S/SNSC Files, Lot 63 D 351, NSC 68 Series

Memorandum for the National Security Council by the Executive Secretary (Lay)

top secret

Subject: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security

References: A. NSC 68 Series
B. NSC Action No. 487–a

The enclosed directive by the President to the National Security Council with respect to the review of the NSC 68 programs is transmitted herewith for information and appropriate action.

The enclosure is supplementary to the action of the National Security Council at its 93rd meeting,1 with the President presiding (NSC Action No. 487–a), when the Council directed the Senior NSC Staff to prepare, with the assistance of appropriate executive departments and agencies, the following reports for Council consideration:

A review of the status of the programs described in NSC 68/4, including an analysis of any difficulties which may be impeding or preventing their successful execution.
Recommendations regarding any revisions or modifications of the policies and programs contained in NSC 68/4.

Accordingly, the enclosed directive by the President is being referred to the Senior NSC Staff, with the assistance of representatives of appropriate executive departments and agencies, for the preparation [Page 102] of the two reports referred to therein, the first due about August 1, and the second, by October 1, 1951.

James S. Lay, Jr.

Directive by the President to the National Security Council

top secret

The Director of the Bureau of the Budget has presented to me the outlook for the fiscal year 1953. I have concluded that it is essential that the estimates for our military and foreign aid programs should be presented to the Congress as a part of the budget which will be submitted in January. In order to complete the budget by January, it will be necessary for the agencies concerned to begin work on their 1953 estimates at the earliest possible date. But before the work can proceed I shall need the immediate advice and recommendations of the Council to establish assumptions which can be used for the present as a basis for budgetary planning. Later on, I shall want concrete recommendations on which to base firm program decisions. These steps are set forth in greater detail below.

The Council now has under way a review of the NSC 68 programs consisting, first, of a report on the status of these programs and the difficulties they are encountering; and, second, a report containing recommendations for modifications of these programs.

In order to provide assumptions upon which budget planning can be initiated, it will be necessary that the first of these two reports, namely, the status of the present programs, be made available to me about August 1. To make this report most useful it should include tentative recommendations as to the desirability of reaffirming or modifying the approved target dates for readiness under the presently approved programs, without definitive consideration for the time being of the magnitude of these programs, in the light of the following factors:

doubt as to whether or not we can achieve the build-up of our military forces, particularly the Air Force and naval air arm, to approved levels with modern equipment by the target date of June 30, 1952;
serious question as to whether the MDAP program as previously planned for 1954 will actually be realized in sufficient time;
experience which to date indicates that there may be some slippage against production rates which may further delay these programs;
possibility of delay in the authorization of military public works with a resulting tendency to retard the achivement of our readiness objectives;
the possibility of an armistice in Korea which may adversely [Page 103] affect both congressional and public support for these programs unless steps are taken to forestall such possibilities;
the necessity of weighing all the above factors against the estimated status of the capabilities and intentions of the USSR and its satellities, particularly during the next 12 months.

In order that I may have the best possible basis for presentation of my program to the Congress in January, I will want to have the Council’s second report by October 1. This report should contain basic recommendations on which decisions can be made as to the nature, magnitude and timing of all government programs relating to the national security.

  1. June 6, 1951.