150. Memorandum of Discussion at the 341st Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, October 24, 19571

[Here follows a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting.]

1. Status of National Security Programs on June 30, 1957 (NSC 5720, Part l)2

Mr. Cutler introduced General Twining, who, after making certain preliminary observations, called upon Colonel Rosson,3 who made the presentation of behalf of the Department of Defense. The major topics discussed by Colonel Rosson and illustrated by charts4 were the following:

Basic Objectives of the Military Program
Nuclear Retaliatory Capability
Continental Defense
Ready Forces
Control of the Sea Areas and Air Communications
Nuclear Air Retaliation
Tactical Air Forces
Naval Forces
Continental Defense System
Ready Forces
Continental U.S. and Hawaii
Europe and the Middle East
Far East-Western Pacific
Control of the Sea Areas and Air Communications
Anti-Submarine Capability
Submarine Capability
Protection of Air Communications

By way of summarizing the material which he had presented, Colonel Rosson introduced an additional chart, entitled “Summary Comparison of Selected Major Forces—Army, Navy and Air Force”.5 This chart not only made the comparison in terms of the status of the [Page 614] military programs as of June 30, 1957, but included two additional columns giving the estimated size of selected major forces on June 30, 1958, and June 30, 1959, based on estimated budget support to be provided in this period.

The chart indicated that while we had 18 Army divisions as of June 30, 1957, we would have 15 Army divisions as of June 30, 1958, and 14 Army divisions as of June 30, 1959. The comparable figures for naval vessels were 967, 901 and 864. The comparable figures for combat wings in the Air Force were 137, 117 and 103.

At the conclusion of Colonel Rosson’s presentation, the President inquired as to the results of tests made to determine the efficiency of our military communications systems. Colonel Rosson replied that in general our test exercises indicated that there would be a severe overloading of these communications in the initial period of general war, but that the situation would improve thereafter.

Prompted by Mr. Cutler, the President inquired with respect to the concentration of SAC bombers on certain airfields. He had heard earlier that morning a report that all our B–52 bombers were concentrated on a single field. Colonel Rosson replied that this was not a statement of fact. Secretary Douglas added the information that there were three wings of B–52’s on three bases. Our 1958 program permitted only five additional bases, although our goal for FY 1958 would have been 11.

The Vice President inquired as to the meaning of the term “nuclear capable”. Colonel Rosson explained that this term defined a delivery capability for nuclear weapons. The Vice President went on to say that the reason that he had asked his question was that the term “operational capability” was now so much talked of in the press, especially in relation to Soviet missiles. Could Colonel Rosson also explain this term? Did this refer only to an initial capability? Colonel Rosson replied that the term “operational capability” was a term with progressive meaning, running all the way from an initial capability to a full capability in all units.

Governor Stassen expressed concern that the charts which had been displayed seemed to indicate that our aircraft capabilities were diminishing without indicating a concurrent increase in our missiles capability. After all, the basis on which we were cutting down on our aircraft capability was that we should have an increasing capability in missiles.

The President pointed out that no one could quarrel with the fact of the increased effectiveness of our combat wings, even though the number of these wings was fewer.

[Page 615]

The National Security Council:6

Noted and discussed an oral presentation by the Department of Defense on the status of the U.S. Military Program on June 30, 1957, based on Part 1 of NSC 5720.

[Here follows agenda item 2.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by Gleason on October 25.
  2. NSC 5720, Part 1, “The Military Program,” dated September 23, is not printed. (Department of State,S/S–RD Files: Lot 71 D 171,NSC 5720)
  3. Colonel William B. Rosson, Chairman’s Staff Group,JCS.
  4. NSC 5720, Part 1, contains several charts pertaining to the topics discussed by Colonel Rosson. The charts are filed in the minutes.
  5. The chart is filed in the minutes.
  6. The paragraph that follows constitutes NSC Action No. 1807, approved by the President on October 24. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)