317. Memorandum on the Substance of Discussion at the Department of State–Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, Pentagon, Washington, September 12, 19581


  • Defense
    • General Twining, USAF
    • General Taylor, USA
    • Admiral Burke, USN
    • General White, USAF
    • General Pate, USMC
    • Major General Johnson, USA
    • Lt. General Moore, USA
    • Vice Admiral Dennison, USN
    • Lt. General Gerhart, USAF
    • Major General Greene, USMC
    • Colonel Hillyard, USA
    • Rear Admiral Triebel, USN
    • Captain Carde, USN
  • ISA
    • Mr. Mansfield Sprague
    • Lt. General Fox
  • JSSC
    • Major General Terrill, USAF
    • Major General Caraway, USA
    • Rear Admiral Dudley, USN
  • State
    • Mr. Reinhardt, C
    • Mr. Rockwell, NEA
    • Mr. Smith, S/P
    • Mr. Green, FE
    • Mr. Porter, G
  • CIA
    • Lt. General Cabell
    • Mr. Amory
  • NSC
    • Mr. Gleason

1. Situation in Lebanon and Jordan

General Taylor said that he had housekeeping and administrative problems to bring up concerning the army troops now in Lebanon. Present plans are to bring the remaining marine battalion out in the near future. This will leave the army battle group of approximately 7, 000. This force must be winterized if it is to stay after mid-fall, and it is due for rotation to the United States shortly after the turn of the year which would require the sending in of a new unit if its presence is still required. General Taylor has noted Chamoun’s comments that the United States would be needed at least until the end of the year, whereas he had the impression that Chehab was more optimistic about an earlier withdrawal date.

Mr. Rockwell gave as his entirely personal view the opinion that if political conditions continue to improve in Lebanon all but a token force could be removed by the end of October. General Taylor inquired [Page 564] as to the nature and size of a token force. Mr. Rockwell said that the big problem is the connection between our forces and the British forces in Jordan. We have made clear to the British that we will not leave their forces in Jordan alone in the Middle East. The political problem in Jordan is more difficult and withdrawal might not be possible as early as in Lebanon. For this reason a token force in Lebanon might be required even though the Lebanese situation per se might not require it. Mr. Rockwell added in response to General Taylor’s further questioning that, again in his personal opinion only, the token force would not be one possessing a military capability but would represent more a political presence on the part of the United States.

He said that he did not believe that Chehab would place us in an awkward position by insisting on immediate total withdrawal, although he believed we would acceed to a firm request on Chehab’s part. General Taylor asked about Hammarskjold’s activities in the Middle East. Mr. Rockwell responded that Hammarskjold appears to be taking no position recommending withdrawal of U.S. and British forces. The proposed United Nations presence in the Middle East, in Mr. Hammarskjold’s view, would not in itself contribute sufficient assurance to justify Western military withdrawal. Hammarskjold has been successful in securing agreement on United Nations representation in Amman, Damascus and Beirut to report on violations of the UN agreement and on evidence of attempt at “indirect aggression”. This would not be a UN observer force in the usual sense, however.

General Taylor pointed out that the army forces remaining in Lebanon after October 1 will be reduced from 7, 000 to 6, 500. This would leave a balanced force but one of the minimum size with a military significance. Anything smaller would be a “flying the flag” gesture. Mr. Reinhardt asked whether plans were firm for departure of the Marine Battalion remaining after the current battalion withdrawal. General Twining responded that this was as yet only for planning purposes, and that the planning date was scheduled for shortly after October 1. There was discussion between Messrs. Reinhardt and Rockwell and General Taylor on the fluidity of the situation immediately after Chehab takes office on September 24. Chehab will take time to form his government and convince the opposition nothing is to be gained by further violence or use of armed force. Chehab will have to get physical control of much of the country. Mr. Rockwell feels that Chehab is already doing well to consolidate his position. The army is now going into rebel held areas and assuming control with considerable firmness.

General Taylor summed up this agenda item by saying that he assumed from the discussion that U.S. forces would be out of Lebanon, or virtually so, by the end of October but that it was recognized [Page 565] that Chehab’s desires would have strong bearing on the matter. He said that from his point of view he would like to remove the troops as soon as the military situation no longer requires their presence.2

2. Aid to Jordan

There was a brief discussion on aid to Jordan in which Mr. Sprague participated. He summarized the State–Defense agreed position to turn down Hussein’s request for equipment and support for two additional brigades. He and Mr. Rockwell pointed out that the political situation did not allow a flat turn-down of the request at this time and that we were therefore taking advantage of an offer by the King to send a small U.S. mission to Jordan to study the military situation. It was agreed that an army officer and an ICA officer would compose this team. Mr. Sprague quoted Mr. Rountree as considering this a holding operation which might use up six weeks time to allow the political situation in Jordan further to crystallize, allowing a reconsideration of the U.S. policy in the area at that time. Mr. Rockwell pointed out in response to a question from General Taylor that the U.S. survey mission would also have a constructive role to play in making positive recommendations for the reequipping and strengthening of the presently constituted armed forces of Jordan. The findings of the mission could also provide additional bases for turning down the request for establishment of the two new brigades.

[Here follows discussion of items 3, “Taiwan Straits,” and 4, “Press Disclosures.”]

  1. Source: Department of State, State–JCS Meetings: Lot 61 D 417. Top Secret. A typewritten note at the top of the source text reads: “State Draft. Not cleared with Department of Defense.”
  2. The JCS informed Admiral Holloway of the substance of this discussion in JCS telegram 948066 to CINCSPECOMME, September 15. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Files; included in the microfiche supplement)