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Letter to the Speaker Transmitting Supplemental Estimate of Appropriations for Military Assistance.

August 01, 1950


I have the honor to transmit herewith for the consideration of the Congress a supplemental estimate of appropriation for the fiscal year 1951 of $4,000,000,000 to provide military assistance to foreign nations.

As I pointed out in my message to the Congress on July 19, 1950, the communist assault on the Republic of Korea has challenged the authority of the United Nations and jeopardized world peace.

It is now clear that the free nations must accelerate the efforts they are making to strengthen their common security. They now have no alternative but to increase rapidly their preparedness to defend the principles of international law and justice for which the United Nations stands. This course provides the best hope of deterring future calculated outbreaks against the peace of the world.

In view of this urgent necessity, we have been reviewing the requirements for the common defense of the free world. We have been consulting with our associates in the North Atlantic Treaty with a view to determining what additional resources must be used by them and by us to provide an adequate common defense. Most of these nations, like ourselves, are now making plans to increase their production of defense equipment and their armed forces. The greater share of this effort will, of course, be assumed by these nations themselves, out of their own resources. However, the serious problems with which they are confronted make it necessary for us to increase our military aid to them if they are to make their maximum contribution to the common defense. It is not yet possible to determine exactly what each nation involved in the common defense can and should provide.

It is already clear, however, that the security of the free world requires the United States and the other free nations to put forth a far larger effort in a much shorter period than had originally been of time contemplated.

For this reason, I recommend that the Congress provide $4,000,000,000 in additional funds, to be used under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. Of this amount, it is estimated that $3,504,000,000 will be required for strengthening the security of the North Atlantic area. The security of this area is of paramount importance to the strength of the entire free world.

The balance of the funds requested would be devoted to expanding and accelerating our military assistance to vital areas in other parts of the world. It is estimated that $193,000,000 will be required to accelerate and increase the important programs of military assistance to Greece, Turkey, and Iran. In view of the increased jeopardy to the Pacific area caused by the communist aggression in Korea, it is estimated that $303,000,000 will be required to increase and accelerate military assistance to the Republic of the Philippines and to other nations in southern and eastern Asia. These funds, added to the amounts already provided and to the resources supplied by other nations, will aid in bringing our common defensive strength more quickly to the level now shown to be necessary.

It is important that the Congress make the requested amount available as soon as possible. The bulk of this money will be used to procure military equipment of the kind which takes a long time to produce. Much of it will not come off the production lines for 12, 18, or 24 months after the signing of the procurement contracts. Speed in getting this production underway is imperative, if we are to have the equipment for the expanded forces that are being formed.

The productive capacity of the entire free world should be drawn on to provide the necessary equipment. The need is so great and so urgent that we should obtain the necessary defense articles wherever they can be produced most quickly, most cheaply, and with the most efficient use of the economic resources of the free nations.

While it will undoubtedly be necessary for the United States to manufacture the major part of the equipment to be supplied out of these funds, it will also be necessary for other nations to share the burden to the extent that they can. A significant portion of the arms needed can be produced abroad. In many instances, however, there are resources and manpower which foreign countries can allocate to defense production only if those countries are supplied with additional production equipment and materials. Such equipment and materials will substantially increase the productive resources which the free nations can devote to the common defense.

It is contemplated, therefore, in the program I am recommending, that part of the funds requested will be used to procure military items and production equipment and materials abroad, and to provide equipment and materials, procured in the United States or in other countries, for defense production abroad. Authority already exists for these activities under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. If we are to take full advantage of foreign productive capacity, we will have to use greater sums for these purposes than we have been using in the past, and will have to purchase the necessary military equipment or production aids in any market where such procurement can be most effectively accomplished.

Equipment which is procured abroad under this program can either be used within the country which produces it or transferred to other countries engaged in the common defense. The equipment produced abroad, and that produced in the United States, under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program, will be made available to other free countries in accordance with their needs and their ability to use it effectively. To the extent that this equipment is not made available to other countries, it will constitute a valuable addition to our own defense stocks. I wish to make it very plain that this equipment will go forward to other countries only to supplement, and not to take the place of, their own strong efforts. Transfers to other North Atlantic Treaty nations will be consistent with definite defense plans developed by the Treaty Organization.

In intensifying our efforts and the efforts of those joined with us to increase our common defensive power, we must not lose sight of the fact that military power rests on economic strength.

It is vitally important that the free nations create a greater degree of combined military strength in being than has been previously maintained. It is also vitally important that we continue to build up our combined economic strength, capable of rapid mobilization in the event of emergency.

The expansion of the mutual defense program will not be a substitute for economic aid. On the contrary, the burden which we expect the other nations to bear in the common defense effort makes it all the more necessary to continue our economic aid. A greatly expanded program of defense production will impose serious economic burdens, and the cost of maintaining expanded military forces will add to those burdens.

Therefore, if the free nations are to achieve the economic and military strength which are necessary for our common defense, we must continue to give full support to the European recovery program.

The increased military aid program I am recommending is as vital to our national security as the increased military appropriations I have previously recommended for our own armed forces. The security of the United States is inseparably bound up with the survival of the free nations associated with us in the common defense.

In view of the necessity for prompt action, and in view of the fact that the appropriate legislative committees of the Congress have so recently reviewed the Mutual Defense Assistance Program, Congressional leaders of both parties have generously assured me that they will cooperate in obtaining early consideration of this matter in connection with an appropriation bill.

The details of the appropriation estimate are set forth in the letter of the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, transmitted herewith.

Respectfully yours,


[The Speaker of the House of Representatives]

Note: On September 27, 1950, the President approved the Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1951, which provided a supplemental appropriation of $4 billion for military assistance (64 Stat. 1063).

Harry S Truman, Letter to the Speaker Transmitting Supplemental Estimate of Appropriations for Military Assistance. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231061

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