The Minister in Iran ( Dreyfus ) to the Secretary of State

No. 592

Sir: I have the honor to enclose a copy of a letter I addressed to General Connolly under date of June 26, 1943, regarding the conduct of American forces in Iran.

This letter, taken together with my despatches 579 of June 10 and 591 of June 24, will, it is believed, inform the Department fully as to the conduct of American forces in Iran. The situation is, in my opinion, wholly unsatisfactory, an opinion which is shared by the Foreign Minister and other high ranking officials, as well as by the average Iranian citizen. The fire is still smouldering but may at any time break out into full flame. The Iranians are reluctant to criticise us openly by official statement or in the press because they like us and have pinned their hopes on our aid. … However, a few of the more excitable are coming out into the open with criticism of us, perhaps the opening gun of a fuller and more violent general attack. The editor of Eqdam in a leading editorial of June 23, which was primarily a bitter attack on Dr. Millspaugh’s78 order requiring the registration of all passenger cars, ended with the following bitter comments:

“The country which has supplied us with advisers has a strong army in our land. They have occupied our country without a treaty. The members of the armed forces throw bottles of liquor on the heads of [Page 500] our people in broad daylight. Their advisers dominate us by force of such regulations. Wait until we see the ignominy of this regulation after five or six days of its operation. Then we will say that Iran was saved from one form of oppression only to be made subject to a thousand different kinds of coercion. We write and make statements and do not fear anyone.”

What are the reasons for the poor conduct of American forces in Iran? Army officers in Tehran on special assignment outside the Persian Gulf Service Command are unanimously of the opinion that it is caused by the fact that the Persian Gulf Service Command is not an army at all. It is a potpourri of civilians in uniform, hastily assembled to do a special job in Iran. As a unit it is sadly lacking in cohesion, morale, military discipline, training and knowledge of military tradition. The morale of the men and officers, who have to do a dull task under difficult conditions and without the thrill of front line danger, is low. Most of them think and talk mostly of wanting to get back home to the United States. … The men get ineffective leadership from their officers, who are concerned almost entirely with the overriding problem of getting supplies to Russia. Almost all of the officers are civilians recently inducted into the army. They lack any knowledge of military tradition or idea of how to instill and require discipline. A high ranking American army officer here on detached duty is appalled at the poor morale and discipline of the American army in Iran and places the blame squarely on the shoulders of the general staff.

I have taken some pains to explain to General Connolly in the enclosed letter something of the American position in Iran and how it may be adversely affected by poor conduct on the part of our forces. I hope that, as a result of this approach, there will be an improvement in the situation. If not, I shall return to the Department with a request that drastic measures be taken.

Respectfully yours,

Louis G. Dreyfus, Jr.
  1. Arthur C. Millspaugh, American Administrator General of Finances in the Iranian Government; for correspondence on the Millspaugh Mission, see pp. 510 ff.