27. Letter From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Gilpatric) to the Under Secretary of State (Bowles)0

I-14613/61

Dear Chet: In a recent message (New Delhi’s Embtel 1118 of 28 April 1961)1 Ambassador Galbraith emphasized the desirability of maintaining and strengthening the generally pro-Western orientation of India’s military leaders. We understand that the Ambassador will be in Washington this week and hope that you plan to discuss this subject with him.

The Department of Defense is concerned over indications of a trend in the Indian Ministry of Defense counter to the pro-Western orientation of India’s senior military officers. These disturbing indications include: the recent Soviet emergence as a supplier of military type aircraft to India, a seeming preference on the part of Mr. V.K. Krishna Menon for Soviet rather than American sources of supply of such equipment, and the manipulations of senior officer assignments in favor of politically minded officers within the Indian Army and Air Force by Mr. Menon which may undermine the present strong, Western-oriented military leadership in favor of those more amenable to his personal political thinking.

We believe that this trend should be halted and that early practical steps should be taken to prevent further Soviet inroads which could lead to the exclusion of the United States as a supplier of military equipment to this country.

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Since private American business cannot be expected to meet Soviet price competition it is necessary to agree upon procedures by which the United States Government can assume a part of the cost of supplying military equipment. It would also be desirable for us to offer long term loans at low interest rates and accept rupees in payment where necessary. There is legislative authority under the Mutual Security Act of 1954, as amended, for making such arrangements. Similar arrangements have been made with Burma and Indonesia. Once it is decided that aid to India should be granted in the United States’ interest, the Presidential determinations and waivers which would be required under the Act should be sought. Because the actual prices charged by American manufacturers would not be affected, we can, as an internal matter, view the United States Government’s participation in the sales arrangements as an aid to India. There would then appear to be no difficulty with the legal position. Once this is clear, such problems as demonstrations of American manufactured equipment could be worked out. It is recognized, of course, that any arrangements made must take account of Indian sensitivity associated with their firm policy of accepting no grant military assistance.

With regard to the security of classified material which might be involved in such sales, Defense recognizes both the provisions of the National Disclosure Policy with its requirement for an in-country survey and the undesirability of special arrangements or exceptions. We believe that the best approach to the security problem would be through our Ambassador’s efforts to persuade the Government of India of our firm position and good faith.

It is recognized that problems may arise over Indian requests for equipment which we have not yet made available to our allies in NATO, CENTO, and SEATO. We believe that such problems, as is particularly the case with the C-130 transport aircraft, must be handled on a case by case basis.

The Department of Defense proposes that early representations be made to the Government of India which would make it clear that the United States is prepared to offer military equipment on terms at least as favorable as those offered by any other source of supply. We further propose that State and Defense collaborate in the formulation of positive courses of action with a view to implementation soon after Ambassador Galbraith’s return to India.

Sincerely,

Roswell L. Gilpatric 2
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 64 A 2382, India 400-702. Secret. Drafted on June 6 in ISA/NESA by Colonel Charles Rousek.
  2. This reference is error; the message has not been further identified.
  3. Printed from a copy that indicates Gilpatric signed the original.