146. Memorandum From William Quandt and Gary Sick of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Moroccan Base Closure

The JCS has determined that the naval communications facilities in Morocco are no longer required for support of US military forces. These communications functions have been superseded by satellite capabilities and alternative installations in the Mediterranean area. Navy is anxious to close these facilities, and has prepared a schedule of gradual withdrawal from now until the end of FY 78. This lengthy process has been designed to minimize the economic impact on the Moroccan workers currently employed at the facilities and was worked out on the basis of close consultations with Ambassador Anderson in Rabat. At present, the facilities are maintained in an active status but are not being used.

A proposal to notify King Hassan of our intent to close this facility was submitted to Secretary Kissinger in December 1976.2 He was concerned that the closure of these facilities (and the consequent closure [Page 350] of the small communications training school attached to them) would signal a lessening of US support for Morocco. This concern had been recognized earlier, and Defense had been asked to prepare a list of possible alternative military facilities or installations which could be discussed with the King at the same time he was notified of our impending withdrawal of the communications station and communications school.

Defense presented a list of possible alternative sites and facilities which could be proposed to the King, including (in ascending order of sensitivity):

—Establishment of a USAF ground-based electro-optical space surveillance system (GEODSS) with scientific as well as military functions, involving about 55 (mostly US) personnel, as part of a global network now being installed;

—Location of a MAC staging and refueling site, primarily for emergency humanitarian missions in Africa [but co-located with a larger installation, e.g. the SAC proposal below];3

—Increased use of Moroccan port and air facilities by US forces (which can be handled on a case-by-case basis without a formal approach to the King);

—Use of Moroccan coasts for small joint amphibious exercises by Sixth Fleet units;

—Establishment of a USAF weapons tactical training center for gunnery and bombing practice by air units stationed in Europe (comparable to the functions performed by Wheelus AFB in the past); and

—Establishment of a SAC forward operating facility for B–52 deployments and refueling in response to military contingencies in Europe.

On January 14, following a telephone conversation between Mr. Clements of Defense and Undersecretary Habib at State, Defense informed State (Tab A)4 that they would proceed to implement the Navy’s plan to close the Kenitra facilities, to actively pursue only the first of the six options, and to prepare the staff work for a modified version of the tactical training center. In fact, Defense did not proceed, pending a written response from State.

A State Department reply is currently being prepared which will refer to the Clements letter, concur in the scheduled closure of the Communications facility and school, approve proceeding with an approach to King Hassan on the GEODSS site, and limit any further [Page 351] action on the other proposals to staffing by the JCS, recognizing that the proposals for a weapons training center or a SAC/MAC facility represent a considerably greater US military presence than would be practical or desirable at this time. Ambassador Anderson has asked that the Communications School be maintained if at all possible, and State may raise with Defense the feasibility of retaining the school in some form (or possibly replacing it by training programs in the US) as a means of cushioning the effect of the base closure.

We concur fully with the State position, and we believe that this situation is well in hand and on the way to a satisfactory solution. However, we would naturally wish to monitor the follow-through and implementation, particularly with respect to the Communications School. The Moroccan base issue was studied in some depth by an interagency group last fall,5 and the State Department letter is fully consistent with the findings of that group. Further study would be possible, but the real effect of another interagency review would be to delay the termination of an overseas military facility for which we have no further need. Nor do we want to encourage the bureaucracy to think about a highly visible military presence in Morocco. We can find many other ways to keep US-Moroccan relations on an even keel.

RECOMMENDATION: That we concur with the State Department approach, while continuing to monitor the implementation phase.6

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 55, Morocco: 1/77–12/78. Secret. Sent for action. Aaron and Inderfurth initialed the memorandum. Aaron wrote in the upper right-hand corner: “ZB. I believe we should get out but the package we are offering the king is anemic. We should insist on more from the Bureaucracy before oking the closure. DA.”
  2. Not found.
  3. Brackets are in the original.
  4. Tab A is not attached, but is printed as Document 145.
  5. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–9, Part 1, Documents on North Africa, 1973–1976, Document 85.
  6. There is no indication of approval or disapproval of the recommendation.