75. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara 1
Washington, February 4, 1965.
- Issues Regarding National Planning Raised by the 1964 NESC Report (U)
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed the 1964 NESC Report2 pursuant to our meeting with you on 6 July 1964. This memorandum covers only those questions relating to national planning. Issues regarding NATO defenses were dealt with in JCSM–8–65, dated 8 January 1965, subject: “Issues Concerning NATO Raised by the 1964 NESC Report (U).”3
- The 1964 NESC Report raised three
major questions regarding planning:
- Do the Joint Chiefs of Staff lack guidance for the preparation of military plans which could be provided by a Basic National Security Policy or other compilation of strategic planning guidance having national endorsement? (Pages 2–3, 33, NESC Report)
- Should JSOP and JSCP sections dealing with national and military objectives and strategic concepts be discussed among planners of the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and other appropriate agencies? (Pages 4, 33–34, NESC Report)
- Should US military and political departments undertake more extensive cooperation in identifying specific potential crisis situations and examining them in the light of the political-military measures which they might require? (Page 34, NESC Report)
- With respect to the requirement for a Basic National Security Policy, its compilation into a single document is desirable in principle, but, at the present time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff do not lack policy guidance for the preparation of military plans. Necessary guidance is obtained through both face-to-face meetings and a continuing exchange of written memoranda with the Secretary of Defense. Guidance also results from meetings with the President, National Security Council meetings, National Security Action Memoranda, National Country Policy papers, and National Planning Task papers. Any effort to condense this guidance into a single document could result in a paper so [Page 207]broad that it would be difficult to keep it meaningful and yet up-to-date. To the degree that such a document contained specific guidance, it could place inflexible restrictions on military planning and limit the scope of military advice on subsequent national security problems.
- Lack of a Basic National Security Policy has not handicapped the Joint Chiefs of Staff in developing basic short-range (JSCP), mid-range (JSOP), and long-range (JLRSS) plans, as well as specific contingency plans. Reliance on these documents has permitted the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide suitable military advice for specific purposes. It seems evident that questions such as “Are we prepared and preparing for the most likely kind of war?” (Page 2, NESC Report) should never be foreclosed by a master planning document.
- With regard to the related problem of close coordination of military and political planning, interagency discussion of national objectives and national security policies would provide a useful exchange of ideas. The substance of approved documents such as National Security Action Memoranda, National Policy papers, and related military documents (e.g., JSCP, JSOP, and JLRSS) could provide a basis for these discussions, although it should be understood that the intent of the discussions is not to address these documents themselves or to suggest changes in them. Rather, such a process would give increased background knowledge and perception to the military and political officers concerned and could well provide for better inputs to future political and military plans. These discussions, conducted at the division chief/action officer level, would be informational in nature and supplemental to the liaison now carried out at higher levels. Political-military problem areas that are identified can be added to the list of National Planning Tasks.
- As to the need to undertake a more extensive examination of possible
crisis situations, the following provisions for political-military
crisis planning are already in effect:
- Bimonthly meetings between Department of State representatives and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Thursday planning group meetings attended by representatives of State, Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other appropriate agencies. This body monitors the current list of Policy Planning Tasks, including potential crisis situations.
- Joint Staff participation in those Policy Planning Tasks which have military implications.
- Preparation of National Policy Papers dealing with specific countries. There is input and participation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in each of these papers. They constitute an additional area of State-Military cooperation which can contribute to crisis planning.
- Finally, there are in existence some 200 contingency plans prepared by unified and specified commands as a result of both broad and [Page 208]specific directives in the JSCP. These plans represent the military planning for crisis situations in a wide variety of situations and a large number of countries and areas.
- There is no evident need to provide additional organizations for crisis planning. This type of planning is being carried out along with other forms of planning for particular countries, areas, and circumstances. To segregate crisis planning from other planning would tend to make it less effective and could result in a failure to consider all appropriate factors. The principal need is to assure that timely and adequate planning is accomplished, and the recent establishment of an inter-agency group to facilitate the timely initiation and coordination of political-military planning should be of value in this regard.4 Such a group will provide an important and necessary means of insuring that all relevant factors and views are considered in national security planning. Specifically, formal representation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in such a group would permit a more effective contribution by them to national security planning. The modus operandi of this group will require further study and consultation between the participating parties.
- In summary, the Joint Chiefs of Staff agree that:
- Compilation of a Basic National Security Policy into a single document is desirable in principle, but, at the present time, they do not lack policy guidance for the preparation of military plans.
- National objectives and national security policies should be discussed with the Department of State and other appropriate agencies at the division chief/action officer level. The Joint Staff has been authorized to set up meetings with the Department of State and other appropriate agencies for this purpose.
- With regard to planning organization, participation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the high-level interagency group will facilitate the timely initiation and coordination of political-military planning.
- The Chief of Staff, US Air Force, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps concur in the views expressed in paragraph 8, above, as an interim measure. However, they believe that, in the interest of improved national security, a Basic National Security Policy should be developed to guide interdepartmental planning. Further, they consider that reactivation of the NSC Planning Board would improve national security planning.
- In addition, the Commandant of the Marine Corps believes that the establishment of a National Command Center, in support of the Planning Board and manned by a suitable staff, would further improve national security planning and management.5
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Earle G. Wheeler
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 70 A 1265, 381 NESC 1965. Top Secret; Sensitive. The memorandum is stamped: “Mr. Vance has seen.”↩
- See footnote 2, Document 62. A handwritten note in the margin reads: “Mr. McNamara has only copy.”↩
- A copy is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Files, 9050 (8 Jan 65) (1).↩
- In a March 1 memorandum to Secretary McNamara, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Solbert defined this interagency group as “the State-Defense group which Secretary Rusk proposed and to which you agreed, following the exchange of correspondence on the Latin American scenarios. Mr. Kitchen represents State, and Mr. Rowen has represented Defense. General Goodpaster represents the interests of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and has arranged for Joint Staff participation.” (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 70 A 1266, 381 National Defense (Alpha) E thru 1965)↩
- In a March 3 memorandum to General Wheeler, Secretary McNamara noted he generally agreed with the views expressed in JCSM–84–65. Concerning paragraphs 8–10, however, McNamara wrote: “I am inclined to the view that there is no pressing need for a BNSP in single document form and, at the moment, am not persuaded that the NSC Planning Board should be reactivated.” (Ibid.)↩