The Establishment of United States Army Forces in Brazil

When the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into war on 7 December 1941, the introduction of security forces into Northeast Brazil seemed to the United States Army more important than ever. The object of its grave concern was not the position of the Brazilian Government toward the war, but the new air bases in northern Brazil, which were virtually undefended.

President Vargas at once pledged that Brazil would associate itself with the war effort of the United States, though he cautioned that this did not mean that Brazil had any immediate intention of declaring war on or even of breaking diplomatic relations with Japan.1  After the exchange of war declarations between the United States, Germany, and Italy on 11 December, Brazil began to curb German, Italian, and Japanese activities by such measures as freezing credits, closing Axis news agencies, and suspending the German controlled CONDOR airline. These measures did little to protect Northeast Brazil. The Brazilian ground and air forces then stationed in the Northeast were not prepared in terms of either equipment or training to deal with an attack by modern combat forces, and the United States Navy patrol forces based there were neither adequate nor suitable for defense of land air bases. To the United States Army, it appeared that only American ground and air forces could be depended upon to protect the string of vital airfields extending from the Guianas to Natal against sabotage or external attack.

The Army had planned the airfields in 1940 solely as a hemisphere defense measure. Then, as construction progressed and the fields became partially usable in the latter half of 1941, they began to serve a new purpose-they became essential links in the South Atlantic airway, over which airplanes were being ferried and high-priority materials transported to British forces in Africa and the Middle East. When Japan's attack cut the transpacific air routes and the North Atlantic route virtually closed down for the winter,


the South Atlantic route suddenly became the sole remaining airway from the United States to the fighting forces in the Old World. Immediately after Pearl Harbor the United States Army began to plan the flight of heavy bombers by way of the South Atlantic to the beleaguered American forces in the Philippines.2  When the United States and Great Britain got together at the ARCADIA Conference to plan their conduct of the war, guarding the South Atlantic airway was one of their most pressing concerns, the Anglo-American agreement of 31 December on grand strategy designating it as the most-important of the air routes between the hemispheres.3 Beyond this attention focused on the airway as a critically important ferrying and supply route, the United States Army for several months after Pearl Harbor continued to view the defenselessness of airfields in Northeast Brazil as a menace to hemisphere security that could easily be corrected by stationing United States security forces there with Brazil's consent. Without such protection it looked to the Army as if the Brazilian airfields invited a German air advance across the South Atlantic from Africa, aimed toward the Caribbean Sea and the Panama Canal.

Emergency Airfield and Airway Security Measures

To meet the threat to Northeast Brazil and its vital airway the Army's War Plans Division proposed to send a reinforced infantry regiment to the Natal area at once, using for this purpose the troopships then earmarked for an Azores expedition. The first regiment was to be followed by at least the rest of a reinforced division as soon as additional sea transportation could be found. Army defensive air units were likewise to be sent to Brazil as soon as possible. While the proposal was being drafted and circulated for concurrences, General Marshall and Admiral Stark agreed that three companies of marines should be flown to Brazil, to guard the airfields at Belém, Natal, and Recife, as soon as the Brazilian Government gave its consent. Under Secretary Welles promised that a request along these lines would be presented to President Vargas personally. When the Navy's chief planner refused to concur in the plan for sending Army forces to Brazil, General Gerow, with General Marshall's approval, presented the matter to Secretary of War Stimson for decision and action. Mr. Stimson during telephone conversations with Mr. Hull and Mr. Welles agreed to suspend the Army's plan pending Brazil's approval of the Marine operation, but only when Mr. Welles


expressed confidence that the Brazilian Government could be prevailed upon to allow Army forces to be stationed in Brazil shortly after the arrival of the marines.4

Brazil quickly agreed to receive three fifty-man Marine companies. General Marshall then directed his war planners on his as well as Admiral Stark's behalf to go ahead and arrange the details of the operation with the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Department of State. What Brazil had consented to was to admit marines under the guise of technicians for servicing aircraft. The real purpose in sending them was to get fully equipped "fighting men" to Brazil to guard the airfields.5  The instructions to the company commanders-actually drafted by Colonel Ridgway of the War Plans Division-emphasized this primary mission, but they also contained an eminently proper admonition:

It cannot be too forcefully impressed upon you and your men that you are there in the sovereign territory of Brazil under very unusual circumstances by authority of the President of Brazil, as an evidence of Brazilian determination to cooperate fully with us in Hemisphere Defense, and that you and your men are there as friendly associates of Brazilian military and naval forces, as well as civil authorities and the people themselves.6

Acting under these instructions, the 17th, 18th, and 19th Marine Provisional Companies departed from Quantico by air in the early morning hours of 15 December.7

The marines reached Trinidad two days later. There, they were briefly halted while the Army and the Department of State straightened out a new tangle. The Brazilian Government now said that it did not want the marines to land in uniform or bearing arms. President Vargas finally agreed that the marines could land in uniform, but he asked that their arms be left crated or at least hidden out of sight. The Marine companies then proceeded to their destinations, the Belém company arriving on 19 December and the Natal and Recife companies on the following day. When the Natal and Recife contingents arrived, they discovered that the local Brazilian authorities had not been fully informed about the terms that the Brazilian President had approved, and both detachments were put on Navy ships until suitable


arrangements could be made for their disposition ashore. The reception of the marines did little to reassure the Army in its concern for the security of the airfields.8

After the outbreak of war, the Army hurriedly instituted several other measures to improve the safety of the airway through Brazil. On 7 December it asked Pan American Airways to put the radio stations of its Brazilian subsidiary on a 24-hour schedule. The Army Air Forces sent its own control officers to Brazilian airports, 1st Lt. Marshall V. Jamison arriving at the key Natal base for duty on 19 December. During December the Brazilian Government approved the movement of three Army transport planes a week in each direction without special diplomatic arrangement, and this consent covered all Army air movements through Brazil until the following March.9

