104. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara 1



  • Nike-X Deployment Study (DEPEX) (U)
(S) Reference is made to:
A memorandum by the Director of Defense Research and Engineering, dated 16 October 1965, which requested review of the Army Nike-X Deployment Study (DEPEX).2
JCSM–589–65, dated 30 July 1965, which indicated a desire by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to comment on the Army Program Change Proposal (PCP) A–5–026, which requested $188.2 million for preproduction funding of the Nike-X system.3
A report by the Strategic Military Panel of the President’s Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) on the “Proposed Army-BTL Ballistic Missile Defense System,” dated 29 October 1965.4
A memorandum by the Secretary of Defense, dated 22 October 1965,5 which provides instructions to the Director of Defense Research and Engineering pertaining to the antiballistic missile R&D program for FY 1967.
(S) As indicated in reference 1b, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have, in connection with their review of DEPEX, considered the Army PCP A–5–026 which requests the necessary resources to initiate the production and deployment planning required to meet the desired Nike-X initial operational capability (IOC) date of October 1970. Inasmuch as these are inseparable elements of the deployment consideration, comments submitted herein are consolidated.
(S) The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the requirement for an effective ballistic missile defense is a very real and urgent one. The existing and growing Soviet ballistic missile capability, the increasing probability of a Soviet ballistic missile defense deployment, plus the potential Chinese People’s Republic (CPR) threat, all emphasize the necessity for proceeding with a US ballistic missile defense at the [Page 323] earliest practicable date. The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that the phased deployment concept for Nike-X, presented in DEPEX, represents a logical approach toward the attainment of the necessary capability. It would provide an initial defense against the over-all ballistic missile threat, permit controlled growth within fairly level budgetary expenditures, while providing the necessary decision latitude required for a program of this magnitude.
(C) The requirement for a balanced assured destruction and damage-limiting capability against the total threat remains valid and is a strong factor in any recommendation to undertake deployment of a ballistic missile defense. The deployment phasing proposed in DEPEX will permit parallel effort in other complementary systems to achieve the required balance in assured destruction and damage-limiting elements.
(C) The deployment phasing in DEPEX also provides a planning base and opportunity for continuing review by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other Department of Defense agencies as decision points are reached for Nike-X deployment. The Joint Chiefs of Staff will address the subject of deployment of Nike-X in JSOP-71.
(S) The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed the PSAC report (reference 1 c) and have the following comments thereon:
The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the type of limited capability system advocated in the PSAC report would provide an inadequate defense against the over-all ballistic missile threat and would fail to exploit available technology. A return to components of the earlier Nike Zeus system type proposed by the PSAC would not shorten the four-year span from production approval to system IOC but would result in deployment of an inferior and inadequate system.
The Nike-X system considered in Depex has been developed to overcome the widely recognized limitations of the earlier concepts of a ballistic missile defense system.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff do not agree with the recommendations of the PSAC report which would delay the IOC for the Nike-X system for at least another year. It is their view that PSAC has placed undue emphasis upon the limited threat of the CPR and has based its conclusions regarding ballistic missile defense upon incomplete military and political considerations that go beyond the scope of scientific appraisal of the Nike-X system. The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that our strategic defense posture in regard to the Soviet threat could be placed in jeopardy by delay in the IOC of the Nike-X system. This is a military risk that should not be accepted.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are convinced that the US national posture would be seriously impaired if it failed to consider and counter all aspects of the threat. It was for this reason that the Army’s DEPEX study recommended employment of other defensive measures as well as [Page 324] Nike-X. The PSAC report on the one hand seems to expect Nike-X to do this alone and on the other hand proposes a much less capable ballistic missile defense at some later date.
Failure of the United States to deploy a ballistic missile defense could be considered by the Soviets as an opportunity to redress the existing strategic balance which they could ill afford to pass by. Accordingly, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that our failure to proceed with a ballistic missile defense might well encourage the Soviets into further acceleration of their current offensive-defensive efforts.
(U) The Joint Chiefs of Staff have noted the instructions provided the Director of Defense Research and Engineering in reference 1 d, above.
(S) CINCONAD has reviewed DEPEX and concurs in its recommendations and additionally recommends that a Canada-US deployment option be adopted as a planning concept and goal. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are examining also a recommendation of the Chief of Staff, US Army, that Presidential approval be obtained for a program of cooperation with Canada for terminal defense against ballistic missiles, and recommendations on this option will be forwarded separately.
(S) For the reasons indicated above, and as stated in both JSOP-706 and reference 1 b, above, the Joint Chiefs of Staff strongly support the action required to preserve the option of attaining a Nike-X IOC date of 1970. As stated by the Army, the resources requested in the preproduction PCP are those required to maintain this option. Accordingly, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that:
The Army PCP A–5–026 be approved with sufficient FY 1967 preproduction funds to preserve the IOC date in 1970 for the Nike-X system as outlined in DEPEX.
Phase I (BC) (US only) deployment of Nike-X, with provisions for Phase II deployment, be used for planning purposes as outlined in DEPEX.
The Nike-X deployment phasing outlined in DEPEX be used by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Services, and other Department of Defense agencies as the common base for studies and analyses pertaining to FY 1968 program developments to counter the total strategic ballistic missile threat.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
A.H. Manhart 7
Major General, USA Vice Director, Joint Staff
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, JCS Files, 4714 (1 Oct 65) IR 4060. Secret.
  2. Not found.
  3. Neither found.
  4. Document 101.
  5. Document 100.
  6. Document 43.
  7. Printed from a copy that indicates Manhart signed the original.