122. Letter from McCone to Foster, April 61

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Dear Bill:

In connection with matters at this morning’s meeting, I hope that you are giving very careful consideration to the question of our position vis-à-vis the Soviets under a disarmament program with neither side restricted in the maintenance of facilities for the fabrication and assembly of military equipment. By maintaining factories intact, either idle or at a very low level of production, arrangements could be planned in a controlled society to bring the plants up to maximum production in a minimum time. I can readily envisage such a plan involving substantial inventories of fabricated and assembled components and a periodic training of personnel. This to me represents serious dimensions of the problem.

I observed this as a distinct possibility when I was in Russia two years ago and, in fact, discussed it with Professor Emelyanov and others. From them I gained the impression that under their system of central government control of both factories and workers, it would be quite possible for them to get the production lines going on an all-out basis in a very minimum time. In fact, they were unable to answer my question as to how we could protect ourselves against just such contingent planning on their part.

By contrast, our society does not seem to have the capability of doing these things. As you will recall when we were required to start up reserve plants after the outbreak of the Korean War, it proved to be both a laborious and time-consuming undertaking. I was disappointed in those days to find idle aircraft, engine, tank, and armament [Typeset Page 324] plants, which had been maintained for years to provide instant mobilization potential, not usable until large amounts of money had been spent and a great deal of time consumed in re-equipping, modifying, etc.

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One might argue that this need not happen in our society but it does and you must find some way in your negotiations to safeguard us against such a disadvantageous position. This is a problem not dissimilar from the problem of safeguarding against secret preparation for further nuclear testing.


John A. McCone
  1. Military production facilities. Secret. 2 pp. CIA Files, Job 80B01285A, ER Files, DCI Chron, 1/1/62–12/31/62.