315. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Meeting on Jordan

The Situation

This morning’s reports indicate that the military situation for the moment seems to have stabilized. The Jordanians have turned back a southern Syrian thrust and inflicted losses.
Following last night’s meeting, our replies to the Israeli questions were given to the Israeli minister here.2 [Text at Tab A.] In two related further moves:
  • —We asked the Israelis for their view of an attack on the Syrian rear from the Golan Heights.
  • —We asked Ambassador Brown for direct clarification of King Hussein’s personal view on an Israeli ground attack in Jordan as contrasted to an attack in Syria. We have no reply yet.
The Soviet Chargé yesterday delivered a note to Assistant Secretary Sisco replying to the U.S. request Sunday that the USSR press the Syrians to pull back from Jordan. It is non-polemical, urges prevention of Israeli attack and asks about concentration of U.S. Forces. [Text at Tab B.]
There are some straws in the wind this morning that suggest discussing the possibility that the Jordan problem may be resolved in an Arab context. The Israeli military believe Syria will have serious logistical difficulty within 3–4 days. The Arab summit could—although we should not count on it—produce a face-saving compromise under which the Syrians would withdraw.

Public and Diplomatic Posture in the Event of Israeli Intervention

Congressional Briefings—We have drafted talking points for briefings which include background on the situation and notes (1) that we are informing the Soviets that we have no plans to intervene and warning them not to do so, (2) that we are doing contingency planning for evacuation, and (3) that, if contrary to our expectations, the situation [Page 890] should require a larger direct role we will consult Congress in advance.
Public Statements—We have drafted a public statement which reviews the background of the situation and notes (1) that Syria’s invasion of Jordan is understandably considered by Israel as a threat to Israel’s security and (2) that we have no intention of embarking on other than diplomatic steps in order to end the fighting unless powers outside the area become involved.
United Nations—We are drafting a contingency statement supporting a veto of any motion condemning Israel. This supports our agreement with Israel.
Diplomatic Scenario—Messages for our approaches to the USSR, Middle East Nations and our NATO allies have been drafted for this contingency.

Military Readiness

1. Navy—Two Carrier Task Groups (Saratoga and Independence with Cruiser Springfield, 14 destroyers, and 140 aircraft remain off the coast of Lebanon.

An amphibious task force with 1,200 Marines is ready and in position 35 hours off the coast.

A third Carrier Task Group (John F. Kennedy with two guided missile frigates) will enter the Mediterranean early Friday morning, September 25.

A second amphibious task force (Guam, additional ships, 17 helos, and a reinforced battalion of 2,814 Marines) has split into fast and slow groups. Will enter Mediterranean on September 27 and 30.

Five Navy P–3 ASW-patrol aircraft are now at Rota.

Two additional attack submarines will enter Mediterranean on September 25 and September 29.

Four additional destroyers will depart the US tomorrow for the Mediterranean.

2. Army

One Airborne battalion and one Infantry battalion ready in Europe. Another airborne battalion will be ready at noon today. Transit and load time is 4 hours for first rifle company, 8 hours for the rest. Total force is 1,600 troops. Initial company and battalion air drop; other battalions airland.

82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg has the initial ready force of one airborne company rigged for drop on 6-hour alert. One battalion also is ready on 6-hour alert; an additional battalion will be on same alert by 2:00 p.m. today. Remainder of division on 84-hour alert.

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3. Air Force

18 F–4s and 4 C–130s are at Incirlik, Turkey. (Turkey has not authorized us to use the base to launch these aircraft in strikes over Jordan.)

3. Medical Assistance Units

Two hospital units (one in the UK and one in Germany) are loaded and ready to move in one hour. First elements can arrive Amman in 10–11 hours, closing entire unit in 18 hours.

The situation in Amman is such that a medical effort (under the umbrella of the ICRC) may become the most urgent action as soon as the security situation will permit entry of the medical units.

The foregoing military measures will put us in a position to conduct evacuation or intervention operations. They also have a deterrent effect on Soviet intervention.

Military Equipment Packages for Israel and Jordan

  • —A package is ready to replace materiel expended by Jordan. Transport plans are complete.
  • —Packages of equipment for Israel, in the event of an Israeli move, to (1) replace that expended in the attack and (2) improve defensive posture in the Suez area will be completed today.

Actions to Deter or Counter Soviet Intervention

In addition to the military measures already taken, scenarios of additional military and diplomatic steps to deter or, if necessary, counter Soviet intervention are being refined by the WSAG.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Records of Thomas Moorer, Box 114, Work File (Middle East). Top Secret. Printed from an uninitialed copy. The tabs are not printed. All brackets are in the original.
  2. See Document 311.