69. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara0



  • Military Advice Pursuant to US Policy Towards Iran (U)
Reference is made to the memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of Defense, dated 29 May 1961,1 subject as above, in which the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were requested on specific aspects of the new “US Policy Toward Iran” as set forth in National Security Council Action 2427.2
In your examination of political-military implications of NSC Action 2427 with the Department of State, it is recommended that you consider the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as summarized below and as supplemented in the Appendix hereto:3
The strategic importance of Iran to the United States and her allies, especially NATO, cannot be overemphasized. However, the United [Page 167]States does not have sufficient military assets to station permanently significant additional forces in Iran or adjacent areas and meet current worldwide security commitments.
Temporary deployment of “show of force” or “token” forces additional to forces permanently deployed to the area is feasible. Pre-positioning of some material and equipment in the general area will assist in the attainment of a more rapid reaction to an emergency and will assist in support of temporary deployments. However, inherent delays in obtaining clearances for transit of forces and timely availability of base facilities could restrict immediate actions to temporary deployments of naval forces to international waters adjacent to Iran.
Periodic dispatching of US forces on an exercise or maneuver basis to Iran, preferably in coordination with CENTO, is desirable and feasible.
Further detailed identification (earmarking) of existing US units allocated for possible deployment to Iran in current contingency plans is militarily impractical.
It is militarily undesirable to inform the Iranian Government more specifically of US unilateral plans for military action in support of Iran.
Current military plans provide for the possible use of US forces in excess of two divisions in Iran, with either conventional or nuclear capability, or both; therefore, preparation of additional plans for illustrative purposes as a basis for identifying key military and political considerations appears unnecessary.
The decision to deploy sizeable forces to the Middle East area to assist Iran against a Soviet attack must consider the possibility of the conflict escalating into general war and the effect of the decision on US general war posture. It is envisaged that in general war defense of the Middle East area would be undertaken primarily by indigenous forces. Within present military strategy, it is not contemplated that sizeable US combat forces will be deployed to the Middle East area, at least initially. Many advantages would accrue to the area from the Allied strategic offensive.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
L. L. Lemnitzer4
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Iran 000.1—1961. Top Secret.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid.)
  3. Document 51.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Printed from a copy that indicates Lemnitzer signed the original.