77. Memorandum From the Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Wickham) to the Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft), Washington, September 6, 1975.1 2



6 SEP 1975

In reply refer to: I-9463/75



  • Yugoslav Requests for US Military Equipment

(U) This brief overview of where we stand with regard to US supply of military equipment to Yugoslavia is provided in response to your request.

(C) When ASD Ellsworth visited Belgrade in December 74, it was made clear to the Yugoslavs that the US was committed to assisting and cooperating with the Yugoslav military in an attempt to upgrade our military-to-military relations. Such assistance was to include sales of military equipment to Yugoslavia, subject to the understanding that we might not be able to provide everything the Yugoslavs might want, inasmuch as there were some items of equipment we didn’t even provide our closest allies. It was determined, therefore, that the Yugoslavs would provide to us lists of equipment they desired, which we would then review in order to determine our capability to be responsive. Internally in DoD, in pursuit of our policy to be as forthcoming as possible, we have attempted first to identify relatively uncontroversial items which we could sell to the Yugoslavs, thus allowing us to build up a base of experience in working with each other. There has been no particular timetable for responding to the Yugoslav requests, since we have attempted to respond on a continuing basis as items available to them were identified. There have been numerous such responses, many of which await a Yugoslav reaction to actually initiate a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) case. In a corollary vein, because of their generalized descriptions of materiel, there frequently has been difficulty in defining exactly what it is the Yugoslavs desire. Requests to the Military Attache for clarification also remain unanswered. Thus far there has been relatively little materiel actually provided the Yugoslavs, such materiel being essentially in the area of spare/repair parts.

(C) Coincident with efforts to review and determine availability of requested equipment, a joint State/OSD initiative was made to acquire an exception to the National Disclosure Policy (NDP) to permit a dialogue with the Yugoslavs in classified matters. The intent of this action was to get [Page 2] approval to provide Yugoslavia with information on “Organization, Training and Employment of Military Forces” and “Military Materiel and Munitions” through SECRET for visual/oral presentations and through CONFIDENTIAL on a documentary basis. The release of individual items of classified equipment will still have to be reviewed by cognizant agencies on a case-by-case basis.

(C) Over the long term we hope to move from provision to the Yugoslavs of uncontroversial items to consideration of more sophisticated and modern equipments. This presupposes the possibility of providing the Yugoslavs with certain advanced technology, while not necessarily always releasing state-of-the-art technology. It is in this area that there is great hesitancy in being forthcoming with the Yugoslavs, particularly on the part of the military services, primarily because of concern that such advanced technology would somehow leak to the Soviets/Warsaw Pact. Moreover, this really gets to the heart of the matter, because we believe that, while the Yugoslavs genuinely want materiel support for older equipment, what they seek foremost is to modernize and provide their forces with the most advanced equipment they can obtain. Our reticence thus far in this area of endeavor has doubtless been apparent, and has led to considerable impatience on their part.

(C) With the approval by the Secretary of Defense on 22 August of the requested NDP exception, we hope we have set the stage for encouraging the Services to deal more flexibly with the provision of some sophisticated equipment to Yugoslavia. One of our first targets in this regard will be to provide the TOW anti-tank weapon, inasmuch as that is a demonstrably desirable defensive weapon for the Yugoslavs vis-a-vis the large Soviet tank threat. Further, we know the TOW was captured by the North Vietnamese late in the Vietnam War; thus it is assumed already to have been compromised to the Soviets. As an additional effort, in consonance with recommendations of our Ambassador in Belgrade, we intend to intensify our program of US/Yugoslav military visits and exchanges, since we have seen clearly that personal involvement is invaluable in obtaining specificity and definition of what the Yugoslavs want, as well as in orienting US personnel toward being more responsive to Yugoslav requests for assistance.

(U) Itemized lists of Yugoslav requests, with our reactions thereto, including instances where we have responded positively by providing requested information and/or equipment, are attached.

Attachments a/s


John A. Wickham, Jr.
Major General, USA
Military Assistant
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 22, Yugoslavia (2). Confidential. Wickham signed JA Wickham J. above his typeset signature. Attached but not published is an itemized list of Yugoslav requests and U.S. reactions.
  2. Wickham provided an overview of U.S. policy on the supply of military equipment to Yugoslavia.