276. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Ethiopia0

544. Embdes 233.1 While numerous notes received from FonOff in last six months requesting additional military equipment, believe presentation Ethiopian position given Bowles by Emperor (ref des) most important and inclusive. Therefore, unless you perceive objection, you [Page 436] should seek audience with Emperor and, in response to referenced memorandum, orally present points outlined below. You should also leave an aide-memoire along same lines.

USG appreciates opportunity given Ambassador Bowles Feb 21, 1962 discuss with His Imperial Majesty problems which Ethiopia and US share. Bowles returned to Washington deeply impressed not only with Emperor’s dedication to Ethiopian people and their political and economic development but also with Emperor’s views on social development and importance of individual citizen.

U.S. believes, as indicated by Bowles, there broad areas of agreement on almost every point discussed: need for economic planning; for widespread distribution of land so that every peasant family will have share in country’s development; for expansion education and medical services; for improved communications and particularly for greater emphasis on rural areas.USG is anxious continue to assist IEG carry out these plans for development and will work with IEG on those projects which meet AID criteria and which both governments agree will contribute to social and economic betterment of Ethiopian people. Only need of additional military equipment seemed require further study by both governments. USG has reviewed memorandum given Bowles after meeting and comments as follows:

Scope and purpose US-IEG military program decided in 1953 agreement as modified 1956 and 1960. Since that time efficient, modern Ethiopian fighting force has been developed capable defeating any potential invader. In fact, nowhere near Ethiopia’s borders does there appear to exist a well-armed adversary capable of launching a serious sustained attack on Ethiopia. The possibility of successful aggression against Ethiopia has therefore, if anything, markedly decreased. The military case for expansion Ethiopian forces for defensive purposes is thus difficult to substantiate at this time and justification to numerous interested observers would be necessary not only by Ethiopia but also by U.S. in view Somalia’s recent complaint to UNSYG and increasing concern over Ethiopian military might. USG, and presumably IEG, would wish to be especially careful at this point re taking any action which might trigger an arms race in Horn of Africa. While Italy and UK undoubtedly would not provide Somalia with any more military equipment than required for internal security and basic defense, there is little doubt Communist countries would exploit any possibility of causing an armed conflict between Somalia and Ethiopia. Furthermore, and important as a separate consideration, support for additional military equipment and forces at this time would place considerable additional strain on Ethiopia’s resources and quite probably necessitate postponement of some important economic development measures. Therefore in the interest of peace, and in order to prevent hasty counter-action by Somalia, USG[Page 437]regrets that it is unable to meet IEG request for additional fighter aircraft. With regard to transport aircraft for Ethiopian airforce,USG considers, and assumes IEG would now agree, that planned delivery of 2 C-54 aircraft in August of this year together with C-47 aircraft already delivered fulfills IEG requirements.

With reference other military items mentioned in note given Ambassador Bowles Feb 21, 1962, USG has already undertaken to meet most these requests on a continuing basis in regular program. While M-24 tank has been considered adequate for Ethiopian needs, Ethiopian program nevertheless already calls for change which should meet Ethiopian request this item (13 M-41 tanks in FY 62 program to be delivered in FY 63; 27 more in proposed FY 63 program for delivery in FY 64). Twelve 155 mm Howitzers are proposed for FY 63 program for delivery in FY 63. While USG always willing consider other IEG requests such as prefabricated housing mentioned in memorandum, it should be noted that 26 quonset huts and 16 prefab buildings were delivered in Oct 1959. Four of these quonsets and 7 prefab buildings are still in original crates at Engineer Depot Addis Ababa. With respect to the quartermaster items requested in IEG note of Sept 6, 1961, a substantial quantity of personal equipment is proposed for FY 63 program with delivery before end that fiscal year. Believe facts enumerated this para strong evidence that USG is in fact planning meet IEG needs on a continuing basis. Of course, firm program for such of above items as proposed for FY 63 program depend-ent upon annual Congressional action which for FY 63 still pending.

In conclusion USG wishes assure IEG it expects to continue fulfill all of its commitments re Ethiopian military establishment and is prepared jointly review Ethiopian needs yearly and meet continuing requirements on basis military, political and economic situation prevailing in two countries at that time.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 775.5/5-1962. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Buckle on May 17; cleared by Whitfield (OSD/ISA), Tasca, and Wolfe in draft and by Hutchinson, Kitchen, and Bowles; and approved by Williams. Repeated to Mogadiscio and pouched to Paris for the Embassy and CINCEUR.
  2. Despatch 233, February 26, reported the discussion between Chester Bowles, Presidential Special Representative and Adviser on African, Asian, and Latin American Affairs, and Emperor Haile Selassie of U.S. military assistance programs in Addis Ababa on February 21. (Ibid., 123-Bowles, Chester) On February 24, he sent a telegram from New Delhi recommending that the Ethiopian request for a second squadron of F-86s [text not declassified] be rejected tactfully but firmly. He noted that there was no rational military justification for the request and that if the United States increased military aid to Ethiopia, the result would be an arms race with its neighbors. (Telegram 2633 from New Delhi; ibid., 775.56311/2-2462)
  3. On May 24, Ambassador Arthur Richards reported that he had discussed the points in telegram 544 with the Emperor that morning. Haile Selassie expressed gratitude for U.S. aid and said that it was because of the build-up of the military capability of Ethiopia’s neighbors, especially Somalia, that the Imperial Ethiopian Government felt it necessary to increase the capabilities of the Ethiopian Air Force. Thus, he was disappointed that the United States had rejected his request for F-86s. (Telegram 618 from Addis Ababa; ibid., 775.5/5-2462)