308. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1

700. Reference: Deptels 666,2 6673 and Embtel 694.4 King Hussein summoned British Ambassador Johnston/myself Palace noon today. On arrival found Prime Minister Rifai already with King who stated he wished discuss provision Jordan Army which I had recently informed him was under point consideration US/UK. Speaking in emotional tone I rarely seen him use he outlined step by step events leading up to his request US military assistance including mutual defense treaty [garble] establishment MAAG Jordan. He spelled out in precise terms what he considered Jordan’s basic military requirements:

Bringing army now at 65 percent troop strength to full strength, increase approximately 6, 000 men.
Recruitment among loyal Bedouin tribes sufficient personnel create two new brigades total approximately 6–7, 000 men properly equipped with necessary armor, artillery, other supporting units, modern weapons.
Complete re-equipment other four army brigades with new weapons/vehicles some of which are over 40 years old. King said “we have 1916 Enfield rifles, 1947 tanks, 1941 transportation equipment, no army can long survive unless it is periodically re-equipped, in Jordan case this long overdue.”
Prompt delivery twelve Hawker–Hunter aircraft, inauguration ground training program Amman.

At this point he spoke in Arabic to Rifai who said King had asked him to explain how in light probable early departure UK troops as result UNSYG recent visit mandatory HKJ knew where it stood re present/potential strength armed forces order determine appropriate internal security policies. He went on to say Jordan refusal accept UN police force and/or observer teams was based on HKJ determination [not?] use international forces deal external/internal security problem. This however depended in large measure on size/character Jordan army.

In reply I said my Government’s response Jordan’s multiple request only transmitted two days ago at which time it was noted question additional units Jordan army under urgent consideration to be matter later communication. My opinion it only reasonable suppose due nature/size problem answers not likely be forthcoming several days probably longer. However I invited Hussein/RIFAI attention certain facts which must be taken into consideration:

If fully implemented HKJ request would result more than 30 percent increase its armed forces. This carried serious political implications re Jordan’s neighbors.
Cost additional brigades approximately $25 million with re-equipment army neighborhood $60 million with comparable increase annual recurring costs which in turn would greatly increase army budget now approaching $50 million annually.
Recruitment, equipping, training new brigades would take one to two years far too long be of use in present emergency. I expressed thought would like think USG delay specific reply Jordan’s request might in light foregoing be considered result number very serious problems it entailed.

King responded by saying he willing forego bringing army troop strength to TO level.

However insisted two modern equipped brigades minimum requirement in external/internal security when UK troops withdrawn. Said due fact many exservicemen available at least 50 percent new brigades could be recruited immediately, balance within six months.

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RIFAI interrupted to say situation Middle East far from settled, considerable likelihood aims GA resolution might not be achieved, therefore Jordan could not afford be weaker than her enemies, many which getting all arms they wanted USSR, added ironically Yemen army better equipped than Jordan’s.

Hussein said he concerned over antiquated administration/army, asked me request US military “survey and evaluation team” be sent Jordan make recommendations reorganization country’s armed forces. I agreed transmit request.

RIFAI pressing for answer re two brigades, said if USG wished send someone make on-spot survey speed up decision he would be most welcome. I said I would pass on this suggestion Washington.

Throughout discussion Ambassador Johnston said practically nothing and although admittedly US had been recipient original request on basis Department’s recent cables I assume UK had been consulted from outset. Therefore his attitude a little difficult understand unless he embarrassed over position he took at yesterday’s meeting reported Embtel 667.6

Comment: Abrupt nature Palace summons in light USG answer only delivered two days ago together general character British approach additional units Jordan army as noted in reference telegram leads me believe something happened past 24 hours arouse Hussein’s ire. ARMA informed by senior Jordanian army officers British up to yesterday had presented no plan. However, we know British have a plan which they have outlined to ARMA, very possible they showed it some army officer who passed word to Palace with result King decided make crystal clear he not about “buy” any idea two brigades armed only with cast-off national guard weapons. On basis estimates prepared by ARMA what Hussein has in mind (expansion, modernizing Jordanian army) would cost approximately $500 million over six-year period.

Event the so-called “minimum” which Hussein/RIFAI indicated they willing accept, namely two new brigades equipped with armor, artillery, supporting units would run into $30–35 million with sizable increase budgetary support pushing total US aid well above $100 million mark annually.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 785.5–MSP/8–3058. Secret; Priority. Repeated to London.
  2. Document 301.
  3. Apparent reference to telegram 677 to Amman; see footnote 3, Document 300.
  4. In telegram 694 from Amman, August 30, Wright outlined what he understood to be the position of the British Embassy on the question of providing Western support for the proposed expansion of the Jordanian army. (Department of State, Central Files, 785.00/8–3058)
  5. Apparent reference to telegram 694 from Amman, cited in footnote 4 above.