242. Memorandum from Gen. Taylor to Gen. Lemnitzer, September 191

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The President has asked me to pass the attached list of questions to you for transmission to General Power.

He would like General Power to respond to these questions at their meeting tomorrow, September 20th.

Maxwell D. Taylor
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1. Attached herewith are a number of questions bearing on the Single Integrated Operations Plan (SIOP) which you may wish to ask General Power at your meeting with him tomorrow. The questions are designed to produce answers to some of the alleged weaknesses of the SIOP which include the following:

a. Without engendering dangerous confusion, it is difficult if not impossible to vary the schedule of planned strikes by excluding planned targets, bringing in new ones or stopping the schedule.

b. As a result of the inflexibility noted in a above, in an escalating situation over Berlin, we could not execute a surprise first strike exclusively against Soviet military targets if we so desired.

c. If four weapons are scheduled for delivery on a target and the target is destroyed or the enemy capitulates after two have been delivered, it is not possible to withhold the remaining two.

d. If the Alert Force is launched on a false alarm and later must turn back, our strike capability will be degraded for a significant period.

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2. In obtaining answers to the foregoing, it is important to separate out what controls are available now and what are for the future. This time factor was not clear in the briefing last Thursday. Also, when the point is made that the injection of some forms of flexibility will reduce military effectiveness, we should get some feel whether the reduction is so serious as practically to eliminate the option.

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3. If the questions appear to cover the ground which you wish to cover with General Power, I will have them transmitted to him at once.

Maxwell D. Taylor
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Question #1. I understand the strategic attack plan now contains 16 “options.” I gather the impression, however, [text not declassified]. Is it now possible to exclude [text not declassified] from attack? If not, how soon could you develop a plan which contains such options? Can whole areas, [text not declassified] be eliminated from attack? If so, at what risk?

[text not declassified]

[text not declassified]

[text not declassified]

[text not declassified]

[text not declassified]

[text not declassified]

[text not declassified]

Question #3. [text not declassified] would leave a sizeable number of MRBMs facing Europe.

a. Would the inclusion of these MRBMs in the initial attack so enlarge the target list as to preclude tactical surprise?

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b. If so, is it possible to plan an immediate follow-on attack which would strike these targets before the first attack was completed? In particular, would our European land and sea-based air forces be suitable for this task?

Question #4. I am concerned over my ability to control our military effort once a war begins. I assume I can stop the strategic attack at any time, should I receive word the enemy has capitulated. Is this correct?

Question #5. Although one nuclear weapon will achieve the desired results, I understand that, to be assured of success, more than one weapon is programmed for each target. If the first weapon succeeds, can you prevent additional weapons from inflicting redundant destruction? If not, how long would it take to modify your plan to cover this possibility?

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Question #6. What happens to the planned execution of our strategic attack if the Alert Force is launched and several hours later it is discovered that it has been launched on a false alarm? How vulnerable would we be, and how soon would the U.S. be in a position to attack the USSR?

Question #7. After the Alert Force has been launched, how do I know that our remaining forces are being used to best advantage. Are these follow-on forces automatically committed to predetermined targets, or do we have means of getting damage assessments to direct their attacks?

Question #8. Given the European situation, some of SACEUR’s tactical fighters now scheduled for atomic attacks may be employed for conventional support of ground forces instead. Can other forces take over the responsibility of hitting SACEUR’s atomic targets without jeopardizing the success of the plan materially?

  1. Transmits list of questions for General Power’s use in his meeting with President Kennedy. Top Secret. 5 pp. National Defense University, Taylor Papers, 33 66 NATO.