The Army was gravely concerned about the continued operation of the radio transmitters owned by the CONDOR and LATI airlines, and about other radio stations that might broadcast unauthorized information concerning military air traffic through Brazil. At the Army's urging, the Department of State persuaded the Brazilians to issue an order on 13 December prohibiting any coded messages about aircraft movements from being sent. In practice Pan American broadcasts concerning United States military aircraft were excepted from the operation of this regulation. Since the Army believed that only the closing of the CONDOR and LATI stations would satisfy its interest, General Arnold on 19 December offered to send two B-18's and ten P-36's from the Caribbean Defense Command to Northeast Brazil for the instruction of Brazilian Air Force pilots as soon as the offending radio stations were closed down. With considerable difficulty the Army finally secured the discontinuance of broadcasts that it considered dangerous to Brazilian air operations, and the B-18's and P-36's were eventually sent to Brazil in March 1942, though on terms other than those proposed in December by the Chief of the Army Air Forces.10


Brazil Theater Planning

Before and during the ARCADIA Conference, Army opinion was unanimous that the principal Brazilian air bases must be defended by American combat forces just as soon as possible. In mid-December this project had a priority immediately below that of reinforcing the continental United States, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal Zone.11  The Army Air Forces was about to launch its Project X -- the planned movement of eighty heavy bombers to the Far East, initiated by orders of 19 December.12  With this movement in prospect, Secretary Stimson termed the protection of the airway "a very emergent problem," and the War Plans Division held that the "occupation of Natal by American forces in considerable strength affords the only reasonable assurance that we can maintain communications in the South Atlantic and a base from which long-range airplanes can fly to Africa and thence to the Middle East and the Far East." 13  General Marshall believed that at the very minimum the Army ought to place a reinforced and specially equipped 1,200-man infantry battalion, supported by seven or eight combat airplanes, at each of the three key air bases in Brazil.14

The United States Army thought it might have to do much more if German forces moved into Spain and Africa, and this appeared a likely development as the ARCADIA meetings began. In their joint estimate of 20 December General Marshall and Admiral Stark expressed the belief that "Germany's failure to achieve full success in Russia may strongly influence her to invade Spain, Portugal and French North and West Africa for the purpose of restoring the balance." 15  Two days later, at the initial meeting between the President, the Prime Minister, and their political advisers, "there was general agreement that if Hitler was held in Russia he must try something else, and that the most probable line was Spain and Portugal en route to North Africa." 16  The Army therefore had good reason to believe that it might be called upon to send an expeditionary force to Northeast Brazil in the very near future.


Despite their apprehensions, General Marshall and the Army planners did not want to move either a small or a large force to the Brazilian bulge without Brazil's full consent and cooperation. The Army had hoped that the arrival of the Marine companies would provide the opening wedge to overcome the continued opposition of the Brazilian Army and Air Force to the entry of American combat forces.17  On 20 December Under Secretary of State Welles assured General Marshall that Brazilian military as well as civilian sentiment toward collaboration in defense was "rapidly improving," and that "he thought Brazilian agreement to the rapid reinforcement we think necessary might be secured within ten days." 18  The War Plans Division thereupon advised the Chief of Staff:

If the ten-day estimate is even approximately accurate, we can afford to wait, but no longer. Every week now adds to the peril and difficulty of sea-borne troop movements to that area. Axis submarines in numbers are now reported between Natal and the African coast. Known Axis capabilities, possible Brazilian internal reactions, and unpredictable surprise moves, combine to create a growing peril. We now fight facing westward. The southeast lies open.19

Because the Department of State up to then had made no perceptible headway in persuading the Brazilian Government to consent to the establishment of Army defense forces in Brazil, the planners urged "that the Secretary of War suggest directly to the President the immediate dispatch of a special emissary, high in his confidence, and of high rank, with instructions to present the foregoing views to President Vargas in person, as an expression of the President's own opinion." 20  Acting on this recommendation, Secretary of War Stimson and General Marshall tentatively arranged for Vice President Wallace to fly to Brazil as spokesman for the Brazil project. They discussed the plan for a special emissary with President Roosevelt on 22 and 23 December, and the President's initial reaction was favorable. Mr. Wallace "volunteered" his services on the morning of 23 December; that afternoon he was thoroughly briefed on the Army's Brazil plans by Colonel Ridgway of the War Plans Division, and on the following day the Secretary of War approved the detailed arrangements for Mr. Wallace's trip. Nevertheless, the Vice President did not go to Brazil, presumably because


the President was persuaded by Under Secretary Welles that this special mission would compromise his position at the foreign ministers' meeting scheduled to assemble at Rio de Janeiro on 15 January. 21

Although President Roosevelt decided against sending a special emissary to Brazil, he was fully aware of the vital significance of the South Atlantic airway and of the dangers inherent in the Brazilian situation. He discussed the problem at some length in the first formal ARCADIA meeting on 23 December, at which it was also decided that the United States should have exclusive responsibility for planning and executing the Brazil operation.22  In the meeting of 4 January, the President again "went into detail about why President Vargas of Brazil could not leap into action and give us permission to put more troops on the Natal Peninsula." President Vargas, Mr. Roosevelt remarked, "had to feel his way-be sure of his ground." 23  The President announced that the Army and Navy must be prepared for action in Brazil, but that no decision to act could yet be made.24

The Army's plan for action in Brazil contemplated the establishment of a Brazil theater with an ultimate Army strength of between 50,000 and 60,000 troops, or such smaller combat force, down to General Marshall's minimum of 3,600 men with air support, as the Brazilians might willingly admit to their territory. It will be recalled that General Headquarters had substantially completed an Operations Plan for a Northeast Brazil Theater on the eve of Pearl Harbor. The War Plans Division approved this plan on 17 December and designated the 9th Division as the principal component of the initial force. The 45th Division was to be sent as a reinforcement, if that became necessary.25  General Headquarters was directed to organize a task force for Brazil and, at General Headquarters' suggestion, General Marshall designated Maj. Gen. George Grunert, Commanding General, VI Army Corps, with headquarters at Providence, Rhode Island, as commander of the Brazil expedition.26  General Grunert was the first task force


commander to reach Washington after Pearl Harbor. He and members of his. VI Corps staff, and Brig. Gen. Rene E. deR. Hoyle, Commanding General, 9th Division, with members of his staff, reported to General Headquarters on the morning of 24 December to study and revise the Brazil theater plan. The generals and their staffs, members of the General Headquarters staff, and members of the joint Planning Group that had visited Brazil the preceding summer worked together on the Brazil plan for six days. Thereafter, General Grunert and his staff continued to develop the plan-now designated LILAC-at their Providence headquarters.27  The LILAC plan, like the Brazil plans drafted before Pearl Harbor, proposed the concentration of United States Army forces around the Belém, Natal, and Recife air bases, with the greatest strength at Natal. It provided for an initial ground force of about 15,000 men (the reinforced 9th Division less detachments) with air support, and for two reinforcing echelons, as needed, of 19,000 men each.28 Considering the shortage of shipping and the urgent demands of other theaters, the Army probably could not have sent more than 15,000 ground troops to Brazil until much later in 1942. Despite the planning for a larger movement, the dispatch of a 15,000-man force, with adequate air support, would probably have ended the Army's apprehensions about the situation in Northeast Brazil and in the South Atlantic.

