71. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Conference between the President, the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the LBJ Ranch, Texas, on Tuesday, 22 December 1964, at 1020 CST

The following were present at the conference:

  • President Johnson
  • Secretary of Defense McNamara
  • Deputy Secretary of Defense Vance
  • General Wheeler
  • General LeMay
  • Admiral McDonald
  • General Johnson
  • General Greene
  • Major General Clifton (intermittently)
  • Colonel Forbes, JCS recorder

The main subject of this meeting was the Defense Department budget.

Mr. McNamara opened the meeting with a statement that the major issues have been considered and that the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are agreed on about 95% of the items. Each Chief was then invited to discuss points he would like to bring up.2

General Wheeler listed three points which he considered a “package”—the Strategic Missile Force, the Fallout Shelter Program, and the Antiballistic Missile Program. He stated that he was concerned about the reduction from 1200 to 1000 Minutemen in this budget, especially since it is coming at the time we are phasing out3 Atlas and Titan missiles.

There was an interruption and discussion of a telephone call to Secretary McNamara concerning Viet Nam.

[Page 200]

Mr. McNamara gave a rather lengthy explanation of why he felt we could delay the decision on the 200 extra Minutemen missiles.

General Wheeler then spoke of the national fallout shelter program and his feeling that it should be speeded up if we are going to make our whole strategic force compatible with the protection of our own people. Secretary McNamara generally agreed with his point but stated that he felt that pushing ahead on civil defense while not pushing ahead with the antiballistic missile might not be of any great value. General Wheeler then pressed on with further support for the antiballistic missile and a proposal for $200 million for preproduction funding. Mr. McNamara made other statements which confirmed his view that the fallout shelter program and the antiballistic defense program should go together and that we are not ready at the moment to go ahead with either of these programs any more strongly than we are.

During the time that the President left the meeting, General Johnson and Secretary McNamara discussed post-D-Day aid to allies and the military assistance program as well as the military sales program. General Greene discussed Marine Corps Organized Reserves with Mr. McNamara.

At 1058 President Johnson rejoined the conference and General Wheeler continued his discussion. He made a strong plea for raising military pay this year. There was a lengthy discussion between President Johnson and other Chiefs on the pay situation. All of the Chiefs joined in on this subject and Secretary McNamara told the President that he would sit down with the Chiefs and examine the matter so all of them are talking on the same basis. There was a further discussion between General Wheeler and President Johnson on Congressman Rivers presenting a pay bill that they would have to testify about.

In concluding this matter, President Johnson said that he would very carefully consider any recommendations from the Secretary of Defense and would discuss them with the Director of the Budget.

General LeMay then added a few words on the pay situation and reiterated the fact that there should be funds for the Project Definition Phase of the manned bomber and an improved interceptor for the Air Defense Command. He feels that the time lag is too long. Secretary McNamara stated that it was the Chiefs’ view that it is too early to say that we don’t need a new bomber and it is too early to say that we do need one. The Chiefs say that we should work on advanced engines, avionics, and Project Definition Phase. Secretary McNamara stated that his proposal would only delay this decision by five months.

Admiral McDonald then spoke about ship force levels, stating that antisubmarine warfare ships were short in the building program. The second point was gunfire support in connection with amphibious landing [Page 201] capabilities, and Secretary McNamara then agreed to put two additional rocket ships into the shipbuilding program.

Admiral McDonald then led a discussion on the replacement of major escort ships. General Greene then discussed the Marine Corps Organized Reserves at mobilization time. Mr. McNamara agreed that there were problems here but they needed to be sorted out. General Johnson then spoke about the fine equipment that we have in Viet Nam and out in the Far East and that the Army is doing well. This led to a discussion of the pay system, and finally General Johnson made a request for some more money for the Nike X.

Secretary McNamara adjourned the meeting at 1252.

Summary: The only positive decision I saw was the addition of two extra rocket ships and the determination that the Secretary of Defense should come forth with new recommendations on military pay.

The other problem areas that are open for further discussion are the manned bomber, the advanced manned interceptor; General Wheeler’s “strategic package”: Minuteman missiles, fallout shelters and the antiballistic missile; the Navy shipbuilding program of new ships.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, JCS, Filed by the LBJ Library, Box 29. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Clifton. A more detailed memorandum for the record (23 pages) of the same meeting, prepared by Colonel R.C. Forbes on January 25, 1965, is ibid.
  2. A December 17 memorandum to Secretary McNamara, signed by Lieutenant General Andrew J. Goodpaster for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefly summarized the Chairman’s proposed comments at the upcoming December 22 meeting with the President on five issues: 1,200 Minutemen vs. 1,000, Nike X, National Fallout Shelter Program, Need for Military Pay Increase, and Level of Support. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 69 A 7425, 110.01 FY-66 1964)
  3. The word “Minuteman,” immediately following this word was crossed out and initialed by Clifton.