The Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Armour) to the Secretary of Defense (Forrestal)

top secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary: With reference to the memorandum for the National Security Council dated February 13 concerning Provision1 of United States Equipment to the Italian Armed Forces and advising of the President’s directive that the recommendations contained in the National Security Council’s memorandum for the President of February 12,2 1948 be implemented by all appropriate Executive Departments and Agencies of the Government under the coordination of the Secretary of State, there is transmitted herewith a copy of telegram no. 2349 of May 24, 1948 from the American Embassy at Rome concerning the request of the Italian Minister of Defense for assistance in the procurement of certain items required for the equipment of the Italian Navy.

[Page 801]

In its memorandum of February 12, 1948 to the President the National Security Council recommends the transfer to Italy from stocks now held or to be procured by the United States Armed Forces, subject to reimbursement to the forces concerned, of all or any portion of certain limited quantities of military equipment and supplies requested by the Italian Government and considered by the United States Secretary of Defense to be essential in order to increase in so far as practicable the potential ability of Italian security forces to maintain the internal security of Italy and to suppress anticipated attempts by subversive elements to seize power by force. It is requested, therefore, that, in accordance with established priorities the Secretary of Defense consider the request of the Italian Minister of Defense contained in the enclosed telegram in order that the Department of State can inform the Italian Government as to the possibility of facilitating procurement of the requested equipment and supplies.

Subject to the determination by the Secretary of Defense that the requested military equipment and supplies are essential for the maintenance of the internal security of Italy, the Department of State recommends, in so far as practicable, favorable consideration of this request of the Italian Government.3

Sincerely yours,

Norman Armour
  1. See footnote 3, p. 770.
  2. Ante, p. 769.
  3. In an interim reply of June 2, not printed, Secretary Forrestal stated that he was taking steps to determine the availability of this equipment, and asked for an explanation of “established priorities.” (865.24/6–248)

    In a letter of June 26, not printed, Mr. Armour referred to the Department’s letter of February 17 regarding SANACC 390/1 which “recommended that a secondary priority should be accorded the Italian military equipment program with respect to the Greek-Turkish program.” Mr. Armour noted that this Italian request was supplementary to the equipment program formulated in February. He further referred to paragraph 9, a, (3) of NSC 1/2. (865.24/6–248).

    In a letter of August 6, 1948, not printed, Secretary Forrestal stated that he had now received the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and of the Secretary of the Navy; that the “Joint Chiefs have determined that provision of the military equipment requested by the Italian government would be useful and desirable but not essential for the protection of the internal security of Italy. In their view, the situation in Italy has improved since approval by the President on 13 February 1948 of the recommendations of the National Security Council and they consider that, short of an emergency which is not now evident, the matter of further military assistance to Italy should now be considered and determined in connection with the over-all foreign military assistance policy which is currently being developed.” (865.24/8–648)