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U.S. Says Training Arab Officers Here Helps Ease Mideast Tensions

A high-ranking Defense Department official justified today the training by the United States of Syrian and other Arab military officers, on grounds that “among the alternatives to military training provided by the United States are the United Arab Republic and the Soviet Union.” Adam Yarmolinsky, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, wrote Rep. Leonard Farbstein, New York Democrat, that the United States is training Arab officers in hopes of instilling democratic concepts. He referred to Egypt and the USSR, stating that “were either of these countries to gain increased access to a military establishment in one of the Arab states, our influence in the Near East would be lessened, and the existence of political tensions exacerbated.”

Rep. Farbstein elicited the statement by informing Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara of his objection to the training of officers from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. He questioned the wisdom of training such officers when the Syrians recently executed aggressive military actions against Israel. Speaking for Mr. McNamara, Mr. Yarmolinsky said: “A primary objective of the United States in the Near East is to preserve the peace and prevent the outbreak of hostilities between Israel and the Arab states. We currently conduct training programs for military officers from a number of Arab countries.”

Stressing that the military plays a key role in Arab states, he declared: “By this training, we hope to introduce younger military officers to Western traditions of democratic society and to serve as a means of continuing friendly contact with various defense establishments. We believe that our training programs have been and will continue to be effective in achieving these goals.”

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