76. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Covert Action


  • State

    • David Newsom, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • OSD

    • Secretary Harold Brown
    • W. Graham Claytor, Jr., Deputy Secretary
  • JCS

    • Lt. Gen. John Pustay, Assistant to the Chairman
  • DCI

    • Admiral Stansfield Turner
    • Frank Carlucci, Deputy Director
    • [name not declassified] Deputy Chief/LA/DDO
    • [name not declassified] Deputy Chief/NE/DDO
    • [name and title not declassified]
  • Justice

    • Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti
  • OMB

    • Dr. John White, Deputy Director
  • White House

    • Zbigniew Brzezinski, Chairman
    • Donald Gregg
    • Hedley Donovan
  • NSC

    • Paul B. Henze, Notetaker
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[Omitted here is material unrelated to Afghanistan.]2

The proposals on Afghanistan were discussed in detail.3 CIA representatives pointed out that they followed naturally on the actions that had already been undertaken as a result of the Presidential Finding of 3 July 1979.4 The State Department representative suggested that all further actions supporting the Afghan rebels be deferred until spring so that we could see how the insurgency fared through the winter months, but all other members of the committee felt the need to act now was urgent. The Chairman stressed the political importance of demonstrating to Saudi Arabian leaders that we were serious in opposing Soviet inroads in Afghanistan and the likelihood that a substantial commitment of assistance on our part would result in increased Saudi willingness to provide support. CIA representatives pointed out that delays of various kinds were bound to occur even under the best of circumstances but that decisions made now greatly improved the possibility that some of our aid could reach rebel forces in time to help them through the strains of the winter. (S)

The committee concluded by endorsing unanimously a proposal for [amount not declassified] of additional aid for Afghan rebels, to be provided primarily through Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the form of cash, communications equipment, non-military supplies and procurement advice. No more than [amount not declassified] of this sum will be for communications equipment. An amendment to the Presidential Finding of 3 July 1979 will be prepared. The Chairman directed CIA to undertake at an early date a briefing of senior Saudi leaders (specifically Prince Sultan and Prince Fahd) on Afghanistan and our decisions on aid for the insurgents. (S)

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Afghanistan.]

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Tab E5

Option No. 1


Provide additional funds to the Afghan insurgents, jointly (with the Saudis and Pakistanis) and unilaterally, for the procurement of non-military supplies; and provide additional funds for the continuation and expansion of propaganda activities.

1. A 3 July 1979 Presidential Finding authorized CIA to expend up to $695,000 to support the Afghan insurgents, either unilaterally or through third countries, by providing cash or non-military supplies; and also authorized CIA propaganda operations in support of the insurgency. At the time the SCC discussed this proposal, it was agreed that consideration would be given in the future to increased support should circumstances indicate additional funds were warranted.

2. Since receiving this authorization, CIA has expended or obligated $575,000 in FY 79, and has programmed the remaining $120,000 for FY 80. These funds have been or will be expended as follows:

—[amount not declassified] in cash payments to the insurgents and the provision of a limited amount of medical supplies.

—[amount not declassified] for propaganda operations.

Pakistani liaison has begun to disburse some of these funds and medical supplies to insurgents inside Afghanistan. Unilateral assets have separately transferred funds into Afghanistan, and to insurgent leaders in Pakistan. Propaganda activities have included the procurement of two complete radio broadcasting stations which are now in Pakistan awaiting onward shipment into Afghanistan. A support mechanism to produce propaganda material, including tapes for broadcast on insurgent radios and for hand-to-hand passage inside Afghanistan, has been created and is in operation.

3. The Afghan insurgency has intensified and spread, and Afghan Government forces are increasingly stretched thin in their efforts to suppress it. At the same time, it is clear that the insurgents continue to lack funds and as yet are uncoordinated. The Soviets appear to have stepped up their support to the Afghan Government. It is likely that this winter will see something of a hiatus in military operations by [Page 209] both sides—a result of the insurgents’ shortage of supplies and the DRA’s likely desire to reorganize in the wake of both a long spring/summer campaign and recent political changes in Kabul.

4. It is too early to estimate precisely what effect the limited funding may have had on the insurgency. Indeed, some of the funds are still in the pipeline and have not yet reached the insurgents. The creation of a production mechanism to prepare propaganda materials, and the delivery of two radio transmitters to Pakistan to give the insurgents their “own radio” are significant steps. However, the effect of a propaganda operation is incremental and is part of a larger effort. The intensification of the insurgency will be abetted by these support efforts.

5. The insurgents have a continued critical need for funds. Timing is important. The current need is particularly relevant in view of both the expected hard winter, which will impede any resupply efforts, and an anticipated increase in Afghan Government pressure on the insurgents—possibly this winter, almost certainly in the spring.

