174. Letter From Secretary of Defense Brown to Secretary of State Vance 1

Dear Cy,

As you know, during his recent visit to Brazil the President and President Geisel agreed on the desirability of improvement of bilateral military cooperation.2

I believe we should move promptly to follow up on this agreement, capitalizing on the very productive atmosphere created by the President’s trip. Specifically, I think our Departments should jointly consider and formulate proposals which our new Ambassador3 can be authorized to discuss with the appropriate Brazilian authorities shortly after his arrival in country.

The Brazilians are interested in cooperating in areas involving reciprocal benefit, a proposition in which we totally concur. In thinking about such areas, a few possibilities come readily to mind:

—Intensification of personnel exchange programs covering all Services and a wide range of professional skills and specialties;

[Page 541]

—Institution of a high level Brazil-US Lecture Exchange Series (senior Service and War College level);

—Encouragement of visits to the US by top level Brazilian military authorities under JCS and Military Department annual VIP programs (we would, of course, be prepared to reciprocate if invited);

—Consideration of the execution of memoranda of understanding between counterpart Services (and agencies like the Defense Mapping Agency) which would facilitate exchanges of ideas and information and participation in training, education, joint exercises and activities in both countries;

—Consultation at the JCS/Brazilian Armed Forces General Staff level on matters relating to hemispheric security interests.

Additionally, I think we should begin to consider an appropriate organizational framework completely different from the past. Within this framework our cooperative efforts could be discussed, and joint programs formulated and coordinated. Again, several possibilities involving senior military and diplomatic officials suggest themselves:

—An arrangement similar to that we have with Canada, i.e., a binational Defense Board consisting of diplomatic, political and military representatives to meet periodically for study and discussion of common security problems, with a subordinate Military Cooperation Committee composed of military officers responsible for planning.

—A more loosely structured relationship, perhaps folded in under the 1976 Memorandum of Understanding, which would involve periodic high level consultations on defense matters.

At this point in time I do not believe that we should regard any of these approaches as definitive or all-inclusive. Moreover, since greater equality is one of Brazil’s principal aims in putting her military relationship with us on a new footing, I believe we should be as receptive and responsive as we can to any suggestions the Brazilians may have to offer.

As an opening move, I suggest we act promptly to approve the commercial exports of those items on the Munitions List which have been pending for some time now.4 Delay only adds an unnecessary irritant into our relationship at this juncture and tends to undercut the President’s successful Brazilian visit.


Harold 5
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Deputy Secretary: Records of Warren Christopher, 1977–1980, Lot 81D113, Box 25, Brazil. Confidential. Vance’s response, printed as Document 176, indicated that the letter was dated April 25.
  2. See Documents 172 and 173.
  3. Robert M. Sayre.
  4. Christopher approved a recommendation to authorize the issuance of licenses for these items on April 25. See the memorandum from Gelb to Christopher, March 7, and attachments. (National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Deputy Secretary: Records of Warren Christopher, 1977–1980, Lot 81D113, Box 25, Brazil)
  5. Brown wrote “Harold.”