41. Memorandum of Discussion at the 389th Meeting of the National Security Council0

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

1. U.S. Military Programs for Fiscal Year 1960 (NSC Actions Nos. 1994 and 2000)

After a brief introduction to the subject by Mr. Gray, Secretary McElroy read a short statement containing the principles which had guided [Page 154] the Department of Defense in the formulation of the FY 1960 Defense Department budget. The first of these “principles” was for those programs which were considered to be unquestionably essential, the rate of development had been maintained and, where advisable technically, had been advanced. Secondly, in developing the overall military budget the Defense Department had rigorously examined all other programs in order that those programs which in view of current technical information might be considered marginal, could be eliminated or reduced. Thirdly, after careful consideration of the advisability of reducing force levels, it was decided that they could not recommend reductions in Fiscal 1960 from those already reduced levels which will be reached at the end of Fiscal 1959, except for a 5000 man reduction in the Air Force.

After pointing out that General Twining would comment more specifically with respect to force levels, Secretary McElroy went on to say in his statement that Defense had considered its first responsibility to be that of protecting the ability of this country to retaliate with large weapons in the event of general war. As their second responsibility they had considered the provision of capacity to apply military force promptly in various local conflict areas of the Free World. The other major measures provided for in the budget were Continental Air Defense and the maintenance of open sea lanes.

Turning from his prepared statement, Secretary McElroy then stated that it was hardly necessary to say that there had been a very considerable amount of doing and redoing of the FY 1960 Military Program in these last weeks and days.1 Decisions had been made which would certainly close a number of camps and shore stations, decisions which would cause dislocation of employment and trade as well as exerting a major influence on certain U.S. corporations. One or more aircraft corporations, for example, might have to go out of business. While regrettable, this seemed unimportant in comparison with the overall objective.

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In closing Secretary McElroy asked General Twining to report specifically on the matter of FY 1960 force levels. (A copy of Secretary McElroy’s opening remarks is filed in the Minutes of the Meeting.)2

General Twining stated that as a preliminary to the more detailed discussions of the FY 1960 budget (by those who were to follow him), he wanted to discuss briefly the military personnel strengths, our current world-wide deployments in the several military services, and some of the implications inherent in the FY 1960 budget program. General Twining then pointed to a chart entitled Personnel End Strength—1960. This chart indicated the following end strengths:

Army 870,000
Navy 630,000
Marine Corps 175,000
Air Force 850.000
Total 2,525,000

General Twining added that the Air Force had voluntarily agreed to reduce by 5000 men in return for other concessions which it had sought.

General Twining then referred to his second chart entitled Summary of Major Force Deployments—-End of FY 1959. In commenting on this chart General Twining pointed out that the deployments described on it could not be maintained under the proposed FY 1960 budget in view of first, personnel reductions and second, new demands for personnel resulting from such programs as the NATO atomic stockpile and missile weapons systems which as yet have no reliable combat capability. Therefore, General Twining predicted the possibility of a reduction of Army forces deployed in overseas units including those in Europe although he was not sure how large such reductions would be. He pointed out that the most severe problem facing the Navy was the growing obsolescence of its ships. If funds cannot be found for new procurement, the Navy may have to reduce the size of its fleet significantly in the future. The same must be said of the Navy’s aircraft. For the Air Force the major problem was also in the area of procurement. Under this FY 1960 budget, it will be necessary for the Air Force to retain weapons systems and aircraft which it considered to be obsolescent. For example, no new fighter interceptors were scheduled to be procured.

General Twining concluded with the comment that after having examined the FY 1960 Program, he was personally of the opinion that no serious gaps existed in the key elements although the Services did have reservations with respect to funds provided for some of the respective Service programs. In short, General Twining added that he believed this [Page 156] to be a sound program for the defense of the nation in the period under consideration.

General Twining was followed by Mr. Max Lehrer of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) who described in detail the FY 1960 budget. He commenced his presentation with a chart entitled Defense Program for FY 1960. This chart compared the FY 1960 budget with the budgets for FY 1958 and FY 1959. The chart was divided into Budget Categories as follows: Operative and Capital Costs. It indicated new Obligational Authority of approximately $42,120,000,000. It indicated Direct Obligations for FY 1960 of $42,840,000,000. Actual expenditures for FY 1960 were estimated at $41,170,000,000.

