145. Draft Memorandum From Secretary of Defense McNamara to President Kennedy0
- Recommended FY 1965-FY 1969 Continental Air and Missile Defense Forces (U)
Our program for strategic defense is approaching a threshold where a major national decision should be made whether to base our strategic posture primarily on strong offensive forces or to provide the elements of a balanced defense against a nuclear attack. A choice between these fundamental alternatives involves the following arguments:
- Our strategic offensive forces, alone, should deter a calculated Soviet first strike. Additional offensive forces would contribute most to defense by reducing the probability of general nuclear attack. The nation may not be willing to provide the resources for an expanded strategic defense program, including the requisite civil defense, in view of the limited effectiveness of such a program. Moreover, a level of defense that threatened the credibility of the Soviet deterrent would probably be countered, at some fraction of the cost of the defense, by additional expenditures for offensive weapons.
- A nuclear war, however, may result from other conditions—an accident, an uncontrolled attack by a Soviet field commander, a catalytic attack by a third nation, or from a deep crisis in which the Soviets act irrationally or are willing to accept greater damage. Balanced defense forces would significantly raise the level of attack that would cause serious damage under such, probably most likely, conditions of war outbreak. For any given level of Soviet forces, balanced defense forces would allow the U.S. to take greater risks to achieve a favorable outcome from such crisis periods. Although the Soviets could overcome our defense by somewhat smaller expenditures than the cost of our defense, they may not so respond for a period of time, due to constraints on specific economic resources or competing demands for these resources. And last, a balanced strategic defense program would provide a more favorable environment for disarmament negotiations, permitting the U.S. to accept a smaller number of known or undetected offensive weapons maintained by any potential enemy.
Our present strategic defense force provides only a nominal capability to reduce the damage of a nuclear attack and is not consistent with any rational strategic posture. The ultimate choice between these fundamental alternatives should be implemented either by a phased reduction of our present programs to meet limited defense objectives or by programs to provide the basic elements of an effective defense. The import of this decision should be recognized: This decision should be addressed at the level of the aggregate strategic defense program as the effectiveness of each major element depends critically on the scale of the other elements. A decision to improve our continental air defense force is not consistent with a decision against deploying a ballistic missile defense system. A decision to deploy Nike X is not consistent with a decision against a fallout shelter system. A decision on any one of the major elements implies a choice of strategic postures which should not be made by default.1 At this time, I do not believe an intelligent choice can be made between these fundamental alternatives. The recommended strategic defense program, consequently, provides only those elements required to meet limited defense objectives and to provide the technical and organizational base for later decisions on the major elements.
For comparison, the following paragraphs summarize the characteristics, costs, and effectiveness of three alternate strategic defense programs.
1. Summary of a Low Alternate Program
Choice of a strategic posture based primarily on strong offensive forces should lead to a phased reduction of present programs to a level sufficient to meet limited, feasible defense objectives. A low alternate strategic defense program would include the following basic elements:
- The continental air defense forces would be reduced by FY 1969 to include only 25 active interceptor squadrons, a surface-to-air missile defense of selected hardened sites, and a minimum surveillance, warning, and control system. The ANG interceptor squadrons and the bomber warning lines would be deleted.
- The missile warning and space surveillance systems would be maintained and improved to alert, launch, and control our offensive systems. The Nike Zeus test program would be maintained as part of the Nike X Army development and to gather data to design our offensive [Page 528] penetration aid systems. The Nike X and Defender program would be limited to development work only.
- The civil defense program would include an expanded shelter survey program and the associated provisioning and shelter management programs but would include no direct assistance for shelter construction. This program, at most, would provide 140 million low-shielded shelter spaces by 1970.
2. Summary of High Alternate Program
A balanced strategic defense program would include the following basic elements:
- A 12 squadron force of advanced interceptors would be deployed by FY 1970; the ANG interceptor force would be re-equipped with the best interceptors released from the active force. A part of the surface-to-air missile force would be re-sited for defense of selected hardened sites. A reorganization of the air defense surveillance, warning, and control system would provide a more flexible, survivable system at a lower annual cost.
- A ballistic missile defense of the 22 largest urban areas would be deployed by FY 1973. The missile warning and space surveillance systems and the Defender program would be maintained.
- An expanded civil defense program would provide 185 million shelter spaces with the necessary provisions for warning, shelter habitation, and post-attack recovery by 1970. Active thermal counter-measures would also be deployed at the 22 largest urban areas on a schedule consistent with deployment of Nike X.
