Memorandum by Colonel John W. Bowen of the War Department General Staff28

Subject: Air Field at Dhahran

Reference is made to your undated memorandum29 on the above subject addressed to Colonel Bowen, Chief of the Mediterranean Theater Section, Operations Division. Your memorandum was submitted to the Army Air Forces for their comment and a reply has now been received from them stating that the acquisition of a military airfield at Dhahran is considered to be a military necessity.

For your information, the following is quoted from the memorandum from the Army Air Forces:

“Should the British be concerned about possible desires for Saudi Arabian interests on the part of nations other than Great Britain and the United States, it seems reasonable to expect that they would be willing to aid in securing the King’s approval for an entirely American military air field at Dhahran which could be used by British aircraft, if necessary. Any mention of post war civil aviation rights in this matter certainly would meet with British delay, if not active opposition. Therefore, it should be considered on a purely military basis. The acquisition of an American military air field at Dhahran, for use in redeployment of our forces to the Far East and to increase the efficiency of present military air transport operations, is considered an immediate necessity.

“The Army Air Forces considers that joint tenancy of the Dhahran air field with British forces would be most undesirable. In the event that rights for construction and use of the airdrome can be obtained only on the condition of joint tenancy, however, such an arrangement would be accepted, provided command and operational control of the field would be vested in American forces.”

After due consideration, it is believed inadvisable to approach the Royal Air Force on this matter through informal channels. The acquisition of this airport therefore should be considered with the other matters concerning Saudi Arabia as set forth in the letter from [Page 670] the Secretary of War to the Secretary of State elated 27 October 1944.30

J. W. Bowen
  1. Sent to the Department for the attention of the Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs.
  2. See footnote 25, p. 668.
  3. Post, p. 748.