After thus glancing at this overall chart, Mr. Lehrer referred to a subordinate chart entitled Aircraft Production. In discussing this he pointed out that the number of new aircraft to be procured would total less than the number required to replace attrition. A similar chart indicated the FY 1960 shipbuilding program. Here Mr. Lehrer pointed out that the program fell short of the rate of ship construction required to maintain the fleet at its present size.

Mr. Lehrer concluded his detailed presentation with a summary of the Defense Program for FY 1960 by components. He indicated that the actual Congressional appropriation to be sought for FY 1960 would amount to $40,776,000,000. For FY 1959 the actual Congressional appropriation was $41,000,000,000.

Mr. Lehrer was followed by Mr. Holaday, Director of Guided Missiles in the Department of Defense. Mr. Holaday indicated that he would describe the missile programs including the major sections in which the Defense Department had made drastic changes or the portions which were of particular interest to the National Security Council. He referred to a chart entitled Missile Program and discussed the following figures on the chart in billions of dollars:

1959 1960
Army 1,250 1,179
Navy 1,540 1,401
Air Force 3.077 3,060
Grand Total 5,867 5,640

Mr. Holaday said he would discuss the Thor and Jupiter Intermediate Ballistic Missiles together because the Defense Department would suggest that both these be put on a “Buy-out” basis. Thereafter Mr. Holaday dealt with the Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, and Polaris programs.

Mr. Holaday concluded with a statement of recommendations which the Department of Defense was making with respect to the several missile programs. With respect to the Thor and Jupiter programs, it was recommended that they be reduced from twelve to eight squadrons, five [Page 157] of Thor and three of Jupiter for which production commitments have already been made. If further NATO requests were expressed within the next few months and if military aid funds were available, it was further recommended that authority be granted to increase this program by not more than two additional squadrons.

With respect to the ICBM program (Atlas and Titan), it was recommended that the presently approved thirteen squadron ICBM program should be increased to a total of twenty squadrons of which twenty squadrons nine would be Atlas and eleven would be Titan. Since each Titan and Atlas squadron has ten missiles, there would be a total of ninety Atlas missiles and one hundred ten Titan missiles for a grand total of 200 ICBM’s.

With respect to the Polaris missile, Mr. Holaday pointed out that in previous Council actions the construction of five nuclear submarines, equipped with Polaris missiles, had been approved. The Defense Department was now recommending in connection with a Congressional add-on of over 600 million appropriations in FY 1959:

the release of 144 million for an R&D program for conversion of a submarine tender;
to authorize the release of 105 million for the construction of one additional Polaris submarine to make six in all as of January 1, 1959;
authorize the release of 360 million for the construction of three additional Polaris submarines bringing the total authorized as of July 1, 1959 to nine.

Mr. Holaday said that it was recommended that authority likewise be requested to proceed with planning for the construction of three additional Polaris submarines with FY 1961 funds. Such an action would bring the Polaris submarine program to a total of twelve. (A copy of the recommendations of the Department of Defense presented by Mr. Holaday are filed in the Minutes of the Meeting.)3

Mr. Holaday was followed by Deputy Secretary Quarles who went over certain of the highlights of the FY 1960 Research and Development Program of the Department of Defense.

At the conclusion of Secretary Quarles’ comments, Secretary McElroy asked if Admiral Burke might be permitted to lay before the Council the proposal of the Navy to build one new aircraft carrier. Admiral Burke noted that in the course of careful examination of this proposal, many questions had come up. One of the most important of these was whether, if permission were granted for a new carrier, the carrier should be propelled by nuclear power or conventional power. After lengthy discussion the Navy had decided on conventional power which would result in a saving of something over $100 million. The new CVA, if approved, [Page 158] would be commissioned in the course of FY 1964. Admiral Burke stressed the value to the national security of aircraft carriers of the Forrestal class, particularly in limited war situations although the value was not confined solely to such situations. He also stressed the obsolescence and inadequacies of the old Essex-class carriers as compared to the newer Forrestal-class. This accounted for the inclusion of the proposal for a new carrier in the FY 1960 budget. The President indicated his approval of the inclusion of the aircraft carrier.

