The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 20—8:55 p.m.]
2811. My 2394, May 5.9 We have received an informal communication from the Foreign Office dated May 18, 1942, which may be summarized as follows:[Page 234]
The Foreign Office understands that the United States is prepared to give sympathetic consideration to requests by the Persian Government for financial advisers to assist the Persian Ministry of Finance, and that the State Department has also received a request from the Persian Government to assist in obtaining a United States Army officer to assume charge of the quartermaster and finance services of the Persian Army.
The Foreign Office believes that “this is a step in the right direction, but that more is required”, and wishes to know if the State Department “would be prepared to consider favorably” a Persian request for a more complete military mission, in addition to the officer previously mentioned to help to reorganize the Persian Army. The Foreign Office would not wish to urge the Persian Government to apply for such a mission if such a request would be refused by United States.
The British Minister to Tehran has reported that a United States mission consisting of “seven officers with general military qualifications”, including the officer in charge of the quartermaster and finance section, “would be sufficient to yield [wield?] considerable influence over the Persian Army as a whole”, and that … the work of any financial advisers sent to Persia “will be seriously handicapped unless the army is properly organized”, and vice versa.
The army’s chief duty in present circumstances is said to be the maintenance of internal security, but “due to the natural lawlessness of the tribes and their general inclination to rise against a weak central government, and to refuse to pay taxation, the task of maintaining order and enforcing the central government’s authority is by no means an easy one”.
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The Foreign Office points out as has the Department in previous telegrams that the safety of the Allies’ supply route to the Soviet Union depends on the maintenance of internal security, and it is therefore necessary that the Persian Army should be able to deal with the tribes without having to ask Allied assistance. The Foreign Office believes that close and friendly cooperation with a United States military mission would be the best remedy for the inevitable ill-feeling caused by the events of last summer attending the Soviet and British occupation…
The Foreign Office realizes that it may not be easy for the United States authorities to spare “competent officers with the necessary qualifications” at the present moment but as it is in the interests of all the Allies to maintain the security of the supply routes to the Soviet Union, and as there would be “special difficulties in arranging for a [Page 235] Soviet or British military mission to Persia” at this time, it very much hopes that the State Department will give favorable consideration to this suggestion.
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