332. Telegram 5218 From the Embassy in Afghanistan to the Department of State1 2

Conte-Long Amendment

During last week I had additional conversation (Kabul 5090) with Farhadi on SU-7 purchase. He passed some info which obtained from minister of defense, but we agreed it would be better get full story from king.
At audience with King Oct. 12 (other subject septels) he reviewed RGA military acquisition policy. Said that in 1955 a very detailed 20 year agreement was worked out with Soviets which included overall Afghan force levels, organization, and arms aid. Since that time there have been some changes in force levels (downward) and several delays in implementation, some due to Soviets inability provide equipment at scheduled time and others due RGA inability take on additional debts. He said he regretted more than anyone expenditures on defense in view nation’s great development needs and he supported overall objective of Conte Amendment. However, afghanistan, as was true for other countries, needed small effective defense establishment.
Turning to SU-7s, he said firm, written agreement for more sophisticated aircraft made in November 1964. [Page 2] Planes are provided on thirty year loan including ten year grace period, with latter to start on receipt of aircraft. according 1955 twenty-year plan, MIG 17s were to constitute this particular tranche of aircraft. However, due to earlier Pakistani acquisition F–104s, situation reviewed in Nov. 1964 and Soviets agreed provide MIG 21s. At later date Soviets said SU-7s had advantages in that they could be used in ground support role which potentially very useful for internal security.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 19–6 USSR–AFG. Confidential. Repeated to DIA for DIACO.
  2. King Zahir reviewed for Ambassador Neumann the recent history of his government’s military acquisition policy and noted that the agreement to purchase SU–7s from the Soviet Union was signed in November 1964.