22. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor) to Secretary of Defense McNamara1



  • Joint Strategic Objectives Plan for FY 1969–1971 (JSOP-69), Part VI—Force Tabs and Analysis (U)
I have forwarded, by JCSM–219–64, Part VI (Force Tabs and Analysis) to the Joint Strategic Objectives Plan covering the period 1969–971 (JSOP-69).2 As indicated in Tables 4–13 and the footnotes thereto of Volume I, the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not reach agreement with respect to certain major programs, including Minuteman, the Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft (AMSA), Nike X, the Improved Manned Interceptor (IMI), Army divisions, Navy aircraft carriers, and Air Force tactical fighter wings.
The divergent views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stem primarily from the same issues as those reviewed last year in JSOP-68,3 i.e., the extent of counterforce targeting in the future, the optimum balance between strategic offensive and defensive systems, uncertainties as to the effect of tactical nuclear operations on the requirements for general purpose forces, and the rate and extent of modernization of all forces. During the past year, these problems were the subject of additional study, and they were given further consideration in the situational analyses, or scenarios, which comprise Volumes IIV of Part VI, JSOP-69.
The scenarios were designed to assist the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their determination of objective force levels. As indicated in the footnotes throughout the analyses, the Service Chiefs have many reservations concerning the assumptions, factors, concepts of employment and conclusions of these analyses. Nevertheless, in my opinion, they have been a valuable asset in bringing additional light to bear on these major issues which all Services are earnestly endeavoring to resolve.
After review of the scenario on strategic retaliatory forces, and other studies on this subject during the last year, I am impressed by the uncertainties regarding the value of a more extensive counterforce effort and hence am not convinced as to the need for additional strategic missiles over and above the present program of 1,200 Minutemen.

a. Although there are many reservations concerning the scenario on continental air and missile defense forces, I am convinced that the force levels now programmed will not provide adequate CONUS defense in the mid-range period. In looking forward to that period, we are presently faced with a choice, in my opinion, between (1) primary reliance on strategic offensive forces as a means for effecting deterrence or for limiting damage if deterrence fails (without major improvement of defensive means); and (2) a balance of offensive and improved defensive forces which, while also providing for deterrence, will afford the optimum practicable capability for limiting damage. In view of the greater loss of life and productive capacity shown in war games based upon the first choice, I am convinced that it is the second alternative which we should adopt.

b. In order to resolve this issue with understanding, there is an immediate requirement to determine the optimum balance between offensive and defensive systems. Hopefully, the studies now underway in both your office and the Joint Staff will be of assistance in this determination. In the interim, feeling that some requirement will be validated for such programs as Nike X, Phase II SOSUS, and the IMI, I recommend proceeding with these programs in such a way as not to delay [Page 62] their time of availability, but without attempting to establish force objectives at this time. Finalization of the optimum total numbers of the various strategic offensive and defensive systems will require prior determination of the optimum balance among the systems involved.


a. With respect to the limited war operations considered in the scenarios, a point of particular interest is that upon the outbreak of major hostilities in Europe, we could not continue operations in Southeast Asia beyond a possible holding action employing about four divisions. If, on the other hand, a decision were made to continue the limited war operations with a force of eight divisions as planned in the Southeast Asia scenario, any buildup in Europe, over and above the five divisions now there, would be limited initially to no more than seven divisions for a total of twelve divisions in Western Europe, and this could only be done by transfer of the two divisions from Korea. Further expansion of the US ground force contribution in Europe would have to await the availability of the six Army ready reserve divisions which could not be made combat ready, deployed and committed to battle until sometime during the period M+120-M+180.

b. A second point of importance brought out in the examination of the scenarios is that an apparent imbalance exists between Army combat forces and the associated combat support and logistic support units. These Army support units appear to be the limiting factor in the ability of the United States to respond on the postulated scale and timing to major contingencies.

