105. Minutes of Meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group1


  • Cyprus


  • Chairman—Robert Ingersoll
  • State
  • Robert McCloskey
  • Wells Stabler
  • Dean Brown
  • John Day
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt
  • George Vest
  • Defense
  • Amos Jordan
  • Denis McAuliffe
  • JCS
  • LTG John W. Pauly
  • Gen. Eaton
  • CIA
  • William Colby
  • George Lauder
  • NSC
  • Richard Kennedy
  • Harold Saunders
  • Rosemary Niehuss
  • David Ransom
  • Col. Clinton Granger
  • James Barnum

Mr. Colby briefed from the attached text.2

Mr. Ingersoll: Amos (Mr. Jordan), would you like to bring us up to date on where we stand?

Mr. Jordan: General Pauly is prepared to give us a run-down on the military factor.

Gen. Pauly: There are three main things that we have done since we last met. One is that we have directed the amphibious task force to [Page 342] move south of Cyprus, about 40 miles off-shore, with express orders to assist in the evacuation of civilians—not U.S. intervention. The other task force with the Forrestal in it is to move behind the amphibious group for support purposes only. [8 lines not declassified]

Mr. Ingersoll: [less than 1 line not declassified]

General Pauly: [6 lines not declassified]

Another thing we are trying to do is to get ourselves into a better position in terms of reaction time. Number one, we are moving, in a casual manner, if I can use that term, two C–130s to Aviano (Italy) in case of evacuation. They have been instructed specifically to do this without attracting attention of any kind. Also, the question of the US assets (military equipment and people) in Turkey has also come up. You might want to address the desirability of doing this. We have 18 F–4s, for example, in Turkey. [less than 1 line not declassified] In Greece, there is a small detachment there for a gunnery meet. There are also two destroyers in port at Athens. They are slowly being brought back to a state of readiness.

There is also the problem of the replacement for the aircraft carrier America, which, as you know, has been holding at Rota, Spain. Its replacement, the Independence, sailed two days ago on its regular schedule. Now, normal procedure for the turnover of these ships is to time it so they meet about 950 miles off the European continent and exchange the baton. If we follow the normal procedure, this would mean the America would pull out on the 24th (of July) and they would meet on the 26th. We need a signal from you if you want to proceed the normal way or alter it some way. If we want to stick to normal procedure, the America must sail on the 24th.

Mr. Ingersoll: How much advance notice do you need?

Gen. Pauly: Twelve hours would be enough. They are already on standby, and instructions to sail could be given at the last minute. The task force proceeding to Cyprus should be in position to begin extracting civilians by 2:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, our time. We can begin to start extracting civilians by midnight tonight, our time, with the choppers.

Mr. Ingersoll: Where will the task force be then?

Gen. Pauly: Off the south coast of Cyprus, about 40 miles south of the British Sovereign Base Area.

Amb. McClosky: And where are they now?

Gen. Pauly: They were some 20 hours out. By now they must have eaten up at least six hours of that time.

Mr. Ingersoll: That’s amazing! I thought that yesterday you told me that they had been instructed to move. That was twenty-four hours ago. They must be closer than that by now.

[Page 343]

Gen. Pauly: I’ll check that. When I returned from the meeting yesterday the message to move had still not gone out.

Mr. Stabler: From where will they pull the civilians?

Gen. Pauly: From the ports along the southern part of the country. I understand from the British Ambassador that the British are working with our people over there for an evacuation route.

Mr. Ingersoll: There is a good port at Dhekelia.

Gen. Pauly: We’ll probably use the choppers, there are 14 of them on the task force.

Mr. Ingersoll: Bob (Amb. McCloskey), would you give us a rundown on the latest diplomatic efforts?

Amb. McCloskey: The Secretary was in touch last night with the foreign ministers in Paris, London, and Bonn, explaining our position to them. I think we can expect the outcome of these discussions to show up soon in the deliberations of the EC–9. Our basic position is: (1) support a ceasefire; (2) get both Greece and Turkey to agree on negotiations with the British, in London; and (3) that our objective is to see the reestablishment of constitutional rule in Cyprus. In New York, at the Security Council, we are going to join with the British and the French in a resolution that calls for the three principles I just mentioned. The intention of our joining in the resolution is to show that the U.S. and the European countries are going in the same direction. Whether the resolution will reach a vote today is questionable. The Secretary has approved a statement to be made by (Amb.) Scali that, while critical of Turkey, puts the blame for the war on Greece.3

Mr. Stabler: Where is Joe (Mr. Sisco) now?

