91. Memorandum From the Director of the White House Office of Emergency Planning (Ellington) to President Johnson1

This is a summary of readiness to put into effect civilian mobilization measures as necessary to support an increased military commitment to Vietnam.

  • —The Nation faces the present situation with greater economic strength and preparedness to mobilize our civilian effort in support of national defense than ever before in our history.
  • —The Defense Production Act of 19502 contains authority to meet the immediate problems of the buildup. It provides for priorities and allocations and other actions for expediting defense production. Authorities for price and wage stabilization have expired. Legislative proposals are ready if needed.
  • —The Director of the Office of Emergency Planning coordinates, on behalf of the President, all mobilization activities of the Executive branch. Executive Order 104803 gives him the priorities and allocations authorities conferred upon the President by Title I of the Defense Production Act.
  • —The Defense Materials System provides machinery for expediting and allocating materials for defense production. It is administered by the Business and Defense Services Administration (Department of Commerce) under redelegation from the Director of OEP. It successfully supports Defense, AEC, and NASA programs today, and can be expanded.
  • —Although the economy may be able, in general terms, to accommodate a stepped-up military effort, there will be instances where specific industries, materials, components, or facilities will require action under the Defense Production Act to facilitate production.
  • —The state of our strategic and critical materials stockpiles, having a market value of about $8 billion, is very good. Sixty-three of the 77 [Page 247] stockpiled materials equal or exceed stockpile objectives for limited or conventional war. Although the inventories for the remaining 14 materials are adequate to meet a limited war of short duration, they should be brought to the level of established stockpile objectives, and we are taking steps to this end without unduly affecting markets.
  • —We are in touch with the Council of Economic Advisors and other agencies to watch economic indices affecting mobilization.
  • —Economic stabilization measures are of two types—indirect controls and direct controls. Indirect include: taxes, credit controls, and other monetary measures within the responsibility of the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board. Some of these measures are part of our day-to-day economic system.

    Direct controls include those for prices, wages and salaries, and rents as well as rationing. Authority for such controls does not exist today. Legislative proposals are kept ready, but capability to administer these controls does not exist since substantial national organizations would be required. Preliminary plans and arrangements have been developed as a part of our regular preparedness. A national organization could be established and in operation in a period of 60–90 days.

  • —No major national manpower problem is foreseen. Manpower shortages, to the extent they would exist, would be in critical skills and localized. These shortages could generally be met through existing voluntary manpower measures already established by the Department of Labor and endorsed by the National Labor-Management Manpower Policy Committee. Care will have to be exercised in meeting military requirements for medical personnel to minimize the effect on civilian communities. Selective Service is ready to meet increased calls for military personnel.
  • —In the transportation field there are three areas of possible shortages: ocean shipping (where the Maritime Administration has already pulled 14 ships from the National Defense Reserve Fleet), air cargo, and rail freight. Shortages occur in rail freight today. Necessary action to meet national defense requirements can be taken by the President under existing law.
  • —To evaluate the potential economic and industrial impact of increased defense spending, and to plan effectively the mobilization effort, we must have a clear and detailed statement from the Department of Defense on the size, composition, and phasing of defense requirements. I will review this matter with the Secretary of Defense so that we can provide coordinated civilian support.
Buford Ellington
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 70 A 1266, 384 (July–Dec) 1965. Secret. An August 9 covering memorandum from Bundy to McNamara briefly summarized the memorandum and concluded: “You need not be reminded of the importance of the relationship between Defense and OEP in developing prompt and adequate contingency plans, but it might be useful to ensure that the procedures and lines of communications are in good shape.”
  2. P.L. 81–774, approved September 8, 1950. (64 Stat. 798)
  3. E.O. 10480, August 14, 1953, established procedures for the administration of the Defense Mobilization Act of 1950. (Federal Register, vol. 18, August 20, 1953, pp. 4939, 4941–4944)