215. Letter From Secretary of Defense Clifford to the Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (Taylor)1

Dear Max:

Thank you for sending me a copy of the memorandum you propose to send to the President in regard to the FIAB proposal for a new Net Evaluation Study.2 In general you have done justice in presenting my views, although there are many more evaluations going on than I mentioned in my letter to Walt Rostow 3 or than you mention in your memorandum to the President.

I would like to emphasize, however, that while I believe a new administration might wish to have a hand in initiating as far-reaching a study as you propose, my main point is that existing studies and existing coordinating mechanisms for bringing information to bear on the problem are adequate to do the job.

This is not to say that there are no intelligence gaps, or that we intend to rest on the merits of studies we have already completed. I am convinced, however, that our current efforts are able to identify—and take steps to fill—any gaps in our intelligence, our research and development, and our analysis.

I believe that our current efforts have the interdepartmental inputs that you feel would be the main benefit of your proposed study. What is lacking most in our current efforts is the relaxed, long-range view that could best be supplied by studies at IDA, Rand, etc. I have been promoting such studies and would appreciate your help in focusing such studies on the pertinent issues.

I have enclosed brief descriptions of a few of the more important continuing efforts that we are making to evaluate the relative strategic strength of the United States and the USSR. I would be glad to provide briefings on any of these efforts to you personally or to the FIAB.


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Major DoD Efforts to Evaluate the Relative Strategic Strength of the United States and USSR

1. Political-Military War Games

Political-military war games are conducted and analyzed by the Joint War Games Agency (JWGA). These (non-computer) games explore major international issues, problems, and questions bearing upon our national security. The White House, the Departments of State, Treasury, and Defense, the USIA, the AID, the ACDA, and the Military Services provide participants for these war games. These games address broad political, economic, psychological, and technological considerations as well as military strategy. The JWGA usually conducts at least four of these games each year. They provide an excellent vehicle for obtaining inter-departmental inputs for an examination for the relative strategic strength of the U.S. and USSR. Two games, played in 1967, studied the effect that anti-ballistic missile defenses might have on a strategic exchange between the U.S. and the USSR.

2. RISOP-SIOP War Games

The Red Integrated Strategic Operational Plan (RISOP) is developed by the JCS and the Services. It is our Soviet equivalent of the U.S. Strategic Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP). In developing this plan the Red Planning Board tries to maximize the effectiveness of the Red forces and exploit known or expected weaknesses of the U.S. strategic posture or forces. The RISOP is approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then war gamed against the SIOP. The war gaming effort involves computer facilities in Omaha, the National Military Command System Support Center in Washington, and the Navy computer facility at NAVCOSSAC. Two independent war games are conducted, one in Omaha by the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff and the other in Washington by the JWGA. The results are briefed to the JCS and to appropriate CINCs. Applicable portions of the plans are provided to the Office of Civil Defense.

3. Post-Nuclear Attack Study

The Post-Nuclear Attack Study (PONAST) is being conducted in the JCS Special Studies Group. It was initiated about two and one half years ago and is now nearing completion. PONAST considers two general war scenarios, which include strategic and theater nuclear forces, in order to examine possible follow-on military and non-military operations in the post-SIOP period of the war. The Office of Emergency Planning (OEP) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) have been active [Page 741]participants. Some twenty-seven other agencies were called upon for various contributions, through the auspices of OEP. The Department of State and the Defense Intelligence Agency have played major roles. The study will identify problems that probably will confront national civilian and military leaders during the successive stages of a general war, and will assess capabilities to cope with such problems.

A feeling for the depth and scope of the study can be gained from the fact that it took more than 4,000 hours of computing time on our most modern computers. Except that it does not specifically focus attention on gaps in intelligence data, it is exactly the kind of analysis that appears to be envisioned by the FIAB in that it evaluates the composition, reliability, effectiveness, and vulnerability of the strategic offensive and defensive forces of both sides, including their command and control systems. It also closely studies the urban-industrial structures of both nations in order to assess the probable effects of strategic attack on urban-industrial targets, as well as the capability of the nations to recover from these attacks. This study was based on the best available intelligence information since the RISOP-SIOP war games, appropriately expanded, were used as the basis for the study.

4. Strategic Forces Draft Presidential Memorandum

The Strategic Forces DPM presents the recommendations of the Secretary of Defense on the strategic offensive and defensive force structures for the next five years, as well as the rationale behind these recommendations. An essential part of this rationale is calculations of the ability of our strategic forces to accomplish their major objective—deterrence of nuclear war.

To do this the DPM first calculates the capability of our programmed forces against a combination of the upper-range of the National Intelligence Projections for Planning (NIPP) projections for each element of the Soviet strategic forces. Excursions then are made to study cases where we lose major components of our forces, to make sure that our capability is not vulnerable to an unforeseen technological breakthrough. If these calculations show that our capability is not sufficient, the DPM recommends developing and deploying enough forces to make it sufficient.

