711.56373/10–3051: Telegram

The Consul General at Tripoli (Lynch) to the Department of State

top secret

170. Commanding Officer Wheelus Field has informed me that some 2000 USAF troops are expected to arrive in Tripoli over one month period beginning early December, by sea rather than by air and spread over considerably longer period than ConGen had been led to expect.

Their arrival will coincide almost exactly with achievement of Libyan independence and will undoubtedly cause serious local polit repercussions. US now undergoing serious propaganda attacks in local antigovt Arabic press. We are being accused of being new imperialists who plan to take over all of Libya. This move will also be used attack present govt which is very friendly to us and which will be exposed to elections soon after independence. Opposition to govt is strong and antiforeign line popular one. Also UNGA will be in session and will be considering Libyan question probably Dec or early Jan. This troop movement, which will be quite impossible conceal (all roads from port lead through crowded sections Tripoli), seems to be singularly unfortunate from political point of view, particularly at this time. It seems play into hands Soviet bloc and Arab League in GA and might be polit disastrous our friends here. It might also adversely affect chances ratification Libyan American defense agreement now under negotiation which will come before Parliament early 1952.

Plan shld I believe be given urgent further thought in light of above polit considerations.1

  1. Telegram 2287, from London, November 10, advised the Department of State that the British Foreign Office had expressed grave concern that morning over the fact that 2,000 American troops were expected to begin arriving at Wheelus Field in early December. The Foreign Office indicated that the United Kingdom, as the power still responsible for Libya’s defense, would be unable to sanction such a move at that time, and considered it absolutely necessary to wait at least until Libya was independent. The Embassy agreed it seemed unwise to enlarge U.S. forces in Libya to such an extent at that particular time. (711.56373/11–1051)

    Telegram 2476, from Washington to London, repeated to Tripoli, November 13, reported that the bulk of the 2,700 troops of the 580th ARC Wing would not be in Libya until late December or early January; and the view of the Departments of State and Defense was that the arrivals should be staggered so that they would not have an adverse effect on the political situation in Libya if the Consul General in Tripoli was able to obtain the concurrence of the appropriate authorities. (711.56373/11–1351)

    A letter from the Acting Secretary of Defense advised the Secretary of State on December 13, however, that “in view of the present tense political situation in Libya, the scheduled deployment of the 580th Air Resupply and Communications Wing of the United States Air Force to that area has been postponed,” and personnel of its advance echelon were being returned to the Zone of Interior. Defense asked to be informed when the political situation in Libya would permit the movement of the wing, as its early deployment remained a military requirement of high priority. (711.56373/12–1351)