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

No. 612

Sir: I have the honor, with reference to my despatch no. 592 of June 26, 1943, to enclose a copy of General Connolly’s reply of July 5 to my letter of June 26, 1943, concerning the conduct of American forces in Iran. There is also enclosed a copy of my final letter of July 12 to General Connolly.

I was pleased with the friendly and cooperative spirit with which General Connolly accepted the criticism and suggestions made in my letter of June 26. His reply showed a good grasp of the importance of the problem and an evident desire to bring about improvement in the conduct of American forces in Iran. He outlined, furthermore, some concrete steps which are being taken to accomplish this aim. Notwithstanding these favorable words on the part of General Connolly, there is as yet no visible improvement in the conduct of our forces in Iran. There have been, in fact, several additional cases of bad conduct in the last few days.

It is sincerely to be hoped that General Connolly’s efforts will eventually bear fruit. I shall follow the situation closely and keep the Department informed of developments.

Respectfully yours,

Louis G. Dreyfus, Jr.
[Enclosure 1]

The Commanding General, Persian Gulf Service Command (Connolly) to the Minister in Iran (Dreyfus)

My Dear Mr. Minister: I am replying to your very welcome letter of June 26, 1943, in which you ask for a free and frank expression on the conduct of American troops in Iran as they affect American-Iranian relations. Let me state at the outset that friendly relations with the Iranian populace is not only our desire, but of paramount importance to the success of our mission.

As you have stated, our primary mission is an ever-increasing flow of supplies to our allies, Russia. This mission would be extremely difficult, if not impossible of accomplishment, without friendly relations [Page 504] with our allies and the Iranian peoples and government. Therefore, it is obvious that you can expect and will receive my wholehearted support and cooperation in correcting any evil, real or fancied, that might adversely affect the attainment of our mission.

At the outset, allow me to remind you that our force, officers and enlisted men, have been drawn from every profession, trade and environment of American life. It is a truly composite picture of average American manhood. We have the good and the bad, the sensitive and the calloused, and the meek and the brash. Our army is a civilian army, as yet not completely trained and disciplined. A solution might be to confine all military personnel to the areas of their quarters and work. This is hardly a sensible solution. We would be thus penalizing indiscriminately the good and the bad and probably would create ill will on the part of some of our command toward Iranians. It must be realized that a complete regimentation is not conducive to good discipline and morale, which is based upon rewards and punishments. We do not give blanket permission for all men to roam the streets at will, but allow those who earned the privilege a pass during certain hours to visit certain localities. It is inconceivable that we could start from the first day and never give a bad pass. When it is discovered that they have abused the pass privilege, they are punished accordingly, and it is not within my knowledge that any have escaped.

I have caused a study to be made of all reported alleged malfactions and find that of 43 reported cases 21 were proved unfounded and, of the remaining 22, 5 were established violations of conduct. In each case the offender was punished to a degree commensurate with his offense. This seems truly remarkable in view of the fact that the percentage of malfactions is much lower than that to be encountered in a unit of similar size and experience in the United States. I do not cite this as an excuse or a justification of our conduct, and we will not be satisfied with anything less than one hundred per cent perfection. I do cite it as an evidence of unfounded complaints and, in some instances, idle rumor. We have proven on investigation that in many instances American troops were blamed for infractions perpetrated by other nationals. Whether these cases were the result of honest mistakes or hope of greater reward from the United States Government is not known. In comparing the number of infractions of rules, regulations and laws by American troops with those of other nationals, let me remind you that there are many more American troops in Iran than the combined totals of all other nationals.

At present we are holding school for all troops on the subject of behavior, Iranian customs and traditions and proper conduct of the [Page 505] individual toward the Iranian people. I do not expect this in itself to solve all problems. Concurrently, our young officers and less experienced older officers are constantly undergoing instruction in leadership and responsibilities.

You can expect an ever-increasing understanding and appreciation of Iranian people from our forces and the whole-hearted cooperation of myself and my command in abolishing all abuses and infractions of law and order to effect happy and harmonious relations with the Iranians.

Very truly yours,

Donald H. Connolly
[Enclosure 2]

The Minister in Iran (Dreyfus) to the Commanding General, Persian Gulf Service Command (Connolly)

My Dear General Connolly: In acknowledging the receipt of your letter of July 5, 1943, on the subject of the conduct of American forces in Iran, I should like to express my appreciation of your understanding and helpful attitude. I was pleased to note that you are fully alive to the importance of the problem and that you and your Command are working actively toward ever increasing understanding with the Iranians and abolition of abuses and infractions of law. You are assured of the wholehearted support of this Legation in your endeavors to accomplish these aims.

Sincerely yours,

Louis G. Dreyfus, Jr.