45. Memorandum From the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (Murphy) to Secretary of Defense Brown1


  • On-Site Inspection of Former Soviet Facilities in Somalia—ACTION MEMORANDUM

Over the past few years, the Soviets have built an extensive network of military installations in Somalia including airfields, communication sites, missile storage and handling facilities, logistic sites, and other military structures. With the precipitous departure of the Soviets,2 we now have an opportunity for on-site inspection that could yield important intelligence information on the design and structural vulnerability of high interest Soviet military facilities. On-site inspection would permit direct acquisition of data which might resolve a number of unknowns involving Soviet military construction standards, materials, and techniques. This could have a significant impact on present assessments of functions and vulnerability of Soviet military facilities.3

DIA advises that a task force of four experts including structural and civil engineers, [1 line not declassified] could be dispatched on short notice. About three or four weeks would be required to complete a meaningful inspection. The following Soviet-built installations would be accorded highest priority:

1. Possible missile-related fuel facilities at Daraweina, Iscia Baidoa and Mogadiscio

2. Mogadiscio SAM support facility

3. Berbera missile storage and handling facility

4. Airfields at Uanle Uen and Berbera

5. Berbera radio communications facility

We have examined other alternatives including collection by sensitive human intelligence sources. [3 lines not declassified]

[Page 105]

While recognizing the sensitivity of current situation in Somalia, we should explore with State the possibility of gaining access now before major modification or removal of structural components. The facing memorandum to the Secretary of State requests his reaction to this proposal and invites him to seek views of the U.S. Chief of Mission in Somalia.4

Recommend signature.

Daniel J. Murphy
Admiral, USN (Ret.) Deputy
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Harold Brown Papers, Box 50, 1978 Africa, Horn of Africa. Secret; Noforn. Approved by McGiffert. A stamped notation indicates that Brown saw this memorandum on February 1.
  2. On November 13, 1977, Somalia abrogated its 1974 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union, ended Soviet use of naval facilities at Berbera, and announced that all Soviet military and civilian advisers in Somalia must leave the country.
  3. Brown wrote in the right margin, “DM—Except as part of a package of US assistance which we are not now ready to provide, there is no point in requesting anything like this. HB.”
  4. Not found attached.