110. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy0


  • Soviet Military Assistance to Morocco

Ambassador Yost presented your letter to the King of Morocco in an audience on February 211 and is pursuing the problem posed by Morocco’s acceptance of Soviet jet fighters in further conversations this week with the King, the Crown Prince and other key Moroccan officials. Characteristically, [Page 166] the King reserved comment on your letter until a later audience, but did repeat his assurances that nothing would be done to affect the U.S. bases. The Ambassador is planning to offer U.S. jets on condition that Soviet technicians be excluded from Morocco.

In this connection, I think you should know that, in addition to the squadron of F-86’s which the Ambassador is authorized to offer the King, the Ambassador is also authorized to say he will report sympathetically any interest the King expresses in a later model of U.S. jet fighter or in military air transport. The offer of any U.S. aircraft, however, is contingent on satisfactory assurances from the King that Morocco will store the Soviet jets and in any case will not permit Soviet technicians to remain in the country. As my memorandum of February 17 in connection with the message to the King pointed out,3 the Department of Defense feels very strongly about the threat which Soviet planes and technicians would pose for our military bases in Morocco, a threat which Defense feels, moreover, extends to our Spanish bases, the Sixth Fleet and NATO’s southern flank in general. Defense feels so strongly about this matter that it is willing to go a long way to satisfy Moroccan military air requirements despite the political disadvantages in so doing, including the tinge of blackmail that would color such a move to block the Soviet military presence.

A Presidential determination to cover as much as $6.8 million for F-86’s was granted on December 6, 1960, but Ambassador Yost did not then feel it necessary to draw on the standby authority given him. If it is now necessary to go beyond this earlier proposition, either by furnishing a later type of jet or by providing military transport aircraft, the cost might rise appreciably and would require a further Presidential determination. I understand Defense estimates that a squadron of F-100-Ds might cost as much as $20 million, not including the expenses for spares and maintenance. I do not know that it will be necessary to go to these lengths. Much depends on Ambassador Yost’s success in getting the Moroccans to reaffirm their earlier assurances that Soviet technicians would not be permitted in Morocco. We have strong indications that Soviet personnel are already there, but they may be an assembly crew which will soon depart. In any case, I thought you should know where this matter now stands. The Moroccan Government under the initiative of the Crown Prince, does appear to be opening itself dangerously to Soviet assistance. It is not difficult to understand why the Pentagon is apprehensive about this development, given the importance of our bases in Morocco and in Spain as well as Morocco’s strategic position on the Straits of Gibraltar.

Dean Rusk4
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Morocco, 1/61-10/61. Secret.
  2. Ambassador Yost’s report was sent to the Department of State in telegram 1571 from Rabat, February 21. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.71/2-1261)
  3. Document 108.
  4. Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.