376. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1
2947. Department pass Defense. This morning President Chehab made a direct personal appeal for affirmative action on Lebanon’s long-standing request for a modest amount of military aid.
Country team telegrams are too numerous to cite but briefly a seven-man survey team from US Army European Command arrived here May 8 last year and completed its survey June 17, estimating what Lebanese Army actually needed for spare parts, ammunition and vehicles which ARMA valued at $2, 300,000. Subsequently country team refined this figure to a recommendation that hardware and an item of training for Lebanese officers in European Theater of US be furnished in a total amount of $1, 440,000. This figure was later reduced by country team to an ultimate bedrock request for $900, 000 including training.
Thus, for not quite a year Lebanese Army and President Chehab have been hoping that as result of ordnance team survey and country team recommendations some modest military assistance for Lebanon would win approval in a Presidential determination. Of course we have not divulged any figures to Lebanese.
This morning President Chehab, in discussing political situation which country confronts when nation-wide parliamentary elections are held in May, said “In such a country as this with so many different factions and basic problem of Moslem-Christian differences, Army is real ultimate guarantor of independence of this republic.”
While President did not wish speeding of munitions, spare parts and vehicles to assist Lebanese Army in maintaining internal security for elections, he did make valid point that morale of armed forces would be very much improved if they knew there were some aid forthcoming from US.
President said that last week he had once more requested Chief of Staff to inquire as to possibility of securing US radar (cf. Embtels 2661 and 2721). He said he would welcome a training mission to assist Lebanese in learning to operate this equipment as well as training of younger officers in US.
President emphasized defensive character not only of radar installations but of whole philosophy of his army. As reported in a separate telegram, he once more repeated what he had told me two weeks ago that, in event of an Arab-Israeli war, Lebanon would not participate.[Page 649]
Service attachés and country team concur in this message. With all respect, but with measured insistence, we request a favorable Presidential determination.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783A.5–MSP/3–1860. Confidential; Priority.↩