147. Memorandum From Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0


  • 22 November Budget Meeting with Secretary McNamara 1

The briefing paper prepared by the Bureau of the Budget2 presents a good summary of the four OSD white papers3 and covers all of the key budget issues to be discussed with Secretary McNamara today. I have the following general comments on these papers:

(1) Strategic Retaliatory Forces. While not abandoning the concept of “damage limiting” capabilities, Secretary McNamara in this very interesting paper4 continues to shift the focus of his strategic doctrine away from the concept of “damage limiting” counterforces to the concept of “assured destruction” of the Soviet Union. Within this context the central issue is the proper size for the Minuteman force. The analysis presented makes it clear that we have a capability for “assured destruction” of the Soviet Union entirely independent of the MM force. This is significant since the previous draft of this document5 that I believe you read went through an elaborate and unimpressive argument in an attempt to demonstrate that under certain extremely pessimistic assumptions one could justify the entire force of 1200 MM force under the requirement for an “assured destruction” of the Soviet Union. The rationale for the MM force level is tied exclusively to the “damage limiting” concept. However, examination of the table on page 19 of the OSD paper6 shows that the “damage limiting” strategy is at best not very effective in a second strike situation and that diminishing returns have set in long before one reaches the proposed OSD MM force level of 1200. When the Soviets initiate [Page 535] the attack, a force of 1200 MM does not appear to be significantly more effective in reducing fatalities than a force of 950 MM.7

As compared with last year, the new OSD proposals essentially involve a reduction in MM force levels by 100 MM from 1300 to 1200, a slippage of one year in achieving these goals (FY 68 to FY 69), and an acceleration in the retrofit program of improved MM for MM in existing silos. I do not believe that the OSD paper makes a real case either for the total force level or for the urgency in the improved MM program, even in the most pessimistic contingencies. (If one chooses to be pessimistic about future adverse technological developments, I think that it would be wiser to begin to invest strategic funds in advance systems development such as the Polaris B-3 missile rather than build up of the MM force beyond 950 since it is conceivable that in the 70’s the MM may prove more vulnerable than we are now willing to admit.) While I think the improved MM is a sensible program which overcomes some of the serious limitations of the MM system, it is being pushed on a very tight concurrency schedule for which there appears to be no military justification.8

In view of the above, I agree with the BOB proposals to hold the MM force level at 950, to slip the schedule of improved MM program slightly, and to delay the retrofit program of improved MM for MM. Nevertheless, Secretary McNamara will undoubtedly argue, persuasively, that it is impossible for Congressional and Pentagon political reasons to cut the force objectives below 1200 and that an acceleration of the improved MM program is necessary to sell even this modest objective.9

I believe that there is an additional issue here as to whether it is really necessary to fire 10 percent of the missile force annually as part of the reliability program. I do not believe that this many firings are necessary to obtain adequate reliability statistics. Such a large number of firings would also appear to be rather provocative as the size of the MM force grows (e.g. one every four or five days by FY 65 and one every three days in FY 69).

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There is no real reason to continue the B-70 program; however, given the amount of our investment, I believe that it would be politically impossible to cancel the program without any flights. I believe a practical solution to this problem would be the cancellation of the third aircraft which the BOB estimates would save $80 million.10

(2) Continental Air and Missile Defense. This paper11 essentially pushes all significant policy issues into the future. It is an unusual document that appears to have been written by supporters of a very large continental defense program who were directed to support a very small program. Since OSD is not prepared to face the policy issues involved, it only appears practical at this time to question whether the recommended program is in fact consistent with future decisions to go either to a smaller or much larger continental defense effort. The points raised by the BOB all appear valid with the exception of the objections to BMEWS improvement. I believe that, unless these can be shown to be technically unsound, they are probably justified given our existing investment in BMEWS and alert B-52 aircraft.

