376. Memorandum for the Record by the Chief of the Military Advisory Assistance Group in Iran (Seitz)1

On the morning of 3 January 1957, I had a two and one-half hour audience with His Imperial Majesty by previous appointment. Lieutenant General Hedayat2 was present during the entire time.

The primary purpose for this appointment was to present for approval to HIM a reorganization of the Iranian Air Force. The project was approved after a few minor questions. During these questions, it was disclosed that action was to be taken to provide the Air Force with the same service departments as in the Army organization. I protested this decision and HIM deferred final decision until hearing further from me.

I informed His Majesty that I had received information that Iran was to be delivered one squadron of F–84G jet planes by July 1957. He expressed dissatisfaction with this type of aircraft saying that they were obsolete, hard to maintain and hard to fly. I assured him that this was not an accurate statement, but he persisted and requested that I press for F–86’s. With regard to F–86’s, I explained the time lag in delivery and insisted that the F–84G’s were good planes, more easily maintained and thus more suitable for his Air Force at this time. He remarked that by the time F–86’s were allocated to Iran, they would be obsolete.

The subject of absence from duty by officers and enlisted men was raised by me. I requested that as a minimum punishment, pay be deducted for all absences. He concurred with reservations, explaining that such an action could be taken only after officers’ pay had been raised sufficiently to insure them a minimum satisfactory standard of living. This, in addition to other remarks, indicated clearly that he is aware of the fact that many officers are absenting themselves to earn additional money in civil pursuits.

His Majesty then began a discussion on next year’s budget (1336), saying that War, Health and Education would have to be increased. Specifically, he pointed out that the War budget would be increased by $31 million to provide for an officers’ pay increase. I asked him if he anticipated an increase in his revenues to offset these additional expenditures. He avoided an answer to the question by asking about U.S. support for the budget during the forthcoming year. I replied that the position of my government was that further direct budgetary [Page 867] assistance was highly unlikely and that no provision has been made for such a grant. He then asked if I, through my channels, could not support the military part of the budget or, at least, the proposed increase. I answered that I had no means of rendering such support to his budget. The Shah then asked about PL 480 citing the enormous amount given to India. I told him a new PL 480 agreement would have to be negotiated between the governments but that the amount would be limited to Iran’s ability to distribute the commodities.

At this time, he again emphasized the necessity for a pay increase for officers and appealed to me for help expressing the belief that except for that item he felt he could attain a balanced budget. It is clearly evident that HIM realizes that the budget for 1336 can be balanced if held to the level of this year (1335). If the additional $31 million for a pay increase is included in the Minister of War’s budget, it will be with the full realization that a balanced overall budget is impossible. At this time, HIM is weighing which of two courses to follow: (1) To hold the line and seek a balanced budget or, (2) to permit the officers’ pay increase, and trust that the U.S. will bail him out.

The Shah then spoke of his Navy and said it must be enlarged since Iran was the logical country to police the Persian Gulf. I explained that his Navy was being increased by several units this year but that we would be hard pressed to train the technicians to man them. He disregarded my remarks by asking if I knew the reason given by Egypt in refusing his recent request for a conference of Middle East countries.3 I replied that I did not. His Majesty, with great scorn, said that Egypt had declined because they could not sit at a conference table with Iran as long as they occupied Arab lands (islands recently seized by Iran in the Persian Gulf). The Shah said that Nasser was attempting to lead the Arab world and perhaps next he would claim southwest Iran as an Arab land. I replied that he could not possibly be apprehensive of Nasser after the showing his army had made recently. The Shah replied that a real navy was needed for prestige in addition to the other reasons.

HIM then made reference to President Eisenhower’s forthcoming message to Congress proposing the dispatch of U.S. troops to the [Page 868] Middle East to meet an emergency.4 I pointed out that the message had not been delivered and, in my opinion, it would not mean garrisoning. He replied he was sure of that but, in the event of an emergency in Iran, troops would have to be flown in and he thus would need more airfields. He then requested that I build fields at Kerman-Shah, Shiraz and Gom. I made no commitment.

Other points were discussed: his need for a 225 plane Air Force, the necessity for raising the standard of living in Iran, the support of Turkey and Pakistan for an increase in the Iranian Army, etc. No U.S. commitments were made.

J.F.R. Seitz
Major General USA
  1. Source: Department of State, GTI Files: Lot 60 D 533, Iran, U.S. military assistance to, 1957. Secret.
  2. Abdullah Hedayat, Chief, Iranian Supreme Armed Forces Staff with rank of Cabinet Minister.
  3. On December 9, 1956, Foreign Minister Ardalan suggested a summit meeting of Middle East leaders to resolve outstanding problems and proposed that the meeting coincide with the Shah’s visit to Riyadh in March 1957. While Turkey, Iraq, and Pakistan initially agreed to the idea, the majority of Middle Eastern states were unresponsive and the Iranian Government abandoned the idea. (Despatch 538 from Tehran, January 5; Department of State, Central Files, 788.00/1–557)
  4. Reference is to President Eisenhower’s address to Congress on January 5 describing a policy for the Middle East subsequently known as the Eisenhower Doctrine. For additional information concerning the Eisenhower Doctrine, see Documents 183 and 193.