10. Letter From Secretary of State Rusk to Secretary of Defense McNamara 1

Dear Bob:

As I indicated in the NSC meeting February 1,2 I am sending you certain revisions in the memorandum concerning foreign policy considerations bearing on DOD budgetary planning which Secretary Herter sent to Secretary Gates in June 1960.3 This should be looked upon as preliminary to the long-range study of the U.S. military posture on which you and we are shortly to be engaged.

We will give this matter continuing study and will advise you of any further thoughts we may have.

I would be glad to discuss these considerations with you, or to have them discussed by our staffs, if you believe that this would be helpful.

[Page 25]

I am sending a copy of this paper to Dave Bell.





  • Foreign Policy Considerations Bearing on the US Defense Posture

I. Major Foreign Policy Requirements

General War Deterrent. An effective, invulnerable, and reliable US nuclear retaliatory force is required both to deter general war and to frustrate nuclear blackmail.
Its effectiveness must be evident so that both the USSR and our allies will feel no uncertainty on this point.
Its invulnerability must be such that (i) the Communists and our allies will realize that it could not be destroyed; (ii) we will not need to use it hastily or preemptively in a grave crisis, in order to prevent its being crippled by a possible Soviet attack; (iii) we will not, in the event of such a crisis, have to take such “crash” measures to enhance its invulnerability as the Soviets would be likely to consider evidence of impending attack.

Its reliability must (i) be such as to minimize the risk of accidental war; (ii) not be so dependent on bases and forces on foreign territory as to cause the Soviets to believe that they could blunt its effectiveness by pressing our allies to limit the use of their territory or forces for this purpose.

Effective civil defense measures will also be required to make credible our deterrent to general war.

Limited Operations. A mobile, substantial, and flexible US capability for operations short of general war is essential to meet the threat of limited aggression, which is likely to assume increasing importance in the years ahead.
Its mobility must be such that our allies and the Communists will realize that it can respond promptly to threats in any part of the world.
Its size must be sufficiently substantial so that the US will be able to respond effectively to limited aggressions involving sizeable Communist forces, without requiring the redeployment of our force contributions [Page 26] to NATO and without crippling the base for partial or complete mobilization in the US.
Its flexibility must be such as to enable the US (i) to respond in each case with a use of force appropriate to the threat, and (ii) to achieve its military objective in case of non-nuclear attack without use of nuclear weapons, if the President so decides at the time, in the light of relevant considerations—including likely Communist and free world reactions. We attach the greatest importance to “raising the threshold” beyond which the President might have to decide to initiate the use of nuclear weapons.
Counter-Guerrilla Capabilities. An improved capability to deal with threats to the internal security of free-world states, such as the threat of guerrilla insurgency, is urgently needed. These threats have recently been stepped up by the Communists and their allies, and it is likely they will be further expanded and extended. Free world capabilities to meet these threats must include US ability to give to the indigenous elements charged with maintaining internal security in individual countries advice, training and assistance which is tailored to the tasks they face.
Guerrilla Capabilities. Increased and improved guerrilla capabilities could also make a substantial contribution to defense of the free world. This will require that the US and other selected free world countries maintain special forces, which are trained and equipped for guerrilla tasks.

II. Major Regional Requirements

In addition to these basic considerations, two regional requirements are sufficiently important to merit special notice.

NATO . A cohesive NATO alliance, based on a convincing US commitment and a strategy in which our allies continue to have confidence, is essential.
A convincing US commitment involves a continuing US willingness to station substantial US military forces in Europe and to commit US-manned MRBM’s in Europe or in European waters to NATO during the next few years. Our allies view the presence and commitment of US forces as an essential element of the assurance that we will respond, despite growing Soviet nuclear capabilities, to future threats against the Treaty area in Europe. In the absence of a reduction in the Soviet threat, any reduction in the over-all combat effectiveness of US NATO-committed forces in Europe would seriously damage allied cohesion, as well as weaken our negotiating position vis-à-vis the USSR.
A strategy in which our allies have confidence will be one that gives NATO the option of responding without nuclear weapons to substantial attack on NATO Europe by Soviet ready non-nuclear forces, for a long enough period to enforce a pause which would give the Soviets time to appreciate the wider risks of the course on which they are embarked [Page 27] and provide an opportunity for negotiations. This will require (i) Shield non-nuclear forces adequate to discharge this mission, which means not only pressing European countries to build up and modernize Shield forces but also ensuring that US forces in the Shield have fully modern weapons; (ii) arrangements to ensure that such Shield nuclear capabilities as may be required to deter more massive Soviet aggression will not be automatically used in the event Shield forces become engaged against forces not themselves using nuclear weapons.
Asian Periphery of the Bloc. The free world’s military posture along the Asian rim of the Bloc should be capable of rapid response to a wide spectrum of threats. Chinese Communist policy is likely to pose such threats, with emphasis on infiltration and guerrilla warfare, with greater urgency in the years ahead.

Threatened free world states in the area will be best able to concentrate on the tasks of maintaining internal security and eliminating guerrilla insurgency, where it is present, if they do not have to keep an undue proportion of their forces inactive to guard against overt invasion.

It is, therefore, important not only to have mobile, flexible and substantial US forces (para. 2) but also to have them deployed in forward areas of the western Pacific, in order to present our allies and the Communists with tangible evidence of our capacity to respond to aggression. As a related task, the State and Defense Departments and CIA should give urgent attention to improving the morale and fighting effectiveness of non-Western forces with whom we are allied or closely associated.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.5/2-461. Secret. Drafted by Henry Owen of the Policy Planning Council and cleared in EUR and FE. Another copy is in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, State 2/2/61-2/16/61.
  2. See Document 8.
  3. This memorandum, dated June 30, 1960, emphasized increasing U.S. capability for operations short of general war and for counter-guerrilla activities. (Enclosure to memorandum from McGhee to Rusk, January 27, 1961; Department of State, S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, BNSP 1961-1962) The memorandum printed below closely follows the format and much of the substance of the June 30 memorandum, but with even greater emphasis on non-nuclear options in Europe and on counter-guerrilla capabilities elsewhere.
  4. Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.
  5. Secret.