Strengthening Iran

On a day in May 1942 President Roosevelt sat in the White House with his Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, the Soviet Ambassador, Maxim Litvinov, the Soviet Foreign Minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, and Harry Hopkins. The First (Moscow) Protocol was about to expire, and this was one of several meetings which produced the Second (Washington) Protocol. Harry Hopkins has left notes of an incident overshadowed by the main business of the meeting but not without significance:

"The President had two or three memoranda on his desk which I had never heard of before, which were obviously given him by the Department of State, in which the Department was offering their good offices in alleged difficulties between the Russians and the Iranians on the one hand and the Russians and Turks on the other. I gathered Molotov was not much impressed. I at any rate so imagined and in front of the President he raised the point that they thought they knew a good deal more about their relations with Iran and Turkey than we did. I confess I did not see in what way our good offices were to be executed."1

It would be misleading to blow up this little picture to the proportions of a mural painting entitled Historic Turning Point in IranoAmerican Relations. It was no such thing; but it was a moment to remember, an example of that subtlety in diplomacy of which Roosevelt could show himself a master. What he was truly driving at, why Molotov bridled-these are questions anybody may answer in his fashion. Interpretation of the scene starts with a concrete fact, known to the men there present. On 10 March Iran had been declared eligible for lend-lease aid. The three Americans at the White House knew that action to implement that declaration was currently being formulated; the two Russians, even if not specifically informed, were certainly aware that this must be the case. But none of this was mentioned or alluded to. Instead, in .the midst of discussion of ponderables like munitions for the USSR, the President casually revealed the memoranda on his desk offering American good offices in alleged difficulties between the Rus-


signs and the Iranians. This delicate hint, this calculated irrelevancy, in the context of lend-lease for Russia, may well have been Roosevelt's way of putting his guests on notice that the welfare of Iran was of interest to the United States. Not the memoranda on the desk, but the major unspoken fact of lend-lease for Iran, gave substance to the President's casual gesture. Without words, the gesture could have meant that from now on American good offices would be expressed by deeds, not words; that Iran was to be helped to help itself. Molotov's acerbity would suggest that he got the point.

Before World War II

The situation in which Iran found itself in 1942, with foreign troops within its borders, had occurred before, and the United States had helped before. But in 1942 the Anglo-Soviet occupation and the conditions in effect by virtue of the Tri-Partite Treaty provided a more favorable milieu than previously for an American effort to help Iran help itself. Although American attempts to provide some sort of balance wheel in Iran date only from 1911, and therefore form the shortest chapter of the long book of Iran's relations with the West, they furnished a background of experience in problems still very much alive in 1942. Roosevelt was not initiating new policy when he indicated that day at the White House his interest in Iran's survival as an independent state. American aid to Iran in World War II established no new precedent; but because of the special circumstances arising out of the war, it was more effective than before.

The first gesture of American aid to Iran was not an official act of the American Government. It occurred when the American economist, W. Morgan Shuster, arrived in Iran late in 1911 to accept an invitation, delivered through the United States Government, to reorganize Iranian finances.2 Shuster set to work on the assumption that as an employee of the government of Iran he was responsible to it alone; but he reckoned without the views of czarist Russia and imperial Britain. These nations, by the Convention of 1907, had virtually partitioned Iran into Russian and British spheres. Their watchful concern to preserve these precluded any effective development of the country as a whole. This strengthened the centrifugal forces which traditionally enabled tribal and provincial elements in Iran to defy authority at the capital, and tended to drain strength away from the national govern-


ment. Shuster believed that possession and control by the central government of a strong and incorruptible rural police force or gendarmerie would further the maintenance of order, the collection of taxes, and the equitable distribution of the grain harvests. As a prerequisite to a governmental financial house cleaning, he proposed establishment of a gendarmerie free to operate throughout Iran, regardless of British or Russian spheres. To head and train it he nominated a British officer of long experience in the country and ready familiarity with its language and customs. But this strengthening of central authority in Iran was not, in 1911-12, congenial to either British or Russian policy. Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Minister, opposed in the House of Commons the principle of permitting an English officer to operate in the Russian zone as setting an uncomfortable precedent for the British zone. At Tehran the Russian Ambassador confronted the Iranian Government with a demand that it expel Shuster within forty-eight hours. Czarist troops crossed over into northern Iran and a regiment of Cossacks appeared at Tehran. Shuster departed.3

