25. Memorandum From Fritz Ermarth of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Further Points on Middle East PRCs (U)

1. These meetings could be among the most significant of this Administration because they could start the building of long-term strength in a region of the utmost importance to us but, simultaneously, the greatest vulnerability. One has the sense we are now getting down to hard military business. Should a consensus on increased US military presence be reached, it should be recorded in some authoritative way, e.g., a PD, that the system can act on and that will prevent backsliding. At the same time, we want to avoid highly publicized drama around actions that are necessarily modest and incremental. A carefully crafted PD—directing and characterizing increased deployments, laying down the line on the Indian Ocean Talks, directing further study of longer-term policy and force posture issues—could strike the right tone inside the bureaucracy and outside if it leaks. (S)

2. The immediate objective in making a decision on peacetime military presence in the region is to increase substantially the amount of time we have deployments capable of projecting power ashore. The critical difference is not really between options 2 and 3, as presented by DOD, but between carrier groups, marine groups, tactical air, on one hand, and surface combatant groups, on the other. The latter can steam around and look pretty; they cannot project power ashore. (S)

3. This decision must be a step toward the creation of a US military posture in and toward the region that is commensurate with our interests. This will mean yet more study and politicking over issues of force design, ship-building programs and naval policy, lift capabilities, basing, and budgets. As these matters move ahead, we shall be confronting issues such as these:

—Should we create a military command to coordinate activities in the area and speak for its strategic perspective?

—Should we beef up Diego Garcia?

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—Should we begin to plan and negotiate for homeporting in Australia, which is far from the important littorals, but a lot closer than San Diego?

—Should we increase land-based tactical deployments in the Western Pacific, i.e., in Japan or Korea, so as to free carrier air for the Indian Ocean?

—Should we review policy on carriers? (S)

These issues should probably not be broached immediately unless raised by others because they will only frighten the faint hearted. They will be faced soon enough. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Subject File, Box 25, Meetings—PRC 112: 6/21/79. Secret. Sent for information.