115. Memorandum From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (McNaughton)1


  • Special Committee2

Attached is a copy of the minutes of our Strategy Discussion Group Meeting last Tuesday. I thought that this was a very useful discussion as it enabled us to get on the table some of the issues that have been concerning all of us with respect to the future direction of the Special Committee.

I was particularly struck by the fact that we face a very real dilemma as we proceed with future meetings of the Working Groups. On the one hand, if we are to make the Special Committee a useful and meaningful activity, which is an objective we share, we will have to engage the other members in a thorough discussion of current nuclear planning ultimately focused on the question of specifying how the Europeans can become more effectively involved in nuclear planning and crisis consultation. On the other hand this seems certain to involve not only the release of sensitive military information but also disclosure of sensitive political relationships between heads of government; most importantly, it will require our coming to grips with the question of just how much of a voice we are prepared to give our allies in the planning of nuclear forces and in consultations regarding their use. Although in general we want to be forthcoming, there is obviously a point beyond which we are not prepared to go. Moreover, the decision as to the extent to which it is in the US national interest, both generally and specifically, to so engage our allies, can only be made at the highest levels of government.

On the basis of the foregoing considerations, it seems to me the following guidance should be applicable for all US personnel in the conduct of meetings and discussions under aegis of the Special Committee and its Working Groups:

That US staff, in preparing proposals for internal US review, be guided by the principle of maximum allied participation in the various stages of nuclear planning and consultation, but
That such proposals clearly identify instances that will require disclosure of sensitive military or political information or which will lead to commitments for any significantly increased allied involvement in any aspect of US nuclear planning and consultation, so that,
These proposed disclosures and commitments may be subject to explicit review by our Strategy Group and we may take whatever actions for securing subsequent approval as may appear appropriate (including specifically forwarding proposals to our respective superiors and the President where this is indicated).

If you agree with the preceding suggestion, I propose that our Group meet again early in March to conduct the review suggested in 3. above, as well as to consider other related business.



Memorandum of Conversation3


  • Strategy Discussion Group Meeting


  • State:
  • G—Mr. Johnson
  • G/PM—Mr. Weiss
  • G/PM—Mr. George
  • G/PM—Mr. Sloss
  • EUR—Mr. Leddy
  • EUR—Mr. Schaetzel
  • EUR—Mr. Spiers
  • EUR—Mr. Baker
  • EUR—Mr. Gilman
  • S/P—Mr. Owen
  • DOD/ISA—Mr. McNaughton
  • DOD/ISA—Mr. Wyle
  • DOD/ISA—Gen. Seignious
  • JCS—Lt. Gen. Goodpaster
  • JCS—Capt. Matthews
  • JCS—Col. Donaldson
  • DCA—Gen. Starbird

1. Working Group I.

Colonel Donaldson of the Joint Staff reported on the first meeting of Working Group I (Intelligence and Data Exchange) which was held in Paris on February 7–8. He characterized the meeting as being generally very successful, and no major issues arose. Agreement was reached [Page 347] on a questionnaire to be sent to the Standing Group, SACLANT and SHAPE which would develop information on current arrangements for exchange of intelligence and related data. The initial scope of the Working Group is to consider data related to the use of nuclear weapons in the NATO area only. The terms of reference of the Working Group were broadened to include data on allied forces as well as intelligence data. At the next meeting the members of the Working Group will exchange papers on what data they believe their Heads of Government will need for consultation regarding the use of nuclear weapons. In response to a question by Mr. Johnson, Colonel Donaldson indicated that the data to be exchanged will include political as well as military information.

Mr. Johnson noted that it appeared that this Working Group will quickly get into issues involving high level political relationships between Heads of Government which would directly concern the President. He asked whether the Working Group was receiving adequate political guidance. Colonel Donaldson noted that Mr. Gannett of EUR was working with the US representatives of the Working Group. Mr. Johnson noted that it was important that we did not start down paths which would commit the President to provide information, or to enter into consultations which he might not be willing to undertake. He noted that, based on his experience with crisis situations, he felt sure the President will want to maintain freedom of action as to whom he consults with, about what, and under what conditions. For example, the President would not be likely to relish the idea of 14 colored phones ringing in his office during an acute international crisis. General Goodpaster noted that at the military level also the question of exchange of military information will require very careful looking at; he would not want exchange of military information to be automatic.

