71. Memorandum from Gen. Lemnitzer to McNamara, December 61
- Foster Panel Draft, “Proposed Disarmament Program”, Revision 9 (U)
1. Reference is made to the memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA), I–17133/61, dated 20 October 1961, which requested the comments and recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the “Foster Panel Proposed Disarmament Program,” and reply to a list of questions related thereto.
2. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize the magnitude of the tasks confronting the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. It is paradoxical that the agency must devise imaginative proposals to meet aggressive Soviet positions without impairing the capabilities of the United States to overcome Soviet aggression. Further, it is inevitable that tense international situations cause a sense of urgency for arms control negotiations. However, this urgency must not become the only basis for an arms control program.
3. In the development of a US disarmament position, the unswerving purposes of the Soviets toward world domination must be kept in mind. Concurrently, the United States must recognise its basic principles against which our actions and proposals must be constantly weighed. This does not indicate inflexibility, but it does indicate the need for well defined limits in disarmament matters. Such limits are not fully recognized in the Foster plan and unless they are established, the United States could move step by step to the position of our opponent. This trend, coupled with an honest desire for success in negotiations, could well jeopardize the security of the United States.[Facsimile Page 2]
4. The subject proposal is based on the concept that immediate progress is necessary in the reduction and control of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and that imbalances in other forms of military power would not become dangerous until a considerable reduction had taken [Typeset Page 200] place. The Joint Chiefs of Staff do not consider this fundamentally valid. The proposal would trade off our strategic nuclear superiority for virtually no concession on the part of the Soviets. The Foster Panel approach implicitly underestimates the importance of the US strategic nuclear capability to our over-all defense posture and the extent to which it serves to maintain stability and peace.
5. The Joint Chiefs of Staff reaffirm that the United States cannot afford to reduce drastically its nuclear capability until there exists effective means for enforcing international agreements to which it can entrust its security. Moreover, the premature reduction of the US and USSR nuclear capabilities to a status of numerical parity without a corresponding elimination of the present Soviet conventional superiority, could upset the uneasy balance of opposing military power that exists today.
6. Additional comments concerning the proposal and the list of specific questions prepared by the Foster Panel are contained in the attached Appendix.
7. Although the Joint Chiefs of Staff recognise inherent shortcomings concerning the US Declaration on Disarmament, that program is considered more acceptable from a military point of view than the Foster Panel proposal. Accordingly, it is recommended that the Foster Panel proposal be withdrawn and that the current Declaration on Disarmament be utilised as the basic US proposal. Further, it is recommended that attention be directed toward the development of detailed negotiating positions and background papers for the US Declaration on Disarmament. These positions are needed for discussions with our Allies and with the USSR in the event the Soviets suddenly choose to enter into serious negotiations, using the US Declaration on Disarmament as a frame of reference.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Joint Chiefs of Staff
- JCS views on the proposed disarmament program as devised by the Foster Panel. An appendix is attached containing additional comments on the Foster Panel program. Two additional attachments by McCone and Scoville provide a readout of the 12/18 Department of State meeting on resumption of nuclear testing. Secret. 23 pp. Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Kaysen Series, Disarmament, 12/61–4/62.↩