"The Defense of the Free World," Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, before the National Industrial Conference Board, 21 May 1964, Department of State Bulletin, 8 June 1964


Source: Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 717


"The Defense of the Free World," Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, before the National Industrial Conference Board, 21 May 1964, Department of State Bulletin, 8 June 1964, p. 895:

* * *

The "Forward Defense" Nations:

Our military assistance program today is oriented mainly toward those countries on the periphery of the major communist nations where the threats are greatest and in which the indigenous resources are least. In the fiscal year 1965 program now before the Congress, about two-thirds of the total amount is scheduled to go to the 11 nations on the southern and eastern perimeters of the Soviet and Red Chinese blocs. These sentinels of the free world, in a sense, are in double jeopardy from potential military aggression from without and from attempted subversion from within. These countries are under the Red shadow. They face the major threat, and they are the ones most affected by the modernization of communist forces. For this group we requested $745 million in military assistance. They best illustrate the points I want to make.

Imagine a globe, if you will, and on that globe the Sino-Soviet bloc. The bloc is contained at the north by the Arctic. To the west are the revitalized nations of Western Europe. But across the south and to the east you find the 11 "forward defense" nations-Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Laos, Thailand, South Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Republics of China and Korea. These nations, together with stretches of the Pacific Ocean bearing the U.S. Fleet, describe an arc along which the free world draws its frontlines of defense.

The frontlines are there in the interests of those 11 nations; the lines are there also in the interests of the United States and the rest of the free world. The areas which this 11-nation arc protects are of obvious strategic importance to the United States. More significant, however, is the importance of the arc to the principle that nations have a right to be independent--a right to develop in peace, in freedom, and according to the principle of self-determination. United States support of these rights at the frontiers thickens the blood of the free-world family; it strengthens our security at home.

We must recognize, however, that the United States does not have the resources to maintain a credible force by itself along all of this great arc of forward positions. Such a strategy would be unbearably costly to us in both money and human resources. The United States maintains major combat units ashore in forward positions only in Europe and in parts of the Far East. Such deployments are costly and hurt our balance-of-payments position. We do not now contemplate additional semipermanent deployments of forces abroad.

* * *


Return to Vinnie's Home Page

Return to Vietnam War Page