2. Working Group II.

General Starbird reported on the initial meeting of Working Group II which was held in Paris, February 8–10. The Working Group agreed to submit three questionnaires designed to obtain an inventory of current communication resources in NATO. The first questionnaire is directed at Supreme Commanders and is designed to elicit information on the communication capabilities which they have between each other and to the NAC, the Standing Group and national authorities. The second questionnaire is directed to national authorities, and is designed to elicit information on communication capabilities between national authorities and NATO civilian and military bodies. The third questionnaire is directed to communications capabilities between member nations. Questionnaires are being addressed to all 14 NATO countries. They will not go into communication capabilities below the level of the [Page 348] Supreme Commanders. Working Group II hopes to hold a meeting with Working Group I once the questionnaires are completed to provide the results of their survey and to obtain guidance from Working Group I as to what data Heads of Government may wish to exchange.

General Starbird noted that the committee effort so far is largely “marking time” until they can receive inputs from Working Groups I and III. Nevertheless, the following issues have already emerged:

There is a problem with respect to release of data by the US on the capabilities of secure voice equipment. General Starbird has requested USIB to reexamine a previous decision not to release such data to NATO.
It is clear that certain countries will not be in a position to release data on certain sensitive communication facilities (e.g., Heads of Government communication capabilities between the US and the UK cannot be released unilaterally by the US).
The UK, supported by Canada, took the position that consultation would obviously be centered in NAC and was initially opposed to sending out a questionnaire relating to communications between governments. General Starbird convinced them that the effort to elicit information would not prejudge the means of consultation, and they finally agreed to the third questionnaire.

Mr. Johnson asked what the US philosophy was on the use of NAC for consultation. Mr. McNaughton and Mr. Spiers replied that it is considered as an option, but not the only one and this is one of the questions to be explored by the Special Committee. Mr. Johnson noted that he considered secure written communications to be generally preferable to secure voice, General Starbird pointed out that Ambassador Cleveland had noted the possible requirement for secure voice between the NATO PermReps and their Heads of Government.

3. Working Group III.

Mr. McNaughton summarized the arrangements being made for Working Group III which meets February 17–18 in Washington. He pointed out that ISA already had recommended to Mr. McNamara against the inclusion of substantive conclusions in the report from Working Group III to the Special Committee, and Mr. McNamara has agreed. Mr. McNaughton said they were not sure what bilateral discussions would take place, but clearly Mr. McNamara would have to talk with Minister Healey about F–111’s, and would want to talk to Minister Von Hassel about German aid for Turkey. He would probably also want to talk to the Turkish Defense Minister about Mr. McNaughton’s forthcoming visit to Turkey.

As to where the Special Committee is to go from here, Mr. McNaughton acknowledged that they are faced by a dilemma. On the one hand, there really is a desire on Mr. McNamara’s part to get the [Page 349] Europeans (and when Mr. McNamara says the Europeans, what he really means is the Germans and, specifically, Von Hassel) more heavily involved in the details of nuclear problems. But, as we get further into detail, we run into areas where the US just doesn’t have all the answers as yet, or if we do, the answers raise major policy issues. For example, the problems involved in deploying ABMs and ADMs in Europe. Mr. McNamara wants a follow-on meeting in April which would deal with tactical nuclear forces. Mr. McNaughton couldn’t predict where they would go from here. They would probably want to establish groups of experts to meet between meetings of the Working Group, but they had made no final decision on this as yet.

Mr. Johnson asked what the philosophy was on the approach to the meetings and specifically whether they want to string them out or come to conclusions rapidly. Mr. McNaughton pointed out that here again there was a dilemma. If Working Group III went on for too long, it could become an institution and be subject to attack by the French. On the other hand, they certainly wanted to extend its life beyond the June Ministerial Meeting, again with the French in mind. How long the Working Group III meetings are extended really depends on how well the first few meetings go. He thought that Mr. McNamara and Minister Healey were optimistic. Mr. Johnson said that he favored keeping it going as a Working Group as long as it was productive.

Mr. Schaetzel said that it is important to make a record to show that we really tried to make the group succeed, but if we prolonged it indefinitely, it would play into French hands. Mr. McNaughton’s view was we should certainly keep the group going for a while, but not forever. He also noted that it was the Germans’ clear view, as expressed in the paper they sent us, that they do not want the Special Committee to compete with the hardware solution. Mr. Spiers noted that much of the problem arises from UK pressure to make the Special Committee a substitute for a hardware solution. Mr. Johnson stated that this UK position is counterproductive. Mr. Johnson summarized the objectives as expressed by the group as being “without prejudice to the hardware solution to make the Special Committee as meaningful as possible and to keep it going so long as it was being productive.” Mr. Weiss noted there was a dilemma between providing enough information and sense of sharing to keep the Europeans engaged, while at the same time not committing the US government to consultation procedures and planning that we are not prepared to follow through on.