The Army's preparations for sending a task force to Brazil coincided with the establishment of a new Brazilian-American military board to coordinate defense arrangements in Northeast Brazil. The War Department in October 1941 had readily agreed to Brazil's proposal that a permanent joint military board be established to plan and supervise the construction of new base facilities, and by early November the United States and Brazilian Armies had informally arranged the details of the board's organization and duties.29  They agreed that its specific mission should be to "select the actual site of each installation, determine its cost, and recommend the share each country should bear of that cost." 30  This last element promised difficulties, since the division of costs would depend on what forces each nation contributed to the joint defense. After some delay General Miller, as Chief of the Mili-


tary Mission, and General Dutra, the Brazilian Minister of War, signed an agreement on 17 December 1941 creating the joint Military Board for the Northeast. It provided that, in addition to a Brazilian general officer as president, the board was to have six members, with each nation contributing engineer, air, and naval officers. The board was to be located permanently in Northeast Brazil after preliminary meetings in Rio de Janeiro.31

The Army selected Col. Robert C. Candee of the Air Corps and Col. Lucius D. Clay of the Corps of Engineers as its members of the new board and brought them into General Headquarters to study the Army's Brazil plans. Like the members of the joint Planning Group, they were given a dual mission: in addition to doing the prescribed joint planning, they were to be General Grunert's and General Headquarters' advance agents in Brazil, since General Headquarters anticipated that they would eventually serve on the theater staff. The Army members of the board left Washington on 2 January 1942 and reached Rio de Janeiro five days later.32

Formal meetings of the new board began on 14 January, and nine days later Colonels Candee and Clay recommended the expenditure of $2,700,000 for airway improvements essential to the Ferrying Command's operations. In addition, they urgently recommended that small groups of United States Army mechanics and communications specialists be put at each airfield and that emergency shipments of ammunition and machine guns be sent to Northeast Brazil to permit transient air crews and Brazilian Army troops to defend the fields and planes against any locally organized fifth-column attack.33  The Joint Military Board was not able to take any effective action on these or any other proposals until the outcome of the Rio de Janeiro Foreign Ministers Conference was known and the separate discussions in which Under Secretary of State Welles was then engaging with President Vargas and his principal advisers were concluded. The day before the Rio conference adjourned, Colonels Candee and Clay described their position in these words:

We left Washington with the impression that the War Department regarded Northeast Brazil as a highly strategic area where hostile military operations might develop at any moment and-where it was therefore imperative to have U.S. troops-air and ground-as


soon as possible. We find in Rio much "solidarity," Good Neighborliness, and a willingness to concede the importance of the defense of N.E. Brazil, but practically no inclination to do anything concrete in the matter. The Brazilians agree that the area should be, defended and say that they will seek our air units, or even ground forces, when attack becomes imminent. In the meantime, they will gladly permit the conversion of commercial fields into military airports and the installation of other facilities and improvements by us while they furnish the ground protection. The Ambassador agrees that we should have troops in NE Brazil but believes that these must be limited to air units for the present. Mr. Sumner Welles regards Brazilians as among our best friends but holds that the War Department has put a considerable strain on their friendship by blocking the delivery of certain military equipment which we have promised to furnish Brazil.34

In early February the American members of the board made a reconnaissance of Northeast Brazil that helped in the preparation of more detailed plans for airfield improvements. But when Colonels Candee and Clay returned to Rio de Janeiro, they found nothing more could be done by the board until the Brazilian and United States Governments arrived at a more general understanding, and therefore they recommended and General Headquarters approved their recall to the United States.35  Their final report, submitted by Colonel Clay after he reached Washington, stated that the joint Military Board could make no further progress because its Brazilian members held that the board's jurisdiction must be restricted to supervising a construction program that would not involve or imply participation of United States Army ground forces in the defense of the Brazilian bulge. Informally, the Brazilian president of the board had advised that nothing could be arranged about joint defense until the Brazilian and United States Governments had negotiated a formal agreement delimiting their joint defense responsibilities.36  General Miller had reached this same conclusion a month earlier and had "urgently recommended that some general agreement be reached between the two governments, through diplomatic channels, which will satisfactorily solve this question of participation of the armed forces in the defense of Northeast Brazil." 37

The Approach to Collaboration

The approach to a new plan for wartime collaboration between the United States and Brazil began with the harmonious cooperation. between the two governments in the Rio de Janeiro Foreign Ministers Conference. On


the eve of this meeting, the United States Army was not sanguine about the prospect for military cooperation. with the Brazilian Army and Air Force. In a frank discussion on 3 January 1942 with Under Secretary of State Welles, General Marshall confessed that what worried him most was that the Brazilian military leaders had apparently changed their minds since 1939 and 1940 about wanting American assistance in the defense of the Brazilian bulge. It was also pointed out to the Under Secretary that Brazil had promised in the 1940 Staff Agreement that if the United States was attacked by an Old World nation Brazil would permit American forces to use its air and naval bases and transit its territory, even though Brazil itself was not at war. Mr. Welles insisted that the Brazilian Government and Army were loyally supporting the war effort of the United States, and that Brazil would break relations with the Axis nations and collaborate more closely in consequence of the Rio conference.38  A few days later the Under Secretary left for Rio de Janeiro, bearing with him a letter addressed by President Roosevelt to President Vargas containing these passages:

The public, of course, knows very little of the helpful and effective steps your Government has taken. I, on the other hand, have been kept fully informed by Mr. Welles and General Marshall and my other advisers of your magnificent cooperation, and I know that it goes far beyond any narrow interpretation of Hemisphere defense. I appreciate from the bottom of my heart your generous attitude and assistance with regard to such matters as the ferry service to Africa and the naval and air patrols from your ports and airfields, to mention only a few.

