State-JCS Meetings, lot 61 D 417

No. 76
Department of State Minutes of State–Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting1

top secret


  • General Bradley
  • General Collins
  • Admiral Fechteler
  • General Twining
  • Admiral Wooldridge
  • Admiral Fife
  • General Bolte
  • General Lee
  • General Cabell
  • Colonel Carnes
  • Mr. Matthews
  • Mr. Nitze
  • Mr. Perkins
  • Mr. Byroade
  • Mr. Ferguson
  • Mr. McClerkin
  • Mr. Tufts
  • Mr. Lay
  • General Ruffner

Middle East

Mr. Matthews: We would like to discuss with you this morning our strategy toward the Middle East and what we can do in light of the vacuum in that area.

General Bradley: This is a very important area and it is highly desirable to do something about its defense. The question seems to be: Where will the stuff come from? It will take a lot of stuff to do a job there. The problem of getting Australia and New Zealand to do much in the area will be difficult until we are prepared to do something. Now that the Turks have gotten into NATO they say they are prepared to support the Middle Eastern Command and they may be willing to do something. I don’t know how far we could get with Pakistan until the Kashmir problem has been solved. If we give Pakistan military aid we will find ourselves in [Page 238]trouble with India. When we look at Israel and the Arab States it seems clear that if we give something to Israel we will have to give something to the Arab States. Again, where is the stuff coming from? Our present priorities put Korea in first position, then Indochina, and then the U.S. and NATO. We don’t think those priorities can be changed.

Mr. Nitze: We had looked at the problem from a somewhat different point of view. If we think that by 1956 we could really build up a defensive position in the Middle East, then it would be possible to think about a forward strategy as we have in Western Europe. In other words, if we look at this as a 1956 problem rather than a current problem, then perhaps matters will not look as hopeless. Certainly there is plenty of manpower there from which to build divisions. Looking at the problem of equipment and finances that far ahead, the problem does not look unmanageable to us.

General Bradley: We admit the great importance of the area. We think quite a lot could be done politically. This would have to be coupled with some military aid. We think, however, that outside forces would be required and where are these troops to come from? We might come to view it as a problem about which something could be done by 1956, but we are reluctant to commit U.S. forces to the area, much as we want to defend Middle Eastern oil and the area as a whole. This is not a problem of objectives but a problem of how to get the job done.

Mr. Nitze: In our view we should not commit U.S. troops, even in 1956.

General Bradley: Nevertheless, it would be hard to persuade anyone else that the Middle East could be defended without U.S. troops.

Mr. Matthews: How do you envisage the defense of the Middle East? Is it a realistic matter?

General Bradley: Our feeling is that it is not now too realistic.

General Collins: What are the British doing to obtain commitments from Australia and New Zealand?

Mr. Matthews: I don’t know. Perhaps Mr. Perkins knows something about it.

Mr. Perkins: I don’t know what they are doing.

General Collins: We have committed ourselves to the defense of Australia and New Zealand. We have guaranteed them against an invasion. We have done all this precisely to free up Australian and New Zealand forces for the Middle East.

Mr. Byroade: I don’t know where these forces could go even if we could get them now.

[Page 239]

General Bradley: The original idea was that they would go to the Cairo area. That is probably out now.

General Collins: We could do a lot with some forces in time of war. We could even put them in Iran in time of war to link up with the Turks. If we are going to hold Middle Eastern oil we will have to hold a line in Iran.

Mr. Nitze: We understand that it would take about 10 divisions to hold the mountains in Iran.

General Collins: Where are you going to get 10 divisions?

Mr. Nitze: The Turks say that they will furnish 6.

General Collins: If the Australians and New Zealanders would furnish one each we would only need two more.

General Bradley: There is no disagreement regarding objectives. We can’t see a possibility of using U.S. troops in the first couple of years. We do think that something can be done politically and that some military assistance can be provided. The question of defense is a question of feasibility and of money and equipment.

