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



  • Production and Deployment of Nike-X (C)
(C) The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed your revised draft memorandum for the President, dated 22 December 1966, subject: “Production and Deployment of the Nike-X,”2 and have noted the alternative proposal for Nike-X deployment recommended therein. They do not consider that detailed comments on the draft memorandum are required; however, they suggest that the draft memorandum should be amended to set forth more adequately a rationale supporting the recommended deployment.
(S) The DEPEX II deployment of Nike-X that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have recommended to you is designed to counter an evolving USSR and CPR threat to the United States. They consider that the proposed Nike-X deployment alternative will not be able to cope with all aspects of the evolving threat. They agree, however, that this modified deployment will provide some measure of area and city defense, provide partial protection of Minuteman sites, guard against the consequences of accidental launch of nuclear missiles toward the United States, and discourage the use of “nuclear blackmail.”
(S) The inclusion of ABM systems in any arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union raises complex political, military and psychological problems, many of which stem from the developing communist Chinese nuclear capability. The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that the military aspects of such negotiations should be carefully weighed prior to and during negotiations; they are prepared to provide appropriate advice as needed. In any event, deployment of Nike-X should not be delayed pending initiation or conclusion of arms control negotiations since, apart from the military requirement, implementation of the proposed deployment of Nike-X would provide the United States useful negotiating leverage.
(S) In summary, while the Joint Chiefs of Staff reaffirm their previous recommendations stated in JCSM–742–66, dated 2 December 1966, subject as above,3 they support the proposed deployment of Nike-X [Page 511] as a first step in attaining a critically-needed ballistic missile defense capability, recognizing and emphasizing that the ultimate deployment of Nike-X must be predicated on present and future developments in offensive and defensive strategic systems.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Earle G. Wheeler
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 71 A 3470, ABM Memo and JCS View Folder 103. Secret.
  2. Document 160.
  3. Document 149.