PPS files, lot 64 D 563, “Natl Sec (civil defense)”

Memorandum of Conversation, by Carlton Savage of the Policy Planning Staff1

top secret
  • Subject:
  • “Counterchange”
  • Participants:
  • State Dept.
  • Mr. NoltingG
  • Mr. ArnesonS/AE
  • Mr. SavageS/P
  • Dept. of Defense
  • Major LombardoUSAF

Major Lombardo handed us the final report of the 1952 Summer Study Group dealing with continental defense and, more particularly, [Page 235] with distant early warning system.2 This report calls for a line of radar stations in the far North to give distant early warning of the approach of enemy aircraft. Major Lombardo said that this proposal has been severely criticized by the Rand Corporation and is not acceptable to the Army, Navy and Air Force. These three Departments favor the establishment of an early warning line at approximately the 60th Parallel. They are against the line further north, proposed by the Summer Study Group, for three reasons:

(1) There would be several gaps in the line which could not be closed; (2) This line would be too susceptible to “spoofing”; (3) It would not be possible to back up the line with fighter aircraft.

Major Lombardo explained that the line of the 60th Parallel would not be subject to these disadvantages. Furthermore, he said, the Canadians would cooperate in the establishment of this line, whereas they would not in establishing the far North line, and obviously their cooperation is indispensable.

Major Lombardo said, in answer to a question, that the Air Force believes it would be possible thus to carry out the terms of the Policy Statement of December 31, 1952.3 The line along Parallel 60 would provide 3½ to 4 hours warning and could be completed by December 13, 1955, the target date set in the Statement of Policy.

He said that the next moves in this project, “Counterchange”, will be: (1) construction of two stations on Canadian soil as soon as permission is given, which we understand will be very soon; (2) the Air Force will study the report of the Kelly Committee which is due at the end of this month; (3) we must agree with the Canadians on the precise location of the line expected to be in the general region of the 60th Parallel.4

  1. The source text indicates that Savage drafted this memorandum on Feb. 13, and that copies were sent to Nolting, Arneson, and Lombardo.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The Policy Statement of Dec. 31, 1952 was issued as NSC 139; it is scheduled for publication in volume vi.
  4. In an unaddressed memorandum dated Feb. 17, Savage wrote that at that time “Probably 65–85 per cent of the atomic bombs launched by the Soviet Union could be delivered on target in the United States,” and he added that the national civil defense “is estimated to be only ten to fifteen per cent effective at the present time, and a continuation of present programs will no more than double this effectiveness by the end of 1954.” In order to achieve adequate continental defense, new programs involving investments for additional fighter interceptors, anti-aircraft artillery, guided missiles, hunter-killer naval anti-submarine groups, small radar installations for low altitude coverage, radar picket ships, and the like would be needed. A copy of this memorandum is in PPS files, lot 64 D 563, “Natl Sec (civil defense)”.