227. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Talbot) to the Special Group (Counterinsurgency) 1


  • Saudi Arabia Internal Defense Plan

I. General Statement of Threat

The threat to internal stability in Saudi Arabia arises more out of the weakness and exposure of stabilizing forces than out of the presence of easily identified powerful subversive elements. Stability is dependent upon the will and the strength of the Royal Family, or, more precisely, upon Crown Prince Faysal. [4½ lines of source text not declassified]

The danger of instability and violent change within Saudi Arabia is heightened by the inherent instability in the region as a whole. The success of any search for internal stability will depend, in unusual degree, upon the achievement of satisfactory external relationships, as well as upon the strengthening of the internal fabric of the country. Hence this paper, while not examining in detail the international situation of Saudi Arabia, does take into account in analyzing the problem and presenting recommendations.

At the height of the Yemen crisis in the months following the revolution of September 1962, there were tensions in Saudi Arabia flowing from Saudi involvement in support of the “Royalists.” These tensions placed a strain on the fabric of government [1 line of source text not declassified]. There was also much concern that the UAR would capitalize on these weaknesses to unleash its subversive assets. Negotiations of the disengagement agreement removed the immediate UAR threat, alleviated the tensions and strengthened Faysal.

The latter is now in firm control of the governmental machinery in Saudi Arabia, and shows every evidence that he intends to keep this control. The stripping of all effective power from King Saud has eliminated a potential source of conflict, and will enable Faysal to concentrate even more on financial, educational, and social welfare problems. At the same time, Faysal seems to be somewhat more aware of the desirability of developing an esprit de corps in the military.

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Also, particularly since the Arab Chiefs “summit” conference, there has been a lessening of UAR-Saudi tensions. The disruptive Yemen problem remains, but the current focus by the UAR is directed against Great Britain, rather than Saudi Arabia.

Nevertheless, [1 line of source text not declassified] the basic UAR threat to Saudi Arabia remains as explained in detail in Section II.

We consider that the removal of Crown Prince Faysal from the scene would probably present the most serious problem for the regime. His driving influence behind present reform and development programs has had a considerable stabilizing influence both on the political situation and on the economy. His successor has not been designated. While there are certain other vigorous and experienced members of the Royal Family who, if selected, could provide needed stability in the country, [4 lines of source text not declassified].

[Here follows sections II and III.]

IV. U.S. Policy Objectives and Courses of Action

United Slates policy aims at strengthening and preserving the Faysal regime. We seek to achieve this objective by urging the regime to proceed in timely fashion on its program of political, social, and economic progress; and by assuring that it eschews involvement in foreign military or semi-military ventures. The United States desires to maintain its present dominant position, particularly in the military sphere (through the United States Military Training Mission) and in the economic sphere (through Aramco). However, we also believe it is desirable for the Saudis to have a good working {relationship! with the United Kingdom Government. The following are some more specific objectives:


Minimize UAR Subversive Potential

As much as possible, the United States desires to minimize the subversive potential of the UAR. To achieve this end it is essential to minimize the potential for UAR-Saudi conflict. Disengagement of the Egyptian forces from Yemen, the continuing bar of Saudi support of the Royalists, and the containment of UK-UAR conflict contributes to this objective.


Support Saudi Social and Educational Development

The Country Team suggests expanded exchange of persons efforts, including those in law and medicine, to improve Saudi education. The University of Texas English language teachers program is an example of the type project that might be most constructive. Our Country Team also asks that we review thoroughly the possibilities for establishment of an American-sponsored medical or educational institution in Saudi Arabia.


Continue to Improve the U.S. Image in Saudi Arabia

Efforts should be made to further contacts with important Saudis, including young people, by all possible means, including the USIS Cultural Center in downtown Jidda. As the Center progresses, plans should be developed for the teaching of English to selected educators and other important individuals. We should increase information among target groups about the U.S., its institutions, and policies through circulation of periodicals and books in both Arabic and English; through lectures and other events; and by placement of selected materials in the Saudi press and on Radio Mecca when possible. The United States should promptly fulfill the commitment made under the recently signed United States-Saudi agreement to supervise installation of two telecasting stations and should provide programming assistance and appropriate television materials to Saudi officials responsible for the stations.


Encourage Saudi Efforts to Improve Effectiveness, Morale, Organization, and Equipment of the Armed Forces

With advice from USMTM, the Saudis drafted a plan for the improvement of their defense forces. This plan contains an estimate of the external threat and proposes a five-year program for equipment purchases and training at an estimated cost of two billion rivals (some $450 million). USMTM also prepared a basic document recommending both organizational reforms and changes in basic attitudes in the Saudi Armed Forces. Wither of these documents has yet been adopted. More recently, a special OOD team carried out a detailed survey of the Saudi air defense requirements, which has just been presented to the Saudi Government. The air defense survey recommends improvement in antiaircraft artillery and purchase of up to 36 United States interceptor aircraft (F-5A or F-104H). Conclusion of a United States-Saudi cooperative logistics supply agreement has also been proposed. The relationship of the Saudi prepared plan and the United States air defense survey remains to be clarified.

With a number of signs of greater Saudi interest in improvement of the military forces, it is particularly important that the U.S. military training and advisory effort in Saudi Arabia be developed to maximum effectiveness. In this connection, it is essential that key USMTM officers serve longer tours. King Saud assured President Kennedy in 1962 that he desired that a U.S. military training mission remain indefinitely in Saudi Arabia. A new mission training agreement is under negotiation.