The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission4 inquired of Admiral Burke whether in reaching its decision to build a conventionally powered aircraft carrier (CVA) rather than a nuclear powered carrier (CVAN), the Navy Department had considered the savings which would result from the reduction of the auxiliary services required for a CVA but which would not be needed in a CVAN. Admiral Burke replied that every aspect of the problem had been considered and that on all counts the CVA would be cheaper. Mr. McCone, however, insisted that we would get spectacular performance from a CVAN as opposed to a CVA and he also predicted that in due course lower costs would dictate the use of nuclear propulsion in all the major ships of the fleet. He therefore wondered whether in proposing a CVA the Navy Department was not buying a 1945 Cadillac.

At this point Secretary McElroy indicated that the formal presentation of the FY 1960 Military Program had been concluded. He called attention to the presence in the room of all the Chiefs of Staff and all of the Secretaries of the Military Services and invited questions.

The President put the first question. Had there ever, he asked, been a successful test of a Titan ICBM? Mr. Holaday replied in the negative and the President then asked how did the Defense Department justify its recommendation for an increase in the number of Titan squadrons?

In reply Mr. Holaday pointed out that the Titan missile had many technical advantages. It was a full two-stage missile, for example. He added that Dr. Killian also strongly recommended the proposed increase as necessary which statement was confirmed by Dr. Killian. Mr. Holaday also pointed out that the funds requested for increasing this missile program included not only funds for the procurement of the missiles themselves but also the construction of hard bases.

Secretary Douglas of the Air Force stated that the first static test firing of a Titan missile would occur on December 15 and the first flight test might come before the end of that month. Secretary Douglas also defended, in response to some criticisms by the President, the value of the discarded Navajo program which he believed had paid off in value.

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The President insisted that what he was trying to find out was what we were buying if we agreed to the increase in Titan squadrons. If we were far enough along in the Titan program so that we really knew what we were doing, the increase would be O.K. Moreover, if the Defense Department was so sure that the Titan would actually fly, why was it also proposing an increase in the Atlas program?

Secretary Douglas replied by stating that if we did not go ahead with our program, we would not have available what was required of the Atlas program in 1962 and Titan in 1963.

Secretary McElroy pointed out that the Atlas program was a year and a half ahead of Titan and supplied the need to have a long range missile capability at a future critical time vis-à-vis the Russians. However, he predicted that in due course the Titan would prove to be the better missile system.

The President said he fully understood the psychological importance of getting an early ICBM operational capability for the U.S. It certainly would be fine if the Atlas missile proved able to fly but was it a smart move to try to procure 200 missiles by the end of 1963? The President believed that the history of military equipment and weapons systems revealed the danger of trying to agree on standardization of a weapon for as short a time as a year and a half. He still believed we were putting too much money on Atlas in terms of 200 missiles for a period of one and a half years.

Secretary Anderson said that he would like to make a statement at this time. He began by stating that he could not disagree in any particular with the principles on which Secretary McElroy had stated at the outset that the 1960 Military Program had been based or for the need for the U.S. to have the military capabilities that Secretary McElroy had outlined. He was, however, troubled about the budget figures because it seemed that for a mere few hundreds of millions of dollars, we were not going to be able to balance the FY 1960 budget. It was depressing that in a period of history in which our people have the highest incomes and in which our Gross National Product was the highest ever, we were, even so, going to be unable to bring our accounts into balance to say nothing about retiring the national debt. If we are going to have to state all this to the world, Secretary Anderson said that he had grave doubts as to the continuing confidence of the people of this country who pay the taxes and provide for capital formation. Similar doubts will be planted among other strong nations of the world when in the light of this news they investigate their own stake in our affairs. If we are really trying to defend the hope of oncoming peoples in the standards of living in the U.S., we must defend the vital element of confidence.

