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124 Minute From McNicol to Spender

Minute, Washington, 11 December 1951

Tripartite Security Treaty
Note of Conversation Between Ambassador and Mr. Myron Cowen on 5th December
Mr. Cowen opened the conversation by stating that, in view of press reports that a Council, as envisaged in Article 7 of the Tripartite Treaty,[1] was about to be set up, the State Department was considering issuing a statement to the press to the effect that the Council would not be established until the Tripartite Treaty w[as] ratified.

2. With regard to the functions of the Council Mr. Cowen said that the State Department would prefer to place the maximum emphasis on the political rather than the military aspects of the Council since the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not wish to be committed to regular meetings.

3. The Ambassador put it to Mr. Cowen that the military aspects of the Council must be given some standing in the eyes of the public and that meetings of senior military representatives of the United States, Australia and New Zealand once every six months, in turn at Sydney, Honolulu and Auckland, would be satisfactory. The Ambassador said that, unless the Council were given life, the Australian Government might well be subject to criticism that the Tripartite Security Treaty was no more than a scrap of paper to induce Australia to sign the Japanese Peace Treaty.

4. The Ambassador emphasised that an elaborate organisation for the Council was not necessary.

On the political side a sub-committee of officials of the three countries concerned might have discussions in Washington and prepare material which would be considered by the full Political Committee comprising the Ambassadors of Australia and New Zealand and a top level State Department representative. Matters outstanding before the Political Committee would be referred to the Council.

A similar procedure would apply on the military side where a military sub-committee consisting of senior service advisers in Washington might hold discussions at regular intervals on military matters. Matters outstanding in the military sub-committee would be referred to the Military Committee (i.e. United States Commander-in-Chief in the Pacific and the Australian and New Zealand Chiefs of Staff or their deputies). Matters outstanding before the Military Committee would be referred to the Council.

5. Mr. Cowen enquired as to the range of subjects which might be discussed on the military side. The Ambassador said he would discuss this with his defence adviser in Washington but matters which came to his mind were:

(1) Spheres of operations in the Pacific.

(2) Contingencies that might arise in the Pacific and planning for them.

(3) Logistics in the Pacific area.

(4) Joint fleet exercises.

6. NOTE. The following suggestion was not put to Mr. Cowen but might be suggested to him at a later stage.

It would be appropriate to hold the first meeting of the Council or the Military Committee in Australia in May at the time of the Coral Sea ceremonies. In any event it is essential that a meeting of the Council or the Military Committee should be held as soon as possible after the Tripartite Treaty is ratified.

1 Document 105.

[NAA : A5460, 217/6, iii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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