83. Memorandum From Robert Oakley of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1


  • Military Assistance for Morocco

The following is a review of where we stand on military supplies for Morocco, both the on-going program and urgent requests submitted in connection with the Spanish Saharan dispute.

Since the Secretary’s 1973 visit to Morocco, the King has wanted us to move expeditiously on the modernization of two brigades. The major items included tanks, APC’s CHAPARRALS, TOW’s, VUL-CANS and 155 mm howitzers. DOD launched a comprehensive Army review of all Moroccan requests and this resulted in improved lead-times for several major items (notably 26 M48A5 tanks, APC’s and TOW launchers).

On January 8, in the context of the increasingly heated Spanish Saharan problem, King Hassan made a major pitch to Ambassador Neumann for the expediting of US arms deliveries and particularly for one squadron of the older F–5A/B’s as soon as possible, presumably in addition to the F–5E/F’s which the Moroccans hoped would move quickly. [The LOA has gone to Congress but deliveries cannot be made until late 1977.] Shortly thereafter the Moroccans sent special emissaries to Tehran and Amman (following the suggestion made to the Moroccan Ambassador here by Mr. Clements) urging they immediately provide Morocco with all or any of the following: TOW’s, REDEYES, 109A2 Howitzers, 106 mm guns, 7.62 (Nato) rounds, shells for 155 mm guns, 25 F–5 aircraft. The Secretary also met with Hassan’s special emissary, Lamrani, who redoubled the pitch for US arms support.

US Response: The Secretary was sent two action memoranda, prepared by NEA and PM in close collaboration with ISA, with options on what might be done in response to requests for further acceleration of direct US deliveries and for transfer from Iran and Jordan. Apart from restraints imposed by the need to protect our own inventories, the main foreign policy point was made that we want, on the one hand, to be [Page 219] supportive of Morocco, but, on the other, to avoid such a high level of aid that it would lead to internationalization and escalation of the dispute. On the basis of those arguments, the Secretary made the following decisions:

Third Party Transfer from Iran and Jordan—See Cable at Tab I


—Transfer to Morocco from Jordan of 36 106 mm recoilless rifles. (Jordan would provide as a “gift”)

—Transfer to Morocco from Iran of 16 155 mm howitzers and ammunition through Jordan. [Iran requested that Jordan be the middleman so that Iran would not act directly in an “Arab” dispute.]

—Approval in principle of the transfer of F–5A’s but inquire of Jordan about the practical problems involved.

—Tell the Iranians we will be sympathetic to replacing the transferred equipment and will study the matter; tell Jordan and Iran we are continuing to urgently consider the remainder of the Moroccan requests.

Disapproved—Transfer of REDEYES

Our posts were advised of the difficulties of the US providing equipment directly but of our willingness to see Iran and Jordan be helpful. In the latter respect, the posts were advised that the USG had no funds to absorb the added costs of replacement equipment; Congressional notification and other bureaucratic procedures involving transfers take time and the parties should also understand the transfer approval will become public.

The initial reaction by Morocco, Jordan and Iran to our response was positive. Subsequently, problems have arisen in the transfer of the aircraft. [Jordan planned to transfer 25 F–5A’s given it by Iran to meet the Moroccan requirement.] Rifai has insisted that Morocco replace the aging F–5A’s (used, worth $200,000 each) with the new F–5E’s planned for Morocco (worth $3 million each) for which we have sent LOA’s to Congress. However, the Moroccans have balked at this and the Jordanian Air Force Commander is threatening to resign because of the gap which would be created by transfer of the F–5A’s without immediate replacement. Rifai has therefore told us this week not to make any moves to inform the Hill of an impending transfer while he works on the Moroccans. We have told the interested posts that there are no F–5A’s available in our inventory.

Accelerated Delivery of US Equipment to Morocco—See Cable at Tab II (Approved by DOD)


—That we not ask DOD for further withdrawals from US forces.

