100. Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1


Before the agreed US-Soviet Working Group on Indian Ocean arms control is convened, the US must decide:

—What it would seek to achieve, substantively, in an initial arms control agreement with the Soviet Union, and

—How the Working Group can best be used to further this goal.

This paper briefly summarizes the major considerations which the SCC will need to consider in making these choices. It describes the general historical background and comparative military presence of the various powers in the Indian Ocean. It examines the political implications of arms control in the area and identifies the major elements which will have to be considered in any USUSSR negotiations.

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Three broad alternative arms control objectives are outlined: (1) Demilitarization; (2) Limitations short of demilitarization; and (3) A freeze at approximately current levels. Even if demilitarization is accepted as our ultimate objective, it may be necessary to consider something less as a proximate objective for the first round of discussions with the USSR. SCC guidance on this issue will be necessary to prepare a negotiating strategy.

The proposed composition of the US Working Group is discussed, and four alternative approaches for the first meeting are described: (1) A general exchange of views on possible elements of an agreement; (2) An exchange of views plus a US proposal for immediate adoption of some confidence building measures; (3) Seek agreement on the general principles to guide future negotiations; or (4) Use the meeting as the first round of a formal negotiating process, tabling a US draft outline of a bilateral agreement. The SCC decision on this issue will determine the nature of our opening tactics.

Annexes include more detailed discussion of the negotiating elements and military tradeoffs (A) and a discussion of consultative procedures (B).2


A. The Setting

Since 1949, the US has maintained a limited military presence in the Indian Ocean area in the form of a flagship and two destroyers of Middle East force stationed at Bahrain. [1 line not declassified] Although a policy of increased naval deployments was announced in 1964, it was never fully implementated due to the military requirements and pressures of Vietnam.

Recognition of pending UK withdrawal from the area, growing nationalism, and the probable future lack of access to military facilities in the area, led to US promotion of the concept of a British Indian Ocean Territory composed of a number of strategic islands which could be used as required for base facilities in the future. The BIOT was created in 1965 by the British with indirect US financial support, and a treaty permitting joint defense use was signed in 1966.3

The establishment of a naval facility on Diego Garcia was proposed in the late 1960’s but was defeated by Congress in 1969.4 Following [Page 332] the British withdrawal from the area, a scaled-down version consisting primarily of a communications station and an 8,000-foot supporting airfield was approved by Congress in 1971,5 and became operational in early 1973.

Soviet military activity in the Indian Ocean began in 1968 and increased to the extent that by 1974 they regularly deployed about 19 ships on a daily basis, eight or nine of which were combat vessels. Their force presence has since stabilized at somewhat reduced levels, but Soviet capabilities have increased as a result of the expansion of support facilities at Berbera, and the recent addition of maritime air patrols operating from airfields in Somalia. Soviet-built facilities at Berbera include a communications station, port and fuel storage facilities, an airfield large enough to accommodate any aircraft in the Soviet inventory, and a cruise missile storage and handling facility. The growth of Soviet facilities was tied to a large scale military assistance program, and the continuation of the Soviet presence remains dependent on the state of Soviet-Somali relations, which are currently under strain.

In October 1973, the United States announced a “return to a policy of more frequent and more regular” US naval deployments to the Indian Ocean, following the partial Arab blockade of the Red Sea during the Arab-Israel war and in view of the Soviet military buildup in the area.6 Since that time, we have deployed an average of three or four task groups each year into the Indian Ocean from the Pacific Fleet, in addition to the three ships of Middle East Force which remain in the area on a permanent basis.

This change of policy was accompanied by a request for the expansion of naval facilities on Diego Garcia. Despite prolonged Congressional opposition, the Diego Garcia expansion program was finally approved in July 1975, and construction work has been going on since the spring of 1976.

The principal facilities currently in existence or planned for Diego Garcia include a 12,000-foot runway, petroleum storage facilities, a dredged basin within the lagoon large enough to accommodate a carrier task group, a deep-water pier for loading and off-loading oil and other supplies, a naval communications station, billeting for about 800 per[Page 333]sonnel, limited storage facilities, and miscellaneous associated construction for a total of about $40 million worth of new construction.

B. Current Attitudes Toward Arms Control

The possibility of arms limitations in the area has been discussed since 1970, when Sri Lanka initiated a proposal for an Indian Ocean Zone of Peace. This proposal has been discussed in the UN General Assembly every year since that time, and an ad hoc committee composed of Indian Ocean littoral states has been established to deal with this issue. The objection of most maritime nations (including the US and USSR) to the Peace Zone proposal is its implication that littoral nations have the right to impose restrictions on the use of adjacent waters, contrary to customary international laws on freedom of use of the high seas.