In World War I, Iranian neutrality was violated when British, Russian, and Turkish troops fought on Iranian soil. At the end of hostilities the British remained in the north as well as the south, while Bolshevik forces occupied positions in the northern provinces. During the early months of 1919, Lord Curzon, overwhelming opposition from many elements of English opinion, carried to an advanced state negotiations with the Iranian Government for an Anglo-Persian treaty. Under its terms a loan of two million pounds sterling at 7 percent, secured by customs receipts, was to be used for public works, including construction of a railway in which there would be a large British interest. Administrative reforms under British guidance, with appropriate powers and controls, completed a program which aroused strong opposition in Iran because of its one-sidedness. Its supporters were those who had negotiated the treaty and those who stood to benefit from the expenditures on public improvements. Those in opposition, troubled alike by the treaty and the occupation of their land by foreign troops, endeavored to obtain through President Wilson a hearing for their cause at Versailles.

This effort having proved vain, the new Soviet Government in June 1919 capitalized upon the resultant disillusionment with the West by making known through its representative at Tehran its willingness to conclude a treaty of friendship with Iran on highly favorable terms,


including cancellation of debts and renunciation of valuable Russian concessions. The offer was not publicized by the Iranian Government and on 9 August the Anglo-Persian treaty was signed. Newspapers favorable to the government which had negotiated the treaty made much of Iran's being deceived in its reliance upon the Wilsonian principle of self-determination, and the Iranian Prime Minister in a public statement asserted that the United States had refused aid to Iran.

Thereupon, in a message of 4 September, Secretary of State Lansing authorized the American Minister at Tehran, John L. Caldwell, to

"Deny to both Persian officials and anyone else interested that America has refused aid to Persia. You may also inform them that the United States has often showed its interest in the welfare of Persia and that the American Commission in Paris endeavored earnestly, several times, to secure an audience at the Peace Conference for the Persian Commission, but the American Commission was surprised that it did not receive more support in this matter. However, the announcement of the recent Anglo-Persian treaty probably explains why such a hearing could not be obtained and it also appears that the Persian Government at Tehran did not give strong support to the efforts of the Commission. The American Government learned of the recent Anglo-Persian Agreement with surprise, for it seems to indicate that Persia does not desire American cooperation and aid in the future, even though the Persian delegates in Paris strongly and openly sought American support.4

Caldwell vainly sought to obtain publication of the American denial in Tehran newspapers. He then resorted to the unconventional device of printing it in leaflets which were circulated on the streets and in the bazaars. The truth thus made known heartened the opponents of the Anglo-Persian agreement and assisted its rejection by the Majlis early in 1921. With the collapse of Lord Curzon's treaty came the withdrawal from Iran of the British advisory mission headed by ArmitageSmith and James M. Balfour whose business it had been, under the treaty's terms, to diagnose administrative deficiencies and suggest cures. The setback to British influence was accompanied by the signature at Moscow on 26 February 1921 of a Soviet-Iranian treaty incorporating terms offered the Iranians in 1919 and granting the USSR the right of armed intervention in Iran in the event that a third power should attempt to use Iran as a base for military action against the USSR. One hundred days later Col. Reza Khan, Minister of War and coming strong man of Iran, forced the resignation of the Prime Minister and a


reorganization of the Iranian cabinet in which Reza Khan remained as War Minister.

With a treaty of friendship with the USSR and with British influence eclipsed, the new Iranian Government now sought technical advice and help in administrative reform from a quarter which would render it without demanding a quid pro quo. The choice fell upon the United States. By Iranian invitation Dr. Arthur C. Millspaugh, Economic Adviser to the Secretary of State, became Director General of Iranian Finances. With a small staff of assistants he served from 1922 to 1927.

