30. Airgram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Turkey 0

G–161. CENTO.

The regional members of the CENTO alliance will doubtless be looking to the forthcoming meetings of the Military Committee (April 24–25) and Ministerial Council (April 27–29) for indications of basic changes, if any, in the USG’s approach to its association with CENTO. Their interest in this regard—but we doubt their expectations—may be heightened by the unusually long interval since the last meetings of these two bodies and by the fact that the April meetings will be the first significant CENTO meetings, in addition to the Council Deputies, to convene since the new U.S. Administration took office.
The regional members will be looking to the Military Committee in particular to see whether our views on CENTO military organizational arrangements have altered. Possibly they may also look to that [Page 78] meeting and to the Ministerial Council Session for signs as to whether the United States regards any differently the question of membership in CENTO. We believe, however, they have already come to accept without significant contention our non-adherence to the Baghdad Pact document. As our positions on both the command structure and membership questions are based principally on policy considerations of a political nature, such substantive discussion of these considerations as is required with the regional members in the forthcoming meetings would more properly take place at the Ministerial Council Session than at the Military Committee meeting.
The course of events at the Military Committee meeting might be made smoother if we informally indicate to the regional members in advance of that meeting, without entering into substantive discussion, that the U.S. approach to the membership and command structure questions has not undergone basic change. Accordingly, you are requested to take the opportunity, preferably during the course of a discussion devoted primarily to related matters, to indicate orally to your host Government that the U.S. Delegations to the Military and Ministerial meetings will not reflect basically changed positions on either the membership or command structure questions.
FYI. As regards the question of CENTO military organizational arrangements, it is expected that our delegations at the forthcoming meetings will be instructed as follows:
The United States continues to believe that elaborate CENTO military organizational arrangements, providing for an executive authority to implement planning and including the designation of a supreme commander, would be undesirable at this time for political reasons.
In the U.S. view, CENTO’s military organizational arrangements should continue along present lines, consistent with the immediate and primary purpose of formulating plans. In reviewing the current arrangements, however, it would be appropriate for CENTO to consider the extent to which these arrangements may follow lines consonant with their eventual evolution into a command-type organization, should need arise for such command under changed circumstances.
The United States also continues to support planning for a command structure, including a supreme commander, to be available on a standby basis for eventual use whenever it is agreed on a governmental level that such arrangements are both militarily required and politically acceptable.
With regard to the review to be made of the current military arrangements which became effective in January 1960, i.e., establishment of the Permanent Military Deputies Group (PMDG) and reorganization [Page 79] of the Combined Military Planning Staff (CMPS), in the U.S. view there has been insufficient experience as yet to pass upon the continued validity of these arrangements. Should the member states feel strongly, however, that the PMDG ought to be revised or disbanded at a relatively early date, the United States will show an open mind toward new organizational proposals which are in keeping with (a) and (b) above.
Should the member states request at the forthcoming meetings that the United States continue to provide the Chief of Staff of the CMPS, the United States is prepared to extend its incumbency in this position, provided CENTO’s military organizational arrangements are to continue along the lines put into effect in January 1960. The extension would be for another tour of duty, not a permanent undertaking. If, on the other hand, the Chief of Staff position is to assume additional prominence as the result of changes in the current organizational arrangements, such as elevation of the rank of that position vis-à-vis the PMDG or elimination of the PMDG, the United States would have reservations to continue filling the chief officer position of CENTO’s international planning staff. (Note: The regional members have already suggested that the United States provide the Chief of Staff on a permanent basis.) End FYI.
The Department has already spoken with the British Embassy here along the above lines (see Memorandum of Conversation of March 29, 1961, Denis Greenhill-G. Lewis Jones, Subject: “CENTO Military Organization”).1
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 378.75/4–661. Secret. Drafted by Gannett (NEA/NR) on April 3; cleared by Haydn Williams (DOD) in draft, McGhee (S/P), Jones (NEA), and Johnson (S/S); and approved and signed by Secretary Rusk. Also sent to Karachi and Tehran and repeated to London.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., 378.75/3–2961)