Amb. McCloskey: Joe is in Ankara and is scheduled to see the heads of the government today. The Secretary has instructed to be brutal towards the Turks in the sense that he can say that we will withhold all military aid in the event there is an all-out war.4 Joe will try to bring the Turks back to London with him, but his stay in Ankara is open-ended. The Secretary (Dr. Kissinger), by the way, is scheduled to leave San Clemente at 1:00 or 2:00 our time this afternoon. He’ll get back here early this evening.

Mr. Ingersoll: I thought Joe got agreement for the Greeks to send representatives to London.

Mr. Stabler: There is some confusion over that. I think it is if there is not an all-out war and a temporary ceasefire.

[Page 344]

Mr. Jordan: If I could, for a minute, turn to the military supply problem. We have, as you know, put a temporary hold on all military aid to Greece and Turkey.

Amb. McCloskey: What’s involved in that?

Mr. Jordan: Well, there were three barges of ammunition—bombs and 2.75 mm. rockets—that were heading toward Turkey, scheduled to get there tomorrow. There were seven barges of ammo headed for Greece. One of the problems was that all ten barges were tied together. The Greeks commandeered the three Turkish barges, so that ends the problem of whether or not to hold up on them. There are a number of things awaiting shipment from the U.S. and other places, such as M–48 tanks, some recoilless rifles, armored personnel carriers. There is also a shipment of TOW missiles for the Turks the end of the month.

Mr. Ingersoll: The Greeks got the three barges?

Mr. Jordan: Yes, the Greeks commandeered the ammunition. This business of the Greeks commandeering our vessels is something else again, it seems to me. Ever since this crisis began the Greeks have been obstreperous. I am wondering if we shouldn’t be increasing our distance from the Greeks.

Mr. Stabler: This was a U.S. ship they commandeered?

Mr. Jordan: Yes.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: Has this been told to Congress?

Mr. Jordan: No, I don’t think they know. I know this will cause trouble in Congress, and we are worried. [2 lines not declassified]

Mr. Stabler: Has anything been done about the commandeering? Have we protested?

Mr. Jordan: Not that I know of, and the situation will just get worse. I think we must protest this vigorously.

Mr. Stabler: To their ambassador here?

Amb. McCloskey: I think it would be better to protest in Athens—through Tasca.

All: Concur.

Mr. Jordan: [5½ lines not declassified]

Mr. Colby: [2 lines not declassified]

Mr. Ingersoll: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Colby: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Jordan: [1½ lines not declassified]

Mr. Colby: [2 lines not declassified]

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: [3 lines not declassified]

Mr. Ingersoll: Are we doing some thinking about evacuation in Greece and Turkey themselves?

[Page 345]

Mr. Colby: How many people are we talking about in Greece?

Mr. Lauder: Some 31,000.

Mr. Ingersoll: Does that include tourists?

Mr. Day: No. There are some 20,000, plus tourists. We really have no idea how many.

Mr. Ingersoll: How many in Turkey?

Gen. Pauly: We have 26,000 (army and civilians) personnel in Turkey, and some 54,000 personnel in Greece.

Amb. McCloskey: How many helicopters do we have?

Gen. Pauly: Fourteen. They are big troop carriers.

Mr. Jordan: There are some 4,000 air-seats in the European theatre that we could call on for evacuation, if we have a secure airfield.

Mr. Ingersoll: Where would we move them?

Mr. Jordan: Rome.

Mr. Ingersoll: Well, our initial diplomatic goal is to achieve a ceasefire, to get negotiations started in London, and to work for the restoration of a constitutional arrangement. It looks to me as though double enosis is the only alternative if the above facts bear out.

Mr. Brown: Bill (Mr. Colby), do you think the Greeks would move into Thrace?

Mr. Colby: Well, they could. They could at least make a substantial demonstration of force. The Greeks also have six squadrons of F–4s.

Mr. Ingersoll: I thought we sent 17 F–4s to Athens in June. Bill Clements told me that yesterday.

Mr. Colby: It could be, my facts may not be up to date.