Mr. Nitze: We were conscious of these same difficulties and it was for this reason that we thought that we should look ahead and consider the problems in terms of the situation in 1956.

General Collins: Can anyone assure us that large funds will be available for foreign assistance after next year? Even Ike is talking about a $40 billion cut. There appears to be some doubt about how much of a cut he thinks possible and over what period of time. But even if it were a $20 billion cut spread over three years it would be difficult to maintain a high level of foreign assistance.

General Bradley: Of course we think that Turkey ought to get a high priority on any assistance we can provide.

General Collins: The real hope of Middle Eastern defense is Turkey. If we could get a stable government in Iran, one which would talk turkey with the Turks, we might be able to do something in Iran. It might be possible to do something with the Iraqis but we will have to get permission from Iran before any forces can move in to defend the mountains.

General Bradley: Your memo3 raises the question of the use of atomic bombs in the defense of the area. We doubt that it would be effective to use them in the mountain passes. … We do feel that it is desirable to establish the MEC.

General Collins: Especially if we could persuade the British to give Turkey the right role.

Mr. Nitze: I think we agree that it would be unwise to make commitments regarding U.S. troops or even commitments regarding U.S. aid because of the uncertainty of Congressional appropriations [Page 240]and of our future production schedules. However, we feel that it would be desirable to have a concept which would give us hope of a forward strategy.

General Collins: I don’t know the status of that. I have talked with the British about this problem and I think the British are only planning a defense of the inner ring. The trouble with this is that it makes no use of the Turks. The real hope lies in the defense of the outer ring which would make use of the mountains and Turkey’s forces. If we don’t give the Turks a position of real responsibility there is a danger that the Russians can come down through Iran without involving Turkey. They might try to keep Turkey neutral by saying that they would not attack Turkey if Turkey behaved. If this worked they could easily squeeze us out of the Middle Eastern oil areas.

Mr. Nitze: (Turning to Byroade) Didn’t the Turks express grave concern regarding the outflanking move by the Russians?

Mr. Byroade: Surprisingly enough they did not. The Turks say that Russia will never move into the Middle East without taking care of Turkey first. Of course I think they are trying to convince us that the defense of Turkey is the defense of the Middle East.

General Bradley: As to what we can do about that, the first thing seems to be in the political field—the setting up of the MEC. Of course this raises the problem of Egypt and even of Tunisia.

Mr. Nitze: The way in which we set it up depends partly on what we are trying to do. If we are thinking of a forward strategy which involves Turkey, Iran and other forces from the area, then we will want the full participation of the Arab States. This would be especially true if we were trying to avoid the use of U.S. forces.

General Bradley: We have been thinking about an organization of Turkey, France, the U.K. and the U.S. into which the Arab States would be brought as we could bring them in. One of the things that worries us is that if we bring all of the Arab States into the organization at the outset the Arab League becomes a major factor. Another thing that concerns us is that we do not like the suggestion of a three-power steering committee. In our judgment this is not realistic if only because it excludes the Turks.

Mr. Nitze: We in State do not think that the concept of a command organization is realistic. We think the idea of a defense board is a better idea since a real defense of the area is so far in the future.

General Collins: I am not sure that these Turkish divisions are so far in the future. Ambassador Wadsworth tells me that the Turks are willing to create six divisions right now for use in Iran. We have not had a chance to talk to Arnold about this. Personally I am doubtful about our ability to supply the equipment for these divisions. [Page 241]These divisions would constitute an offensive force and would therefore require more equipment than other Turkish divisions.

Mr. Byroade: I talked with Arnold about this when I was in Turkey. It is clear that the U.S. will have to pay for everything for these six divisions.

General Bradley: I don’t think we can undertake this on that kind of a commitment.