Neither the US nor the Soviet Union has taken an actively positive attitude towards Indian Ocean arms control. In 1971 the Soviets asked if we would be interested in a joint declaration on arms restraint. We replied that we agreed in principle and asked for more elaboration of Soviet views. Moscow never responded and there have not been any other direct bilateral exchanges until the current US initiative.

Recently the Soviets have adopted a new public approach to the Peace Zone issue. This was indicated in Brezhnev’s speech to the 25th Party Congress in February 1976, and in Gromyko’s address to the UN General Assembly last fall.7 Moscow views with understanding the desire of the littoral nations to establish a Peace Zone in the area; however, in the Soviet view the first step should be the dismantling of foreign military bases in the region (and the Soviets deny that they have any bases in the area). Moscow would then be willing to discuss a reduction in the military activities of non-littoral nations. The Soviet response to our March 1977 approach in Moscow gave no indication of movement beyond their public position.8

Based on Soviet statements to date, it appears that the USSR might prevent serious discussion of Indian Ocean arms limitations by demanding the elimination of US “bases” such as Diego Garcia, Masirah and Northwest Cape, while insisting that the Berbera facility [Page 334] belongs to Somalia and is therefore not in the same category. They might also insist that the talks be broadened to include some or all of the littoral states, or they might insist that any agreement insure military “parity” between their own forces on the one hand and the combined forces of the US and its allies on the other. In short, if the Soviet Union chose to exploit the discussions solely for propaganda purposes, there will be opportunities to do so.

On the other hand, the Soviets might consider that their long-term interests would be served by negotiating seriously. In informal and unofficial conversations, various Soviets have indicated that discussions could include their use of support facilities at Berbera. The Soviets may be interested in limiting naval competition in the belief that the advantages of such a competition might accrue to the US. They may be unsure of their position in Somalia, which is subject to political changes, and may see advantages in trying to negotiate limitations on US facilities at Diego Garcia, on deployments of aircraft carriers and amphibious forces and a ban on the deployment of SSBN’s in the Indian Ocean. They have also been put on the propaganda defensive by President Carter’s stated goal of Indian Ocean demilitarization9 and may come to feel compelled to demonstrate more specifically than in the past their commitment to forestalling big power military rivalry in the Indian Ocean.

C. Comparative Military Presence

The level of military deployments to the Indian Ocean by the US, the USSR and other external powers over the past several years are shown in Figures 1–3.10 It will be noted that US and Soviet deployments peaked in 1974. Soviet presence subsequently stabilized at a somewhat lower level and US presence has declined. The British presence has ceased to be significant following their well publicized withdrawal in the early 1970’s, but the French presence (measured in ship-days) is presently greater than that of either superpower.

Although the Soviets regularly have more ships in the Indian Ocean than we do, they cannot match the firepower of a US carrier task group when deployed to the area (currently only once a year). The limited underway replenishment capability of the Soviet fleet limits its capacity for sustained combat, and the lengthy deployment periods of their ships make access to ports such as Berbera attractive as a convenient [Page 335] location for resupply and repair. The heavy reliance of the Soviet Navy on shore facilities, especially for air support, makes the evolution of their political relations with Somalia particularly significant.

With the Suez Canal open, the Soviet Union enjoys a marginal advantage in surge capability since their relatively large fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean could deploy to the Arabian Sea in less than five days, while the US could not match them in numbers or firepower since US attack carriers today cannot pass through the Canal. The United States can deploy a carrier task group from the Pacific Fleet to the Arabian Sea in about [less than 1 line not declassified] approximately [less than 1 line not declassified] Soviet units could arrive from their Pacific bases. British and French forces would require two to three weeks to deploy forces to the Indian Ocean with the Canal open, or more than a month if it were closed.

Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union has stationed ground combat forces in countries on the Indian Ocean littoral, and neither has military aircraft permanently stationed in the area. The USSR has conducted occasional TU–95 surveillance flights into the area from bases in the southern USSR, overflying Iran. In addition, since April 1975 the USSR has begun sending IL–38 surveillance aircraft to Somalia with increasing frequency (44 deployment days in 1975, 103 in 1976, and 118 in the first four months of 1977). [5 lines not declassified]

D. Future USUSSR Military Presence

Current US planning does not call for any increase in the present level of military deployments to the Indian Ocean for the foreseeable future. Given current naval force levels, any increase in Indian Ocean activity requires a comparable reduction in naval presence in other areas, particularly in the Pacific where we have only two carriers available on permanent deployment. The current expansion of Diego Garcia is primarily intended to provide independent contingency support for US forces in conditions when littoral facilities might be closed to us. However, the facilities on Diego Garcia would be valuable for support of a larger US presence if that were decided at some future date.

