Report by the Head of the Mission to Ethiopia (Bolté) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Subject: Report of Activities on Visit to Ethiopia

1. On 11 June, I departed from Paris for Addis Ababa in accordance with the wishes of the President of the United States (Tab A).1 As his personal representative, I had the following mission as outlined in the Letter of Instructions:2

“In order to forestall this renewed plea (for military equipment) by the Emperor in a manner which will not embarrass him vis-à-vis his domestic critics, I recommend that Lieutenant General Charles Lawrence Bolte, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, United States Army, be sent to Addis Ababa, as your personal representative, to: (1) explain to the Emperor why the United States cannot provide Ethiopia with military equipment; (2) encourage the Emperor to avoid large disbursements for military purposes of funds needed for economic development; (3) assure the Emperor, if the question is raised, that the United States takes seriously its obligations under the UN Charter to support the United Nations in effective collective measures for the suppression of acts of aggression; and (4) explain, if the question is raised, why the United States would be unable to send a military mission to Ethiopia. The Secretary of Defense concurs in this recommendation. Attached is a draft of a personal letter from you to the Emperor which General Bolte could deliver.”

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2. I arrived in Addis Ababa at noon 12 June together with my party. We were met at the Airport by the American Ambassador and Ethiopian dignitaries. The Guard of Honor, a Company from the Ethiopian 1st Division, presented a well-drilled and well-turned out appearance. On the afternoon of the 12th, I conferred with the Ambassador for orientation and on questions of protocol.

3. On the morning of 13 June, the Emperor received me and members of my party. I presented him with a letter from the President (Tab A) and the Legion of Merit, Degree of Chief Commander (Tab B).3 I also presented him with a sporting rifle from the President, with a suitably inscribed plate, and a pair of binoculars from the U.S. Government, similarly inscribed, an album containing photographs of the Ethiopian troops in Korea, and a set of Korean maps. The Emperor expressed himself as highly pleased and grateful for these expressions of the United States’ regard for him. Following this, the Emperor and I had a private conversation in which he outlined Ethiopia’s present status and need for military aid (Tab C).3 The Emperor realized that the question of aid was largely one of priorities and urged a practical solution to this problem. On the afternoon of the 13th, I met with the Minister of War and other Cabinet Members. The Minister of War outlined Ethiopia’s status, paralleling his Majesty’s conversation, and asked for equipment for two Motorized Divisions (Tab D),3 and for about two groups of aircraft (Tab E).4 I replied to the effect that I would submit such requests to the appropriate U.S. authorities, and assured the Minister of War of a sympathetic understanding of their problems. I pointed out, however, that the Korean situation has produced a tremendous drain on our resources which, contrary to popular belief, were not unlimited. At this time, I stressed the fact that the effort in Korea or anywhere else was a joint one and not a U.S. venture.

4. On the morning of 14 June, I visited the Ethiopian Air Force Station at Bishoftu. A demonstration there included landings and take-off by primary students, and dive-bombing and formation flying by advanced students. I was taken on a tour of the field by officers of the Swedish Mission and visited cadet classes in engineering and communications. I was also shown supply and maintenance installations. On the whole, I thought the entire program was extremely progressive, sensible and modest, and within the economy of the country.

5. On the morning of 15 June, I again met with the Minister of War. I again stressed the question of priorities and outlined the order in which I thought Ethiopia should meet this problem, i.e., first, the [Page 1264]equipping and maintaining of their troops in Korea; secondly, development of forces to maintain internal security; thirdly, the development of communications; and finally, purely military forces. I further outlined world-wide priorities, pointing out that the United States considered Korea a first priority with Western Europe, Far East and Southeast Asia, Middle East and Western Hemisphere following in that order. I commented on the air force training and suggested that the approach to that problem was on a practical basis. I assured the Ethiopian representatives that their problem would receive thorough consideration in Washignton. I also assured them that any aggression against Ethiopia would be considered gravely by the United States.

6. On the afternoon of the 15th, I had a final audience with the Emperor. At this time, he gave me a letter to the President from him (Tab F).5 I received a decoration in the form of a Grand Cordon of the Order of the Most Blessed Trinity with Plaque. The three military members of my party received the Order of the Star of Ethiopia, Degree of Commander, and the State Department representative, a commemorative medallion. At a luncheon at the British Embassy, I explained my visit to the British Ambassador and assured him the United States has no desire to establish a military mission or, in any other way, “move in” to Ethiopia. On the evening of the 15th, I was a guest of the American Ambassador at a dinner at the Embassy. At this time, he expressed extreme satisfaction with the results of my visit. It was my impression that the mission was successful. From a somewhat reserved attitude, the Ethiopians appeared to thaw steadily and, on our departure, gave us a very warm send-off. In a cable, dated 22 June, the Ambassador noted that an Ethiopian communiqué had been issued after my departure which ended with the statement that the discussions demonstrated solidarity and community of views shared by both Governments and that I had taken with me the best wishes of the Ethiopian people for success of the great undertaking of the United Nations in which the United States had such an important role. The Ambassador commented that this alone signified the success of the mission (Tab G).6

7. Prior to departure, Mr. Spencer, the American Advisor to the Emperor, assured me informally that the Government of Ethiopia would welcome a continuance of the US Army Radio Station at Asmara, Eritrea, when the two countries were federated.

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8. As a result of my visit, I recommend the following in relative order of priority:

A training program in Ethiopia for the training of replacements for the Ethiopian contingent in Korea. This program would necessarily include the use of American equipment.
An assurance to Ethiopia of US protection of our Radio Station at Asmara.
US Assistance for the development of the Ports of Massawa and Assab.
Modest assistance for Ethiopia’s Armed Forces in the form of reimbursable aid.

Charles L. Bolté

Lt. General, GSG
Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans
  1. Letter from the President, dated May 17, p. 1257.
  2. Supra.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Not found attached to copy in Department of State files.
  7. Not found attached to copy in Department of State files.
  8. Not found attached to copy in Department of State files, but in telegram 346 from Addis Ababa, June 16, Ambassador Childs advised the Department that the visit of the Bolté party had measured up to his fullest expectations. He reported also that the Bolté party had left Addis Ababa on June 16 and, after a short stop at Asmara, was expected to arrive in Cairo that night, and leave Cairo on June 18 to return to Washington. (711.551/6–1651)