The limited war scenarios also indicate possible deficiencies in logistic support in the form of personnel, supplies and equipment for the operations considered. These deficiencies are being analyzed in greater detail and recommendations regarding additional logistic guidance will be covered in the Logistic Annex to JSOP-69.
I concur with the force levels in JSOP-69 which are supported unanimously by the Service Chiefs. With regard to those major programs about which there are divergent opinions, my personal views and recommendations are as follows:

a. Program I—Strategic Retaliatory Forces

AMSA . I recommend that the decision with respect to R&D funding in FY 1966 be deferred pending review of the program definition phase.
Minuteman. I do not foresee any requirement for increased funding in FY 1966 or increasing Minuteman force levels beyond those programmed for FY 1969, but recognize the requirement for orderly system modernization.
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b. Program II—Continental Air and Missile Defense Forces

IMI . In my opinion, the numbers and types of air defense environment systems and weapons systems are dependent on the determination of a basic concept for air defense in the mid-range period. I recommend that the decision on a procurement program for the IMI be deferred, but that the necessary funds for a first increment of approximately eighteen aircraft in 1968 be included in the FY 1966 budget pending review of the integrated studies of all components of continental air and missile defense now underway.
Nike X. After review of numerous studies during the past year, I am convinced that the deployment of an effective anti-ballistic missile system is an urgent necessity. I recommend, pending completion and review of the integrated continental air and missile defense studies which should develop over-all deployment requirements, that the FY 1966 budget provide for the maximum practicable effort toward completion of development and, if justified by research and development progress in FY 1965, the initiation of production of long lead time items in order to permit initial deployment of approximately 200 missiles (the defense of one area) in FY 1970.

c. Program III—General Purpose Forces

Army Divisions. Although an increase over the presently programmed sixteen divisions might be desirable, in my opinion the provision of adequate support in terms of logistic units and supplies for sixteen divisions is more important than the maintenance of more divisions with inadequate support. I recommend the continuation of a force level of sixteen appropriately supported divisions and seven brigades throughout the mid-range period.
Navy Carriers. I continue to support the recommendation in your 18 December 1963 memorandum to the President to maintain the present force level of fifteen CVAs through FY 1969, to reduce the force to fourteen in FY 1970, and to thirteen in FY 1972.4 The total number of carriers should remain at twenty-four with the CVSs increasing from nine to ten in FY 1970 and to eleven in FY 1972.
Air Force Tactical Fighter Wings. I recommend continuing the present FY 1968 program of twenty-four wings (1,740 total tactical aircraft) throughout the period FY 1968–1973. I consider this number to [Page 64] be in balance with the requirements for the support of sixteen Army divisions and the accomplishment of related air tasks.
As reported by JCSM–146–64,5 the Joint Chiefs of Staff had divergent views concerning the amount of detail which should have been included in the force tabs of JSOP-69. In order to insure the submission by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the maximum useful advice concerning military forces in future JSOPs, I recommend that, prior to approval of the study being conducted by your staff on restructuring the tables of the Five Year Force Structure and Financial Program, it be forwarded to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for comment.
Subject to the comments in paragraph 8 above, I recommend approval of the major elements of the force composition indicated in the tables of Volume I, Part VI to the Joint Strategic Objectives Plan for FY 1969–1971 (JSOP-69). For those elements not covered in the preceding discussion, I will provide my views in the review of PCPs when they are submitted.
Maxwell D. Taylor
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 200, Defense Programs and Operations, JSOPFY 1969–1971, Feb. 14, 1964, Box 41. Top Secret.
  2. See Document 21 and footnote 2 thereto.
  3. Not found.
  4. Reference is to a draft memorandum from Secretary McNamara to President Johnson, entitled “Attack Carrier (CVA) Forces,” December 18, 1963, included in “Department of Defense Draft Memoranda for the President: Recommended FY 1965–1969 Defense Programs,” a December 19 compendium of 14 such draft memoranda. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Files, JMF 7000 (3 Jan 64) Sec 1A)
  5. Not found.