Bahrain has reconsidered its request that we terminate our Middle East Force basing arrangement this June, and has agreed in principle to a continued, reduced, presence.11 We have also begun discussions with the Government of Oman regarding continued air access to the former UK base on Masirah Island;12 no US personnel would be stationed there, and fueling and over-night billeting would be provided [Page 336] by the Omanis for up to [less than 1 line not declassified]. We also maintain a small space tracking facility in the Seychelles.

The best indicator of long-range Soviet military intentions in the Indian Ocean is the construction of support facilities in Somalia, and particularly at Berbera where they have built a large airfield and a cruise missile storage and handling facility which could provide missile support for ships, aircraft and submarines. Of particular concern is the possible future deployment of Soviet missile-armed aircraft in the region. This would represent a significant change in the combat capabilities of the Soviet naval units operating in the area and would be the single development most likely to affect the relative USUSSR military balance in the near future. The future development of Soviet military capabilities in the area will depend heavily on the evolution of their relations with the Somali Government.

E. Implications for US and Soviet Regional Interests

The one essential US interest in the Indian Ocean area is to insure continued access to the oil of the Persian Gulf region. The US is also concerned that the states in the area develop economically and politically, free from external pressure. Current US deployments and facilities in the area are intended to serve these purposes by demonstrating US interest in the area, symbolizing support for our Allies and friends and by offsetting the Soviet presence. If Soviet presence should increase, the US would have to seriously consider the military, political, and budgetary costs of increasing military presence in the area or risk the political and economic consequences of permitting a perceived increase in Soviet influence in the area.

In addition to a general desire to project its presence and influence overseas, the Soviet Union has some particular interests in the Indian Ocean region. Geographically, the nations of the Persian Gulf and Indian Sub-Continent lie immediately to the south of the Soviet border. An important sea route between European Russia and the Soviet Far East lies through the Suez Canal and Indian Ocean. Soviet rivalry with China will continue to be a major factor in Soviet policy toward this area for the foreseeable future. The range of geographical and political interests which have sustained a 20-year courtship of India suggests that the Soviet leadership will continue to devote political, economic, and military resources toward the achievement of their objectives in the region. As the Soviet Navy improves its blue water capabilities, the Soviets may consider the Indian Ocean to be a lucrative area in which to exploit these capabilities for their political purposes, particularly if they sense a US reluctance to meet such a challenge.

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US-Soviet arms control arrangements in the Indian Ocean area could serve US interests if it:

—Prevented a US-Soviet military presence competition with the costs this would entail;

—Prevented the introduction of Soviet strike aircraft in the area;

—Reassured our Allies and friends by reducing the possibility of Soviet military predominance in the area;

—Improved the US political image by demonstrating responsiveness to the desires of the littoral states to prevent great power military competition in their area; and

—Possibly if it reduced the military resources which the US would commit to the area.

There are, however, limits on what arms control arrangements could be expected to contribute to stability. Even stringent limits on military and naval forces would have little effect on the Soviet ability to provide support to dissident political movements in Africa or elsewhere in the area. Arms control arrangements based on parity might require the US to surrender some advantages it currently enjoys, such as a politically secure base and the deployment of carrier forces. The Soviet Union is geographically proximate to the area and, in spite of overflight problems, would be better able to bring air power or air transported forces directly to bear from its own territory. Limits on US force presence in the area would also reduce capabilities for the US to respond to threats not involving the Soviets, such as another Arab blockade in the Red Sea area or evacuation of US citizens. Arms control arrangements in the Indian Ocean might set undesirable precedents for freedom of the seas, for arms control arrangements in ocean areas more vital to US security such as the Mediterranean, and for a Soviet attempt to impose global parity on sea power, an arrangement which would be consistent with greater US dependence on seapower to protect its interests and Allies overseas.

In any case, for the U.S. it will be essential to maintain close and continuing consultations with Allies such as Australia and the UK prior to and during the negotiating process. Background discussions with other friendly nations will also be important. This is discussed in more detail in Annex B.


Cutting across all alternative arms control packages are some basic negotiating elements which must be considered before presenting a proposal. These are discussed in detail in Annex A.

A. General Elements

The Area. The scope of an acceptable definition of the Indian Ocean is limited by customary usage; but a fundamental question is whether bases and forces other than on the coasts of littoral countries should be included and, if so, to what extent.

