Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file
Memorandum of Discussion at the 166th Meeting of the National Security Council, Tuesday, October 13, 1953 1
Present at the 166th meeting of the Council were: The President of the United States, presiding; the Secretary of State; the Secretary of Defense; the Director, Foreign Operations Administration; the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Attorney General (for Item 3); the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (for Item 3); the Secretaries of the Navy and the Air Force (for Item 3); the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Assistant Secretary of Defense McNeil, and Francis J. McCarthy, of the Atomic Energy Commission (for Item 3); the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Ridgway, Admiral Carney, General Twining, and Lt. Gen. [Page 535] Thomas, USMC (for Item 3); the Director of Central Intelligence; the Assistant to the President (for Item 3); the Deputy Assistant to the President; Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; James C. Hagerty, Secretary to the President (for Item 3); Brig. Gen. Paul T. Carroll, Acting White House Staff Secretary; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.
There follows a summary of the discussion at the meeting and the chief points taken.
1. Concept of the National Security Council and its Advisory and Subordinate Groups
The President announced at the opening of the Council meeting that he wished to go over with the members of the Council his own conception of the National Security Council. Two conceptions of the functions of this body, he said, were prevalent. One is that each member represents his department or agency and is present primarily to defend the position of that department or agency. The other conception is that while you members have the staff support of your agency, you come to this table as an individual in your own right, not merely to represent a department. Your background helps us all to reach a corporate decision and not merely a compromise of varying departmental positions. What we are seeking is the best solution of our problems by the corporate mind represented here.
This second conception, said the President, must apply if the National Security Council is really going to work. This concept applies also to advisory and supporting bodies such as the NSC Planning Board and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To my mind, said the President, there are in each of the three military services at least six individuals who would be competent to direct that service as a chief of staff. But the job of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs is both distinct and much more difficult. It is the task of the Joint Chiefs not merely to support the three services, but to bring their consolidated wisdom and their corporate experience as statesmen to solve the problems of the national security. Hence, said the President, I hope that all who come here will give the best they’ve got. I am convinced that a great many meetings in Washington are nothing but meetings designed to achieve acceptable compromises. I don’t want that view to prevail here. “We want your brains and hearts, with your background.”
Noted a statement by the President of his conception of the NSC as being a corporate body composed of individuals advising the President in their own right, rather than as representatives of their respective departments and agencies. Their function should be to seek, with their background of experience, the most statesmanlike solution to the problems of national security, rather than to reach solutions which represent merely a compromise of departmental positions. The same concept is equally applicable to advisory and subordinate groups, such as the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the NSC Planning Board.
. . . . . . .
3. FY 1955 Budget Considerations (NSC 161, No. 11)3
After Mr. Cutler had explained the purpose of scheduling this item, the President said he wished to read to the Council a statement which might be issued by Mr. Hagerty, with the objective of forestalling premature and misleading publicity regarding the decisions to be taken on this subject at today’s Council meeting. After he had read the statement the President inquired whether those present believed that its issuance would be useful, and if they had any objections to the statement.
Secretary Dulles inquired whether the statement would be issued in a formal way, and when the President said that it would, Secretary Dulles inquired whether this would create an undesirable precedent with respect to advance statements on future Council meetings. Perhaps the statement could be issued more informally by word of mouth from Mr. Hagerty to the press.
Secretary Wilson and Mr. Flemming remarked that they thought the statement perhaps too defensive in tone. The President said that there was something in this criticism, and that was one reason he had brought it up. Mr. Dodge said, however, that he thought the statement would prove useful, and Secretary Wilson said that the position to take in the statement was that we were all working very hard on a very difficult problem.
Mr. Cutler pointed out that he and Mr. Jackson had worked on this statement most of Saturday, and both had decided that it would be much better for the President to act to forestall false statements and gossip about splits in the Administration, in advance.[Page 537]
Secretary Humphrey expressed the view that a statement should certainly be issued, but that it should be divorced from any relationship to the NSC meeting. Above all, said Secretary Humphrey, we must not let ourselves be put into a position where any subsequent revision of the budget figures which we are now considering would be interpreted by the press and the public as involving a blow to the national security.
Secretary Wilson commented that this problem did not greatly concern him; there would be criticism in any case, and the Council would have to take it. The thing to do, therefore, was to decide on the best figure and stand firm against the criticism. Preliminary figures, he added, were always too high.
