in fact they were already rapidly increasing their own ground garrisons in northern and eastern Brazil. In view of the inability of the United States to equip these forces, the American members of the joint Planning Group still doubted that Brazilian ground troops would be able to protect the vital air installations in Northeast Brazil against an attack by a major power. They noted that the current staff agreement did not provide any assurance that Brazil would ask for American assistance in time, should a real emergency arise, and they adopted the Army's consistent view that the situation called for the presence of United States ground and air forces in advance of any such emergency. Therefore, they recommended the negotiation of a new Brazilian-American military agreement that would provide for the lease of land and sea bases at nine locations in Northeast Brazil. They also recommended the further improvement of eight airfields for military use and the preparation of detailed plans for the occupation of these bases by United States forces.86

The War Plans Division in Washington believed that there was no possibility of obtaining United States Government approval-let alone Brazilian assent-to the first recommendation made by the joint planners, but the Army could get to work on the other two. The Army Air Forces proceeded


to draft new plans for airfield improvement. General Headquarters was given the task of drawing up a detailed operations plan, with the assistance of Colonel McCunniff and the other joint planners, who were temporarily assigned to General Headquarters to work on it. 87

The original Northeast Brazil theater plan shown to Colonel McCunniff and his colleagues in early July 1941 had been drafted in 1940. Revised operations plans for Brazil, begun in the War Plans Division in July 1941 and in General Headquarters a month later, were based not on RAINBOW 4 but on RAINBOW 5, the basic apprehension being the seeming imminence of a German move toward the South Atlantic rather than the collapse of Great Britain. Between 10 October and early December, General Headquarters virtually completed a new and much more detailed operations plan for Northeast Brazil, also based on RAINBOW 5. It called for a total deployment to Brazil of more than 64,000 ground and air troops, including two divisions. These forces were to be concentrated, as recommended by the joint planners, in the vicinities of Natal, Recife, and Belem. This was the plan the Army wanted to follow in part after the outbreak of war.88

Munitions for Brazil in 1941

Colonel McCunniffs report on the joint planning effort in Brazil noted, "it was apparent from the first meeting that the major objective in so far as the Brazilian group was concerned was to secure arms and equipment from the United States." 89  The United States Army sincerely wanted to supply arms to Brazil, but, as earlier, it could not see how an adequate supply of arms could be arranged in time to enable the Brazilians to assume the ground and air defense of Northeast Brazil. The basic arms supply program for Latin America that the War and Navy Departments had approved in March 1941 allocated munitions valued at $100,000,000 to Brazil, four fifths of which was to be used for ground and air equipment, but most of these munitions were not to be delivered until after 1 July 1942.90  In April 1941 the Army planned the eventual delivery of 230 military aircraft to Brazil, and in the same month President Roosevelt extended the coverage of the Lend-


Lease Act to Brazil as well as to the other Latin American republics.91  Pending conclusion of a lend-lease agreement with Brazil and at the Army's insistence, the United States had, as already noted, made a $12,000,000 credit available to the Brazilians for military purchases. Brazil never used this credit, the Brazilian Minister of Finance preferring to wait until his country could take advantage of the more liberal terms embodied in the lend-lease agreement signed on 1 October 1941. The agreement, following exactly the terms of the March 1941 program, promised the delivery of ,$16,000,000 worth of Army and Navy material to Brazil by September 1942, and the remainder ($84,000,000 worth) sometime thereafter.92  By the end of November, Brazil had submitted lend-lease requisitions calling for an expenditure of $35,000,000 for ground equipment, or nearly one half of the $74,000,000 then allocated for the Brazilian Army.93  In contrast with this extensive planning, the actual deliveries of modern military equipment to Brazil before Pearl Harbor consisted of only a few searchlights and a token shipment of automotive equipment and light tanks.

When the United States Army suddenly decided in May 1941 that, if possible, it ought to put some American troops into Brazil at once, it had also arranged to divert from its own forces to those of Brazil a million-dollar token shipment of 167 trucks, 10 scout cars, and 10 light tanks, together with a small quantity of ammunition for the guns on the scout cars and tanks. Brazil wanted this material for its newly established Armored Force only it wanted 90 light and medium tanks immediately instead of the 10 light tanks offered. The Army planned to get the proffered material aboard ship by the end of July so that some of it could appear in the Brazilian Independence Day parade on 7 September. After some delay, Brazil accepted most of the material and paid for it in cash. It reached Brazil in time to appear in the parade, and, according to General Miller, its appearance "produced a very favorable reaction in Brazilian Army circles." 94  This token shipment nevertheless represented only a small fraction of what the Brazilian Army currently believed it needed, and, as Foreign Minister Aranha pointed out to Ambassador Caffery, it was not suitable equipment for defending the Natal region.95


