286. Summary of Conclusions of a Policy Review Committee Meeting1


  • Management of Arms Transfers


  • State

    • Secretary Cyrus Vance
    • Lucy Benson, Under Secretary for Security Assistance
    • Leslie Gelb, Director, Office of Politico-Military Affairs
  • Defense

    • David E. McGiffert, Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs
    • Lynn Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Policy Plans and NSC Affairs
  • JCS

    • General George Brown
    • Lt. General William Smith
  • CIA

    • Sayre Stevens, Deputy Director, National Foreign Assessment Center
    • Dickson Davis, NIO S/S
  • OMB

    • James McIntyre
    • Edward Sanders, Deputy Associate Director International Affairs Division
  • ACDA

    • Spurgeon Keeny
    • Barry Blechman, Assistant Director, Weapons Evaluation and Control
  • White House

    • Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • Jessica Tuchman, NSC
    • Leslie G. Denend, NSC

The PRC met to review the FY 1978 conventional arms sales program. The following issues and conclusions were raised.


There was agreement that the remaining two letters of offer totaling less than $300 million will be signed up during FY 1978.

2. Planned Reduction

It was agreed that options would be presented to the President on the appropriate size of the planned reduction in sales during FY 1978. There are three options:

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Option 1. A five percent reduction during this year recognizing the importance of achieving and even exceeding the target for the year.

Option 2. An eight percent reduction this year to ensure the credibility of our policy of restraint.

Option 3. At least a five percent reduction this year with the additional commitment to at least a ten percent reduction by the end of two years to establish a downward trend over a longer period and facilitate planning.

3. Ceiling Management

There was agreement on the procedures to be used in managing the ceiling. The sale of aircraft to the Middle East is likely to account for a large portion of the ceiling dollars available for new sales commitments this year. The attached listing2 presents other major requests—excluding the Middle East package—and will be forwarded to the President for his approval as the FY 1978 plan, as part of a flexible predictive approach to managing the ceiling. There will be a monthly review of the plan to measure progress against the ceiling, incorporate new information and recommend additional cases. The normal clearance process during which arms control, human rights, and economic impacts are assessed before forwarding the request for the President’s approval will be preserved. For large cases or when there is disagreement on a particular case, it may be necessary to convene the PRC before the case goes to the President.

4. Congressional and Press Strategy

There was broad agreement that a substantial education program must be carried out with the Congress and the press. State will prepare a plan by next Tuesday3 which will identify the members of Congress whom we must contact and develop a strategy for the Press. State will also contact the Chairmen of the HIRC and the SFRC in an effort to head off requests for Administration working papers which might contain lists of possible sales, citing the problems of the list becoming public and of falsely generating expectations.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 24, Meetings: Policy Review Committee Meetings (PRC), PRC 51: 1/26/78. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. Not attached.
  3. January 31.