57. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara 0


  • Military Assistance for Post-Independence Algeria


Reference is made to the memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA), dated 22 December 1961, subject as above, and its inclosure, a draft State Department study, subject: “Post-Independence Algeria”.1
The State Department study discusses objectives and lines of action under two general headings. These are “Short Term (before Algerian independence),” and “Medium and Long Term (after Algerian independence)”. The latter group is further divided into two subgroups, the first on the assumption that a French-Algerian agreement is reached, the second on the assumption of regroupment and partition. The referenced memorandum asked for recommendations for a military assistance program under each condition.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are concerned that precipitous action in furnishing military assistance to Algeria will impair relations with France. An overriding strategic requirement is the maintenance of a strong NATO. France is a cornerstone of NATO.
No offer of military assistance should be made to the Provisional Algerian Government (PAG) prior to Algerian independence except at the specific request of the French Government (GOF). Any offer directly to the PAG, or any response in reply to a request from the PAG without consultation with the GOF, would endanger our relations with France.
In the event that through successful negotiations, ties between France and Algeria are severed completely, the United States should be [Page 82] in a position to offer Algeria a military assistance package without delay. The purpose of such an offer is two-fold. First, it would serve as an opening whereby the United States could assert positive influence designed to orient Algeria toward the West. Second, it may forestall Algerian acceptance of similar overtures from the Soviet Bloc. However, consultations with the GOF should precede an offer of military assistance.
If the settlement finds France retaining close ties with Algeria, or responsible for certain Algerian affairs, the United States should again be in a position to respond quickly. However, under these circumstances, the GOF, rather than the United States, should take the initiative for discussion of a military assistance program with Algeria. The possibility exists that the PAG might still approach the United States directly for military assistance. Such a request should be thoroughly discussed with the GOF prior to making a positive or negative determination.
Regroupment and partition present most formidable problems in developing a suitable military assistance program adequate to meet the varied and delicate conditions which may prevail under such a settlement. If portions of Algeria remain in French hands, the United States should not offer military assistance to the PAG. No action should be taken which would have a detrimental effect on our relations with France. On the other hand, depending on the situation existing between France and Algeria after partition, the GOF might welcome military assistance to the PAG if it assisted in maintaining order. In any case, no offer of assistance should be made except with the full knowledge and participation of the GOF.
The extent of military assistance to be furnished under any of the above conditions is dependent on many factors as yet unknown. These include that type and amount of military assistance the United States may provide to countries neighboring Algeria, the position France will occupy with regard to Algeria, and the assistance the GOF itself is prepared to furnish. In addition, information is almost nonexistent as to Algerian requirements and assets. If the determination is made to offer military assistance to Algeria, the most practical approach would be to send in a survey team immediately after settlement of the crisis to develop a program. However, the need for quick response through an “impact package” is also recognized and such a “package” is described in the Appendix hereto.2 If for political reasons a “package” of this type is offered, the United States should simultaneously propose sending a survey team to Algeria for the purpose of ascertaining additional requirements and developing a basic program tailored to the need. [Page 83] Arrangements must also be made for US military representation in Algeria to supervise the issue of the materiel.
The National Army of Liberation (ALN) is known to have small arms and some light artillery. Therefore, the impact package is designed primarily to enhance the mobility of the ALN. However, with few exceptions the same items are in demand by US units and diversion to Algeria would be at the expense of US forces. For this reason, an overriding priority must be directed if equipment is to reach Algeria promptly.
The memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA) refers to the sensitive political nature of this problem, and representatives of your office have advised against coordination with USCINCEUR at this time. However, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider it important that they obtain the views of USCINCEUR prior to their furnishing final recommendations on the policy and nature of military assistance to Algeria.3
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
L.L. Lemnitzer 4
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 65 A 3501, Algeria 000.1-121 1962. Secret. Attached to a memorandum from W.B. Palmer, Director of Military Assistance (DOD/ISA), to Assistant Secretary of State Williams, noting that Defense concurred with the JCS recommendations as a basis for planning purposes and requested further Department of State participation in developing such plans.
  2. The undated Department of State draft paper provided background information relative to the development of a possible military assistance program for post-independence Algeria. In a covering memorandum of November 22 to the Joint Chiefs, William Bundy noted that the Department of State had indicated the strong likelihood that all or part of Algeria would become separated from France within a few months, and had requested the Department of Defense to provide recommendations regarding possible military assistance for post-independence Algeria. Bundy specifically asked that the Joint Chiefs provide recommendations regarding a military assistance program “which would be demonstrative of our desire to help meet Algerian requirements and preclude Soviet influence” no later than January 10, 1962. (Ibid., OASD/ISA Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Algeria 000.1-1961)
  3. Not printed.
  4. At a State-JCS meeting on January 19, Department of State and Defense representatives agreed that “the French should handle the bulk of any military assistance for an independent Algeria since present MAP demands from other recipients are already far beyond our resources.” (Department of State, State-JCS Meetings: Lot 70 D 328)
  5. Printed from a copy that indicates Lemnitzer signed the original.