176. Memorandum From the Director of the Program Analysis Staff, National Security Council (Odeen) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • The Future Role of the DPRC

You asked for a paper on the future role of the DPRC. The past year Secretary Laird’s intransigence has essentially prevented the DPRC from performing its planned functions. My earlier memo listing uncompleted work and ignored study directives is at Tab A.

The fundamental purpose of the DPRC is to ensure the DOD program is supportive of the President’s strategy and foreign policy objectives. To this end, it should go beyond arms control planning (SAL[T] and MBFR) and get into broad strategy questions as well as DOD programs and budgets.

Conceptually, the strategy decisions made by the President are separable from the force planning prerogatives of DOD. The President’s strategic objectives should provide a broad framework for force planning while DOD develops the detailed force postures to support the President’s strategy.

This neat conceptual separation, however, does not work in practice. Without the White House becoming involved in DOD force planning, it is clear that the President’s strategy will not be supported.

  • —Strategic objectives have been changed with very little effect on force postures (e.g., NATO and Air Defense).
  • DOD budget requests have been out of line with the President’s economic goals and NSC has ended up as a broker mediating between the demands of OMB (which emphasize economic considerations) and Laird who wants to maximize the DOD budget.
  • DOD procurement and force planning policies have strategic implications all their own which can’t be ignored.

Future DPRC Functions

There are four broad functions which the DPRC could perform:

  • Setting the strategic objectives which govern our force planning and ensuring these objectives are coordinated with the President’s overall [Page 351] foreign policy goals. Possibilities for the future include establishing strategic doctrines to govern our naval force planning and to guide Asian planning in the future.
  • Ensuring the availability of adequate funds to cover DOD’s long term spending plans by projecting total long term revenues and spending to check the consistency between the President’s economic, fiscal, and strategic planning.
  • Examining the adequacy of planned forces to support the President’s strategic objectives by considering reinforcement capabilities, deployment plans and the near term diplomatic impact of our force planning. A review of our capability to implement the NATO strategy with its emphasis on providing an initial ground defense and improved antitank capability is an appropriate new initiative in this area.
  • Reviewing the suitability and efficiency of specific weapons systems for their role in carrying out our strategy. Is the B–1 the type of manned bomber we need for the future? Are we building carriers suited to the needs of the future?

Some degree of NSC involvement is, in my view, essential in all four areas. The key question is which areas should be addressed by the DPRC, with its full interagency membership, and which should be addressed through other bilateral channels. To a major extent the answer to this depends on the understanding you and the President reach with Elliot Richardson. Without his cooperation, the DPRC will not function effectively.

Broad resource allocation and strategy issues as well as the adequacy of DOD programs to carry out strategy have direct broad interagency policy implications and definitely fall under the DPRC. Specific weapons systems design and development decisions are primarily DOD’s responsibility even though State, ACDA, OMB, etc., have a burning interest.

The weapons issues of interest to the President should be handled on a bilateral basis with DOD. This White House involvement could be helpful to the incoming Secretary of Defense. For example, the drive towards complex and costly new weapons systems is very powerful and White House pressure can be of value in containing the R&D advocates.

How to Proceed

There are many important and timely issues to be addressed in each of the functional areas listed above. A partial list of these issues is at Tab B.

In view of the slow down of the DPRC mechanism over the past six months, it is imperative that we take a strong initiative to get work moving ahead when the new administration takes office. The key problem is to assign priorities and develop a rational schedule to ensure that over the next year or so we make meaningful progress in developing the President’s strategy and ensuring the forces will support it.

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First priority should go to bringing to decision those studies which have largely been completed. The prime examples are the NSSM 69 Asian force and deployments study and the Strategic Objectives Study.2 Both could be ready for the DPRC and NSC some time early next year.

At the same time, we need to get work underway on new strategy studies which the President will want to review over the coming year. Primary candidates are studies of the strategic rationale for our Navy and tactical nuclear forces and planning. Both areas represent real gaps in our strategic planning. These studies will take months to complete and we should start now in order to have something by next summer.

Regarding DOD long term budget planning, the important thing is to ensure rough consistency between the five year plan and the President’s intention not to increase taxes. Rather than redoing NSSM 3, I propose:

  • —Issuing five year budgetary guidance to DOD which holds spending levels about constant in real terms. This guidance should be issued in late January or February in order to influence next year’s DOD planning cycle.
  • —Directing DOD to present in the summer an analysis of the strategic implications of a five to ten percent increase or decrease in spending. This would be the basis for firm fiscal guidance for FY 75–79 period.

Finally, I believe we should aim towards studying several special weapons systems with work done on a bilateral NSC/DOD basis. Examples include the suitability of the B–1 manned bomber, the need for the FY 78 Trident IOC, and large air defense modernization programs and close air support needs. (Army, Air Force, and Marines are all developing aircraft for this mission.)

It may also be wise to ask the new Secretary of Defense to review the currently planned modernization effort to see what could be done to slow the move toward even more costly and complex weapons and equipment. This idea will be treated in my memo on steps to rationalize the Defense program.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 237, DPRC & Defense Budget, Aug–Dec 1972. Secret. Sent for urgent action. The tabs are not printed. Haig initialed the memorandum and wrote “thru Scowcroft” at the top of page 1. Kissinger wrote on page 1: “Dick—Here is another stupid Laird.”
  2. Copies are ibid., RG 59, S/S–NSSM Files: Lot 80 D 212, NSSM 65 and NSSM 69.
  3. Kissinger indicated his approval by writing “in principle” and below that “See me” next to the agree option.