221. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Brown to President Carter 1


  • Assistance to Saudi Arabia (U)

(S) The hectic negotiations of the last 5 days have resulted in constructive results. These not only appear to be pleasing to the Saudis but also provide an entree to the increased security cooperation with Saudi Arabia so essential in the long run to the viability of our military posture in Southwest Asia. Dave Jones, who worked patiently and with great skill, deserves much of the credit for this outcome. Briefly, here are the results:

—The Saudis requested and we have deployed four AWACS with supporting equipment and personnel, including emplacement of secure communications.2

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—The Saudis asked for rapid enhancement of Saudi air defense capability. Dave Jones was “authorized to discuss other possible temporary U.S. contributions to Saudi Arabia’s ground based air defense” except U.S. combat units (e.g., U.S. Hawk batteries, U.S. air defense aircraft).

—Along these lines, the Saudis requested two U.S. mobile land based (TPS–43s) radars to augment their three similar radars. We have agreed and will be shipping the two radars in a day or so. We will operate them as well as one of the Saudi radars.

—The Saudis also asked for rapid enhancement of other items of command, control, and communications. We have agreed to this in principle and are sending a follow-on team this weekend to define their requirements more precisely.

—The Saudis are not asking at this time for U.S. combat units such as interceptor aircraft or I–HAWK battalions (I doubt if they will do so unless their perception of the threat changes for the worse).3

—The Saudis agreed to participate in a multinational naval patrol in the gulf should one prove necessary; the follow-on team will deal with this in more detail.

(S) Linked, although not explicitly, to the forthcoming way in which the Saudis perceive the United States to have responded to their requests, is the Saudi decision to raise oil production by one-half million barrels a day (there are indications that this could be one million a day or even more) and immediately to solicit increases from other gulf producers sufficient to make up for the loss of oil from Iran/Iraq.

(S) In addition to sending the follow-on team and expediting the flow of air defense related material to Saudi Arabia, we are within DoD examining how we might respond quickly in the event a similar threat to the oil fields or to AWACS appears to be developing. Threats to AWACS are probably less likely, since their tactics can assure their safety quite well in the air, and on the ground they are 150 miles inland. Deployment of F–15s would probably be the most militarily effective solution. In the interim before their arrival, we could use F–14s from the fleet, aerial refueled either from the fleet or from KC–135 tankers based in Saudi Arabia. We are looking at these and other alternatives.

Harold Brown
  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Subject File, Box 20, Alpha Channel (Miscellaneous)—[9/80–10/80]. Secret; Eyes Only for the President; Alpha Channel. A copy was sent to the Acting Secretary of State. Carter wrote “Good J” in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of the memorandum.
  2. For the Department of Defense statement announcing the temporary deployment of AWACS aircraft to Saudi Arabia, at Saudi request, which was read to reporters on September 30, see the Department of State Bulletin, November 1980, p. 54.
  3. Carter wrote “quite ok w/me” in the margin next to this paragraph.