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Types of Forces. We can focus our arms control measures on just maritime forces and facilities, or we can choose the greater risks involved in extending arms control to land-based air and ground forces and inland facilities and activities. Extension of coverage to land-based forces and facilities would place at risk US installations in such countries as Iran, the Seychelles and Australia. It could also prevent US naval and air participation in CENTO exercises.

Bilateral versus Multilateral. While we have proposed US/USSR talks, the Soviets might want to argue that the UK and France should also participate or their forces be counted against the US presence. US military presence in the Indian Ocean is keyed in part to our contribution to collective security alliances (ANZUS, CENTO). The Soviets could argue that we should disengage from these alliances or refrain from military deployments which support them.

[1 paragraph (7 lines) not declassified]

Nature of Military Presence. Transiting forces should probably not be included in an agreement, because naval operations outside the area would be affected. Transits should be pre-announced and defined by duration and number of allowed port calls.

Crisis Escape Clause. The agreement should contain provisions which would permit deployments to the area in excess of treaty limits under certain extreme contingencies.

B. Elements Related to Limitations

Surface Ships. Surface ship deployments could be limited by a variety of means:

—Surface combatants could be limited.

—Naval auxiliaries could be included as well. While this limit would not directly control military capability, it could impair Soviet operations because of their greater reliance on auxiliaries. On the other hand, Soviet use of naval associated merchant ships would be unrestricted. For this reason, DOD feels that auxiliaries and merchant ships used to support a naval presence in the area should be included in any limits.

—If naval associated merchant ships were to be included, this could inhibit our ability to supply the 7th fleet with oil from the Persian Gulf.

—The duration of deployment could be limited to prevent permanent presence such as the US MIDEASTFOR and to inhibit current Soviet practice of long-term forward deployments.

—The number of ship-days per year could be limited.

—The average daily level of ship tonnage (over a year’s period) could be limited.

—Some formula could be derived to value ships according to their tonnage and the resultant figure of merit could be limited.

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Because of the differing character of US and Soviet deployments—the US deploys fewer, but larger, combatants than the Soviets—two ceilings appear the simplest and fairest approach: a ceiling on the number of combatants would constrain the Soviets more heavily while a limit on combatant tonnage would constrain the US more heavily. For example, ceilings at about half current levels would permit each side a daily average of about five combatants and about 25,000 tons.

—This approach would lower the number of Soviet combatants, but the mix would remain unchanged.

—The US could send about the same number of ships as at present, but carrier deployments would have to be curtailed; or carriers deployed and the number of ships reduced.

[1 paragraph (10 lines) not declassified]

Bases (Support Facilities). Again various types of limits are possible:

—The number of facilities or the type of service performed by facilities under US or Soviet control could be limited or banned.

—Access to other bases could be limited by, for example, the number and duration of port calls or aircraft visits.

—Both powers might be barred from making use of facilities for routine maintenance, resupply, or rearmament. (This would not rule out “voyage repairs” necessary for safe transit to the next port of call.) This provision would deny Soviet use of the missile handling and repair facilities in Berbera.

—We probably would not want to restrict communications capabilities. This would allow the US to remain in Northwest Cape and continue to maintain the communication station on Diego Garcia and for the Soviets to retain their communications station in Berbera. Airfields needed to support communication facilities and verification would be permitted. Use of these fields for other uses might be restricted.

Military Aircraft. Aircraft present the most complex limitation problem, one that is the least well developed: there are varied types of military aircraft, ranging from transports through strike aircraft; aircraft deployments can take many forms—on carriers, permanent deployment at ground bases, periodic deployment, and overflights.

—Only particular types of aircraft could be limited: e.g. armed aircraft might be limited, but reconnaissance, surveillance and transport aircraft unrestricted. An agreement to ban the introduction of land-based combat aircraft would probably have to be balanced by a ban on US carrier-based aircraft to be negotiable.

—The number of “aircraft days” could be limited. This would be complex, however; it might therefore be better to either ban aircraft or leave them alone.

—If aircraft limits included [1 line not declassified] third world countries would be impaired. On the other hand, restrictions on Soviet [Page 340] deployment of land-based strike aircraft would be valuable since such deployments could alter the military balance in the area.

Ground Combat Forces. Since no ground combat forces are deployed in the littoral areas and are rarely deployed afloat, we could consider a ban. By banning just combat units, we would exclude security assistance personnel from restrictions. A Soviet commitment on this principle would be especially important in view of Soviet contiguity with the littoral states. However, the Soviets would probably insist on extending such a ban to afloat combat forces.

