100. Memorandum From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Ellsworth) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft), Washington, February 6, 1976.1 2

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6 FEB 1976

Honorable Brent Scowcroft

Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Brent:

(S) I have received your memorandum of January 21, 1976, concerning the formation of a study group to assist the President in making a decision on the future of the Special Operations Field Office in Berlin (SOFO). Mr. Richard V. Kearney, Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Army will be the Defense Department’s representative on the study group.

(S) As you probably are aware, the issue has been the subject of considerable correspondence and discussion between State and Defense over an extended period of time. Essentially, the Defense position is that the Army should not now be engaged in the types of activities performed by SOFO. Our reasons are:

The SOFO does not contribute directly to the Army mission but rather serves primarily CIA, national or foreign intelligence and diplomatic purposes.
The mission of SOFO was acquired by the Army solely by virtue of expediency in view of the role the Army played in the occupation of Germany following World War II.
The U.S. Army is not a major consumer of SOFO products. The major customer of SOFO is the CIA (over one-half), with foreign governmental agencies second. The primary function of SOFO is collecting foreign intelligence information. In comparison to these prime users, Army and other U.S. governmental agencies have been customers to an insignificant degree (less than 15%).
The four U.S. civilian personnel and 106 German local wage rate employees, who combined comprise the management and technical expertise of SOFO, could easily be transferred to another agency. Over 90% of the costs of SOFO is paid out of funds contributed by German authorities. The minimal military commitment of five personnel devoted to routine management tasks is largely symbolic and hence is dispensable.
Although we have no qualms over the legality or propriety of those limited activities of SOFO which are initiated by the Army and are related to the performance of Army missions, we do regard it as highly questionable whether the Army, especially in the present climate, should be tasked to continue to perform functions which are clearly outside the ambit of traditional military missions or responsibilities.

(S) I agree the study group should carefully evaluate the values — current and future — of the activities now being conducted by SOFO. If it is concluded that their continuation benefits other U.S. agencies or foreign governments, I am confident that acceptable alternatives to the present arrangement can be developed.



Robert Ellsworth
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 66, NSDM 335, Army Special Operations Field Office in Berlin (2). Secret. Scowcroft’s January 21 memorandum is Document 99.
  2. Ellsworth asserted that the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Field Office in Berlin served primarily intelligence and diplomatic purposes rather than military ones and repeated the Department of Defense’s request to divest itself of responsibility for the Office.