106. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Brown to President Carter 1


  • US-Turkish Defense Cooperation Agreement

The Joint Chiefs of Staff and I are persuaded that Congressional approval of the proposed Defense Cooperation Agreement with Turkey is becoming more and more important. The military situation on the Southern Flank of NATO is one which offers little comfort. In the case of Turkey, however, the matter is one which we have some power to affect positively or negatively through our handling of the DCA. We are running a substantial risk that the longer the DCA is delayed the more likely become Turkish actions which as a practical matter will nullify their participation in the Alliance.

You may recall that last August I showed to you the attached letter from the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee which rather poignantly describes the situation in the Turkish Armed Forces.2 At the [Page 334] NATO Defense Planning Committee meeting in Brussels in early December, several speakers, most prominently the German Minister of Defense, cited this situation as one of serious concern to the Alliance. They are pained by the way we are treating an ally. They are irked because we appear to be acting at the bidding of Greece.

As to the Greeks, it is plain to me that they are holding off signing their DCA for the purpose of preventing us, they hope, from moving forward on the Turkish DCA. We cannot force them to sign. But we should not let them control our relations with Turkey in so crude a manner.

If you decide to ask the Congress to approve the DCA, I will strongly support favorable action. The Joint Chiefs assure me that they too will actively back the DCA in the Congress. I know that General Haig will also lend his support.3

Harold Brown
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 75, Turkey: 1–7/78. Secret.
  2. Not attached, but a copy is in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 50, Turkey: 1978. The letter, dated July 25, 1977, is from General H.F. Zeiner Gundersen to General George S. Brown, Chairman, JCS. Gundersen wrote that on a recent review of the Turkish military situation, he marveled at the discipline and fitness of the troops, given the “antiquity” of their equipment, much of which dated to the 1940s. Gundersen reported on the frustration felt by Turkish military leaders due to the disparity between their defense burden as a Cold War front-line army and the poor status of their equipment. The swift passage of the DCA, he believed, “will end what is seen by [the Turks] as the discrimination of one member against another who is doing the best it can against the Warsaw Pact.”
  3. Vance submitted a memorandum to Carter in support of Brown’s memorandum. In his February 1 memorandum, Vance assured Carter of Ecevit’s determination to resolve the disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 75, Turkey: 1–7/78)