The Country Team strongly recommends that there be no decrease in the size of the USMTM since a sharp cut would be viewed as an indication of lessening United States interest. It also recommends several other modifications respecting United States officers assigned to the [Page 440]USMTM, including longer tours for some officers and more advanced Arabic training for United States Air Force officers.

The Country Team recommends additional use of mobile training teams in Saudi Arabia, as well as additional training of Saudis in the United States. The five MTT’s which visited Saudi Arabia in 1963 were considered highly successful. A further intensive review is suggested on the possibility of a civic action program for Saudi Arabia. Both MTT’s and civic action should be financed by the Saudis.


Support Improvement in Police and Intelligence Field

The Country Team recommends, if the Saudis request it. United States support aimed at improving the Saudi police, including training in the United States. [1/ fines of source text not declassified]


Encourage, as Possible, the Pace and Effectiveness of the Saudi Economic Development Effort

The Country Team recommends that the United States assist the Saudi Government in whatever way we can in improving Saudi Arabia’s economic development effort, particularly in meeting requests for technical advisors on a reimbursable basis. If the opportunity is presented, the Country Team believes a follow-up to the 1962 economic development survey conducted by Professor A. [. Meyer of Harvard should be considered.


Have Prepared and Ready for Implementation a U.S. Contingency Plan in Event of Attempts to Overthrow or Actual Overthrow of the Saudi Government

A U.S. Contingency Plan is now in the final stages of development which sets forth the course of U.S. actions in the event of an attempt to overthrow or actual overthrow of the Saudi Government, either with or without assistance from the United Arab Republic. The plan considers a range of possible U.S. responses to safeguard important western oil and security interests in the Arabian Peninsula. It defines the U.S. intent to prevent military intervention by outside parties either to support any of the conflicting groups in Saudi Arabia or to seize Saudi territory. It also emphasizes the U.S. aim of deterring foreign intervention rather than accepting an open confrontation and foresees no U.S. military force involvement within Saudi Arabia except to prevent the imminent entrance of foreign forces or to safeguard American lives.

V. Recommendations

The United States should continue to support Prince Faysal, while at the same time encouraging him to promote political and social reforms, as well as economic development. (3 lines of source text not declassified]
The United States should continue to play a principal military role in Saudi Arabia. Every effort should be made to increase the confidence of the members of the armed forces in the regime, both by utilizing the now planned television network and through other means including civic action. The following specific recommendations in the military sphere are particularly important:

Civic Action

The Country Team has suggested that further intensive review be given to the possibility of a civic action program for Saudi Arabia. The Country Team recommends that an expert in civic action programs be sent to Saudi Arabia for temporary assignment to review in detail civic action possibilities. We recommend that this be done.


US Military Training Mission (USMTM)

The USMTM, which now numbers 239, should be continued at about the same level. Urgent consideration should be given to extending the tours of selected key officers at the USMTM from one to two years in order to enhance their impact. Also, it is recommended that the Air Force consider providing USAF officers with a level of Arabic training comparable to that of the U.S. Army officers. Consideration should also be given to the movement of USMTM Headquarters from Dhahran to Riyadh.


Mobile Training Teams ( MTTs)

MTTs have been utilized successfully in Saudi Arabia. The USMTM believes that their use can be expanded. It is recommended that USMTM wishes in this field be implemented to the extent possible.


Air Defense Survey

Assuming Saudi acceptance of the Air Defense Survey, the United States should be prepared to expeditiously implement the survey.


Credit for Military Sales

The United States should be prepared to provide a limited amount of credit for military sales, both for materiel in the Air Defense Survey, and for other military items. For FY 1965, credit requirements are roughly estimated at $20 million. Such credit should be at a rate of interest competitive with foreign interests.

If requested and if a survey reveals a requirement, support should be provided the Saudi police and internal security forces.
Various agencies of the United States Government should be prepared to respond promptly to Saudi requests for technical advice and assistance, particularly in the economic, social, labor, and public administration fields. The labor administration field will become increasingly significant, as the organized labor force increases. Periodic [Page 442]visits by our regional Labor Attach and also US. Department of Labor technicians should be considered.
Special attention should be directed towards the evolving Saudi youth. US1S activities aimed at influencing youth in Saudi Arabia should be wholeheartedly supported. As feasible, efforts should be made to orient Saudi educational practices towards the United States. The USMTM should within limitations devote special attention towards selecting well-qualified Saudi non-commissioned and junior officers for training in the United States.
In so far as possible, any assistance (military, police, technical, labor, etc.) should be on a reimbursable basis in keeping with Saudi Arabia’s improving economic status. However, in event of a high priority U.S. objective, the U.S. should be prepared to provide assistance on whatever terms are considered necessary.
17 lines of source text not declassified]
The U.S. Contingency Plan should be fully integrated with the Internal Defense Plan and necessary action taken to provide for quick implementation in event of necessity.

VI. Recommendations for the Special Croup (CI)

We recommend that the plan, as submitted and as modified by the recommendations and observations in this memorandum, be approved as a basis for internal defense planning.
The Country Team in Saudi Arabia should be commended for the preparation of the plan. The Country Team should be encouraged but not required to submit modifications to the plan, as the Team feels are necessary.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 68 D 451, Special Group (CI), 5/28/64–7/10/64, May 28, 1964. Secret. Drafted by Edward A. Padelford (NEA/NR). The memorandum was sent through Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs W. Averell Harriman.