182. Draft National Security Council Directive1

NSC 5423


Pursuant to authorization of the President there is hereby directed the preparation of a report assessing the net capabilities of the USSR, in the event of general war, to inflict direct injury upon the continental United States and key U.S. installations overseas. This net capabilities report will cover the period through July 1, 1957 and should be submitted to the Council on or before November 1, 1954. It will cover all types of attack, direct or clandestine, and will deal primarily with the initial phases of war, i.e., the period during which all or most of the Soviet stockpile of nuclear weapons might be expended. It will [Page 506] include consideration of the several courses of action which the USSR is capable of executing and in support of which the Soviet nuclear weapons stockpile might be expended. In determining the net effect of an attack, the report will take into account the mid-1957 status of presently approved defense programs.
In order to carry out this directive, there is hereby established a Net Capabilities Evaluation Subcommittee of the NSC composed of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the following members for the specific purposes noted below:
The Chairman of the Interdepartmental Intelligence Conference and the Chairman of the Interdepartmental Committee on Internal Security for matters relating to internal security;
The Director, Office of Defense Mobilization, for matters relating to continuity of government, sufficiency and continuity of industry, and urban vulnerability;
The Federal Civil Defense Administrator for matters relating to civil defense;
The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, for matters relating to Atomic Energy Commission activities.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will serve as Chairman of the Net Capabilities Evaluation Subcommittee. The Subcommittee will have a temporary staff, composed of individuals assigned by the participating agencies and headed by a Director chosen by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of Central Intelligence. It is expected that members of this staff will be assigned to this project as their primary duty during the period of preparation of the net capabilities report.
The functions of the Net Capabilities Evaluation Subcommittee will include:
Responsibility for the security of the project during the period of preparation of the report.
General supervision of the project at all stages including:
Preparation of subsidiary terms of reference as a guide for preliminary reports on selected factors essential to the assessment, these preliminary reports to be contributed to the project by the various agencies concerned.
Preparation of planning or intelligence assumptions to be used as a basis for preliminary reports by the various agencies.
Review of preliminary reports contributed and issuance of requests for reconsideration or amplification.
Examination of data used in preparation of preliminary reports as necessary and provided that war plans and intelligence sources and methods are not unnecessarily disclosed.
Decisions concerning handling and distribution of preliminary reports and data contributed by the various agencies.
Preparation of intermediate working papers as required.
Preparation and submission of the final report for consideration by the NSC.
The National Security Council staff will furnish an Executive Secretary for the Subcommittee. The agencies participating in the work of the Subcommittee are hereby requested to furnish appropriate administrative services. All personnel participating in the work of the Subcommittee will have appropriate security clearances and will be instructed in whatever special security measures the Subcommittee adopts.
The Net Capabilities Evaluation Subcommittee hereby established is empowered under the terms of this directive to call on any agency of the government for relevant information, evaluations, and estimates, subject only to establishment of appropriate security arrangements and careful limitation of access to highly sensitive material so that there will not be any unnecessary disclosure of war plans or intelligence sources and methods.
Distribution of the final report of the Subcommittee will be determined by the President.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 273, NSC Policy Papers, NSC 5432, Box 32. Top Secret. The draft was circulated to the National Security Council under cover of a June 23 note from NSC Executive Secretary Lay. The draft was approved by the President on June 24. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, Annotated List of Individual NSC Papers) NSC 5423 superseded NSC 140. For documentation on the NSC 140 series, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. II, Part 1, pp. 205208, 328349, 355360, 368370, and ibid., Part 2, 11771178. For a CIA view of the evolution of Net Capabilities Estimates, See Document 189.