6. Editorial Note

At the 353d meeting of the National Security Council on January 30, 1958, William M. Holaday, Director of Guided Missiles in the Department of Defense, gave the Council its third annual briefing on ballistic missile programs:

“At the conclusion of the presentation, Mr. Cutler noted that Mr. Holaday had displayed charts showing the following figures: 393 IRBMs, 173 Polaris missiles, and 272 ICBMs. Mr. Cutler asked whether these figures were larger than the figures previously reported because of the inclusion in the larger figure of training and test missiles. Mr. Holaday answered in the affirmative.

“Mr. Cutler said the purpose of his question was to point out that the operational capability figures approved by the President last week were smaller than the figures displayed by Mr. Holaday because the operational capability figures did not include training and test vehicles.

“Secretary McElroy noted that production of missiles had begun in advance of acquiring the research and development knowledge which, ideally, should be available in advance of production. He believed the decision to start production was correct, but wished to point out that this decision would probably entail increased expense because of design changes in the course of production. He was being pressed to move even faster, especially on Polaris, which was an attractive deterrent weapons system. The first firing of a complete Polaris would not take place until October 1959, but three Polaris submarines with missiles had already been ordered. One Senator had suggested that 100 submarines should be ordered. As we go farther down the research and development road we may have to take further gambles, but the present gamble is as big as the [Page 31]Department of Defense can recommend now. If test firings were successful, Secretary McElroy hoped to recommend expansions of the missiles program.

“Dr. Killian inquired about the prospects for liquid Titan propellants other than refrigerated liquids. Mr. Holaday said present progress was slow because the technicians were leaning toward solid propellants. Some liquids looked promising, but research on these liquids would have to be pushed if progress was to be made.” (Memorandum of discussion by Boggs, January 31; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)

Notes dated January 30 for Holaday’s presentation and Cutler’s introductory remarks, attached to the memorandum, are in the Supplement.

After the discussion, the NSC noted the briefing in NSC Action No. 1850, approved by the President on January 31. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)