180. Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of State 0

1384. Eyes Only for Secretary. Pass Eyes Only Secretary McNamara, White House for Bundy.

While we hold to the estimate that the Chinese have limited objectives in the NEFA, on the other hand today’s fighting has brought them still further south and in considerable force. Late reports indicate that Towang, a communications and administration center some 20 air miles south of the MacMahon line has fallen. Our mind must now be open to graver ambitions extending to much of NEFA and eliminating India’s natural mountain spine as fortification.
We still have had no formal request for assistance. This reflects in our best judgment intention to make one more try for Soviet restraint of ChiComs plus the reluctance of Menon to confess the total defeat of his hopes and policy. On the other hand Foreign Secretary M.J. Desai yesterday and Finance Minister Morajai Desai this evening told me that such a request is inevitable and imminent.
According to a wealth of information and most recently this evening from Finance Minister Desai we know that the Indians are fighting with vastly inferior weapons. They have World War I rifles vs. the modern automatic weapons of Chinese, few mortars, inadequate machine gun support.
It seems obvious we cannot offer weapons prior to being requested. It would be politically unproductive for us to do so. However, in view of the military and political situation it is plain that we may have to act with utmost urgency when the request is made. Our great promptness will have maximum favorable effect on Indian troop morale, on political climate toward the United States and most important in deterring further Chinese advances.
Under these circumstances and in line with present Washington knowledge of forces operating under NEFA conditions, we believe it important that contingency planning for air-lift movement of weapons and ammunition get under way at once. Thinking should be in terms of infantry weapons for immediate use by (say) two divisions plus of professional ill-equipped infantry operating under mountain conditions. This would be with view to moving arms to NEFA base within hours after request. We are fully aware of the many missing elements for such [Page 351] planning but now believe it would be negligent not to make preparation on basis of presently available knowledge.
Would you advise us urgently of reaction and of information which we should seek to supply bearing in mind the limitations on our ability in this respect.
This reflects view of Attaches.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 791.56/10-2562. Secret; Niact. Relayed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the White House.