412. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara1



  • National Policy Paper on Southern Africa—Third Draft (Revised) (U)2
(C) Reference is made to:
A memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA), dated 18 November 1968,3 which requested formal clearance comments of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the third draft National Policy Paper (NPP) on Southern Africa.
A memorandum by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, dated 22 July 1965,4 which forwarded “Procedures and Annotated Standard Outline for National Policy Papers,” dated 17 June 1965, and established the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA) as the final approving authority for the Department of Defense in formal clearance of third-draft papers.
(C) The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed the third draft of the NPP on Southern Africa and, in accordance with reference 1a and the procedures set forth in reference 1b, submit the following comments.
(S) In several areas in the draft NPP, realistic courses of action have not been developed to implement fully and to pursue stated US interests and objectives. Some courses of action presented in the draft NPP impose unnecessary limitations on military activities in South Africa and could be counter-productive or could contradict US interests and objectives.
(S) The course of action dealing with conspicuous military association proscribes routine participation by South African military personnel in DOD correspondence courses, high-level visits by South African military personnel to the United States, and visits by ranking US military officers to South Africa. It does not follow that travel to South Africa by ranking US military officers would automatically create undesirable publicity. The conditions surrounding travel and the prevailing political climate could well make it possible to conduct such visits without contravening basic policy objectives.
(S) The foregoing restrictions relate directly [6–1/2 lines of source text not declassified]. It is recognized that working level military contacts [Page 714] and the participation of South African military personnel in DOD correspondence courses should not be routinely undertaken to the point where they become conspicuous. However, [3 lines of source text not declassified]. Therefore, contacts should not be restricted as a matter of principle but considered in relation to the conditions which prevail at the time proposals are made.
(S) The draft NPP provides for the eventual resumption of US Navy and MSTS ship visits to South African ports; however, this provision is based on the condition that US personnel not be subjected to discrimination and that port visits be inconspicuous. It is highly unlikely that South Africa will make an official exception to its policy of apartheid in the case of US personnel, which the draft NPP requires before routine naval visits can be resumed. Provision should be made for discretionary liberty and shore leave as recommended earlier by both the US Ambassador to South Africa and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
(S) The draft NPP also provides for operational port visits to South Africa in cases of emergency or overriding operational requirements; e.g., when “alternative logistical arrangements cannot be made.” While the definition of “alternative logistical arrangements” could be left to future interpretation, such would not be necessary if the statement were to read “reasonable alternative logistical arrangements.” This would permit transiting US aircraft carriers to make refueling stops in South Africa without resorting to the expedient of diverting, for a period of 45 to 50 days, a fleet oiler from east coast duties for the sole purpose of performing a single underway refueling.
(S) In view of the present closure and possible future denial of the use of the Suez Canal to the United States during a Middle East, African, Indian Ocean, or Southeast Asian crisis, ready access to South Africa would provide valuable options to planning required for military operations. Further, many of our larger warships cannot transit the Suez Canal, another factor which makes it highly desirable that we maintain cooperative relations with the Republic of South Africa. Current Soviet naval activity in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean underscores the need for greater flexibility in our approach to utilization of existing bases/facilities in Southern Africa
(S) The paper recommends that the United States should be prepared to entertain requests for defensive arms from black African States threatened with attack by white-controlled countries. There is a danger in this course of action which the draft NPP overlooks. Arms could fall into the hands of insurgents, who could then use the arms in their campaign to “liberate” white-controlled Africa. Thus, if such an arms policy were adopted, it could place the United States in the position of appearing to supply and encourage insurgency operations across African State borders and could increase the possibility of retaliation and a conflict [Page 715] that the United States desires to prevent. Therefore, the entertainment of requests for arms from black African States should be considered not as policy but on a case-by-case basis.
(S) The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the draft NPP be returned to the Policy Planning Council for revision in order to develop realistic courses of action and to align them more closely with stated US interests and objectives, especially with regard to the foregoing comments.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Pete C. Sianis
Major General, USAF
Deputy Director, Joint Staff
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 73 A 1250, South Africa 092. Secret.
  2. Document 409.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.