10. Telegram From the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Regional Organizations to the Department of State1
Polto 1225. At invitation WG, SACEUR gave his personal views on military value of MLF. SACEUR described his requirement for mix of submarine, seaborne, and land based MRBMs and IRBMs to carry out his assigned mission to deter or defeat Soviet threat to ACE. At present, he confronted with 600 Soviet missiles, an increasing number being put in hardened sites and he had at his disposal few missiles (US Polaris submarines), (UK V-bombers) and obsolescing strike aircraft which faced excellent improving Soviet air defenses. This missile gap produced decline in his ability discharge mission and weakening of deterrent.
While he had no detailed technical information on MLF specifications such as warheads, SACEUR stated MLF would have great military utility in that it would provide needed missile power which he could use effectively. While MLF was no substitute for mix, it would be very considerable contribution toward his mix requirement.
In response questions why MLF should be created if external forces available for job, SACEUR said every military commander wants forces assigned to him adequate to discharge his mission. When compared with external forces,MLF had advantages of flight time, accuracy due to proximity, and survivability due to mobility.
SACEUR noted greatest accuracy with land based missiles. This advantage compensated for in part by proximity MLF to target. While he did not know characteristics of MLF warheads, SACEUR stated he had enough targets to be covered by Polaris A–3 missiles far enough from population centers to be consistent with NATO constraints policy.
SACEUR has no great problem in incorporating MLF into NATO Command and Control System, which could be done easily on patterns V-bombers and US Polaris.
UK permanent representative said that no decision had been made to create MLF and in studying question care must be taken not to overlook other systems that might meet requirement better.SACEUR observed this hypothetical situation. He had to consider what was likely to be available to meet three parts of his missile mix. MLF would meet seaborne part. As for land based missile X, research and development not yet completed. New missiles had lead times of years.[Page 21]
In SACEUR’s opinion, MRBMs would not be obsolescent at end of decade. He not certain about fate of manned aircraft.
In response question of Italian permanent representative, SACEUR emphasized no one single weapons system could cover all of his present and foreseeable requirements.
In response to question “taking into account the presently assigned SSBNs and other weapon delivery systems at present targeted or programmed to be targeted on SACEUR’s threat list, would the addition of 200 Polaris A–3 missiles in the MLF be of military utility for the achievement of SACEUR’s mission through the next ten years?” SACEUR replied “Yes, the MLF would have great military utility in the next ten years”.
Detailed resume of discussion in preparation for distribution after review by SACEUR.
Comment: SACEUR was clear and unequivocal, initially and under probing questioning, in his position that he would welcome assignment MLF to his command and would find MLF of considerable military value. While making clear MLF would not satisfy completely his MRBM requirement, and avoiding over-stating military case for MLF, his candid and direct response to questions and reiteration of basic endorsement of MLF as contribution to defense ACE would provide valuable point of reference in future WG discussions.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF(MLF)12. Secret. Repeated to Bonn, London, Ankara, Athens, Rome for USDOCOSouth for Burris, Brussels, The Hague, CINCLANT, and CINCEUR.↩