The President pointed out that no one was arguing yet about figures, but that we were really concerned about the effect on the public of issuing such a statement as this.
Mr. Cutler said that the most important sentence in the statement was that which referred to the preliminary character of the NSC consideration, since the Press was already stating that the National Security Council was going to decide the whole matter at today’s meeting. After some slight revision of the statement, the President handed it to Mr. Hagerty.
Mr. Cutler then called on Mr. Dodge for his oral presentation.
Before doing so, Mr. Dodge said that he desired to remind everyone present of a poll that had been taken in the month of July on the issues of greatest concern to the American public. These had proved, in order of importance, to be as follows: (1) Korea; (2) tax reduction; (3) economy in government; and (4) a balanced budget.
After this introduction, and with the use of what he described as an “economy-sized” chart, Mr. Dodge made his presentation (copy of statement in Minutes of 166th meeting).4
Mr. Dodge’s conclusions were that, with prospective tax adjustments and on the most optimistic basis for estimating revenues for Fiscal 1955, the Administration faced a cash deficit of $5.4 billion and a budgetary deficit of $8.7 billion for FY 1955.
After a preliminary discussion of Mr. Dodge’s figures, the President digressed to discuss briefly the differing attitudes toward the reduction in force of Government personnel. He had had a recent call from a Congressman whose nearby district included a large number of Government workers. This Congressman had expressed great distress over the number of workers who had thus been discharged, and particularly over the manner in which they had been discharged. On the other hand, two members of Congress from more remote areas had reported to him that the marked cut in the [Page 538] number of Federal workers was extremely popular in their part of the country. It goes to show, said the President, how different the verdict is when one got away from Washington. Personally, however, the President expressed his concern over mass dismissals of loyal and competent Government workers of the career sort. He felt that the non-career people should be discharged first.
Mr. Dodge suggested that the most painless way to meet this problem was by the method of attrition—not replacing workers who left the Government. Mr. Dodge continued that there was rather too much of a furor over the fate of the so-called career employees. Actually some of the new appointees were of much higher quality.
The President said he could not deny Mr. Dodge’s assertion, but he felt it was a great pity that decent individuals who had passed creditable Civil Service examinations and were in the midst of a career, should suddenly find themselves tossed out. To his way of thinking, said the President, this was definitely not in keeping with the best concept of the Civil Service.
Secretary Wilson pointed out that for many of these people the jobs they held were the best that they could get at the time. He furthermore saw no real difference between the treatment meted out to Civil Service employees and to the employees of private industry. In both cases it was necessary to maintain standards.
The President, however, insisted that he wished justice to be done, and while he did not advocate keeping incompetent career workers, he wanted justice to be done to the competent ones.
Mr. Cutler then called on the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission to give the AEC’s program for FY 1955 (copy of the statement filed in the Minutes of the 166th meeting).
Admiral Strauss pointed out that this program was now largely geared to filling military requirements. All non-essentials have been cut back. Total expenditures would peak in FY 1955 at a figure of $2.5 billion. Unless military requirements increased sharply, no extensive expansion of AEC facilities was contemplated after FY 1955. Emphasis would be on improvements in existing plant capacity.
At the conclusion of Admiral Strauss’ presentation, Mr. Dodge said that if one assumed that existing and planned production capacity was necessary, the fundamental question was whether it was necessary to use all this capacity at its maximum.
Admiral Strauss replied that he doubted if significant savings could be made along this line. It was essential to complete the required plant, and it did not seem sensible to him to leave part of it idle prior to the time that we reached the stated weapons requirements.[Page 539]
The President inquired what the AEC planned to do with this enormous and costly plant when weapons requirements had finally been reached. Admiral Strauss replied that presumably AEC would have to shut it down unless you plan to use some part of it for production of nuclear power.
The President responded that this certainly raised a serious question.
Secretary Humphrey inquired, if the plant were shut down would it deteriorate?
Admiral Strauss replied that of course on this point he had no criteria by which to judge, but very little of the plant seemed, offhand, to be subject to depreciation. But what really dictated the size and the rate of expenditures in prior years had, of course, been the availability of raw materials. He also pointed out that the requirements of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for weapons had risen steadily since he had been connected with the AEC. The existing stockpile of weapons was many times larger than the requirements set forth by the Joint Chiefs in 1947.
