The Middle East Theater

This one-volume subseries tells the little-known story of the U.S. Army's mission of assisting the British in their efforts to deliver supplies to the Soviet Union through the Persian Corridor. Initially, the primary American missions involved base construction and the operation of assembly points. This assignment was soon enlarged to include the transportation of materiel to its new ally over a 400-mile network of primitive railroads and highways. From 1942 until the last Soviet soldier left the corridor in 1946, Iran was the silent and little-consulted partner in its destiny, as Britain and the United States struggled to keep the Soviet Union supplied with the military essentials of war. The story thus chronicles the beginnings of an involvement that would culminate in Operation DESERT STORM almost fifty years later.

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THE PERSIAN CORRIDOR AND AID TO RUSSIA. By T. H. Vail Motter. (1952,1985,1989; 545 pages, 15 tables, 12 charts, 5 maps, 3 illustrations, glossary, index, CMH Pub 8-l.)

The "Persian Corridor" was one of two major theaters of operations in World War II whose paramount mission was supply. (The other was China-Burma-India.) The Army's mission in Iran was to accelerate the delivery of lend-lease supplies to the Soviet Union. The operation involved delicate and complex relations with three cooperating powers: Great Britain, the USSR, and Iran. These relations transcended logistics and military administration and entered the diplomatic sphere. This volume was written with an awareness of this difficult experiment in cooperation. It is therefore a book for the statesman, administrator, and historian, as well as for officers responsible for future planning in the realm of logistics and strategy. More specifically the book is indispensable to the study of Anglo-American aid to the USSR after the breakdown of the Murmansk route in 1942 and the Anglo-American invasion of North Africa.

The point of view is that of top command responsibility; but all aspects of planning and operations from Washington and London to the "theater" itself are illustrated. The study emphasizes organization and administration as well as achievement in terms of operational results.

In addition to the task of moving supplies through Iran to the Soviet Union, the Army was charged with responsibility for rendering economic and military aid to Iran. This was accomplished by advisory missions to the Iranian Army and the Iranian Gendarmerie (Chs. IX and XXI) and by the broadening of the commander's directive to include economic assistance to Iran (Ch. XX). The volume therefore describes precedents of importance to readers interested in the development of the policy of containment and military assistance, adopted by the United States in the post-World War II era.

    Key topics:
  1. The use of civilian contractors versus militarization of a large effort of supply in wartime (Chs. II, III, V, VI, VII).
  2. Procurement of materiel and manpower (American and Iranian) for construction and the operation of theater services (Chs. VI, VII, XII).
  3. Changes in organization required by changes in Allied policy and theater mission (Ch. XI).
  4. The problem of overlapping functions and the rivalries between military and civilian (Army, State Department, War Shipping Administration, and Lend-Lease Administration) agencies in an overseas area (Chs. II, IV, XVI-XVIII).
  5. Anglo-American command relationships in Iran (Ch. V).
  6. Difficulties of cooperation with the USSR (Ch. I).
  7. Rivalries between Great Britain and the Soviet Union in Iran and their continued efforts to exclude each other from their respective zones (Chs. VII, XIII).
  8. Anglo-American-Soviet negotiations directed toward legalization of the status of American troops in Iran and the relation of these to the Declaration of the Three Powers regarding Iran, 1 December 1943 (Ch. XX).
  9. Anglo-American-Iranian negotiations regarding payment for the use of the Iranian State Railway (Ch. XVII).
  10. Diplomatic background of the U.S. advisory missions to Iran (Chs. V, XX).
  11. Employment of native labor (see Index: "Native employees").
  12. Security arrangements in tribal areas (Chs. II, III, V, XI).
  13. Planning for expansion of the oil pipeline net in Iran and of the refinery capacity at Bahrein and Abadan (Ch. XV).
  14. The role of the Army Service Forces in organizing and administering a supply theater (Ch. X).
  15. Command relations between the Middle East Theater and the administration of the Army's responsibilities in Iran (see Index: "U.S. Army Forces in the Middle East (USAFIME); U.S. Military Iranian Mission; U.S. Military North African Mission; Persian Gulf Command; Maxwell, Maj. Gen. Russell L.; Connolly, Maj. Gen. Donald H.; and Shingler, Brig. Gen. Don G.").
  16. Shipping-the conflict between global and local interests (see Index: "Shipping").
  17. The tendency to overexpand staff and organize beyond the demands of function (Chs. II, III, V, XI).

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