105. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Indian Ocean


  • State

    • Warren Christopher
    • Reginald Bartholomew
  • Defense

    • Charles W. Dayan
    • Lynn Davis
    • Lt. General William Smith (JCS)
    • Admiral Thomas Hayward (JCS)


    • Paul Warnke
    • John Newhouse
  • NSC

    • Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • Gary Sick
    • James Thomson
  • CIA

    • Robert Bowie

In preparation for the departure of the U.S. delegation for discussions in Moscow with the Soviets on Indian Ocean arms limitations for June 22, 1977,2 the SCC reviewed the following issues:

1. Aims. There was significant disagreement about our objectives in these talks with the Soviets. State, Defense, ACDA, and the JCS all indicated their belief that our objective should be to keep the situation about where it is today. They noted that the President continues to use the word “demilitarization” and they felt that demilitarization would work to our disadvantage, because we have more to lose than the Soviets. Dr. Brzezinski noted that U.S. policy as stated by the President is demilitarization, and that necessarily involves more than simply freezing the situation where it is now. Dr. Brzezinski suggested that stabilization of the status quo could be a first step involving significant reductions. If there is serious dissent with this policy, it should be registered formally for the President to consider.

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2. Scope of Moscow Talks. There was no disagreement that these initial talks would be exploratory in nature. However, there was a lack of consensus on precisely what should be raised with the Soviets.

—Should the U.S. raise the question of limiting strike aircraft and deployment of ground combat forces into the area? All agreed that the possible introduction of strike aircraft by the USSR would be the single event most likely to upset the military balance. However, most agencies argued that the present situation is favorable to us, and discussion of this issue could lead to expansion of the definition of the area to include land-based facilities, it could require us to give up carrier deployments in exchange, and it could complicate our participation in exercises with our allies in the region. On the other hand, Dr. Brzezinski argued, the question of support facilities must be discussed and that will necessarily lead to a discussion of airfields and land-based air.

—Should we indicate a willingness to give up Diego Garcia as part of demilitarization? Most of the participants (and the allies we have consulted) felt that the exchange of Diego Garcia for an insecure base at Berbera would be a poor trade. It was suggested that we not foreclose the possibility of giving up Diego Garcia but leave the question open to see how the negotiations proceed.

—How do we respond to a Soviet question about what we mean by “demilitarization” ? It was suggested that we explain to the Soviets that we see these talks as a dynamic process, starting with some of the basic or less controversial issues and gradually expanding to cover other areas. Demilitarization would represent the end of the process and would involve at least significant reductions in U.S. and Soviet military presence in the region, though probably not an end to all military activities by littoral states.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 86, SCC 016, 6/14/77, Indian Ocean. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Brzezinski sent the Summary of Conclusions to Mondale, Vance, Brown, Warnke, and Turner under a June 17 memorandum that indicated Carter had seen and approved it. Brzezinski also attached a tentative schedule for a 3-year phased program of Indian Ocean demilitarization, indicating that it was prepared by the NSC Staff and approved by Carter. (Ibid.)
  2. See Document 108.