64. Presidential Directive/NSC–321


  • The Vice President
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense


  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Following the National Security Council meeting of February 23 regarding U.S. policy towards the Horn of Africa, the President has directed the following:2

1. Diplomatic Steps

The United States will temporarily defer pressing our U.N. Security Council resolution on the Horn, while encouraging the Nigerians to undertake a diplomatic initiative at the OAU summit in Tripoli based on our resolution. Should the OAU approach stall, we will encourage the Africans to bring the issue back to the United Nations as their own initiative. This matter is to be expedited.

2. Illicit Arms Transfers

The United States will seek consultations with the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Pakistan with the following objectives:

—To inform them that transfer of U.S.-origin equipment to Somalia without U.S. authorization would be contrary to our arms sales agreements.

—In the case of Saudi Arabia, also to present evidence of the transfer by Saudi Arabia of U.S.-origin weapons to Somalia, to underscore our concern about such transfers as contrary to our bilateral arms sales agreements and as posing a potentially adverse impact on Congressional approval of the sale of F–15s to Saudi Arabia.

—To inform them that we have no objection to their supplying non-U.S. origin weapons to Somalia (particularly anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons). However, we would emphasize the importance of their pressing Somalia to withdraw from the Ogaden and to use such [Page 164] weapons only for the defense of Somalia, as opposed to the continued occupation of the Ogaden.

—To state that should Somalia agree to announce and implement a decision to withdraw from the Ogaden, the United States would be prepared to initiate Congressional consultations to authorize third country arms transfers of defensive U.S.-origin weapons to Somalia for the defense of Somalia’s territorial integrity, and to supply some items of our own (trucks, etc.).

—To state if asked that, in the event of an invasion of Somalia, should the countries of the region decide to deliver military equipment to Somalia, or to provide air cover or other units to counter Ethiopian or Cuban air capability, the United States would be prepared to offset Soviet threats or actions directed at such assistance measures.

—To indicate U.S. willingness to consider authorizing third country arms transfers to Somalia in the event Ethiopia aided by the Soviet Union or Cuba invades Somalia, even in the absence of a Somali commitment to withdraw from the Ogaden.

3. U.S. Carrier Task Force

The President did not approve at this time the deployment of a United States aircraft carrier into the area but indicated willingness to consider moving a carrier closer to the area—for example, Diego Garcia.

4. Publicity and Congressional Consultations

The United States should undertake efforts to publicize more widely the Soviet and Cuban role in Ethiopia including, for example, the command responsibilities of Soviet General Petrov and the number of Cubans in Ethiopia. We also should ensure that key U.S. allies and members of the OAU understand the situation in the Horn and collectively deplore the Soviet and Cuban role in Ethiopia.

Consultations with the Congress are to begin to ensure complete understanding on the part of the Congress with respect to the role of Soviets and Cubans in Ethiopia, and the strategic and political implications of their role and of an Ethiopian-Cuban invasion of Somalia, and regarding possible U.S. third-country transfers.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files 1977–1981, Box 19, PD/NSC–32. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. See Documents 62 and 63.