176. Telegram 1665 From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1 2

For PM Director Ronald Spiers


  • 15 Per Cent MAAG Cut


  • A) State 042164; B) USCINCEUR DTG 081502Z March 1972; C) Tehran 4535, August 17, 1971; D) Tehran 2660, May 20, 1971

Country Team Message

Summary. Despite required 15 per cent MAAG reduction worldwide, Country Team believes compelling reasons exist for increase in present ARMISH/MAAG complement to meet long unanswered request of Shah. Shah sees military cooperation as major benefit he gets from relations with U.S. advisory mission is key element in this cooperation. It is undermanned at time GOI military modernization requires advisory augmentation. Unless MAAG is adequately staffed to perform credible and reponsible advisory role, it will not be able to maintain trust and reliance of Shah and Iranian military nor meet its obligations for support of major US equipment sales to Iran. Inevitable result will be erosion of primary advisory role of ARMISH/MAAG and increased 3rd country military influence and sales with expectable losses in foreign exchange which will more than offset any gains from MAAG savings. We can also expect loosening of US-Iran ties and lessening of real benefits US [Page 2] receives from relations with Iran. Furthermore, under EUCOM plan to take over MAAG admin support, increase of 36 advisory positions previously requested may be possible within overall ARMISH/MAAG personnel reduction of more than fifteen percent. EUCOM has proposed that it take over directly administrative support responsibilities for DOD units in Iran which now being carried out by ARMISH/MAAG support element. This would reduce MAAG strength by some 120 US positions, and leave adequate room for advisory augmentation. Action requested. Department’s continued support for complement increase is requested. End summary.

Even in fact of congressional requirement for world-wide MAAG complement reductions, I and members of Country Team continue to believe strongly that US Military Advisory Mission to Iran (ARMISH/MAAG) should not be reduced but in fact should be augmented as has been requested by Shah. We have stressed many times in past unique and important role ARMISH/MAAG plays in bolstering US interests in Iran (ref C and previous), but it bears repeating.
Shah considers US military cooperation (advice, training and equipment) as single most valuable tangible benefit Iran gets from its special friendship and relationship with US. It is a primary inducement for important benefits US receives in return—(a) special and vital in-country facilities at no cost to USG; (b) irreplacable direct overflight corridor for military and civilian flights between Europe and Asia used by thousands of US aircraft annually (c) contribution to US balance of payments of several hundred million dollars annually in military purchases of equipment, training and services; (d) most importantly continuing kinship with US which has contributed to keeping Iran as dependable supporter of US and free-world political and strategic interests in Middle East (in fulfillment of Nixon Doctrine) despite Iran’s foreign policy of real national independence.
Effective advisory mission is itself essential part of USG military cooperation on which other aspects depend. It is vital and unique link in bilateral communication between GOI and USG. USG military sales and training programs would be crippled without it. Shah can afford to buy elsewhere [Page 3] and would, were it not for his confidence in and satisfaction with US equipment and advisory support for training and equipment use and maintenance. ARMISH/MAAG’s advice over whole range of military matters is highly regarded by GOI and plays important role in rationalizing, and letting Iran’s military growth and equipment acquisition, both US and third country, benefits of which—e.g. restraint on regional arms race—would be lost without MAAG. Moreover, ARMISH/MAAG has become bell weather for GOI of US support for and interest in Iran, at time when Shah and GOI view with increasing concern Soviet advances in area and apparent US retrenchment. Shah is prepared assume more responsible role in keeping with Nixon Doctrine but cannot achieve credible military deterrent on which this role based without cooperation in military field from US.
Favorable impact and responsible role of ARMISH/MAAG will continue to depend on its adequate manning to serve Iranian (and US) needs. BALPA and OPRED cuts which reduced advisory personnel by nearly 40 per cent seriously impaired ability of MAAG to fulfill its undertakings at time when accelerated pace of Iranian military modernization, increasing acquisition [Page 4] of sophisticated modern equipment, and introduction of modern personnel, management, logistics systems called more than ever for USG advisory expertise. Request by Shah for additional advisors reflected his recognition of this real need. Failure to meet this request in our view—and this goes doubly for any cuts in present staffing—would leave serious gaps in US advisory effort and cause USG to fall short in support for equipment sales. Inevitable result will be that Shah will turn elsewhere for necessary advisory assistance we cannot provide and for equipment. As consequence we can expect erosion of US influence and loss of foreign exchange far greater than any saving MAAG reduction might generate to say nothing of setbacks to Shah’s efforts create modern force if it becomes diluted by mix of foreign equipment from various sources.
We are convinced compelling reasons exist to increase ARMISH/MAAG complement by 36 positions as previously requested. Moreover under EUCOM proposal to reorganize MAAG this can be done and 15 percent cut in MAAG JTU can still be achieved. EUCOM has advised ARMISH/MAAG (ref B) that it proposes, effective July 1, to assume direct responsibility for administrative support responsibilities and functions now being performed for all DOD units in Iran by ARMISH/MAAG support element. If proposal carried out, MAAG complement will be reduced as follows: [Page 5]
Total Transfer of Support Element Reduced MAAG
US Military 250 102 148
DOD Civilian 22 8 14
Foreign National 153 135 18
425 245 180

Even if 36 requested advisory positions were added to MAAG JTU, resulting total would be below even 25 per cent cut Congress has aimed for.

6. With means available to meet requested increase while complying with congressional reduction requirements we hope favorable action on Shah’s request may again proceed (request was originally made nearly a year ago-(ref D). Congressional action leaves room for selective and rational local implementation of world-wide requirement, and we trust USG will make full use this welcome leeway.

Specific staffing info sought in Ref A follows:
Assigned strength of ARMISH/MAAG as of 30 September 1971 was:
US Military 243
US Civilian 18
Total 261
Foreign National-Direct Hire 151
Foreign National-Contract 17
Total 429

On board strength did not vary significantly from assigned figure.

ARMISH/MAAG records show number of TDYs as:
1970 718
1971 474

Average length of TDY was 8.2 days.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 19–9 US-IRAN. Confidential.
  2. Despite the need for a fifteen percent MAAG reduction world wide, the country team in Iran lobbied for a requested increase in the ARMISH/MAAG complement.