[1 paragraph (5 lines) not declassified]


The section describes three general alternative negotiating objectives for SCC consideration: (1) total demilitarization; (2) limitation of military presence below current levels; and (3) a freeze or cap near current levels. These could be viewed as either long term objectives or as outlines for a near term treaty with the USSR. A freeze, reductions of force levels, and demilitarization can also be viewed as progressive signs in an extended negotiating strategy. In any event, the alternatives would require further technical development before they could be presented to the Soviets. SCC guidance on the general outline of the agreement we seek is needed before detailed negotiating packages can be developed.

A. Alternative 1—Demilitarization

Demilitarization would include:

Ship deployment

—Neither side could deploy combatants, either surface or submarine, to the area; auxiliaries and naval associated merchant ships might also be banned.

—Pre-announced transit through the Indian Ocean would be permitted.

—The US MIDEASTFOR would be disbanded and its ships withdrawn.

—Periodic US deployment of task groups and participation in naval exercises with littoral nations (e.g. CENTO and ANZUS) would not be permitted.

—The US would forego the option of deploying SSBN’s to the area.

—The USSR would have to terminate its naval presence in the region.


—Neither side would be permitted to maintain military facilities in the area though communications facilities might be permitted for verification purposes.

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—Neither side would be allowed to make use of indigenous naval facilities except for brief port calls in connection with transit.

—The US would be obligated to close its military facilities at Bahrain and Diego Garcia, though communication might remain.

—The Soviets would not be allowed to make use of their facilities in Somalia and would be barred from the development of similar facilities elsewhere.


—Neither side could introduce land-based or sea-borne aircraft into the area, though unarmed transports or surveillance aircraft might be allowed. This would prohibit Soviet use of the military airfield they have constructed in Somalia. Our aircraft carriers would be permitted into the area only during transit.

Ground Combat Forces

—Neither side could introduce military personnel in unit formations into the region, at sea or in the littoral countries.


In a post-agreement environment, both sides would be expected to continue to use means other than military forces—political, economic, arms supply—to further their interests in the area. The use of surrogate military forces is possible: the Soviets have employed this strategy in Angola; and the Soviets would likely charge that French forces were a surrogate for the US. The Soviets, and some littoral states, would probably pressure France to accede to the agreement or at least respect its terms. France would probably resist such pressures.

To agree to this option both sides would have to feel confident that there were no indigenous or external threats to its interests in the area (aside from the military capabilities of the other) that would necessitate maintaining forces in the region. One of our major interests is protection of our essential Sea Lines of Communications (SLOC), especially in view of Western and Japanese dependence on the oil resources of the Persian Gulf. In a wartime environment, in which the treaty would be abrogated, the major immediate Soviet threat to the SLOC would be aircraft from the USSR.

A threat to US interests from other sources in a demilitarized Indian Ocean would clearly be difficult to deal with unless we were willing to invoke a crisis escape clause. Such threats could include interruption of access to or transit of oil, military action against a friendly state, or situations endangering the lives of Americans in the region. Threats apart from Soviet forces could include littoral states or sub-national groupings, e.g., political terrorists dramatizing a cause.

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US interests also include a peacetime display of US concern with the political future of the Indian Ocean area. With demilitarization, we (and the Soviets) would forego the display of immediate military power (peacetime presence) for this purpose. This would underline the importance of France and the major littoral naval powers—Iran, India, Australia and South Africa. Although it is not clearly evident that the present US and Soviet naval presence has a major influence on the relationship between these states and their neighbors, some littoral states might feel threatened by US and USSR withdrawal and actively seek to increase their armaments. However, this is only one of a variety of political and economic factors that would influence this decision.

Publicly the reaction of the littoral states to USUSSR demilitarization would be almost uniformly favorable, especially among the non-aligned states. Some states such as Iran, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia might express private concern and would require reassurance that the US was not lessening its opposition to the spread of Soviet influence and would remain supportive of their interests through other means. Australian reaction would depend on the status of Northwest Cape and the effect on our obligations under the ANZUS treaty.13

[6 lines not declassified] are on record as supporting bilateral USUSSR arms restraint in the Indian Ocean, but would have a direct concern in the fate of Diego Garcia. The French would be principally concerned about the effects on their own deployments.

We expect that the above political reactions would be reflected, albeit to a lesser degree, in the subsequent, less ambitious, alternatives.


—This would be a serious step indicating our firm commitment to arms control and disarmament. It would present the Soviet Union with the option of either agreeing or bearing the clear responsibility for blocking progress.

—It would probably be applauded by all non-aligned littoral nations.

