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 their re-insertion.
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
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
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.”
2On 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)