127. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for Science and Technology (Kistiakowsky) to President Eisenhower0

Carrying out your directive to report to you on the methodology used in the preparation of the Optimized Strategic Target List and the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP),1 my associates (Dr. H.E. Scoville and Dr. George Rathjens) and I studied the relevant aspects of the activities of the joint Strategic Planning Staff (JSPS), and I have come to the following conclusions:2

[Page 492]
The staff is following the directives received from the JCS3 which, in turn, are based on your approval of the NSC action following the presentation of “Study 2009” by General Hickey.4 The JSPS is making effective use of available intelligence information. I believe that the presently developed SIOP is the best that could be expected under the circumstances and that it should be put into effect.
I recommend that an effort be initiated now to review the directive to, and the procedures used by, the JSPS in anticipation of the preparation of subsequent SIOPs for the following reasons:
To achieve operational simplicity, each weapon carrier is now assigned the same target or targets regardless of whether our strike is preventive or retaliatory. This leads to the result that even a retaliatory strike has largely a “counter force” character. [5 lines of source text not declassified]

The JSPS used blast effect as the only criterion of damage and neglected thermal radiation, fires which will be caused by it, and fallout. The question may be raised as to whether the resultant damage criteria are unnecessarily conservative, whether they result in overkill and will create unjustified additional “force requirements.”

[2 paragraphs (20 lines of source text) not declassified]

The staff is making extensive use of computers, but I believe that their programming could be improved and that the most competent people (such as available in WSEG, for instance) should become involved. This refinement, the revision of damage criteria, and possibly a re-evaluation of the importance of “counter force” strikes, will become especially important when operational plans are developed for less than our total alert force (the force that may survive a surprise attack by the enemy).
The present SIOPs which are being developed for situations in which we receive longer strategic warning call for the use not only of the alert, but also for the larger “follow on” forces. The damage which is expected to the Sino-Soviet Bloc from the strike of the alert force alone appears to be so extensive that one may question whether the commitment of “follow on” forces to strategic strike is urgently required. If not, the over-all national planning of strategic forces may need revision, with the highest emphasis being given to the survival of the alert force and low emphasis to the use of “follow on” forces.
[Page 493]

I attach herewith a summary of our detailed observations, made on the basis of briefings from the Joint Strategic Planning Staff.5

G.B. Kistiakowsky6
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries. Top Secret.
  2. Regarding Eisenhower’s directive, see Document 113. Some of the methodological assumptions governing the SIOP are in the Annex to Appendix B of JCS 2056/181, October 12, 1960. This Annex records the decisions taken at a meeting of the JSTPS Policy Committee on September 14 (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CCS 5175 (16 Sep 60) Section 1) See the Supplement.
  3. Kistiakowsky also reported to the President orally on November 25. According to a transcript of a telephone conversation between Burke and Aurand, the latter stated that, after Kistiakowsky’s briefing, Eisenhower expressed dismay over the emerging SIOP’s potential for overkill, speculated on possible use of Polaris as a backup force for use after satellite damage assessment of an initial nuclear exchange, and stated that “we’ve got to get this thing right down to the deterrence.” (Transcript, November 25; Naval Historical Center, Burke Papers, Transcripts and Phone Calls (NSTL)) See the Supplement.
  4. See footnote 1, Document 113.
  5. Reference is to the presentation described in Document 90. Lieutenant General Thomas F. Hickey was Chairman of the Staff of the Net Evaluation Subcommittee. “Study 2009” refers to NSC Action No. 2009; see footnote 7, Document 38.
  6. “Comments on Briefings by the Joint Strategic Planning Staff, November 3–5, 1960,” apparently drafted by a member of Kistiakowsky’s staff. See the Supplement. SIOP–62 was approved by the JCS on December 2 and went into effect on April 15, 1961. Additional information is in Burke, “Special Edition Flag Officers Dope,” December 4, 1960. (Naval Historical Center, Burke Papers, NSTL/SIOP Messages) See the Supplement.
  7. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.