Joint Chiefs on Military Assistance to Israel
(March 12, 1964)
Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara/1/
1. Reference is made to a memorandum by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, dated 11 February 1964, on the above subject, which requested the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding certain questions posed in a letter by the Deputy Under Secretary of State, dated 8 February 1964./2/ These questions, concerning the desirability of selling tanks to Israel, are:
2. A significant imbalance in the relative strengths of Arab and Israeli military forces does not exist at this time.
3. There is no need for Israel to augment its tank strength at this time. Current force levels and equipment levels are adequate for the defense of Israel in the light of announced US policies and Arab disunity and weaknesses. With the ability to mobilize to a strength of 250,000 in two d4ays, Israeli forces can continue to counter Arab threats as long as such forces are well led, trained, and equipped.
4. There is a military need for Israel to modernize its tank force because the bulk of its tank inventory is obsolescent. The Arabs (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Iraq) have already gained a favorable modernization differential as well as a numerical advantage, and they are gradually improving their training and maintenance. Thus, Israel needs to replace obsolete M-4 tanks in order to counter Arab T-34s, T-54s, and JS-3s.
5. With reference to the question of substituting antitank weapons for tanks, it must be noted that these weapons are complementary to each other. Even though a nation may have adopted a defense strategy, there is a requirement for an offensive tactical capability to repel and, if necessary, eject enemy forces which have penetrated its territory. Thus, Israel has a need for an appropriate mix of tanks and antitank weapons in order to maintain a balanced military force.
6. The foregoing comments do not alter the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as furnished in JCSM-953-63, dated 7 December 1963, subject: "Near East Arms Policy (U)," and JCSM-40-64, dated 18 January 1964, subject: "Arms for Israel (U)."/3/
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Earle G. Wheeler