248. Message From the United States Military Mission in Saudi Arabia to the Department of Defense1

69062. Specat Exclusive for LTG Graves from Von Harbod. Subject: North Yemen Military Assistance.

1. (S/NOFORN) Have been briefed by Ambassador West and Embassy staff regarding U.S. Mission increasing concern vis a vis situation in North and South Yemen. Ambassador and Chief USMTM met on this subject with MODA (Prince Sultan) on 10 July in accordance with instructions from State.2 As a result of meeting, closer coordination between U.S. Country Team and Saudis on policy and planning can be expected. Additionally, believe both U.S. Mission and MODA have become convinced that U.S. must take stronger role to insure effectiveness of any actions decided between our governments.

2. (S/NOFORN) At the request of the Ambassador, MODA agreed to the creation of a working level, coordinating group consisting of representatives of the Saudi Ministry of Defense, USMTM, U.S. Embassy in Jeddah, U.S. Defense Attache in Yemen, and the Chief of the Saudi military mission in Yemen to begin meeting on 29 July in Riyadh. This group is to address the acceleration of the reorganization of the Yemen armed forces immediate and long term training requirements, the turn over of U.S. equipment already delivered to Yemen, and such other matters as are necessary to achieve an effective program. Prince Sultan agreed to the meeting of this group. However, he cautioned that he does not anticipate results unless the U.S. is fully willing to support the implementation of the recommendations. He would be against this committee if it is to be just a fact finding committee. He gave as an example F–5s for [Page 773] Yemen. Quote: Is the U.S. willing to accelerate delivery, to train North Yemenis, and to raise the U.S. flag in Sana?

3. (S/NOFORN) In this regard, following thoughts are my personal view of directions you may wish to recommend to ISA policy makers:

A. U.S. presence in form of an ODC, or joint ODC with Saudis, in Sana is a must if any near term improvements in North Yemen military forces are desired. Saudis, at this point, are simply not capable of getting job done alone.

B. If USG/SAG decide to take effective joint action, emphasis should be on near term improvements. This will, in my opinion, require U.S. training team on the ground in North Yemen in the near future.

C. To this point, planning for introduction of F–5s into North Yemen Air Force has been of long term nature involving extensive English language and flying training in CONUS. This approach will not be effective if USG/SAG decide that near term, politically visible, actions are required. Suggest that joint USAF/RSAF team in country—perhaps coupled with contractor maintenance team—should be considered in event near term introduction of four RSAF F–5B’s is desired. RSAF instructor pilots and maintenance personnel on such a joint team could mitigate language problem. Similar crash programs have been successfully completed by USAF in past (e.g., in Laos and Cambodia).

4. Best wishes. Eric

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 92, Yemen: Arab Republic (YAR) (North): 4/77–7/78. Secret; Noforn; Specat Exclusive.
  2. See Document 247.