121. Memorandum From the Deputy Director of the Joint Staff (Ginsburgh) to the President’s Chief of Staff (Haig)1


  • Impact of Withdrawal from U.S. Military Facilities in Greece and Turkey (C)


(C) Reference is made to the 20 July meeting of the NSC Cyprus Planning Group during which the request of Colonel Richard T. Kennedy, USA, (Ret.) was orally conveyed to the Joint Staff representative. That request was to provide a supplemental paper giving a general appreciation of the impact of the loss of all U.S. military facilities, installations and capabilities (excluding intelligence elements) associated with withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Greece and Turkey as a result of the Greek/Turkish confrontation in Cyprus.
(S) U.S. facilities in Greece and Turkey are of major military importance to the United States. These facilities provide:
Command, control and communications for the eastern Mediterranean.
Essential elements of the U.S. Defense Communications system.
Major Military Airlift Command cargo and passenger facilities.
[2 lines not declassified]
A U.S. presence which demonstrates U.S. resolve to support NATO’s Southern Flank.
Major War Reserve Material stocks for U.S. air and naval forces.
(S) U.S. military facilities in Greece and Turkey would, in general, be expensive to replace. In some cases, regardless of cost, replacement [Page 405] would be most difficult because of these nations’ geographic locations. The selection of alternative locations is complicated by increasingly difficult base rights negotiations and a trend toward greater quid pro quo that other countries are exacting as the price for their cooperation.
(S) The strategic importance of Greece and Turkey should be emphasized. Greece and Turkey are important links in the overall NATO defense to deter or defeat Soviet aggression and provide important forces in the Western line of defense across the southern border of communist-dominated Eastern Europe. They serve as a barrier between Warsaw Pact ground forces and the eastern Mediterranean.
(S) U.S. withdrawal from facilities in Greece and Turkey would:
Weaken the NATO Alliance and make the Mediterranean area more vulnerable to Soviet penetration and influence.
Encourage other NATO nations to reassess their positions and probably precipitate a major divisive move within the Alliance.
Diminish US influence and possibly change the pro-West attitude of Greece and Turkey.
Possibly induce either or both to leave NATO, adopt a passive attitude, or deny use of NATO facilities to the Alliance.
Cause other countries to question the credibility of US commitments.
Probably result in the denial of the use of Greek, Turkish and NATO facilities in both countries for US contingency operations.
[1 line not declassified]
Severely degrade US Mediterranean and Middle East communications/navigation support.
Possibly result in denial of US overflight rights which would adversely impact on US capability to support Middle East peacetime and contingency operations.
[31/2 lines not declassified]
Possibly enable the USSR to overfly Greece and Turkey to conduct air operations against US and Allied forces operating in the eastern Mediterranean and littoral areas thereof.
Possibly result in the Government of Turkey becoming more amenable to USSR pressures for increased transit of USSR forces through and over the Bosporus, with resultant diminution of the influence of US and Allied forward force presence.
(S) Considering the above factors and the information contained in the Appendices hereto,2 the security interests of the United States would not be served by a permanent withdrawal of US defense facilities from Greece and Turkey.
Robert N. Ginsburgh
Major General, USAF
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1312, Saunders Chron File, NSC Secretariat—Contingency Plans 1974, Greek-Turkish Contingency Plan. Secret. The memorandum was transmitted by Lieutenant Colonel Douglass W. Smith, Head, NSC Coordination, to the NSC on July 29.
  2. Not attached.