During this period the Iranian Minister at Washington wrote the Secretary of State on 21 February 1924:

". . . the Persian Government and people have always recognized the altruism and impartiality which distinguish the American Government and people. They particularly appreciate the concern of the United States for fair play, for the respect of the independence of the smaller nations and for the maintenance of the economic open door.

"It was because of their implicit faith in the lofty ideals and trusted friendship of America that my Government, over a year ago, confided the reorganization of their finances to American advisers and have consistently courted the technical and financial cooperation of this country in the industrial and economic development of Persia."5

The confidence there expressed was reflected in the support which Millspaugh received, soon after his arrival, from Reza Khan. Shuster's plans were revived and a gendarmerie was organized to preserve internal order, collect taxes, and suppress fraud and corruption, particularly in distribution of the harvests. But early enthusiasm languished, and as Reza rose in the government (he became Prime Minister in 1923 and crowned himself Shah-in-Shah in 1926) his dictatorial methods and growing nationalistic spirit came into increasing conflict with a foreign mission which had been given extensive powers over domestic policies. Reza Shah Pahlevi was determined to devote what Millspaugh considered a disproportionate share of the national budget to support the Army. Over the resultant deadlock of opinion the two parted company and the Americans left for home in 1927.

The immediate consequence of Millspaugh's departure was that Reza Shah Pahlevi .turned to Germany to supply a growing roster of technical and administrative advisers. If the United States possessed through Millspaugh's mission the opportunity to supersede the influence of other countries by means of its friendship, this opportunity passed with .the influx of the Germans. On they came, first under the


Weimar Republic, then under Hitler, advising in education, lending technical skill, building docks, roads, and parts of the railway, adorning the new station at Tehran with the swastika (symbol of Aryan brotherhood), lecturing, giving parties, organizing Boy Scouts, and generally spreading the Germanic gospel as Kaiser Wilhelm had done in the nineties, when he opened wide his arms to his brothers in the Arab lands and simultaneously revealed to the world his plans for the Berlin-to-Baghdad railway. By the time the British and Russians entered Iran in 1941 some two thousand Germans had to be run to ground and taken into charge or under observation. The departure of the first Millspaugh mission, then, poses one of those unanswerable historical conundrums: What would have happened if American interest, in spite of discouragements and difficulties, had been continuously maintained in Iran?6

Of the many problems left unsolved at Millspaugh's going, the Gendarmerie, denied adequate funds and subordinated in the favor of the Shah to the Army, was only one. The size of the Army was another. On the credit side must be reckoned the Iranian State Railway which proved such an Allied asset in World War II. It has been said that the financial strengthening of Iran achieved by Millspaugh made it possible for the Shah to build the railroad.7

Inception o f the American Advisory Missions

In the fourteen years between the departure of the Millspaugh mission from Iran in 1927 and the arrival of Soviet and British troops upon Iranian soil in 1941, the general internal position of the country had fluctuated both politically and economically. The ISR and other ambitious public works stood as monuments to the driving will of Reza Shah. But such representative democratic institutions as existed were sadly weakened by the long dictatorship; a little band of large landowners vied for court favor; the tribes remained active; while the people of Iran, modernized by royal decree to the extent of wearing European clothing, continued in the ancient ways of poverty and disease. The Anglo-Soviet occupation not only threw out Reza Shah, but perforce, for the duration of the war, detached from what there was of central authority in Iran most of the usual prerogatives of national sovereignty. Iran was sorely in need of two things: the will to help itself by rigorous self-discipline and internal reform; and the willingness to fol-


low the disinterested advice of a friend. So once again the United States, already present as Britain's helper in the Persian Corridor, was appealed to. The ISR had become an official lend-lease project almost six months before Iran itself was declared eligible for lend-lease aid in March 1942. When that declaration came, the new government of Iran was ready to direct American attention to pressing Iranian needs. As American policy toward Iran, still groping in the dark in 1942, gradually clarified, it was recognized that many kinds of aid, whether rendered under lend-lease or otherwise, nevertheless, by strengthening Iran, fulfilled the purposes of lend-lease, which were to assist all who were banded together against the Axis. The development of trustworthy security forces and the improvement of the economy of Iran were constructive ends, not only from this point of view, but also in relation to the Middle East situation in general, where weakness was prone to attract predatory strength and where disorder and political uncertainty operated against any interest, including the American, that was arrayed against the Axis. American policy gradually formed itself about the discovery that Iran was everybody's interest because a weak Iran invited disorder which would involve all alike.

