338. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Bundy)0

When Chet Bowles saw the President 13 November, the latter was favorably impressed in principle with Chet’s pitch that it might be possible to trade off a 5-year US military commitment (at $65-$75 million or so) for at least a tacit understanding that the Indians would not exceed certain reasonable force goals, would limit their buys from the Soviets, and would take a more active role in our grand strategy against China. Chet thought that such a force ceiling would make continued MAP for India more palatable to the Paks, and would also limit the amount of free foreign exchange India would divert to defense at the expense of development.

The President’s view was that Chet might have an interesting proposition even if it had only a 50-50 chance of success or even if we didn’t get full performance. I attach the papers1 which Chet gave the President and the latter read with interest.

Chet mentioned India’s desire for defense production aid (further highlighted in Nehru’s recent letter, Delhi 1625).2 I suggested, however, that we might not want to build up too much of an indigenous production base at this time, since it made India less dependent on us and was the facet which most worried the Paks.

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The President asked that he be given a preliminary Washington view on this in time to discuss it again with Bowles before the latter left. I’ve also told Phil Talbot about this and suggested a 22 November deadline for a joint State-Defense memo, so we can give it to the President for weekend reading.

While Chet told the President he would really like something on the order of $75 million annually, he also presented attached estimate that some $314 million over five years might do the trick. He noted that these figures would need to be carefully reviewed (I pointed out that DOD’s current thinking was more on the order of $50 million a year, and an 18 division and 39 squadron ceiling). Also, a 5-year commitment a la Iran was hard to make at a time when future aid prospects were so uncertain. However, in response to the President, I did hazard, on the basis of previous talks with you, that if necessary DOD could probably find another $10-$12 million a year for Indian MAP.

My own reaction is that if in fact we’re now involved in a long term MAP relationship (on the order of $50 million plus annually), why not see how much we can use this leverage to get some things from Delhi that we really want? If Bowles turns out to be over-optimistic, have we really lost very much?

R. W. Komer 3
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, India, General, 10/20/63-11/22/63. Secret.
  2. Not attached. The documents cited are attached to a copy of Komer’s memorandum in Department of State files. They include the memorandum cited in footnote 1, Document 337, a chart detailing the estimated cost of U.S. portion of supporting an 18-division Indian Army and a 47-squadron Indian air force for Fiscal Years 1965-1969, and a 2-page memorandum entitled “Proposed Programs for MAP, India.” (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 19 US-INDIA)
  3. See Document 336.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.