284. Telegram From the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kaysen) to President Kennedy0

Sitto 24. 1. Faysal has given his agreement to satisfactory U.S. and Saudi statements (to be used in response to questions) on the screening of U.S. military personnel going to Saudi Arabia, along the lines of the ones discussed with the President last week.1

2. Accordingly, we are now sending the squadron of F-100’s to Saudi Arabia. All elements except the fighters are moving to be operational [Page 615] Dhahran at 1430Z 1 July.2 The tactical fighters will be held at Zaragosa until a further message is sent ordering them on their way.

3. We are calling Cairo’s attention to the “training exercise” and reminding them of the problems that would arise if there are further UAR bombings of Saudi territory.

4. We are not sending the fighters until (a) the UN observer forces are fully in place on the border and (b) we get a reaction back from Cairo.

5. In the light of that reaction we will consider moving the fighters and putting into effect the rules of engagement previously agreed. These, in short, provide for intercepting unidentified aircraft and escorting them out of Saudi territory or to a landing. They do not provide for active patrol or search. They provide for shooting only if the intruding aircraft engage in hostile action. Our aircraft will be based at Jidda about 300 miles from the border.

6. Several days will probably elapse before the movement order for the fighters becomes an issue. They will be in Dhahran somewhat less than a day after they are ordered to move.3

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Saudi Arabia, 6/15/63–6/30/63. Secret; Operational Immediate. Sent to General McHugh for the President and repeated to London for Bundy. President Kennedy was in Ireland on June 28 in the course of a 10-day trip to Europe. He left Washington on June 22 and returned on July 3.
  2. See Document 270.
  3. The Joint Chiefs of Staff directed CINCSTRIKE to execute Hard Surface at 8:31 a.m. on June 28. Tactical fighters were to proceed to Zaragoza and remain there until receipt of further orders to proceed to Dhahran. (Telegram 290845Z June (Air Force Message), from HQ USSTRICOM MacDill AFB Fla to Rusk, June 29; Department of State, Central Files, DEF 6–3 US) At the noon briefing on June 29, the Department of State Spokesman announced that the United States was carrying out another training exercise designed to enhance the air defense capability of Saudi Arabia and that participating aircraft would begin to arrive in Saudi Arabia the following day. (Telegram 886 to Jidda, June 29; ibid.)
  4. According to the notes of a telephone conversation between Ball and Kaysen at 10:40 a.m. on June 29, Kaysen conveyed a report from McHugh that the President had looked over material relating to Yemen and “he said let’s be sure that before those fighters are in there we look at the rules of engagement again and be sure no war starts that I’m not in control of.” Ball agreed to discuss the matter with Talbot and McNamara. (Kennedy Library, Ball Papers, Yemen)