342. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) and Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson0

The attached paper from Rusk, McNamara, and Bell recommends a major initiative toward India. Its genesis was a proposal by Bowles that since we were probably going to be giving India substantial military aid against the Chicoms anyway, why not package it in such a way as to get the maximum from the Indians? So he suggested trading an informal indication of our longer-term MAP plans for Indian assurances that they would limit their own buildup, not divert too much from development to defense, and not lean too heavily on Soviet military aid. We fear Khrushchev may be coming to India shortly with some military goodies, so would like to start moving first.

The chief risk is a tough Pakistani reaction, unless we handle the transaction with skill. But we cannot afford to give the Pakistani a veto on our Indian policy, when we have a major opportunity to move India closer to us. Moreover, to mollify the Paks we would plan on a similar long-term MAP commitment to them, if they undertook to behave themselves vis-à-vis Peiping.

This thoughtful paper speaks for itself; we urge that you approve it. In fact, we’d go somewhat further than cautious State and DOD—perhaps to as high as $65 million MAP a year including high performance [Page 697] aircraft, if needed as an added sweetener to get the Indian response Bowles hopes to get. We propose a meeting to discuss this enterprise with you at 11:00 Thursday.1

  • McG. B.
  • RWK




  • Next Steps on Military Aid to India and Pakistan

Proposal for India

Ambassador Bowles proposes that we make a five-year military assistance commitment to India in exchange for Indian decisions to limit their force levels, hold down procurement of military equipment from the Soviet Bloc, hold to a minimum diversion of foreign exchange from economic development, exercise restraint in relations with Pakistan, and cooperate with us in the containment of Communist China. He believes that there is a reasonable chance that India will make these decisions, if our offer is good enough. (See Enclosure 1.)3

The Departments of State and Defense and AID agree that if we could reach some such understanding with India, it would be well worthwhile. A steady long-term policy of military cooperation with India would do much to stabilize our relationship and serve our long-term political aim of pulling India closer to the United States. Indian decisions to settle on moderate force levels would hold down Indo-Pak[Page 698]tensions. We would achieve some preclusion in fact, and excessive Soviet penetration of the Indian military would be prevented. Major diversions of foreign exchange from economic development, to which we are so heavily committed, would be avoided. (Over the past three years India has spent an average of $95 million of its own foreign exchange for defense; estimates indicate this figure may go as high as $160 million for Indian FY 1964. This would put real pressure on the Indian development program.) Since we will probably provide substantial MAP to India over the next several years anyway, we ought to maximize the leverage we get from it by proceeding along the above lines.

We believe, however, that we should stop somewhere short of as explicit a commitment as Ambassador Bowles suggests, and should approach it more cautiously, rather than laying all our cards on the table at the outset. Such tactics would leave us greater freedom of action to gauge the likely Pakistani reaction, and to find out whether the Indians would indeed be sufficiently responsive, before deciding how much of our own plans to divulge. Nonetheless, we would go ahead now with the preparation of a five-year MAP program for India in the $50-$60 million annual range, so that we would be prepared, if the timing were ripe and the Indian response to our initial probes satisfactory, to divulge our longer term plans.

Proposal for Pakistan

In the years since 1954, we have established a pattern of military assistance to Pakistan which in many respects resembles the one which we are now suggesting for India. We have agreed to modernize and maintain five and a half divisions and to modernize the Pakistan air force. The latter has come to mean that eventually we will replace the obsolescent F-86 squadrons with supersonic aircraft. (Pakistan already has one squadron of F-104s which we delivered in 1961.) We have told the Pakistanis from time to time of the quantities of certain types of equipment we were planning to deliver to meet our commitments. By providing this level of support, we were able to make it possible for the Pakistanis to limit their over-all force goals and the diversion of their foreign exchange to military expenditures.

One reason for caution about moving ahead too fast in revealing to India our longer term MAP plans is that these might leak prematurely to Pakistan and cause a violent reaction before we had laid the necessary groundwork. To mitigate the Pakistani reaction we might provide them too, at roughly the same time, with an indication of our longer term MAP intentions, perhaps for the next three years. To this end, we should also prepare a three-five year MAP program for Pakistan for use if and when the timing seems ripe. We’ve been planning on around $40 million annually in continuing MAP. As with India, we would also attach conditions [Page 699] to this program, particularly that it is predicated upon our clear understanding that Pakistan will not go too far with China.