I did not fail to catch the import of your reference in your speech of December 31 to the delivery of "the material elements which we still lack." . . . I assure you that before long we shall be able to supply you with the equipment for which you have been waiting.39

At the close of the Rio conference, on 28 January 1942, Brazil broke diplomatic relations with the Axis nations-a definite step toward military cooperation, though not one toward the entry of American security forces into Northeast Brazil.

In Rio de Janeiro Under Secretary Welles thoroughly explored the problems in Brazilian-American defense collaboration in a series of conferences with President Vargas and with the Brazilian Minister of War and Army Chief of Staff. He learned that the Brazilian Army leaders had objected to severance of diplomatic relations with the Axis nations because they believed that that meant war in the near future, and they felt Brazil's armed forces were in no condition to participate in the war. They were also concerned about the ambiguous position of Argentina. In breaking relations, President


Vargas had overruled the Army on that point, but he told Mr. Welles that stationing American ground combat forces in Brazil was out of the question for the time being. In the future it would be contingent upon the delivery of substantial quantities of military equipment that would permit Brazilian and American troops to engage in joint defense measures on an equal footing.40

President Vargas and Mr. Welles also developed a plan for a new organizational relationship between the Brazilian and American armed forces. This involved, first of all, the replacement of General Miller and also of Lt. Col. Thomas D. White, the air attaché and Chief of the Military Air Mission. At Mr. Welles's urging, the Chief of Staff finally agreed to the recall of General Miller and Colonel White, though after their return to Washington General Marshall kept them on his planning staff for several months as informal advisers on Brazilian problems.41  The second step in the new military relationship with Brazil was to be the establishment of a joint Brazilian-American defense commission. The commission, with headquarters in Washington, was to be staffed by high-ranking officers of the two nations. It was intended that the commission should become the main channel for all military communication and arrangement between the two nations. General Marshall and Admiral Stark readily agreed to its establishment, and the Chief of Staff tentatively selected General Embick to serve as its senior Army member.42

The crux of a satisfactory defense arrangement with Brazil in early 1942-as it had been since the summer of 1939-was the ability of the United States to deliver munitions to the Brazilian Army and Air Force. Under the lend-lease allocations in effect in January 1942, Brazil was to receive very few modern combat items before the fall of 1942. On 19 January Mr. Welles telephoned from Rio de Janeiro to President Roosevelt and asked the President to find out just what additional items the Army could release to Brazil in the near future. Mr. Roosevelt called General Marshall, and the Chief of Staff after consulting with his staff promised the immediate or early delivery of sixty-five light tanks and more than two thousand military vehicles of various types. The President also inquired about more coast defense equip-


ment, but General Marshall explained that the Brazilians did not want the obsolete weapons that were available.43  Neither did the Brazilians want all of the motor vehicles offered, but they did want a good -many more light tanks, and many items not offered-medium tanks, antiaircraft guns, antitank guns, and combat airplanes-items that the Army did not believe it could release for months to come.44

The Brazilian Minister of Finance, Mr. Souza Costa, who came to Washington in early February, headed a group of Brazilian officials that pressed the Munitions Assignments Board and the War Department for a more favorable allocation of ground arms than that promised through President Roosevelt in January. On 12 February the new War Department Munitions Assignments Committee (Ground) devoted its entire first meeting to a consideration of Brazilian requests, but the meeting ended with a decision that not much more could be done to increase or speed up deliveries to Brazil. The War Department at this time was terribly pressed by the demands of its own forces, and by the President's insistence that the terms of the Soviet protocol be fulfilled. Furthermore, the British representative announced at the 12 February meeting that "if an increase were contemplated for Brazil or any other country, then an all-round reconsideration of the position of all of these countries would be necessary." Minister Costa met this situation with a statement on 17 February that he was completely dissatisfied with the Army's program for Brazil. Mr. Welles thereupon indicated that he intended to back the Brazilian demands for an enlarged program.45

This impasse was broken on 21 February, after the intercession of Mr. Hopkins. The War and State Departments worked out a compromise that involved immediate delivery to Brazil of twenty additional light tanks and four 3-inch antiaircraft guns (taken out of the New York City harbor defenses for this purpose), and the drafting of a new lend-lease agreement that promised substantially larger munitions deliveries to Brazil in the future than had hitherto been planned. On 3 March the United States and Brazil signed four agreements, three of which were concerned with a $100,0009000 credit to be advanced by the Export-Import Bank for the development of Brazilian production of strategic materials. The fourth was the new lendlease agreement, calling for the eventual delivery to Brazil of military equip-


ment to the value of $200,000,000, or double the amount planned in 1941 and provided for in the Brazilian-American Lend-Lease Agreement of 1 October 1941. Separately, but at the same time, the United States Army agreed that it would deliver certain items to Brazil before the end of 1942-one hundred medium tanks, more than two hundred light tanks, fifty combat airplanes, and a substantial number of antiaircraft and antitank guns. The new lend-lease agreement and the accompanying pledges on deliveries in 1942 went far to satisfy the Brazilian quest for arms.46

The final impetus for a general Brazilian-American agreement on military collaboration came from the United States Army Air Forces. The rapidly mounting volume of military air traffic through Brazil made enlarged air base facilities and the services of Army mechanics and technicians mandatory. On 15 February Brig. Gen. Robert Olds, commanding general of the Ferrying Command, personally presented his problems to President Roosevelt. He needed at least seven hundred and fifty additional men in Brazil, at the Belém, Natal, and Recife air bases, housing constructed for these men, and enlarged gasoline storage and other new base facilities. He also wanted to obtain blanket clearance for Army-controlled flight operations through Brazil. The President told General Olds to ask Under Secretary of State Welles to submit these requests to the Brazilian Government. Mr. Welles declined to do so until the Brazilians had been satisfied on the score of lend-lease 47  Thereupon, Secretary Stimson sent a personal appeal to the President, urging him to submit General Olds's requests directly to President Vargas, and adding as a postscript:

I cannot tell you how important I think this Natal danger is. With the redoubled necessity of planes for Burma and China; with the French fleet moving in the Mediterranean; with subs in the Caribbean, we can't allow Brazil, who is not at war, to hold up our life line across Africa.48

