99. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Program Analysis and Evaluation (Sullivan) to Secretary of Defense Schlesinger and the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Clements)1


  • The Growing U.S. Involvement in Iran

As you know, I have been concerned for some time about the growing U.S. involvement in Iran, fearing both that the U.S. presence might become too large, and the equipment too sophisticated for the Iranians to handle without repercussions. The attached paper2 attempts to show the present and projected American involvement through FY 80.

The American community in Iran currently totals about 17,000, up dramatically from 11,000 in mid-1973 and nearly triple the American population in Iran in 1970. About 68 percent of the community (11,400) is directly or indirectly associated with defense.

—The largest proportion is civilian defense contractors/technicians (2700) and dependents (5400) who support recent large scale foreign military sales (FMS) to Iran by the U.S.

—They are complemented by 1100 uniformed DOD personnel who serve in the Military Assistance Advisory Group (200), Technical Assistance Field Teams (660) and provide administrative and logistic support (240). With dependents and civilian employees, the DOD American community in Iran totals 3300.

—Americans once concentrated only in Tehran and the southern oil production areas are now appearing in large numbers in the major population centers of Shiraz and Esfahan.

The increase in size and changes in the distribution of Americans in Iran result from a 1972 Presidential decision to provide advanced weapons systems and uniformed technical assistance personnel to Iran.

—Generally, technical assistance personnel associated with an FMS case arrive in country from 18 to 30 months after the order is placed. With almost $6 billion of FMS expenditures in FY 73 and FY 74, inputs of large numbers of technical assistance personnel are underway [Page 300] and likely to continue for the next several years. Accordingly, we estimate the American community will be at least 50,000 by 1980.

—There will be about 11,250 civilian defense contractors in Iran by FY 80 with the civilian defense oriented community growing to about 34,000 (including dependents).

—Coproduction of U.S. weapons systems in Iran, Iranian acquisition of large military communications and air defense packages, and further DOD acceptance of responsibility for successful management of Iranian FMS programs may require greater inputs of Americans.

—Similarly the numbers of Americans in the non-defense commercial sector will grow reflecting Iran’s critical shortage of skilled manpower.

Our increasing involvement in Iran raises the following issues:

—By furnishing arms and technical expertise the U.S. Government faces some risk that it will be enmeshed in Iranian military adventures.

—The influx of Americans may create serious interpersonal problems in Iran leading to pressures for more stringent applications of Iranian justice to Americans and making Americans the target for expressions of xenophobic feeling or political dissent.

—Should the Iranians fail to meet their ambitious modernization goals their frustrations could be directed against the U.S. Government. At worst, we might be expelled as the Soviets were from the UAR. More likely would be a gradual erosion in the relationship and a mutual loss of confidence that seriously impaired American influence in Iran.

Part I of the attached paper provides an overview of U.S. involvement in Iran; Part II provides a comprehensive catalogue of the programs and activities in which Americans are engaged in the country.

Leonard Sullivan, Jr.
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OASD Files: FRC 330–78–0058, Box 66, Iran 091.3, 1975. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. Attached but not printed.