S/SNSC files, lot 66 D 148, “Solarium”

Memorandum by the President to the Secretary of State

top secret
  • Subject:
  • Project Solarium

I have asked the Commandant of The National War College, Lieutenant General H. A. Craig, USAF, to organize and administer the above-mentioned highly classified and urgent project for the National Security Council. The carrying out of this project will require the temporary services of some few specially selected officers, possibly from your Department or Agency, and the furnishing of some administrative or secretarial personnel and services. The project, which will formally commence about June 10, 1953, should be completed in about six weeks.

This is to request that you cooperate with General Craig by providing to him on temporary duty such officers and other personnel as he may request and any services he may require. Travel, per diem and other expenses connected with his requests should be borne by your Department.

I wish to emphasize the urgency involved and to request that the needs be met as expeditiously as possible and by the provision of highest quality personnel and services.

The Acting Secretary of State, General Smith; the Director for Central Intelligence, Mr. Dulles; and the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Mr. Cutler; constitute a [Page 350]working committee of the National Security Council in connection with Project Solarium. At my request they are coordinating arrangements with General Craig.

Dwight D. Eisenhower


Part I—Personnel Recommendations for Task Forces1

Task Force “A”:

The exploration and presentation of Alternative “A”2 requires intimate understanding of the past policies and actions of the United States, the rest of the free world, and of the U.S.S.R., and broad gauge political, military, economic and psychological planning for the future.

The persons recommended to make up this Task Force are:


  • George F. Kennan (Retired Foreign Service, Political Planner and Russian Expert)3


  • Colonel G. A. Lincoln (USA, Military Planner and Economist)
  • Mr. Paul Nitze (State Department, Political Planner and Economist)
  • Rear Admiral H. P. Smith (USN, Military Planner and Expert on Foreign Military Matters)
  • Mr. C. Tyler Wood (MSA, Economist and Expert on Congressional Relations)


  • Lieutenant General C. P. Cabell (USAF, Military Planner and Intelligence Expert)
  • Mr. Dean Rusk (Rockefeller Foundation, Political and Military Planner and Economist)
  • Mr. Edward T. Dickinson (NSRB, Economist)
  • Mr. Joseph E. Johnson (Carnegie Endowment, Historian, Political Planner)

Task Force “B”:

The exploration of Alternative “B” requires an intimate knowledge of Communist reactions and methods; sound political and military [Page 351]judgement both regarding the Communist orbit and the free world; knowledge of United States military capabilities to wage general war, including the use of unconventional weapons; ability to evaluate the economic capability of the United States and the rest of the free world to support the alternative.

The personnel recommendations are:


  • Philip E. Mosely (Director of Russian Institute, Columbia University)


  • Major General John R. Deane (USA, Rtd., Military Planner and Russian Expert)
  • Mr. Douglas MacArthur, Jr. [II] (State Dept., Counselor)
  • Major General James McCormack (USAF, Military and Political Planner, Atomic and New Weapons Expert)
  • Mr. John Lindeman (MSA, Student, NWC, Economist with experience in foreign economics)


  • Mr. James K. Penfield (Foreign Service, Political Planner with experience in Far East, Soviet Orbit, U.K.)
  • Major General John B. Montgomery (USAF, Strategic Air Operations)
  • Dr. S. Douglas Cornell (Recently of R&DB, New Weapons Expert)

Task Force “C”:

The Task Force working on Alternative “C” should include imaginative military, political, psychological and subversive planning experience; profound experience on Soviet-Communist actions and reactions; knowledge of the military situation in Korea and Soviet Satellite areas; and ability to evaluate the economic resources required to follow such a course.

Recommended personnel are:


  • Mr. J. J. McCloy


  • Lieutenant General L. L. Lemnitzer (USA, Military Planner, Foreign Affairs Expert, recently returned from Korea)
  • Mr. G. Frederick Reinhardt (Foreign Service, Russian Expert, Political Advisor, SHAPE)
  • Mr. Frank G. Wisner (CIA)
  • Lieutenant Colonel A. J. Goodpaster, Jr. (USA, Brilliant Military Planner, extensive background in international affairs)
[Page 352]


  • Admiral R. L. Conolly (USN)
  • Mr. Edmund A. Gullion (Foreign Service, Policy Planning Staff, recently in Indo China)
  • Mr. Burke Knapp (International Bank, Economist NATO and South American experience)
  • Mr. Robert P. Joyce (Foreign Service, Policy Planning Staff, psychological and covert operations, Balkan experience)
  • Mr. Edward T. Dickinson (NSRB, Economist)

