74. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Defense Program and Budget Review Committee

Your remarks at the NSC meeting on the U.S. military posture,2 strongly underscored your view that resolution of major defense strategy and program issues must no longer be the result of “treaties” negotiated between DOD and BOB or compromises struck among the military services.

As a result of the NSC meeting, I recommend that we move to establish an interagency Defense Program Review Committee. Such a committee could be chaired by me as your representative with Dave Packard, Elliot Richardson, Dick Helms, Bob Mayo and General Wheeler as permanent members.

The Defense Program Review Committee will satisfy your objectives by evaluating the diplomatic, military and political consequences of:

  • —changes in the defense budget and programs,
  • —changes in U.S. overseas force deployments and in committed forces based in the U.S.,
  • —changes in tactical nuclear weapons deployment,3
  • —major defense policy and program issues raised by studies prepared in response to National Security Study Memorandums.

The Committee can meet as necessary and prepare issues papers for you and the NSC to consider. For example, once a five year force and program plan for DOD has been established, the Committee can review significant changes to this plan proposed by DOD or BOB or initiated by Congress.

Recommendation: Because of the importance of this decision, I recommend that you sign the enclosed NSDM to establish this Commit [Page 159] tee.4 The Committee itself can establish appropriate organizational arrangements.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Haig Chronological File, Box 958, Haig Chron—September 1969. Secret; Nodis. Sent for action.
  2. The meeting was held on September 10. Handwritten notes of the discussion are at the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–109, NSC Minutes, Originals, 1969.
  3. This reference to tactical nuclear weapons deployment was omitted from the implementing NSDM (see Document 79). According to a September 20 memorandum from Haig to Kissinger, Kissinger had “expressed concern about the nuclear issue,” which was conveyed to Laird. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 337, HAK/Richardson Meetings, May 1969–December 1969) For other changes made in Kissinger’s proposal, see Document 76.
  4. Nixon signed attached NSDM but, in response to Laird’s September 22 letter (Document 75), it was revised before it was issued (see Document 79). In a September 10 memorandum to Kissinger forwarding the draft NSDM, Lynn warned that “this plan, or for that matter, any plan which carries out the President’s directive, may create real problems with Mel Laird, who stands to lose a great deal of his potential power as Secretary of Defense.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 337, HAK/Richardson Meetings, May 1969–December 1969)
  5. The President initialed his approval.