Memorandum by the Acting Director of the Office of European Affairs ( Reber ) to the Acting Secretary of State
Subject: Equipment for Italian Army
The Department of the Army has reviewed the list of military supplies and equipment requested by the Italian Government (Rome’s 3957, December 7), and has divided the list into two categories: [Page 751]
- items which can be effectively employed in the immediate future;
- items which would be desirable on a longer-term basis.
Provided the State Department will state that this action is in the national interest, the Department of the Army is prepared to make available from surplus equipment in the first category without cost to the Italian Government and to procure at cost certain needed ammunition. We are in agreement with the Department of the Army that the Chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Senate and House Appropriations Committees should be informed of our intention to make this equipment available to the Italians. The Department also desires that we give them a statement to the effect that the transfer of this equipment to the Italians would be in the national interest.1
The Department of the Army has no funds for the packing and shipment of this equipment, however. Shipping charges, and the cost of the ammunition, totaling some $3,754,000, would have to be paid by the Italian Government unless a specific authorization and appropriation is obtained from Congress. While the Italian Government may have difficulty in meeting these charges, it is not believed feasible to go to Congress on the matter at present.
It is understood that the arrangements worked out by the Department of the Army were based on the President’s suggestion to Secretary Forrestal that assistance be given Italy if possible.
If you concur that the equipment should be made available to Italy, it is recommended that you inform the Congressional leaders of the intended transfer.
Subsequently, the Department will inform the Department of the Army that the transfer would be in the national interest, and the attached telegram will be sent to Ambassador Dunn authorizing him to discuss the matter with De Gasperi.2
- A marginal note reads: “Mr. Lovett saw rep of these Committees except the Appropriations people. He feels it is not nec[essary] to see them unless some compelling reason. H[arold] W. M[oseley]”.↩
- The memorandum by the Department of State for the Department of the Army, December 18, 1947, not printed, stated: “If this arrangement is acceptable to the Italian Government the Department of State is prepared to inform the Department of the Army that the transfer would be in the national interest and requesting that the Department of the Army arrange to make this equipment available to Italy.” (865.24/12–1547)↩