Mr. Nitze: We have been told that the equipment would cost about $165 million, that annual maintenance cost would run to about $135 million, and that about 10% of the initial equipment outlay, or $16.5 million would be required annually for spare parts and replacements. A preliminary review indicates that these costs are probably too low. We think now that the cost of the original equipment has been underestimated and in light of the mobility that these forces would have to have and that the annual equipment for spare parts and replacements would be higher than the estimate indicates. On the basis of our information we think that the cost might run two or three times as high.

General Collins: Of course these divisions don’t need as much as our own. They are really a mountain type of division. On the organizational question, would it be worthwhile in your view to set up a three member steering group consisting of the British, the Turks, and a representative of the Arab States? I think if we could put something like that over we would be on our way to solving some of these problems. I think we ought to take the people in the area into our full confidence.

Mr. Matthews: We have recently received a British paper on this subject.4 I believe a copy of it was left with you also.

Mr. Nitze: The British have come to the view that the organization should not be a command organization but a planning organization.

General Bradley: Someone has not to take decisions whatever the nature of the organization is. Perhaps the head of it could be called a chairman rather than a commander.

Mr. Nitze: There are two problems here. One concerns the type of organization we want in the Middle East and the other concerns the ad hoc coordination between the U.S., the U.K. and Turkey about what we are really going to do.

General Collins: Could we not agree with the British on the basic concept involved and then let the British go ahead with the planning?

[Page 242]

Mr. Matthews: Do you mean without any U.S. representation on the planning organization?

General Collins: Yes.

General Bradley: I think the U.S. would have to have representation on the planning staff. As to the three member steering group, the British think that that kind of a set up would make it easy to give coordinated direction. I am afraid, however, that we won’t be able to hold the line on a three nation steering group in NATO if we have more than three in the Middle East.

Mr. Matthews: Do you have to have an organization to give guidance?

General Collins: I think that is necessary.

General Bradley: I suppose we could have a planning board with a chairman. That would be solution along the lines followed by the Western Union powers. They had a planning board with a rotating chairmanship.

Mr. Nitze: We have explored the idea of a planning board which would include all the members of the organization. We thought it might be possible to set up a smaller body which would actually do the planning for the Middle East and which would have either a British chairman or a rotating chairmanship. That would leave the problem of coordination among the Western nations on their approach to these problems. We might do that on an ad hoc basis.

General Collins: I think we could do it on an ad hoc and unilateral basis.

Admiral Fechteler: And a covert basis as well.

General Collins: It should be clear that the U.S. is participating because we are the ones who supply military aid.

General Bradley: I think we will have to furnish some of the staff for most of these people don’t know how to plan. Of course the British do, but even the Turks are not familiar with military planning in our sense.

Mr. Nitze: I suppose we will also want our staff to work on training problems.

General Collins: Of course we are doing that right now. The thing I am afraid of is getting into the minds of the people the idea that the U.S. will come to their aid in the event of war. If we had the capability for this, I would say “Three cheers!” We simply don’t have the capacity.

Mr. Matthews: Of course we also want to avoid the other extreme of giving these people the idea that we don’t care about the defense of the Middle East.

General Bradley: That is right. I think we have got to have some U.S. representation in the planning function.

[Page 243]

General Collins: We suggested that the U.S. might furnish 10 percent of the staff. I think State has suggested 20 percent.

General Bradley: Some one has suggested that the U.S. should have as many people on the staff as anyone else. In my judgment, the Turks should have the most.

Mr. Nitze: The British paper differs from ours somewhat though it also comes rather close to the ideas we have been considering. It does suggest a Middle Eastern Defense Organization instead of a Middle Eastern Command. It proposes a Supreme Allied Commander Middle East (Designate) instead of a Commander. The paper differs somewhat in that it suggests that the ideas should be communicated to the French and Commonwealth countries and to the Turks after some preliminary U.S.–U.K. discussions. The British propose that their paper should be circulated as a British paper. In other words, they are thinking of a seven-power approach to the problem. The idea then would be to hold diplomatic discussions among the seven to determine how to proceed. We have a question concerning Arab participation. The British propose that Arab participation should be contingent upon their commitment to make facilities available for Middle Eastern defense.