Iran's request for help and American willingness to give it were, therefore, not the fruits of sentimentality or of after-dinner oratory. Wallace Murray expressed the American position as being based upon "our desire to bolster the somewhat shaky position of the present Iranian Government by providing it with concrete evidence of the willingness of the United States to provide all possible assistance."8

Within the generalization were the specific needs of Iran (1) to bolster its Army and Gendarmerie and ( 2 ) to obtain direct access to the fountainhead of lend-lease supply.

In the first case, the Tri-Partite Treaty of alliance had limited the war assistance of the Iranian forces "to the maintenance of internal security on Iranian territory." This restriction effectively barred Iran from entering the war except as approved by Britain and the USSR.9 But it did permit the co-operation of Iran in the maintenance of law and order along the Allied supply line through the Corridor. It was therefore as much to the advantage of the occupying powers that Iran should perform this service as it was an advantage to Iran to possess


efficient military forces. In the second case, because the chief agency in rendering lend-lease aid for military uses was the United States War Department, acting, in early 1942, through the Iranian Mission, Iran required a military contact to supplement the usual diplomatic channels.

On 1 April 1942 the Assistant Secretary of State wrote the Secretary of War that Iran desired an American officer to serve as Intendant General and reorganize the finance and army supply divisions of the Iranian War Department. The Department of State, it was added, approved the proposal as offering an opportunity to improve relations with Iran and thereby to aid the cause of the United Nations in the Middle East. The Department of State felt that the United States was favorably situated to undertake the task suggested "because both Great Britain and the Soviet Union are handicapped in their relations with Iran by the inevitable dislike and distrust of the Iranians for the powers which are in occupation of their country."10 This was the first of steps which were to produce, after some experimentation, an American military mission to advise the Iranian Army. In further correspondence, in which the Department of State inquired whether the War Department, on the invitation of Iran, would make available Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, graduate of West Point in 1917 and at one time head of the New Jersey State Police, "to take charge of the reorganization of the Iranian national police force." War Department willingness was pledged, thus opening the way to organization of a second American military mission, one to advise the Imperial Iranian Gendarmerie.11

The second category of Iranian requests, those for assistance in the economic field, came later in the year. Dizzy with the problems arising out of the Allied occupation, the new Iranian Government of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, having returned to constitutionalism, asked the Department of State to recommend Americans for administrative and advisory posts. As a result, Dr. Millspaugh, invited by Iran, returned there as Administrator General of Finances on 29 January 1943. He accepted the invitation only after the Majlis on 12 November 1942 approved a contract embodying his conditions. By a further law of 4 May 1943 the Majlis empowered Millspaugh to establish or work toward rigid governmental regulation of grain collection, prices, transport, and distribution; and to recommend enactment of a high, graduated income tax to spread the tax burden more fairly and to combat inflation and other war-born evils. The Majlis also authorized employ-


ment of up to sixty American specialists and gave Millspaugh power to direct the government's entire financial program, to draw up the budget, to supervise the operations of the Finance Ministry, to control the inspection department, and to supervise the Americans and Iranians who represented the Ministry of Finance in the provincial capitals.

