162. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Libya1

393. In light present situation Libya including 1) reported Soviet and Egyptian military offers and other indications interest2 2) criticisms US inactivity re commitments and 3) uncertainty re UK position Libya,3 Department and Defense agreed we cannot delay implementation FY 57 MDA program for Libya until after we talk to UK. While recognizing disadvantages divided responsibility, doctrine, training and equipment for Libyan Army, State–Defense nevertheless agreed we should proceed soonest supply US equipment and furnish [Page 458] US training to meet US commitment re 1000 men.4 This procedure also has advantage placing US in position assume additional responsibilities in event subsequently determined UK unwilling or unable discharge responsibilities in manner calculated assure Libya’s pro-Western orientation.

We would propose inform UK our decision proceed rapidly carry out our commitment for 1000 men with US equipment and training, adding that we recognize this will create problem of divided responsibility re Libyan Army which we desire discuss with them in wider context present Libyan situation and other US and UK plans and programs. We would propose such talks be held London early January with US representation from State, Defense, Embassies Tripoli and London, Wheelus and CINCEUR.5

After ascertaining UK intentions Libya, we would then be in better position make our own assessment UK capabilities and decisions re whether we desire continuation situation which will then obtain of divided responsibility Libyan Army or whether US should begin progressively assume entire responsibility. Talks would also cover Air Force and Navy problems, UK–Libyan Treaty and similar related problems.

Foregoing FYI and comments only. We shall instruct soonest when Tripoli can inform GOL re approval program (Deptel 371),6 program content and tentative shipping schedule and when London can broach UKFonOff.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 773.5–MSP/12–1756. Secret; Noforn. Drafted by Palmer, approved by Murphy, and cleared by Gray. Repeated to London and Paris for Knight and Wallner.
  2. Telegram 355 from Tripoli, November 22, reported that the head of the British military training mission had learned the Soviets had offered to equip and maintain the Libyan army at a level of 10,000 men. Previously Libya had requested that the British train an expanded Libyan military force. (Ibid., 773.5–MSP/11–2256)
  3. The British involvement in the invasion of Egypt had led both the Libyans and the British to reassess the British military presence.
  4. A memorandum for the Secretary of Defense by General Maxwell Taylor, on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dated December 4, emphasized the JCS view that dividing the training and advisory responsibilities between the United States and the United Kingdom was militarily unsound. The JCS proposed an early accord with the British which would provide for an increase of 1,035 men in the Libyan army to be trained and equipped by the United States. Furthermore, it urged that over time the United States should assume those roles for the entire army. (Department of State, AF/AFI Files: Lot 62 D 406, Miscellaneous)
  5. Telegram 4472 to London, December 28, repeated an approach by the British Ambassador to the Secretary of State on December 24 to suggest an exchange of views on Libya at the working level. The Department favored holding such informal talks in London in January. (Ibid., Central Files, 773.5–MSP/12–1956) See Document 165.
  6. Telegram 371 to Tripoli, December 8, stated that on or about December 15 the Department hoped to have a picture of worldwide military aid assistance requirements for fiscal year 1957. (Ibid., 773.5–MSP/12–856) Congress had cut the appropriation and thus all of the prospective programs had to be reviewed.