Mr. McNaughton then noted several possible proposals that had been made for involving the Allies in nuclear planning. These include (a) placing national representatives at SAC, (b) hot lines between national governments, (c) joint studies of such subjects as MRBMs, ABMs and ADMs, [Page 350] as suggested in Mr. Leddy’s memorandum,4 and (d) examination with the allies of the requirements for the next generation of weapons systems.

At this point, Mr. Johnson asked whether we were trying to press our conclusions with respect to force structure and strategy on the allies. Mr. McNaughton acknowledged that to some extent Mr. McNamara does want them to reach the same conclusions as we have reached. (For example, that there is no need for additional MRBMs.) But, he also said Mr. McNamara was mindful of the need not to overdo this. Mr. McNaughton said that he very much agreed with the approach suggested in Mr. Leddy’s memorandum to set up groups of experts under Working Group III to discuss specific problems. The problem was what subjects could we get into and which subjects should we avoid because we didn’t have all the answers, or couldn’t provide the necessary information. Mr. Spiers noted that a number of useful proposals had now been made which would involve the allies in nuclear planning and suggested that we set up a US Working Group under the aegis of the Strategy Discussion Group to examine these proposals and to develop a US position on what we were prepared to offer.

Mr. McNaughton again emphasized that Mr. McNamara thinks of the objectives of Working Group III principally in terms of the Germans. Ideally, he would like to see US–UK-German discussion of these issues for the principal purpose of educating the Germans and of involving Minister Von Hassel more in the details of nuclear planning. Mr. McNaughton noted the strong objections of the Italians to trilateral meetings, and asked State how serious we felt these Italian objections were.

Mr. Schaetzel replied that there is no question that this a real problem and that we cannot ignore the Italian objections if we want to keep them committed to NATO. He pointed out that the people in Italy who raised these objections were real friends of the US and supporters of European unity. Mr. McNaughton asked how can we proceed fruitfully to achieve our objectives with the Germans? Mr. Schaetzel suggested that we should meet with the Germans bilaterally rather than trilaterally. Mr. McNaughton expressed the view that this was not as effective. Mr. Johnson stated that State had no question but that the Germans were the key target, but we, nevertheless, had the problem of how to deal with the Italian objections to trilateralism.

Further expounding on Mr. McNamara’s views with respect to the Special Committee, Mr. McNaughton said that Mr. McNamara does see it as a possible alternative to a hardware solution, that he is anxious to push on to conclusions as rapidly as possible but that he (Mr. McNaughton) has cautioned Mr. McNamara about pushing too fast.

[Page 351]

General Seignious, seconded by General Goodpaster, pointed out that this first set of briefings would give the Europeans a great deal to absorb. General Goodpaster went on to express his view that this sort of discussion with the Germans was quite productive based on their experience with the German military. However, he pointed out that it was going to take time for them to absorb US thinking on these complex issues. Mr. Weiss and Mr. Johnson agreed that it was going to take time. General Goodpaster also stressed that the Joint Chiefs would want to take a very careful look at the proposal to put national representatives at SAC.

Mr. McNaughton said that he personally liked the idea of discussing the ABM problem with the Germans, but thought that their conclusion would be that ABM was just fine for Germany and what do we do then? Mr. Schaetzel supported the idea of discussing ABMs with the Germans and the British and felt they would be most interested.

General Goodpaster said it was his view that the important thing is not what we discuss, but to engage the Allies in real discussions. He personally felt, based on his discussions with the German military, that there were some real possibilities in the Special Committee if we really engage the Allies in detailed discussion. He also felt it was healthy for them to know that we do not know all the answers.

Mr. McNaughton said that the idea of technical experts groups was a good one and that we ought to discuss this at the Working Group III meeting this week. General Seignious suggested that the expert groups might well occupy themselves in absorbing the material presented at the briefings. In response to a question from Mr. Sloss, Mr. McNaughton said that they were not in a position to distribute the material from the JCS briefings. Thus, it was agreed that it would be useful to bring experts here from the other member countries to study the briefing materials in greater detail.

4. Action

Mr. Spiers was asked to take the leadership in developing and analyzing proposals for involving the allies in nuclear planning and consultation.
Mr. Weiss was asked to participate with Defense in developing the first draft of a paper on tactical nuclear weapons to be presented to the next meeting of Working Group III.
Mr. McNaughton said he would explore further with Mr. McNamara the idea of experts groups to meet between meetings of Working Group III.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 1 US. Secret. Drafted by Leon Sloss (G/PM). Also addressed to General Goodpaster (JCS representative on this Special Committee) and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Leddy.
  2. Regarding the origins of this committee, see footnote 4, Document 75.
  3. Drafted by Sloss on February 17. The memorandum is marked as an uncleared text. An attached distribution list is not printed. The meeting was held in the Deputy Under Secretary’s Conference Room.
  4. Not further identified.