45. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs (Sisco) to the Acting Secretary of State (Richardson)1 2


  • USAF Technicians for Iraq


During his visit to Washington last October the Shah asked Secretary Laird for a continuation of the USAF technical assistance field team in Iran to assist in training Iranian Air Force personnel in the maintenance of F–4 aircraft Iran is obtaining from us. On October 25, 1969 Secretary Laird authorized the continuation of a 54-man team for one more year (February 1970-February 1971) and asked that the possibility of raising this number to 75 be explored. The Shah was told of this decision by Ambassador MacArthur in November. When DOD moved to implement this decision, however, it found that Secretary Laird’s decision was on the same basis as the current program, i.e., unaccompanied tours. Most available personnel are Vietnam veterans who are unwilling to volunteer for another unaccompanied tour. The question arose, therefore whether Secretary Laird would be willing to authorize new personnel sent to Iran under this program to be accompanied by their family with a consequent increase in the size of the Department of Defense community in Iran at a time when cuts are being made elsewhere. Subordinate elements of DOD have been grappling with this issue without definitive results ever since.

Ambassador MacArthur has now expressed his concern over the absence of a favorable decision (Tab B) pointing out that if personnel now on hand are withdrawn as scheduled within the next few weeks without replacements being supplied, F–4 training and readiness will suffer seriously. He urges a favorable decision at the earliest possible date. We are informed that this decision can be made only at the Secretary level.


That you sign the attached letter to Acting Secretary Packard requesting an early decision on this matter (Tab A).

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Tab A
Letter From the Acting Secretary of State (Richardson) to the Acting Secretary of Defense (Packard)

Dear Dave:

Ambassador MacArthur in Iran has just drawn our attention to the delay being encountered in the continuation of the USAF technical assistance field team which is training Iranian technicians in the maintenance of F–4 aircraft Iran is obtaining from us. He has pointed out that if USAF personnel presently in Iran are withdrawn in the next few weeks as scheduled and replacements are not provided, Iran’s F–4 training and readiness status could be seriously affected. The F–4 element of the Iranian Air Force is the backbone of Iran’s defense.

You may recall that during the Shah’s visit to Washington in October 1969 he discussed this subject with Secretaries Rogers and Laird. On October 25 Secretary Laird approved the continuation of a 54-man USAF team for one more year and the Shah was so informed subsequently. I understand that implementation of this decision has been delayed over the question of whether replacement personnel will be permitted to have their families with them. I believe that the effects of our failure to provide USAF technicians in accordance with the Shah’s expectations greatly outweigh the disadvantages of increasing somewhat our official presence in Iran by authorizing accompanied tours. This would be at no cost to the United States Government since the Government of Iran pays all expenses associated with this program. I hope, therefore, that resolution of this question can be made quickly and the requisite personnel sent without undue delay.

Elliot Richardson
Acting Secretary
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 19–9 US-IRAN. Secret. Drafted by Miclos; and cleared by Rockwell and Matheron. Tab B was attached but is not published. In a handwritten note on the memo, Sisco added, “The problems at the ISA level in Pentagon are fantastic. We have to do something about it!” Richardson replied, “Please inform UAJ [U. Alexis Johnson] in case he wants to take up with Packard.”
  2. Sisco sent Richardson the draft of a letter for Acting Secretary of Defense David Packard requesting an early decision on the continuation of the USAF technical assistance team for Iran.