245. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordinating Committee Meeting1


  • Summary of Conclusions: SCC Meeting on Soviet Moves in Afghanistan (S)


  • State
  • Secretary Cyrus Vance
  • Warren Christopher, Deputy Secretary
  • David Newsom, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • Harold Saunders, Ass’t. Secretary for Near Eastern & South Asian Affairs
  • Defense
  • W. Graham Claytor, Jr., Deputy Secretary
  • Robert W. Komer, Under Secretary for Policy Affairs
  • JCS
  • General David Jones
  • Lt. General John Pustay
  • Central Intelligence
  • Admiral Stansfield Turner, Director
  • Frank Carlucci, Deputy Director
  • Arnold Horelick, NIO for Soviet Union
  • [name not declassified]
  • White House
  • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • David Aaron
  • NSC
  • Thomas Thornton
  • Col. William Odom
[Page 710]

The CIA briefed the SCC on Soviet military actions in Afghanistan over the past two days. As many as 215 transports, including AN–22s, AN–12s, and IL–76s, arrived in Afghanistan from the Soviet Union during December 25th. Kabul airport appears to be a major reception point. Activity at Bagram airport is not known. This size airlift, it is speculated, could raise the Soviet combat force level in Afghanistan to somewhere between two-thirds and one and one-half divisions. No ground forces at Termez or Kushka have yet crossed the border into Afghanistan. Thus we have an unusually large air movement but no ground re-enforcement. There is [less than 1 line not declassified] intelligence indicating direct politburo supervision of parts of this operation. (S)

The greatest risk that we face is a quick, effective Soviet operation to pacify Afghanistan. This would be extremely costly to our image in the region and to your position here at home. Our objective, then, should be to make the operation as costly as possible for the Soviets. The covert actions that you authorized have been very slow in getting off the ground. CIA will submit a full status report tomorrow. (S)

There will be a PRC tomorrow to discuss the broad regional impact of the events in Iran and Afghanistan. By that time we should have a more definitive picture of the scope of Soviet activity. At the PRC we will develop options for dealing with the issue, including possible recourse to the UN. In terms of immediate actions, we decided this morning:

1. We will permit information of the newest Soviet actions to reach the media on its own and maintain our current public posture.

2. The new developments will be briefed promptly to concerned countries in the region as well as other interested parties.

3. State will brief the Congressional leadership today in connection with planned briefings on Iran.

4. You should not become personally involved in a further demarche to the Soviets at this time. We will have Tom Watson reiterate our concerns and press for an explanation of recent troop movements; the Soviets have probably passed the point of no return.2 (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, General Odom File, Box 1, Afghanistan: 8–12/79. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. See Document 246.