96. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Brown to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Persian Gulf Security Framework (S)

(S) Here is my response to your memorandum of 5 November 19802 to review where we stand in our Persian Gulf Security Framework discussions. While we cannot hope—nor should we try—in the last weeks of this Administration to shape long-term policy or take new initiatives, it is imperative that the interagency work begun earlier and the momentum gained towards establishing a viable strategy for the region be carried forward. I hope that the following comments will assist in reviewing the status of the security framework and help lay the groundwork for additional progress by the new Administration.


A. Military Component

Command Arrangements. (S) The current command arrangements meet the Joint Chiefs’ objective of developing an organizational structure that provides sufficient flexibility for meeting the day-to-day requirements of normal operations, logistics and intelligence through the existing CINCs and at the same time permitting the efficient and timely support of rapid deployment forces should their employment be required. Should our involvement in the region become enough greater, we would effect a transition of responsibility by introducing the Headquarters, Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) into the area to command all forces in the region in accordance with the RDJTF command relationships approved this summer. Accordingly, we intend not to restructure further at this time, but recognize that further evolutionary development is desirable.

US Military Peacetime Presence. (S) The President approved an SCC recommendation3 that for at least the duration of the hostage crisis the US military peacetime presence in the Persian Gulf/Indian [Page 314] Ocean region be enhanced to include two battle groups, an expanded MIDEASTFOR (from three to five ships), an embarked Marine Amphibious Unit in the region approximately 70% of the time and frequent TACAIR deployments to the area. (There is in this connection an urgent requirement for an amphibious training area in the western Indian Ocean.) This enhanced level of presence has remained on station throughout the hostage problem, the Soviet presence in Afghanistan and the Iran-Iraq war. The optimum level of US presence will require periodic review, and will require special attention in the aftermath of the hostage crisis. In the meantime, money is being requested in an FY81 Amendment or Supplemental to fund a second battle group in the Indian Ocean through 1981.

—Our AWACS and related deployments have provided us lessons which cut two ways. On the one hand, our relationship with the Saudis seems stronger because we demonstrated our reliability in a crisis and the Saudis demonstrated their willingness to accept a limited US military presence, and indeed to request it relatively early. On the other hand, the fact of the F–15 imbroglio even in the face of the continuing Iran-Iraq conflict has shown that these and other dimensions of our evolving relationship are tenuous and subject to continuing Saudi reservations. Given the continuing threat, and the possible political implications of terminating the deployment, we should maintain the AWACS presence in Saudi Arabia as long as it is mutually acceptable.

RDF Exercises in the Region. (S) In the past year, we have conducted a number of RDJTF-related exercises, both in CONUS and overseas, to increase our readiness, rapid deployment capabilities and familiarization with the region. Planning is now underway by the Joint Staff to develop an SWA exercise plan for CY 1981. Three items already approved in principle for the 1980 schedule, but which were postponed for various reasons, will be carried over to 1981. (These consist of two platoon exchanges involving Egypt and Saudi Arabia and a one-time B–52 mission from Diego Garcia. In addition, we still need to reschedule the communications exercise with Oman which was supposed to take place early this fall.) Ongoing bilateral US-Saudi Arabian initiatives should provide opportunities for joint training as part of the CY 1981 program. Egypt has hosted two major exercises in the past year (PROUD PHANTOM and BRIGHT STAR, the latter of which is still underway) and will most likely be agreeable to more in the future. The focus of an exercise program should be an orderly development of our defense concept and should provide useful training, not just large, costly and unproductive troop movements. Once the plan for calendar year 1981 is approved by the JCS, it will be forwarded for interagency review.

Basing Access. (S) We cannot emphasize strongly enough the crucial importance of adequate and accessible facilities in the area to [Page 315] credible deterrence/defense. An overall basing strategy was developed for en route access and facilities requirements. A paper prepared by DoD outlines the strategic basing concept for both pre-hostility deployment and initial defense/reinforcement of the Persian Gulf region. It includes an assessment of the capacities, availability and usefulness (to our strategy) of facilities on the Arabian Peninsula and in Egypt. Assured access to improved facilities in Saudi Arabia and Egypt in particular is central to our ability to surge into the area in timely fashion.

—We need to continue developing our requirements for Saudi overbuild and pre-positioning. However, before we can discuss specific military requirements with Saudi Arabia, we must first gain Saudi acceptance of our strategic concept for the region (including a mutual understanding of the threat), their agreement to burdensharing and HNS (particularly POL), and their recognition of the need for US access to their facilities in the early stages of a crisis. Mutual resolution of the F–15 issue is critical to the realistic prospect of accomplishing these objectives.

—Once we can reach an arrangement with Egypt, we should begin construction of a major rear-staging facility at Ras Banas and increase fuel storage at Cairo International. Also, we should ensure that our access to Oman, Kenya and Somalia is not threatened by failure to carry out most of the MILCON projects as outlined in our aide-memoire.

