54. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Security Framework for the Persian Gulf


  • State

    • Deputy Secretary Warren Christopher
    • Mr. David Newsom Under Secretary for Political Affairs
    • Mr. Harold SaundersAssistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
    • Mr. Reginald BartholomewDirector, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs
  • OSD

    • Secretary Harold Brown
    • Ambassador Robert Komer Under Secretary for Policy
    • Mr. David McGiffert Assistant Secretary, International Security Affairs
  • JCS

    • General David Jones Chairman
    • Lt. General John Pustay Assistant to the Chairman
  • DCI

    • Admiral Stansfield Turner
    • Mr. Robert Ames NIO for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
  • The White House

    • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • Mr. David Aaron
  • NSC

    • Gary Sick
    • General Jasper Welch
    • Thomas Thornton
    • Colonel William Odom
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Dr. Brzezinski opened the meeting by explaining that the purpose today is to take stock of what we have accomplished in a number of activities related to our Persian Gulf security framework.

Next week, we will consider some additional steps we might take. The following items will compose the agenda:

  • 1. A review of our political-economic presence in the region (paper by State).
  • 2. The longer-term implications of our naval presence after the hostages problem is solved. (paper by Defense)
  • 3. Military contingency planning.
  • 4. Allied military deployments which might help us in the region.
  • 5. Taking stock of our en route basing problem.

Dr. Brzezinski then proceeded with today’s agenda:

I. Pakistan

A. Economic and Military Aid. There was discussion of how next to proceed, whether the Pakistanis want us to go to the allies on the military consortium, and how specific the Pakistanis are willing to be on what military aid they will accept. Defense can have a reasonably complete paper on Pakistani military needs by next week. Doubt was expressed about whether the Pakistanis would permit us to take that list to our allies and what the allies response would be without a direct request from Pakistan. We will of course not approach the allies until the Pakistanis agree that we should do so. There was also discussion of the size of military requirements package we should develop based on the McGiffert visit.2 Harold Brown believes that we can develop at least 3 levels—a low of $600 million,3 and a couple of higher ones. Dr. Brzezinski encouraged Defense to also prioritize equipment to the extent possible within each of these three levels. It was noted that the Pakistanis prefer F–16 aircraft4 because of the ordnance they will carry, but they have a number of Mirage aircraft which provides a basis for our refusal to provide the F–16s.

To overcome the impasse in coordinating Pakistani aid in our coordination of the Pakistan military consortium it was agreed that:

—Defense will produce the equipment list options by next week;

—State, in the meanwhile, will tell the Pakistanis such a list is coming and ask that they make approaches directly to our allies, [Page 189] thereby underpinning the U.S. coordination role when we approach the allies.

B. Aid package and security commitment. Christopher observed that we need to pull things together so that we make only one trip to the Hill for Pakistan, taking the aid package, security guarantees, and nuclear issue together. He also added that the Pakistanis remained opposed to our taking up our current aid package. Perhaps later we could take only the economic aid element. It was agreed that State will consult and provide advice about how to proceed on this front. We may be able to go to Congress in about 2 weeks. Christopher reported that we have told the Pakistanis that they must make initial approaches to potential donors. We do not know if they have done this yet. Assuming the Pakistanis cooperate, Cy Vance will approach the Europeans in a week or so with specific suggestions for support. We will raise the matter with the Japanese Foreign Minister when he comes here.

II. Facilities Access. Bartholomew provided a list of 15 next steps, some of which need SCC discussion. First, it is important to get back rapidly to all the countries with details on executive agreements and on military construction plans. Second, the country requests for additional assistance were not made a condition of the agreements but raised as issues beyond them in every case. It was agreed that all three of these additional requests need to be vetted and reviewed by a working group and checked with OMB. Particularly, it is important that the OMB position be final.5

Third, Oman will require a written agreement. A number of alternatives were suggested—a letter from the President, a letter from the Secretary of Defense or State, and an exchange of diplomatic notes. Bartholomew emphasized that Oman is risking a great deal by making this abrupt turn in policy toward the U.S. and therefore, we must not fail to meet their request in a satisfactory form. Most discussants favored an exchange of diplomatic notes at the Secretary of State level as the acceptable form of the agreement.6

Fourth, a Presidential determination to the Congress on Somalian FMS eligibility must be prepared and a military requirement survey team dispatched within two weeks. All agreed that careful consultations with the Congress are important preparations for this step.

Fifth, on briefing other nations, it was agreed to be candid about those basing agreements in briefing the Chinese.

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It was agreed to get a draft agreement for Oman within 10–14 days. Defense will also prepare the military construction budget request for Oman within two weeks.

As an additional point, Harold Brown proposed that he send a note to the Saudis asking them to go on a parallel track to Oman with financial assistance in light of our financial and military assistance. In the discussion, it was pointed out that we are unaware of how much the Saudis are already doing and whether we want them to increase that or continue it. Dr. Brzezinski emphasized that Senators Byrd and Stevens are very firm in their view that the Saudis must pay for some of this assistance because our efforts there are primarily for Saudi Arabian security. It was agreed that Defense will draft a letter to the Saudis for review by the SCC.

On access to Djibouti, no further action is needed.