Secretary Anderson stated that he did not know where the “breaking point” was. He knew how difficult it was for a layman to appraise [Page 160] technical military problems. He professed the highest regard for all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a sympathy for their difficulties but as he tried to evaluate the problem, he could only conclude that if we permit long-range inflation as a result of budget deficits, he could see no way that we could hope to combat the inflationary spiral. All this suggested to Secretary Anderson, he continued, that as a nation, what we must make up our minds to, was to take some calculated risks both in the military and the economic areas. Furthermore, we have to get into the problem of whether this country can invariably afford every right gun and every right target at every right time. He himself doubted this and felt that our security should instead be based upon a combination of capabilities of such a nature that the Russians would not dare to attack us. He added that he did not mean to imply that we have not been doing this nor was he trying to substitute his judgment for the judgment of the competent military authorities.

Secretary Anderson also pointed out that even if we were able to obtain a revision of some of the open-ended civilian programs in the government in FY 1960, there would not be any appreciable saving until a year later in 1961. No doubt a significant cut in military procurement would have an effect upon the vigor of our national economy although it was impossible to say exactly how much. If we were to reduce by perhaps a billion or two, such an effect or impact would not be very great in view of a Gross National Product of $460 billion. Admittedly, however, cut-backs would also have a psychological impact.

What, therefore, asked Secretary Anderson, were the alternatives which presented themselves? Raising taxes? Secretary Anderson doubted very much whether the American people would stand for a raise in the income tax and moreover, he was not sure that such a raise in taxation would actually be productive. Certainly a great deal of energy would be expended by Americans in trying to evade additional taxes. Indeed as things now were, we almost seemed to be driving our citizens into courses of immorality with respect to their taxes. What about the excise tax? If we were to repeal the existing excise taxes and substitute therefore a single sales tax, we would have to levy a three cent sales tax merely in order to stay where we are. Congress would undoubtedly oppose a sales tax of this magnitude. Personally, however, Secretary Anderson preferred new taxes to continuing deficits.

In conclusion Secretary Anderson expressed uncertainty as to what could be done. Anything less than a balanced budget was unquestionably going to cost [cause?] damage to future Defense budgets of the U.S. Moreover, Secretary Anderson said he did not believe that most of the world thought the U.S. and the Soviet Union would ever be foolish enough to get themselves involved in a nuclear war. Most of the people of the world are actually thinking of the betterment of their people. This [Page 161] hope is largely based on the ability of the U.S. economy to show advances. Accordingly, said Secretary Anderson, it was his plea that when our military people look at all these weapons systems, they must see what other things we are trying to defend and where money is being spent in this country. We must try to protect the American competitive system. This, said Secretary Anderson to the President, was his speech for the day. The President replied that it was a very good one too.

The Director of the Budget asked if he could add a little to the observations that Secretary Anderson had just made. It seemed to Mr. Stans that at the level of $41,165,000,000 which was being proposed for the Defense Department budget, there was no possibility of balancing the FY 1960 budget unless we could either find new sources of revenue or make cuts in the budgets of other agencies. If, moreover, we fail to reach our objective with respect to the Defense Department budget, we will also fail to do so with respect to the budget of the Atomic Energy Commission. Mr. Stans also pointed out that on the civilian side of the budget, the civilian agencies have come down five and a half billions of dollars by such devices as deferring expenditures wherever possible. Accordingly, the non-Defense agencies have taken very substantial cuts.

In the light of the above facts Mr. Stans then said he was forced to state a couple of things that represented the solid opinion of the Bureau of the Budget. First, to accept the present overall figure of the Defense Department will leave the country in a budget posture which will definitely increase over the next few years. Secondly, in terms of the yardstick applied to other agencies, the Defense Department budget is not as tight as the budget of the others. It did not seem to Mr. Stans that one per cent of the Defense Department figures (all that was needed by way of a cut to insure balancing of the budget) could actually constitute the measure of the difference between national security and national insecurity.

