Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 99


No. 55
Negotiating Paper Prepared in the Department of State3

TCT D–4/2d

Middle East Command


To seek active United Kingdom collaboration in the early establishment of the Middle East Command with headquarters if feasible at Cyprus.

u.s. objectives

The Middle East Command has both political and military aspects. At the present time it is more a political problem than a military one and the United States seeks through the Middle East Command to gain active Middle Eastern cooperation with the West in the defense of the Middle East on a cooperative basis. The Middle East Command also offers a possible solution of the Anglo-Egyptian problem. On the other hand, steps leading to the establishment [Page 169] of a Middle East Command must not be permitted to obstruct the firm integration of Greece and Turkey into NATO.

probable position of the u.k.

The United Kingdom agrees with the United States that the Middle East Command cannot be activated until after Turkey (and Greece) has been admitted into NATO4 and until after a satisfactory command arrangement under SACEUR has been worked out. Furthermore, the United Kingdom and the United States agree that the commander of the Middle East Command should be British. The U.K. desires a British General in command of the MEC and of the Eastern Command of SACEUR and prefers that he be the same person, wearing two hats. Further, the British wish to obtain an agreement now to the relationship between the two commands (we are only committed to a U.K. commander for the MEC). Until the British wishes are fulfilled the U.K. is not inclined to take preparatory steps toward the establishment of the Middle East Command.

Position to be presented: (On U.S. initiative)

The United States Government attaches great importance to the establishment of the Middle East Command and we hope it will be possible to establish it formally about March or April, 1952. All the details of the Middle East Command can’t be worked out and it cannot be established until Greece and Turkey have entered NATO and full agreement has been reached on their relationship to General Eisenhower’s command. While establishment of MEC must not be permitted to interfere with or delay admission of Greece and Turkey into NATO, there is no reason why preliminary work on the Middle East Command shouldn’t get under way immediately. I think representatives of the sponsoring powers and the Commonwealth nations should hold meetings in Washington on this in the near future. Of course, if it is militarily and politically feasible to effect the simultaneous establishment of the Middle East Command and NATO Command arrangements for Greece and Turkey, we should be glad to see this done.

With regard to the area of the Middle East Command we expect it to include the Arab States, Israel, the independent Arab Sheikdoms and Iran.

There are several problems relating to the Middle East Command which we are going to have to think about. Israel, for example, requires special attention. It’s going to be hard to keep Israel’s [Page 170] interest up and at the same time delay the invitation to Israel until it is politically practical. We must also consider at some stage the possibility of widening the area of the Middle East Command to include Pakistan. Clearly, we have to give special consideration to Turkey’s views on the Middle East Command, since we want Turkey to play as active a role as possible.

As you know, the United States supports the proposal of a British General in charge of the Middle East Command. We cannot ourselves consider at this time any further extension of military commitments in the Middle East, and our participation does not involve the commitment of troops. United States participation will be limited to participation in the integrated command staff and to the provision of some military aid.

While we can have preliminary discussions on the Middle East Command, I think the most urgent thing is to press forward as rapidly as possible to complete action on bringing Greece and Turkey into NATO, and to work out their relationship to the NATO Command structure. Only when this is done and the Middle East command has been organized, and after consultation with all interested parties (including NATO), will it be possible to determine what relationships will be appropriate between the two commands. Of course, we cannot integrate the non-NATO command in the Middle East into the NATO command structure.

Just a final word on this question and that is with regard to British troops and bases in Egypt. I am sure you will agree that it would not be politically possible to place those troops and bases under MEC until Egypt accepts the MEC proposals.


The British may balk at our proposal to proceed rapidly with the Middle East Command until they receive full assurance that the United States agrees to a British Commander for NATO Eastern flank command as well as for the Middle East Command. A further cause for British delay may be their desire that the same British General hold both of these commands. The Middle East Command is important to the achievement of our political objectives in the Middle East and delay in its establishment will further prejudice the Western political position in that area.

  1. Lot 59 D 95 is a collection of documentation on certain official visits of European heads of government and foreign ministers to the United States and on major international conferences (including North Atlantic Council sessions) attended by the Secretary of State for the period 1949–1955, as maintained by the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State. This lot consists of 13 feet of material, was retired by S/S, and is located in RSC boxes 94–106.
  2. This paper is an official statement of position prepared with the approval of the Secretaries of State and Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a briefing paper for the President in his discussions with Churchill. An attached cover sheet, not printed, states that “It is now approved at the official level.”
  3. For documentation, see vol. v, Part 1, pp. 107 ff. and Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. iii, Part 1, pp. 460 ff.