786A.5 MSP/6–1352

No. 1438
The Acting Secretary of Defense (Foster) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Dear Mr. Secretary: I refer to your letter of April 16, 1952,1 requesting the Department of Defense concurrence in a recommendation to the President that he find Saudi Arabia eligible for grant military assistance.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have concluded, and I agree that:

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From a military point of view, grant aid to Saudi Arabia and certain other Middle East countries is not justified.
Saudi Arabia, however, holds a unique position among the Arab States because of the existence of a United States air base in the Dhahran area, and oil resources which may be required in war.
Contingent upon a political determination that token grant military aid is necessary in order to assure the continuation of adequate military base rights in Saudi Arabia, no objection is interposed to the proposed action of the State Department.

In view of the above conclusions and of the cogent reasons cited in your letter of 16 April 1952, and contingent upon a political determination that token grant aid is necessary in order to assure the continuation of adequate military base rights in Saudi Arabia, I concur with your recommending a Presidential finding of Saudi Arabia’s eligibility for military grant aid under Section 202 of the Mutual Security Act of 1951. However, this recommendation of her eligibility for grant military aid should not be construed as implying a requirement to commit U.S. military forces to the defense of Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. In concurring in your recommendation, the Joint Chiefs of Staff desire, and I agree, that such aid should be limited to token amounts. In this connection, your attention is invited to:

The desirability of adhering to the U.S. position already stated to the Saudi Arabian Government, that cash reimbursable military assistance must constitute the major portion of its military procurement program. Also, it should be made clear to the Saudi Arabians that any equipment furnished as military grant aid must be a part of, and not additional to, the military assistance program which has been established as a result of the agreement now in effect between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The undesirability of permitting the exceptional case of Saudi Arabia to serve as a precedent leading to similar requests from other Middle East countries.

It should be further borne in mind that such concurrence is subject to availability of funds, that no funds in the current Mutual Security legislation presently before the Congress have been programmed for Saudi Arabia, and that funds to implement token grant aid would have to be made available by transfer from a program for another country.

Sincerely yours,

William C. Foster