If you ask me, continued Mr. Stans, why it is so significant to have a balanced FY 1960 budget when the expenditure deficit will only come to some $400,000,000, the answer I give is that it is of prime psychological importance to have the balanced budget and that secondly, whether we have been fair with the other agencies who have made sacrifices if we permit the Defense Department to unbalance the budget even by an amount as small as $400,000,000. It was, therefore, his recommendation and that of the Bureau of the Budget that this Defense Department budget not be approved in this amount and that the Defense Department budget follow the normal procedures of the budgetary process. We should put before you, Mr. President, a number of specific Defense Department programs and ask whether or not these programs really belonged in the FY 1960 Defense Department budget. In this process Mr. Stans said that we might need the help of the President.

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The President replied by asking Mr. Stans whether he, Mr. Stans, thought that he, the President, had been sitting on his hands. The President then went back and asked a question as to the effectiveness of the Polaris missile. How confident were we of the Polaris missile? Were we not going into procurement of the missile before we had proved out the weapon system? Were we not gambling?

Secretary McElroy replied that we have gone ahead to procure long-range missiles on the basis that we were buying time. Admittedly this was chancy and it was expensive. The President replied that the trouble was that we are buying this time all the time and we were taking gambles in every field. Why was the procurement of the Polaris now so very important? You could not win if you persisted in putting your money on all the colors of the wheel. Secretary McElroy responded that we had indeed held back on the procurement on some of the shorter range missiles but in the matter of the Atlas, the Titan, and the Polaris, the attainment of an early operational capability could be a very important factor in maintaining the balance of capabilities between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

Secretary McElroy suggested that Admiral Burke would have some pertinent comments with respect to the Polaris procurement program. Admiral Burke admitted that Polaris was chancy at the outset. Now, however, we know that we can get a [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]warhead for the missile. We also know that we have the re-entry problem licked. Moreover, the guidance tests have been satisfactory, and the propellant is all right. Therefore, what we have now in sight and are pretty sure of obtaining is a Polaris missile with a 1200 mile range which can be fired from a submarine while submerged which will carry [1–1/2 lines of source text not classified]. What we must try to do in the immediate future is to get a missile with a 1500 mile range, [1 line of source text not declassified]. Mr. Holaday in general confirmed Admiral Burke’s figures.

In response to Admiral Burke the President said that if what he had stated was correct, then it was toward the Polaris program objectives that we should be building hard but at the same time we are also trying to buy time with our Atlas missile, the Titan missile, and practically everything else. How many times do we have to calculate that we need to destroy the Soviet Union? These Polaris missiles, said the President, ought to have some regulatory effect on the Atlas and Titan procurement programs. The President asked how many missiles there were to each submarine and Mr. Holaday replied that there were 16 missiles to a sub, that we would propose to have 9 submarines at the end of 1963. In all we would have 200 Atlas and Titan missiles; 192 Polaris missiles and 120 IRBM’s.

The President said that it seemed to him that somewhere along the line we had got ourselves heavily over-insured. He would agree with the need for a good little fleet of Polaris submarines but do we need such a [Page 163] hell of a lot of them? Secretary McElroy said that precisely this question was now before the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The President went on to say that the basic theory of the Secretary of the Treasury earlier was that the U.S. defense system has got to be one that this country can carry for forty years. If our citizens become pessimistic, we could have a serious drop in our economy. If we cannot balance this budget with the present great strength of our economy, then in the long run our national defense will be weakened. Repeating his view that the U.S. was over-insured, the President went on to say that if we could get these truths of which the Secretary of the Treasury talked clearly fixed in our minds, he really believed that we could find one or two of these military programs which could be eliminated.

Secretary Herter remarked that while most of the problems relating to the Defense Department budget required a technical competence which members of the State Department did not profess to have, there was a certain trend that he found disturbing. While members of the State Department could not be judges of the effectiveness of our deterrent capabilities, the people in State were concerned over the outlook for our capability in limited military operations which seems to be being cut down as, for example, with respect to the deployment of U.S. Forces overseas.

