271. Summary of Conclusions of a Special National Security Council Meeting1


  • President Jimmy Carter

Department of State

  • Secretary Cyrus Vance
  • David Newsom, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
  • William R. Crawford, Deputy Asst. Sec., Bureau of Near Eastern & South Asian Affairs
  • William Bowdler, Director, Bureau of Intelligence & Research

Department of Defense

  • Secretary Harold Brown
  • Charles W. Duncan, Deputy Secretary
  • Robert Murray, Deputy Asst. Sec. for ISA


  • Gen David C. Jones, Chairman
  • LtGen William Y. Smith, Asst. to the Chairman
  • Adm James Lyons, Office of Plans and Policy

Vice President Walter Mondale

  • Denis Clift, Assistant to the Vice Pres. for National Security Affairs
  • DCl

    • Stansfield Turner, Director Central Intelligence
    • Frank Carlucci, Deputy Director Central Intelligence
  • White House

    • Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • David Aaron
    • Hamilton Jordan
    • Jody Powell
  • NSC

    • Gary Sick


  • Yemen (U)

The President indicated that we should do what we can to assist in defense of the YAR, short of direct U.S. military involvement in the Yemens. Our efforts should be directed primarily [1 line not declassified] in defense of the YAR. The following specific steps were agreed: (S)

1. We will reconfirm our assurance previously given the Saudis that we would help defend them in the event of an attack on Saudi territory. That commitment will not be extended to the defense of the YAR. The U.S. will be prepared to assist in the planning of whatever [Page 840] steps or actions are necessary in the defense of the YAR including the provision of related support. (S)

2. The U.S. will encourage Saudi Arabia [3 lines not declassified]. We will indicate our willingness to assist [less than 1 line not declassified] including U.S. logistic support. (S)

3. The Secretary of State will consult with [less than 1 line not declassified] concerning what assistance they may be willing to provide. (S)

4. The U.S.U.N. Mission will assess the most effective means of raising this issue in the UN, bringing in the support of other nations as possible. The YAR should be encouraged to take the lead, with Saudi backing. (S)

5. The Secretary of State will deliver a strong message to the Soviets, protesting their involvement in the PDRY attack and indicating our firm backing of the integrity of regional borders, our commitment to protect the integrity of Saudi Arabia, and the serious effect this action can have on our relations with the USSR. (S)

6. The U.S. is prepared to transfer 12 F–5 aircraft to Saudi Arabia [l line not declassified]. Alternatively, the [2 lines not declassified]. The U.S. would be prepared to provide maintenance and support. (S)

7. The U.S. will be prepared to provide replacement of equipment lost [less than 1 line not declassified] on the same basis as the assurance previously given to Saudi Arabia. (S)

8. The U.S. will offer to provide immediate deployment of a squadron of USAF F–15s and AWACS aircraft to Saudi Arabia for defense of Saudi Arabian airspace. (S)

9. A U.S. carrier from the Pacific will be ordered to proceed to the area. (S)

10. SR–71 reconnaissance of the area will be examined, possibly operating from bases in the region, such as Egypt.

11. The DCI will undertake an assessment of the stability of the Salih Government in the YAR and the prospects for the emergence of alternative leadership friendly to the Saudis and ourselves. (S)

12. We will maintain the lowest possible public posture on our own activities for now, with no announcement of movements of units. We should take all necessary steps to make public the Soviet role, their advance knowledge of the attack and the involvement of the Cubans and Ethiopians. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 94, Yemens: Meeting: (3/5/79 NSC): 3/79. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The minutes are ibid. An unknown hand crossed out “Coordination Committee” in the heading of the document and wrote “NSC” above it. Carter approved the Summary of Conclusions, writing “OK C” in the right-hand corner of the first page. Aaron sent the Summary of Conclusions to Vance, Brown, and Turner under a March 5 covering memorandum.