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


  • Managing the Arms Transfer Program in FY 1978

Because of the President’s commitment to curtail U.S. arms transfers in FY 1978 by reducing new agreements from the total in FY 1977, and in order to make those transfers which are in the national interest expeditiously and efficiently, the Secretary of State should coordinate the development of options for consideration by the PRC before January 31, 1978 on the management of the FY 1978 Arms Transfer Program. In preparation, the Secretary of State in close coordination with the Secretary of Defense should undertake the following steps on an urgent basis:

1. To assist in identifying existing commitments, prepare a summary of outstanding arms sales commitments from previous years including: Letters of Offer and Acceptance extended but not signed; proposed sales which have completed Congressional review; and proposed sales which are in advanced stages of processing within the Executive Branch.

2. To assist in forecasting FY 1978 support sales, prepare summary data relating to follow-on support sales made annually since FY 1973, including ammunition, logistics, and technical assistance.

3. To provide the information required to control future sales, develop a new management information system for arms transfers including at a minimum the following characteristics:

As near as possible to real-time recording of the dollar values of signed Letters of Offer; but in no case should the delay be longer than five days.

Priority tracking, manual if necessary, of large sales (in excess of $100 million).

The use of parametric statistical techniques to forecast aggregate totals of smaller sales establishing explicit confidence intervals.

The necessary precision to respond to monthly reporting requirements during the second half of each fiscal year with accuracies better than plus or minus five percent.

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The inclusion of scope changes to Letters of Offer as an explicit element of Executive Branch reporting on arms transfers. Henceforth, scope changes should be counted in the fiscal year in which they occur and be included in all estimates of arms transfer totals.

4. To allow a preliminary allocation of the dollars available under the ceiling, prepare options taking into account: Letters of Offer already extended; follow-on support sales; sales to which the United States has a political commitment; and, sales of high priority to recipient nations.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Department of State, RG 59, Office of the Deputy Secretary: Records of Warren Christopher, 1977–1980, Lot 81D113, Withdrawn Items, Box 7, Arms Transfers. Confidential.