The President replied with some warmth that the Department of State had just as big a stake in this problem as any of the rest of us. Like everything else, foreign policy depended on a sound dollar. Suppose our Allies were to lose confidence in our economic soundness, asked the President. Such a development could be just as serious for the national security in the long run as the lack of a capability for waging limited war. With respect to the problem of a cut in U.S. deployments overseas, the President suggested the possibility at this point of cutting out one of the divisions now stationed in the U.S.

The Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission provided certain statistics concerning military and national security expenditures in the last few years and defended the FY 1960 Defense proposal by stating that this proposal had not gone up as high percentage-wise as might normally be expected as a result of the factor of inflation alone. He also pointed to the enormous expenditures of the non-Defense agencies. This fact should be recognized and people should understand it so that our deficit is not always laid at the doorstep of the Defense Department.

Secretary McElroy then asked if General White, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, could speak to the Council for a moment or two. General White said he felt obliged to make the statement he was about to make. In his opinion SAC was now the umbrella under which the Free World lives and breathes. It must remain an effective deterrent but although few people knew it, we had had as many as 47 structural failures with our [Page 164] B–47 aircraft. These were obviously deteriorating very rapidly and they must be replaced by more modern aircraft if our deterrent was to be maintained.

Secretary McElroy then stated that the matters that Secretary Anderson and Mr. Stans had been talking about to the Council this morning had also been very much on the minds of himself and the Defense Department in developing the FY 1960 budget. He wished to state clearly that the budget did not contain a gun for every need. There were calculated risks in this budget. We were not moving as fast as we could with proved weapons systems. In the matter of the long-range missiles, it seemed to Secretary McElroy that 20 squadrons of ICBM’s, with 200 missiles involved, constituted a relatively conservative program. He went on to say that he and the Defense Department had examined these programs in this spirit. It would perhaps be silly for him to state that every single dollar in this FY 1960 budget was sound but nevertheless many hard long sessions with the best people available to us made this budget the best that the President’s Defense team could present. It was for that reason that the budget was here before the National Security Council this morning.

Mr. Gordon Gray referred to the cancellation of the Goose decoy missile which came after the presentation made by Admiral Sides recently on October 13 on the evaluation of offensive and defensive weapons systems.5 Mr. Gray, reminding the Council that the President had requested the Joint Chiefs of Staff on this occasion to conduct additional investigations to identify weapons systems which might be obsolescent or overlapping, asked Secretary McElroy whether such additional investigations had been scrutinized and evaluated during the course of the formulation of the FY 1960 Defense budget. Secretary McElroy replied that this had not happened once but many many times. He cited the conclusions of the Department on the B–58 aircraft as a reflection of this scrutiny.

The President asked when the Defense Department expected to have a wing of B–58 aircraft operational. General White replied that a B–58 wing would be operational late in 1960. We were now producing some three B–58’s per month. Secretary Douglas spoke up to point out that we would not be getting more than two B–58 aircraft a month until late in Calendar 1960 and we would not get four a month until the end of Calendar 1960.

The Vice President said he did not believe he could add anything much to the discussion except that he wished to speak further of Secretary Herter’s concern that when the FY 1960 Defense budget is finally [Page 165] determined and published, it might appear that we are shifting ever more to reliance on our deterrent capability at the expense of our capability for limited wars. Secretary Herter interjected that we certainly want a deterrent that was a deterrent but that he was worried about the timing of the redeployment of U.S. Forces in Europe. For example, we would certainly not want to redeploy U.S. Forces from Europe if we found ourselves in the midst of a crisis over Berlin.

The Vice President went on to say that he shared somewhat Governor Herter’s concern over fears abroad that the primary interest of the U.S. was in the “big war” (nuclear exchange). On this basis, continued the Vice President, it would appear that if we are going to stay within an overall defense spending ceiling, if further adjustments become necessary it will be difficult to make them except in the area of the Atlas, the B–58 or the B–52. We must know that when this budget finally comes out, it will be widely felt to be a budget designed to protect our nuclear retaliatory capability but not our limited war capability. This might not be the fact but it would certainly have that appearance.

