865.20/12–2747: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Italy

top secret

Niact 63. General problem equipment Ital armed forces, including provision urgent requirements security forces under urgent consideration SANACC sub-committee1 (urtel 4181 Dec. 27) which has now concluded no possibility under existing authority transfer significant quantities without reimbursement cost and handling charges. Have considered fully possibility supply from surplus, under loan, or shipment to US occupied area of Italy for handover in event anticipated emergency and have determined no authority exists. Dept agrees your view request specific Congressional authorization on lines Greek-Turkish program precluded at present by Ital internal political considerations and further believes necessary authorization for Ital program or general authorization could not possibly be approved in time meet present problem.

Defense Depts have prepared comprehensive list equipment available and required on basis Ital request (your MA tel MAR 345 Dec 7)2 and Bathurst report (urtel 3185 Oct 10),3 including equipment Deptel 2638 Dec 17,2 which can be provided Itals promptly upon agreement reimbursement cost and handling charges approximately sixteen million dollars.

You shd explain De Gasperi legal obstacles which prevent furnishing needed supplies without charge despite our sincere desire assist Ital Govt’s efforts increase capabilities Ital armed forces maintain public order. Decision as to amt of above mentioned eqpt which is immediately essential is one for Ital Govt itself.

If they consider eqpt essential and agree payment, Army Dept can arrange early shipment equipment Deptel 2638 and will furnish details [Page 757] additional equipment available under sixteen million dollar program.

For planning purposes here require your earliest comments.4

  1. See infra.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. iii, p. 989.
  4. Not printed.
  5. In telegram 187, January 15, 1948, not printed, Dunn reported he had conveyed the substance of the instruction to De Gasperi who felt he needed more information about the equipment included in the program, and hoped that payments might be effected on a deferred basis (865.24/1–1548). In a further telegram, 261 of January 20, not printed, Dunn reported that De Gasperi wished more details regarding terms for payment; that the Military Attaché had not yet received details of the $16 million program. Dunn explained that De Gasperi “is fully aware that political situation here will render the Prime Minister who will bear full responsibility subject to strongest kind of attack from the left incident to any expenditures of foreign exchange for the equipment envisaged. The nature of the terms which US Government can offer has consequently a tremendous bearing on feasibility of his accepting the aid which he has requested.” (865.24/1–2048)