Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and African Affairs (McGhee) to the Coordinator for Foreign Military Assistance Programs (Berkner)1


Subject: Military Assistance for NEA countries

The revision of MAP legislation eliminating the provision which authorized the extension of military procurement assistance on a reimbursable basis to other than Title I, II and III countries2 and those [Page 46]countries with which we have collective defense and regional arrangements, comes as a serious blow to our relations with certain NEA countries, particularly India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

With reference to the SOA countries, all recent policy studies have clearly recognized the importance of giving favorable consideration to requests for military assistance as a means of achieving our national political objectives with respect to these countries. SANACC 360/143 states explicitly that the political, economic and strategic importance of the emerging SOA countries to the US national interests require the maintenance of internal security within these countries and their freedom from Communist domination, and that at the minimum we should endeavor to meet the legitimate requirements of spare parts and replacements for military equipment of US origin which they already possess.

As you know, both India and Pakistan have attempted to meet their security requirements by utilizing matériel of US origin which was acquired under Lend-Lease or from US surplus property disposals. Much of their armor and many other items were so acquired. Therefore they are necessarily dependent upon the US for maintenance spare parts and replacements for this equipment. Since the informal embargo on the export of military matériel to India and Pakistan was removed last March, both countries have sent high level military missions to the US to seek an assured source of future military supplies in this country. In seeking these supplies they have made clear their desire to associate themselves closely with us in matters pertaining to long-range military planning. The advantages to us of such an association are obvious. In response to their approaches we have told them that we were sympathetic to their needs and desired to be helpful.

For over two years—since the withdrawal of the British from India—the Afghan Government has been seeking from us the means of internal defense. The Afghan Government has even suggested that in return for military aid it might abandon its traditional neutrality and openly pronounce Afghanistan’s association with the Western powers.…

In view of these and other considerations, our failure to extend some form of procurement assistance or token aid at this time would very seriously jeopardize our efforts over the past two years to orient these countries to the West and away from Communism.

In the case of Saudi Arabia, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have expressed an interest in the maintenance and expansion of U.S. facilities at the Dhahran air base. For the last two years King Ibn Saud has [Page 47]been asking for military equipment in sizeable quantities and has assured us that such equipment would be used only for internal security and for protection against aggression. While our rights to use the Dhahran air base have been temporarily extended for one year, there is no doubt that the King will only consider any long-term extension in return for military assistance. A survey party of U.S. military officers is proceeding to Dhahran for the purpose of estimating our requirements in connection with a long-term extension of the Dhahran air base agreement and to make a survey of Saudi Arabian defense needs. When this party makes its recommendations we will be faced with the problem of what military assistance can be extended in return for long-term rights, and unless there is legislative authority, we may find ourselves unable to secure an extension of our rights at this important base.

In these circumstances I strongly urge that every effort be made to amend the present legislation for the purpose of authorizing the extension of reimbursable aid to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. I wish to strongly emphasize the deterioration in our relations with these countries as well as the possible loss of strategic objectives that may result should we not be in a position to provide military procurement assistance for supplying reasonable quantities of military equipment to these countries.

  1. In his position as Coordinator, Lloyd V. Berkner served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of State.
  2. This reference is to various Titles of the legislation that became known as the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949 on its enactment on October 6, 1949. As enacted, Title i covered the North Atlantic Treaty countries; Title ii, Greece and Turkey; and Title iii, Iran, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, and China.
  3. Dated April 19, p. 8.