The ramifications of Millspaugh's second economic mission to Iran extended to collection of the harvests and supplying bread for urban centers; control of the public domains and administration of the estates of the former Shah ceded to the government on his abdication; stabilization of prices; and regulation of the purchase, distribution, and control of goods. In this area, the Road Transport Department controlled movement of all kinds of goods over Iranian highways and was at one time aided by some fifty British and American Army officers lent by their governments. Another office, the Transport Priorities Office, determined priorities for all civilian goods moved by road, rail, or water. All of these controls were necessarily subordinate to the over-all controls over movements and priorities exercised under the Tri-Partite Treaty by the occupying powers.

Besides the members of the Millspaugh mission, who never exceeded thirty-five, other Americans served in various administrative and advisory capacities. One reorganized the police of Tehran and other cities. Another became in 1944 adviser to the Ministry of Public Health and attacked the increasing spread of typhus in the country. Still other experts supervised the importation of pharmaceutical supplies, and advised on soil erosion and irrigation, petroleum problems, and agricultural education. The account of their work lies beyond the limits of this volume. It is understandable that Millspaugh's mission, in view of its extensive powers and responsibilities, should eventually have run into trouble and, as in the earlier attempts by Shuster and Millspaugh himself, should have come prematurely to the end of its labors. Millspaugh resigned in February 1945, and, with the exception of a few who remained until 1948 under direct personal contract to the Iranian Government, most of his staff were gone by autumn 1945. Their departure was unmourned by many Iranians. It would be difficult to say who learned the least by the experience, the Iranians or the Americans.12


In 1942, within a month after the Department of State informed the War Department that Iran had requested appointment of an American officer to serve as Intendant General of the Iranian Army, the dissolution of the USSR Mission on 2 May offered the opportunity of appointing General Greely, its former chief, to the position. General Greely had been in Iraq and Iran since the previous January, had come to know men prominent in the Iranian Government and the British and Soviet forces, and was familiar with the lend-lease program. On 10 April Somervell informed Greely that the Iranian Government desired a United States officer to take charge of the finance and army supply divisions of the Iranian War Ministry. But Greely notified Washington that he was coming home and was told by The Adjutant General on 16 May to stand by for further assignment. That his name was under consideration for the Intendant Generalcy is indicated by a message of the same date to the State Department from U. S. Minister Dreyfus at Tehran concerning the appointment. "General Greely," it ran, "has conducted himself very well in Tehran . . . . However, before he is designated, it would, I feel, be well to establish that he has technical training, administrative ability, and energy required for this difficult and important position."13

When word of what was in the wind reached Greely a few days later, he promptly informed the War Department that, if ordered to remain in Iran to organize a mission to its Army, he proposed to assume command, as ranking American officer, of all U.S. military personnel and activities in Iran. As promptly came the reply that he would do no such thing.14 The proposal, if accepted, would have combined under single authority the entire American effort in Iran-both the program of aid to Britain and the USSR, being conducted by Colonel Shingler as chief of the Iranian Mission, and the new program of strengthening Iran, still being approached by Washington in gingerly fashion. Washington was not prepared at this time to unify these programs in one step. The American position in Iran, as a nonsignatory of the TriPartite Treaty, and as an auxiliary of one of the occupying powers,


made inadvisable the taking of large strides. Washington preferred to keep in step with its Allies.

Secretary Stimson, therefore, having ascertained that the British approved appointment of an American officer as requested by Iran, wrote Secretary Hull on 20 May that without the consent of the Congress General Greely could not accept appointment to a foreign army, but that he might serve as an adviser. There was a further and more emphatic caveat from Dreyfus to Hull; but the War Department's decision was communicated to Greely in a series of messages. Greely was to become an advisory Intendant General to the Iranian Army; he was not to accept emoluments or office from a foreign government; he would investigate and report to Washington as to how best to meet the wishes of Iran; and he was to be guided by Minister Dreyfus who would be instructed by the Department of State.15

From the outset of the arrangement thus informally entered into, it was apparent that Greely's conception of his function was not in conformity with that of the State Department, whose political responsibility made its voice dominant. On two fundamental questions, the handling of lend-lease allocations to Iran and the direction to be taken by American foreign policy in Iran, Greely took positions which, no matter how well justified in his own view by future events, resulted in an impasse.16