General Bradley: How can they know what they will be prepared to contribute until after a meeting?

Mr. Nitze: We are leaning to the view that we ought to have a political organization first in order to create the preconditions for really doing something in the military field.

General Bradley: Have you considered the problem of Congressional approval? We can probably get some military men together to engage in planning without raising the problem of Congressional approval, but won’t Congress insist on approval of a political organization? It would come awfully close to a treaty.

Mr. Byroade: In my view, we ought to keep this a military operation, largely because we can get better cooperation from the military in the Arab countries than we can get from the politicians. The political leaders will want to talk about Israel all the time.

General Collins: What about a military planning organization including the British, Turks, and Arabs?

Mr. Nitze: And no other organization?

General Collins: Oh, we could have a political organization in which everyone would be represented. I was just talking about the military planning job. What Arab country would we want? I suppose Iraq would be the best.

Mr. Matthews: That would make the Saudi Arabians suspicious. They are already worried that Iraq is trying to form an association with Jordan and Syria.

[Page 244]

General Bradley: It seems to me that the first step is a meeting of military representatives of all those countries which would be willing to send military representatives. I think it would be better if we could have a political organization first, but I doubt whether we could do this without Congressional approval.

Mr. Nitze: Our thought is really a military organization which would have political importance.

General Bradley: Each military representative would of course receive direction from his government.

Mr. Nitze: Your idea, I take it, is that this group would decide to set up a smaller group to do the planning?

Mr. Matthews: Would the Arabs be interested in a meeting for this purpose?

Mr. Byroade: I don’t think Egypt would be. At any rate they would have to know what it was all about. They would have to know that it wasn’t a command type of organization and I think they would have to know that we weren’t thinking of a British commander.

As you know, I just got back from a long tour through the Middle East. I have not yet been fully de-briefed, but as I size things up, I think there is a tendency around this table to overrate the U.K. position in the area. It seems to me that there is a real possibility that the British are going to get out of the area in a rather disgraceful way. If and when that happens, any idea of a Middle Eastern organization under British command will be no good. I am worried about the future disposition of the British troops now in the area. Where are they going to go? Some of them will probably go to Cyprus and some of them may go to Cyrenaica, but I think a lot of them will go home. Montgomery thinks that all the British troops will get out of the Middle East. He has even gone so far as to suggest the creation of new commands in NATO with Americans at the top. I think he has suggested a new commander-in-chief for the southern region under American leadership which would have the job of protecting the Canal. The Foreign Office says that he is talking through his hat but I am not so sure. One thing I am sure of is that we should not get into the command problem at all at this time and that we ought to confine ourselves to planning board functions. We ought to do the planning on as informal a basis as possible.

General Collins: What you are really saying is that the only power in the area is Turkey, so I am very suspicious of any effort to get the U.S. to do the job. If the British can’t do it I think we should get the Turks to do it.

Mr. Byroade: I don’t think the Turks will agree to give much leadership in the Arab world. They have now won their big victory [Page 245]by getting into NATO and they are a little more interested in the Middle East than they were, but I don’t think they will go very far in providing leadership.

General Collins: The Turks will not fight in Europe.

General Bradley: Montgomery says they will. In fact he suggests that they occupy the Ukraine. (smiling)

General Collins: The fact of the matter is that they won’t be fighting in Europe.

Mr. Byroade: I think we have got to watch the Egyptian thing very carefully. Planning is all we can engage in. I was told in Iraq that Iraq will break with Egypt if necessary in order to get going on this matter.

General Bradley: Would the Arabs come in if the Israelis were involved?

Mr. Byroade: No, they would not. Israeli participation will have to come much later and will depend on whether Arab-Israeli problems can be straightened out. In the meantime I am sure in my own mind that we should not build up the Israeli forces. We may have gone too far already.

