I enclose herewith, two copies of a State Department note, dated January 30, containing the proposals of the United States Government for an experimental programme, known as Project "Counterchange", to investigate the feasibility of an early warning air defense system in the Far North. The note requests the approval of the Canadian Government to make preliminary site surveys and to construct two of the three experimental stations on Canadian soil. Permission is also requested to make surveys concurrently for the selection of the sites and to make preliminary arrangements for a permanent system, which it is planned to construct if the experiments prove successful and if it is desired to build a chain under a mutually satisfactory agreement between the two governments.
This matter has been the subject of discussions at the meetings of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense which began on January 26, 1953. The necessary explanatory data, including maps and technical information, is now being assembled by the US authorities and will be transmitted to you through this Embassy within a few days.
You will observe that this matter is stated in the note to be one of urgency and I should appreciate being informed of the reply which should be made to the State Department.
Le secrétaire d'État par intérim des États-Unis
à l'ambassadeur aux États-Unis
Acting Secretary of State of United States
to Ambassador in United States
Washington, January 30, 1953
I have the honor to refer to recent discussions between representatives of the United States and Canada in the Permanent Joint Board on Defense on January 26, 1953, regarding the United States proposals for an experimental program, known as Project "Counterchange", to investigate the feasibility of an early warning system in the Far North. Details of the project were presented for the information of the Canadian Members of the Board, who considered it vitally important that the matter be given prompt consideration by their Government. It was agreed that a diplomatic note setting forth the desires of the United States Government should be presented to the Canadian Government.
Accordingly, I have the honor to state that authorities at the highest level of my Government consider that there is an urgent necessity for an early warning system in the Far North to provide time to enable the Canadian and United States Governments to take appropriate measures for military and civil defense. A much earlier warning is required than can be given by the existing joint radar system. The Secretary of Defense has therefore been directed to proceed immediately on the experimental phase of the project, which envisages the construction of three stations in the Far North. It is proposed that two of these stations be in Canada and one in Alaska. The United States Air Force has been given the responsibility for carrying out the research and development aspects of the program (Project "Counterchange").
My Government therefore requests the approval of the Canadian Government to make preliminary site surveys and to construct two of the three experimental stations on Canadian soil. Permission is also requested to make surveys concurrently for the selection of sites and to make preliminary arrangements for a permanent system, which it is planned to construct if the experiments prove successful and if it is desired to build the chain under a mutually satisfactory agreement between the two Governments.
Present plans propose that the stations in the western Canadian Arctic would be at Herschel Island and at Aklavik; the third experimental station would be on Barter Island, Alaska. If it were decided at a later date to implement the plan for the permanent early warning system, these stations would become operating units in the chain. The United States Government considers it urgent that the three experimental stations be installed during the corning open-navigation season in the Arctic. Therefore, the United States Government hopes that the approval of the Canadian Government can be received at an early date.
The United States Secretary of Defense has approved the use of twenty million dollars for the developmental stage of the early warning net and these funds are available to the United States Air Force. The United States Government is therefore prepared to meet all expenses in connection with the three experimental stations, at the same time, my Government would welcome Canadian participation in the project, both financial and technical.
I should like to emphasize that Canadian participation in the experimental phase of the program would materially advance the work if it were subsequently decided to establish the complete system.
At the recent meeting of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, the Canadian Chairman asked that the United States Government's request contained in this note be explained by accompanying maps, technical data, and other pertinent information. The United States authorities are now assembling the desired data, and these materials will be transmitted to the Canadian Embassy within a few days.
My Government, as I have previously indicated, considers the above-mentioned proposals a matter of the utmost importance to the joint defense of the United States and Canada. In view of the urgency attached to the project, it will be appreciated if the Government of Canada will give the matter its most prompt and favorable consideration.
H. FREEMAN MATTHEWS