Secretary Wilson expressed the view that whether you ran the AEC plant or not the material doesn’t depreciate. Certainly there were vast new possibilities in the world for this material, and it was just as useful to close down such a plant and maintain it on a stand-by basis as it was to procure gold from a gold mine and store it in Ft. Knox.
Admiral Strauss pointed out one other relevant factor in the increase in weapons requirements. This was the proliferation of types of weapons. The original A-bomb had now been developed into a multipurpose weapon.
Secretary Dulles reminded Admiral Strauss that in the course of his presentation he had referred to the fact that he was “starving research”, a statement which greatly disturbed Secretary Dulles.
Admiral Strauss said that he had used this phrase in order to avoid undergoing further cuts in this important field. In point of fact, he meant, in starving research, that he had held the funds devoted to research to the previous figure despite much enlarged facilities and some very promising developments in certain research areas which might produce significant technological breakthroughs.
Secretary Dulles replied that from the standpoint of the prestige of the United States perhaps our greatest single asset was ability to keep ahead of the Soviet Union in the scientific and technological field. If we were to lose this advantage, it would be a grave blow to the security and to the leadership of the United States. He would much prefer, continued Secretary Dulles, to see research and [Page 540] development pushed to the limit, as against adding to an already large stockpile of weapons.
On the other hand, Secretary Wilson was of the opinion that we had about all the good scientists who were available at work on these various AEC and Defense projects. He doubted whether the expenditure of more money would produce a significantly larger number of good scientists.
On these issues Admiral Strauss said he may have given a false impression with the phrase “starving research”. He did not mean that he was proposing to fire scientists or to fail to do the things in this field which we ought to do. He did propose, however, to cut down on equipment.
Secretary Humphrey expressed the view that whether in private industry or in the Government, there was no way that you could spend money faster than on research, and unless this research was very carefully scrutinized, the results were often not worth the expenditure.
The President inquired as to the relative costs of research and of development in this field, and Mr. Cutler replied that $150 million was allotted to basic research in FY 1953.
Secretary Wilson pointed out, in answer to the President’s query, that research and development involved, first, basic research, then applied research, whereas development pertained to the construction of devices of which it was uncertain whether or not they would actually work until tested. That, said Secretary Wilson, was the definition of research and development.
Turning to Mr. Allen Dulles, Secretary Dulles asked whether Intelligence could give us any idea of what the Soviets were spending in this field.
Mr. Allen Dulles replied that this was not an easy question to answer, but that Intelligence estimated that the curve of the Soviet figure would cross ours in about two years’ time. At the very least, we knew that a terrific effort was being made by the USSR in this field.
The President commented that it seemed inexplicable to him that with their comparatively few institutions the Soviets were able to turn out such large numbers of scientists and technicians, while we were scarcely able to increase our own output.
Mr. Allen Dulles pointed out that in a totalitarian state it was always possible to compel people to become scientists if they had aptitude.
Mr. Dodge pointed out that furthermore in the Soviet Union scientific research experienced no competition from private enterprise. The President still seemed unconvinced by these explanations.[Page 541]
Secretary Dulles then asked Mr. Allen Dulles whether the latter had not reported at an earlier Council meeting that there are now actually more scientific students in the USSR than in the United States. Mr. Allen Dulles replied that he had not said that this situation existed now, but it soon would, and the President reiterated his incomprehension of how the Soviets could accomplish such things while we insist that we cannot.
Mr. Cutler then called on Governor Stassen to give his presentation of the mutual security program.
Before speaking, Governor Stassen passed out memoranda of his oral remarks (copy filed in the Minutes of the 166th meeting).
After a discussion of Governor Stassen’s figures, particularly by Mr. Dodge and Secretary Humphrey, the President inquired whether deliveries of matériel to NATO would now be stepped up since hostilies in Korea had been concluded. Governor Stassen answered that of course it was possible to do this, but it would depend now chiefly on the ability of these countries to absorb and use this additional matériel.
The President then asked General Ridgway to give him a memorandum on the ammunition situation in the NATO countries. When he was last there, said the President, the ammunition supply was very precarious and constituted one of the weak points in our armor.