Secretary McElroy replied to the Vice President that this was the reason why they had put into the budget the aircraft carrier which had earlier been referred to. The Secretary thought we had done reasonably well in meeting our limited war demands in Lebanon and the Taiwan Strait although he confessed he did not know whether we could effectively handle three limited war situations at one and the same time. Secretary McElroy added his strong opinion that the NATO nations press us to fulfill our defense responsibilities but do not fulfill their own. The U.K., for example, was becoming more or less a third rate military power and we should all remember that there is no one now but the U.S. which can employ significant military power around the world with the hope of helping indigenous forces in the Free World to prevent or resist aggression.

At this point the Vice President thought it would be well for all to realize that when this budget went to the Congress, the Defense Department was going to get from the Congress more than the President was asking from the Congress. Congress would very likely cut appropriations for foreign aid but they would almost certainly add to the military program. Both the President and Secretary McElroy were inclined to agree but pointed out that opinion in this country could change and we might get less.

General Twining asked permission to speak with respect to the capabilities of the U.S. to fight brush fire or limited wars. He pointed out that if the U.S. ever got so involved in a limited military operation that our Army and Navy and Air Force could not handle the situation, we would have to resort to mobilization in any case. General Twining expressed the opinion that we were in pretty good shape in the area of [Page 166] limited military capabilities. He also pointed out that we were spending large sums of money for the procurement of new weapons systems this year but that maybe in future years, once these weapons systems have been procured, our defense budget levels would begin to go down. General Twining’s statement was greeted with mild amusement. The President said he could not agree with General Twining’s prediction that within a few years we would see our defense expenditures begin to go down although Secretary McElroy gave some support to the view that there could be reductions once the nation’s long-range missile capability had been firmly established. Again disagreeing, the President pointed out that once we had procured an adequate number of missiles, we would find ourselves faced with the continuing problem of the cost of base construction for the missiles.

It was suggested by Mr. Gray that the Council hear briefly from Dr. Killian who stated his belief and that of his associates that there were indeed calculated risks in this Defense Department budget at the present time. There was really no adequate air defense which this budget was slowing down. Furthermore, Dr. Killian said, he could see no way clear to an adequate defense against missiles. It seemed to Dr. Killian that the very complex question of the balance of overall military capabilities must be examined. There was likewise need for a thorough review of our air defense program. Dr. Killian expressed the opinion likewise that our limited war capabilities were tending to be downgraded although General Twining disagreed with him. Finally, said Dr. Killian, as regards this specific Defense Department budget, there were things in it that could be cut out if we decided to do it. There were things in this budget which were of less importance than some of the things which have been cut and are not in it. Can we justify more money, for example, for a nuclear-powered plane which we know will be subsonic? Would it not be better to spend the money allocated to this program on our long-range missile programs instead? We must bank on our Atlas, Polaris and Titan missile programs rather than on Minuteman at this time. Also we have probably been a little too enthusiastic in this budget about certain space activities. There was certainly some “blue sky” stuff in this area.

General Taylor asked permission to clear up certain misunderstandings with respect to the deployment of U.S. Forces in the NATO area. He disclaimed any intention to reduce deployment of tactical units to NATO but we were short of spaces for such new responsibilities as the NATO nuclear stockpile. We will have to reduce somewhere and General Norstad may come back and prefer a reduction in tactical units as opposed to a reduction of the forces allocated for taking care of the NATO stockpile.

At this point Mr. Gray reminded the President of the time and pointed out that he had two recommendations before him, one by Secretary McElroy calling for approval of the proposed FY 1960 budget and [Page 167] another by Mr. Stans advocating that the budget not be approved pending regular budgetary processes.

The Director of Central Intelligence said that he did not wish to commence his briefing without a comment or two on the direction of the FY 1960 Defense Department budget. He felt he must point out that subversion and other techniques used by the Russians not involving military operations would undoubtedly be stepped up by the Soviets in the coming months and years.

