4. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kaysen) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1

Harold Brown and I discussed the matter of the DUCC this morning. In view of the problems between the Secretary and the JCS,2 we agreed that the best way to handle the matter was to create a limited interdepartmental committee to study the problem from the point of view of the civilian top level of Government; and at the same time suggest to the Secretary of Defense that he request the Joint Chiefs to give their views on the nature of their relations with both the President-Secretary of State-Secretary of Defense level and the CINCs in a crisis situation toward the end of the sixties. The target date for this is the 15th of March.

The purpose of this would be to get the Chiefs to deal explicitly with their view of the relations between the top civilian level and the operational commanders during the period of crisis, and make clear both their ideas of what kinds of crisis situations they are thinking of and the amount and character of communication they would expect in both directions from and on location.

The interdepartmental study group would try to answer four questions, against the background of some likely scenarios of crisis in which a thermo-nuclear war is either imminent or has actually begun.

What would the utility of the DUCC be in this situation in the late sixties?
How big would the facility have to be in terms of the number of people it could hold to provide this utility?
Are there any unresolved technical problems which would have to be dealt with to make the installation effective?

What would its relation be to the other elements of the National Military Command System (NMCS)?

Harold and I think the committee should be chaired formally by you, and that its members might be himself, Andy Goodpaster, Alex Johnson, Walt Rostow and Ray Cline. Spurgeon and I would join to represent you on the committee, and I could convene the meeting and act as Chairman in your absence. The main staff of the committee who [Page 11]would be available for full-time work would be furnished by Harold Brown’s office. In addition, Jim Clark of BOB who is knowledgeable on these problems, might serve on its staff.

Secretary McNamara might prefer to deal with this purely as an internal problem within the Department of Defense. However, the arguments for the other arrangement are convincing to Harold Brown and me. First, if there is to be a fight with the Congress, the President himself must be convinced of the need for the proposed facility, and this can best be done through the participation of his own staff. Second, there is not within the Pentagon the kind of experience that the White House-State-CIA are likely to have that is requisite to a thorough examination of the issues. While nobody has the relevant experience, the suggested group would come closer to having a basis for speculation about it than any other we can think of.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Deep Underground Command Center, Box 8. Top Secret.
  2. For the views of the JCS, see Document 3.