The Minister in Ethiopia (Southard) to the Secretary of State

No. 63

Sir: I have the honor hereby to transmit a request of the Ethiopian Government that the War Department of the United States purchase for it, as a special favor, one aeroplane and two tanks suitable for military purposes.

His Imperial Highness, the Prince Regent of Ethiopia, is taking steps to modernize his small army by instruction in the use of this sort of equipment.

There are no aeroplanes in the country as their importation has heretofore been prohibited. The proposed purchase would, therefore, bring in an American aeroplane as the first ever to be used in Ethiopia. [Page 801] It is likely that other purchases through commercial channels would follow.

The Ethiopian army has one tank recently presented to it by the Italian Government and which, for purposes of local instruction, is operated by a non-commissioned officer of the Italian Army who is on duty at the local Italian Legation.

The Prince Regent has been persuaded from some source that American aeroplanes and tanks are superior to European ones. He wishes samples and informs me that for such reason he wishes to inquire whether our War Department could make the purchases above indicated.

His Imperial Highness is willing to remit cash in advance if informed that the purchase can be made. He has asked me to request a telegraphic reply.

Should the purchase be made it is desired by the Prince Regent that shipment be made direct from New York to Djibouti, French Somali-land, which is occasionally practicable by steamers of one or two of the lines running to India and the Far East via the Suez Canal.

Djibouti is a French port but His Imperial Highness says he will make arrangements for landing of the shipment there and for its clearance through to Ethiopia.

I am also asked by the Ethiopian Government to inquire whether it would be possible to procure two American army officers to serve as military instructors here. I have not encouraged any belief that such arrangement can be made but transmit the inquiry by special request.

I have [etc.]

Addison E. Southard.