125. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara1



  • The Foreign Intelligence Effort of the United States
The Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, in response to a memorandum for you by the Chairman, President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, dated 19 April 1966,2 subject as above, has prepared a reply and forwarded it to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their consideration.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed the draft memorandum and consider that it is responsive to the request.
The Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, consulted with the offices of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Administration), the Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs), the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Systems Analysis), the commanders of the unified and specified commands, and the Services and considered their views.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that a memorandum, substantially the same as that contained in the Appendix hereto, be forwarded to the Chairman, President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, on a “Special Handling—Not Releasable to Foreign Nationals” basis.
Without attachment, this memorandum is Unclassified.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
John C. Meyer 3
Major General, USAF Deputy Director, Joint Staff
[Page 389]


Draft Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (Clifford)


  • Principal Intelligence Gaps and Deficiencies (C)
(C) In your memorandum of 19 April 1966, you requested my views and comments regarding the principal gaps and deficiencies which, in my opinion, inhibit performance within the Department of Defense of its responsibilities and functions which significantly affect the national security.
(S) In the light of the above criterion, I have endeavored to identify and select those questions to which intelligence is currently not able to supply a fully satisfactory response and each of which is of such importance as to represent either a significant area of strategic uncertainty in force-oriented and strategic planning or a significantly inhibiting factor in the conduct of military operations. In this process, I have solicited the views of the major components of the Department of Defense, including the commanders of the unified and specified commands.
(TS) The following is a list of those subject areas which represent important gaps and deficiencies measured against the needs of the Department of Defense for intelligence support. This list is not exhaustive but is intended rather as a statement of those unanswered questions which, because of their importance, currently assume an exceptional degree of prominence within the Department of Defense. The items are not listed in order of importance; each is significant in its relation to major elements of the Department of Defense mission.
Soviet Capabilities and Intentions with Respect to Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRV). Significant Soviet capability to employ MIRV will affect the force requirements and technological planning for future US ballistic missile defenses (BMDs).
Soviet Capabilities and Intentions with Respect to BMD. There is substantial evidence that the Soviets are deploying a BMD. The capability and characteristics of such a system are not known to us at this time; however, depending upon its effectiveness, such a system could drastically affect the strategic balance and US deterrent capability. BMD developments against short-range (battlefield) and medium-range ballistic weapons are also of concern.
Soviet Allocation of Fissionable Material. The wide range in the estimate of nuclear material available to the Soviets and the manner in which this material is allocated to major categories of nuclear weapons, such as strategic bombs, strategic missiles, and battlefield weapons, creates uncertainties in assessment of Soviet capabilities. Consequently, US planning must be based on assumptions the validity of which cannot be stated with adequate confidence.
Soviet and ChiCom Nuclear Weapons Development Program. More information is needed on the scope and direction of both Soviet and ChiCom nuclear weapons development programs. Although we have monitored individual Soviet nuclear tests over the past years and estimated their design parameters, we have inadequate over-all intelligence on Soviet broad objectives for the future. On ChiCom nuclear weapons development, we appear able to maintain a degree of surveillance over their testing program, but we continue to lack sufficient information on the broad objectives of their weapons program; in particular, we lack sufficient indication of their intentions and capabilities to develop deliverable weapons and to minimize weapons diameters.
Soviet and ChiCom Capabilities and Intentions With Respect to Nuclear Weapons and Delivery Systems. The present and future capabilities of the Soviets and ChiCom to employ nuclear weapons directly affect US war plans and tactics. For example, we lack information on the Soviet intent and capability to deploy a solid propellant ICBM, field a mobile ICBM, develop new strategic aircraft, or employ ballistic missile submarines and on the ChiCom intent and capability to produce strategic delivery systems. Insufficient knowledge forces planning to be based on assumptions which, if incorrect, can invalidate plans, affect national security, and waste resources.
Soviet Activities in Enhanced Nuclear Weapons Effects (Specifically Hot X-Rays) (S–RD). Specific knowledge of Soviet work in these areas is needed for US strategic missile development and hardening antiballistic missile planning and for establishing concepts of operation.
Soviet Capabilities and Intentions in Space. There is a deficiency in our present ability to detect launch, including zero orbit and the first orbit of Soviet space vehicles and their potential military application, and to provide early detection and subsequent tracking of altered orbits of such vehicles. In addition, the Soviet Union has conducted several sophisticated space experiments about which the United States had no foreknowledge and has not yet duplicated. Some knowledge of the technological advances which made this possible would assist our space program, particularly the manned orbiting laboratory.
