44. National Security Council Report0

NSC 5903



  • A. NSC 5615/11
  • B. NIE 76–582
  • C. OCB Report, July 9, 1958, on NSC 5615/13

The enclosed draft statement of policy on the subject, prepared by the NSC Planning Board in response to the recommendation in paragraph 3 of the reference Operations Coordinating Board Report, is transmitted herewith for consideration by the National Security Council at its meeting on Monday, February 26, 1959.4

Two maps of the area, prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency, are also enclosed for information. A Financial Appendix will be circulated subsequently for the information of the Council.5

The enclosed statement of policy, if adopted, is intended to supersede NSC 5615/1, “U.S. Policy Toward Ethiopia”.

It is recommended that, if the Council adopts the enclosed statement of policy, it be submitted to the President with the recommendation that he approve it; direct its implementation by all appropriate Executive Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government; and designate the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency.6

James S. Lay, Jr.7
[Page 180]



General Considerations

[Here follow sections headed “Importance of the Area,” “Threats to Peace and Stability in the Area,” “Ethiopia,” “Somalia,” “British Somaliland,” and “French Somaliland.”]


Denial of the Horn of Africa to Soviet domination and minimization of Soviet influence.
So far as consistent with the preceding paragraph, denial of the Horn of Africa to UAR domination and minimization of UAR influence.
Unhampered use of important Western sea and air communications in the general area of the Horn of Africa.
Access by the United States to such military facilities in the area as it may require.

Policy Guidance

Cooperate with friendly nations in (a) encouraging the resolution of conflicts and tensions in the area, (b) seeking to deny the area to Soviet domination and to minimize Soviet influence, and (c) so far as consistent with (b) seeking to deny the area to UAR domination and to minimize UAR influence.
Strengthen U.S. information and cultural exchange programs in the Horn of Africa, and encourage other friendly Free World nations to take similar action.
To strengthen Ethiopia’s orientation toward the West, continue to provide Ethiopia with:
Technical assistance, with emphasis on education and training programs.
Limited economic assistance.
Minimum military equipment and training of a kind suitable for maintaining internal security and offering resistance to local aggression, making every effort to avoid a military build-up which would strain the Ethiopian economy, lead to commitments for indefinite U.S. support, or to increased tension within the area.
Consult with Ethiopia on Middle East and African matters of concern to it. Encourage Ethiopia to maintain an interest in Pan-African affairs and to exercise a moderating influence in such affairs.

a. Encourage the resolution of differences existing between Ethiopia and the Somalilands, including border disputes.

b. When feasible, encourage cooperation between Ethiopia and the Somalilands in the development of common economic resources.

c. As appropriate, encourage Ethiopia to accept a merger of British Somaliland and Somalia and to act in such a way as to enhance the possibility of closer Ethiopian-Somali political arrangements.

Encourage Italy to continue to exercise a major role in the maintenance of Somalia’s stability and Free World orientation. Encourage Italy, the UK, and other friendly nations to provide economic and technical aid, including budgetary and police assistance, to assist Somali leaders favorable to the West to remain in power and to maintain stability in areas under their control. Be prepared to supplement these efforts by providing limited U.S. economic and technical assistance. Encourage the UN to provide technical assistance and to exercise a stabilizing influence on Somalia’s internal situation and on its relations with other countries.
Study alternative consolidations of countries and territories of the Horn of Africa to determine which would best serve U.S. interest. In the meantime:
Encourage Somali leaders to be moderate in advancing the concept of a Greater Somaliland and, to the extent feasible, to consider as an ultimate end closer relationships with Ethiopia.
Be prepared to accept moves on the part of French Somaliland to join such a Greater Somaliland, provided this is acceptable to the peoples concerned and is not inconsistent with U.S. security interests.
  1. Source: Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1. Secret.
  2. “United States Policy Toward Ethiopia,” approved November 19, 1956; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XXIII, p. 334.
  3. Document 42.
  4. Entitled “Report on Ethiopia (NSC 5615/1).” (Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430)
  5. See Document 45.
  6. The maps and the appendix are attached but not printed.
  7. A memorandum from Lay to the National Security Council, March 2, 1959, stated that the President had that day approved NSC 5903. (Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1)
  8. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
  9. Ethiopia (including Eritrea), Somalia (formerly Italian Somaliland, now a UN trust territory under Italian trusteeship), British Somaliland, and French Somaliland. [Footnote in the source text.]