46. Memorandum of Discussion at the 270th Meeting of the National Security Council, Camp David, Maryland, December 8, 19551

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

1. The Security of SAC (NSC Action No. 1430–d)2

Mr. Anderson advised that this agenda item concerned the vulnerability of the Strategic Air Command to enemy attack from the air or to either conventional or nuclear sabotage; that the Killian Committee had urged in its report that the present “unacceptable” ground vulnerability of SAC be reduced more rapidly than contemplated by the various Department of Defense programs under way in that area; and that the Committee had suggested accordingly that the NSC examine three possible countermeasures: (1) construction of additional bases as a top priority emergency program; (2) institution of an emergency dispersal program, in which more airfields—including civilian ones—would be used; and (3) an increase in active defenses by diverting anti-aircraft guns and guided missiles from defense positions around cities to SAC bases. Mr. Anderson advised that, pursuant to the foregoing, the Council agreed that, because the security of SAC was so vital to U.S. basic national security policy, it should be briefed on the vulnerability of SAC. He then introduced Major General R.C. Lindsay, USAF,3 who made a 35-minute presentation thereon.

Upon the completion of General Lindsay’s briefing, Dr. Flemming inquired whether there could be effected between now and 1957 any technological improvements for SAC additional to those outlined in the briefing. General Lindsay responded in the negative. Dr. Flemming inquired whether there could be effected between now and 1962 any technological improvements for SAC additional to those now programmed, as outlined in General Lindsay’s presentation. Dr. Flemming, noting that it is a long time between now and 1962, said he had in mind some of the technological developments proposed by the Killian Committee which were not covered in General Lindsay’s presentation.

The President, in response to Dr. Flemming, commented that we haven’t had any Killian Committee to tell us the Russian side of the story. He believed that the Russians too have major problems to be met in this whole area. He thought there is a limit on the amount of money that the United States can spend on such improvements. He [Page 172] commented that, from a long-term standpoint, the United States must, if possible, keep within budget levels in thinking of such problems over the next sixty years or so.

Dr. Flemming said it was his understanding that, when the Planning Board was briefed on this subject last week, some reference had been made to matériel and manpower difficulties affecting the security and strike capability of the SAC forces. He said that if such were in fact the case, it was possible to do something about both situations, if funds alone were the source of the manpower and matériel difficulties.

The President thought that if such were the case the officials responsible would be coming forward with advice to that effect.

General Lindsay indicated that funds alone were not the chief source of the problem.

Governor Stassen inquired whether, in terms of SAC’s dispersal program, the construction of weapons sites was moving forward in step with SAC’s program for dispersing its aircraft. Admiral Strauss responded that there is only a very slight lag between the two programs; that it is a natural one and not of such proportions as to be cause for concern.

Secretary Wilson commented, with respect to the general subject, that the stark facts are that the developments on both sides (U.S. and USSR) are such that in time both will be able to destroy the world, including the birds.

The National Security Council:4

Noted and discussed an oral briefing on the subject by the Department of Defense, pursuant to NSC Action No. 1430–d.

[Here follow the remaining agenda items.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. The memorandum of discussion on item 1 was prepared by Coyne on December 9.
  2. See footnote 9, Document 30.
  3. Director of Plans, Headquarters, USAF.
  4. The paragraph that follows constitutes NSC Action No. 1488, approved by the President on December 13. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)