This memorandum seeks your approval of additional amounts for the Libyan Army,
affecting both the FY 1963 amount and the FY 1963-1967 MAP totals.
State considers decision on this matter urgent, as the Libyan Parliament is meeting
next week so that notice of this proposed program would give them a firm basis as well
as cementing US-Libyan relations at a time when there have been recurrent threats of
Libya turning to the UAR or the Soviets for help.
Following the visit of the Libyan MOD last summer, we
agreed to send Air Force and Army Survey teams to Libya. The Air Force team
recommended a total of $2.6 million in equipment, and on 17 October you approved this
with the exception of two helicopters, totalling $120,000. We have since learned that
the Libyans considered the two helicopters included in the package as stated in
general terms by the President, and for this reason as well as to meet what appears a
legitimate requirement for command communications, we now recommend that you approve
The Army problem is more serious. The Army Survey team recommended a program of $9.8
million for an 8500 man force over a five-year period, as being required to enhance
its internal security capability and insure its superiority over that of the
provincial police forces. This plan called for us to fill initial shortages in the
proposed modernization and standardization of the Libyan Army with heavy equipment
required, including communications and vehicles but with the Libyan Government being
responsible for the cost (about $1 million) of small items and maintenance of British
equipment which we have furnished in the past.
When you approved the bulk of the Air Force team recommendations, you directed that
the total program be held to a level of $1.5 million per year. Your discussions with
the Libyan MOD had also indicated that he
personally accepted maintenance of the present Army force level of 5000 men.
Accordingly, USCINCEUR was asked to review the
Army Survey Report under these guidelines, and specifically to eliminate M-48 tanks
and 155mm howitzers, which the JCS had questioned on
purely military grounds as not being necessary to the internal security mission.
The revised report just received from CINCEUR proposes a program in accordance with
the revised guidelines calling for $4.7 million in new equipment plus maintenance
amounting to $1.2 million and reinserting the $1 million to maintain previously
supplied British equipment, for a total of $6.9 million over the FY 63-67 period. This
plan would support only the 5000 man force level and would not provide for replacement
of key old British items (hence the recommendation that we include maintenance of this
equipment in toto).
Hence, we have drawn up and recommend your approval of a program between the original
and revised, which would:
a. Cost $8 million over the FY 1963-67 period.
b. Eliminate the M-48 tanks and 155mm howitzers.
c. Support a force level of 7500 men.
d. Throw onto the Libyan Government the maintenance of old British equipment (much of
which would be replaced).
The effect of this on the total program levels is as follows:
For FY 1963, the presently approved figure is $1.473,
which includes some Army items now subsumed in the total program. Thus, we would add a
little over $500,000 to this. This would come from the Contingency Fund.
Essentially, this is an issue of judgment. Wheelus matters to us, the flighty Libyans
could turn elsewhere, and there is some case for an internal security force clearly
capable of dominating the scene. The Libyans do expect a measure of aid for Wheelus,
and over time, with their oil coming in the US will not have much to offer through
economic aid. All in all, though I hate these rug merchant deals (and these particular
rug merchants) as much as you do, I would endorse State's judgment that the
rug cannot be had for less. It may at least stay bought if we can lay out the whole
program to the Libyans next week.
1Source: Washington National Records Center,
RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 65 A 3501, Libya
000.1-121, 1962. Secret. Attached is a transmittal note from Bundy to McNamara that reads: “The attached seeks your approval by
Monday noon in order to meet a political deadline which has just arisen. Subsequent
to writing this, I have seen JCS comments which
would accept the lower of the alternatives considered. However, I would myself still
accept the State judgment that we cannot keep matters sweet in Libya at that figure.
The issue is essentially political.”
November 9, Ambassador Jones wrote that he
regretted the Defense decision to re-examine the U.S. Army Survey Team report with
the view of reducing the proposed strength of the Libyan Army and the recommended
program of U.S. military aid. He noted that if the United States was not
sufficiently forthcoming in response to Libyan requests for assistance, it could
expect questions regarding the present level of rent for Wheelus. Jones reminded
Washington that the Libyan Army might well be the deciding influence in a possible
crisis over succession to the throne after the death of the King. Finally, he
emphasized the relationship of the overall U.S. military aid program to the success
of the recent visit of the Crown Prince. (Telegram 98 from Benghazi; Department of
State, Central Files, 773.5/11-962)