786A.5 MAP/7–1051

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge, Arabian Peninsula Affairs (Awalt)


Subject: Briefing Session for the United States Military Planning Group Going to Saudi Arabia July 12.

Participants: Military Planning Group (13 Army, Navy and Air Force officers)1
OSD—Major Ruth Briggs
S/ISA—Mr. John Bingham
Mr. George Emery
Col. T. W. Swett
L/EUR—Mr. Raymond Yingling
NE—Mr. G. L. Jones
Mr. R. A. Thayer
Mr. F.H. Awalt


Mr. Jones gave a comprehensive outline of American interests in Saudi Arabia and how they developed. He also reviewed events of Defense character which have lead to the formation of the mission upon which the group were departing. He advised them against being discouraged or depressed by the conditions which they would meet in Saudi Arabia. He also discussed the participation of Egyptian officers in the Saudi Arabian delegation. He pointed out that the pattern was well established in the Saudi Arabian Government of utilizing the services of foreign Arabs and that although we might prefer that outside elements should not participate in the discussions, it was a situation which would have to be accepted and they would have to talk with whatever representatives were designated. The group was also briefed on the position agreed upon between State and Defense regarding coordination of our training activities with the British training mission at Taif. The importance of speed in getting on with the job was emphasized.

Mr. Yingling discussed briefly his recent experience in negotiating the two agreements with the SAG. He emphasized how necessary was patience on our part in dealing with the Saudi Arabs. He also said that we should avoid giving the impression of colonialism. The Saudi Arabs, he said, were extremely sensitive regarding their national dignity and sovereignty and would resent any suggestion of an imperialistic attitude. He added that the King and Crown Prince Saud were very disposed toward the US but that some of the King’s advisers were not. There is [Page 1064] nothing we can do about that, he said, except to be careful that we acted in complete fairness towards Saudi Arabia.

The meeting was open for general discussion and the question was raised about what criterion should be applied to the Joint Chiefs recommendations; that is, are the dollar limitations definitive or is the list of equipment the determining factor of what should be delivered to the SAG? In reply it was observed that the valuations were of necessity indicative only since there was constant change in the cost of materials. Even the equipment, it was stated, may not necessarily be treated too strictly. It was believed that the equipment recommended by the JCS was quite generous and it was very possible that it would be found at the end of five years that the SAG would not have utilized fully its authority to purchase. On the other hand, it was suggested if it was found that the equipment was insufficient for Saudi Arabian purposes or that other equipment not recommended was more suitable, the JCS would undoubtedly wish to consider appropriate modifications.

The question of responsibility for the cost of training was raised. It was explained that this problem was not entirely settled but was under current discussion in both State and Defense and there was every reason to believe that it would be completely answered before the planning group were ready to begin substantive conversations in Saudi Arabia. It was pointed out in this connection also that the question of training costs and two other matters, US military jurisdiction over training personnel and custom exemptions, were matters which were still to be negotiated and were the responsibility of the Ambassador.

In conclusion Mr. Jones expressed his appreciation for the fine backstopping that our Embassy in Jidda as well as State Department in Washington had consistently received from all officers concerned in the Department of Defense during the recent negotiations. He said he was confident that this close cooperation would continue and he assured the planning group that they would have every assistance this Department could offer during their tour of duty in Saudi Arabia.

  1. Listed in the memorandum of July 9, supra.