Surveillance of ChiCom Military Movements as an Indicator of Intentions in Southeast Asia. The situation in Southeast Asia could be [Page 391] altered rapidly by the introduction of large numbers of Red Chinese into the North Vietnam area. One of the first indications would be a buildup of ground and air forces in Southern China and naval surface and submarine forces in adjacent sea areas. We are not getting intelligence coverage of these areas with the timeliness, frequency, and quality required.
Soviet and ChiCom Capabilities in Support of Protracted Operations. More knowledge is needed of those aspects of force structure and logistics support capabilities that determine the size of committed forces and the duration for which they can be committed. In the case of the Soviet Union, this consideration applies to both nuclear and nonnuclear operations and will similarly apply to Communist China when that country attains significant nuclear capability.
Effectiveness of the Soviet’s Stored Obsolescent Weapons. Information is lacking regarding the total capability represented by obsolescent Soviet weapons in storage and their ability to reactivate, man, and support them. In particular, their ability to obtain pilots for tactical aircraft is not known.
Communist General Purpose/Tactical Military Capability. There is a persistent over-all deficiency in intelligence available on communist general purpose/tactical forces. Specific deficiencies include current and future information on detailed order of battle, combat and service support, mobilization capability, electronic surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, tactical air support, tactical nuclear weapons and doctrine, and tactical air defense capabilities and systems, ground and air, low and high altitude (with special regard for future air defense systems). This over-all deficiency embraces considerations of timeliness, accuracy, and degree of detail and particularly the posture and capabilities of mobile weapons systems. It continues to inject significant uncertainties into force-oriented and strategic planning and into the establishment of readiness postures.
Soviet Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW). There is insufficient information available on Soviet antisubmarine warfare capabilities to enable an assessment of the threat posed by this capability against nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines.
Soviet and ChiCom Research and Development. The principal gap in scientific and technical intelligence, which has the most significant effect on our national security, has been the inability to obtain definitive information on applied development projects and programs in the time period between the end of general research and the appearance of development testing or deployment.
Soviet and ChiCom Capabilities and Intentions with Respect to Biological and Chemical Warfare. Lack of specific knowledge of biological [Page 392] and chemical warfare activities prevents our effective defense planning for offensive and defensive material and for establishing operational posture.
Soviet and ChiCom Mapping, Charting, and Geophysical Data. The principal intelligence gap and deficiency for the DOD mapping, charting, and geodetic community is the almost complete inability to penetrate the rigidly controlled society of the communist world for the procurement of communist-produced topographic, charting, and geophysical materials. Both countries have completed major programs of effort during the last ten years covering the fields of topographic mapping, aeronautical and nautical charting, and geophysical activities such as geodesy, gravity, and geomagnetics. We have obtained practically none of these data. These deficiencies have a pronounced influence on the geodetic positioning of targets and will directly bear on the success or failure of military operations.
Counterinsurgency Intelligence. There is a general deficiency in detailed basic and operational intelligence on newly emerging countries, particularly in Africa South of the Sahara, and in other areas such as Latin America which are potentially vulnerable to insurgency. Contingency operations must be planned which require detailed data on external and internal subversive elements and infrastructure; the degree of loyalty and capability of indigenous defense forces; biographic data on potential leaders, both loyal and subversive; and basic information on accurate graphics, key communications, public utilities, and other operational and supporting facilities.
Lack of Reliable Information on Plans, Policies and Intentions of Communist Countries. This deficiency continues to be one of the most difficult to solve and, additionally, continues to pose a great strategic, as well as political, uncertainty in military planning and preparedness.
ChiCom Economic, Industrial, and Technological Base. There is inadequate information on the extent of development of the ChiCom economic, industrial, and technological base and its ability to support political, military, and subversive activities in Asia, Southeast Asia, and other areas. Additionally, much is needed on the ChiCom role relating to other communist countries, and the apparatus by which it influences them, especially North Vietnam.
(U) In addition to the above, as you are well aware, we are beset with many intelligence deficiencies and problems associated with the conduct of military affairs in Southeast Asia. Although of immediate importance, these have not been specifically delineated in the above list since they have been, and are continuing to be, comprehensively addressed in response to a White House memorandum signed by Mr. McGeorge Bundy to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and [Page 393] the Director of Central Intelligence, dated 4 January 1966, subject: “Review of the US Foreign Intelligence and Related Activities in Selected Areas of Southeast Asia and the Far East,” and which was based on the PFIAB report to the President, dated 9 December 1965, same subject.
(U) On behalf of the Department of Defense, may I assure you of our continued and wholehearted cooperation.
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 70 A 6649, 350.09 1966 Jan-. Top Secret; Noforn; Restricted Data.
  2. Not found.
  3. Printed from a copy that indicates Meyer signed the original.