Governor Stassen said he had the figures available, and would get them to the President at once. The President said that according to his recollection we figured on ninety days’ supply of ammunition for our forces. The figure was much less for the NATO countries.
Mr. Cutler then called on the Secretary of Defense for his oral presentation of the Defense Department program.
Secretary Wilson pointed out that the biggest proportion of expenditure for the national security fell in the Department of Defense. He therefore wanted to go back and review the problem as it had developed since last spring. At that time, he pointed out, the Council had laid great emphasis on the formulation of a new strategic concept. To illustrate this point Secretary Wilson then read the memorandum sent to him by the President in July, requesting the new Joint Chiefs to report, independently of their staffs, as to the possibility of a new concept and real savings in military expenditure. Secretary Wilson then referred to the reply which the Joint Chiefs had made to the President’s request, which they had sent to him on August 8,5 and read the conclusions and recommendations of this report.[Page 542]
Thereafter, said Secretary Wilson, on September 16 he had written a memorandum to the Joint Chiefs of Staff as to their part in the preparation of the FY 1955 Defense budget.6 This memorandum, which Secretary Wilson read, called for preliminary returns from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to assist in the preparation of the detailed budget of the Department of Defense. On October 2, continued Secretary Wilson, the Joint Chiefs had presented their response to his own memorandum of September 16.6 They had presented the force levels for the major combat forces. They had not had time, however, to pass judgement on the composition of the support forces. Furthermore, they had also pointed out that in view of the fact that there had been no significant change in basic national security policy, no change in the seriousness of the Soviet threat, and no clear decision on the use of atomic weapons, they had not felt it possible to make significant changes in the level of the combat forces.
The President interrupted to inquire whether it was felt necessary to state the final Air Force goal now (137 wings) in order to plan for FY 1956 and 1957.
Secretary Wilson then said his next item was his own letter to Assistant Secretary McNeil, summarizing the findings of the Joint Chiefs’ report to him. For planning purposes, said Secretary Wilson, he had approved using the force levels with regard to the supporting elements, the Reserve, and the National Guard units, as set forth by the individual military services, despite the fact that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had not approved these levels for the support forces.
With this introduction, said Secretary Wilson, he would now call upon Assistant Secretary McNeil to comment on the preliminary cost estimates for the Defense Department budget.
Mr. McNeil again emphasized that his figures constituted only a rough order of magnitude, since the JCS had approved only the levels for the major combat forces but not the support elements, which constituted approximately half the total cost of the armed forces. Despite this, he had attempted to price out the cost of the total forces to be maintained in the Defense Department budget.
After indicating the major assumptions on which he had done his costing, Mr. McNeil came up with a total cost of approximately $43 billion for FY 1955. Since, he added, there would be some overlap between the FOA and the Defense military assistance figures, say approximately $1 billion, this amount could be deducted from the total figure.[Page 543]
Mr. Dodge complained that the Defense estimates had not taken into consideration savings which might be realized from the termination of the Korean war, but Secretary Wilson replied that the manner in which the war had terminated had not permitted as great reductions as had been hoped for.
Secretary Humphrey said that when all was said and done, the Defense Department was going to spend $48 billion in the present fiscal year and $47 billion in the next fiscal year, with all the savings coming out of Governor Stassen. As far as the Defense Department itself was concerned, the figures presented by Mr. McNeil offered no cut at all.
Mr. Cutler pointed out again that Mr. McNeil’s figure included unilateral service estimates on the size and cost of the support forces. Since they amounted to approximately half the total cost, the figure of approximately $43 billion had as of now no real validity.
Secretary Wilson took exception to Mr. Cutler’s comment, and said that Mr. McNeil’s report was better guidance than that. He again stated that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had strongly emphasized that there had been no change in United States commitments and no change with respect to our policy on the use of atomic weapons. The Council must therefore attempt to clarify promptly its views on the use of atomic weapons. The next thing was to try to see what could be done to initiate changes in the deployment of our forces overseas. Such changes could be forecast in the Defense Department’s budget picture.