The Army accompanied Mr. Stimson's plea for action with the more generous proposal on early and future deliveries under lend-lease mentioned above, and the settlement of the lend-lease question a few days later paved the way for the submission of the Ferrying Command's requests to the Brazilian Government at the end of February. The Army had also proposed,


once these requests were approved by Brazil, to send General Olds to Brazil to arrange the details of the Ferrying Command's new program.49

That program received Brazil's quick sanction following the signature of the new lend-lease agreement on 3 March. On 9 March President Vargas approved "a wide reaching program for Northeast Brazil" that included the stationing of eight hundred additional United States Army maintenance personnel, new construction, and unrestricted flight privileges for Army aircraft. Two days later the Brazilian Chiefs of Staff (Army, Air Force, and Navy) and Foreign Minister Aranha agreed among themselves on the draft of a Brazilian-American defense agreement to be proposed to the United States.50

Thus, when General Olds arrived in Brazil in mid-March, he found a situation and an attitude very different from that existing only a month before. Everything he wanted had already been granted or was now agreed to in conferences with Generals Dutra and Goes Monteiro, and with Brazilian Air Force authorities, including General Eduardo Gomes, the northern Brazil air commander.51 General Olds invited General Gomes to return with him to the United States and promised to provide his air force with thirty modern bombers and thirty pursuit planes as soon as possible. The first increment of this reinforcement-six B-25's and six P-40's — was lined up at Bolling Field in Washington for General Gomes' inspection before he returned to Brazil. After American crews flew these planes to Brazil in mid-April, there were still no more than one hundred fifty or so United States Army officers and enlisted men in Northeast Brazil; but they were firmly established there, and the way was open for enlarging their number in friendly cooperation with the armed forces of Brazil.52

In the meantime, the War Department had given its immediate and enthusiastic approval to the Brazilian draft of a defense agreement, the War Plans Division advising Mr. Welles, "we should lose no time in accepting it in principle." To expedite the preparation of a final draft satisfactory to


both nations, the Army proposed that conversations take place in Rio de Janeiro as soon as possible between delegations headed by Ambassador Caffery and Foreign Minister Aranha. The Army would be represented in the conversations by Air and Plans officers to be sent from Washington, and the Navy by the Chief of the Naval Mission in Rio. Their purpose would be the conclusion of an agreement that would provide for the establishment of one or (as suggested by the Brazilians) two joint defense commissions, and that would also fix basic policies for their guidance. Once established, these defense commissions could work out the specific joint defense measures deemed necessary.53 The Navy and State Departments concurred in the Army's proposals. Under Secretary Welles indorsed in particular the Army's hope that the defense commissions would produce "a joint war plan similar to ABC-1 now in effect between the United States and Great Britain." 54 The Brazilian Government promptly agreed to the proposed conversations in Rio de Janeiro to iron out the details of a defense agreement.

To participate in the Rio conversations, the Army chose Col. Robert L. Walsh, then chief of the Air Intelligence staff, and Col. Henry A. Barber, Jr., of the Operations Division, who was General Ridgway's successor as the Army's principal Latin American planning officer. These officers were told that the "primary result" of the Rio conversations "should be the creation of joint Defense Commissions in Washington and Rio for the purpose of preparing staff plans for the joint defense of Northeast Brazil," but that the conversations "should not involve the question of the stationing at present of large forces of American troops in Northeast Brazil." The Army also warned its conferees against insisting on any changes in the draft agreement that "would in any way react unfavorably from a political standpoint so as to jeopardize the operations and functions of present Air Corps ferrying activities." 55  Colonels Walsh and Barber departed for Brazil on 5 April. By 18 April the Rio conversations had produced a text agreeable to the United States and Brazilian delegations, although matters beyond their control delayed its signature until 28 May 1942.56

The new defense agreement provided for the establishment of two joint military commissions, one to be located in Washington and the other in Rio de Janeiro, and specified the general policies that were to guide the work of the commissions in terms very similar to those contained in the


prewar staff agreement. The Washington commission was to draft a joint defense plan for Northeast Brazil and make such other recommendations for joint action as the terms of the agreement and the developing international situation made necessary. The Rio commission was to act in association with the existing American Military and Naval Missions in improving the combat readiness of Brazilian forces.57

The negotiation of the Brazilian-American defense agreement of May 1942 coincided with a fundamental change in the United States Army's policy toward Brazil. Since 1939 its objective had been to put its own ground and air forces into Northeast Brazil to protect that vital area against overseas attack. By June 1942 the Army had replaced this "original conception," as the Operations Division now called it, with the "present concept . . . that Brazil and the United States will collaborate on the preparation of defense measures to be carried out by the Brazilian armed forces, with the full support of the United States armed forces for instruction and training in the use of the materiel which will be found necessary for us to supply." Furthermore, the Army intended to make "every effort . . . to maintain the flow of critical materiel established by the Lend-Lease program" for Brazi1.58 Actually, German submarine activity in the Caribbean area and off the Brazilian coast held up lend-lease deliveries until midsummer, and the first shipload of goods promised to Brazil in January and February did not reach Recife until 20 June.59  Thereafter, the flow of military equipment was steady and increasingly large.

The United States Army chose Maj. Gen. J. Garesche Ord as its representative on the joint Brazil-United States Defense Commission established in Washington, and the Brazilian Army chose General Leitao de Carvalho, who had commanded the ground forces in northern Brazil. The formal sessions of this commission, which functioned most harmoniously from the outset, began immediately after Brazil declared war on the European Axis in August, and its first recommendations were issued in September.60  The Rio commission was not organized until December 1942, after the Army had established a theater organization in Northeast Brazil-the United States Army Forces South Atlantic.61


The United States Army Forces South Atlantic

The Army had launched its Brazil theater organization in preliminary form six months earlier, in May and June 1942. After Colonels Walsh and Barber returned to Washington at the end of April, they recommended the assignment of a general officer to coordinate all Army activities in northern Brazil. "It is high time," advised Colonel Walsh, "that we had a definite organization there to tie together the Ferry Command bases, the airport development work, intelligence activities, Pan American Ferries, Panair do Brazil, and innumerable lesser projects, as well as to afford assistance to the Brazilians in defense matters." 62 An Army headquarters in Northeast Brazil could also handle relationships with the Navy, with the several United States civilian agencies operating in the area, and with the local Brazilian authorities. The Army's acceptance of the idea that Brazilian forces would provide the ground and air defense for the area made closer liaison with Brazilian commanders highly desirable. As Colonel Walsh also pointed out, these commanders exercised a good deal of autonomous authority, and many matters could be settled much more readily if presented directly to them instead of through the diplomatic channel at Rio de Janeiro.

