47. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Brown to President Carter1


  • Amphibious Deployment (U)

(S) As a further measure to increase US military presence and capability in the Arabian Sea, I propose deploying an Amphibious Task Force to join the two Carrier Battle Groups (Task Force 70) presently operating in the region.

(C) The proposed Amphibious Task Force would be composed of four amphibious ships and an embarked Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU). The MAU consists of about 1,700 Marines organized into an infantry battalion, a helicopter squadron, and a combat service support group. Their combat equipment includes 22 assault helicopters, 12 amphibious assault vehicles, and five tanks.

(C) The MAU is presently enroute to the Western Pacific and, ifyou approve the deployment, would depart the Philippines in mid-February, arriving in the Arabian Sea around the end of the month. Subsequently (March or later) I anticipate that a substantially increased Marine amphibious capability would temporarily augment this force. The III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF) located on Okinawa, will remain ready to respond to other limited contingencies in the Western Pacific, with some lift constraints.

(S) While operating in the Arabian Sea, we would hope to be able to conduct exercises with one or more countries in the region. The location and scope of these exercises can be determined after the facilities survey team has finished its work and negotiations with potential host countries have been concluded. Even without the conduct of exercises, I believe the deployment of Marine forces to the Indian Ocean is a prudent measure on the basis of both the perception and the fact of increased US military capability. We should recognize, though, that taking this step could well commit us to maintaining some US Marine presence in the region for the indefinite future.

(C) Until the facilities survey team returns and exercise arrangements, if any, are firm, I would propose no announcement or public [Page 171] discussion of that possible aspect of the deployment. The only early publicity would be a routine announcement that an Amphibious Task Force had joined Task Force 70 in the Arabian Sea.

(S) With your approval, I am prepared to direct the deployment. I would make a routine public announcement early next week, since media speculation about our sending Marines is already rife and I anticipate many questions when I testify on the Defense posture and budget next week.

Harold Brown
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 68, Middle East: Security: 1/80. Secret. Brzezinski forwarded Brown’s memorandum to Carter under a January 29 memorandum recommending that Carter approve Brown’s proposal. Carter approved the recommendation and added the handwritten notation: “I presume Cy agrees.”