In the matter of lend-lease, allocations for Iran were still under discussion at Washington which reported that their determination would take some time.17 Urgent as Iranian needs were, they had to be fitted into the program of aid to Britain and the USSR. Decisions as to how to strengthen Iran were, under the circumstances, primarily political decisions, and it was therefore a nice question as to how far General Greeley's function as adviser on army finance and supply entitled him to go in determining what Iran should receive. The American War Department implemented lend-lease policy, it did not make it. In Greely's view, however, his job was to get as much help as possible to Iran, although he acknowledged that the Iranian idea of his resources,


gained from the equipment and manpower at his disposal while he was head of the USSR Mission, was exaggerated.

This is a fine country [he wrote] with a virile people, and more could be done with it than MacArthur did with the Philippines, but it would be a long pull, and depend entirely on the course of the war. I know a lot of people from the Shah down, and they seem to like me. But it would be a mistake to detail me just as a gesture. They expect help rather than advice. They have had help from American missions and schools, and it would be a pity to spoil our reputation by giving them a Major General without anything to back him up.18

The Department of State had given instructions through Minister Dreyfus that in economic and political matters General Greely was to be guided by Dreyfus, remaining independent in technical military matters. Under this division of responsibility, not, to be sure, very exactly defined, Greely felt that the minister was withholding from him information necessary to his function. He informed General Marshall to that effect, and told Dreyfus:

Frankly . . . in a total war I considered that everything was subordinate to the military effort. On this account I would take no direct action in either sphere which called for his supervision, but [would] merely advise the Iranian military authorities. I added that since he refused me his confidence I could not trust him to be of assistance to me in my work and that for this reason I intended to have as little as possible to do with him.19

The result was a kind of deadlock of which Greely's efforts to secure two hundred motor trucks for the Iranian Army is illustrative. As his report makes clear, that Army was woefully lacking in motor transport and forced to obtain trucks virtually at haphazard from the UKCC which held at the time almost a monopoly of usable vehicles. But Greely's cabled request to the War Department for the trucks turned up soon after on Dreyfus' desk at Tehran via a wire from the State Department asking Dreyfus' opinion of General Greely's request.20

Further steps taken in the field of supply moved the situation into the field of foreign policy and brought matters to a quick decision. In a message to General Marshall on 14 July, General Greely observed that the British and Russians were hamstringing Iranian communications, and that, starting with a few trucks, Greely could reorganize the Iranian Army into an efficient force.21 American supplies, then, were incidental to putting Iran into a position to enter the war as an active


belligerent.22 The message to Marshall, as Greely records in his report, had the approval of the Shah, who shortly afterward proposed to General Greely that the United States invite the Iranian Minister of War, Gen. Amanollah Jahanbani, to Washington with a view to committing Iran as an ally.23 At this point matters moved with rapidity, for the proposal, if acted upon, would involve the United States in a question already settled by the Tri-Partite Treaty. Greely was ordered on 26 July to return to Washington to confer with the Chief of Staff.24 But the next day Greely wired the War Department to take steps, through diplomatic channels, to invite the War Minister to Washington, adding, "Hurry because I leave within a week."25 On 28 July Minister Dreyfus reported to the Secretary of State General Greely's effort to "commit the country as an ally," and added, "Greely's activities have now departed from realm of harmless interference and entered field of international politics."26 Greely left Tehran for Cairo on 2 August and arrived at Washington on 11 August.27

General Greely's report ascribes the outcome of his efforts to the position taken by the Department of State in 1942 that American aid to Iran should be of a limited nature in that area of British responsibility. He prophesied that, unless American policy should change to greater responsibility for Iran as an ally, "any pretence of military assistance to Iran from the United States will remain only a futile gesture." Although for a time after 1943 the tide flowed toward the shore glimpsed by General Greely, his mission failed in 1942, not because all of his ideas were wrong, but because he was not the agency for the formulation of policy. His impatience in the face of what appeared to him to be indecision and fence-walking in time of national emergency disregarded the principle of due consultation with, and specific approval by, those whose business it was to view the war in global perspective. What Greely proposed to do in 1942 was judged by


the policy-makers to be premature and impracticable under the ca-operative conditions in existence in the Persian Corridor. Therefore, General Greely had to go, and events had to unroll more slowly.

