110. Editorial Note

Despite initial opposition from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during 1964 and 1965 the civilian leadership in the Department of Defense proceeded to develop plans for the construction of a Deep Underground Command Center (DUCC) in the Washington, D.C., area and continued to ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their views. Regarding this internal debate and the evolving plans on this issue, see Documents 3, 4, 52, 77, and 92.

The Department of Defense also promoted this project in Congress, and included funds for further research on the specific size, operations, and functions and for its construction in the Army’s portion of the military construction authorization bills in early 1964. Aware of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s reservations and believing the issues were too complex and sensitive, the House Armed Services Committee did not approve funds for the Deep Underground Command Center but instead created a special subcommittee to study the issue thoroughly. (Memorandum from Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering Eugene G. Fubini to Deputy Secretary Vance, February 25, 1964; Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 70 A 4662, 381 DUCC (10 Jan 64) 1963 and 64 Papers) The appropriations for FY 1965 as enacted by the Congress did not include funds for construction or research for this facility, and the chairmen of key Congressional committees also rejected the Department of Defense proposal to use other authorized funds for feasibility studies. (Letters from Vance to Representative George H. Mahon, September 30, 1964, and to Senator Carl Vinson, October 1, [Page 336] 1964; letter from Vinson to Vance, October 1, 1964; letter from Mahon to Vance, October 6, 1964; and letter from Senator Carl Hayden to McNamara, October 9, 1964; all ibid.)

The Department of Defense deferred action temporarily (letter from Vance to Vinson, October 9; ibid.) but continued to study the cost and configuration of the proposed facility. In early 1965, for instance, the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering made tentative recommendations for possible sites. (Memorandum from James M. Bridges, Special Assistant (Command and Control), to Harold Brown, March 4, 1965; ibid., 381 1966) A large map of the Washington, D.C., area outlining proposed layouts for the DUCC, and a table comparing tunnel length for two DUCC configurations are attached to a March 8 memorandum to Brown. (Ibid.)

The House Armed Services Committee reduced the Defense Department’s FY 1966 request for $26.2 million for the DUCC to $6 million, which would permit the Pentagon “to more fully develop plans and to again present the actual construction authorization request” next year. (Letter from Congressman L. Mendel Rivers to McNamara, May 25; ibid.; FRC 330 70 A 4443, 381 DUCC (10 Jan 66) 1965 & 1966 Papers)

In its response, the Department of Defense informed the House Committee that it proposed, among other things, to dig one shaft to “advance both the design and construction time and permit research and development efforts associated with the rock properties at the site to proceed concurrently. This would permit us to obtain early verification of our current estimates of subsurface rock conditions (based on preliminary test drillings) which have a direct bearing upon the cost and technical problems associated with the major construction of entrance and exit tunnels and the main underground facility.” (Letter from Assistant Secretary of Defense (Installations and Logistics) Paul R. Ignatius to Rivers, June 14; ibid.)

Nevertheless, the Department of Defense’s interest in the project gradually waned. When, for example, the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed to obtain, among other things, the President’s views “as to the nonmilitary functional and personnel requirements of those departments and agencies of the National Government” to be provided for in the DUCC, they were much later informed that no response would be made to their proposal. (JCSM–985–64 to Secretary McNamara, November 27, 1964, and memorandum from Maurice W. Roche to the JCS, August 10, 1965; both ibid., FRC 330 70 A 4662, 381 1966)

Moreover, Congress authorized only $4 million for this project in FY 1966, and letters from four Committee Chairmen told the Defense Department “not to go ahead with any designs without [Page 337] Congressional approval.” (Memorandum from Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert N. Anthony to McNamara, February 16, 1966; ibid., FRC 330 70 A 4443, 381 DUCC (10 Jan 66) 1965 & 1966 Papers) Although McNamara had earlier approved an FY 1967 request to Congress for $21,898,000 for the DUCC, he expressed “doubt that we should proceed to spend $4 million until after Congress acts on ′67” (handwritten note to Ignatius, February 18, on Anthony’s February 16 memorandum), and he shortly decided not to seek Congressional clearance for continued planning for the DUCC project and agreed to divert the Army specialists engaged on the DUCC to other military construction projects. (Handwritten notation, March 3, on Ignatius’ memorandum to McNamara, February 25; ibid.)

Congress again failed to provide funding for the Deep Underground Command Center in the Department of Defense budget for FY 1966, but Vance agreed to ask the Congress to authorize FY 1967 funds for early initiation of work on the facility. (Memorandum from Ignatius to Vance, April 15, and unsigned April 15 note from Vance’s office to Ignatius; both ibid., FRC 330 70 A 4662, 381 1966) Nothing seemed to come of this initiative, however, and no later documentation on the Deep Underground Command Center has been found.