776.5/11–2851: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Liberia 1


160. For Amb Dudley’s eyes only. After three weeks feverish effort obtain priority for Lib request mil supplies,2 Amb King today notified [Page 1310] Dept Pres Tubman cancelling order because supplies cld not arrive well before inauguration date. Although shipment has been delayed beyond orig hoped-for shipping date, Lib has received quicker action its request than any other nation requesting mil aid except Canada. There is still strong possibility most items requested cld reach Lib Dec 29–30, which still allows brief training time before later inauguration ceremonies. However, since delivery dependent on several branches of Defense you will appreciate Dept can not give absolute guarantee deadline will be met, but will make every effort do so. This may be disappointing but in view world-wide demand arms in areas more immed threatened, it is better than cld be expected. By suddenly cancelling order and belying all statements made to mil in effort expedite shipment these supplies, Lib seriously damaging strength any future demands mil assistance. This not effort force Lib take any supplies not actually needed. If, however, need for them that which has been presented here by Col. Contee and others, refusal accept supplies on which priority delivery now promised is extremely ill-advised.

FYI this matter handled in poorest possible manner by Contee who did not contact Dept re necessary authorizations until five weeks after his arrival US. Within one week his contacting Dept, Lib declared eligible receive reimbursable aid. In two weeks mil had approved Lib request and procurement begun. Had Contee contacted Dept earlier, shipment cld have been made in time. Present problem is complete negation all Dept’s insistence urgency Lib request by Tubman’s cancellation.

Emb shld make strongest possible approach Tubman re reconsideration cancellation, which Amb King recommending in tel to his govt.3

Emb shld make clear LibGovt fol items not available under any conditions before fiscal 1953: carbines, carbine ammunition, weapons carriers.

  1. This telegram was drafted by Farmer (NEA/AF) and Bourgerie (EUR/AF) signed for the Secretary of State.
  2. In telegram 234, May 5, from Monrovia, Ambassador Dudley reported that President Tubman had instructed the Liberian Embassy in Washington to approach the Department of State for assistance in purchasing small arms for the Liberian Frontier Force. The arms were needed for security and in order to have troops fully armed in time for the Liberian Presidential inauguration in January 1952. Dudley observed that a major portion of the Liberian frontier force currently used wooden guns on parade. (776.5614/5–551) Telegram 204, June 15, to Monrovia, replied that Liberia was not eligible to receive military assistance under the Mutual Defense Assistance Act and the Department was reluctant to take any steps until the United States Military Training Mission for Liberia had reported. (776.5614/5–1551) In October 1951, Lt. Col. Raymond Contee, senior member of the Military Training Mission, was asked by President Tubman to go to the United States to purchase certain small arms and equipment for the Liberian Frontier Force in advance of the Presidential inauguration. (Letter from Ambassador King to Secretary of State Acheson, November 1, 1951: 776.56/11–151) In an exchange of notes on November 16 and 19 in Washington, the Liberian Government agreed to the assurances and undertakings required under the provisions of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act, as Amended. For texts of the notes, see 3 UST (pt. 2) 2805; TIAS No. 2450; 167 UNTS 141.
  3. In his telegram 212, December 3, from Monrovia, Ambassador Dudley reported that President Tubman had advised Liberian Ambassador King in Washington to disregard the cancellation of the Liberian military order. Tubman explained that he acted previously because of his impression that the order probably would not be approved. (776.5/12–351)