3. Summary of the Recommended Program
The recommended strategic defense program for FY 1965 must be recognized as an interim program, providing those elements that are common to the low and high alternate programs and those necessary to provide the base for later decision on the major new elements.2 This force includes the following basic elements:
- The active interceptor force will be reduced by normal attrition to 38 squadrons by FY 1969; the ANG interceptor force will be substantially re-equipped with F-102s withdrawn from the theaters and maintained at a 22 squadron level through FY 1969. A part of the surface-to-air missiles will be re-sited for defense of selected hardened sites, with the remainder of the force maintained for urban area defense. Development of two new control systems will provide a basis for the ultimate replacement of SAGE.
- The missile warning and space surveillance systems will include several new elements for SLBM detection and space tracking. The Nike Zeus, Nike X, and Defender development programs will be maintained on a priority schedule to provide a technical base for a later decision on the production and deployment of a ballistic missile defense.
- The civil defense program would be revised consistent with the low or high alternate programs, dependent on Congressional action on the proposed FY 1964 program.
4. Estimated Costs of Alternate Active Defense Programs
The estimated costs of the approved active defense programs and the three alternate programs are presented below.
(Millions of Dollars)
|Ballistic Missile Defenseb|
|Total Active Defense c|
a Air Defense total includes both Service and Guard weapons, the surveillance, warning and control system, the command and support for all approved continental air and missile defense systems, and R&D for new air defense systems.
b Ballistic missile defense total includes missile warning and space surveillance systems, investment and operating costs for Nike X, and the Nike Zeus, Nike X, and Defender R&D programs.
c A complete presentation of the total expenditures for strategic defense would include the cost of the CONUS ASW forces and the civil defense program. The annual cost of the CONUS ASW forces is now around $1.1 billion and will be slightly reduced as a result of the changes recommended in the ASW memorandum. The estimated costs of the approved civil defense program and alternate programs consistent with the alternate active defense programs is presented below:
(Millions of Dollars)
5. Effectiveness of the Present Program
A strategic defense program should contribute to three important objectives:
- attack warning to alert, launch, and control the strategic offense and defense forces;
- defend the national and military command centers and those military forces necessary to control and terminate the war; and
- limit damage to U.S. population and industry.
The present warning systems, with several minor improvements, are adequate for the next several years. The primary response to the changed warning environment of the late 1960s will involve changes in our strategic forces to reduce dependence on warning and changes in operational procedures to make use of shorter warning times.
The present strategic defense force, unfortunately, provides only a nominal capability to limit damage to U.S. population and industry and is not sited for effective defense of the critical command centers and military forces. At the present time, the damage resulting from a Soviet attack would be limited primarily by the number and capability of Soviet offensive weapons, the effectiveness of our counterforce response, and the effect of coercive tactics on Soviet intentions and targeting. Our present strategic defense forces are comparable to a building with fragile walls and no roof or foundation. The air defense force is a costly product of earlier planning for a large all-bomber threat, and is critically vulnerable to a small ballistic missile attack; under favorable conditions this force could probably destroy around 100 bombers, but most of the bombers would penetrate to their priority targets.3
With no defense against ballistic missiles, a 50 missile attack would kill more than 30 million people and a 200 missile attack would kill most of our urban population. The CONUS ASW force provides a capability to destroy around 30 percent of a follow-on attack by Soviet diesel-powered missile submarines but provides only a limited capability against the growing nuclear-powered submarine force. With full utilization of the present fallout shelter spaces, a Soviet attack on military targets only would kill more than 30 million people; no increase in active defenses alone would significantly increase the survivors from a determined Soviet attack in the absence of a complete fallout shelter system. Without a balanced strategic defense, a determined Soviet attack in the late 1960s would probably kill around two-thirds of the U. S. population. The present force, at most, could provide some defense of our hardened military [Page 531] forces, and a substantial re-siting would be required to achieve this capability. Our present strategic defense program, in summary, is larger than necessary to meet limited, feasible defense objectives and is grossly inadequate to provide an effective defense of population and industry.
6. Effectiveness of a Low Alternate Program
A reduction of the present program should be accompanied by a reduction of the missions for which they are charged. A low alternate strategic defense program would provide a negligible capability to increase the population surviving a determined Soviet attack but would still contribute to several valuable objectives.
The smaller interceptor force considered would be adequate4 for peacetime airspace surveillance and policing, a defense against an airborne attack by a third power, and defense against intra-war reconnaissance; as over half of the present 40 active squadrons are co-located with SAC, the distribution of a 25 squadron force over the available non-co-located bases would present a comparable number of aiming points. A re-siting of a small proportion of the surface-to-air missile force would provide an effective defense of selected hardened national and military command centers and missile fields, where none now exists. The forward bomber warning lines could be deleted,5 as the contiguous radars now provide more warning to our strategic forces than is available against a ballistic missile attack.
