76. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Secretary of Defense Meeting with General Khammash


  • U.S. Side
    • Honorable Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense
    • Honorable Paul C. Warnke, Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA)
    • Mr. Harry H. Schwartz, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA)
  • Jordanian Side
    • Major General Amer Khammash, Chief of Staff, Jordan Armed Forces

Mr. McNamara expressed his admiration for the King which General Khammash said was reciprocated; Mr. McNamara also apologized for the length of time that the General had been kept waiting in the United States and General Khammash indicated that he understood why. Mr. McNamara invited the General to expose his views on the situation in Jordan.

General Khammash made reference to the enormous pressure under which the King is now living, including the division of the country and almost daily clashes on the border, and he alluded to the restlessness of the Jordanian army. He hoped that what would be offered him would be something the King could approve. But he was worried [Page 154] about the results if the King did not because he considers that this mission is the last chance the King will give him in the United States. He asked for help and made the point that the maximum good political effect will flow from the rapid arrival in his country of arms from the U.S. He asked in this connection concerning air shipment of some items and the possible negotiability of the package.

The Secretary of Defense made clear that General Khammash’s original list of items was for us a very tough one and would cause us most serious problems with the Congress. He pointed out also that Jordan and the U.S. have the same basic objective of stable relations between countries of the area and that this was an objective which would not primarily be met by arms. We are limited in what we can do with respect to arms particularly because of the need to justify supplying arms to both Jordan and Israel just after they have had a war. Also there is the problem of diversion of resources from economic development which the purchase of arms causes.

Mr. McNamara then briefly outlined what we could do:

12 F-104s by June (possibly air-shipped, if this seems necessary) and 6 more by December.
We propose an annual review of the problem. In the course of such an annual review we could consider the possibility some time in the future of 18 more such aircraft.
We would ship the suspended MAP items, and
The remaining ground equipment from past sales (both of these could be shipped at an early date by sea).

Replace ground equipment losses, except for tanks and heavy artillery.

Mr. McNamara then pointed out that we had gotten some very recent information from the British on the availability of Centurions, specifically, that if 200 were really what Jordan needed, they could be bought in Britain, that the spares and ammunition were available-and would be available well into the 70’s—that they could be converted to 105mm guns in Jordan. General Khammash’s lack of interest in tanks from the British, however described, was clear. Mr. McNamara then responded that we could only make available 88 M48A1s (and this number was inserted in the draft Memorandum of Understanding2 which General Khammash took with him).

General Khammash expressed a strong need for 7 to 10 155mm guns which he had lost during the war and Mr. McNamara promised to see what we could do for him in this respect.3

Mr. McNamara went on to point out that the payments would be spread over a period of 2-1/2 years and that the cost of the package described would be between $80 and $85 million, including the $10 million Jordan has on deposit here. He said that we would need $22 million, in addition to the $10 million on deposit, before July 1, 1968.

When General Khammash asked what negotiating latitude there was on the planes, Mr. McNamara replied that in our opinion the F-104 is a good plane for Jordan and that others are either not available, or not as applicable to Jordan’s requirements as the F-104.

He said, in response to the General’s question, that a Presidential Determination under the Conte-Long Amendment would not change the type of plane which we are considering. Mr. McNamara did say, however, that, once the 18 F-104s are delivered, we could consider some time in the future another 18. As to the negotiating flexibility of other items Mr. McNamara said that, as to tanks, this depended on the acceptability of British tanks. On other items, there was some but not much because of financial considerations.

Finally, the Secretary of Defense suggested that General Khammash take the draft Memorandum of Understanding with him, ask us any questions he had, and then present it to the King. He pointed out that it could be signed in Jordan by our Ambassador if General Khammash wished to avoid making another trip to the United States.

General Khammash thanked the Secretary for all the work that had been done in his behalf and said he would now see what he could do with the King.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 72 A 1498, Jordan, 000.1-333. Secret. Drafted by Schwartz and approved by Warnke. The meeting was held in McNamara’s office. This memorandum of conversation was summarized in telegram 113633 to Amman, February 11, and the text of the attached draft memorandum of understanding was transmitted in telegram 113634 to Amman, also February 11. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 12-5 JORDAN)
  2. The attached memorandum of understanding is not printed.
  3. Harry Schwartz called Khammash later in the afternoon on February 10 to say that there were no 155-mm guns available in the United States. He added that U.S. officials would try to find some elsewhere. (Memorandum of telephone conversation; Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 72 A 1498, Jordan 333)