58. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France2

4247. Pinay request for utilization Algeria helicopters3 which only recently made available to them at their urgent request Indochina at sacrifice our needs other areas demonstrates French failure appreciate problem created for us by rapid deterioration situation North Africa and apparent inability French formulate and apply specific and imaginative programs to which local population will rally and which other countries can reasonably support.

We feel French Govt must be brought to realize both seriousness with which we view current situation, and difficulties it creates for us in absence French action other than traditional police type measures directed against natives. Fact that those engaged illegal terroristic activities counts for little in world opinion against moral reprobation and adverse political repercussions which anything of repressive nature inevitably arouses.

You should see Pinay and tell him following: we cannot as part present French program Algeria make available helicopters which are in very short supply. US-French agreement of last December provides that any surplus MDAP equipment Indochina will be returned US control for further disposition.4 If helicopters surplus French authorities Indochina should notify MAAG. We acknowledge French having informed us their intention transfer additional troops Algeria.5 [Page 220] We recognize French determination proceed deal with situation and that it would not be realistic request that troops be divested of such of their equipment as was furnished under MDAP program. We feel however that we entitled to be frank and emphasize the increasingly grave political problems, both domestic and international, created by growing use of US furnished weapons and equipment North Africa. It has always been our earnest hope that France will be able to develop and carry out bold political, social and economic programs which we can fully and publicly support and through which French presence in North Africa may be maintained. Recent events have in our opinion greatly increased urgency of acts of statesmanship with regard to Algeria and Morocco in same spirit France has shown in approach to Tunisian situation.

Unless such acts accompany military attempts restore public order through efforts repress terrorist activities in which France now engaged, we foresee indefinite increase of latter with attendant increase in political repercussions.

Weakening of NATO defenses in Europe through splitting up and transfer of units is serious. We hope strength can be restored quickly. Number of divisions which qualify for MDAP equipment has been considerably reduced and questions arise regarding future supply and status of previously delivered MDAP equipment.

You should conclude by assuring Pinay that we desire continue support France in efforts restore peace and create basis for enduring cooperation with North African peoples in future. In order make it possible for us maintain such support we feel there is no time for France to lose in initiating measures with regard Algeria and Morocco to assure support of native populations.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/5–2755. Secret; Priority.
  2. Pinay initially made this request known to Dillon on May 25. (Telegram 5152 from Paris, May 25; ibid., 751S.00/5–2555) A formal aide-mémoire on this subject was presented to the Embassy in France on May 26. (Telegram 5218 from Paris, May 27; ibid., 751S.00/5–2755)
  3. Generals Collins and Ely signed a minute of understanding on this matter for the United States and France, respectively, on December 1, 1954.
  4. The Second Division then stationed at Nancy was to be transferred to Algeria.
  5. When Dillon took up these matters with Massigli on May 31, he indicated that it was not likely that the French would be permitted to transfer the helicopters to Algeria. (Telegram 5255 from Paris; Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/5–3155) On June 3, Massigli notified Achilles that his government no longer sought such a release but would concentrate on attempting to buy helicopters for cash from the United States. (Telegram 5326 from Paris; ibid., 751S.00/6–355) Then on June 11, after a decision by the Cabinet Coordinating Committee, Massigli informed Achilles that despite the initial U.S. response the request for the release of the helicopters would be pursued. (Telegram 5438 from Paris; ibid., 751S.00/6–1155)