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—APC’s—No objection if GOM wants to approach GOJ for some of Jordan’s current production (since Morocco did not include APC’s in the list given Jordan). [We will not ask Jordan directly nor will we study the possibility of diverting part of the Israeli PAC production to Morocco.]

—CHAPARRAL—No further acceleration will be considered since Morocco has rejected our offer of 13 rebuilt units.

TOW—No further acceleration since no trained Moroccan military personnel will be available to operate TOW until its regularly scheduled delivery date. [Also, Iran has indicated a possible willingness to provide TOW’s.]

—VULCAN—No further acceleration (which would affect US inventories) since Moroccans will not have personnel trained.

—106 mm recoilless rifles and 10 more in March—inform Moroccans of immediate availability. (Per page 2 of this memo we have also agreed, subject to Congressional notification, to the transfer of 16 howitzers and 36 recoilless from Iran and Jordan respectively)

[—Following review of the aircraft problem, apart from LOA’s going to the Hill on the F–5E/F’s, Moroccans were informed February 25 that there are no available F–5A’s in the US inventory.]

A brief chronology of the Moroccan arms requests dialogue is at Tab III. Further, the Secretary has decided to postpone the planned February 27–March 1 visit of the first nuclear powered warship to stop in Morocco (a move only recently approved by the King) because of the sensitivities of the Spanish Sahara situation. The telegram at Tab IV sums up the political sensitivities that the Secretary has taken into consideration in the various arms decisions.

Possibilities for Acceleration

If the Jordanian F–5 deal falls through we see little chance for stepped-up deliveries of fighter aircraft to Morocco without diversion of equipment from US stocks. In this regard, the Air Force has 21 recovered F–5E’s, some of which conceivably could be loaned or given (Jordan has no funds) to Jordan immediately for twice the number of F–5A’s to be delivered to Morocco. We doubt this would be acceptable to Defense and it has not been discussed with DOD.

Other help is more feasible. There are currently enroute to Iran 12 155 SP howitzers which could be diverted to Morocco and arrive within a week. We have suggested this to the Iranians, but have received no response. We could renew this initiative with increased urgency. In addition, we understand that 28 M48A5 tanks which the Moroccans have purchased will be ready for shipment next week. It may be as much as 60 days, however, before they can be shipped in American bottoms, as [Page 221] the law requires. Waiving this requirement could reduce the time necessary to have these tanks in Moroccan hands to a few weeks.

State Defense Coordination

At the ISANEAPM level, cooperation in Washington has been good, so far as can be determined by talking to them and looking at the clearances on the memos and cables produced by State. There has apparently been a problem with military commands in the field, notably CINCEUR, who have complained about not being keep informed. It may be that our military responsible for Iran and Jordan (like the Jordanian Air Force), are not keen on seeing equipment transferred to Morocco at the expense of the military establishments they are assisting. Or it may simply be that military commands are naturally dubious when civilians redistribute equipment and appear not to understand the complications involved (which in this deal have been many). However, State has been pretty good (with ISA help) in pointing out to our Embassies the sorts of logistics and shipping problems they will face. Unless we are prepared to take over the operation and use our own resources, (creating a problem of political visibility) there is really not much more we can do.

We do not recommend any further action to accelerate deliveries, at least pending the results of the parallel missions to the area of Roy Atherton (on a fact-finding, hand-holding visit to Rabat and Algiers for the Secretary) and Arab League Secretary General Riad (on a full-scale mediation mission with Arab backing). Also, the CIA is doing a special estimate for us on the broader implications of the Spanish Sahara dispute, particularly with respect to possible broadening of the confrontation to include other Arab states and eventually the US and the USSR. This will be ready by March 1.

  1. Summary: Oakley provided a review of the U.S. response to Morocco’s continuing requests for military supplies.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Africa, Box 4, Morocco (3). Secret; Exdis. Concurred in by Clint Granger. Tabs I through IV were not attached. All brackets are in the original.