272. Letter From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Penfield) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Nitze)0

Dear Mr. Nitze: In view of the fact that we have recently authorized our Ambassador in Ethiopia to proceed with negotiations for the additional facilities desired by the Department of Defense near Kagnew Station in Eritrea, I believe that I should call to your attention Assistant Secretary Williams’ impressions of the political climate in Ethiopia. A copy of telegram 389 from the Embassy at Mogadiscio is enclosed.1

Assistant Secretary Williams’ impressions are consistent with our own analysis. It is clear that there is a very real danger that political developments in the Horn of Africa over the next few years may result in limitations on our freedom of action at Kagnew Station or even in demands for its evacuation. Therefore, although we are presently in a relatively good political position in Ethiopia, I believe it would be only prudent [Page 429]for the interested agencies to begin now to study seriously alternative means by which the functions of Kagnew Station could be carried out. I do not mean that we will in any way relax our efforts to preserve the status of this valuable facility—I am simply calling attention to a contingency which it would be shortsighted to overlook.

Sincerely yours,

James K. Penfield2
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 775A.56311/3-761. Secret. Drafted by Allen on March 6.
  2. Not printed. In telegram 389, February 21, Williams reported that Ethiopia had been deeply affected by the unsuccessful coup of December 1960 and would never be the same again. He noted that in the minds of many forward looking Ethiopians, U.S. assistance to the Ethiopian army had aided in maintaining what had become an unpopular regime, and that if a revolution should occur in the near future, there was reason for concern that Americans might be among those attacked. (Ibid., 775.00/2-2161)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.