39. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense McNamara to the Secretary of the Air Force (Zuckert)1



  • Request for Approval of Facilities to Support Contingency Planning

I have this date authorized an offset arrangement against R&D surcharges owed by the United Kingdom, under which the United States would contribute one-half of the British costs of detaching certain islands in the Indian Ocean from their present administering authorities. I am not prepared, however, to approve the recommendation in your memorandum of May 14, 1965,2 that we indicate to the British our intention to proceed with the development of staging facilities at Aldabra. I consider it of cardinal importance that the British continue to shoulder their responsibilities east of Suez and, consequently, do not favor any US action that would suggest the possibility that we are willing to replace them in this area. I am prepared to assist the British, if they need our help, in the establishment of British staging facilities at Aldabra. In return, I would expect that the facilities would be available for our use should the need arise. I am authorizing the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA) to work with the State Department on discussions with the British towards this end. Should these discussions lead to a requirement for USAF construction funds, I will ask that you prepare an appropriate Program Change Proposal. To avoid a premature indication to the British of our willingness to assist them in meeting the costs of construction to Aldabra, there should be no release of this information without the prior coordination by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA).

Robert McNamara 3
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 70 A 3717, 680.1, Indian Ocean Islands. Secret. Drafted by Lang. Copies were sent to the Secretary of Defense and the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid.)
  3. Printed from a copy that indicates McNamara signed the original.