Memorandum by the Secretary of Defense ( Forrestal ) to the Secretary of State

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Subject: Italian Requirements for U.S. Military Supplies and Equipment for Use in Controlling Internal Disorders

This will summarize information presented to me by the Department of the Army concerning Italian requirements for U.S. military supplies and equipment for use in controlling internal disorders.
As indicated in Ambassador Dunn’s radio 3957 of 7 December 1947 (a copy of which has been furnished me as CM–IN 1474 of 9 December 1947) a list of items stated to be urgently required by the Italians has been received by the Department of the Army. It is the Army view that the list includes items of two types: (1) those which can be effectively employed in the immediate future (i.e., within the period of currently anticipated emergency), such as small arms and ammunition therefor and armored vehicles; and (2) those which might be desirable on a longer term basis. It is believed that immediate consideration should be given only to the former type, reserving the latter for more deliberate appraisal.
Analysis of the quantities requested indicates, on the basis of [Page 744] information available to the Department of the Army, that in some instances the request is excessive and should be reduced. However, it is considered that the quantities and items, when thus reduced, will represent a proper requirement for material essential to the maintenance of internal order in Italy. While there can be no assurance that the provision of these items will insure the attainment of the desired end, it is nevertheless considered that this assistance will considerably improve the ability of the Italian Forces to control the situation and to contribute to the stability of the Italian Government. In this connection, the President has recently expressed to me his concern over the present situation and his desire to assist in any way practicable the efforts of the Italian Government to maintain order during the present crisis.
There are four points which should be considered in connection with any proposal to transfer U.S. Army equipment or supplies to Italy. First, it must be recognized that property of the United States may not be sold or otherwise disposed of without the authority of Congress and that the only present authority under which transfer of U.S. Army supplies and equipment to Italy may legally be accomplished is the Surplus Property Act.1 Since most of the items involved are not surplus to U.S. Army requirements, it appears that Congressional authorization will be required for the transfer of these items. Second, the Department of the Army has no funds available at this time to replenish stocks which might be authorized for shipment to Italy, or to drefray the cost of packing and shipping; and it will therefore be necessary to secure funds for these purposes from other sources. Third, the magnitude of the proposed undertaking is such that it can not be accomplished within the personnel ceilings now fixed for the Department of the Army by Congress (the “Byrd Law”2); and so her also Congressional authorization for exception will be required. Finally, it should be noted that in order to insure the effectiveness of the assistance provided, some method must be found to establish an adequate number of U.S. representatives in Italy in order to control shipments and to insure the proper delivery of the equipment provided.
The Department of the Army will furnish separately, at an early date, full information as to (1) availability of the items considered necessary at this time for the Italian forces, (2) costs involved, and (3) estimated time required for shipment.3
  1. Surplus Property Act of October 3, 1944; 58 Stat. 765, as amended.
  2. Section 14 of Public Law 390 of the 79th Congress set a limit on civilian employees in the War Department at 176,000 by July 1, 1947; 60 Stat. 220 (which amended Section 607 of the Federal Employees Pay Act of 1945).
  3. See p. 749.