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



  • US Policy Toward Republic of South Africa (U)
By JCSM–290–64, dated 8 April 1964, the Joint Chiefs of Staff provided their views on the National Policy Paper on South Africa,2 and on US Policy toward South Africa by JCSM–292–64, dated 7 April 1964.3 In extension of these views, they are concerned that, in implementing its policy toward the Government of South Africa with respect to sales of military equipment, the United States may be compromising US military interests in the country.
Previous views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on US military requirements in South Africa were provided by JCSM–528–63, dated 20 July 1963, for use in developing a US position on issues expected to be raised in the July 1963 session of the UN Security Council.4 These views on South Africa were stated, however, in the context of a comparative analysis [Page 980] of US military interests in strategically located Portuguese territories and US interests in North Africa and were therefore properly ranked as of secondary importance. This comparative analysis may have obscured some of the absolute values of strategic military importance represented by South Africa. Active military interests consist of a missile tracking station, a NASA deep space probe satellite tracking station, and a communications facility at Pretoria providing the terminus of the Atlantic Missile Range arterial long-haul communications system. Essential military interests lie in the strategic geographic location of South Africa and the need to deny it to the communists. There remains the need to maintain a rapport with the South African military to provide for cooperation and assistance to fulfill US contingency requirements.
Subsequent to the establishment of an arms policy toward South Africa, the Department of State has held in abeyance final negotiations for the sale of three submarines (new construction) to South Africa. It is noted that this action has been taken despite Presidential approval to proceed with preliminary discussions with South Africa (in September 1963). It was indicated at that time that the decision to sell submarines would be forthcoming after the end of 1963 “in light of the circumstances at the time.” As a consequence, the South African Government now considers that the United States has failed to respond to legitimate requests for the purchase of items which by their nature would be used in a common defense effort and not in actions associated with apartheid. South Africans are now beginning to reflect dissatisfaction and resentment in their military relations with the United States.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider, as indicated in JCSM–292–64, that US policy toward South Africa is sufficiently flexible to permit the United States to pursue its diplomatic objectives and, at the same time, safeguard important military objectives in the country. In the application of US arms policy, it should be possible to distinguish between weapons suitable for use or likely to be used for internal repression and weapons which, by their very nature, would be applicable only to external defense. It is recognized that there are political considerations which make it necessary to limit the introduction of certain types of military equipment, but this should not preclude the sale of appropriate military equipment to the South African Government. An early decision should be made, as indicated in JCSM–292–64, to proceed with the sale of submarines and other appropriate military equipment. Suitable conditions for such transactions can be ensured by a combination of (1) careful selection of the types of equipment to be delivered, (2) quantitative limitations upon such deliveries, and (3) effective arrangement for post-delivery audit with respect to location and utilization of the equipment in question.
It is estimated that the favorable effect on our international balance of payments by the sale of three submarines and related types of [Page 981] equipment, during the next three years, would be an in-flow of at least $150 million.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the Department of Defense position with respect to sales of military equipment to the Republic of South Africa reflect the views expressed above, that these views be included in the formulation of policies toward South Africa, and that the Department of State be advised of this position.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Maxwell D. Taylor
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 69 A 7425, Africa 381 (28 Mar 64). Secret.
  2. JCSM–290–64 is not printed. (Ibid.) For the final version of the National Policy Paper on South Africa approved by Secretary Rusk on January 18, 1965, see Document 600.
  3. JCSM–292–64 provided the comments of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the proposed National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) concerning U.S. policy toward South Africa. (Ibid.) See Document 586.
  4. Not printed.