—It would reduce the possibility of confrontation.

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—There are no apparent immediate military threats to our interests in the region that require a US presence; some could develop, however. Our influence and position in the area is dependent on a mix of political, economic and other factors not only on US military capability.

—Seventh Fleet ships now periodically deployed to the Indian Ocean would be available for utilization elsewhere. In any emergency situation, we normally have adequate military resources stationed in the Pacific area to respond.

—The USSR would be prohibited from developing additional basing facilities in Mozambique or elsewhere in the area.


—By pressing for the very ambitious goal of demilitarization from the start, we may risk losing the opportunity to conclude a meaningful arms control agreement.

—This step would be a significant departure from the traditional US position favoring freedom of use of the high seas.

—It would limit the political usage of the US Navy.

—Our friends in the region might see this as a major step towards abandoning our interests and our commitments to them.

—The Soviet Union would continue to attempt to influence events in the region and might well use surrogates to intervene, as it did in Angola, or pressure littoral states with which it is contiguous.

—In a wartime situation, the USSR would enjoy a geographical advantage for the rapid introduction of air forces from their bases in the southern USSR.

—It could leave the field open for an arms race among littoral states.

—A trade of Diego Garcia for Berbera would relinquish US access to a politically secure facility in return for Soviet access to a facility that is politically insecure.

—Unfriendly littoral states or terrorist groups might feel encouraged to threaten some of our vital interests such as the free flow of oil from the Persian Gulf.

—Demilitarization could result in demands that other regions be similarly demilitarized, for instance the Mediterranean.

—It could mean the loss of communications stations, such as [3 lines not declassified].

B. Alternative 2—Limitation of Military Presence Below Current Levels

Owing to the numerous types of US and Soviet military presence and the various ways in which presence could be limited, limitation [Page 344] agreements (either in this alternative or in a freeze, as in Alternative 3) could take a myriad of forms. In the event the SCC chooses this approach, more detailed and complete packages will be developed for subsequent consideration and analysis.

Reductions options could become attractive for a variety of reasons:

—Demilitarization may be too major a step to be accomplished in one stage. A gradual process of reductions may be necessary to achieve the long term demilitarization objective.

—Demilitarization may prove unattainable. The Soviets might make some demand that is unacceptable to us.

—A freeze (Alternative 3) may not be negotiable with the Soviet Union; it might insist on some decrease in the capability of our facility on Diego Garcia.

—The US may wish to go beyond a freeze and to propose significant reductions in the US and Soviet presence while not accepting all of the costs that would be involved in demilitarization.

Given that the agreement necessarily will involve reductions of some form, both sides will seek certain objectives. For example the Soviets could be expected to seek:

—To limit or prohibit deployments of US carriers to the region.

—To prohibit the deployment of US SSBN’s to the area.

—To limit deployment of afloat ground combat forces to eliminate or place restrictions on US facilities in Diego Garcia and elsewhere.

—To prohibit the presence of nuclear weapons in the area.

The US might seek to:

—Prevent the forward basing of Soviet aircraft to the region.

—Reduce or eliminate the potential submarine threat to US naval forces and SLOC’s.

—Establish limits on the numbers and capabilities of Soviet surface ship deployments and their supporting infrastructure.

—Preclude the introduction of Soviet ground combat forces in the littoral states.

Reduction options must account for many variables: ship deployments, military facilities, military aircraft, ground combat forces, etc. Not all of these factors would necessarily be restricted in every reduction package. However, there is no single, obvious trade-off or series of trade-offs for an intentively attractive package arrangement. The range of asymmetries on virtually every aspect of present and projected super power military presence in the Indian Ocean insures that any attempt to negotiate a limitation agreement will be complex. For this reason discrete packages are not presented here. But should the SCC recommend this alternative, a set of packages will be developed.

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Final selection of a limitations package will require resolution of many of the problems discussed in Section II: (1) should limits encompass ground based air and land forces in the interiors of littoral states; (2) what types of surface ships should be covered and by how much should current deployments be reduced; (3) how should military bases be restricted; (4) should submarines be banned, included in the ship limits or left unrestricted; (5) which types of aircraft should be limited and to what extent; and (6) should ground forces be banned.

C. Alternative 3—Freeze or Cap Near Current Level


Ship Deployments. For example, based on recent experience, the level of naval activity could be restricted to an average daily deployment (including auxiliaries) of 18 ships and a combined displacement of 80,000 tons averaged over one year.

