90. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (McGiffert) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron)1


  • US Army Corps of Engineers Study for Somalia (C)

In response to Dr. Brzezinski’s August 4, 1978 memorandum2 I am forwarding the preliminary feasibility study on a civic aid program for Somalia which the US Army Corps of Engineers (CE) has prepared with AID’s assistance.3 The study does not include cost estimates nor specific details for various proposed projects which you requested due to the unavailability of sufficient information in Washington.

To define the scope and cost of each project, the CE first must complete a survey of the terrain and of construction logistics and materials available to Somalia. The survey would require twelve personnel to remain in Somalia approximately one month. Since AID has funded similar CE survey teams in the past, State is prepared to request they fund this one.

Before we send a survey team to Somalia, however, I believe we should first approach the Saudis to obtain their support in principle for the civic aid program reiterating that it would be a trilateral concept using Saudi financing and Corps management. If agreed, we would then discuss with them financial arrangements for the particular projects. We should also indicate to the Saudis that once the Corps has completed an in-country survey, which we are prepared to finance, we will be able to provide more details, including cost estimates, for the various projects. Corps personnel currently assigned to the Saudi CE program most likely will be used to conduct the Somali survey. These arrangements also should be discussed with the Saudis since salary costs of these people are reimbursed by the Saudi Arabian government.

I therefore recommend that Department of State be authorized, in coordination with DoD, to consult with appropriate Saudi and Somali officials to determine if sufficient interest exists on their part for the [Page 254] CE to undertake a survey to be funded by AID’s office of reimbursable development. The survey’s purpose would be to provide the Saudis, Somalis, and us with the necessary cost estimates and other data upon which to make judgments concerning projects that they and we might agree to pursue under the proposed trilateral arrangement. It would not commit the Saudis to fund any of the proposed trilateral projects.

I believe this program helps our relationship with Somalia and benefits it economically. Additionally, sending a Corps of Engineers survey team to Somalia would provide us with an alternative for the military survey team which President Siad has requested. Finally the Saudis, who would like us to be more responsive to Somalia’s military needs, are likely to appreciate the significance that a US Army Corps of Engineers presence might have in Somalia.

David E. McGiffert
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files 1977–1981, Box 70, PRC 068 7/31/78, Somalia [1]. Confidential. Drafted in coordination with Harrop and Wickham.
  2. Not found.
  3. Not found attached.