General Marshall and his staff advisers agreed that a general coordinating headquarters in Northeast Brazil ought to be established, but at first they could not see how it could be done without the consent of the Department of State and of Brazil itself. Ambassador Caffery or Mr. Welles might object to the idea, or at least insist on superior control by the embassy at Rio. The proper channel for obtaining Brazilian consent would be the joint commission that was to be established in Washington, but that commission might not be organized and in a position to act for many weeks to come. The need was immediate. The Operations Division therefore proposed to establish the new headquarters in British Guiana at the outset and then move it to Brazil when the consent of the joint commission could be obtained. General Marshall approved this plan on 20 May, and chose Colonel Walsh to be the Army's South Atlantic and Northeast Brazil commander. The Operations Division arranged for him to be promoted and designated as the commanding general of the Air Forces' newly organized South Atlantic Wing, with jurisdiction over airway operations from Florida and Puerto Rico to the shores of Africa. This position would require him to make frequent trips to Northeast Brazil from his British Guiana headquarters, so that in practice he could act as the


Army commander in the Brazil area.63  On the basis of formal instructions issued by the Ferrying Command, General Walsh established his headquarters at Atkinson Field, British Guiana, on 26 June 1942. He also had detailed informal instructions from the Operations Division explaining his duties as Army coordinator in Brazil. In this capacity he represented the Army in its conduct of business with Brazilian authorities, the United States Navy, and civilian agencies.64

When General Walsh made his first trip to Natal at the beginning of July, he found its air base-the most important of the Brazilian airfields-virtually defenseless against any sort of attack. Brazilian forces in the Northeast numbered about eighteen thousand men, but they were too widely dispersed and poorly equipped to provide much protection for the air bases. Aside from its fifty United States marines, the Natal base had a Brazilian guard of ninety men equipped with fifteen pistols. It had no antiaircraft guns in place, no radar or aircraft warning system, ho protective measures in force such as the dispersion of aircraft and of gasoline, and the nearest defensive aircraft were an hour's flying distance away at Recife.65

Two months earlier General Marshall had been distressed to learn that none of the twenty-four tactical aircraft (eight bombers and sixteen pursuit planes) that had been supplied by the United States in March and April had flown for a week, not only because of the lack of 100-octane gasoline but also because of the lack of Brazilian pilots qualified to fly them. His vigorous protest had good effect. General Gomes was supplied with more pilots, and he was presently able to set up fairly effective training programs with American instructor personnel for pursuit planes at Recife and for the medium bombers at Fortaleza. Under United States Navy auspices the bombers while jointly manned by Brazilian and United States crews engaged in a good deal of offshore patrolling during the summer of 1942, but lack of spare parts and of adequate engineering facilities, as well as a rapid turnover of


personnel, made the pursuit group at Recife of little value in air defense. It was mid-1943 before the Brazilian Air Force obtained enough planes and trained pilots to provide the major air bases with more than a modicum of interceptor protection.66

On several occasions during July and August General Walsh and the Brazilian commanders discussed measures for improving the ground defenses of the air bases. As a matter of policy the War Department had decided by August that any weapons for this purpose sent to Brazil should be "initially manned and operated by U.S. Army personnel and turned over to the Brazilians after a sufficient period of training." 67  In accordance with the policy, and also with a September recommendation of the joint Brazil-United States Defense Commission, the Army arranged to ship 135 machine guns with ammunition from the United States, and to send three detachments (one officer and fifteen enlisted men each) from the 66th Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft) Regiment in Puerto Rico to each of the three major Brazilian air bases.68  After the completion of the sixty-day training period at the end of the year, these detachments were returned to Puerto Rico. Thereafter, Brazilian soldiers continued to man the guns, but the United States Army kept title to them.69

The defense of the Brazilian bulge against external attack during 1942 was mainly provided far afield by the Soviet forces resisting the sweep of Nazi arms, by the British forces checking the Axis drive into Egypt, and by the United States Navy's success in stopping the tide of Japanese advance in the Pacific. Nearer at hand, the United States Army had ground and air forces in the Caribbean area and in the continental United States that could have been deployed to Brazil in the event of a real emergency. The most effective combat element close at hand was the United States Navy's South Atlantic Force, with which Brazilian naval and air forces began to operate in informal association in the spring of 1942.

The South Atlantic Force (redesignated Fourth Fleet in March 1943), commanded by Vice Adm. Jonas H. Ingram, was a relatively small light cruiser and destroyer force with a very wide field of operations and a variety of duties. It ranged the western South Atlantic, escorting convoys, intercepting blockade runners that were operating from the Far East around Cape


Horn to Axis Europe, and searching for Axis submarines and surface raiders. It also gave protection of a sort to the long coast line of Brazil from Bahia northward, as well as to the mid-ocean garrison of American forces established on Ascension Island in 1942. Navy seaplanes had begun their operations from Brazilian bases in December 1941, and in April 1942 the Navy brought in land-based amphibian planes to operate in patrols from the air bases at Natal and Recife. In the same month President Vargas directed his Minister of Marine to put Brazilian naval vessels under Admiral Ingram's informal operational control. Also, Admiral Ingram worked out an arrangement with General Gomes under which Brazilian Air Force operations in the bulge area were integrated with operations plans of the United States Navy.70

The Army Air Forces in Washington looked askance at the Navy's plans for expanding its Brazil-based air operations, the Air Forces preferring if possible to keep the Navy out of the land air bases on the Brazilian airway altogether. In April 1942 the Air Forces proposed that its technician detachments being sent to Belém, Natal, and Recife replace the small Marine garrisons. The Ferrying Command needed their housing and the full use of the other facilities that the Navy wanted to share. The Navy agreed to withdraw the marines from Belém, but it insisted on keeping them at Natal and Recife to guard its amphibian operations from those bases.71  The Navy also insisted on a new joint agreement to cover the use of Brazilian air bases. On 27 April the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved an agreement that accorded the Navy "the use of Army facilities as . . . necessary for the operation and maintenance of land-based, carrier-based, or amphibian type aircraft, subject to determination by the Army as to time and duration of such use, in order not to interfere with the primary purpose of these facilities." 72 Thereafter, the Navy conducted or controlled all over-ocean patrol operations from Brazilian bases. These operations started in earnest in the same month that German submarines moved into the western South Atlantic.

