18. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Turner to President Carter 1


  • Report on My Recent Trip Through Four African Countries [less than 1 line not declassified]

1. I recently paid visits to [less than 1 line not declassified]. My principal observations are:

a. Leaders of all countries expressed concern over external threats to their security.

b. All of the countries face formidable long-term internal security problems, though none faces imminent threats. Considerable concern was expressed at the internal threat posed by the example of Sergeant Doe’s successful coup in Liberia.2

c. Uniformly there were strong complaints at the unwillingness of the United States to supply arms to these countries. [less than 1 line not declassified], for instance, claimed that all of his friends are coming to look on the Soviets as the only people on whom they can rely. While this is an exaggeration, I did sense that the Soviets have created a belief of Soviet momentum throughout Africa as a result of the number and wide variety of their activities.

[Page 58]

d. The general quest for more arms in part relates to the expressed concerns about external threats, but also in large part to the importance for these leaders of being able to placate their own military. The concern over the Liberian example is typical of this. It did not appear to me that any of these countries was in real need of military aid. In the first instance, the external threats are not that great. In the second, they are not equipped to handle advanced weaponry. [less than 1 line not declassified]

—[1 paragraph (12 lines) not declassified]

—In short, what the military forces of countries like these really need is to have a sense of discipline, organization and mission instilled in them. [2 lines not declassified] It occurs to me that the most genuine assistance which the U.S. could offer to the leaders of these countries is training advisers. Fifty or sixty U.S. Army or Marine Corps personnel, ranging from Sergeant to Major, [less than 1 line not declassified], could whip those battalions into shape over a period of a year or so. [3 lines not declassified] Even two crack battalions, however, [2 lines not declassified]. The provision of training assistants would not be expensive. It need not involve FMS or IMET since no equipment would be involved nor would there be mobile training teams (MTTs). Those teach specific functions for a limited period of time, whereas what the military forces of these countries need is to have our people living and working with them in order to establish performance standards for them. Their continued presence would ensure performance towards those standards. Politically, the presence of U.S. training advisers may not be acceptable in many African countries. Still, the offer to support a genuine need would, I believe, stand us in good stead over the long run. In contrast, the Soviet provision of unnecessary equipment such as SA–3s and MIG–21s may well have a deleterious impact in the long run.3

e. The economic outlook [less than 1 line not declassified] can only be described as bleak, and [less than 1 line not declassified] it is not good.

f. [less than 1 line not declassified] are virulent with regard to U.S. policy toward South Africa. Their economy is becoming so increasingly dependent upon South Africa that they cannot afford to take a strong stand themselves.

g. [1 paragraph (5 lines) not declassified]

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Africa.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Agency File, Box 3, Central Intelligence Agency, 5–12/80. Secret. Carter wrote “C” in the upper-right corner.
  2. See Documents 55 and 56.
  3. An unknown hand drew a line down the left margin adjacent to this paragraph.