121. Memorandum From the Director of Defense Research and Engineering, Department of Defense (Foster) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (McNaughton)1


  • Determination of a DoD Position on Chemical and Biological Warfare

As you are aware, the Department of Defense has been participating since November 1963 in an interagency effort to develop a national policy on Chemical and Biological (CB) Warfare. This effort was initiated at the instigation of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency with the approval of the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (Mr. McGeorge Bundy).2 Before even posing the question of a national policy a Defense position had to be established and efforts in this direction have been going on with JCS and several offices of OSD contributing. The various actions were closely coordinated with members of your Policy Planning Staff and with Mr. Barber.

My staff have reviewed the progress to date for me, and I find that the thrust of the effort has essentially evaporated. Rather than resurrect the effort and proceed from where we left off, we should make a fresh start. The only stipulations I would suggest are that (1) we concentrate on arriving at a DoD position irrespective of whether we proceed from there to an official national policy position, and (2) we start with face-to-face discussions rather than the distribution of memoranda.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of a DoD position. Lack of this is reflected in ambiguity and indecision in the CB planning of the military departments and OSD offices. If we are to spend our resources wisely, an agreed upon position has to be generated. Dr. MacArthur of my staff is quite willing to assume responsibility for the coordination of the OSD position provided you are in agreement. If you would nominate a senior member of your staff, Dr. MacArthur would like to meet with your nominee at an early date and agree on a course of action.

Finn Larsen 3
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 330 70 A 6648, 384 1966 Jan-. Secret.
  2. Reference is probably to an ACDA memorandum from William C. Foster to the Committee of Principals, October 29, 1963, and Bundy’s memorandum to Foster, November 5, 1963. (Both in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, ACDA, General 7–11/63)
  3. Larsen signed for Foster above Foster’s typed signature.