891.20 Missions/8–2945

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War ( Patterson )

My Dear Mr. Secretary: The State Department has given extended and serious consideration, in consultation with representatives of the War Department, to the question of continuing and the problem of supplying the American Military Missions to the Iranian Army and Gendarmerie, referred to in your letter of August 29, 194588 and in Colonel Reid’s memorandum of September 26, 1945.89

The question of continuing indefinitely the Military Missions to Iran, as well as instituting similar missions to other countries, turns upon two factors: first, the authority, in terms of Congressional legislation, for the detail of such missions; and second, the desirability, in terms of national interests, of sending military missions to a specific country at a particular time.

Authority for the Missions to Iran derives from Section 540 of Title 10 of the United States Code, which contains the limiting phrase “during war or a declared national emergency.” In view of the end of the war and the imminent termination of the declared national emergency, and the increasingly recognized need for American military missions to the Eastern Hemisphere in peacetime, the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee has recently approved amendatory legislation which will be presented for Congressional enactment in the near future. Such legislation would permit continuance of the Military Missions to Iran beyond the declared national emergency.

Continuance of the Military Missions to Iran, at the request of the Iranian Government, is considered to be in the national interest of the United States. Strengthening of Iran’s internal security forces by the American Missions contributes to the stabilization of Iran and, thereby, to its reconstruction as a sound member of the international community. By increasing the ability of the Iranian Government to maintain order and security, it is hoped to remove any pretext for British or Soviet intervention in Iran’s internal affairs and, accordingly, to remove such future threat to Allied solidarity and international security. The stabilization of Iran, moreover, will serve to lay a sound foundation for the development of American commercial, petroleum, and aviation interests in the Middle East.

The American Military Missions to Iran have, as the War Department indicated, experienced considerable difficulty in achieving their objectives. This has been due, principally, to the unwillingness or inability of the Iranian Government to provide the Missions with the [Page 535] authority and support necessary to the accomplishment of their tasks. The Russian occupation of northern Iran has also added materially to the difficulties of the Missions.

Recent assurances given by the Iranian Government, together with the imminent evacuation of all foreign troops from Iran,90 should permit the more complete accomplishment of the objectives of the Missions. On September 29, 1945, Colonel Schwarzkopf in Tehran informed Colonel Starbird91 in Washington that the American Ambassador “has obtained completely satisfactory documents from the Iranian Government, thus opening the way for renewal of the contract. Under these circumstances, additional instructions are unnecessary and the Mission will proceed as heretofore.” On October 1, 1945, the Embassy advised the Department that Colonel Schwarzkopf had had “a most satisfactory interview with the Shah” and that notes had been exchanged with the Iranian Foreign Office agreeing to one year’s extension of the contract covering the Gendarmerie Mission. This favorable situation will, however, be subject to constant reassessment by this Government, with the view to withdrawal of the Missions in the event that their presence in Iran no longer serves American national interests.

While the contracts controlling the two Missions can be terminated by this Government if it is considered desirable “in the public interest” of the United States, the Missions are presently committed to the following duration: The Schwarzkopf Mission, for one year beginning October 1, 1945, but not exceeding the declared national emergency; the Ridley Mission, for the period of the declared national emergency. As indicated above, proposed legislation would permit the continuation of the Missions in peacetime.

The problem of supplying both the Ridley and the Schwarzkopf Missions, now that their lend-lease source has been stopped, has reached the point of solution. Discussions between representatives of the War Department, the U.S. Commercial Company, and the State Department, have resulted in a tentative arrangement whereby the Iranian Government would purchase necessary supplies through the U.S. Commercial Company for dollars, cash in advance. Details of the arrangement are embodied in a message, copy attached, to the American Embassy in Tehran92 requesting the approval of Major General Ridley, Colonel Schwarzkopf, and appropriate Iranian authorities. You will note that, in the case of both present and prospective supply proposals, requirements will be initiated by the Missions, presented by [Page 536] the Iranian Government to the American Embassy in Tehran, and transmitted to the State Department for presentation to the U.S. Commercial Company. The only role of the War Department will be to assess the military appropriateness of the requirements and to supply such matériel as may be requested by USCC and available from Army stocks. On the basis of Tehran’s reply to the attached message, the tentative arrangement will be formalized and implemented.

The State Department appreciates the great assistance provided by the War Department, in the detail of personnel and the supply of matériel, which has made the Military Missions effective instruments of American national policy in Iran.93

Sincerely yours,

James F. Byrnes
  1. Not printed; the letter was written by Mr. Patterson while he was Acting Secretary of War.
  2. Not printed; Col. A. D. Reid was Chief of the Liaison Section, Operations Division, War Department.
  3. For documentation on the desire of the United States to have all foreign troops evacuated from Iran, see pp. 359 ff.
  4. Col. Alfred D. Starbird, Chief, European Section, Theater Group, Operations Division, War Department.
  5. Telegram 576, October 11, 1945, 5 p.m., not printed.
  6. The reply by the Secretary of War on October 24 reads: “I have your letter of 17 October 1945 concerning the continuance of the American Military Missions to the Iranian Army and the Gendarmerie, and their supply. The War Department concurs in the continuance of these Missions during the declared national emergency, in view of their desirability in the national interest of the United States. I agree that constant reassessment of their value will be necessary.

    If the active support and cooperation recently promised by the Iranians is forthcoming, it is to be expected that the Missions will be able to achieve the objectives desired.” (891.20 Missions/10–2445)