86. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Follow up on Security Framework in the Persian Gulf—XIII


  • State

    • David Newsom, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
    • Harold Saunders, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern & South Asian Affairs
    • David Gompert, Deputy Director, Bureau for Politico-Military Affairs
  • Defense

    • Secretary Harold Brown
    • Deputy Secretary W. Graham Claytor
    • Robert Komer, Under Secretary for Policy
  • JCS

    • Chairman General David Jones
    • Lt. General John Pustay
  • CIA

    • Director Admiral Stansfield Turner
    • Robert Ames, NIO for Near East and South Asia
  • White House

    • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • David Aaron
  • NSC

    • General William E. Odom
    • General Jasper Welch
    • Captain Gary Sick

Dr. Brzezinski opened the meeting with a brief preview of the agenda, exercise and deployment schedules, basing, Harold Brown’s meeting with Saudi Defense Minister Sultan, and the DCI’s paper on reactions to a possible shift of U.S. forces to the Persian Gulf.2 (S)

Exercises and Deployments

Defense presented an exercise schedule for the region for the remainder of 1980 and explained that we must have exercises both to train our forces and to support contingency planning in the region. Adjustments to meet the political constraints can be made. (S)

The JCS emphasized that the most important exercise is an RDJTF deployment with an Army unit in the region because it would signal a U.S. willingness to deploy the entire RDF, combining all Marine and Army divisions. (S)

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Dr. Brzezinski also underscored the political impact of an RDJTF exercise and proposed to advance it to November or earlier if possible. (S)

State raised a number of questions about the priority list of military activities in Egypt which puts the RDJTF exercise quite low. Does this mean we will have to revise the priority list? Will we be asking for another location later for a second such exercise? (S)

Defense explained that the Egyptian priority list could be modified in this case, and that its rationale is different than our concerns for the RDJTF in the region. Furthermore, if we can establish an exercise pattern in Egypt and quietly repeat it, we will do that. (S)

The only other exercise issue concerned Kenya. We cannot meet the Kenyan request that a MAU exercise there be completely secret. Defense and Dr. Brzezinski suggested that we should ask Kenya once more for the exercise and explain to them that they are not the only country in the region which is hosting U.S. forces deployments. (S)

It was agreed that State will query Egypt on the acceptability of a MAU exercise and an RDJTF exercise this fall giving priority to the RDJTF exercise. If Egypt accepts, that information will be used in another request to the Kenyans for a MAU exercise in August.3 (S)

Defense next requested that we reduce the “military presence” requirement for ground forces in the region from 100 percent of the time to 70 percent. Both funds and available units, particularly Marine Amphibious Units (MAU), are strained by the 100 percent requirement. (S)

All agreed to support Defense’s recommendation to the President for a change in our battalion-size ground force presence from 100 percent to 70 percent of the time in the Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf region. That “presence” may be either a MAU or an Army battalion-size element deployed within the region.4 (S)

Defense Basing Paper

Defense explained the rationale of the basing paper5 as a presentation of overall access in the region needed to meet the range of threat contingencies which the Soviet Union might pose. It includes four kinds of access:

1. Enroute access (the Atlantic/Mediterranean route as well as the Pacific/Indian Ocean littoral route).

2. Indian Ocean littoral access to support peacetime presence, TacAir, and sea control (Oman, Kenya, and possibly Somalia).

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3. Rear staging areas beyond the range of Soviet Tac Air which can support surges of more than a division of ground forces (Ras Banas in Egypt).

4. Forward basing access required for defense deployments of the oil producing areas (the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula and, in some contingencies, in southern Iran). (S)

Defense next explained that early access in the forward areas is critical for military success in the whole range of Soviet threats. Forward access admittedly stretches our resources, but it is better to have them stretched than relaxed by less ambitious access requirements. Our present approach to basing in the four categories is the minimum required for any substantial involvement in the region. Forward basing in the Arabian Peninsula is not possible or wise to acquire now; but it is possible to proceed on Ras Banas. (S)

State was reluctant on the general approach and asked for a study of our purposes in the areas before proceeding on basing and forces issues. (S)

Defense disagreed. We need far more military analyses by the JCS for dealing with the Soviet threat. The basing paper only asks for approval to continue with Ras Banas. Perhaps a strategy study would be appropriate by the end of the year but not now. (S)

Dr. Brzezinski replied that a study will not necessarily resolve the issues State raised, but that we can deal with them as they arise, step-by-step, in going forward on the Defense basing approach. (S)

It was agreed to recommend to the President that we ask for access in Ras Banas.6

If approved, Defense and State will work out a negotiating strategy. In the meanwhile, Defense was tasked to submit a paper on MilCon funds for Ras Banas, showing where they will come from. Defense will also prepare a paper addressing the remaining recommendations in the basing paper. State will comment on these papers in light of the political dilemmas raised today. (S)

There was very brief discussion of Harold Brown’s meeting with Sultan in Geneva. The “Joint Security Commission” proposal was accepted by Sultan, and the first meeting is to be held this fall, preferably in the U.S. or Europe, and before the election if possible to avoid discussion of F–15 equipment.7 (S)

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Defense was tasked to submit an agenda and proposed date for NSC review. (C)

[less than 1 line not declassified] Reactions to a Possible Shift of U.S. Forces to the Persian Gulf Region. Harold Brown said that he has found West European leaders less concerned and more willing to accept our reallocation of Defense resources to the Persian Gulf region8 [2 lines not declassified]. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, General Odom File, Box 45, Security Framework: 7/12–15/80. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Minutes of the meeting are ibid. Carter wrote “Zbig J” in the top right-hand corner of the page.
  2. Not found.
  3. Carter checked the Approve option and initialed “J” in the right-hand margin.
  4. Carter checked the Approve option and initialed “J” in the right-hand margin.
  5. Not found.
  6. Carter checked the Approve option and wrote “Subject to approval of assessment below” in the margin, bracketed the right-hand side of the next paragraph, and drew an arrow from his handwritten comment to the bracket.
  7. See Document 217.
  8. On July 1, Brown met with Giscard in Paris for two hours “to brief him on U.S. plans to beef up rapid deployment forces and to acquire Indian Ocean facilities in Kenya, Oman, and possibly Somalia.” In response, the French Government was reportedly “seriously considering a call for demilitarization of the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf that would exclude the United States and the Soviet Union from the region.” Moreover, Giscard was also said to be “studying the idea of an international conference on the subject.” (Ronald Koven, “France Considering Call to Demilitarize Persian Gulf Region,” The Washington Post, July 6, 1980, p. A14)