76. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Horn of Africa
  • State

    • Cyrus Vance
    • Richard M. Moose, Jr. (Ass’t. Sec./African Affairs)
    • Donald McHenry (USUN)
  • Defense

    • Harold Brown
    • Charles W. Duncan, Jr. (Deputy Secretary of Defense)
    • David E. McGiffert (Ass’t. Secretary/ISA)
  • JCS

    • General David C. Jones (Acting Chairman, JCS)
    • LTG William Y. Smith (Assistant to Chairman, JCS)
  • CIA

    • Frank Carlucci (Acting DCI)
    • [name not declassified](Chief, Africa Division)
  • White House

    • David Aaron (Chairman)
  • NSC

    • Paul B. Henze (Notetaker)



Assistant Secretary Moose reported on his recent mission to Somalia and recounted the 12 hours of talks he had with President Siad in considerable detail, stressing their equivocal outcome.2 He also reported on his mission’s talks with Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Al-Mansouri in Jeddah.3 Discussion of where we go next in respect to Siad and Somalia produced a consensus that we should make a further effort to develop a defensive military support relationship with Siad but that the letter Siad had given to Mr. Moose was not an adequate guarantee of Somalia’s acceptance of limitations on use of military aid that might be provided. (The USUN representative dissented from this consensus, advocating that we restrict our support of Somalia to humanitarian and economic assistance.) Secretary Vance cautioned the group to think strictly in terms of defensive weaponry, citing the President’s comment on his latest evening report: “Defensive only; be strict re honoring borders.”4 The following steps were recommended, subject to Presidential approval:

• We will make urgent efforts to get OMB to act on the refugee assistance supplemental request;

• We will request a more binding letter from Siad which clearly commits the Somali government to our conditions;

• We will press to send at least a small military presence to assess Somalia’s immediate defensive needs and, to make this more palatable to Siad;

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• We will restructure the $10 million non-lethal package to include items with more appeal to Siad such as trucks, and

• We will put together a $5 million lethal package which could be delivered in 45 days. Secretary Brown will prepare realistic options on what this might include.

• We will talk to the Egyptians and possibly the Jordanians about supplying Siad with air-defense weapons;

• Depending upon Siad’s response to our request for a firm commitment, we will ask the Saudis to help with financing.

• We will consider a later $50 million package for later delivery if the Saudis are willing to finance it.

DOD and JCS representatives expressed certain cautions which the group endorsed:

• We will have to be cautious about offering the Somalis items that would have to be drawn from active units of our own forces or which are already committed to other countries.

• We should be cautious about offering items that have a long production lead-time. We will have to emphasize the production lead-time factor where it is applicable so that the Somalis do not get the impression immediate deliveries will be made.

• Some items that we are also going to be providing to Kenya should be delivered to Kenya before any deliveries to Somalia take place.

• We can be concrete about the 45-day package but we will not discuss specifics until we have a letter of commitment. Progress on a larger program will require a survey and minimally acceptable U.S. military presence.


There was a general feeling that we should not be very active on this issue and a consensus that it would not be desirable to become involved in supporting the rebellion ourselves. It was agreed that the United States Government should take a public stand in favor of a negotiated solution and that we should continue to speak out against Soviet and Cuban support of an Ethiopian military solution. There was some variation of view among principals on the degree to which the United States should encourage the Saudis and others to continue or increase support for the insurgents. It was agreed that these options should be laid before the President.5

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Horn of Africa.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, Zbigniew Brzezinski Collection, Box 11, Meetings: SCC 68 3/78. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. No minutes of the meeting were found.
  2. In telegrams 577, 598, 600, 618, and 629 from Mogadiscio, March 20, 21, 22, and 23, Moose described his meetings with Siad, during which they discussed an exchange of letters concerning Somali assurances and the conditions under which the United States would furnish “defense articles and services.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850070–1692; P850070–1676; D780125–0043; P850070–1666, and P850070–1663, respectively) Also, in a March 27 memorandum to Brzezinski, Henze provided his impressions of the meetings. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Country Files, Box 69, Somalia, 1/77–6/78)
  3. Moose met with al-Mansouri in Jidda on March 23 to brief him on the meetings with Siad. He reported on his meeting in telegram 534 from Naples, March 24. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, N780004–0155)
  4. On a March 22 report from Vance, Carter wrote “Be firm” and underlined the phrase “international recognized territory,” referring to the area where U.S. defensive arms could be used. (Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 13, State Department Evening Reports, 3/78)
  5. See Document 78.