84. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Allen) to the Secretary of State1


  • FY 1957 Military Assistance for the Middle East

The Defense Department’s proposal for military assistance to Middle Eastern countries for FY 1957 reflects a failure to accord an adequate priority for US military assistance in that area. In our view it falls far short of what is necessary in the field of military aid to counter the new Soviet efforts to disengage the Middle East from the West. [Page 208] These efforts and the formation of the Northern Tier have radically altered the basic assumptions upon which our programming has been based.

With our encouragement, Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan have firmly aligned themselves with the West and to the defensive system implicit in the Northern Tier arrangement. If it is to be effective, the Baghdad Pact group must develop political unity as well as a sense of increased security and confidence through firm Western backing; they must, moreover, have a certain degree of real defensive capability. The Northern Tier countries’ principal interest in military strength is to improve their ground forces. The State–Defense Working Group Report on Middle East Defense, dated June 6, 1955, indicated this to be the field in which our efforts might most economically and usefully be concentrated to achieve an early and appreciable increase in the area’s indigenous defense potential.

By virtue of our previous assurances, the Baghdad Pact countries have good reason to expect much greater US military assistance than that forecast in the current Defense Department’s proposal (see Tabs A and B2 for details). The adequacy and timeliness of our support will be a major factor in the development and maintenance of an effective defense organization which is so important to the political and military alignment of the entire Middle East. A minimum rate of progress in providing for equipment deficiencies of the Pact armies would be generally consistent with existing NSC policies. Moreover, we consider appreciable military aid to these countries, which have frankly declared themselves to be our friends, particularly important in the period ahead when we are endeavoring by all feasible means to prove to the peoples of the area the value of American friendship as contrasted to Soviet blandishments. Whether correct or not, most Middle Easterners believe that the prestige and future influence of the West in the area is at stake.


That you discuss with Secretary Wilson, Secretary Humphrey, Mr. Hollister and Mr. Hughes the urgent need of according a high priority to US military assistance to the Middle East, particularly to the countries comprising the Northern Tier, advocating for the latter a FY 1957 program that would provide for reasonable progress in meeting their equipment deficiencies (see Tab A).
That you advocate providing flexibility in a Middle East military assistance program adequate to meet urgent requirements which may come up during the year, such as in connection with the renegotiation of the Dhahran Base Agreement, Wheelus Base Agreement in Libya, etc.

[Tab A]

The status of our military assistance relationship with each of the Northern Tier countries and the extent of the Defense FY ’57 proposals for Ground Forces is as follows:

  • Turkey. The effect of our commitment of June 1954, and reaffirmation at the NATO Annual Review in December, is that the Turks understand that the United States would, to the best of its ability, provide equipment to help them achieve NATO Army force goals in four or five years. This program has more recently been costed at around $630 million. In three years only the slightest start will have been made since the programs for FY ’55 and ’56 combined with the FY ’57 proposal would fund roughly one-fourth of equipment needs. Thus after three years, three-fourths of the program will remain unfunded. The FY ’57 proposal would be the smallest portion of this funding. Only $22.2 millions is devoted to new equipment.
  • Pakistan. The effect of our commitment of October 1954 is that the Pakistanis understand that the United States will provide, roughly by mid FY ’58, equipment to fill existing deficiencies in 5½ army divisions. At the time of the commitment the Pakistani program was costed at roughly $170 million for all services, but since that time it has become clear that the Army portion of such a program was considerably underestimated. While the FY ’57 proposal would probably bring the total aid beyond the $170 million mark, it does not make a material contribution toward the deficiencies of the 5½ divisions.
  • Iraq. In connection with our Military Assistance Agreement, assistance in addition to the initial aid program was conditioned upon Iraq’s taking steps to promote regional defenses. Having fully carried out this condition by playing a key role in the formation of the Northern Tier, the Iraqis fully expect further help in meeting their legitimate defense needs. The initial program, of roughly $11 millions, was funded in FY ’54. With the exception of Centurion Tanks provided in FY ’56, there has been no continuing program for the subsequent two years. While the provision of the tanks was successful psychologically, there remain basic equipment needs, costed roughly at $60 millions, which are not being met. The FY ’57 proposal provides only for additional tanks and some maintenance, but nothing towards basic equipment needs.
  • Iran. Convinced that neutrality is unrealistic, the Shah of Iran recently took the step of closing the gap in the Northern Tier by acceding to the Baghdad Pact. This was done in the belief that the US would assist Iran to achieve an effective Army to carry out responsibilities under the Pact, and to develop some capacity to resist Soviet pressure. Since the fall of 1954 a MAAG/Tehran proposal for building up the Iranian Army has been held in abeyance awaiting final action in Defense. Despite some disagreement on details it is generally agreed that a military aid program of slightly under $200 million covering a three year period would be necessary to make the Iranian Army effective. The present program consists of deliveries from the small pipeline based on funds from FY 1954 and earlier. Practically no funding was undertaken in FY ’55 and FY ’56. The FY ’57 proposal makes no significant provision for filling Iranian Army equipment deficiencies. This is politically very dangerous, occurring as it does immediately after Iranian accession to the Pact, and in view of a commitment made to the Shah last July for a somewhat increased program in ’57 and ’58. Without commitment to the above $200 million program or to any other specific program, it should be possible and is certainly necessary to do more in the way of providing new equipment than is contemplated in the ’57 Defense presentation.

The Defense Department FY ’57 proposal for this area, as throughout the world, is primarily designed to maintain forces now in being at present levels, to meet fixed costs, and obligations as construed by Defense. As indicated above this programming is politically inadequate for support of the Northern Tier. While in the last analysis the specific decisions concerning programs should be made by Defense, political considerations can be met if the FY ’57 proposal is increased to provide for one-quarter of the Army unit equipment deficiencies in Turkey, Iraq and Iran, and one-half of such deficiencies in Pakistan.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5428 Series. Secret. Drafted by William M. Rountree and Ben F. Dixon.
  2. Tab B, a table entitled “Defense Department Proposal for FY ’57 Military Assistance to the Middle East”, is not printed.