Secretary Wilson then read a memorandum which he had written on this point to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to the Service Secretaries. This memorandum suggested a complete new survey designed to provide the United States with a defense posture which would give us reasonable security (1) without causing financial and economic unrest at home, (2) without raising fear abroad that we were proposing to unleash global war, and (3) without raising apprehensions among our allies that we were withdrawing from the arena. The memorandum instructed the Joint Chiefs to do this on the basis of the JCS report of August 8 and of NSC 162.7
Turning to Admiral Radford, the President inquired, can I sum up your position in this way: You believe that there should be a readjustment of U.S. military strength which would maximize our striking and retaliatory power, but you have encountered obstacles in trying to accomplish this readjustment. The State Department is worried about the effects of any large-scale redeployment. Accordingly, you feel that you must take a more cautious approach to a [Page 544] major redeployment program. If, continued the President, this is an accurate summary of your position, I think you should do the following things. First, take another hard look at the major combat forces, with particular respect to the time factor. If we could take the same approach to military production that we do to public works, roads, schools, etc., it would be very helpful. In other words, you put the heat on this production when we face an economic depression and you take off the heat when the economy is going at full tilt.
Second, continued the President, and dealing with the military situation alone, the utmost that we can hope to achieve is, in Washington’s words, a respectable posture of defense. We cannot hope for a perfect defense. Accordingly, can we not stretch out more? Do we need everything for our armed forces right now? The thing to do is constantly to bear in mind a defense posture related to the long pull.
Thirdly and finally, said the President, I am afraid that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are just going to have to work their heads off to produce estimates of the size of the support forces. You are not going to get away, as my military advisers, with confining your recommendations to major combat forces only, and you should look hard as to the possibility of cuts in these support forces. Let’s not calculate, when we are trying to think of our defense over the long term, that we need to maintain everything—all the ships at sea— at a hundred percent of their complements. What I’d like to see is a complete and thorough re-examination by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of this whole problem, in which they would really take a corporate view, and see how far they could get. After all, said the President, we must depend on you people to provide us with your estimate of what can be done on a truly austere basis all the way down the line. Can we put off this or that desirable expenditure for a year, or two years, or longer?
Admiral Radford replied to the President by pointing out that they were now talking about an interim budget pending a more detailed review later on. He said that the Joint Chiefs were confident that considerable reductions could be made in the military services’ estimates of the size and cost of the support elements. It had not been possible to review these levels and costs because it had been necessary to meet today’s deadline. Accordingly, the Joint Chiefs had had to carry on along the lines of budgeting programs which had gone into effect last spring.
The President commented that what disturbed him most in this exposition was the estimate of an increase in the total force level for the armed services up to 3.5 million. Not only was this an increase over present levels, said the President, but we ought rather [Page 545] to be trying to reduce present levels to 3 million. The President emphasized that he did not wish to see this cut made in combat units but everywhere else in the military establishment, once again on the basis of a respectable as opposed to a perfect posture of defense.
When the President had concluded, Secretary Dulles asked Admiral Radford whether the Joint Chiefs of Staff estimates of force levels reflected recent Council discussions with respect to the availability and use of new weapons.
Admiral Radford replied that they did not, and the President pointed out that such weapons could certainly be used by the United States if it were attacked. Otherwise it was necessary to get the understanding and approval of our allies for the use of these weapons.
Mr. Cutler then read to the Council the statement with regard to the use of atomic weapons set forth in NSC 162 as revised, and the President expressed approval of this language.
Secretary Dulles again turned to Admiral Radford and explained what he had meant by his first question. The President, said Secretary Dulles, had made it clear in his memorandum to Secretary Wilson last July8 that he wanted the new Joint Chiefs of Staff to conduct a basic review of U.S. military strategy. Had such a review been made, inquired Secretary Dulles, and was it or was it not reflected in the present recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
To this question Admiral Radford replied that the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not feel that they had been given sufficiently clear definitions of policy to enable them in consequence to outline a really significant change in the existing composition of our military forces.
Secretary Wilson said that there were at least two basic questions which the Council must answer before the Joint Chiefs of Staff could come up with a “new look” at our military strategy. First, to what degree do we start to change our basic national security policy? Secondly, to what degree can we shift emphasis from conventional to atomic weapons? If no answers are provided to these questions, and if we can’t as a result considerably reduce our levels of military personnel, Secretary Wilson predicted it would be very tough to make any real progress toward achieving lower defense costs. It was going to be very hard to get down from a level of 3.5 million to 3 million men and still maintain reasonable security for our country. Nevertheless, we would try.