Mr. Matthews: That is the real worry of the Arab States—not the Soviet Union.

General Bradley: I think we in the Joint Chiefs should consider the U.K. paper if we can get copies of it.

Mr. Matthews: There is some urgency about this since Mr. Eden wants to talk to the Secretary about it when the Secretary is in England.

General Bradley: (Turning to Admiral Fechteler and General Twining) Do you have any comments on this matter?

Admiral Fechteler: I have just been listening. I would like to read the U.K. paper before I express any views.

General Twining: My question is the same as General Collins’: Where are we going to get the stuff? From whom are we going to take it away?

Admiral Fechteler: I think we might send the Swedes over to do the job.

General Bradley: The Swedes may be knocking on our door to get into NATO in the next few days.

Mr. Matthews: I would be willing to take a small bet on that—or a large one if you prefer.

. . . . . . .

Mr. Byroade: The Iraqis are in a very emotional frame of mind. They are worried about a communist coup in Iran.

General Bradley: Is it really that serious?

Mr. Byroade: Our people don’t think so but perhaps Iraqi intelligence on this matter is better than ours.

[Page 246]

Mr. Matthews: I take it that the next step then is for you to consider the British paper.

Mr. Nitze: I hope we can have something more from you before the Secretary leaves.

General Bradley: I might attempt to summarize our views on these matters:

The area is of great importance.
The U.S. cannot send troops to the area.
The U.S. would be willing to contribute to the staff of a Middle Eastern defense organization, largely as a means of securing the participation of others in such an organization.
The JCS doubt that it would be practicable or desirable to use atomic weapons in the area.
The JCS believe that we should provide what military assistance we can to the countries in the area without upsetting our present priorities. The JCS does not believe that these priorities should be changed. The priorities now are (a) Korea, (b) Indochina, (c) the U.S. and NATO.
The organization ought to provide for representation of Turkey and perhaps representatives from the Arab League countries.
The JCS agree that British influence in the area is waning rapidly and although Britain is still regarded as responsible power, the JCS increasingly doubt that this view is realistic.
The British may want to look to the U.S. to provide leadership but the JCS doubt that this would be realistic. There may be political reasons why the U.S. should assume leadership, however, even though from the military point of view there are good reasons why the U.S. should not assume leadership.
The JCS agree that it would not be wise to set up a command in the area at this time.
The JCS believe that it would be possible to do some planning for the defense of the area.
From the military point of view it would be desirable if a political organization could be established first as a basis for the subsequent establishment of a military organization. Whether this is possible is a question for State to decide. It appears that if Congressional approval of a political organization would be required, it would not be possible to proceed with the creation of a political organization as the first step.
The JCS believe that it would be unwise to establish any relationship between the Middle Eastern planning organization and the Standing Group. Such a relationship would lead to trouble with some of the NATO countries. There would be no objection, however, to ad hoc coordination with the British and the Turks. The planning organization would in fact achieve coordination between Middle Eastern defense arrangements and NATO arrangements because of the fact that several countries would be involved in both organizations.

Mr. Nitze: In my opinion, this provides sufficient guidance to proceed with talks with the British on Middle Eastern defense problems. [Page 247]The British want to talk about this problem before the Secretary leaves for England. It might be well for State to wait a day or two before talking to the British in order to give the JCS a chance to read the British paper.

General Bradley: I don’t think that it will be necessary to wait if my summary covered the points raised by the British paper.

Mr. Nitze: The summary has covered those points.

General Collins: I think it would be helpful to talk with the British before the Secretary leaves for England.

[Here follows discussion on Korea.]

  1. A notation on the first page reads: “State draft. Not cleared with any of the participants.”
  2. The meeting was held at 11 a.m. at the Pentagon.
  3. Reference is to the Policy Planning Staff memorandum of May 21, Document 74.
  4. Not printed, but see footnote 1, infra.