142. Editorial Note

In a telephone conversation on October 16, 1966, President Johnson and Secretary of Defense McNamara first discussed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That part of their conversation is summarized in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XI, Document 162, footnote 4. McNamara then went on to report that he had just gone over the fiscal year 1968 defense budget estimates submitted by the military services. The President interjected, “Hold on and let me get my hat,” and McNamara responded, “you’ll need more than your hat; [you’ll need] a storm shelter.”

McNamara then reported that these military estimates totaled $98 billion. That figure he found “just unbelievable and there’s no damned reason in the world for it and it won’t come out that way.” When President Johnson asked what the military asked for last year, McNamara said it was about $75 or $72 billion. The President said that $10 billion had been added, and McNamara agreed but said that that would be reduced. “But the $98 billion is just unbelievable. The next 60 days are just going to have to be budget cutting days.” “I’ve just got a helluva task on my hands,” he shortly commented. Working with Deputy Secretary Vance, McNamara concluded, “I can get it down to a reasonable level by Christmas time, but it’s going to take every minute between now and Christmas to do it.” (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between President [Page 439] Johnson and Secretary McNamara, October 16, 1966, 7:03 p.m., Tape F66.29, Side A; this transcript was prepared specifically for this Foreign Relations volume)