780.5/8–2653

No. 148
The Acting Secretary of Defense (Kyes) to the Secretary of State

secret

Dear Mr. Secretary: This is in reply to your letter of 26 June 19531 concerning planning for the defense of the Middle East in which you requested Defense Department views as to what form of Middle East planning arrangements we should now seek to establish under existing circumstances.

Your letter pointed out that, whereas the policy of the United States Government has been to proceed with planning arrangements on the assumption that Arab cooperation would be won and a Middle East Defense Organization established at a later date, the Department of State is now convinced of the improbability of effecting [Page 410]Middle East defense arrangements, which would include the Arab States, until there has been a significant political improvement in the region.

There is enclosed for your information a copy of a memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff dated 11 August 1953 which states, in substance, that planning for the defense of the Middle East is continuing both within the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and that such planning arrangements are acceptable for the immediate future. The Department of Defense concurs in these views.

Sincerely yours,

Roger M. Kyes

[Attachment]

Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (Wilson)

secret

Subject:

  • Defense Arrangements for the Middle East.
1.
As requested in your memorandum dated 15 July 1953,2 subject as above, the Joint Chiefs of Staff submit herewith their comments and recommendations with respect to the letter from the Secretary of State, dated 26 June 1953,3 concerning defense arrangements for the Middle East.
2.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff continue to hold the view that allied planning for the defense of the Middle East should proceed regardless of whether a Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO) with Arab states participating is brought to fruition. However, since this view was last confirmed in our memorandum for the Secretary of Defense dated 29 July 1952,4 subject: “Middle East Defense Organization,” the trend of events in the Middle East has caused the Joint Chiefs of Staff to modify their views as to the arrangement under which such planning could best be accomplished, taking into account political as well as military factors.
3.
Specific reference is had to the stalemate in the U.K. Egypt negotiations concerning the Suez base issue and the effect of that situation on the Egyptian attitude toward MEDO, the lack of progress toward a settlement of the Arab–Israeli problem, and the [Page 411]absence of any encouraging results from the exploratory approaches made to individual Arab states other than Egypt. Additionally, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have taken cognizance of the current view of the Department of State that it would not now be desirable openly to establish an exclusively Western planning arrangement for Middle East defense in the face of Arab opposition, as expressed in the Department of State letter to which these comments are addressed.
4.
Recognizing the changed conditions in the Middle East, and that “The United States should… Develop secretly plans for the defense of the area with the United Kingdom, Turkey, and such others as may be desirable” (Subparagraph 16a, page 8, of NSC 155/1),5 studies looking to informal and unpublicized planning with respect to the Middle East have been in progress for some time. These studies have taken two forms: discussions through NATO by subordinate commanders of Commander in Chief, Allied Forces, Southern Europe and through U.S. commanders in the area with representatives of the United Kingdom, Turkey, and other interested powers; and unilateral U.S. planning studies in anticipation of possible integration of U.S. plans with those of the United Kingdom, Turkey, and others, as deemed desirable. At the present time these efforts are not sufficiently far advanced to enable the Joint Chiefs of Staff either to indicate the extent to which our plans should be integrated with those of the United Kingdom, Turkey, and possibly others, or to make recommendations concerning the appropriate channels for such integration of plans. Nevertheless, in order to indicate the status of present efforts with respect to planning concerning the Middle East, the following are noted:
a.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are now engaged in exploratory studies relating to various aspects of Middle East defense. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have previously advised the British Chiefs of Staff that, when these studies are sufficiently developed, they will be approached in regard to conducting U.S.-U.K. planning studies both on the overall defense of the Middle East as well as the defense of such limited areas as may be necessary to permit continued exploitation of petroleum of one oil complex determined to be the most economically defensible in terms of force requirements.
b.
As indicated in the penultimate paragraph of the Department of State letter dated 26 June, informal and unpublicized studies in furtherance of planning for the defense of the Middle East area have in fact been initiated in NATO through a series of conferences under the aegis of the Commander in Chief, Allied Forces, Southern Europe. In the latest of these conferences representatives of the Commander, Allied Land Forces, Southeastern Europe; the [Page 412]Commander in Chief, Middle East Land Forces (British), and the Turkish General Staff met at Izmir, Turkey, from 18 to 23 May 1953.6 Further conferences in this series, including one with representatives of the Commander, Allied Air Forces, Southern Europe; the Commander in Chief, Middle East Air Forces, and the Turkish General Staff, are planned. The objective of these meetings is to provide the participating commands with information necessary to initiate preparation of detailed coordinated plans for the defense of Eastern and Southeastern Turkey and the Middle East.
c.
In an effort to avoid conflicts in planning for the use of Middle East facilities during the last two years U.S. military representatives have coordinated operating requirements in the North Africa–Middle East area with the British, and to some degree with the French. As a result of your memorandum of 8 June 1953, subject: “British, French, and American Military Operating Requirements in the Middle East and Mediterranean Areas,”6 the Joint Chiefs of Staff have approved U.S. requirements, and authority has been granted to hold further coordinating conferences with both the British and the French. Further conferences with representatives of these countries are being scheduled.
5.
From a military point of view, the need for a MEDO in which all of the Arab states of the Middle East willingly participate has in no way diminished. Defense planning for the Middle East cannot be fully effective until there can be formulated a single combined plan for the employment of all indigenous forces in conjunction with forces contributed by the Western powers for defense of that strategically important area. However, as an interim measure pending the consummation of a MEDO or other suitable structure within which the equipping, training, and employment of all Middle East defense forces may be fully integrated, and having regard for the political factors involved, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that the present arrangements for Middle East Defense Planning are acceptable for the immediate future and are the most suitable that are feasible of achievement at this time.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
F. F. Everest
Lieutenant General, USAF Director, Joint Staff
  1. Document 142.
  2. Not found in Department of State files.
  3. Document 142.
  4. The memorandum of July 1952 is not printed; but see the memorandum of conversation by Daspit, Document 84.
  5. Document 145.
  6. Not found in Department of State files.
  7. Not found in Department of State files.