83. Letter From the Director of the White House Office of Emergency Planning (Ellington) to Secretary of Defense McNamara1

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am pleased to enclose for your use revised “Guidance for Non-Military Planning”2 which I reported on at Cabinet meeting March 25.3 This provides new assumptions for use by Federal departments and agencies in the further development of their civil emergency preparedness. It supersedes the document of the same title issued October 31, 1963, by the Office of Emergency Planning.4

The new guidance has been brought up to date by the Committee on Assumptions for Non-Military Planning, established by the President. The Committee, as you know, consists of representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the Central Intelligence Agency, with the Director of the Office of Emergency Planning serving as chairman. I am glad to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the participation of your representative, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Weapons Acquisition and Industrial Readiness, Mr. James Davis, and the members of the working group, Mr. Eckhard Bennewitz and Mr. Henry A. Damminger. The final document owes a great deal indeed to their substantive contributions and constructive comments.

The new guidance differs in several respects from the document it supersedes. It is more specific where lack of specificity was found to be a handicap to use. It also reflects a much greater emphasis on the necessity to prepare for less-than-nuclear situations up to and including large-scale conventional wars. There is corresponding reduction in the likelihood (but not the importance) of nuclear war.

It is important that civil emergency preparedness—both current arrangements and future plans—reflect this change of emphasis and other more specific planning factors covered in the guidance. I therefore suggest that you review your emergency plans and programs to assure their responsiveness to these contingency assumptions. If in the course [Page 230] of your review you discover the need for special situation assumptions, I will undertake to see that they are provided, working with the members of the Committee on Assumptions as appropriate.


Buford Ellington
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 70 A 1266, 384 Civil Defense Jan-June 1965. Secret.
  2. The subtitle of the publication is “1965 Issue”; not printed.
  3. No record of this meeting has been found.
  4. Not further identified.