Brazil's formal entry into the war followed a German decision in June to launch a concentrated submarine attack against shipping off the North-


east coast. When a pack of ten submarines sank five Brazilian vessels between 14 and 17 August, including a troopship with heavy loss of life, Brazil countered by declaring war on Germany and Italy, on 22 August 1942. As General Marshall remarked two days later, the Brazilian declaration of war did not materially change the situation. Brazilian forces merely shifted from covert to overt cooperation with United States forces, and Brazil asked for a more rapid delivery of lend-lease supplies so that it could take a larger part in the military-effort of the United Nations. Brazil entered the war with enthusiasm, though with some fears at first that the German submarine attack in the north might be part of a concerted plan that would involve an internal uprising among the foreign minorities in southern Brazil. Actually, German submarines soon found it healthier to operate at a much greater distance from the Brazilian coast, and the Brazilian people united behind the Vargas administration in a manner that ended the threat of internal subversion. This was Brazil's own war brought on by the sinking of thirteen Brazilian ships in the months preceding, and Brazil joined with earnestness and purpose in the common effort to defeat the Axis nations.73

Eight days after the Brazilian declaration of war, Admiral Ingram met with his staff and with General Walsh and other Army representatives, and announced that as senior United States commander in the area he was assuming operational command as "Chief of the Allied Forces in the South Atlantic." A few days later the British West African naval commander visited Admiral Ingram's headquarters at Recife, and in consequence the United States Navy and British Royal Navy arranged a geographical division of the South Atlantic that made its western half, to and including Ascension Island, an American defense responsibility. Since the only South Atlantic combat operations then under way were strictly naval in character, the Army did not challenge Admiral Ingram's unilateral assumption of operational responsibility, but his action probably helped influence the Army's decision to establish a command headquarters on Brazilian soil.74

In conferences with General Walsh during July and August, General Gomes had suggested that the Army move its headquarters from British Guiana to Brazil. During July the South Atlantic Wing commander had set up an "advance echelon" headquarters at the Natal air base to supervise air-


way operations, and, at Atkinson Field, he had divided his small staff into two groups, one handling Air Transport Command affairs and the other defense and supply matters. Following the Brazilian declaration of war, General Walsh asked the War Department for authority to move his "sector and SOS" staff to Recife, so that he could work more closely with Brazilian commanders as well as with the Navy in the planning and execution of defense measures. Since the Brazilians themselves had suggested this move, Ambassador Caffery had also requested that the Army move its headquarters to Brazil.75

General Walsh's recommendation resulted in the establishment (officially on 24 November, actually in early December) of the Army theater headquarters at Recife known as the United States Army Forces South Atlantic. A separate South Atlantic Wing headquarters had been established in the meantime at Natal on 10 November. General Walsh commanded both. The wing headquarters continued to control airway operations from Trinidad to the shores of Africa until mid-1943, whereas the territorial jurisdiction of the theater headquarters extended only from Brazil's northern border to Ascension Island. Since Army airway and intelligence operations and personnel were exempted from its control, the new theater organization had virtually no troops to command at the outset except the two-thousand-man defense garrison on Ascension. Its real task was that visualized the preceding May: a coordinating headquarters to handle Army problems and relationships in Brazil. Recife was the logical place for this headquarters, even though Army air operations were concentrated at Natal, because Recife was the headquarters of the Brazilian commanders in the area, of the Navy, and of the other agencies with which the Army command had to deal. Furthermore, Recife had good docking facilities and was therefore the best site for a theater supply base. Furnishing supplies and services to the airway establishment was to be the new theater's chief operating function.76

The establishment of Army headquarters at Natal and Recife coincided with the launching of the Anglo-American North African offensive. On the one hand, this first major offensive of United States Army forces in the Atlantic war put an end to apprehensions of a Nazi move toward the South Atlantic; on the other, it emphasized more than ever the vital significance


of the South Atlantic airway. With the North Atlantic air route again closed down for the winter, for a period of six months the Brazilian route handled virtually all air traffic to Europe and Africa, a large part of the planes and emergency supplies for India and China, and some of the lend-lease materials for the Soviet Union. This traffic included about twenty-five hundred combat planes moving to overseas air forces. By May 1943 the Natal air base was handling more plane movements each day than it had handled in a month a year earlier. The airway to Brazil, planned for hemisphere defense, became in 1943 the air funnel to the battlefields of the world.77

After the Army command moved to Brazil, it continued to defer to Admiral Ingram's operational control of defense forces in the South Atlantic area. General Walsh and Admiral Ingram appear to have gotten along very well together from the outset, and State, War, and Navy Department spokesmen united in testifying to the success of Army and Navy commanders in dealing with the Brazilian and South Atlantic situation under the informal working arrangements in effect. Nevertheless, at the Navy's insistence, the Army agreed to the issuance of a joint directive that formally vested unity of command in the Navy over all antisubmarine and other combat operations at sea in the South Atlantic area.78

Brazil and the United States in December 1942 proceeded to organize the second of the two mixed commissions provided for in the defense agreement of May. On 28 October the Joint Brazil-United States Defense Commission had recommended the establishment of a joint Brazil-United States Military Commission at Rio de Janeiro, with the general mission of making "arrangements for the implementation locally of approved recommendations and plans prepared by the Commission in Washington." 79  The Rio commission began its work before the end of the year. Col. Francis B. Kane, Chief of the Military Mission, was its senior United States Army member. In effect, this commission absorbed the work and personnel of the existing Military and Military Air Missions. With the increased flow of military equipment to Brazil under lend-lease in 1943, and with Brazilian preparations for sending troops to the fighting front overseas, the work of the Rio commission rapidly increased in volume and variety, and the Brazilians enthusiastically availed themselves of its services. General Walsh, as Army commander in Brazil, had no authority over the Rio commission and, initially, relatively little con-


nection with its work. By 1944 this latter condition had changed, the United States Army Forces South Atlantic having become more and more concerned with the training and equipment of Brazilian forces. The consequence was that by the summer and fall of 1944 the Army had two headquarters in Brazil engaging in essentially the same functions. The War Department did not correct this situation until early 1945, when it put the United States Army section of the Rio commission under the supervision and administrative control of the United States Army Forces South Atlantic.80

