72. Memorandum of Conversation0



August–September, 1959


  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Ambassador Whitney
    • Mr. Gates
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Mr. Irwin
    • Mr. Berding
    • Mr. White
    • Mr. Farley
    • Mr. McBride
  • United Kingdom
    • Foreign Minister Lloyd
    • Sir Richard Powell
    • Ambassador Caccia
    • Mr. Hoyer-Millar
    • Mr. Ormsby-Gore
    • Mr. Dean
    • Mr. O’Neill
    • Mr. Hope
    • Mr. Laskey
    • Mr. Wilford


  • Coordinated Military Planning in Middle East

Mr. Lloyd noted that Lord Mountbatten would be seeing the JCS on August 311 to discuss the subject of coordinated military planning in the Middle East. The Secretary said he thought our planning was getting on extremely well. Mr. Gates added there appeared to be no unresolved problems on the military level but noted that the advanced commitment of forces was virtually impossible, as he believed Mr. Sandys and the British Chiefs of Staff agreed. Rather, added Mr. Gates, what we should do was to exchange military plans and coordinate them, and likewise have a policy of complete disclosure. To plan a specific airlift would be impossible, but we could indicate to each what type of forces we might use.

Sir Richard Powell agreed that things were all right so far as they had gone in the field of joint studies, but he was asking that the US/UK plans and studies should be refined and carried further. More detailed annexes should be developed so that in the event of emergency further weeks of planning would not be required. He said Mountbatten in his Washington talks would propose necessary precautions, and would make it clear no military or political commitments were sought.

[Page 234]

Lloyd reiterated the British were not seeking any specific commitments but merely more detailed plans involving, for example, the Jordanian situation or an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in order to ascertain what could be done separately or jointly if necessary. He wanted to be clear what was available in an emergency. The UK would like to go further than merely exchanging plans and know, for example, what joint logistical support might be possible. Powell added that a combined military plan was not sought.

Lloyd said he thought there had been some misunderstanding, and Mountbatten felt that the JCS opposed any joint integrated plans. However, what the British wanted was coordinated planning. Mr. Gates said this was for the JCS to consider but he did not see any reason we could not go further in developing coordinated plans. He did not see why we could not accept the British point as outlined by Mr. Lloyd. Powell said what was wanted, without committing forces, was to translate existing studies into more detailed and specific plans. In some areas, such as the Sudan, Mr. Gates pointed out, where we did not have interests as great as the British, perhaps there should only be one unilateral plan. Mr. Lloyd agreed and referred to Iran as a case where we both had interests and a contribution to make. Powell thought that we were already in general agreement but that we could and should go further into detail. The Secretary noted that commitment of forces was always a hypothetical matter in these cases anyway, and Powell said this was true for the UK too. Mr. Gates pointed out we had no forces assigned to CINCNELM or in the Middle East.

Lloyd said he was somewhat dissatisfied to date because we had moved too slowly and we must do further planning and discover means for deploying our effort more rapidly. Mr. Gates agreed this was a sound objective. Lloyd observed we had been relatively lucky in Lebanon and Jordan but the logistic situation was much more difficult in the Persian Gulf, and we must know how long it would take to mount an operation. Our studies might show, for instance, that greater forces should be deployed in the Middle East.

Powell said it would now take so long to mount an operation to assist Kuwait that we must shorten this lead time. A military judgment was required. Lloyd said we must build up a striking force and not be defeatist. The whole area was in danger, and we must react. He thought the most imminent threat was the collapse of Iran.

Powell expressed the hope that the JCS would be authorized to talk with Mountbatten along the lines of this meeting. Mr. Gates said that, as the British had outlined it, we saw no difficulty in their proposals. He agreed with the desirability of quickening our reactions in the event of [Page 235] trouble, and of developing plans which could lead to more definitive actions. He would see that the JCS would proceed along these lines.

In closing Lloyd stressed he was not trying to trick us into any commitments but believed we should coordinate planning and hypothetical actions, the results of which might be to change our military dispositions. Mr. Gates said concepts covering these situations existed but they had not been studied in detail. Powell said he believed there had been progress in the last two or three months.

The Secretary said he did not realize there had been any difficulties on this score. Powell said there had not been difficulties but simply that the authority for pushing these studies further had been lacking. Mr. Gates concluded the discussion saying he believed this situation could be remedied during Lord Mountbatten’s forthcoming talks with the JCS.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1449. Top Secret. Drafted by McBride on August 29, cleared by White and Gates, and approved by Herter on September 1. The meeting was held at the British Foreign Office. Secretary Herter accompanied President Eisenhower on his trip August 26–September 4 to Bonn, London, and Paris.
  2. No record of this meeting has been found.