—We should use the next few months to explore the new possibilities of increased access to facilities in Bahrain and UAE. Also, we should not be reluctant to seize new access opportunities that might arise with key countries such as Turkey, Pakistan and the Sudan. In particular with regard to Turkey, we should continue to pursue the prospect of creating a “threat-in-being” with US TACAIR deployments into eastern Turkey.

—Progress has been made toward gaining a better understanding by key states, principally the UK and Portugal, in the area of en route access and overflight rights. Nevertheless, en route access and overflight rights are far from assured. It is imperative that we continue to develop alternative access options with Spain, the FRG, Morocco and countries along the Pacific route to meet our transit requirements in the event that approval for the primary routes is not granted.

—However, it must be underlined that both local force contributions and US access to adequate facilities in all but the oil-rich countries are critically dependent on substantial added security assistance—much of it on concessionary terms. This is especially the case with key nations like Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt, which face severe economic difficulties.

Support Requirements. (S) Considerable work has been done to analyze logistic requirements, especially the need for POL and water, [Page 316] to support the surge of US rapid deployment forces to SWA. When completed, these studies will serve as the basis for our approach to regional states for Host Nation Support. In addition, we are studying other requirements (ammunition, spare parts, medical support, etc.) which would be needed to support an expanded, 6+ division RDF.

Mobility. (S) Adequate strategic mobility is also indispensable to permit credible deterrence/defense. We have undertaken a number of initiatives that will improve (or have already improved) our ability to project forces rapidly to the region. But they are far short of foreseeable needs. Still underway in DoD is a mobility study (mandated by Congress in connection with the development of the C–X) which will be a determination of the optimum mix of mobility assets and pre-positioning required to support our overall lift requirements, including those for Southwest Asia.

—To increase the capacity of the Navy’s sealift assets, the President approved a program to acquire and modify eight high-speed SL–7 container ships. The decision was made as well to acquire specially designed Maritime Pre-positioning Ships to store equipment and supplies for three Marine Amphibious Brigades.4 We must ensure that adequate funding is requested from Congress for both programs.

—Seven Near-Term Pre-positioning Ships were placed on station at Diego Garcia in July 1980. These ships carry two-weeks equivalent of airlift by all transport aircraft (MAC and CRAF II). We now need to complete follow-on programs for Indian Ocean prepositioning which identify seaports of debarkation, plans for pre-positioning materiel handling equipment and offload sites for periodic maintenance requirements.

Local Defense Capabilities. (S) The SCC reviewed a DoD analysis of the potential contributions (excluding facilities) which PG/SWA countries could provide to complement US military force capabilities in countering a Soviet attack in the region, particularly in Iran.5 Such a division of labor is perceived as vital (1) to the execution of a defense plan for the PG/SWA; (2) to maximizing the access and subsequent use of regional facilities and infrastructure; and (3) to signal clearly, for deterrence purposes, the resolve of the regional countries vis-a-vis the Soviet threat.

—The analysis underscores the early critical need for security assistance to improve as soon as possible the military force capabilities of selected regional states.

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—More specifically, our regional planning requires an overall security assistance program for the region (calling for approximately $5.5B in FY82) which: (1) carefully balances increased security assistance programs for regional states to their absorptive capacities and our strategic needs; (2) ensures that adequate training is an essential part of the program; and (3) expands joint exercise requirements with the regional states.

—Until the fruits of such an effort in enhancing indigenous capabilities are realized, contingency planning for US assumption of some or part of the indigenous tasks needs to be considered.

Allied Cooperation. (S) Considerable efforts have been made to get our NATO allies and Japan to shoulder more European and Northeast Asian regional defense responsibilities while the US accepts the major burden for defense in the Persian Gulf. Presentations by US officials have emphasized the Persian Gulf threat to NATO interests, likely US responses, force implications for NATO of a new theater and the need for Allies to contribute to this effort. (The recent British and French support on the Strait of Hormuz patrol were good signs, but the allied backsliding on the 3% commitment has been a bad omen.) We underscored, with varying degrees of success, the requirement that they meet a 3% budget commitment, implement the Long Term Defense Plan, and accelerate other shorter term programs. We should continue to press the Allies in these areas. We should continue to explore the feasibility of a coordinated, US-led defense strategy, with limited Allied force contributions, to deal with future Persian Gulf contingencies.

B. Foreign Policy Component

Better Relations with Oman, Kenya and Somalia. (S)

—In order to be better prepared to respond to contingencies and demonstrate our seriousness to Oman and other regional states, we should continue efforts to expedite construction at Masirah and on the Musandam Peninsula.

—We must work hard to overcome Kenyan fears of our improving relations with Somalia. This should include keeping the Kenyans well informed so that their fears do not become divorced from realities.