Mr. Cutler then informed the Council that Admiral Radford had just advised him that the statement in NSC 162 on the use of [Page 546] atomic weapons was regarded by the Joint Chiefs as insufficient guidance to enable them to effect any real change.
The President replied that he disagreed with the Joint Chiefs, and stated again that the only war that the United States was really scared of was a war initiated by the enemy against us. In this contingency we could always use atomic weapons from our own bases, but there was question about their use from bases in foreign countries.
Turning to the President, Admiral Radford immediately asked whether the Joint Chiefs could plan on the use of atomic weapons in Korea in case of a resumption of hostilities. He insisted that the language in NSC 162 did not give a clear answer to this question.
Secretary Dulles pointed out to Admiral Radford that, after all, we are the UN Command in Korea, and of course we could use these weapons if military considerations dictated their use. Though, he added, it would be useful if he could have a little time to prepare our sixteen allies in the Korean war for the use of these weapons.
The President raised the question whether the use of atomic weapons in this contingency in Korea would cause a dangerous breach in allied solidarity. He believed, he added, that we should use the bomb in Korea if the aggression is renewed, but he would like a check on any agreements into which we might have entered with our allies respecting the use of these weapons.
Secretary Dulles said that his people ought to get together with Admiral Radford and carefully define the areas in which you could count on being able to use atomic weapons, and thereafter calculate the resultant cut in defense costs. He remarked that he was going to be in London this next week and would be having conversations with Mr. Eden and Prime Minister Churchill. Wouldn’t it, he inquired, be useful to try to get the decks cleared on this atomic matter during these conversations?
Admiral Radford said that he would be glad to supply the Secretary of State with a memorandum on this subject from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.9[Page 547]
Mr. Cutler suggested that Admiral Radford also provide a clear text for the statement on atomic weapons presently contained in NSC 162.
The President, however, said no, that we could not hope to do better than the presently agreed language on this point.
Secretary Humphrey said that he thought it absolutely essential to settle this issue of the use of atomic weapons. Only their use on a broad scale could really change the program of the Defense Department and cut the costs of the military budget.
Expressing agreement with the Secretary of the Treasury, Admiral Radford commented that unless we could use these weapons in a blanket way, no possibility existed of significantly changing the present composition of our armed forces.
With some heat, Secretary Humphrey pointed out to the Council that FY 1955 was the critical year. We are, of course, all dealing with imponderables, but we must preserve public confidence in the soundness of the economy and in the leadership of the President. If people begin to think that this Administration is conducting its business in the same old way as the last, the American economy will go to hell and the Republican Party will lose the next election. If Ike’s budget for FY 1955 doesn’t go to Congress with at least a cash balance, there will be terrific repercussions in the Congress and among the people. He thought, therefore, that this FY 1955 budget was the key to the whole situation.
Supporting Secretary Humphrey, Mr. Dodge pointed out that this figure of $43 billion for FY 1955 amounted to a reduction of only $2.5 billion from what President Truman had forecast for this year in his last budget.
In reply, Secretary Wilson pointed out that of course costs had increased because of inflation. Furthermore, it was vital and costly to improve continental defense. We also now knew that the Russians could make H-bombs. Whatever Secretary Humphrey thought, we have got to be able to tell the American people that we are doing something to confront the threat posed by these developments to their security.
Secretary Dulles, referring to Secretary Humphrey’s plea for a balanced budget, pointed out with great emphasis that if you do proceed with a balanced budget in FY 1955, the cuts which would enable the achieving of the balance would all be made in the area of foreign assistance in Governor Stassen’s province. This, said Secretary Dulles, would constitute the worst kind of false economy.
The President said that he agreed with this judgment of Secretary Dulles, and said that if he could be convinced that we need all this money he was prepared to fight for it everywhere and with all the energy he could summon up, although he said he did not want [Page 548] to scare the people to death and did want our military posture to be calculated on a long-term basis. We ought to realize, he said, that our military people could not possibly redeploy the forces that we are talking about in a single year. What we could do was to think and plan for such a redeployment, and meanwhile calculate everything else on the most austere basis possible.
Discussion then shifted to the desirability of the Defense Department producing firmer estimates with respect to force levels and costs at the meeting of the National Security Council scheduled for October 29. Secretary Wilson pointed out the difficulty of dealing with the levels and costs of the support forces in so short a time, while Mr. Cutler insisted that compliance with the October 29 date was almost essential if the budget was to be got ready in time for presentation to the Congress.