Military Facilities. Both sides could continue to utilize existing facilities in the region, but would be barred from constructing new facilities or expanding the capabilities of current facilities. To overcome Soviet insistence that they do not control any facilities in the region, this limitation would also apply to the “use” of indigenous facilities by the ships or aircraft of either party for more than X days per year.

Military Aircraft. Both sides could deploy aircraft of current types at current levels at current bases.

Ground Combat Personnel. Neither side could introduce ground combat personnel in unit formations ashore or afloat.

Submarines. Submarines could be excluded from restrictions on the grounds that they are difficult to verify, or included in the ship deployment limits.


This alternative represents the minimum that would be required for a formal agreement to cap our respective military presence. [2 lines not declassified] The Soviets would continue to have the use of facilities in Somalia. Both sides could continue with approximately current deployment pattern. The Soviets would probably continue to maintain more ships in the area than the US, but our periodic task group deployments would exceed the capabilities of Soviet forces. Our participation in Allied naval exercises would not be affected.

This step would probably please those Allies, such as Australia, that have expressed concern at the possible effects of US moves towards Indian Ocean arms control. The moderate states which have pressed for an end to the super power presence in the Indian Ocean might welcome this type of agreement as a first step towards this goal. We [Page 346] could expect them to press for actual reductions in the great power presence. The most radical of the states would criticize this agreement as legitimizing the continuing great power presence in the area and we should expect that the US would be under continuing criticism in meetings of the non-aligned. A freeze would not have any major effect on existing relations among the littoral states.


—Demonstrates to the world some degree of restraint and could be the first step toward demilitarization.

—Would prevent the possibility of a competitive arms race developing in the Indian Ocean.

—Would permit US freedom to deploy forces at current levels. Judicious use of the limitation on ship day/tonnage would give us the freedom to increase our forces in the area in an emergency situation.

—Would not harm our bilateral relations with the states of the Indian Ocean littoral. We would continue to be able to cooperate militarily with our friends and Allies.


—Even this alternative contravenes the principle of freedom of the seas and could set a precedent that might cause us serious difficulties in the future.

—Friendly states might see the agreement as a weakening of our will to defend both our own and their interests in the region.

—If we lose access to facilities in Bahrain, the approach would result in MIDEASTFOR remaining permanently without a home.

—A freeze option may not be negotiable, given Soviet public statements that the first step in any Indian Ocean arms control agreement must be the elimination of US bases.


This section focuses on what we hope to accomplish at the initial meeting. Four options are presented: (1) a general exchange of views; (2) an attempt to reach agreement on a confidence building measure; (3) a preliminary negotiation to reach agreement on principles to guide future negotiations; and (4) the first round of a formal negotiation.

Before the meeting, it would be important to have guidance on which of the objectives discussed in section III we seek to achieve in an initial arms control agreement with the Soviets. But only for Option 4 would this guidance be imperative.

The final choice among these options will also influence the composition of our working group. As options 1, 2 and 3 are only preliminary [Page 347] steps, the working group could consist of representatives from the various US agencies; for example the head of the working group could be the Director of the Political-Military Bureau of the Department of State, with representatives from ACDA, OSD, JCS, NSC and CIA. Because Option 4 would raise the status of the meeting to a negotiation, it might be appropriate to appoint a special representative empowered to negotiate a formal arms control agreement.

Finally, the choice among these options will govern the extent to which we must consult with Allies and others in advance of the first meeting (discussed in Annex B).

A. Option 1

General exchange of views concentrating on possible elements of an arms control agreement.

We would view this as an exploratory meeting, avoid making any specific proposals, but probe Soviet views on a range of issues. These might include:

—Bilateral nature of any agreement;

—Definition of the geographic area to be covered;

—What types of military activities might be covered, e.g., ship deployments, military facilities, military aircraft, submarines, ground personnel;

—Verification procedures.


At present we do not have a clear picture of Soviet views. Before formulating our own position on the scope of an Indian Ocean arms control agreement, we need to consider the basic elements of a package. This approach would attempt to determine if the Soviets are seriously interested in some form of arms limitations agreement and are not simply posturing for propaganda purposes. By helping to ascertain the extent of Soviet demands, this approach could also help us tailor our ultimate package; it has the advantage of not requiring the US to delineate a specific negotiating package at this time.

B. Option 2

General exchange of view plus US proposal for some form of confidence building measure.

In addition to the discussion of elements of a possible package, the US would propose that both sides agree to an initial measure which would indicate they are seriously interested in preventing military competition in the Indian Ocean.

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Such a confidence building measure might entail:

—Pre-notification of naval transits and deployments;

—Agreement for advance notification of significant changes in deployment levels;

—A declaration that both intend to exercise mutual restraint in their military activities in the region;

—Agreement that neither side will significantly increase its forces in the area while discussions are underway.