Part II—Organization4

The three separate Task Forces will be organized to work at The National War College. The Commandant of The National War College will provide the necessary administrative facilities and support. A small technical staff composed of Colonel C. H. Bonesteel as Executive, Colonel V. J. Esposito as Logistical Advisor and Colonel R. Hackett as Costing Advisor will assist the Commandant and the Task Forces. Mr. T. M. Koons, of the National Security Council Staff, aided by Chief Warrant Officer Leland W. Thompson, USA, will act as Executive Secretary. It may be found desirable to co-opt as a temporary member of the staff a senior officer of the Bureau of the Budget to provide budgetary advice to the Task Forces from time to time. Any of the faculty or students of The National War College will be available to assist if required.
Arrangements must be made to provide experts from the Executive Departments and Agencies for consultation with the Task Forces as required. These witnesses need not be informed of the project under way. They can be told they are being called upon in connection with a War College project.
Physical accommodations and most of the necessary equipment and supplies will be furnished by The National War College. Six expert, security cleared shorthand-typists will be required from other sources.
Visual aids for presentation purposes should be made up somewhere other than at the War College so as not to compromise the Cover Plan applying to the work of the Task Forces.
Authority will be needed to order required personnel to temporary duty at the War College and to obtain needed services. The source of funds required for travel expenses, per diem, etc., needs to be fixed.
[Page 353]

Part III—Method of Work and Timetable5

During the week ending 23 May, the Task Forces will be formed, initial briefing performed, intelligence and background data accumulated. A tentative briefing schedule might be as follows:
  • Thursday A.M., 21 May—N.S.C. Staff
  • Thursday P.M., 21 May—J.C.S.
  • Friday A.M., 22 May—Research and Development Board
  • Friday A.M., 22 May—Munitions Board
  • Friday P.M., 22 May—C.I.A.
  • Friday P.M., 22 May—State Department
(These might need to be scheduled later if many members of the Task Forces are required to travel some distance to get to Washington)
The week 24–30 May will be devoted to general exploration of each Alternative in the form it is expressed in the original Memo for the Record, dated 9 May. Task Forces will be available for consultation with the Directing Panel while the Panel is finalizing the terms of reference.
The two weeks 31 May–13 June will be devoted to the formulation of initial plans and presentations for each Alternative. These initial presentations will be made before the Directing Officers and the Panel on the week-end 13–14 June. The Panel will then make such criticisms and suggestions to the Task Forces as are required to assure that the finished presentations will be of the type and substance desired.
The ten days 15–24 June will be used to complete the plans and presentations in accordance with the critique of 13–14 June. Semi-final presentations will be given to the Panel on 24–25 June.
The Task Forces will be prepared to give their finished presentations to the President and the NSC any time after 28 June.
During the working periods there will be frequent plenary sessions at which all Task Forces can exchange ideas and be informed of the others work.
The Commandant of The National War College and the Technical Staff for the project will assist the Task Forces as required.

Part IV—Security Arrangements

The highest security will be maintained concerning the existence and object of the project.
As a Cover Plan it is suggested that the group working at the War College be explained by calling them a Board of Review on [Page 354]National Security Education, with the purported task of examining the present system.
Special identity passes will be issued to all persons working on the project and the area in which they work will be under special security guard.

Part V—Actions Required

Early approval as to the composition of the Task Forces.
Authority for the Commandant of The National War College to request orders be issued to bring government employed personnel of the Task Forces to temporary but full time duty at the War College. One means of handling this is to have the President sign a memorandum to certain Chiefs of Executive Departments and Agencies requesting them to provide personnel and services as requested. A draft of such a letter is attached.6
Provision of competent shorthand-typists. This would be effected by the Commandant of The National War College through use of the Presidential memorandum suggested in 2 above.
Arrangements for briefings of the Task Forces. Depending on when the Task Forces can be assembled, these can be arranged by the Commandant of the National War College under the authority of the Presidential memorandum.
Arrangements for obtaining intelligence and background material and, from time to time the services of expert advisors from Executive Departments. This can be handled as in 4 above.
Security clearance, administrative arrangements, compensation, etc., of persons not presently employed by the government who are asked to serve on the Task Forces. Recommend these be effected by the State Department.7
  1. A notation on the source text indicates that Part I was drafted on May 18.
  2. The Alternatives A, B, and C under reference in this document are those outlined in the paper prepared by Cutler, p. 324.
  3. Kennan subsequently discussed his participation in the Solarium exercise in his Memoirs, 1950–1963 (Boston, 1972), pp. 181–182.
  4. A notation on the source text indicates that Part II was drafted on May 18.
  5. A notation on the source text indicates that Part III was drafted on May 18.
  6. Not printed.
  7. In a memorandum to the Secretary of State, dated May 22, Cutler noted the President’s approval of the list of personnel to comprise the Solarium task forces with the understanding that some of those chosen might be unable to serve necessitating replacements. He requested that the necessary administrative steps be taken to formally assign Department of State personnel to the project which was to commence at the National War College on June 5 and last for approximately 6 weeks. He stated that the project would “be carried on, under appropriate cover” with details to be arranged by Lt. Gen. H. A. Craig, USAF, Commandant of the National War College. (S/SNSC files, lot 66 D 148, “Solarium”)