Specific proposals on expending this sum are:

—An approach to the Saudis stating that we have already provided aid to the insurgents—citing funds, medical supplies, and radio broadcast transmitters. We would tell the Saudis that we wish to provide additional aid—[amount not declassified] for non-military support—and would inform the Saudis of our interest in discussing what support they may wish to provide in concert with our efforts. (This step is intended to accomplish several ends: to spur significant Saudi contributions, thus increasing the total amount of aid provided; to give evidence to the Saudis of the U.S. Government’s determination, expressed in concrete terms, to oppose communism; and to meet a recent Pakistani liaison request for our assistance in coordinating external support for the insurgents.) [less than 1 line not declassified] informal discussions with the Saudis indicated Saudi receptivity.

—Depending on our discussions with the Saudis, we may subsequently participate in joint discussions with the Saudis and Pakistanis on coordinated support to the insurgency.

—[amount not declassified] would be reserved for unilateral passage to insurgents or for subsequent passage to liaison.

—[amount not declassified] would be utilized to continue and expand propaganda activities, including support for insurgent clandestine radio broadcasts.

Risk: Operational risks are low. However, the insurgency has placed great strain on the Afghan Army and challenges the continued survival of the Government. To counter this, the Soviets have gradually augmented their military advisory presence, and the role of Soviet troops has increasingly changed from an advisory one to active partici[Page 210]pation in and supervision of anti-insurgent military operations. It is possible that further insurgent successes might prompt still greater Soviet involvement, which could range from still more advisors and equipment to the use of Soviet combat units. (TAB D)

Cost: [amount not declassified] (for breakdown, see above)

Tab F6

Option No. 2

Option No. 2

Provide tactical military communications equipment to the insurgents

1. Discussion: Prince Turki Ibn Faysal, Director of the Saudi Arabian General Intelligence Service, recently recommended to [2 lines not declassified].

Prince Turki expressed concern at what he perceived as U.S. failure to defend its own (and by implication, Saudi Arabia’s) interests in such areas as Zaire, Iran, Somalia and Afghanistan. At the same time, Turki recognized the difficulties which the U.S. would have encountered in intervening in these areas overtly. He implicitly recognized that U.S.-Saudi collaboration could provide a means for masking U.S. support of friendly elements in Middle East crisis areas.

2. Turki suggested a number of areas for such collaboration, including Afghanistan. He stated that his government was providing limited support to the insurgents. In addition, he mentioned that their insurgent contacts reported that lack of radio communications was seriously hampering the coordination of their military activities.

3. It is believed that approaching Turki with a proposal that CIA provide communications equipment to the insurgents, possibly through Saudi channels and attributable to the Saudis, would allow us to propose that the Saudis, in addition to our radios, provide significant funds from their own resources to support the insurgency. If the Saudis agreed to the proposal, but indicated that they would prefer—for logistical or other reasons—not to act as “middle-men,” we would give the radios directly to the Pakistanis, and advise the Saudis of our action.

4. In addition, this proposal would have the following benefits:

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a. It would reassure the Saudis of the USG’s interest in resisting the spread of communism in the Middle East;

b. It could develop a precedent for using the Saudis as an intermediary, concealing U.S. involvement, to support friendly political elements or other covert assets elsewhere in the area.

5. The lack of radios to coordinate their activities has placed the insurgents at a tactical disadvantage vis-à-vis the DRA. It compels the insurgents to operate on a piece-meal, local basis, and consequently the DRA is able to deal with their raids one at a time, bringing preponderant strength to bear on the area of the insurgent attack. Coordinated simultaneous attacks in several areas would force the DRA to stretch its forces much more thinly in dealing with these attacks and significantly improve insurgent chances of success. Radios would also permit rapid transmission of intelligence on DRA activities from one insurgent unit to another, and could also be used to spread propaganda.

6. To establish a basic communications net for the insurgents, we would provide 16 transceivers with power supply and related equipment: 12 to serve as active units, and four to be held for spare parts; We would also provide 100 walkie-talkies for tactical use. All equipment would be of foreign manufacture or sterile U.S.-made equipment.

Risk: The provision of foreign-made (or marked) radio equipment should involve relatively little risk of exposure.

Cost: 16 transceivers and related equipment (including delivery)

100 Walkie-talkies [amount not declassified]

[amount not declassified]

Tab G7

Options 3-a, 3-b, and 3-c

Option No. 3-a

Broker Saudi agreement to pay for munitions for the insurgents, with the Pakistanis actually making the purchases abroad

1. Discussion: The Saudis, once made aware of our willingness to expend significant sums of money aiding the insurgency (See TABS C & D), could be asked to provide funds for use by the Pakistanis to purchase munitions. If the Saudis are amenable to this, we could [Page 212] attempt to broker meetings between a foreign arms dealer and the Pakistanis (who would make the actual purchases), and attempt to monitor Pakistani purchases through this arms dealer.

