82. Editorial Note

At a meeting with his senior staff in the Pentagon on December 14, 1970, Secretary of Defense Laird discussed President Nixon’s desire for a new strategic concept:

“Mr. Laird said we still face tremendous problems in having everyone fully understand our national strategy. This is of major concern to him. We will have tremendous problems in preserving our present force capabilities and to gain or create options to add to our capabilities. We have cut the Defense budget as far as we can. The President has expressed a desire for a new strategic concept that is tied to his foreign [Page 293] policy objectives and that is not necessarily tied to detailed specifics on forces and weapons. Mr. Laird said his basic desire in responding to the President’s desire is to develop a strategy comprehended by a majority of the country and one which both House and Senate can support. We must recognize realities, protect the FY 1972 forces as a minimum, provide the basis for increased flexibility in the short-term, and lay the foundation now for strengthening forces of all major categories during the next 5 years. He has put together a new concept paper linked closely to the Nixon Doctrine, with its emphasis on increased strength for air and sea forces as well as the emphasis in NSDM-95 on maintaining our ground commitment in NATO. He will issue this paper this week as tentative strategic guidance for FY 1973. He will also submit it to the NSC and DPRC meetings this week for consideration.

“It is important to bear in mind as we finalize the strategic guidance that what we are trying to do is have a strategy that can be understood by the American people and the Congress and which at the same time will give us the necessary flexibility in operating under the kind of budget situation that we have now and will have in the future. Naturally, there won’t be complete agreement by everyone on the strategy. It has not had the major staffing many of the papers in the building have had. It is important to have a strategy that can be understood if we are to have the options and capabilities we need during the upcoming period.” (Minutes of Secretary of Defense staff meeting; Washington National Records Center, Department of Defense, OSD Files: FRC 330 76-0028, Box 11, Secretary of Defense Staff Minutes, July-December 1970)

Thirty-four people attended the meeting, including Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard, Secretary of the Army Stanley Resor, Secretary of the Navy John Chafee, Secretary of the Air Force Robert Seamans, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer, Army Chief of Staff General William Westmoreland, and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt. The concept paper cited by Laird has not been found. National Security Decision Memorandum 95, dated November 25 and entitled “U.S. Strategy and Forces for NATO,” is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 363, Subject Files, National Security Decision Memoranda (NSDMs), Nos 51-96.