—Funding is available to support most military construction plans in Somalia (i.e., improvements for airfield and seaport facilities at Berbera). Our security assistance program remains constrained, however, by Congressional requirements for guarantees concerning Somali activities in the Ogaden region. The latter requires early resolution in 1981.

C. Economic Component

Security Assistance. (S) We need to continue to pursue vigorously our new initiatives to link increased security assistance with enhancing [Page 318] regional states’ ability to assist US forces during a deployment. For this reason, security assistance budget decisions for FY82 should take into account our overall security framework.

Oil. (S) On this subject your memorandum appears to be too sanguine. The oil outlook remains uncertain. Only reduced Western demand (in part owing to low economic growth) has prevented the Iran-Iraq war from dramatically tightening the international oil market. Large consumers such as Japan have so far shown great restraint in not entering the spot market, but spot prices have ballooned to $40 a barrel in some instances. Supplies remain very susceptible to cutbacks by several producers, attacks on Gulf facilities, an attempt to close the Strait, production problems or cutbacks elsewhere (Libya is in a good position to squeeze the West), the collapse of Western restraint, more troubles sustaining high Saudi production rates, or any combination of the above. Even a continuation of the Iran-Iraq war into next year at a level that prevents their oil exports from rising above their present low level would presage a major escalation in fuel prices next year.

D. [1 section (2 paragraphs) not declassified]


A. Military Component

Budget Issues. (S) “Addressing the budgetary implications of the third strategic zone” will not only require a large commitment of resources to mobility and sustainability programs, but will also involve considerably more SWA-specific spending in such areas as military construction, pre-positioning, additional C3I, and special equipment relating to local fuel, water and logistic needs. This is important given our long-term intention to support an expanded RDF of at least six divisions. Meeting these requirements will necessitate several billion dollars in FY81 amendment or supplemental legislation, as well as an even greater sustained annual commitment of resources over FYDP 82–86.

Security Assistance. (S) In addition, US security assistance levels for regional countries for FY82 should grow some $1.8B over initial projections, or to approximately $5.5B for FY82. Among other things, we want countries in the area to develop sufficient local air defense capabilities so as to protect RDF facilities and reduce the air defense requirement on deploying US forces.

Facilities Access. (S) It is strategically imperative that we achieve assured access to improve Saudi, Turkish and Egyptian facilities in particular on a far broader basis than at present.

Strategic Mobility. (S) Added fast air and sealift is equally indispensable to our deterrent strategy.

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Host Nation Support. (S) We must seek expanded HNS from key area states, including provision of POL and potable water as well as logistic support.

B. Foreign Policy Component

Post-hostage Iran. (S) We should begin now to review our overall policy toward Iran for when the hostages are released. In doing so, we must recognize that we will be making decisions during the hostage negotiations that will set limits on our relations with Iran and will also affect directly our relations with key Gulf states (and with Saudi Arabia and Iraq, in particular) and, indirectly, how we are perceived throughout the world. Iran probably will still not be at all easy to deal with after the hostages are released. Our review must therefore be based on a very complex set of calculations and may very well take place in a vacuum of non-reciprocation from Iran. Accordingly, we may not want to change much if Iran is not willing to reciprocate.

Iran-Iraq War. (S) The military and political lessons of the Iran-Iraq conflict are valuable inputs to the development of US military strategy for the PG/SWA region. We have undertaken a review of the events of the war in order to discern these implications and to verify or revise earlier assumptions which led to the formulation of the current strategy.

C. Economic Component

Saudi Regional Assistance. (S) We expect much of the Saudis in many areas—oil price and production levels, various aspects of security cooperation, restrained position on the Iran-Iraq and Arab-Israeli conflicts and oil revenue recycling to name a few. Each of these issues is favored and pressed strongly by a particular USG agency. We should take care that these issues, as well as others such as Saudi assistance to regional states, are addressed within a coordinated framework of USG priorities for our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Oil. (S) We should increase the priority of oil production facility security as a military objective in the context of RDJTF and other military planning in Southwest Asia. This may entail some adjustment of force capabilities to ensure that the unique problems of securing oil facilities—including anti-terrorist measures, damage control and emergency repairs—can be dealt with.

D. [1 section, 2 paragraphs (7 lines) not declassified]

(U) Looking back, I think we have accomplished a great deal over the past year. This said, you, more than anyone, realize how much more there is to be done. Anything we can do before 20 January (or [Page 320] afterwards for that matter) that would be of assistance in providing for a smooth transition and continued momentum in this area should be encouraged.

Harold Brown
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Defense/Security, Shoemaker, Box 123, Persian Gulf Security Framework: 11–12/80. Secret.
  2. See Document 93.
  3. Scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XI, Iran: Hostage Crisis, November 1979–January 1981.
  4. See Document 55.
  5. See footnote 2, Document 92.