711.5886A/1–2152

No. 1432
Memorandum of Conversation, by Robert Sturgill of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs

secret

Subject:

  • Briefing of Col. H. E. Liebe.

Participants:

  • U.S. Army—Col. H. E. Liebe
  • Lt. Col. T. R. Davis, Mediterranean—ME Section G–3
  • NE—Mr. Awalt
  • Mr. Sturgill

Summary:

Col. Liebe said he had orders to depart for Saudi Arabia February 19 as part of the Advance Technical Group and would remain as Acting Chief in charge of the Army portion of the U.S. Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia when that got started.3 Col. Davis said the fourth member of the Advance Group would probably be an Air Force Major already in Saudi Arabia, although he had not been chosen yet. He also mentioned that it was contemplated that some enlisted personnel would be needed for administrative support of the Group, but that no one had been assigned.

Col. Davis’ attention was called to the JCS decision to appoint a Major General Chief of the Mission and to the Department’s understanding that General Day was to have been appointed Chief pro tem; and he was asked if orders to that effect had gone out.

Temporary utilization of the housing facilities at Taif, used by the British Military Training Team recently departed, was discussed. It was pointed out that the Department saw no objection to [Page 2410]such use of the facilities if found to be suitable, since that would advance the time for starting our military training operations which would otherwise have to await considerable new construction at El Kharj. It was explained that it was politically desirable to implement our training commitment to Saudi Arabia as soon as possible. It was stressed, however, that initiation of training operations at Taif should have prior Defense approval.

In response to a question from Col. Davis regarding progress on the MAAG agreement, it was stated that an exchange of notes has not yet been effected in Jidda, but that a draft had been sent, upon which the Embassy commented, raising some points. None were major, although the Department’s reply has been held up pending final agreement with Defense on a termination clause desired by the latter.

Col. Liebe expressed his interest in the Mission and said he considered it a challenging assignment. He was somewhat apprehensive regarding language difficulties, but it was pointed out that there were probably available a number of English-speaking Arabs who had had airport management training at Dhahran and in the US, as well as some who had had military training in this country. It was recommended to him that he make use of Saudi Arabs whenever possible in the training program.

  1. This memorandum of conversation was prepared on Jan. 23.
  2. For previous documentation on this topic, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. V, pp. 1059 ff.; see in particular the editorial note, ibid., p. 1064.