Mr. Jordan: I’ll double check the figures.

Mr. Ingersoll: I heard a radio report coming to work this morning that said that some Greek fighter aircraft headed for Cyprus were headed off by Turkish interceptors. Do we have any information on that?

Mr. Colby: I don’t, but looking at the map it’s an awful long way.

Mr. Ingersoll: I think the report said they were intercepted off Rhodes.

Mr. Kennedy: We’ve been unable to verify that report.

Mr. Ingersoll: Have we been in touch with the British about their military (evacuation) plans?

Gen. Pauly: No.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: The aircraft carrier Hermes is south of the island, isn’t it?

Mr. Ingersoll: Somebody said that they docked at 4:00 yesterday afternoon. Somebody said that last night.

[Page 346]

Mr. Colby: I think there is a ceasefire at Limasol—to get people out.

Mr. Ingersoll: We have held up all military aid to Greece and Turkey?

Mr. Jordan: Yes.

Mr. Kennedy: How much of that stuff will leak through to them. You know, we went through this exercise in the India–Pakistan dispute and we found out later that a lot of the aid we thought had been cut off slipped through. Can we get a firm, positive fix on where the stuff is?

Mr. Jordan: Yes, but I probably cannot get it until the first of the week since most of it is being shipped commercially. It is hard to get precise information.

Mr. Kennedy: I think we should get a paper on the status of the deliveries for this group because: (1) Congress may be a problem; and (2) the actual fact of it being delivered may be construed as a signal of our conveying favoritism toward one or the other.

Mr. Ingersoll: What are the chances of our getting such a status report?

Mr. Jordan: We ought to be able to do a better job now than in previous years. We do know the dates of sailings, the ports, and the names of the ships.

Mr. Ingersoll: Well, can we find out where they are?

Mr. Jordan: We will attempt to, but I don’t think we will be able to until the first of the week.

Mr. Ingersoll: Do we ever take steps to intercept these ships?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: The ship captains and companies are usually very responsible.

Mr. Kennedy: What will happen is that the ships’ captains will just fail to offload the stuff.

Mr. Ingersoll: Well, I think it would be wise to root out the people to do it.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: We’re only stopping deliveries selectively, right?

Mr. Jordan: I put a hold on everything.

Mr. Ingersoll: Including spare parts?

Mr. Jordan: Yes.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: Including that $20 million package, or is it still too early?

Mr. Jordan: Still too early.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: We need a clear decision on what goes or what is to be held.

[Page 347]

Mr. Kennedy: The question is, is it stopped or not? We need to get that information. The military on the other end will surely know if it has been stopped or not.

Mr. Ingersoll: Do you think we ought to work up something in case a full-scale war develops? Do we have a contingency plan for full-scale war between the Greeks and the Turks?

Mr. Jordan: No, we don’t have full plans. More work has to be done on the existing contingency plans.

Gen. Pauly: The units in Greece and Turkey have their own contingency plans and they are up to date.

Amb. McCloskey: You can use the paper the back-up group did as a basis.5

Mr. Saunders: We’re going to up-date that today.

Mr. Ingersoll: It seems to me that we should meet again tomorrow. What, 10:00? 11:00? Okay, 10:30.

Mr. Kennedy: Could we get the back-up group to think through some options for the possible outcomes of the fighting on the island? At least we ought to think through some of the possibilities.

Gen. Pauly: There is one thing we are going to have to face. I strongly recommend we do some thinking about how to recover U.S. aircraft in Greece and Turkey.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: Do you have a judgement on that?

Gen. Pauly: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: On this military thing, I suggest we give very careful thought on how we handle the matter of recovering our assets and how we exchange those carriers. We don’t want to denude ourselves over this issue. A general U.S. pullback could send a signal to the Soviets. It’s an important thing, and something we should look at.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H-097, Meeting Files, WSAG Meetings. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Situation Room of the White House.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. For Scali’s statement of July 19 during a UN Security Council session, see Department of State Bulletin, Vol. LXXI, No. 1833, August 12, 1974, pp. 262–263.
  4. Telegram 157969 to Ankara, July 20. (National Archives, RG 59, Records of Joseph Sisco, 1951–1976, Entry 5405, Box 26, Cyprus Crisis, July 1974)
  5. Not further identified.