50. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Indian Ocean Access


  • The Vice President’s Office

    • Mr. A. Denis Clift
  • State

    • Secretary Cyrus Vance
    • Deputy Secretary Warren Christopher
    • Mr. David Newsom Under Secretary for Political Affairs
    • Mr. Harold Saunders Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
    • Mr. Reginald Bartholomew Director, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs
    • Mr. David Moose Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
  • OSD

    • Deputy Secretary W. Graham Claytor, Jr.
    • Ambassador Robert Komer Under Secretary for Policy
    • Mr. David McGiffert Assistant Secretary, International Security Affairs
    • Mr. David Ransom Deputy Director, Near East and South Asia Region
  • JCS

    • Lt General John Pustay
  • DCI

    • Mr. Bruce Clarke Director, National Foreign Assessment Center
    • Mr. Greg Cowan NIO for Africa
  • ACDA

    • Mr. Ralph Earle II Director
    • Mr. James Montgomery Acting Assistant Director, Weapons Evaluation and Control Bureau
  • OMB

    • Mr. Edward Sanders Deputy Assistant Director for International Affairs
  • White House

    • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • Mr. David Aaron
    • Mr. Lloyd Cutler
    • Mr. Hedley Donovan
    • Mr. Hamilton Jordan
    • Mr. Jody Powell
    • Mr. Stuart Eizenstat
  • NSC

    • Colonel William Odom
    • Captain Gary Sick
    • Mr. Thomas Thornton
    • General Jasper Welch
    • Mr. Fritz Ermarth
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The SCC reviewed the negotiating instructions for the team scheduled to visit Kenya, Somalia, Oman, and Saudi Arabia for the purpose of augmenting US access to military facilities in the region.2 The team is instructed to recapitulate our view of threats to the region, the commitment of the US to their security, the need for improved US access, and to offer various degrees of military assistance nuanced to local circumstances. In Saudi Arabia, the team will seek political support and financial help for Oman and Somalia. (S)

Dr. Brzezinski, upon hearing no objections to the basic instructions, led the meeting through the instructions for problems of detail. He noted that general and country-by-country discussion of security assurances must be strong enough to affirm the President’s commitment to security in the region.


Dr. Brzezinski, Graham Claytor, and Warren Christopher emphasized the importance to the President’s regional policies of getting proposed economic support funding ($10 million) for Kenya. This would require supplemental appropriations in FY80. If it could not be readied in time for the Pakistan supplemental, it would be submitted separately, and moved urgently. (S)

Dr. Brzezinski emphasized the importance of limiting publicity. If the Kenyans felt that a US visit to Nairobi presented too high a profile, they should have the option of sending a Kenyan team to Washington. (S)


Dr. Brzezinski observed that the President had already decided to provide Somalia with defensive equipment.3 The issues now were levels of assistance and Saudi financing. To evidence our seriousness and to minimize our dependence on the Saudis, it was decided that we would offer our “higher” (but still modest) assistance package, including $40 million annual FMS credits in FY 80 and FY81, and seek to stand firm on it.4

It was noted that there would inevitably be some risk that Somali support to the Ogaden insurgency would trigger aggressive Ethiopian-Soviet-Cuban actions which would call our security assurances5 to [Page 179] Somalia into question. We would have to be prepared to take action on Somalia’s behalf in some circumstances. We should make it clear to Siad Barre that we oppose the Ogaden war, that an increase in the violence or his use of regular forces would jeopardize our security ties, and that we would not respond to an attack he provokes. The offer of security assurances to Somalia should be as follows: “The US military presence at Somali facilities will be in itself a tangible expression of US interest in Somali independence and integrity. The US would view any direct threat to Somalia with serious concern, would consult promptly with the Somali government on an appropriate response, and would react in accordance with US constitutional processes.” (S)

Dr. Brzezinski noted that, while Somalia had little political support in the region, it was for the US a more favorable area militarily than Pakistan, where we might have more political support but face grave military problems. He thought we should tell Mengistu that our new relationship with Somalia would not be directed against Ethiopia. Warren Christopher said that Ambassador Chapin doubts Mengistu is sufficiently independent for such messages to make a difference. (S)


All agreed that we should avoid arrangements for access that involve payment of access fees because they set precedents with other countries, their results are uncontrollable, and Congress objects. The team should offer to bring the matter back to Washington if Oman insists on fees, but should stress the great benefit to Oman, as well as the US, of the substantial improvement to local military facilities we would be paying for. On the basis of technical surveys, we should suggest a general cost magnitude for the facility improvement we are seeking. It will be on the order of several hundred million dollars over a five year period, far in excess of any plausible access fees. (S)

It was agreed that Oman should be offered $25 million in FMS credits annually in FY80 and FY81; but we would not now offer a squadron of F–5s. (S)

Dr. Brzezinski suggested removing Oman from the list of Muslim countries ruled dangerous for Americans. Since State had problems doing this for Oman but not other countries in the Gulf, it was agreed to tell Oman authorities privately that this was under review and would soon be done. (S)

Saudi Arabia

It was agreed that Saudi Arabia should be told in some detail what the US was offering to the other countries in the way of security assistance, facilities up-grade, and security assurances to convince the Saudis of our own seriousness and willingness to invest in regional stability. (S)

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Legislative Strategy

It was agreed that Secretaries Vance and Brown would call key congressional leaders before the team’s departure for the region to explain our plans and objectives. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 68, Middle East: Security: 1/80. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Brzezinski sent the Summary of Conclusions to Carter for his approval under a January 31 memorandum; Carter initialed his approval.
  2. The instructions are summarized in Document 49.
  3. Documentation is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XVII, Part 1, Horn of Africa.
  4. Carter wrote in the left-hand margin next to this paragraph: “Get Saudis to help as much as possible, but don’t depend on them.”
  5. Carter underlined “security assurances.”