322. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Longer-Term Security Assistance to Egypt (C)

I have reviewed the memoranda of Jim McIntyre2 and Cy and Harold3 on security assistance to Egypt in the context of the stringent budget guidance you have given. I believe that you should approve a middle ground between their positions, one that provides Sadat with essential near-term support but that moderates the long-term budget impact. (C)

At the outset, I wish to state my unequivocal support for a longer-term security assistance relationship with Egypt. Sadat’s courageous decision to join the U.S. and Israel in seeking a lasting peace was an [Page 1048] event of unprecedented importance for our interests in that vital area. Temporarily at least, the decision has left him with nowhere else to turn for much-needed security assistance. While we should strive to minimize the cost of that assistance, I believe that costs we do incur are justified because they will contribute to the eventual realization of a major U.S. foreign policy objective. (S)

Sadat’s greatest need at this critical point in the peace process is for major assistance in rebuilding his obsolescent armed forces. Even with some of the items we have provided, his forces still are relying primarily on deteriorating Soviet equipment. In my view, a central threat to Sadat’s stability is from military leaders who are becoming more and more dismayed with Egypt’s second-class readiness state. These military men convinced Sadat to request over four times the amount of assistance we are discussing here, but we told the Egyptians that this amount was clearly excessive and that force reductions, coupled with equipment modernization, would be a better and less-costly alternative. (S)

These facts lead me to support fully the near-term items recommended by Cy and Harold: $350 million in FMS credits in FY 81, $800 million in FMS credits in FY 82, and approval in principle of F–16s and M–60s. I might note that approval of the F–16s does not exclude consideration of the F–X fighter if you approve its development, since a mix of F–16 and F–X fighters might best fit Sadat’s needs. However, to turn him down on F–16s while Israel and Saudi Arabia are obtaining more advanced F–15s, and possibly F–18s, would be a severe blow. (S)

Sadat’s longer-term needs are less clear at this time, however. I would thus join Jim McIntyre in recommending cash flow financing only through FY 81 (with program amounts to be determined by your decisions on equipment and FY 81/82 funding levels), and informing the Egyptians of the FY 82 planning level without committing the U.S. to similar amounts in succeeding years. By so doing, we will encourage Sadat to consider less-costly alternatives for his future needs, as well as to seek other sources of assistance if moderate Arab countries move closer to the peace process. (S)

These levels of assistance are well within the tolerance of the Egyptian-Israeli balance. Israel will receive qualitative improvements that Egypt does not get, and Israel must understand the importance of a U.S.-Egyptian military relationship (within reason) as being in its own interest. (S)


That you approve $350 million FMS in FY 81, $800 million FMS in FY 82, and, in principle, F–16s and M–60s; also, however, cash flow [Page 1049] financing only through FY 81 and no out-year commitment beyond FY 82. (S)4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 12, Egypt: 12/79. Secret. In the upper right-hand corner of the memorandum, Carter wrote: “Zbig. J.”
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. See the attachment to Document 307.
  4. Carter neither approved nor disapproved the recommendation, but instead wrote: “Worked out with Jim & Harold. J.”