NEW YORK (Oct. 8)
The U.S. Department of Defense is contemplating a major change in military command which will affect the U. S. military operations in the Middle East, it was reported today by Hanson W. Baldwin, military correspondent of the New York Times. In Washington, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was told by officials of the Defense Department that they had not seen the report and had nothing to say about the alleged developments.
The report said that among the projected changes would be one assigning the Middle East area to the Strike Command, which is a Joint functional command of the Army and the Air Force established two years ago. At present the planning staff that plans and deals with military aspects of the Middle East is being maintained in London under the command of Admiral Charles D. Griffin, Commander in Chief of the Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.
The proposed changes in responsibilities for Middle East planning would transfer functions from commands now headed by admirals to a command headed by an Army general, Paul D. Adams. The establishment of the Strike Command and expansion of its responsibilities have been backed by Gen. Maxwell Taylor, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The expansion of Strike Command authority has been approved in principle but not implemented after expression of views by Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, U. S. Commander in Chief in Europe and Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.
Sources at Gen. Lemnitzer’s headquarters near Paris were reported by Mr. Baldwin as saying that the General went to Washington last weekend to discuss the Middle East command problem. His NATO responsibilities extend throughout the Mediterranean and through Turkey in the Middle East. As NATO and U.S. Commander in Europe, he has been intimately involved in the problems of NATO’s Middle East flank. Troops from Gen. Lemnitzer’s command, along with elements of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, took part in the Lebanon landing in 1958.
Gen. Lemnitzer is reported as recommending against the transfer of Middle Eastern responsibilities to the Strike Command, urging that responsibility for the area remain with Admiral Griffin or be transferred to his command.