116. Draft Memorandum From Secretary of Defense McNamara to President Kennedy0


  • Defense Department Budget for FY ‘64

I have now substantially completed my review of the Department of Defense budget for FY 1964. This review was conducted jointly with the Bureau of the Budget, and I have discussed all outstanding issues with the Director of the Bureau of the Budget. As shown on Table 1,1 I am recommending new obligation authority for Military Functions, Military Assistance, and Civil Defense of $54.4 billion compared with $51.3 billion appropriated by the Congress for FY 1963, $49.4 billion appropriated for FY 1962 after your three budget amendments for that year, and $43.1 billion in the budget presented by President Eisenhower for FY 1962. We estimate that the expenditures in FY 1964 corresponding to this amount of new obligational authority will be $53.1 billion compared with $50.1 billion in FY 1963. Over $1.5 billion of the increase in FY 1964 expenditures results from increases in rates of compensation.

The forces supported by this budget are summarized in Tables 2 through 12. I have explained my position on the major issues affecting these forces in my earlier memoranda on: Strategic Retaliatory Forces; the B-70 Program; Ballistic Missile Defense; and the General Purpose Forces (tactical ground, sea, and air forces).2 The recommended force structure was based on requirements for national security and was not limited by arbitrary budget ceilings. In my review of the budgets proposed by the Services, I have attempted, as last year, to eliminate all non-essential, marginal, and postponable expenditures with the objective of minimizing the cost of supporting the required forces. In total I have reduced the Service proposals by approximately $13 billion.

In developing the program and reviewing the budget proposals, I have had the continuing counsel and assistance of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Although the force structure does not include all the forces recommended by each of the Services or by the Joint Chiefs of Staff collectively, the Joint Chiefs agree that the program supported by this budget will further increase our combat effectiveness and provide powerful forces in a [Page 429] high state of readiness for defense of the security interests of the United States.3

The principal differences in the forces proposed by the Services are the following:

RS-70. The Air Force proposed full concurrent development and an early commitment to deployment.

Minuteman. The Air Force proposed a rapid build-up to a force of 900 by the end of FY ‘65 and 1950 by 1968.

Polaris. The Navy proposed an improved A-3a missile to replace the A-1 and A-2 missiles.

Nike Zeus. The Army proposed an immediate decision to procure and deploy an improved version of Zeus.

Improved Manned Interceptor. The Air Force proposed accelerated development and a commitment to procure and deploy.

Army Strength. The Army proposed 36,250 additional men for the current 16 Divisions and an additional Infantry Division as well as the new Air Assault Division.

Tactical Air. The Air Force proposed four additional wings of tactical fighters.

Airlift. The Air Force proposed substantially increasing the force objective for C-130-E and C-141 transports.

With the exceptions noted below, I believe that Dave Bell concurs on all of my recommendations. We agree that the following outstanding issues should be brought to your attention:

The level of Strategic Nuclear Forces. Three proposals have been made for possible reductions in the program which we discussed with you at Hyannis Port on November 23:4
Should we cancel 150 of the 950 Minuteman missiles programmed through FY 1964? If so, should we cancel 150 of the 200 Minuteman missiles approved by the Congress in FY 1963 or the 150 Improved Minuteman missiles recommended in my FY 1964 budget? Dave leans to the first of these alternatives; I remain strongly opposed to any reduction at this tim.5
What is the total number of Minuteman missiles that we should plan for in our Five-Year Force Structure and Financial Program? I have recommended a total program of 1300 to be completed by the end of FY ‘68. Five hundred of these would be Improved Minutemen. If the total number to be programmed is substantially less than 1300, it is doubtful that the development of the Improved Minuteman is worth its cost of $366 million.

Should we buy the last six Polaris submarines included in my budget recommendations, completing the programmed force of 41? I understand Dr. Wiesner questions the requirement for more than 35 submarines.

I was informed by the Air Force on November 30 that a cost over-run of approximately $400 million is now anticipated in the approved 800 missile Minuteman program. Because I have had no time to investigate the causes or the validity of this new estimate, I propose to make no change at this time in my budget recommendations. After we have completed our study of this problem next spring, some adjustments will have to be made in either the force structure or the financial program, but I do not contemplate requesting supplemental appropriations.

Nike Zeus and Nike-X. General Taylor wants to again recommend to you that we proceed immediately with the procurement and deployment of Nike Zeus. Dave Bell agrees with me that we should not now deploy the Nike Zeus, but he believes that we should develop Nike-X at a reduced rate, since he regards it as an insurance type development which we may never decide to deploy. I still believe that we should develop Nike-X as rapidly as we can and that the provision for its development in my recommended budget will make this possible.
Strength for Experimental Air Assault Division. I am recommending that the Army strength be increased by 15,000 by FY 1964 to test the air assault division and other new air units proposed by the Howze Board. Dave Bell is inclined to think that the testing should be done by existing units without an increase in strength.6
Titan III. I understand that Dr. Wiesner questions the desirability of this development. I propose to appoint a review board, which will include Dr. Wiesner, to make a thorough study of the alternative and report in four months. If at that time it appears that Titan III does not offer sufficient advantages over Saturn C-1, I will recommend cancellation and a corresponding reduction in our FY 1964 budget request.
Civil Defense. Dr. Wiesner has raised some questions regarding the nature of the civil defense program. I am recommending only $300 million for Civil Defense in FY 1964—I do not believe that we should eliminate the shelter-incentive part of the program.

[Here follow paragraphs on military compensation, family housing, and military assistance.]

Robert S. McNamara
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, Defense Budget 1964 Miscellaneous Volume I. Secret.
  2. Tables 1-12 were not found.
  3. See Document 112, footnote 3 to Document 107, Document 111, and Document 115.
  4. In approving the above statement, the Chief of Naval Operations, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps retain certain reservations, particularly as regards the rate of modernization and the growth in combat effectiveness of certain US forces in relation to the Sino-Soviet threat. [Footnote in the source text.]
  5. See Document 113.
  6. In a December 6 memorandum to Bundy, Kaysen stated that Wiesner had proposed a number of cost-cutting alternatives to McNamara’s recommendations on strategic retaliatory forces. Of Wiesner’s suggestions, Kaysen recommended for particular consideration either substituting 150 improved Minutemen for the last 150 of the already-funded program, and adding 150 more to reach a total of 800, rather than 950, of both types by 1966, or cancelling the entire improved Minuteman program. According to Kaysen, McNamara had stated at a meeting on November 17 that if the figure of 950 was too big, “he would prefer cancelling the improved Minuteman to any other alternative, since he didn’t think there was much in the improved Minuteman.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, Defense Budget 1964 Miscellaneous Volume I)
  7. All of McNamara’s recommendations were in the defense budget as submitted to the Congress with the general budget on January 17, 1963. For the text of the President’s accompanying message concerning defense, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, pp. 32-34.
  8. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.