Efforts of the United States during 1941 to provide some modern military aircraft for Brazil did more harm than good. Though the Brazilians had about two hundred military planes, they had very few tactical aircraft, and no modern ones. In the midst of the May crisis, General Marshall announced in a Standing Liaison Committee meeting that the Army was then trying to obtain the immediate release of twenty modern light bombers (A-20's) to Brazil from British allocations-British representatives in Washington having intimated that this could be done. General Arnold thereupon personally informed General Miller at Rio that twelve of the planes could probably be released to the Brazilians immediately, if they wanted them. The Brazilians wanted them very much, even though they had no pilots qualified to fly A-20's. When British authorities in London refused to release the planes to Brazil, the reaction in Rio de Janeiro was most unfavorable. General Miller urged that some substitute offer be made at once. As substitutes, he suggested transport planes for the air-mail service operated by the Brazilian Air Force and assignment to the United States Air Mission of a few B-18'smedium bombers of a slow and obsolete type-that would permit a transitional type of training for Brazilian pilots to prepare them to operate more modern aircraft.96

Between August 1941 and January 1942 the United States Army worked out a solution to the problem of providing military planes to Brazil. No modern combat aircraft were to be made available to Brazil before the autumn of 1942, but it did not appear that Brazil could train pilots to fly them before then in any event. What the Brazilian Air Force needed was modern training equipment-primary trainers first and basic trainers thereafter-to qualify its pilots for the operation of high-speed aircraft. In the fall of 1941 the Brazilians planned a pilot training program to begin in February 1942. To provide airplanes for the program, the United States agreed to release sixty primary trainers to Brazil, fifteen of them in November 1941 and the balance in monthly increments, and fifty basic trainers at a rate of ten a month from February through June 1942. The United States also planned to furnish the Brazilian Air Force with some transport planes during 1942. As an interim measure, General Miller proposed and the Army Air Forces in October 1941 approved the assignment to the United States Air Mission before the end of 1941 of a few B-18's and P-36's for use in instructing Brazilian Air Force pilots.97  Despite all this planning, the only United States


military aircraft made available for Brazilian use before Pearl Harbor were the three primary trainers previously assigned to the Air Mission for instructional purposes.

If the United States had been able to supply the Brazilian Army and Air Force with a substantial amount of modern combat material in 1941, the Brazilians might have been willing to receive small United States Army forces in Northeast Brazil to help guard its vital airfields and to service the military air traffic that in June 1941 began to flow from the United States to Africa via Brazil. This the United States could not do, as pointed out by General Marshall on 24 October in a letter to Mr. Welles:

We do not have and for a considerable period of time we will not have, munitions to supply to Brazil of the type Brazil desires. The latter types are being and will continue to be supplied in proportion as our acute shortages are relieved, and on a priority higher than that accorded to any other Government not actually engaged in fighting the Axis. The requirements of our own forces, of the British, and of other Governments actually engaged in resisting aggression, take precedence over the needs of Brazil. These decisions have been reached by superior agencies of our Government in the light of our own national interests and the world situation. The War Department contemplates no change.98

Under these circumstances, about all the United States Army had been able to do before Pearl Harbor was to prepare the way for supplying arms to Brazil in quantity by late 1942 and 1943.

The Army's Quest for Action

Brazil's failure to obtain any appreciable quantity of American munitions in 1941, and Brazilian opposition to the entry of United States Army forces into the Natal area, should not obscure the many ways in which the United States and Brazil did cooperate in hemisphere defense measures before Pearl Harbor. First and foremost, Brazil had approved the construction of eight military air bases, financed by the United States Government, in the Northeast.99  Then, beginning in June 1941, it permitted transport planes to be ferried via Brazil to the British forces in Africa and the Middle East. Five months later, the Army Air Forces' Ferrying Command inaugurated its own South Atlantic air transport service by way of Brazil to Cairo.100  In the autumn of 1941, as Ambassador Caffery subsequently observed, Brazil freely permitted United States noncombat aircraft to visit Brazil, to fly over Brazilian territory, and to use Brazilian airfields while in transit to Africa and


elsewhere.101  Beginning in June 1941 also, surface vessels of the Navy's South Atlantic patrol force began to use the ports of Recife and Bahia as operating bases.102  During the summer and autumn of 1941, as noted above, Brazil reversed its traditional military policy of keeping almost all of its armed forces in the south and began to build up garrisons in the Northeast to protect the vital air and naval installations taking shape there. Positive actions of a nonmilitary character included the suppression of German, Italian, and Japanese language newspapers and control of exports to insure that strategic materials went to the United States instead of to the Axis Powers. The Army's Brazilian experts appreciated the extent of Brazil's cooperation and recognized that Brazilian military as well as civilian sentiment was overwhelmingly pro-United States and anti-Axis, but they also believed that Northeast Brazil needed much stronger military protection than it had in the autumn of 1941.103

