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


  • British Report on the Military Problems Involved in Action Under the Tripartite Declaration of 1950


Admiral Hedding on February 16 discussed with Mr. MacArthur and Mr. Rountree the question of whether the US military authorities should participate with the British in combined planning with respect to military activity in the Near East if hostilities should break out.2 It appears to be the British impression that during the bilateral talks with Prime Minister Eden3 such combined planning was envisaged.

Following the above conversation with Admiral Hedding the latter sent to Mr. Rountree the attached memorandum with which he transmitted a British report on the military problems involved, together with a copy of his memorandum to Admiral Radford on the [Page 188] subject.4 The British Chiefs considered their paper to be the first step in combined planning, and approved it as a basis for discussion.

Admiral Hedding pointed out both in his memorandum to Admiral Radford and in his conversation with Departmental officers that, if combined planning should take place, it would not be difficult for Admiral Hedding and Admiral Currie (of the British military mission) to work out an acceptable revision of the British paper for submission to their respective Chiefs. On the other hand, Admiral Hedding also stated that if it should be determined that we should not undertake combined planning, the British should be so informed and informal comments on the paper submitted to General Whiteley.

Admiral Hedding, acting under Admiral Radford’s instructions, sought to ascertain the Department’s understanding as to whether combined planning was agreed during the Eden Talks, as well as the Department’s views on the British proposal.

I am not aware that any agreement was reached with the British on combined planning. It was, of course, understood that we would review our respective military capabilities and that both the US and the UK, acting independently but with proper coordination, would have their Naval forces indicate a “discreet interest” in the Eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea areas.

In view of the complications of planning any possible employment of US forces in connection with the present Near Eastern crisis, it would appear unwise at this time to undertake combined planning with the British. While such planning would be on a top secret basis, any possible leak that it was under way might cause serious problems both domestically and abroad. It would seem wise, on the other hand, for us to have a general idea of what the British think in terms of the possible employment of Western capabilities and, perhaps vice versa.

In the circumstances, I would suggest that we inform Admiral Hedding that:

We are unaware of any agreement to undertake combined planning;
We feel combined planning at this point would be unwise; and
We perceive of no objection to informing the British of (a) and (b) while indicating that the US Chiefs will look over the British paper and give them their informal comments.

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That you agree to the course suggested in the last paragraph above.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/2–2056. Top Secret. Drafted by Rountree and concurred in by MacArthur and Murphy.
  2. No record of this conversation has been found in Department of State files.
  3. See Documents 5456.
  4. Neither Hedding’s memorandum of February 16 to Rountree nor its enclosures is attached to the source text. However, they are in Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/2–1656.
  5. Hoover signified his agreement as follows: “Concur: H.” According to a chit from Rountree to Hoover, attached to the source text, Rountree explained that he had “given Adm. Hedding the substance of our position as reflected in this memo.”