The National Security Council:6

Noted and discussed an oral presentation of the recommendations by the Secretary of Defense as to the U.S. Military Programs for FY 1960, as presented at the meeting by the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mr. Max Lehrer of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), the Director of Guided Missiles, and the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
Noted the President’s approval of the inclusion of a new aircraft carrier (CVA) in the FY 1960 Military Program, in the light of an oral statement by the Chief of Naval Operations.
Noted the comments by the Secretary of the Treasury on the serious implications for the national security of a failure to balance the FY 1960 budget.
Noted the comments by the Director, Bureau of the Budget, that the FY 1960 military budget recommended by the Secretary of Defense would result in a budget posture involving increased budgets over the next few years, and that this military budget did not appear as tight as the budgets of other agencies in terms of the yardsticks applied to them. Mr. Stans recommended that the military budget as presented not be approved at this time, but that it should follow the usual budget procedures.
Noted the statement of the Acting Secretary of State that, although the Department of State is not competent to advise on the overall level of the military budget, it is concerned that the contemplated reductions in troop strength, particularly those involving foreign deployments, might adversely affect U.S. limited war capabilities.
Noted the statement by the Secretary of Defense that the investigations of weapons systems directed by NSC Action No. 1994 were reflected in the recommendations as to the U.S. Military Programs for FY 1960 presented at this meeting, and that these recommendations represented [Page 168] the best programs that could be developed as a result of careful re-examination by all responsible officials of the Department of Defense.
Noted the President’s statement that, while he approved in general the recommendations as to the U.S. Military Programs for FY 1960 presented at this meeting, the military budget estimates for FY 1960 should follow the regular budgetary process to make sure that all practicable economies were effected.

Note: The President, in subsequently approving the above actions taken at the meeting, directed that this Record of Action should also show the President’s approval of the following recommendations by the Secretary of Defense as presented at the meeting by the Director of Guided Missiles:

The presently approved 13-squadron ICBM Program (9 Atlas and 4 Titan) be increased to a total of 20 squadrons (9 Atlas and 11 Titan).
The production of land-based IRBMs be limited to the 5 squadrons of Thor and 3 squadrons of Jupiter for which production commitments have already been made, with the understanding that this program may be increased by not to exceed 2 additional squadrons if further NATO requirements are expressed within the next few months and military aid funds therefore can be made available.
Authorization of the use of FY 1959 appropriated funds for:
Research and development, and for conversion of a submarine tender.
Construction of 1 additional Polaris submarine beginning in FY 1959, bringing the total authorized to 6 Polaris submarines.
Authorization to construct 3 additional Polaris submarines beginning in FY 1960, bringing the total authorized to 9 Polaris submarines; using in part FY 1959 appropriated funds.
Authorization to proceed with the planning and necessary lead-time procurement actions for construction of 3 additional Polaris submarines with FY 1961 funds, bringing the total authorized to 12 Polaris submarines.

The above actions, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of Defense and the Director, Bureau of the Budget, for appropriate implementation.

[Here follows Agenda Item 2. “Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security.”]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Gleason on December 8. Another memorandum of this meeting by Admiral Burke, dated December 6, is in the Naval Historical Center, Burke Papers, Originator File.
  2. A December 9 memorandum by Goodpaster describes a lengthy meeting held at the White House on November 28 on the Defense budget, attended by the President, McElroy, Twining, Gray, Stans, and other officials. A memorandum from Stans to General Persons dated December 10 summarizes a meeting held with the President on the Defense budget on December 3. (Both in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries) Eisenhower met with the JCS on the Defense budget at the White House the evening of December 3. (Memorandum by Burke, December 4; Naval Historical Center, Burke Papers, Originator File) A December 5 memorandum from Captain J.H. Morse, Jr., USN, Special Assistant to Chairman McCone of the AEC, to Gordon Gray also treats this subject. (Attachment to memorandum from Gray to Morse, December 11; Eisenhower Library, White House Office Files, Project Clean Up) All are in the Supplement. General Taylor’s account of Eisenhower’s session with the JCS on December 3 is in The Uncertain Trumpet, pp. 70–72.
  3. Not found.
  4. Not found.
  5. John A. McCone.
  6. See footnote 5, Document 36.
  7. The following paragraphs and note constitute NSC Action No. 2013, approved by the President on December 16. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council) Further discussion of this action is in Document 42.