The Ridley and Schwarzkopf Appointments

In the middle of August, Colonel Schwarzkopf, who had been mentioned the previous spring as an adviser to the Iranian Government on the reorganization of the Imperial Iranian Gendarmerie, departed for Iran with Lt. Col. Philip T. Boone and Capt. William Preston. They arrived at Tehran on 29 August where they reported to Minister Dreyfus, under whose direction they were to serve as long as their relation with the Iranian Government remained that of advisers. A bill was pending in Congress to authorize U.S. Army officers to act as officials of a foreign government whose defense was considered essential to the defense of the United States. Until that bill became law, Colonel Schwarzkopf and his staff were to remain under Dreyfus' direction rather than under the orders of the War Department.28

Meanwhile the relentless advance of Axis forces toward the critical Middle East objectives of Suez and the Caucasus passes leading to the Iraqi and Iranian oil fields urgently focused attention upon the need to step up all plans for strengthening the Allied hand in the Persian Corridor. The British surrender of Tobruk on 21 June with the loss of 25,000 troops opened the way to Rommel's sweep toward Alexandria. When exhaustion of men and supplies stopped him soon afterward at El Alamein, he had taken toll of 80,000 British men and over a thousand British tanks. It was the lowest depth to which British fortunes sank in Egypt in that trying year. Along the Black Sea coast, after taking Sevastopol on 2 July and retaking Rostov on 25 July, the Germans on 8 August occupied the Maikop oil fields and advanced to capture, on 11 September, Novorossiysk, the seaport at the Black Sea anchor of the Caucasus range. To the north, massive German drives toward Stalingrad began from two directions on 19 and 22 July. In August, then, with the great tests of El Alamein and Stalingrad ominously impending, the Allied position in Iraq and Iran was anything but secure. It was necessary to plan for the worst at a time when there was slight hope of anything better. Hidden in the future was the British counteroffensive, which, beginning at El Alamein on 23 October, would turn back


the Axis forever from Suez. Hidden also was the frightful carnage at Stalingrad which, commencing on 31 August, would leave the ruined city free of the last Nazi by 2 February 1943 and the Caucasus invasion of Iraq and Iran a set of abandoned plans on the desks of the German General Staff.

In August the British informed Iran that, should the Germans reach Astrakhan on the Caspian delta of the Volga below Stalingrad, Tehran would probably be bombed. The Iranian Government, aware of the rising restlessness of the people, applied to the Allies to declare Tehran an open city.29 In Washington conferees of the State and War Departments agreed to face the possibility that within three or four months, possibly less, a large part of the Middle East, specifically Iran, Iraq, and Palestine, would be under enemy occupation. It was further agreed that every effort should be made to save the Persian Corridor supply route, as an alternative to Murmansk and Archangel and as providing access to the Caucasus for military action and a base for air operations against the Balkans and German-occupied southern Russia. Moreover, it was agreed that the dispatch of American Army officers to advise the Iranian Army was desirable to frustrate the possibility of German political agents taking over Iran without a battle.30

How to carry on the commitment to the Iranian Army represented by the appointment of General Greely was the question. Iran indicated that a large mission of two or three hundred American officers would be welcome, and the British concurred.31 Secretary Hull cabled Dreyfus at Tehran that the Department of State felt that an American military mission "would be most helpful in strengthening our position in Iran at .the present time and in building a firm foundation for future relations." The message pointed out that efficient American administration would exert a favorable influence and counteract pro-Axis feeling.

