274. Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman) to Secretary of State Rusk0


  • Somali Republic May Seek Bloc Military Aid

The Somali Republic may soon seek military aid from the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia: there have been new Ethiopian incursions into tacitly neutralized border areas; a recent major Cabinet crisis has weakened the government; and Somali officials have been unhappy with the implementation of Western military and budgetary aid. The Somali Army Commander recently appealed to his government for arms “regardless of source.” Prime Minister Abdirascid discussed the Somali military program with Bloc officials in June, but sought no military aid commitments at that time.

Western Aid Delayed. UK-Italian discussions of a coordinated military supply and training program for the Somalis have dragged on without concrete results. Only small deliveries of Italian military supplies have been made. During Somali President Aden Abdulla Osman’s visit to Rome en route to the Belgrade Conference, Italy reaffirmed its intention to supply Somali arms requirements. However, the details remain to be worked out, and the extent of UK participation is uncertain.

The Italian Parliament has adjourned without legislative action on Italy’s major share of the tripartite Western (Italy, US, and UK) budgetary aid agreed upon in principle late in 1960. Final action by Italy is not expected until late September. A crisis in financing Somali Government operations may be expected by November.

Deterioration in Western Position. Recent developments suggest that Western prestige is declining steadily as a result of the prolonged delays in providing aid. Radical Somali elements contrast the West’s plans for assistance with those of the USSR and Czechoslovakia, which promised unusually large-scale economic aid in June. The acceptance of Bloc offers at that time was a concession to strong, neutralist factions which continue to exert pressure upon the unsteadily based Abdirascid government. Any introduction of Bloc arms into the explosive Somali-Ethiopian border situation would seriously increase instability in the Horn of Africa and aggravate US and Western difficulties in balancing Somali and Ethiopian demands for support.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Somalia. Confidential/Noforn. No drafting information is given on the source text. Transmitted to the White House under cover of a memorandum from Battle to McGeorge Bundy that reads: “Enclosed is a paper prepared by the Department which may be of interest to you.”