15. Report Prepared by the Interagency Ethiopia Working Group1

Situation Report No. 3

Situation with Regard to Withdrawal of USG Personnel from Ethiopia as of 1800 hours (EDT), April 24, 1977

At 1740 Asmara time (1040 hours EDT) and with only ten minutes prior warning, the Ethiopian military forcibly occupied our communications site at Kagnew Station. Our personnel were escorted out. They subsequently reported that all highly sensitive cryptographic material was destroyed. All US personnel are safe and the communications equipment apparently is being guarded by Ethiopian troops, (the voice key was left open by the departing communicators but NSA reports that no conversations have yet been recorded). Our Charge in Addis Ababa immediately emphasized to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry the need to avoid compromise of the communications equipment and we have prepared a written protest. (Similar equipment was lost in Vietnam).

If asked, we will tell the press that “we are still awaiting a report on disposition of equipment”.

Status of Airlift As of 1800 EDT April 24, 1977 planned airlift for the withdrawal of personnel from Ethiopia is as follows:

MAC C–141 scheduled flight enroute to Addis Ababa, April 25, return Athens, 94 seats available. This flight to be used at discretion of Charge for movement of personnel who are ready to leave.

MAC has contract for charter aircraft (DC–8) for arrival at Addis Ababa on April 27, 1977 to remove remaining personnel from Addis Ababa, approximately 210 seats available.

USIS personnel are scheduled to depart Addis via regular commercial air as space is available. These personnel will utilize MAC charter if prior reservations are unobtainable.

—Charge was authorized to inform the Ethiopian Provisional Military Government (EPMG) that we plan to schedule military transport aircraft to arrive at Asmara one per day on April 25, 26, and 27. These aircraft, to withdraw personnel and equipment from Kagnew and the [Page 44] Consulate General, would depart the same day as arrival and return to Athens.

Our Charge met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ American Affairs officer on the morning of April 24 to request an extension of the four day time limit and to seek assurances for the safety of US citizens and property.2 Our Charge was assured that the EPMG: 1) wanted an orderly US withdrawal; 2) would continue to take necessary measures to ensure the security of personnel; and 3) were willing to consider extra time for departure (“time will be no problem”), but did not say how much time. With regard to both Addis and Asmara, the Charge raised the issues of immediate overflight clearances, removal of equipment, the need for an EPMG liaison officer to help with coordination of US withdrawal plans, continued access to US installations, and continued security for US personnel and their property. The Ethiopian official agreed to mention these questions to higher authority and indicated that he will relay the Charge’s request for a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to discuss reasons for the expulsion as well as the future of US-Ethiopian relations.

Ambassador Schaufele convened a one hour meeting of the Working Group at 1:00 p.m.3 The Secretary of State and Undersecretary Habib attended. Among the decisions made (and not reported elsewhere) were:

1) A strong written protest will be made to the EPMG on the Kagnew takeover, to follow up the oral protest already made;

2) The Consulate General at Asmara will be instructed to implement their planned record and equipment destruction plan tomorrow morning. Destruction of substantive files in Asmara has begun.

3) Ambassador Schaufele will contact appropriate members of Congress, as well as the Speaker of the House and Senator Byrd, to inform them of recent developments.

The Embassy in Addis has informed the EPMG that contact personnel (Westinghouse and Northrop) would be evacuated with MAAG personnel. Although these employees are under FMS contract, and are not MAP or MAAG employees, the EPMG did not demur on this point.

At 1930 hours Asmara time, the Acting Principal Officer reported that the atmosphere had turned “distinctly sour” during the course of April 24.4 The Ethiopian hardliners named to participate on the Joint [Page 45] Commission concerning the Kagnew closure appeared to be dominant and had placed restrictions on the movement of Kagnew personnel. (A later cable, however, reported that the Kagnew commander had received word through Ethiopian military contacts that the restrictions probably would be removed April 25).5 The Acting Principal Officer and the Kagnew Officer-in-Charge will meet with members of the Joint Commission at 8:30 a.m. Asmara time to negotiate the disposal of residual Kagnew equipment.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 21, Ethiopia: Withdrawal of US Government Personnel 4/77. Secret. Drafted on April 25; approved by Steven E. Steiner.
  2. In telegram 2512 from Addis Ababa, April 25, the Embassy reported on the meeting. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770246–0034)
  3. No record of the meeting was found.
  4. In telegram 338 from Asmara, April 24, the Consulate reported on the situation at Kagnew. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770143–0103)
  5. In telegram 340 from Asmara, April 24, the Consulate reported on backchannel assurances that Kagnew personnel would regain access the following day. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770143–0104)