The Army planners in Washington wished that the military negotiations with Brazil could be put on a higher plane than a mere bargaining for concessions. They wanted the United States Government "to demonstrate that the measures of cooperation asked of Brazil [were] not to be regarded as concessions made to us but rather as contributions to hemisphere defense, and . . . to convince the Brazilian people of the existence of an actual menace to their future independence and of the necessity of their making frequent contributions to hemisphere defense." 104  The difficulty was that the Brazilians simply did not appreciate the design of the hemisphere defense measures that the United States wanted to execute, nor the reasons for it. The Brazilian members of the joint Planning Group frankly told the United States members that the defense of Northeast Brazil appeared to be much more vital to the United States than to Brazil. 105  As Mr. Caffery pointed out later, many Americans in the fall of 1941 "were blind to the imminent danger with which the United States was so acutely threatened," and "failed to appreciate that the President's tenet that material assistance to the peoples and nations fighting the Axis constituted, in fact, a defense of the United States." This being the case, he continued, "it should readily be appreciated


that the Brazilians, for their part, had precious little interest in implementing aid to Britain, much less succor to Red Russia." 106

In order to persuade President Roosevelt to take a more forthright line of action toward Brazil, the Army planners in late August 1941 drafted a strong letter to be sent by Secretary of War Stimson to Secretary of State Hull. After reciting in some detail the Army's fruitless efforts to get its forces into Brazil, this letter concluded:

The time has arrived when this Government in the most formal manner should bring to the attention of the Brazilian Government the high importance to Brazil, to the United States, and to this entire Hemisphere, of preventing any Axis infiltration into or control of the northeast portion of Brazil and to insist that Brazil comply with the request of this Government for the entry of our security forces into her strategic northeast for the period of the emergency, a request that we deem imperative to make in the interests of our joint safety.

I judge this matter to be among the most important questions of foreign policy now confronting this nation, and as such, one which you, Secretary Knox and I should present jointly to the President as soon as his convenience will permit.107

Mr. Stimson signed this letter on 30 August and directed that a copy be sent to Secretary of the Navy Knox so that the War and Navy Departments would be in agreement before the matter was presented to Mr. Hull and then to the President. On 31 August General Gerow, the Chief of the War Plans Division, flew to Hyde Park where he discussed the Brazilian situation with President Roosevelt. Three days later Mr. Knox assured the War Department that he would give it "every possible assistance in this matter." 108

The Chief of Naval Operations reacted very differently to the War Department's proposal when General Marshall consulted him about it. Admiral Stark observed that the proposed action might hamper the Navy's current effort to expand its Brazilian operations to include the operation of patrol planes based on Brazilian ports. As an alternative, Admiral Stark proposed that, as soon as Brazil agreed to the operation of Navy patrol planes, the Navy would ask for the protection of these same ports by Army pursuit planes, and after that for the privilege of putting Marine Corps detachments in to protect these planes, a proposal very similar to the one discussed by the Army and Navy planners during July. Admiral Stark also suggested that the


Army use the good offices of Rear Adm. A. T. Beauregard, naval attaché at Rio, to advance its plans.109 Over the objections of the Army planners, General Marshall and Secretary Stimson decided that they ought not to go ahead with the Army's Brazil proposal without Admiral Stark's concurrence. The Chief of Staff sent Admiral Stark a copy of the proposed Secretary of War Secretary of State letter for transmission to Admiral Beauregard and suspended action on the original.110

Not only was the Navy somewhat less than enthusiastic over the Army's security force plan for Brazil but also it apparently feared that the execution of the Army's plan might interfere with the Navy's own plans for South Atlantic operations. There certainly was little coordination between the Army and the Navy in connection with planning for Brazil in the fall of 1941. When General Headquarters set to work in October on a detailed operations plan for Brazil, it had no information on current Navy plans for the area, nor did the naval liaison officer assigned to General Headquarters know anything about them. In the outline of information presently obtained by General Headquarters, the Navy indicated that in the event of a German move into Africa a major United States naval base would have to be established at Natal or at Maceio.111 At the end of October the Navy Department insisted that Natal must become "a Naval Base and Naval Command." 112 Admiral Beauregard in his discussions with Ambassador Caffery seems to have accepted the latter's opinion "that if any necessity exists for our Army moving in anywhere in Brazil or any garrisons established, it can only be done by diplomatic means and not between the Armies as the Brazilian Army is dead set against our coming in." 113 At the end of November Admiral Stark again asked "that the Army postpone further requests to base troops or planes in Brazil until the Navy is fully established there." 114

