42. Letter From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson) to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Packard)1

Dear Dave:

For some time there has been a need to clarify certain aspects of United States relations with the South African military establishment. How to deal with South African requests for unclassified training films and military correspondence courses and with the question of high-ranking military visits has been a nagging problem for both our Departments for several years.

None of these issues was definitively dealt with in recent southern Africa studies submitted to the National Security Council (NSC) or the subsequent White House policy directives,2 but I believe we now have a framework for the determination of policy in these matters.

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Therefore, I am proposing a set of guidelines, a copy of which is enclosed, for handling these questions. I hope these can become agreed State/Defense policy. Assuming both Departments reach agreement on the guidelines, I propose we then inform the NSC of our action.

With all best wishes,


U. Alexis Johnson 3


Guidelines for Relations with South African Military Establishment

A. Training Films

The South African Defense Force may buy from the General Services Administration (GSA) National Audiovisual Center (NAC) unclassified films of DOD origin which are not combat or security related. As some of the 3,000-odd DOD films currently available for GSA sale are combat related, representatives of DOD and State will review the NAC catalog and make up a list of films which may be purchased by the SADF. Defense and State representatives will meet from time to time to review the titles of new acquisitions of the Center in order to keep the approved list current.

Direct DOD sale of such films to SADF is not possible as South Africa has been dropped from the FMS eligibility list.

B. Military Correspondence Courses

There may be limited South African participation in a US military correspondence course if the course:

is unclassified;
has no application to the exercise of internal security, or the enforcement of apartheid;
is not significantly related to combat or to training in combat operations; (Courses in economics, management, law, safety and health are illustrative of subject matter that may be considered.)
involves no award of a diploma or other public sign of South African participation.

The program will be monitored and applications approved through consultations among DOD/ISA and PM and AF in State with a view to assuring reciprocal advantage to the US and maintaining low visibility. Initiative will be left to the South Africans; course announce[Page 120]ments, which in effect are invitations to apply, will not be distributed to them. Upon South African inquiry about courses in a particular field, information on the availability of qualified courses in that field may be provided.

Approvals of applications for an individual to participate will be held to 12 a year unless special circumstances justify a larger number as in the US interest and involving no significant political disadvantages. There will be full field coordination through the Embassy in Pretoria.

The release of any courses now ready for delivery but held by our attachés in South Africa will be decided on the same basis.

C. Visits and Participation in Military-Sponsored Courses and Conferences

As a general rule, official visits on any level will not be encouraged and high-level official visits, e.g. Brigadier General, etc., will not be approved in either direction.
Participation of South African officers of any level in military courses or conferences in the US will not normally be approved when the sponsor is a branch of the USG.
Exceptions can be made in special circumstances, e.g. where the visit or participation in a course or conference (a) would not be conspicuous; (b) would not contribute directly to South Africa’s military capacity and (c) would offer some special advantage in the pursuit of US objectives.
Decisions in such cases will be taken by the Departments of State and Defense jointly, and field control will be exercised by the American Embassy in Pretoria. Similarly, State, Defense and the Embassy will try to discourage nonofficial travel by high-ranking military personnel between the two countries if it appears that such travel would cause us serious foreign policy problems.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 12–5 S AFR. Secret. Drafted by Duncan, Crosby, Nelson, and Jacobs.
  2. For study and decision memoranda regarding U.S. relations with the South African military establishment, see Documents 6, 23, and 40. A paper prepared in response is printed as Document 17.
  3. Johnson signed “Alex” above his typed signature.