Memorandum of Conversation, by the Politico-Military Adviser, Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian and African Affairs (Robertson)

top secret

Subject: General Collins’ Visit to Greece, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Participants: General J. Lawton Collins, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
Lt. Gen. Alfred M. Gruenther, Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
Mr. George C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary for NEA
Mr. David A. Robertson, NEA

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Mr. McGhee called on General Collins at the Pentagon on Monday, April 10, 1950 at 3 p.m. to discuss the General’s recent trip to Greece,1 Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Mr. McGhee opened the discussion by observing that the reports we had received on General Collins’ visit to the various capitals indicated the warmth with which General Collins had been greeted and the fine impression he had made on foreign government officials he had seen.

General Collins stated that he was delighted to find, wherever he went, the friendliness and warmth with which Americans were greeted, diplomats, military men and private individuals alike. He then proceeded to review the highlights of his visits, country by country.

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As a result of discussions in Greece it had been decided that General Van Fleet2 would be transferred at an early date and placed in command of one of the armies in the United States. General Van Fleet would be replaced by General Jenkins,3 his present Deputy. Mr. McGhee agreed that it was timely for the transfer of General Van Fleet. He pointed out that while General Van Fleet had done an excellent job his services as a top notch strategist were no longer required and his talents were being wasted in Greece where the guerrilla warfare had been brought to a successful conclusion. The appointment of General Jenkins as General Van Fleet’s successor, having a lesser rank, would help us in our efforts to deflate the Greek thinking in terms of their own importance.

General Collins indicated that in his opinion the United States Military Mission (perhaps this applies only to the army mission) should be reduced to 40 by the end of 1950. Also he saw no reason why the Greek armed forces should not be reduced to the 93,500 level recently agreed on by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Collins further pointed out that we should pull our military missions out of Greece, Turkey and Iran as soon as they have completed their assignments as, according to present estimates, we will have no forces to commit to these countries in the event of hostilities and it may be a source of embarrassment to us to leave our missions in these countries. He indicated that according to our plans we would leave the defense of this area to the U.K. and whatever forces it may be in a position to commit in support of these countries.

General Collins agreed with Mr. McGhee that it was most unfortunate we had not been able to commit in the first 8½ months some $95 million appropriated for Greece. When General Collins indicated he understood that the delays were due to difficulties with the Bureau of the Budget, Mr. McGhee stated that he had been informed in discussions with Mr. Ohly4 that considerable delay had been occasioned by the inability of State to get lists of equipment from Defense on the basis of which funds could be requested. General Collins asked General Gruenther to look into this situation promptly and see what could be done.

General Collins indicated that he was very much impressed with the integrity and ability of General Papagos in his discussions with the [Page 364] latter as well as with the charm, beauty and modesty of Queen Frederika.5

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  1. March 24–26.
  2. Lt. Gen. James A. Van Fleet, Chief of the Joint United States Military Aid Group to Greece.
  3. Maj. Gen. Reuben E. Jenkins, Deputy Chief of the Joint United States Military Aid Group to Greece.
  4. John H. Ohly, Deputy Director of Mutual Defense Assistance.
  5. Queen of the Hellenes.