Memorandum of Conversation, by John K. Beard, Office of African Affairs



  • Training Personnel for Ethiopian Army


  • Mr. UtterAF
  • Colonel Query—Former Military Attaché, Addis Ababa
  • Mr. WellonsAF
  • Mr. BeardAF

Colonel Query has just returned from Ethiopia where he served as Military Attaché for more than three years. When the Ethiopian Government was urgently requesting military equipment from the United States last winter and spring it was he who recommended that the Ethiopian Army be reduced in size and organized along modified United States lines.1 His recommendation was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Colonel’s views were requested with respect to the [Page 427] question of whether the United States should furnish personnel to the Ethiopian Government to assist in the reorganization of the Army and in training Ethiopian troops in the proper use and maintenance of the equipment purchased.

The Colonel stated that the Ethiopians reacted favorably to the United States suggestion that their army be reduced and a reserve organization created, but they have pointed out that a reserve system is completely new to them and, therefore, they will require assistance in setting it up. Embassy officers as well as the Military Attaché’s office have made it clear to the Ethiopians that it is impossible for the United States to provide a “Training Mission”. The Ethiopians, however, are willing to accept less than a Mission and he feels that if United States equipment is to be made available we should at least follow the recommendation made by Lt. General Bolte last year, i.e., that a small group of officers be attached to Radio Marina or to the Military Attaché’s office for this purpose. He felt that such a group should be kept small and assigned for a short, definite period of time only. He thought that about six months should be adequate for the purpose and the Ethiopians should be informed that the assistance of the group would only be available for that period. If the United States does not provide such advisers and technicians it is not likely that the badly needed reorganization of the Army will take place or that the equipment purchased will be put to the best use or be properly maintained.

In response to Mr. Wellons’ inquiry as to the number and type of personnel that would be needed for this purpose the Colonel replied that he thought that about twelve or fifteen would be adequate. This group would consist of:

  • 1 officer for organization
  • 1 officer for reserve organization
  • 1 officer and two men for artillery instruction
  • 1 officer and two men for crew served weapons instruction
  • 1 infantry officer and two men
  • 1 logistics officer
  • A few communications personnel depending upon the amount and type of communications equipment purchased.

Colonel Query requested that he not be quoted on any of the foregoing.

  1. Despatch 317 from Addis Ababa, Feb. 13, reported the Ethiopian Foreign Minister had been impressed with the idea that a smaller army might be more mobile and effective. (775.5/2–1352)