Policy Planning Staff Files

Memorandum by the National Security Resources Board

top secret

Comments on NSC/68 Programs

Attached is a tabulated tentative list of programs and estimates which represent a first approximation of what would be needed to implement NSC/68, together with comment thereon.

NSRB material is submitted for consideration of the NSC Subcommittee on Programs. It is not complete because programs and estimates have not yet been submitted by all departments and agencies concerned.

Comment on the programs as a whole and on those programs for which the NSRB has primary responsibility is suggested for inclusion in the Subcommittee report to the Ad Hoc Committee.

Fiscal Year

(Figures in millions of dollars)

1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957
State Information 50 190 180 240 200 210
ECA, MDAP 5,760 5,400 6,900 7,100 5,500 4,700
Defense 13,700
Civil Defense 0 470 1,799 2,663 3,608 2,908 1,076 2,130
Strategic Stockpiling:
Expenditure 600 1,000 1,500 1,500 500
(Obligation) (700) (2,500) (2,000) (0) (0)

program as a whole

Based on Ad Hoc Committee and Subcommittee discussions to date, and on the contents and conclusions of the basic paper itself, NSRB believes that the program implied by NSC/68 should be one that:

For planning purposes accepts the premise that by some critical date, presumably mid-1954 at the latest, the Soviet will be able to strike the United States a lethal atomic blow;

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Assumes at least a possibility that the Soviet will strike that blow at or after that critical date;

Carefully calculates the economic and psychological risks, domestically and internationally, of overtly mobilizing toward such a critical date. And then, following a program tailored to these calculations,

Marshals this country’s resources to a degree which might insure its survival on the assumed critical date and for at least three years of shooting war thereafter. This to be attempted through a government-wide, organized program which

Integrates and aggressively prosecutes the so-called “cold war” elements with the objective that a shooting war by the critical date might be averted, or if not averted, at least minimized in its effect upon the security of this country.

While there is general agreement among all Ad Hoc Committee agencies concerned as to the need for an over-all organization and prosecution of the “cold war” elements concurrent with a military build-up sufficient to deter Soviet attack upon this country, there is not general agreement as to whether the possibility of Soviet attack by 1954 or any earlier or later date exists.

The disagreement as to whether the Soviets can or will eventually attack the United States seems to be based upon the following elements:

A disagreement as to whether or not this country can, concurrent with its cold war program, build a sufficient anti-aircraft, antisubmarine, and anti-sabotage defense between now and any foreseeable critical date, sufficient to defer that date;

A variety of interpretations of available intelligence as to what Soviet Russia has and might have by 1954 or earlier in the way of atomic striking force;

A difference of opinion as to whether or not Soviet Russia would use such a striking force if and when it gets it.

The NSRB, basing its opinions on the best available facts, concludes that:

There is an obvious possibility that Soviet Russia will have and intends to use the atomic strength to attack this country by 1954 or earlier.

The United States cannot, during the next two years, more than slightly defend itself against any air, sea or sabotage attack upon itself.

That the United States cannot erect, even by 1954 or later, a defense that would be more than 50% effective against air, sea, or sabotage attack, regardless of the money, materials and manpower devoted to its construction.

And that the best, though by no means certain defense against Soviet atomic attack lies in a combination of the maximum military and civil defense obtainable, plus a retaliatory bombing force sufficient to impress the Soviets with the fact that a lethal atomic attack upon the United States means a lethal atomic attack on Soviet Russia.

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Based on these conclusions the NSRB does not concur with the “Calculated risk” some agencies of the government are willing to take that the Soviet will not attack us by 1954 or earlier. If risk is implied one way or the other, the NSRB prefers to risk in the direction of overt and organized planning to defend the United States as best it can be defended between now and 1954 rather than risk millions of lives and this country’s survival on the chance the Soviet cannot or will not attack the United States in the next few years.

The NSRB believes, therefore, that the basic issue to be decided before NSC/68 can be further interpreted and implemented in any organized way as to programs and costs is:

Are we or are we not faced with the possibility of Soviet attack on this country, and if so, in what form might the attack come, and what is the earliest date by which it might be of lethal impact?

civil defense

The Civil Defense program implied by NSC/68 is submitted with the qualification that it is for Ad Hoc Committee planning purposes only.

The NSRB emphasizes that, no program for mobilization being available from the Defense Department, this tentative civil defense program is based largely on NSRB’s own informal assumptions of criteria it must eventually receive from the Defense Department.

These informal assumptions are as follows:

By mid-1954, at the latest, the USSR will have the capability of striking a lethal atomic blow at the United States.

There is a strong possibility that the USSR will strike that blow.

Such an atomic blow would come with as much surprise as possible and would be on the order of——1 atomic or hydrogen bombs in mid-1954; –––— more bombs by the end of 1954; ––––– bombs during 1955; and –––––– bombs during 1956.

The original attack would be ⅓ against the United States’ retaliatory force of strategic bombers, and ⅔ against vital or psychological targets within the United States.

The attack might come by air or sea, or both—and would be accompanied or preceded by sabotage.

The military service will need 16,000,000 men and women between the ages of 18 and 43 inclusive.

All other men, women and children, will be applicable to the civil defense program in either permanent or volunteer capacities.

Based on these assumptions, the civil defense program will build as thoroughly as time, money, and public education within security limits will allow, toward meeting an atomic emergency in mid-1954 and for at least three years of war thereafter.