Unfortunately Chou En-lai’s coming visit to Pakistan leads me to believe that now is the wrong time to talk with Ayub about longer term MAP. However, as we chart our course in the troubled waters of U.S.-Pakistan relations during the months ahead, I believe it important that we be prepared to give Ayub a clear signal of our continued willingness to support Pakistan unless its conduct impairs our ability to do so. General Taylor in his forthcoming visit to Pakistan will be prepared to reiterate our assurances in the course of his review of our military relationship. (See Enclosure 2.)4


In order to permit us to move ahead with both India and Pakistan, but with appropriate tactical flexibility, I recommend with the concurrence of Bob McNamara and Dave Bell that you make the following decisions:


That we develop an internal plan, not to be disclosed to the Indians as yet, for a program of military assistance in support of Indian forces to meet the Chinese threat to be accomplished over a period of five years. The JCS determined on November 23 that India required 12 divisions and two independent brigades together with supporting units and 35 squadrons, including three squadrons of night/all-weather fighters to meet this threat. (We are now supporting the conversion of six divisions into effective mountain divisions and have told the Indians that we will convert two more if funds are available.)
That the above program include helping convert those Indian ground forces which are required to meet the threat from China into effective mountain divisions with supporting elements; that we continue to assist India develop its logistic capacity to support these forces along the China border; and that we continue to help India meet a part of its defensive needs against China through domestic production.
That the program include continued support to the Indian Air Force, including radar, communications and air transport. However, we would leave open the question of supersonics and postpone for the present a decision on supplying these to India or Pakistan.
That the above plans be developed within a range of $50-60 million in MAP annually, leaving for subsequent decision the precise five-year program level.
That our willingness to extend and thereafter continue such long-range assistance will rest upon a satisfactory understanding that the Government of India will: limit its over-all forces to reasonable levels; limit procurement of arms from the Soviet Union; avoid excessive diversion of foreign exchange to defense expenditure; and exercise restraint in its relations with Pakistan. Such United States action would also rest on continued United States-Indian agreement on the political and military implications of the Chinese threat.
That, as to the tactics with India, we proceed on the following careful, step-by-step basis:
At this point, we would only authorize Ambassador Bowles to say that we were considering longer term plans for military aid to India. Before we could firm these up we needed a better understanding of proposed Indian defense plans, force ceilings, resource allocations, procurement from third countries, etc., over the next several years. We need to tell the Pakistanis nothing at this point.
General Taylor would reinforce this line during his visit to India (16-18 December) and probe Indian intentions. (See Enclosure 3.)5

Depending upon Indian responsiveness, we would be prepared at an appropriate time to divulge to India our longer term MAP intentions. Exactly what we say at that time would depend on our program conclusions and the extent of the understandings the Indians were prepared to reach with us along the lines of paragraph 5 above. We would in no case, of course, make a firm commitment but only state our intentions, the carrying out of which would be dependent on Indian performance and United States appropriations. We would simultaneously inform Pakistan.


That we similarly develop an internal U.S. plan for a possible three-five year MAP package for Pakistan within the context of our present commitments. This plan should include the provision of two more squadrons of supersonic aircraft.
That we not divulge this until we are further satisfied as to Pakistani intentions vis-a-vis their alliance obligations; but that we be prepared, if circumstances seem ripe, to divulge this program at such time as we divulge our long-term Indian program.
That any three-five year Pakistan MAP program be predicated on clear understandings that Pakistan will place acceptable limits on the development of its relations with Communist China and will fulfill the basic requirements of its alliance relationship with us.

Since we plan to move ahead with India in stages, I hope to be able to recommend to you that we move toward longer range military delivery [Page 701] schedules for Pakistan before or when we disclose the full dimensions of our Indian package to Nehru. Max Taylor will drive home to Ayub the dangers of his present course with China when he is in Karachi on 19-20 December. Upon his return we shall take another look at the whole problem of containing Communist aggression on the subcontinent. Since Pakistan sees its so far limited relations with Communist China as serving its national interest, just as India sees relations with the U.S.S.R. as serving its interests, it is perhaps too much to hope that we can develop unlimited security relationships with either country. Yet if we can move ahead, albeit somewhat jerkily in each country, I believe these proposals for military assistance to India and Pakistan will advance our strategic objective of resisting Communist pressure in the area without placing intolerable strains on our relations with either country. Moreover, the course we propose, though not ideal, seems best calculated to reduce the possibility that the Sino-Soviet dispute will be fought out in the subcontinent.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, India, Vol. I. Secret.
  2. President Johnson postponed the meeting proposed for December 12. Telegram 1241 to New Delhi, December 14, indicated that President Johnson was interested in the modified Bowles proposal put forward December 11, but decided to delay any decisions concerning it until after he had received General Taylor’s advice, following Taylor’s impending trip to India and Pakistan. (Department of State, Central Files, ORG 7 JCS) A December 20 memorandum from Komer to Bundy indicated that the meeting to consider proposed military assistance programs for India and Pakistan would have to be rescheduled in January 1964. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, India, Vol. I)
  3. Secret.
  4. Enclosure 1 is the November 12 memorandum by Bowles cited in footnote 1, Document 337.3
  5. Enclosure 2 is an undated 3-page “scope paper” that lays out the background and objectives of Taylor’s trip to Pakistan. No drafting information is provided.
  6. Enclosure 3 is an undated 2-page “scope paper” that lays out the background and objectives of Taylor’s trip to India. It was drafted on November 25 in DOD/ISA/NESA by Colonel Miller.
  7. Rusk’s initials appear in an unidentified hand, indicating Rusk initialed the original.