The civil defense question is not really covered in the OSD paper and the discussion of this subject in the BOB briefing paper is not very helpful. The basic issue on civil defense is whether we should attempt to get additional shelter spaces through an incentive program as Secretary Pittman12 proposes or whether we should take the steps necessary to make the shelters we have already identified useable as OST proposes. Secretary McNamara has asked Mr. Gilpatric and Jerry to discuss this question separately and I assume, therefore, it will not be discussed at the meeting today, other than to establish a fiscal ceiling.

(3) ASW . The principal budget issue in the ASW area is the force level and procurement of SSN (nuclear attack submarines). Unfortunately, the OSD paper13 sheds little real light on this question. The paper does not make a convincing case for the use of large numbers of SSN submarines and admittedly presents no rationale for the proposed force level other than it will provide a better basis from which to build a force if it is found to be necessary. While the BOB proposal to entirely eliminate production of SSN submarines is very appealing, I am afraid that it is a bit too harsh to be acceptable. A good argument can certainly be made that some continuing production capacity should be retained. Therefore, I would propose building three or four SSN’s in FY 65 rather than the six [Page 537] proposed by OSD or the nine proposed by the Navy.14 Secretary McNamara will undoubtedly take the position that he has already cut the Navy as much as he possibly can on this highly emotional item.16

(4) General Purpose Forces. This is an excellent paper17 which arrived at important policy conclusions with which I agree. If there are important budget issues in this area, they have been carefully disguised by the OSD and have not been identified by the BOB.

Spurgeon Keeny
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, Defense Budget 1965 Section 2. Secret.
  2. No meeting was held on November 22, the day President Kennedy was assassinated. A meeting was held on November 16 among McNamara, Bundy, Gordon, Wiesner, and others. (Memorandum for the record by J.S. Hoover, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Budget); ibid.)
  3. Dated November 20. (Ibid.)
  4. Reference is to semifinal versions of three DPMs and the final version of one. They are cited in footnotes below.
  5. “Recommended FY 1965-FY 1969 Strategic Retaliatory Forces,” dated November 13. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 1 US)
  6. The August 31 version of the strategic DPM is attached to a September 2 memorandum from McNamara to Taylor. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Records, JMF 7000 (31 Aug 61) Sec 1)
  7. Reference is to the chart entitled “U.S. Fatalities Assuming the Soviets Initiate the Attack” in the strategic DPM. The chart is unchanged in the final version, Document 151.
  8. Kaysen made a similar argument regarding the August 31 draft of the strategic DPM. (Memorandum to Bundy, October 25, with 8-page attachment; Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, Defense Budget 1965 Section 2)
  9. Bundy wrote “agreed” in the margin next to this sentence.
  10. Bundy wrote “I doubt this” in the margin next to this paragraph. In a budget discussion held November 27, McNamara did not accept the Bureau of the Budget proposals for a reduced Minuteman force level and slippage in improved Minuteman production, and it was agreed that the issues would be submitted to President Johnson. (Memorandum from Keeny to Bundy, November 30; Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, Defense Budget 1965 Section 2) In a December 9 memorandum to President Johnson, Kermit Gordon recommended holding the Minuteman force level at 950 in FY 1965, but did not oppose McNamara’s eventual force goal of 1,200. (Ibid.)
  11. At the November 27 meeting, McNamara agreed to cut back one of three programmed B-70s “provided a positive decision was made on handling of the classified project with which you are familiar.”
  12. Reference is to Document 145.
  13. Steuart L. Pittman, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Civil Defense).
  14. “Anti-Submarine Warfare Forces FY 1965-1969,” November 9. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 1 US)
  15. Bundy made a similar recommendation in a December 5 memorandum to McNamara. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, Defense Budget 1965 Section 2)
  16. The final version of the ASW DPM, dated December 11, retains the recommendation that SSN procurement continue at six boats per year. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Records, JMF 7000 (3 Jan 64) Sec 1A)
  17. “Recommended FY 1965-FY 1969 Army and Marine Corps General Purpose Forces,” November 15. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 1 US) The final version of this paper is Document 153.
  18. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.