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strategic stockpiling

The NSRB program for strategic stockpiling is based on the following assumptions:

The USSR will have by mid-1954, at the latest, the capability of striking the United States a lethal atomic blow.

There is a strong possibility the USSR will strike that blow.

Minimum stockpile objectives must be physically on hand within continental U.S. by mid-1954.

All stockpile objectives have been under review by the Munitions Board since May 1949 at the request of the NSRB. In the light of the work so far completed, it appears that revised stockpile objectives will be equivalent to about $6 billion when all are finally reviewed. This $6 billion figure includes larger stockpiles of copper and aluminum than the presently established interim purchase targets for these two major metals.

Minimum stockpile objectives provide for only the probable loss of foreign sources of raw materials and will supply only about ⅓ of U.S. requirements for strategic and critical materials in a 5-year war period. An additional ⅓ will come from imports from accessible foreign sources, and the final ⅓ is expected to come from domestic production in war.

Continued functioning of the national economy at a high level will result in high demands for large quantities of strategic and critical materials in the pre-war period, a substantial part of which will normally be directed to non-essential and frivolous uses.

At the present time the NSRB and the Bureau of the Budget are preparing for the President, as a result of his request in January 1950, a review of the entire stockpile program. This review covers supply and requirements estimates, strategic assumptions, present status of each material in terms of requirements, and procurement and storage activities. When this review is completed, it will add significantly to present knowledge of the stockpile program and its relationship to military and civilian requirements and strategic plans. It will provide a proper basis for estimating future budgetary requirements and the estimate of $6 billion referred to in this discussion will be subject to revision.

Current Stockpile Programs as of December 31, 1949:

Materials on hand in stockpile $1.2 billion
Materials scheduled for delivery in Fiscal Year 1950 0.4
Materials scheduled for delivery after Fiscal Year 1950 0.5
Budget request for Fiscal Year 1951 0.5
Unfinanced beyond Fiscal Year 1951 Budget request 1.2
Total value of Stockpile Objectives $3.8 billion
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Stockpile Objectives:

Present stockpile objectives represent materials equivalent to about $3.8 billion. Stockpile objectives were originally fixed in 1944 when world conditions were much different from today, and they are being revised at the present for the first time.

The review of stockpile objectives is almost complete at the present time, but revised objectives for two of the most important materials—aluminum and copper—are being held up until the results of the next feasibility test are known. Aluminum and copper requirements originally submitted by the Services in 1949 were so large that they were found, by the NSRB, to be infeasible, and of such magnitude as to call for a careful review of strategic plans.

Stockpile objectives established are minimum objectives when considered from the viewpoint of national security, for stockpile objectives are intended to cover only the loss of distant foreign sources of strategic and critical materials in a war of 5 years’ duration.

The U.S. would still be dependent in war upon accessible foreign sources for ⅓ of its total requirements for strategic and critical materials even after minimum stockpile objectives are achieved. These imports would require critical shipping, manpower and military protection.

In addition, the U.S. would be dependent in war upon domestic production for an additional ⅓ of its requirements—and, without adequate labor, equipment, and supplies, domestic production of many materials at the anticipated levels is probably unobtainable. The current review of stockpile objectives indicates that the level when revised will probably be about $6 billion, as detailed in the attached Table I.

Use of Funds:

$4.5 billion in new obligational authority are recommended, although the need for only $3.9 billion is indicated by comparing the total revised objective of $6.0 billion to the $2.1 billion of materials on hand or scheduled for delivery. The extra $0.6 billion are intended to cover unexpected price rises and the unavoidable tying-up of funds in contracts that may be in default.

recommended action

The acquisition of minimum stockpiles by mid-1954 will require appropriation of the following new obligational authority (i.e., cash for new purchases plus contract authority), in addition to authorizations that have already been enacted:

Fiscal Year 1951… $2.5 billion (of which 0.5 billion is included in the President’s 1951 budget request)

Fiscal Year 1952… $2.0 billion

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These funds will be obligated and expended in accordance with the following schedule:

FY’51 FY’52 FY’53 FY’54
(billions of dollars)
Obligation 2.5 2.0
Expenditure 1.0 1.5 1.5 0.5

In addition, several materials that are currently being consumed in large amounts cannot be stockpiled in sufficient quantity unless there is authority to make voluntary conservation agreements with consuming industries, or to initiate use controls if voluntary agreements are found impracticable.

Table I

May 29, 1950

Stockpile Objectives for $6 Billion Program

(All objectives are those agreed to by the Interdepartmental Stockpile Committee as of May 22, 1950, excepting aluminum and copper)

Item Stockpile Objective On hand in stockpile 3/31/50
(billion dollars) (thousands) (thousands)
Aluminum 1.0 est. 3,000 ST est. 40 ST
Bauxite, met. gr. 0.1 3,250 LT 2,116 LT
Chromite, met. gr. 0.1 3,200 LT 1,399 LT
Cobalt 0.1 37 ST 6 ST
Copper 1.2 est. 3,000 ST est. 357 ST
Diamonds 0.2 61,000 Carats 11,765 Carats
Lead 0.1 400 ST 295 ST
Manganese, met. gr. 0.2 5,000 LT 1,703 LT
Nickel 0.2 300 ST 37 ST
Rubber, natural 0.7 1,040 LT 449 LT
Tin 0.5 285 LT 87 LT
Tungsten 0.2 57 ST 18 ST
Zinc 0.4 1,500 ST 473 ST
55 other items 1.0 est.
Total 6.0 est.
  1. The blanks in this paragraph appear in the source text.