120. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler) to Secretary of Defense McNamara1



  • Joint Strategic Objectives Plan for FY 1968–75, Part VI (U)
(U) JCSM 167–662 forwarded Part VI of the Joint Strategic Objectives Plan for FY 68–75.3 As indicated in the Force Tables of Part VI and the footnotes thereto, the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not reach complete agreement on certain programs. There are, however, fewer divergencies in JSOP 68–75 than in past JSOPs. It is also noted that where there are differences of opinion on force levels, these are in many cases differences in timing rather than in concept or substance. Finally, our experiences associated with the war in Vietnam were heavily weighted in the deliberations and resultant recommendations on General Purpose forces.
(U) My views on the major program issues contained in the various programs are indicated in the following paragraphs.

(TS) Strategic Offensive/Defensive Forces

Studies, analyses and war games completed during the last year indicated trends that are not favorable to the United States. In order to [Page 369] maintain a credible deterrence we must take great care to assure that we retain clearly superior strategic offensive forces over the USSR. This concern is reflected in the unanimous agreement among the Joint Chiefs of Staff on an IOC of FY 1974 for a follow-on manned bomber, deployment of Poseidon commencing in FY 1971 and an IOC of FY 1973 for an Advanced ICBM. I agree with these recommendations.

I continue to believe that our defensive forces are inadequate in their damage limiting role and in their contribution to a credible deterrence. I accord top priority to the acquisition and deployment at an early date of a ballistic missile defense, and fully agree with the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to commence deployment of Nike-X in FY 1972. While some questions such as point defense of our offensive forces have not been resolved, I do not believe we should delay the decision to deploy Nike-X.

I continue to support the requirement for a follow-on manned interceptor. Although the Joint Chiefs of Staff are not agreed on the ultimate numbers of F–12s to be deployed, they are agreed that deployment of the F–12 should commence in FY 1972. In view of the intelligence lead times and the USSR capability to deploy supersonic long range bombers, I consider it prudent to include sufficient funds in the FY 1968 budget to permit deployment of 12 F–12s in FY 1972. The force levels after FY 1972 should be dependent on future evaluations of the USSR bomber threat. I continue to believe, along with the majority of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that except for normal attrition we should not decrease the number of Century series interceptors in our Continental Air Defense Force prior to the occurrence of a reduction in the strategic bomber threat or the deployment of a follow-on manned interceptor.


(S) General Purpose Forces

In agreement with the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (less the Chief of Staff, US Army), I recommend a force level of 27–1/3 division forces. While our recent experience would tend to substantiate an increase in permanent active Army divisions, I join with the Chief of Staff, Air Force and the Commandant of the Marine Corps in deferring judgment on the number and mix of active divisions and brigades until the resolution of the Southeast Asia situation is clearer as well as our future NATO commitments and the resolution of questions concerning rapid deployment and rapid reinforcement. For these same reasons I also defer judgment on the number of sustaining support increments in the permanent active structure.

The war in Vietnam, gold flow considerations and uncertainties regarding overseas bases all support the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a force level of 16 attack carriers and 16 attack carrier air wings in FY 1969. I am in agreement with these force [Page 370] levels. I continue to support, as do the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (less the Chief of Staff, Air Force), the increase in antisubmarine carriers from 9 to 11.

With regard to the number of Air Force tactical fighters, our experiences in Southeast Asia and the results of studies indicate an increase in total numbers is required. Recognizing the divergencies of views on total numbers of tactical fighters required, I believe that a reasonable program would be to level off at 30 tactical fighter wings (about 2200 aircraft) pending a more thorough study of our total national tactical air requirements.


(S) Air and Sealift Forces

I support the approved program for the C5A of 96 aircraft in FY 1972. Beyond FY 1972, I join with the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (less Chief of Staff, Air Force) in deferring judgment on increased force levels pending a better understanding of our strategic mobility requirements for rapid deployment and rapid reinforcement.

(U) Accordingly, I recommend approval of the force levels which are supported unanimously by the Joint Chiefs of Staff together with the force levels I have indicated in the above paragraphs for certain of the programs on which there are divergent JCS views. With respect to divergencies not addressed in the above comments, I will provide my views in the review of Presidential Memorandums or programming documents.
Earle G. Wheeler 4
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Files, 3130 (10 Feb 66) Sec 1 IR 4932. Top Secret.
  2. Document 119.
  3. Not found; see Document 118.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.