329. Memorandum on the Substance of Discussion at the Department of State–Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, Pentagon, Washington, February 14, 1958, 11:30 a.m.1

[Here follow a list of participants at the meeting and agenda item 1.]

2. Libyan Army

Mr. Murphy said that as a result of considerable negotiation with the British and the Libyans, the British had come up with a proposal by which they would train the Libyan forces and the U.S. would supply equipment. Mr. Murphy described this compromise as not particularly satisfactory. He asked Mr. Nes to describe the background in greater detail.

Mr. Nes explained that the British were meeting difficulties in their current discussions with the Libyans on reductions in their forces in Libya, their financial contribution, and the withdrawal of their military mission. With respect to the latter, the Libyans had reacted violently and had charged the British with a violation of their previous commitments. Both King Idris and the Prime Minister had subsequently expressed to the British their strong desire that the military mission be retained. As a result of this attitude on the part of the Libyans the British had come to us with a view to working out some arrangement for dividing responsibility with respect to the Libyan Army. The British proposal contained in their memorandum of January 232 was not wholly satisfactory, and the Department had devised a compromise formula for consideration by Defense prior to discussing it with the British. The Secretary had been corresponding with the British Foreign Secretary, Selwyn Lloyd,3 on the Libyan problem, as a result of which the British had substantially increased their proposed subsidy to Libya. It would be helpful in the overall interests of US–UK [Page 723] cooperation in North Africa were we now to be in a position to respond favorably to the British desire to retain their military training mission in Libya.

General Twining said that the position of the Joint Chiefs is that it does not make sense militarily for one country to provide the equipment and another to conduct the training and that we should look forward to a time when we would assume both responsibilities.

General Taylor said that he had found considerable confusion in Libya during his recent visit. The present force of 2500 men has a substantial amount of light equipment provided by the U.S., while there is other equipment provided by the UK and Italy. The plan is to build the force up to approximately 5,000 men which is about right for Libyan requirements. General Taylor expressed the view that the UK should turn over training responsibilities to us.

Mr. Murphy agreed that it would not be a good situation where responsibility would be divided but said that the UK might eventually decide to pull out and permit us to take over. He stressed the political importance of UK cooperation in Libya, an important area in North Africa.

Admiral Burke suggested that the UK might concentrate on those countries where it could do a complete job and let us take over in countries where the UK could not assume full responsibility. Mr. Murphy replied that this was not feasible from a political point of view and that other important considerations apply; for example, it is desirable that the UK make as substantial a contribution to the defense of friendly countries as is possible. Mr. Murphy inquired whether it would be possible to proceed in Libya on the basis of divided responsibility.

General Twining replied that it could be done even though it was not a healthy situation. He stressed the importance of eventual U.S. resumption of complete responsibility.

General Twining wondered whether we could get some concessions out of the UK in other areas such as Iraq if we agreed to the proposed play for Libya. Mr. Murphy replied that he did not think it would be feasible to use the Libya situation as a bargaining counter for other areas. Mr. Irwin commented that we tend to look at these problems on the basis of items or of individual countries and suggested that perhaps we could work out arrangements on a broader basis. Mr. Murphy commented that the British are rather jealous of their position in a number of these areas and that it was doubtful they would agree to bargaining one area as against another.

It was agreed that the compromise proposal suggested by the Department (Deptel 569 of January 24 to Tripoli)4 would be adopted [Page 724] and that the Department in discussions with the UK would suggest the desirability of eventual assumption by the U.S. of training responsibility.

[Here follow the remaining agenda items.]

  1. Source: Department of State, State–JCS Meetings: Lot 61 D 417. Secret. Drafted by Finn and approved by Finn and Nes. The source text bears typewritten notations that it is a Department of State draft not cleared with the Department of Defense and that Murphy did not see it.
  2. A copy is attached to a February 7 memorandum from Berry to Murphy entitled “The Libyan Army.” (Ibid., Central Files, 773.5/2–758)
  3. See the editorial note, supra .
  4. Not found.