78. Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Rowen) to Secretary of Defense McNamara0


  • Draft Basic National Security Policy (BNSP)

The Tuesday luncheon meeting of the Planning Group is scheduled to discuss the draft BNSP (Tab A)1 on 17 April 1962.2

The draft BNSP is a commendable effort to describe a coherent national security policy. It goes far toward meeting the frequently expressed need for a “grand design” to which diverse activities and day-to-day designs of government can be related. The key concepts in this design appear to be four:

Free World defense
Free World construction
Communication with the Communist world
As a result of the first three concepts, containment and ultimate alteration of the Communist world in a direction more favorable to our national interests.

On the whole, the coverage of (1) and (2) is quite good. It is in (3) and (4) where the BNSP seems to require some clarification. ISA comments on selected portions only of the draft BNSP are attached and are summarized herewith:3

Defense of the Free World (Inclosure 1)

That more explicit observations as expressed in the inclosure be included in the BNSP.

Political Decisions in Nuclear War (Inclosure 2)

Revise to: indicate broadly the level and nature of nuclear warfare decisions held centralized by the President; and include reference to the inviolability of the legal chain of military command in executing such Presidential decisions.

European Community Compared with an Atlantic Community (Inclosure 3)

Revise to reflect: Before settling finally on a policy of supporting full European unity and a relationship of partnership between a united [Page 265] Europe and the U.S., the U.S. should carefully study the feasibility and the relative desirability of selective moves in the direction of strengthening Atlantic political as well as economic and military ties.

Policy Toward Satellites (Inclosure 4)

Revise to reflect that the threat of instability in Satellite countries imposes some restraint on Soviet aggressiveness and that we should therefore find ways to remind the Soviet leadership of this vulnerability.

Policy Toward the Far East (Inclosure 5)

Revise to reflect:

That military policy toward the Far East, covering nations which are (a) allied or friendly, (b) neutral, and (c) hostile, should be covered more fully and in greater detail, in order to provide greater guidance to those responsible for its execution.
That the status, present and projected, of the GRC and its relationship to Communist China, as visualized in U.S. strategy, be clarified.
That any policy leading toward abandoning the offshore islands be carefully examined in all its ramifications, especially with respect to its timing, before adoption.
That existing treaties covering the Far East be re-examined with a view to increasing their effectiveness, prior to creating substitute pacts.

Potential or Limitations of Conventional Forces (Inclosure 6)

Revise to reflect:

The desirability as an objective of general purpose forces which along with Allied forces are sufficiently strong and mobile to cope with major Soviet or Chinese Communist non-nuclear attacks, without resorting to nuclear weapons, simultaneously on two distant fronts. However, a distinction should be made between the importance of various areas and the feasibility of defending them without the use of nuclear weapons.
That efforts to develop adequate counter-insurgency capabilities in our own as well as Allied forces and to put more emphasis on economic as distinct from military assistance programs not be carried to the point that conventional capabilities are seriously degraded in countries exposed to overt aggression and such aggression therefore made more tempting.

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JCS Comments:

The comments of the JCS are attached and are summarized herewith:4

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JCS Comments Recommended OSD Position
a. Effective deterrence must have as its basis the evident military capability to defeat the forces being deterred. a. Concur, with some elaboration of the word “defeat” in the general war context in the light of the consequences of nuclear war.
b. Provide for control of vital sea areas and sea lanes. b. Concur.
c. Undue emphasis on divisive factors in the Communist Bloc. c. Broadly concur.
d. Move NATO strategy from Chapter III to Chapter I. d. Concur.
e. Terms of reference and specific tasks of National Security Policy planning tasks are not appropriate for NSC action and Presidential decision. Forward Part III formally for information and approval of the statement of the problem. e. Concur.
f. It would be desirable to have the organizational capability in-being to create crises to our own advantage. f. OSD recommends that the point be further developed before a position is taken.
g. Upgrade the classification to Top Secret coupled with dissemination of Part II on a “need-to-know” basis. g. OSD believes that document should be screened for minimum feasible classification.
h. U.S. maintain forces which, at a minimum, confine the Communist activities to indirect aggression, while at the same time, provide the capabilities to cope effectively with that situation. h. Concur.
i. European nations should provide greater proportion of the forces in Europe. i. Concur.
j. Insert Para. 6, page 214, at end of para. 1, Introduction. j. Concur.
k. Condense and rearrange the BNSP as much as practicable. k. Concur.
l. JCS review BNSP again prior to its submission to the NSC. Representatives of JCS participate in the preparation of the redraft. l. Concur.

An advance copy of this memorandum with inclosures and the comments of the JCS have been provided to Mr. Rostow. This was necessary in order to meet the deadline for State’s reproduction requirements. State understands that this copy is subject to your review.

It is recommended that the Secretary of Defense:

a. Authorize use of this memorandum and that from the JCS (Tabbed) as a basis for discussion by the OSD representative with Mr. Rostow at the Planning Group meeting, 17 April 1962.5

b. Sign the attached memorandum to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.6

Henry S. Rowen
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Records, JCS 2101/469, JMF 3001 (26 Mar 62). Secret. Enclosed with a note from the Secretaries of the Joint Staff to the JCS dated April 20.
  2. Reference is to the March 26 draft; see Document 70.
  3. No record of this meeting has been found.
  4. None of the enclosures is printed.
  5. Not found attached; reference is to Document 76.
  6. A note by Gilpatric in the margin beside this paragraph reads: “4/16/62 approved. RG” In a memorandum for the record of a conversation held with McNamara on April 18, Taylor wrote: “The Secretary likes this document [the March 26 draft] as a form of general guidance, but recognizes that considerable work has to be done upon the language. He appreciates the fact that to make it a text for strict guidance to the departments would require extensive and time-consuming editing, an exercise which he does not consider remunerative.” (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, #11 Miscellaneous (H))
  7. This memorandum transmitted Rowen’s memorandum to the JCS.