2. The bulk of the purchases would be ammunition for Soviet-made weapons captured by the insurgents from Afghan Government forces, although it may be deemed wise to purchase some ammunition for vintage weapons in the hands of the insurgents.

3. In addition to ammunition, a small amount of explosives, and perhaps a limited number of Soviet-made antiaircraft weapons, be purchased.

4. The insurgents are critically short of weapons for use against Soviet-supplied helicopters and aircraft and are beginning to suffer significant losses to the weapons systems, which they cannot counter. Shortages of both light small arms/ammunition and heavier weapons, in the face of increased pressure from the DRA, may cause the insurgents to lose heart and result in their being destroyed piecemeal.

RISK: Brokering Saudi payment for lethal military supplies should involve relatively little risk of exposure.

COST: -0-

Option No. 3-b

Provide the Pakistanis with funds to purchase munitions abroad for subsequent passage to the insurgents

1. Discussion: The Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate (ISID) has advised the CIA Chief of Station that, in ISID’s opinion, despite the fall of Asmar and other recent favorable developments, the insurgents remain very much in need of weapons, ammunition and demolitions. According to an ISID representative, President Zia endorses this view and is anxious that CIA provide this equipment through the ISID. We have thus far advised the ISID that we do not have authorization to provide weapons or ammunition. Nevertheless, the ISID asserts that there are areas in Afghanistan where the insurgents’ weapons needs are very real. Reporting indicates that the insurgents are trying to secure new weapons. Moreover, the insurgency continues to spread, involving a greater number of irregular forces, while, correspondingly, Soviet aid to the DRA is steadily increasing.

2. If the Saudis do not indicate a willingness to pay for weapons for the insurgents (Option 3-a), we would attempt to place the ISID in contact with a foreign arms dealer, and, [less than 1 line not declassified] monitor Pakistan purchases to verify that funds provided are properly used. Funds to cover the purchases of ordnance supplies would be provided by CIA to the Pakistanis. Comments on the types of munitions involved are noted above and in Option 3-a.

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RISK: While the risks of exposure are somewhat higher than in merely brokering Saudi funding of these arms/ammunition purchases, the Pakistanis are the ostensible purchasers, and thus the USG can plausibly deny involvement.

COST: The cost of ammunition/weapons would be approximately [amount not declassified].

Option No. 3-c

Provide the Pakistanis with munitions from CIA stocks, and with munitions purchased by CIA from foreign arms dealers, with CIA arranging delivery of these munitions to Pakistan

1. Discussion: CIA can provide, from its own stocks, ammunition for Soviet small arms. The advantage in supplying this ammunition is the speed with which it can be assembled and delivered (in approximately two weeks). In addition to stocks on hand, supplies of specialized Soviet-made ammunition and weapons can be purchased by CIA and shipped to Pakistan, possibly within two months. CIA could also provide supplies of demolitions, suitably disguised as to origin, from its own stocks.

2. Supplies from CIA stocks could be moved with relative speed to Pakistan and turned over to the Pakistani service for transfer into Afghanistan.

RISK: This is somewhat more risky than either of the above options in that CIA is directly involved in providing the equipment.

COST: [amount not declassified].

  1. Source: National Security Council, Carter Administration Intelligence Files, Box I–047, SCC (I) on Covert Action, 23 Oct 1979. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The summary of conclusions was attached at Tab B to a memorandum (not printed) from Brzezinski to Carter recommending the President sign the Presidential Findings (attached together at Tab A, not printed). The Presidential Finding with the scope of Afghanistan stated: “provide support, either directly or through third countries, to the Afghan insurgents in the form of cash, non-military supplies, communications equipment and procurement advice.” Under the description, Carter wrote: “My preference is that we have the consultations with the Saudis (& perhaps Paks) first, to see what we can do to help them with covert action. Expedite, and report back to me. J.” Under Carter’s note, an unknown hand wrote: “Finding signed 11–7–79.” [text not declassified] Tabs C and D were also attached to Brzezinski’s memorandum but not printed.
  2. For discussion of El Salvador, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XV, Central America, Document 396. Regarding the discussion of Jamaica, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXIII, Mexico, Cuba, and the Caribbean, Document 199.
  3. The detailed proposals were attached at Tabs E, F, and G to Brzezinski’s memorandum to Carter (see footnote 1, above). They are printed below.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 53.
  5. Secret; Sensitive.
  6. Secret; Sensitive.
  7. Secret; Sensitive.