91. Minutes of a Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1


  • Possible Soviet Moves in Egypt


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • Mr. U. Alexis Johnson
  • Mr. Rodger Davies
  • Defense
  • Mr. Richard Ware
  • Mr. Robert Pranger
  • JCS
  • Lt. Gen. John W. Vogt
  • CIA
  • Mr. Thomas H. Karamessines
  • NSC Staff
  • Mr. Harold Saunders
  • Col. Robert Behr
  • Mr. Keith Guthrie


1. The WSAG working group paper should be refined to categorize possible Soviet actions to strengthen Egyptian defenses and identify US options in response.2 The paper should discuss the issues raised by these options, make clear relative US and Soviet military capabilities in the Middle East, and consider the impact which Soviet actions could have on the overall balance in the Middle East.

2. An analysis should be prepared of what would be involved if the Soviets were to install an effective air defense for Egypt. This should include information on likely types of equipment, numbers of personnel, lead time, and means of transporting to the UAR.

3. Existing Middle East contingency plans should be reviewed to determine their applicability to the present situation.

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4. CIA should prepare an analysis of possible Soviet intent in diverting an intelligence collection ship to a location south of Cyprus.

5. The WSAG will meet on February 163 for further consideration of Middle East contingency planning.

6. The results of the WSAG studies will be made available to the Ad Hoc Group on aid to Israel. The Ad Hoc Group will meet February 17 or 184 to consider pending proposals on supplying military equipment to Israel. It will meet later to consider overall US strategy in dealing with the Middle East situation.

7. Proposals on all available intelligence capabilities covering possible Soviet moves in Egypt should be prepared for discussion by the 303 Committee on February 17.5 These proposals should take into account possible means of improving Israeli reconnaissance.

[Omitted here are the minutes, which are printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, 1969–October 1970, Document 134.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–114, Washington Special Actions Group, WSAG Minutes (Originals) 1969 and 1970. Top Secret; Nodis. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text omitted by the editors. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. A paper entitled “Increased Soviet Involvement in UAR Military Effort—Contingencies and Options,” was drafted by Saunders and Rodger Davies for consideration by the WSAG working group. (Ibid.) In a February 10 memorandum to Nixon, Kissinger informed the President of intelligence reports that the Soviet Union was planning to give the UAR “some sort of ‘system’” to counter Israeli air operations. (Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 132)
  3. This meeting did not occur.
  4. The Special NSC Review Group met on February 25; see Document 94.
  5. The minutes of the February 17 meeting of the 303 Committee, which coordinated covert action, have not been found. The President changed the 303 Committee’s name to the 40 Committee on February 17, when he signed and issued National Security Decision Memorandum 40. (Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume II, Organization and Management of U.S. Foreign Policy, 1969–1972, Document 203) The 40 Committee met on February 25, but did not discuss Soviet moves in Egypt. (National Security Council Archives, Box 1007, 40 Committee Meetings, Minutes, 1970, RMN)