Defense Planning and the Brazilian Expeditionary Force

In the spring of 1942 the United States Army had anticipated that the principal business of the commission about to be established in Washington would be the drafting of a detailed plan for the joint defense of northern Brazil by United States and Brazilian forces. The commission began work on the defense plan in August 1942, but before it completed the plan in January 1943 the United States no longer wanted to put any of its own ground or air combat units into Brazil. The defense plan, embodied in the commission's Recommendation No. 14 of 20 January 1943, provided for a ground garrison for northern Brazil to consist of three infantry divisions, one armored division, eleven antiaircraft regiments, and eleven coast artillery battalions-all to be Brazilian troop units. The plan stated that the units were to be equipped by the United States with modern material to be furnished under lend-lease. The commission itself recognized that the forces proposed were larger than actually needed for defense purposes, but it pointed out that these units, when properly equipped and trained, could eventually collaborate with United States forces in overseas combat operations. On General Ord's informal recommendation, the Operations Division and the Chief of Staff approved the new defense plan in principle, subject to the qualification that the United States should not plan to equip more than the three infantry divisions and three antiaircraft regiments.81

Actually, of course, northern Brazil no longer needed a defense force of the size recommended by the joint defense commission, nor was the United States as yet prepared to furnish modern combat equipment for three Bra-


zilian infantry divisions. What lay behind the recommendation was Brazil's desire to play an active combat role in the war overseas. The Brazilians had manifested this desire soon after their declaration of war, and during the fall of 1942 some Brazilian Army officers were urging an independent operation against Vichy-controlled French Guiana, or even Dakar. Immediately after the North African landings the United States War Department began to investigate the possibility of using a Brazilian unit in that theater. The Department of State wanted a Brazilian battalion sent to North Africa, but the Army, after studying the problem, "demurred on the grounds that the sending of Brazilians would make necessary 'the sending of other Latin American troops, and that none could be sent before they [were] . . . supplied, reequipped, and properly trained." 82

It was presumably in consequence of President Roosevelt's conversation with President Vargas at Natal on 28 January 1943 that the Army reversed its position and supported the employment of Brazilian troops abroad. 83 Thus, when President Vargas and General Carvalho in April informally presented a plan for a four-division expeditionary force, General Marshall agreed; in early May, the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff approved the plan in principle. The Army then sent General Ord to Brazil to arrange its details. As a result the United States in the summer of 1943 agreed to send 50 percent of the equipment for one infantry division to Brazil, where it was to be used to train Brazilian divisions in rotation. The Brazilian troops that were sent overseas were to be re-equipped by the United States in the theater of operations.84

General Ord returned to the United States in June 1943 with the conviction that Brazil had a fixed intention to participate in the fighting overseas and that it had a real army that would fight well if given four to eight months of modernized training with proper equipment. Also, he reported that President Vargas had agreed to accept and follow the strategic direction of the United States in the employment of Brazilian forces overseas, and that General Dutra, the Minister of War, had asked that Brazilian units serve under United States high command in the theater to which they were sent.85  By


its Recommendation No. 16 of 16 August 1943, the joint Brazil-United States Defense Commission formally launched the Brazilian Expeditionary Force. After extensive training under the supervision of the Rio Military Commission, Brazilian troops began to move overseas in June 1944. Considering the circumstances of their training, movement, and equipment, the twenty-five thousand Brazilian ground forces and the air squadron that saw active service in the Italian theater between September 1944 and May 1945 acquitted themselves as well as General Ord had forecast they would.

In consequence of its large and active role as a participant in the war, Brazil received the lion's share of the ground and air equipment distributed by the United States among the Latin American nations during World War II. The value of lend-lease material assigned by the War Department to Brazil reached $77,000,000 by August 1943, a total that included principally the munitions promised in the spring of 1942 and the initial equipment needed to train the Brazilian expeditionary forces. 86  By the end of the war the value of Army wartime deliveries to Brazil under the lend-lease agreement of 3 March 1942 amounted to about $230,000,000, considerably more than that agreement had promised and more than twice the total value of all other Army lend-lease deliveries to the Latin American nations.87  The value of all lend-lease aid rendered to Brazil during and after the war amounted eventually to about $366,000,000, approximately three fourths of the total amount of assistance given to all of the Latin American republics together. 88

Preparations for the reduction and close-out of Army operations in Brazil began in March 1945. During the summer, activity along the string of air bases temporarily increased as soldiers were redeployed by air from the European and Mediterranean theaters, but this operation came to an end soon after Japan's surrender. On 31 October 1945 the Army inactivated its theater organization, the United States Army Forces South Atlantic, and its few remaining troops were turned over to the South Atlantic Wing of the Air Transport Command. The Navy had already withdrawn from Brazil, and in the autumn of 1945 the Air Transport Command was also preparing to close out most of its activities, although negotiations were in progress to determine the future use of Brazilian air base facilities.89  The joint commis-


sions that had been established in Washington and Rio de Janeiro in 1942 were retained after the war as instruments for military collaboration between the two nations in a troubled postwar world.

The wartime military partnership of the United States and Brazil paid rich dividends to both nations. Brazil's armed forces were greatly strengthened, both by American armaments and training assistance and by their own active participation in the fighting. From Brazil the United States received large quantities of materials, several types of which were vital to the successful prosecution of the war.90  In collaboration with Brazilian naval and air forces, the United States Navy used Brazilian bases to cleanse the South Atlantic of German submarines and to blockade it against the shipment of war materials to or between the Axis nations. The airway through Brazil, which the United States was permitted to use freely and virtually without restriction after 1941 for military purposes, was one of the vital links with victory in the war. Above all, the defense arrangements between the United States and Brazil, the largest and most strategically located of the Latin American republics, helped immeasurably in maintaining the stability of the Western Hemisphere nations against Axis machinations, and, until the Allied landings in North Africa in late 1942, these arrangements provided prime insurance against a German invasion of the New World.




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