257. Memorandum From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Duncan) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Status of Program for the Yemen Arab Republic

The current program emphasis on Yemen is separated in two phases. Phase I provided for the expedited air delivery of army items previously purchased by Saudi Arabia for Yemen, i.e., 81 81mm mortars, 50 50 caliber M2 machine guns with mounts, 2025 Light Anti-Tank Weapons (LAW’s), 3 fire direction sets and 36 Vulcan 20mm Air Defense guns. This equipment, with the exception of the Vulcans, is being airlifted in two aircraft to arrive in Yemen on December 14 and 15. The Vulcans are scheduled for January–February airlift delivery after joint US/SAG/YARG consideration of recommendations of a predeployment survey team which visited Yemen in November 1978. Phase II is the result of a request from King Khalid to President Carter in September 1978 to provide 100 Armored Personnel Carriers, 64 M60 Series Tanks, 12 F–5E aircraft and 2 C–130H aircraft.2 The delivery schedules for Phase II are the matter of immediate concern.

It was agreed from the beginning that Congressional notification of the Phase II Package (required by Section 36(b), AECA)3 would not be initiated until Congress convenes in January. The following paragraphs indicate the initial equipment delivery times which were provided to the Saudis in September 1978, the schedule improvements we since have communicated (both by Secretary Brown to Prince Sultan during the October 27 White House meeting and simultaneously by me to Prince Naif during my visit to Saudi Arabia),4 and additional actions taken or issues raised since October 27. The delivery schedules [Page 802] have not been provided to Yemen by the USG; we are not certain whether the Saudis have provided any schedules. All delivery dates should be calculated from April 1979, the time when we expect Congressional review to be completed and Letters of Offer to be signed.

M113A1 Armored Personnel Carriers

a. Initial Delivery Offer

The original delivery proposal was to provide 100 M113A1’s starting 35 months after signature of the Letter of Offer.

b. Revised Delivery Offer

The revised proposal is to ship 6 to Yemen one month after Yemen signs the Letter of Offer, together with U.S. Army training personnel necessary to initiate training in the spring of 1979. Another 44 will be sent as soon as CADRE training is completed. The Saudis were requested to transfer the other 50 APC’s from their own inventory. We will initiate an FMS case to replace the 50 APC’s in the Saudi inventory.

c. Outstanding Issues

There is some question as to whether the Saudis currently are willing to provide the remaining 50 APCs, or some lesser number. Also, we since have defined a need for APC-type vehicles such as mortar carriers and light retrievers which should be included, with a corresponding reduction in the number of M113A1’s needed. On December 10 we requested the U.S. Office of Military Cooperation in Sana to coordinate with their Saudi counterparts and ascertain that the Saudis will provide the full 50 vehicles, including all of the APC-type vehicles such as the mortar carriers.

M60 Tanks

a. Initial Delivery Offer

Deliver 64 tanks starting 18 months after LOA signature.

b. Revised Delivery Offer

Reduce delivery period of the first tanks to 12 months by shipping 6 tanks and personnel to initiate CADRE training early in 1980. This will allow training to be completed consistent with the delivery of the remaining 58 tanks.

c. Additional Actions Which Could be Taken

AMEMB Sana has suggested by message of December 11 that we contact the Saudis to ascertain their willingness to divert some tanks [Page 803] which soon will be delivered to Saudi Arabia from the M60 production line.5 State is following up this suggestion with AMEMB Jidda.

F–5E Aircraft

a. Initial Delivery Offer

We have offered to deliver 12 F–5E’s 26 months after LOA signature.

b. Revised Delivery Offer

The delivery period has been reduced slightly to 24 months.

c. Actions Which Could Be Taken

DOD currently is forwarding to State a letter which raises the possibility of diverting 4 F–5E’s from April–July 1979 production now scheduled for Thailand, and an additional 4 F–5E’s from October–September 1979 production now scheduled for Jordan. Another alternative is to approach Saudi Arabia or Iran, or both, to ascertain their willingness to provide some aircraft and support equipment as a third country transfer. It should be noted that if the diversion from production is approved, Saudi Arabia would have to provide spare parts and support equipment from its own inventory even if the USG provided the 8 aircraft. The Saudis have already undertaken to transfer 4 F–5B aircraft (2 seater) to Yemen for flight training, and we have approved the third-country transfer. However, no date has been set for transferring these aircraft to Yemen.

C–130 Aircraft

a. Initial Delivery Offer

We have offered to deliver 2 C–130 aircraft 12–14 months after LOA signature.

b. Revised Delivery Offer

We have advised the Saudis that the most immediate way to improve the air transport situation in Yemen is to provide the 2 C–130 aircraft from Saudi inventory, and to replace these aircraft from U.S. production.

c. Outstanding Issues

On November 13 we requested the country team to advise the Saudis that, if they were willing to execute a direct commercial contract [Page 804] with Lockheed and the contract was signed in December, the two replacement aircraft could be delivered in May and September 1979. We encouraged this commercial alternative. No Saudi response to this suggestion has been received.

State has sent instructions to Ambassador West to review the Phase II delivery schedules with Prince Sultan today and to report the results to Washington.6 As soon as word of Saudi agreement is received, State will instruct Ambassador Lane in Sana to notify President Salih of our delivery plans.

I recommend that we arrange for LTG Graves, the Director of the Defense Security Assistance Agency, to brief Senator Byrd on the current status of the Yemen program. The program has received much more momentum than Prince Sultan apparently indicated. Also, Senator Byrd may be interested to find out that part of the perceived delay is due to our agreement with Congressional leadership to avoid submission of controversial Section 36(b) notifications while the Congress is out of session.

CW Duncan Jr
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 92, YAR: 9–12/78. Secret. Attached but not printed is a December 14 memorandum from Sick to Brzezinski, in which Sick recommended that Brzezinski read only the final two paragraphs of Duncan’s memorandum. Sick added: “This subject will be reviewed in its entirety following West’s talks with Sultan and in the course of the mini-SCC review of a package of items as mandated in the SCC last night.” Brzezinski added the following comment: “GS, how can we expedite? ZB.”
  2. See Documents 255 and 256.
  3. Reference is to the International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (P.L. 94–329; 90 Stat. 729), which Ford signed into law on July 1, 1976.
  4. Regarding the October 27 meeting at the White House, see footnote 7, Document 176. For Duncan’s report to Carter on his Middle East trip, see Document 10.
  5. Reference is to telegram 6196 from Sana, December 11. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780538–0258)
  6. The Department transmitted instructions to West in telegram 313548 to Jidda and Riyadh, December 13. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780513–0275)