In the meantime, the Army planners viewed the Brazilian situation with growing concern. The War Plans Division estimate of 19 September, compiled in connection with the Victory Program planning, of what the Army could do with its existing means to meet the Axis challenge, put the Brazil operation first and stated that if Germany moved into West Africa and its


adjacent islands, United States Army forces would have to be sent to the Natal area.115 The October War Department Strategic Estimate accorded the same top priority to a Brazilian operation in its listing of the eleven most "profitable lines of action" then open to the United States.116 The Victory Program estimate itself called for a task force of 86,646 United States ground troops for Brazil.117 Colonel Ridgway summarized the Army planners' point of view when he stated:

Brazil is the most vital point in our outpost system for our future security against the long range plans for aggression of the Axis. By acceding to the Brazilian Government argument that there is no immediate threat to Brazil, we overlook the rapidity with which our military situation can deteriorate. The sudden collapse of Russia, the eviction of Britain from the Middle East, the eruption of Axis forces down the northwest African coast and the possible concurrent reversal of Latin American opinion from pro-Ally to pro-Axis (hastened by the impact of German subversive efforts on the South American continent) might prove that we had cut our time factor too fine. The objective of the War and Navy Departments therefore continues to be the placing of adequate United States security forces in northeast Brazil at the earliest practicable date. The obstacle of Brazilian sensitiveness to this relinquishment of sovereignty is well understood, but efforts must be intensified to surmount it.118

On 10 November General Gerow advised the Chief of Staff: "I believe the need for placing our armed security forces in Brazil is greater now than it was last summer." He and General Arnold of the Air Forces therefore recommended the dispatch of the long-suspended letter to Mr. Hull.119 General Marshall had already sent a modified version of the letter to Mr. Welles, 120  and he still preferred to let the Navy continue to take the lead in Brazil. When the Chief of Staff learned on 12 November that Brazil had agreed to open its ports to Navy patrol planes, he told Mr. Welles that it was very important to get a few Army planes, guarded by Marine detachments, to Natal and Maceio as quickly as possible. Once they were there, their number could be gradually increased. Mr. Welles thought that United States armed guards "could be gotten in there in some guise, possibly as technical assistants"-a scheme that was to be put into practice a few weeks later after the United States went to war.121


General Marshall had good reason to act on the Brazil problem with more caution than his planners counseled during the fall of 1941. The Army's own representative at Rio, General Miller, believed that the Navy approach was the best. 122  He urged that "the occupation of Brazilian territory by United States armed forces . . . be delayed as much as the military situation will permit and until the people of Brazil have been awakened to the danger confronting them." 123 General Marshall must also have been impressed by President Roosevelt's reluctance to give any firm backing to the Army's security force plan for Brazil. Early in November the Chief of Staff learned both from the War Plans Division in Washington and from General Miller in Rio that the President had never formally requested that Brazil allow United States Army forces to enter its territory. Ambassador Caffery pointedly told General Miller that "the President is not supporting the Army's stand in this matter." 124

Both the President and the Chief of Staff knew that President Vargas and Foreign Minister Aranha had been trying since August to mold Brazilian opinion in favor of more open collaboration with the United States. The Brazilian Government in working toward this end had to take into account the determined opposition of Brazilian Army leaders to the entry of American ground forces. It also had to recognize the ease with which pro-Nazi elements could fan popular sentiment against any American move that could be interpreted as imperialistic or an infringement on Brazilian sovereignty. Therefore, the Brazilian President and his Foreign Minister had to move slowly, but by early November they were openly announcing their intention of supporting the United States should it be drawn into the war. Ambassador Caffery was told that Brazil would immediately ask for United States Army assistance if German forces moved into Portugal or northwestern Africa.125

The outlook for closer Brazilian-American cooperation and for the achievement of the United States Army's objectives in Brazil momentarily worsened during November, partly because pro-Nazi elements became bolder as the German armies approached Moscow, partly because General Miller, through no fault of his own, had become persona non grata to the Brazilian Chief of


Staff. President Vargas was sufficiently worried to request that the United States Navy postpone its plan for operating patrol planes from Brazilian ports.126 On 27 November Brazil finally granted a clearance for operation of the planes, and on 11 December the first naval patrol squadron reached Brazilian ports.127 The operation that General Marshall in Washington and General Miller in Rio had looked upon as the opening wedge for gaining Brazilian consent to the entry of United States Army air and ground forces thus began after the United States was fully in the war, and under circumstances that gave the Brazilian bulge a new and unforeseen significance.




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