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312. Telegram From the Chief of the U.S. Military Mission in Iran (McClure) to the Chief of Staff, United States Army (Ridgway)1

S 748A. Had a conference with His Majesty lasting 1 hour and 15 mins. Conf was entirely in English with no rpt no interpreter nec. His first and most important problem was the morale of the armed forces. Something must be done immediately to provide min housing rqmts for jr officers and noncommissioned officers many of whom at present living in squalor. He accepted as an interim organization the one which our mil had programmed and is now prepared to support—12 Inf Brigades and 3 Armored Brigades and appropriate supporting trps. He desires a highly proficient and tech trained small army with considerable mobility which could be backed, in time of war, by large numbers of tribesmen armed as Inf and trained to fight defensively until over run and then resort to guerilla tactics. To this end he required strategically located bases to support a retirement from his northern frontier to a final defensive line. While accepting the reorganization plan as an interim measure, he is not rpt not satisfied with the equip we are providing. He stated that the tank battalions are equipped with tank destroyers instead of tanks. These tank destroyers should ultimately be transferred to Inf Brigades. He believes the heaviest tank which the Russians would attempt to use on this country is the modified T–34 and that his 3 Armored Brigades must be equipped with US tanks which [Page 745]will compete on favorable terms with this Russian tank. To this end he asked for consideration of furn 3 battalions of Patton tanks. He stated that each of the 5 corps required an Anti-Acft Battalion to protect ground trps from straffing and bombing attacks, as well as to prevent paratroops from dropping on airfields beyond our line. He asked for 3 additional AA Battalions. He also stated that airfields in the Teheran–Tabriz areas would be non-usable thru immediate bombardment or by seizure with paratroops. He wants these fields heavily mined and prepared for destruction as well as the mining of critical passes thru the Eiburz mountains. Recognizing the lack of adequate airfields in the southern part of the country he rqsts consideration of steel matting for air strips. He visualizes the mission of the Air Force as being one of close support to ground trps only. He does not rpt not feel the F–47 is effective enough to justify its continuance. He accepted the T–6 as an interim vehicle and recognizes that it is much too early to ask for jet acft. However he believes that specially selected Iran officers should be sent to the US for a period of 2 years to become proficient in jet acft and form the nucleus of an instructor group in Iran. He was very disappointed to learn that the 155 Howitzers had been removed from the program. He recognized that he had no rpt no authority over Gen Staff at the time that was agreed upon. He was emphatic that the minimum rqmt for the type force which Iran must have would require 5 battalions—1 for each corps. He said an opponent having 155’s would put his ground forces with 105’s at such disadvantage they would not rpt not stand even in mountain passes. He also commented on the fact that there was no rpt no bridge equip other than for tng purposes prov in the program. While admitting there were apparently few rivers of any size in this country he said that in certain seasons of the year his Armored Div should have aval 200 meters of Bailey Bridge. He stated that he would direct the Gen Staff to proceed at once with the reorganization. In his parting remarks said he hoped we would have frequent meetings to discuss mil matters and planned an early one to go over his strategic plans in the event our northern neighbor moved south. In summary his Imperial Majesty is concerned primarily with (A) Morale (B) The provision of 3 Tank Battalions capable of stopping the improved T–34 (C) The addition of 3 Anti-Acft Battalions (D) The provision of 5 Battalions of 155 Howitzers (E) Provision of bridge equip (F) Early tng of jet pilots. The Shah was confident positive and intense during the conference and left no rpt no doubt in my mind that he expects to assume leadership over the Armed Forces.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO Files, Job 79–01228A, Box 11, Folder 14, Iran 1951–1953. Confidential; Security Information.