Mr. R.B. Bryce, (Secretary to the Cabinet).
General Charles Foulkes, (Chairman, Chiefs of Staff).
Mr. F.R. Miller, (Deputy Minister of National Defence).
Mr. D.A. Golden, (Deputy Minister of Defence Production).
Dr. A.H. Zimmerman, (Chairman, Defence Research Board).
Mr. L. Rasminsky, (Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada).
Mr. D.V. LePan, (Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs).
Mr. A.F.W. Plumptre, (Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance).
Mr. W.R. Martin, Mr.D.B. Dewar, (Privy Council Office).
Mr. F.G. Hooton, Mr.R. Grey, (Department of External Affairs).
Mr. F.A. Milligan (Department of Defence Production).
Mr. R.G. MacNeill, Mr.C.L. Read, Mr.E. Gallant, (Department of Finance).
REDUCTION OF U.K. FORCES IN GERMANY; SUPPORT COSTS
(Documents ED 7-58 and ED 8-58 had been circulated.)
General Foulkes said that before the Panel went on to consider this question,
want to know that, according to information available to the Delegation in Paris, the United
Kingdom authorities were considering postponing the submission of their proposal to reduce
their forces in Europe to five brigades, at least until after a Summit Conference.
Mr. LePan referred to the points one to four in the last paragraph of Document ED 7-58, and
said that they were suggestions for a tentative position to be taken at present by the NATO
Delegation, and were not intended to preclude the consideration of any proposals which Canada
might make later. There were a number of uncertainties which made it difficult for this country
to take a stronger or more definite position at this time. We were not sure, for instance, what
would be the results of the reconsideration of strategic thinking that seemed to be underway at
the present time, and what the implications would be for the size and nature of our forces and for
our defence expenditures.
As far as the proposed reductions in U.K. forces in Europe was concerned, we might take a
position of clear-cut opposition, which would not be inconsistent with the stand we had taken in
the past. On the other hand, it was possible that changes in strategic thinking had undermined the
basis for such opposition, and furthermore we might wish to prepare the ground for similar
withdrawals of Canadian forces in the future. If this was the case, we should perhaps condone or
even welcome the proposed U.K. reductions.
It was difficult to assess the real reasons for the strain which had developed between the U.K.
and Continental countries on the question of reductions. The Continental countries seemed to be
disposed to think that the U.K. was trying to withdraw from military responsibilities in Europe,
and the U.K. was in a mood to believe that she was being forced out of Europe. Difficulties over
German import restrictions and in the negotiation of a Free Trade Area and, above all, the recent
meeting between France, Germany and Italy on co-ordination of defence production might have
contributed to this attitude in the U.K. There was a real danger that old suspicions among the
European NATO countries were re-emerging, and Canada should pay some attention to the
means of avoiding the development of an ugly situation there.
Mr. Plumptre suggested that for the purpose of briefing Ministers prior to the Defence
Conference, Document ED 7-58 should be expanded along the lines of the statement Mr.LePan
had given. It should be indicated to Ministers that, although the financial implications of the
U.K. proposal were not great, the broad problems involved were very important. It should be
recalled that Canada had relinquished its claims for support costs in Germany, and that if a
similar action were taken by the United States, there would be plenty of money made available
to meet the U.K. proposal. If, nevertheless, some financial assistance from Canada would help
the problem, such assistance should be seriously considered. This would not mean that we would
favour common financing as a means of assisting the U.K., for that would probably be an
General Foulkes expressed concern about the position of some other member countries, for
instance Greece and Turkey, who were in a worse financial position than the U.K., and for
whose forces a given amount of financial assistance would go further.
Mr. Miller said that since the forces in Western Europe were not an effective shield now, the
proposed U.K. reduction could not be objected to on military grounds as destroying the shield
concept. Furthermore, the amount of money involved in the U.K. proposal was not large. It
seemed, therefore, that a great storm was being created by a problem that was rather small in
both military and financial terms.
Mr. LePan said the U.K. might have decided that because of their unfavourable currency
reserves situation, they must draw a firm line on expenditures, and stick to it. They might regard
their support costs proposal as representing their maximum possible contribution. However, it
was hard to determine what weight should be assigned to the financial considerations entering
into the U.K. decision on this matter.
Mr. Rasminsky doubted that the savings to the U.K. that their proposal would provide was
the determining consideration. The U.K. had made considerable additions to their exchange
reserves recently. Was it not possible that the U.K. were using their proposal as a lever with
which they hoped to obtain better terms in the European economic arrangements that were being
Mr. Plumptre said that if the proposal were meant as a bargaining counter, it would have
been much more effective to have asked for more support for seven brigades rather than less
support for five. The U.K. government was probably concerned about meeting their obligation to
Mr. Bryce said that the immediate problem was to provide the Delegation with guidance for
the preliminary discussions of the U.K. proposal. No firm instructions could be provided without
consulting Ministers, and it was not possible to propose a course of action to Ministers until we
had a better appreciation of the German reaction to any Canadian offer to share in the provision
of assistance. Was the immediate guidance suggested in the last paragraph of Document ED 7-58
satisfactory to the Panel?
Mr. Plumptre suggested that point 3 of the suggested guidance might be revised. We should
indicate that we regarded a solution as important for the Alliance, and that at the official level we
would not shy away from a solution involving financial implications. Multilateral financing
would not, however, be an appropriate means of providing assistance, particularly because of the
difficulties it would entail for Canada, after having waived support costs for our own forces.
Mr. LePan said that our Delegation had been asked by the U.K. not to say anything in the
preliminary stages of discussion that would prejudice the possibility of a U.K.-German
agreement on the U.K. proposal. Therefore, if the Panel agreed to the four points in Document
ED 7-58, with the amendment to point 3 that had been suggested, this should be sufficient
guidance for the Delegation at present.
- The Panel:
approved for the guidance of the NATO Delegation the four points in the last paragraph of
Document ED 7-58, as amended during the discussion;
agreed to give further consideration at a subsequent meeting to the Canadian position on the
U.K. support costs proposal.58
58 Cette question a été réglée
avant la rencontre du Comité, qui a suivi et s'est tenue le 27juin 1958.
This issue was resolved before the next meeting of the Panel occurred on
June 27, 1958.