III. Diego Garcia. Defense proposed to use Diego Garcia as a fueling stop for B–52 recce flights from Guam to the Persian Gulf and return. This will reduce the number of tankers needed. Christopher expressed surprise at this proposal because it is the public image that Diego Garcia cannot handle B–52s. It was explained that the runways cannot handle B–52 bombers loaded but B–52s as recce aircraft can land there. Christopher wonders, in view of the public perception, what effect these recce flights would have on the public attitude. Brzezinski solicited Christopher’s further comments on foreign policy considerations. Christopher emphasized two. First, we must approach the British. Second, we must consider the Indian attitude. There was discussion of the danger of allowing the Indian attitude to become a veto on B–52 flights to Diego Garcia, a development that would raise questions about our utility to expand the runways to accept loaded bombers. It was agreed that:7

—State would approach the British.8

—State will not approach the Indians but rather make an assessment of what their response would be.9

IV. Memorandum on the Enhanced Sealift Capability

A. Harold Brown reported that a memorandum is en route to the President on this matter. Unless the President gives him a quick disapproval, he intends to go ahead, by reprogramming funds, to [Page 191] acquire the two RO/RO ships and lease some support vessels so that we can have the capability very soon.

B. Turner’s previous proposal that we consider prepositioning equipment in Egypt was judged not desirable by Defense. There were more problems than advantages involved.

V. MAU Deployment

A. Defense commented briefly on its effort to correct press stories and to tone down the press attention to this deployment.

B. It was proposed that we consider opening discussions with Oman, Kenya, Egypt, and even Sudan on the possibilities of exercising the MAU in those countries. Christopher suggested that it was probably unwise to have our first military deployment to Oman, Kenya, and Somalia be a ground force exercise. Troops on foreign soil are a particularly neuralgic point with the Congress. When we do that, we must brief the Congress effectively. Furthermore, it might be best to precede ground force exercises with less disturbing air deployments to those countries. Harold Brown added that because air deployments have already gone to Egypt, Egypt is the most appropriate first choice for a MAU exercise. It was observed, however, that the Middle East peace talks may make that less desirable than an exercise in Sudan. Harold Brown added that it is not absolutely essential for the MAU to go ashore, but that this had been our earlier plan. It was agreed that the Defense team headed by McGiffert will approach the Egyptians to explore the possibility of a MAU deployment while it is in Cairo on arms issues.10

VI. Egyptian Arms

On the question of who and when to take the President’s decision to Egypt, Harold Brown proposed to prepare options which would be presented to the Egyptian Ambassador in Washington and also presented in Cairo. He emphasized that it is essential that the various options be presented by briefers, not simply by written correspondence. McGiffert or Lieutenant General Graves can go to Cairo with options to present and explain to the Egyptians. In light of this discussion, it was agreed that the following sequence would be followed:

—We will tell the Egyptian Ambassador in Washington and then allow Atherton to inform the Egyptians in Cairo.11 [Page 192] At the same time, Atherton will present a short letter from the President to Sadat and announce that a Defense team will soon come for talks.12

—A week or so later, the Defense team will go to present the options.

VII. The Allies military program response on Afghanistan

Harold Brown added this item to the agenda today for initial discussion. He reports that the bureaucracy in State and Defense have been unable to state a concrete set of program steps we want NATO to take, both in Europe and the Persian Gulf. It is important that we get a U.S. paper into NATO early and follow it with a meeting of Permanent Representatives to consider it. It must include actions for both the Central Front and the Persian Gulf. Otherwise, if there is delay, the allies may take actions only in Europe and give us an answer which excludes actions in the Gulf. It was agreed that Aaron, Komer, and Newsom will meet to pull together a paper on this for next week.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 30, NSC/SCC Minutes, 1/16/80–2/29/80. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The minutes are not attached and were not found. Carter wrote “Zbig J” in the upper right-hand corner of the first page. In a February 15 memorandum to Vance, Brown, and Turner, Brzezinski noted that Carter had approved the conclusions of the SCC meeting subject to the following: “1. The military equipment options for Pakistan, which Defense is developing, should all be based on a U.S. contribution of not more than $400 million for the first two years. 2. F–16s should not be considered in the options. 3. On any future facilities access missions to the Indian Ocean, we should make a special effort to avoid publicity. 4. Similarly, the activities of the MAU in the Indian Ocean area should not be publicized. 5. Our use of Diego Garcia should be made as routine as possible.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, General Odom File, Box 43, Security Framework: 2/1–27/80)
  2. Documentation on McGiffert’s visit to Pakistan is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XIX, South Asia.
  3. Carter underlined “a low of $600 million” and in the left-hand margin wrote: “From U.S., a total of Not > $400 mil first 2 years.”
  4. Carter underlined “F–16 aircraft” and in the left-hand margin wrote: “No, this would be a reversal of what we’ve decided.”
  5. In the left-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote: “On any future mission we must leave the press and/or the blabbermouths at home.”
  6. In the left-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote: “Oman is making negative statements.”
  7. In the left-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote: “Using D.G. should be routine.”
  8. In the left-hand margin next to this point, Carter wrote: “ok.”
  9. In the left-hand margin next to this point, Carter wrote: “ok.” He also underlined the phrase “not approach the Indians.”
  10. In the left-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote: “Keep all of this out of the press, for a change.”
  11. Carter circled this sentence and wrote “no” in the right-hand margin.
  12. Carter wrote “ok” in the right-hand margin and in the margin to the left of the point he wrote: “To reiterate, I want Americans to present the options to Egypt’s military unless Sadat objects.”