A continuation of the ballistic missile defense R&D programs may not be appropriate unless eventual deployment of Nike X or a similar system for defense of urban areas is expected. (A ballistic missile defense of hardened command centers and missile fields does not now appear competitive with other means of reducing the vulnerability of these systems.) The missile warning and space surveillance systems and the Nike Zeus test program are requisite to maintain the effectiveness of our strategic offensive forces.
A Congressional decision against the proposed shelter development legislation would limit any additional fallout shelter spaces to those that could be identified by an expanded shelter survey program. At most, this program would provide 140 million shelter spaces (with a protection factor of 20 or more) by 1970. This lower program, including the associated shelter stocking and management programs, would increase the proportion of population surviving a determined Soviet attack from around one-third to over 40 percent.[Page 532]
Against the range of feasible defense objectives, this low alternate program would be nearly as effective and significantly less costly than the approved program.
7. Effectiveness of a High Alternate Program
The high alternate program outlined in this memorandum would provide the basic elements of a balanced strategic defense on a schedule which makes full use of the available technology and minimizes the annual fluctuations of funding requirements. A nationwide fallout shelter system with the necessary provisions for warning, shelter habitation, and post-attack recovery, would be the most effective component of a balanced program; for a total cost to the economy of around $7 billion, this program would increase the proportion of the population surviving a determined Soviet attack in 1970 from around one-third to around one-half. The improved air defense program and a ballistic missile defense of the 22 largest urban areas, for a total cost (including five years operations) of around $25 billion, would further increase the population surviving to around two-thirds. The air defense program would also provide a considerably improved defense of the hardened command centers and missile fields. The active defense systems provide an additional capability to moderate damage to our industrial structure, for which there appears to be no substitute short of a major program to disperse and/or harden industrial facilities.
Depending on the scale of a potential attack, the desired level of defense, and the amount of resources required, some additions to these programs should be considered later. These include the deployment of a new surface-to-air missile defense against bombers and cruise missiles in the areas defended by a ballistic missile defense, deployment of Nike X at smaller urban areas, and additional thermal countermeasures. An additional $20 billion for a combination of these programs would increase the proportion surviving to around three-fourths against a constant Soviet threat or would provide a comparable level of defense against a somewhat larger attack.
8. Effectiveness of the Recommended Program
The recommended strategic defense program provides a capability comparable to that of the approved program. The air defense program includes one substantial improvement, where a minimal capability now exists—an effective air defense of selected hardened command centers and missile fields; the program also includes a modernization of the ANG interceptor force and the control system developments necessary for the replacement of SAGE with a more survivable, flexible system. The recommended program, however, should not be judged primarily by present capability, but by potential future capability. This program differs from the low alternate program, primarily, by providing the technical [Page 533] and organizational base necessary for possible deployment of a balanced defense force at some later time.
The sections following discuss the major alternative programs for each major component of a balanced defense, the analysis relevant to a choice among these alternatives, and outline the recommended programs. Part I outlines the air defense program. Part II outlines the ballistic missile defense program. The related ASW and civil defense programs are presented in separate memoranda.6
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Records, JMF 7000 (3 Jan 64) Sec 1A. Top Secret. This draft memorandum is Tab II of “Department of Defense Draft Memoranda for the President: Recommended FY 1965-1969 Defense Programs,” dated December 19. Another copy is in Department of State, Central Files, DEF 1 US. An earlier version of the draft memorandum, which was circulated to the JCS for comment, is dated October 9. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Records, JCS 1800/774, JMF 7000 (1 Oct 63))↩
- “The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that their interdependence is not so absolute that difficulties in one of these programs should restrict advancement in another.” [Footnote in the source text. The quotation is from a November 6 JCS memorandum to McNamara. (Ibid., JCS 1800/774-2, JMF 7000 (1 Oct 63)) It stated that “measured against a postulated Soviet threat which has not decreased in proportion to the proposed reduction in US forces, the recommended program provides insufficient defensive strength.” This deficiency was caused by premature reliance on anticipated surveillance, warning and control equipment, and postponement of missile defense and new interceptor systems.]↩
- In addition, certain forces not required for either of the alternative programs have been included at the request of the JCS. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- The JCS believe this statement is based on conditions more favorable to the enemy which now appear unrealistic. [Footnote in the source text. According to the JCS memorandum cited in footnote 1 above, the statement was “based upon most favorable conditions for the enemy which appear unrealistic.”]↩
- The JCS state the force may be inadequate in an age of super-sonic transports. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- The JCS believe these should be retained as long as there is a manned bomber threat. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- None printed.↩