865.20/5–2846: Telegram

The Deputy United States Political Adviser, Allied Force Headquarters (Byington), to the Secretary of State

secret

541. Reference my 500 of May 8.52 War Dept in W–88516, May 17,52 requested ComGenMed’s views concerning Naf 1135 of May 753 and stated that State Dept was concerned over political implications connected with standardization of equipment from British sources for Italian Army. Please see D–66789 of May 2754 in which ComGenMed outlines his reasons for concurring in SAC’s recommendations.

US military authorities here have always been under impression that policy of War Dept was that military commitment in Italy should be closed out as rapidly as possible and their action up to date has been based on this premise. When consulted here, I pointed out that Dept had never expressed this view which had been so forcefully presented by General McNarney55 and mentioned interest which Dept had shown in furnishing of assistance to the Italian Govt in rehabilitating its forces for internal order and provision of help towards limited rehabilitation of Italian air force in case of transfer of P–38’s (Dept’s 841 of September 2152).

Policy of Italian Govt has been to turn over to civilian economy all equipment acquired through OFLC. There is considerable concern here over equipment of Italian Army. Military authorities consider it highly desirable that Italian Army get equipment and supplies as a matter of urgency prior to withdrawal of US and British troops. This was basis for Naf 1135 which would provide method of permitting direct transfer of British equipment to Italian Army. US military authorities state there are insufficient US supplies of either military or civilian type items in theater to furnish necessary equipment from US side. While it is obviously desirable that US should participate in any such program, it would seem at least equally urgent that some progress be achieved toward putting Italian Army on a [Page 918]reasonably efficient and independent basis. ComGenMed suggests US equipment for Italian air force which would appear excellent opportunity for US participation.

Sent Dept 541, repeated Rome 409.

Byington
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed; in this telegram SAC reported to the CCS that since control of the Italian Army was passed back to the Italian Government on November 15, 1945, there had been a marked deterioration in the efficiency of the Italian Army, chiefly because of lack of equipment and spare parts; and that the policy had been to equip the Carabinieri from indigenous resources and the remainder of the Italian Army with British weapons and equipment other than vehicles (865.20/7–1146).
  4. Not identifiable.
  5. Gen. Joseph T. McNarney, Commander of the U.S. forces in Europe since November 1945.
  6. Not printed.