Proposing agreement on a confidence building measure would be a further test of serious Soviet interest in moving towards an arms control agreement. Agreement on such a measure could be expressed in a communique either at the conclusion of the working group meeting or at a summit meeting.

C. Option 3

Seek agreement on general principles to guide future negotiations on the specific elements of an agreement.

In this approach, we would indicate to the Soviets that we wish to conclude an Indian Ocean arms control agreement. Before undertaking detailed discussions on the elements of an agreement, we believe it best to agree on several general principles:

—The purpose of the negotiations is to restrain or reduce US-Soviet military competition in the Indian Ocean and to reduce the possibility of conflict;

—An agreement should not adversely affect the security interests of either party or of the littoral states;

—All states should have unrestricted commercial and maritime access to the Indian Ocean region.


This option parallels the initial approach taken in the MBFR negotiations. It has the advantage of setting general guidelines which we could cite to support our position in later talks. [2 lines not declassified] Agreement on these or other similar principles would be essential for the ultimate success of later negotiations.

On the other hand it may be tactically advantageous to seek initial discussion of the elements of a package. Agreement on general principles could be deferred to subsequent meetings.

D. Option 4

Use this meeting as the first round of a formal negotiating process. We would be prepared to table a draft outline of a bilateral Indian Ocean arms control agreement. This outline would address:

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—Area to be covered;

—Definition and scope of military activities to be covered; e.g., surface ships, submarines, support facilities, land-based aircraft, ground forces;

—Method of implementation and possible follow-on measure.

The substance of this outline would be the result of SCC recommendations on the objectives discussed in Section III of this paper and further development of detailed negotiating packages to support our objective.


This approach has the advantage of presenting the Soviets a concrete proposal which requires their reaction. Tactically, it avoids what might be a lengthy, inconclusive exchange of views on various elements in a package. It is the clearest signal we can give of what we are prepared to achieve in the negotiating process. We would retain the initiative.

On the other hand this approach would require difficult US decisions on the specific elements of an arms control package. We would have to decide our position before any meaningful US-Soviet discussions had occurred. There is also the danger that this approach goes too far, too fast, and the Soviets would conclude we were only seeking propaganda advantage by offering a package we knew they could not accept. This might adversely affect the chances of reaching any meaningful arms control agreement.

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Figure 1


  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files, FRC 330–80–0017, Indian Ocean 092 (Jan–Jul) 1977 2. Secret. Acting NSC Staff Secretary Michael Hornblow sent copies of the response to Mondale, Vance, Brown, Warnke, Jones, and Turner under an April 29 memorandum that indicated the SCC would discuss the response at the May 4 SCC meeting. See Document 102.
  2. Annexes A and B are attached but not printed.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXI, Near East Region; Arabian Peninsula, Document 42; and Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXIV, Middle East Region and Arabian Peninsula, 1969–1972; Jordan, September 1970, footnote 2, Document 37.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXIV, Middle East Region and Arabian Peninsula, 1969–1972; Jordan, September 1970, Document 39.
  5. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXIV, Middle East Region and Arabian Peninsula, 1969–1972; Jordan, September 1970, Document 44.
  6. On October 29, 1973, as a result of the worldwide alert of U.S. forces in the wake of the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the Department of Defense announced the re-deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Hancock, along with its supporting carrier group, from the Philippine Sea to the Indian Ocean. (Michael Getler, “U.S. Aircraft Carrier Sent to Indian Ocean,” The Washington Post, October 30, 1973, p. A1)
  7. In telegram 4005 from USUN, September 28, 1976, the Mission referenced Gromyko’s address to the General Assembly and noted that the Soviet delegation had released a “Memorandum of the Soviet Union on Questions of Ending the Arms Race and Disarmament.” The memorandum’s highlights included Soviet “willingness to explore with other powers reduction of military activities in the Indian Ocean.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D760366–0640) Telegram 4005 is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–14, Part 2, Documents on Arms Control, 1973–1976.
  8. See footnote 2, Document 100.
  9. Carter publicly stated that the United States would seek Soviet agreement to “mutual military restraint” in the Indian Ocean in his March 17 address before the UN General Assembly. For the full text of his address, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 29.
  10. Figures 2–3 are attached but not printed.
  11. See Documents 4 and 5.
  12. See footnote 5, Document 20.
  13. Reference is to the 1951 ANZUS Treaty for a military alliance among the United States, New Zealand, and Australia.
  14. Secret.