Secretary Wilson then stated that when we finally put the Defense Department budget in, we should be content with an over-all figure and not try to break this figure down until next spring, when we would be obliged to. He again insisted that the Defense Department was not ready yet to produce a detailed breakdown of its figure.
The President suggested that this matter be taken up by Secretary Wilson with Mr. Dodge. The latter observed that Secretary Wilson’s proposed procedure might be OK if you had a lower total figure, but it would never do with a figure of $43 billion.
In view of Secretary Wilson’s dilemma, the President asked him whether he could do part of the job by October 29 and present the Council with what would amount to another interim report of progress on October 29.
Secretary Humphrey asked why the Defense Department could not now begin to proceed on the assumption that they could make use of atomic weapons.
The President turned on Secretary Humphrey and said, let me ask you a question. Just how many troops do you think it possible for us to get out of Europe in 1955? The presence of our troops there is the greatest single morale factor in Europe. You cannot therefore make a radical change so quickly. Besides, the physical cost of bringing back these troops will be so high as to effect very little savings in the course of next year, even if considerable numbers were to be redeployed.
Secretary Wilson added that the Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated that it would take two years to effect a major redeployment of our forces overseas, that the operation would be very expensive, and that no savings could be contemplated until the men were actually at home.[Page 549]
The President said that Secretary Wilson was right, but that nevertheless the Joint Chiefs could start right now on computing force levels on a genuine austerity basis, pointing out that he did not want cuts in combat strength, but rather in the support forces and other such personnel.
The National Security Council: 10
- Discussed the subject on the basis of oral presentations by:
- The Director, Bureau of the Budget, on the fiscal and budgetary outlook.
- The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, of preliminary budgetary estimates on the Atomic Energy Commission program for FY 1955.
- The Director, Foreign Operations Administration, of preliminary budgetary estimates on the mutual security program for FY 1955.
- The Secretary of Defense and Assistant Secretary of Defense McNeil, of preliminary budgetary estimates on the military program for FY 1955 based on the major combat forces proposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and supporting and reserve elements unilaterally proposed by the military staffs of the armed services.
- Requested the Secretary of Defense, the Director, Foreign Operations Administration, and the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, to submit to the Council at its meeting on October 29, 1953, interim reports of estimated FY 1955 expenditures for their respective programs, to the extent that they have then been reviewed and coordinated within each agency in the light of the above discussion.
Note: The action in b above subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of Defense, the Director, Foreign Operations Administration, and the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, for implementation.
. . . . . . .
- Drafted by Deputy Executive Secretary Gleason on Oct. 14.↩
- The following paragraph constitutes NSC Action No. 928. (S/S–NSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “NSC Records of Action”) It was circulated by the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Lay, to the NSC by memorandum action on Oct. 15 “for the information and guidance of the Council and its advisory and subordinate groups.” Copies were also sent to the Secretary of the Treasury; the Attorney General; the Directors of the Bureau of the Budget, the United States Information Agency, and Central Intelligence; the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission; the Federal Civil Defense Administrator; the Operations Coordinating Board; the Interdepartmental Intelligence Conference; and the Interdepartmental Committee on Internal Security.↩
- Regarding NSC 161, see the editorial note, p. 443.↩
- For information on the minutes of NSC meetings, see footnote 1, p. 394.↩
- Not found.↩
- Not found.↩
- Not found.↩
- Dated Sept. 30, p. 489.↩
- Not found.↩
- This proposed memorandum cannot be identified with certainty. However, both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council were engaged at this time in reviewing NSC 151, “Armaments and American Policy”, of May 8, 1953, and this review culminated in NSC 151/1 of Nov. 23, 1953 entitled “Disclosure of Atomic Information to Allied Countries”. NSC 151/2 of Dec. 4, carrying the same title as NSC 151/2, became the official statement of policy on this subject. For text of NSC 151 and NSC 151/2, see. pp. 1149 and 1256. Further documentation on the NSC 151 Series may be found in S/S–NSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 151 Series and in S/P–NSC files, lot 62 D 1, NSC 151.↩
- Paragraphs a–b constitute NSC Action No. 930. (S/S–NSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “NSC Records of Action”)↩