McGhee Files: Lot 53 D 468: “Turkey 1948—Memoranda”

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (McGhee) to the Acting Deputy Director for International Security Affairs (Ohly)1


Subject: U.S. Support of Proposed Increase in Budget of Turkish Ministry of National Defense.

A recent telegram received from Ambassador Wadsworth with respect to the Turkish state budget for the fiscal year beginning March 1, 1951 indicates that the Turkish Government is seeking an appropriation [Page 1116] of TL 470 million for the Ministry of National Defense, as contrasted to TL 558 million which has been recommended by the Turkish General Staff and the U.S. Joint Military Mission. It is prepared to include this additional TL 88 million (approximately $31,500,000) in the budget only if the funds are provided by the U.S. The Ambassador has stated that he believes that the U.S. should meet this figure in toto “effectively to prepare Turkey to resist possible aggression within the year”.2

The TL 88 million will make possible an increase in the Turkish Armed Forces from 260,000 men and 24,000 officers to 300,000 men and 24,000 officers, which is considered the minimum force for 1951. It will also provide slightly improved support for this force.

Turkey is faced with a serious budgetary problem for the coming fiscal year. At present, the uncovered deficit is estimated at TL 491 million, assuming that the national defense budget is increased by TL 88 million, and the Turks are looking to the U.S. not only to meet this latter amount; as indicated above, but to help meet a much larger portion of this deficit. Heavy defense expenditures, a hard core investment program, and extraordinary expenditures arising from the resettlement of the Turkish refugees from Bulgaria have been contributing factors in this deficit.

For over 10 years Turkey has been devoting between 30 and 50% of its budget expenditures to national defense, carrying a heavier burden than perhaps any other country to which we have been extending aid. It has proved itself to be one of our staunchest allies, on the battlefield as well as in the UN. If, by an expenditure of some $30 million, we can help Turkey build up still further its military strength, I strongly recommend that every effort be made to find the means to provide this additional assistance, as it seems clear that the Turkish Government, despite its realization that the national defense budget should be increased, considers that it is not in a position to authorize such an increase unless the U.S. is prepared to finance it. I am of the opinion that $30 million spent for this purpose in Turkey will buy more security for the U.S. than $30 million spent either in this country or elsewhere.

I therefore urge the FMACC to take early and favorable action on this problem. If this assistance is to be extended, it is desirable that the Turkish Government be informed as soon as possible so that the necessary adjustments can be made in its budget bill which must be acted on by the Turkish National Assembly before March 1, 1951, and so that the proposed increase in the Turkish Armed Forces can be carried out with a minimum of delay.

  1. Drafted by Moore, GTI.
  2. Presumably the reference is to telegram 441 from Ankara, January 21, which is not printed (782.5 MAP/1–2151).