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

232. Addis Ababa’s 2811 and 283.2 For Ambassador. You should on urgent basis seek earliest possible audience with Emperor or failing this appointment with Prime Minister Aklilou to discuss following:

Congo: Only three Saabs and one Canberra combat equipped and operational in Congo. In view Emperor’s continued indications firm support UN operation in Congo, Department hopeful IEG will dispatch four F-86s with pilots soonest.
At your discretion, convey our desire move ahead rapidly to complete arrangements for Kagnew extension in implementation of Emperor’s 1960 agreement in principle.
At your discretion, advise that RCA has informed Department and is informing IEG that after full consideration problem, they are unable continue with present contract. You should also advise that USG urgently examining alternatives.
You should present military assistance for Somalia in following manner (to Emperor only):
USG has consistently demonstrated its sincere interest in security Ethiopia through variety means including support for Ethiopian military and police. US opposition to any activities threatening Ethiopia’s territorial integrity was publicly announced shortly after Ambassador Richards’ presentation credentials in 1960. USG continues adhere firmly to this position.
USG is aware of Ethiopia’s concern that Somalia might again become avenue for threat to Ethiopian territorial integrity. It clear to us that Somalis not likely ever have sufficient military establishment to encourage them attempt unaided promote their aim of Greater Somalia by force. We are concerned however at penetration of Somali military through medium military assistance from nations whose intentions towards Ethiopia suspect. This raises possibility Somalis might lend themselves to adventure against Ethiopia supported by forces from outside.
Military assistance to Somalia which UK and Italy willing provide leaves gaps in Somali military requirements which being filled in part by UAR. Soviet Union has recently made beginning in filling one such gap by initiating program of training for 20 Somali military pilots and 30 mechanics. Soviet plans with regard Somali military clearly do not stop there. Undoubtedly training will be followed by offers military hardware.
USG has already made major effort influence Somalis against allowing entrance into such sensitive field of nations whose intentions towards Ethiopia dubious. Principal inhibiting factor in US ability exert influence on Somali Government has been our refusal, based on our knowledge Ethiopian sensitivities, to provide military assistance to Somalia.
We feel time has now come when both USG and IEG must take under urgent reconsideration problem of military assistance to Somalia. There is now no longer any question of whether Somalis are going to continue build their military establishment, but by how much and from whom. We feel interests of both USG and IEG require that sources of military aid for Somalia be nations who can be counted upon keep Somali military development within reasonable bounds and whose friendship for Ethiopia and dedication to Ethiopia’s territorial integrity are amply demonstrated and not open to question.
USG accordingly is coming to conclusion that some form of limited US military assistance to Somalia may be necessary to supplement efforts of UK and Italy in order preclude Soviet Union from this field and to reduce and if possible eliminate UAR as well. We are coming to Emperor before making any final decisions on this matter in hope he will appreciate urgency of need to ensure that major outside influences on Somalis in this sensitive area so important to Ethiopia’s security will be exercised by nations sincerely desirous retaining Ethiopia’s friendship and to promoting peace and security in Horn of Africa.

FYI. In your discussion if you think it would be useful, you might wish draw also on following: Somali Prime Minister arriving Washington November 27 and has already indicated this topic will be one of foremost subjects for his discussions with President and Secretary. His visit here will be part of tour of Western countries from whom Somalia now receiving aid. Degree of responsiveness he meets on tour could have significant effect on where Somalia will place its future reliance for aid of all types. You might also wish explain that any US military aid to Somalia [Page 445]would be closely coordinated with UK and Italy and would consist of minimum supplement to Italo-UK aid required for preclusion. End FYI.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 675.77/11-1662. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Post; cleared in draft by Cole, Tank (AID), and Harrison (AID) and by Witman, by Godley and Whitfield (OSD/ISA) in substance; and approved by Williams. Repeated to Mogadiscio, Leopoldville, and Asmara and by pouch to USUN, London, and Rome.
  2. Dated November 16. (Ibid.)
  3. Dated November 16. (Ibid., 975.40/11-1662)
  4. On November 24, Ambassador Richards reported that when he had discussed Ethiopian-Somali relations with the Emperor during his farewell audience, Haile Selassie had told him he was convinced that U.S. military aid to Somalia would neither enhance U.S. influence nor prevent Somalia from accepting military aid from unfriendly quarters. (Telegram 299 from Addis Ababa; ibid., 777.5/11-2462) The Ambassador also reported that the Emperor had told him that if the United States was interested [text not declassified] he would agree in order to “give pleasure.” (Telegram 296 from Addis Ababa, November 24; ibid., 775.56311/11-2462)