No. 159
Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (Wilson)1

top secret


  • Security Arrangements for the Middle East.
Reference is made to our memorandum dated 11 August 1953, subject: “Defense Arrangements for the Middle East”2 and to your memorandum dated 16 October 1953, subject: “Grant Military Assistance to the Middle East.”3
As a result of recent developments in the Middle East, the Joint Chiefs of Staff are currently re-examining the U.S. military position with regard to security arrangements for the area, including the proposed Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO) and the grant military assistance program for the Middle East. The recently reported interest of the Shah of Iran in increasing the defensive capability of the Iranian Army,4 the views of the Commander in Chief of the Pakistani Armed Forces with respect to defense of the Middle East as expressed to the Turkish General Staff and to high officials of the United States Government,5 and reports from U.S. representatives in Iraq regarding the recognition by the Iraqi Government of the Communist threat were considered.
The above developments and the continuing infeasibility of MEDO point up a possibility that from a military point of view, the time might be propitious for encouraging Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, and possibly Iraq or a combination thereof, to form a defense association. This concept would visualize an association of indigenous forces under an indigenous command advantageously located with relation to the current threat. It would also provide for the evolutionary growth of a defense organization which could logically develop in time to include other Middle East countries, India and Afghanistan. Not only would the foundation be laid in a strategic area, but there would be no dependence upon a satisfactory resolution of the Anglo-Egyptian and Arab–Israel differences.
It is almost certain that India and Afghanistan would react unfavorably to the estabishment of such a defense organization to include Pakistan if such a move involved direct military aid to Pakistan. It is felt, however, that if some method of indirect aid to accomplish our objectives with regard to Pakistan were adopted, it might be possible to find a satisfactory solution to the problem of defending the Middle East through more effective utilization of indigenous potential and less reliance upon tentative commitments of foreign forces.
In view of the foregoing, it is recommended that you transmit the substance of these proposals to the Secretary of State and request his early comments as a basis for further consideration of the matter by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Upon receipt of the comments of the Secretary of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff anticipate finalizing their views on this subject for your consideration and possible [Page 432] submission to the National Security Council in conformity with the requirements of subparagraph 16f of NSC 155/1.6
In this connection, the Joint Chiefs of Staff are considering the possibility of entering tripartite military talks at staff level with the United Kingdom and Turkey on the subject of defense of the Middle East. The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that the proposals contained herein, after finalization as indicated in paragraph 5 above, will be appropriate for guidance of the U.S. members participating in these military talks when they are held.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Richard H. Phillips
Captain, USN
Deputy Secretary
  1. This memorandum was an enclosure to a letter from the Secretary of Defense to the Secretary of State, dated Nov. 24, not printed. Referring to the Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum of Aug. 11 (attached to Document 148) the letter reads, in part: “In order to bring you up to date concerning the progress of this planning, there is enclosed herewith a copy of a further memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff setting forth their present views as to what type of defense arrangements should be considered at this time. The views set forth in this memorandum, in which I concur, appear to coincide with the views expressed in your letter of 26 June [Document 142]; but, due to the trend of recent developments in the Middle East area, go a step further.” (788.5/11–2453)
  2. Attached to Document 148.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.
  4. Telegram 1102 from Tehran, Nov. 14, not printed, reported a series of conversations with the Shah of Iran in which he discussed the matter of future Iranian defense forces. (780.55/11–1453)
  5. See telegrams 291 and 332 from Ankara, Documents 152 and 153.
  6. According to the letter from Jernegan to Henderson on Nov. 19, infra, this memorandum was given to the Department of State informally on Nov. 18. See also footnote 2, Document 162.