865.20/12–2747: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Dunn) to the Secretary of State

top secret

4181. In discussion with the military representative of the Italian Government concerning emergency aid to Italian armed forces and police (Department’s 2638, December 17 [18]1 and Department of Army cable 928632). While Italian Government’s answer thereto not yet received, it appears critical shortage funds and foreign exchange will operate to reduce seriously the amount of equipment and ammunition which the present Italian Government can obligate itself to pay for.

The Italian military regime has suggested that we deposit in Italy the arms, equipment and ammunition that would most urgently be needed by them, since it is felt these items must be available immediately to the Italian Government at the onset of any Communist revolutionary attempt. The Italian armed forces and police would thus be permitted to utilize and therefore pay for only those items and amounts necessary to meet such emergency and of course in event no crisis arises to avoid financial obligation by the Italian Government. While it is appreciated that the foregoing is not practical, particularly in view of the necessity of delay for congressional approval for such a program, nevertheless in the interest of insuring the outcome, consideration should be given to the depositing of critical items of small arms, ammunition, and equipment in our occupied zones in Europe readily available for rapid shipment to Italy in event of a Communist coup. It is believed that certain essential items could be so earmarked from reserves already in the United States Zones of Germany and Austria including such surpluses which may be destined for later transfer to German economy. Should shipment of certain items be required from the United States, it would appear this can be accomplished without delaying for congressional approval since it could be considered as shipment to our United States forces in Europe. I suggest that this matter be passed to the Department of Army for consideration and exploration.

The feasibility of air delivery of an appreciable portion of this emergency military aid should be explored since it can be accepted as fact that events will move rapidly in Italy should the Communists attempt a revolution here. The outcome of the early days of the fighting would be all important in order to avoid peril of initial loss of control of major portions of Northern Italy with result and possibility of encouraging Eastern European intervention.

  1. Not printed.
  2. December 22, 1947, not printed.