42. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Colby to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Intelligence Alert Memorandum: Possible Conflict in the Aegean
As the attached roundup indicates,2 Greek-Turkish tension over the Aegean is at a dangerous level.
We continue to believe that both governments, in their rational calculations, want to avoid the dangerous and essentially unpredictable situation of large-scale hostilities over this issue. Indeed, we would estimate that the chances are against either side deliberately deciding to initiate war.
What is equally important, we think that each government credits the other with a desire to avoid serious conflict over this issue. At the same time, each government is aware of political limitations on the other at home, of the fact that there are some hawks on the other side, and that rational calculations may not always prove controlling.
Indeed, there may be some sentiment in Turkey for launching a pre-emptive strike against Greece—before the Turkish military capability declines too far as a result of Turkey’s inability to obtain armaments. We do not think this reasoning prevails in the Turkish government. However, it cannot be entirely discounted as a factor. In any case, the Turks are concerned about Greek reinforcements of certain Aegean Islands, and some days ago made a formal démarche to the signatories of the 1947 Paris Treaty pointing out these violations.
Meanwhile, the readiness of both sides to play “chicken,” to keep testing each other’s resolve—e.g., by Turkish overflights of the islands and Greek shooting at the overflights—could easily bring them into explosive confrontation in which neither side felt strong enough to back down.
The Intelligence Community is keeping this situation under close review. The US missions in Athens, Ankara, Istanbul, and Nicosia are fully alert, and NSA has alerted units that could pick up reflections of unusual military activity. A roundup of Greek forces on the Aegean Islands, requested by the Embassy in Ankara, is being prepared in CIA and DIA. The attached current intelligence roundup gives the highlights of the situation at the moment.
This memorandum has been discussed with offices in CIA, DIA, State/INR and NSA, and they are in agreement.
W.E. Colby
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books and Cables for Henry Kissinger, 1974–1976, Box 8, 4/4–4/7/75, Tohak 2. Secret.
  2. Attached but not printed.