Next, the DPM tests our programmed forces against a threat specifically designed to take away our deterrent capability. It then examines force options which will restore our capability to an acceptable level against this threat. It also examines the lead-times necessary for development of these options and recommends actions which will insure that we can maintain our capability even against this greater-than-expected threat.

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Finally, the DPM next examines our capability to limit damage to the United States in the event that a nuclear war occurs. In this situation the DPM examines likely scenarios instead of the limiting ones used to examine our deterrent capability. It also takes into account possible Soviet reaction to the deployment of a U.S. damage limiting force.

The DPM is sent out for comment to the Services and the JCS. In addition, comments on appropriate parts of the DPM are usually solicited from the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency. The Secretary of Defense considers these comments in writing the Record of Decision version of the DPM. The recommendations in the Record of Decision DPM then form the basis for the budget submitted to Congress.

5. DoD Strategic Force and Effectiveness Tables

The DoD Strategic Force and Effectiveness Tables (SF&ET) contain calculations, for each of the next ten years, of the capability of the U.S. to sustain a first strike by the high NIPP threat and retaliate. Fourteen different scenarios are considered, most of which test the effect of unforeseen vulnerability of a major portion of our forces. The tables also contain calculations, for each of the next ten years, of the retaliatory capability of 14 combinations of strategic force options against a greater-than-expected threat. In addition, they contain calculations of our damage limiting capability with different levels of U.S. ABM defenses in five different scenarios against six different Soviet reactions to our deployment of ABM systems. [3 lines of source text not declassified]

The SF&ET also contain a detailed listing of the U.S. forces and options, the Soviet threat (from the NIPP), and greater-than-expected Soviet threats designed to take away our deterrent capability or our damage limiting capability. The characteristics of these forces are listed in detail.

These tables form a point of departure for all calculations within DoD of the capabilities of our strategic forces. They are coordinated with the Services and the JCS and comments on the greater-than-expected threat have been obtained from the Central Intelligence Agency.

6. Study of Sub-SIOP Options

The Secretary of Defense requested the Secretary of the Air Force to study sub-SIOP nuclear options (NU–OPTS) involving limited nuclear exchanges between the U.S. and the USSR. A pilot study has been completed which indicates that the U.S. and USSR can conduct coercive warfare with strategic weapons, at relative high levels, with each side retaining its capability throughout the exchange to deter an all-out city attack. The Air Staff, SAC, ADC, USAFE, and the Rand Corporation are now investigating the strategic and operational considerations associated [Page 743]with limited nuclear operations, with emphasis on target selection criteria, required damage expectancies, attack levels, types of delivery systems, and the command and control, reconnaissance, intelligence, and communications elements which will be necessary to conduct strategic operations at lower levels of controlled response. These elements are being analyzed both for the U.S. and the USSR. The purpose of this study is to develop a logic for the conduct of strategic war, at levels less than SIOP, in order to provide the President with additional options for the limited use of our strategic forces.

7. National Intelligence Estimates and Projections

The composite views of the intelligence community on Soviet military posture and capability are found in four major National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs): NIE 11–3, Soviet Strategic Air and Missile Defense Forces; NIE 11–4, Main Issues of Soviet Military Policy; NIE 11–8, Soviet Strategic Attack Forces; and NIE 11–14, Soviet and East European General Purpose Forces.4 These estimates are produced yearly and, when necessary, updated during the year. Special NIEs are produced when urgent situations require them. Such a special estimate was issued recently to assess our capability to unilaterally detect changes in Soviet strategic offensive and defensive force structures.5 The U.S. Intelligence Board (USIB) produces these estimates. This Board consists of representatives from the Departments of State, Defense, and Justice, the AEC, and the NSA. (Normally the Department of Justice abstains from the above NIEs since the subject is outside their jurisdiction.)

The National Intelligence Projections for Planning (NIPP) is prepared annually by the USIB to serve as a supplement to the NIEs on Soviet programs and capabilities. It is much more detailed than the NIEs. The added detail is principally a quantification and projection over a ten-year period of the broad trends and capabilities indicated in the NIEs. Its purpose is to: (a) include in a single document the quantitative data on all major aspects of Soviet military forces, (b) to present the quantitative data by mid-years for a ten-year period, (c) to organize the data into mission-oriented categories, and (d) to indicate ranges of uncertainty associated with each projection.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Vol. 2 [1 of 4], Box 6. Top Secret. Attached to a September 24 note from Taylor to Rostow; see footnote 1, Document 216.
  2. Document 211.
  3. Quoted in Document 214.
  4. Four versions of NIE 11–3 are printed as Documents 69, 106, 146, and 221; for NIE 11–4, see Documents 84, 131, and 183; for NIE 11–8, see Documents 97, 143, and 217; for NIE 11–14, see Document 98.
  5. An apparent reference to SNIE 11–10–67, Document 169.