It would also place us in a position to observe and control any movement within the [Iranian] Army tending toward its use as a fifth column in the event of threatened Axis invasion. We further feel that an American group in key positions in the Army would be of great assistance to the various American advisers, in particular to the financial mission [under Dr. Millspaugh].32


On 21 August the Department of State proposed to the War Department that it undertake a military mission to Iran with responsibilities greater than those assigned to General Greely, but less comprehensive than those which Greely had envisaged. To this proposal Secretary Stimson replied that the War Department was unwilling to undertake enlarged responsibilities toward the Iranian Army, but that it would continue to allow U. S. Army officers to advise in key positions. Stimson noted that General Greely's purpose to organize an Iranian army to fight with the Allies ran counter to the Anglo-Iranian-Soviet treaty which limited the use of Iran's forces to internal security functions. Reports showed, Stimson wrote, that the Iranian Army was too disorganized to render effective service as a combat force even after resupply, reorganization, and long training.33

In accordance with this decision the War Department, conscious that its "future commitments in Iran will be based very largely on his [the appointee's reports and recommendations," proceeded with great care in the selection of an officer for the advisory post.34 The nomination went to Maj. Gen. Clarence S. Ridley, an engineer officer who had served (1936-1940 ) as Governor of the Panama Canal Zone, who had also headed the Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Commission, and who was at the time of his nomination in command of the 6th Motorized Division. The Letter of Instructions and a supplementary letter issued to General Ridley fixed two responsibilities: to investigate and report on the desirability of a large military mission, and to advise the Iranian Government on service of supply matters affecting its Army. "You will not, however," the letter cautioned, in view of what had gone before, "directly or by inference, commit the United States to any action whatsoever without specific authority from the War Department." The supplementary letter added that Ridley might advise the Iranian Government directly on supply matters, but that on questions relating to the use of the Iranian Army as a combat force, he must refer to the War Department. "Consult freely with Mr. Dreyfus, although it is understood that you will in no way be acting under his direction and control." Ridley was exempt from the command of the commanding generals of USAFIME and the Persian Gulf Service Command and he and Colonel Schwarzkopf were to be independent of one another.35


After conferring at the State and War Departments and with General Greely, Field Marshal Sir John Dill, and the Iranian Minister at Washington, General Ridley, accompanied by Col. Fernand G. Dumont and Capt. Robert S. Conly, Jr., arrived in Iran on 30 October.36 In proceeding to carry out that part of his instructions which called for a report on the advisability of a large American training mission, Ridley soon encountered the political pitfalls and diplomatic difficulties with which the country abounded. The Prime Minister had taken over the portfolio of the Minister of War and appeared to be jockeying with the Shah for control of the Army. The post of Intendant General involved the giving of advice for the reorganization and administration of the Army's finance, quartermaster, engineer, sanitary, veterinary, recruiting, military justice, transport, and remount departments. But soon after Ridley's arrival the Shah expanded his views of what he wanted Ridley to do, and proposed that Ridley take over reorganization of the entire Army and accept the rank of lieutenant general as Aide to the Shah. The Minister of War countered with an alternative proposal that Ridley become Assistant Minister of War.37

Inasmuch as the United States Congress had recently enacted legislation authorizing the President to detail officers and enlisted men of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps to assist such governments as the President "deems it in the interest of national defense to assist," during the period of war or a declared national emergency, there was no legal bar to acceptance of either proposal.38 After reviewing the arguments for sending a large military mission, General Ridley recommended that he be allowed to accept the proposal of the Minister of War that he become Assistant War Minister, and he suggested that an American quartermaster colonel be given the post of Intendant General.39 This recommendation was disapproved in the War Department in January 1943.40 It was felt that the direct responsibility which General Ridley would owe to the Iranian Government would involve the United States in the question of security of the Persian Corridor line of communications, which was assigned by the Tri-Partite Treaty to the joint care of Iran, Great Britain, and the USSR. The question of sending a fullscale American military mission to reorganize the Iranian Army as a


whole was finally answered in the negative the following October when the joint Chiefs of Staff decided that the separate Ridley and Schwarzkopf missions were sufficient.41 The program to strengthen Iran by supplying expert military and economic advice and administrative assistance continued, therefore, according to the basic pattern laid down in 1942.42



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