76. Memorandum From the Secretary of Defense’s Military Assistant (Pursley) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- Defense Program Review Committee
Secretary Laird.2 Mr. Laird indicated to you his agreement with the general nature of the proposed Committee and the direction its work would provide on national security deliberations and on programs.
The Secretary still agrees with the general thrust of your proposal. However, since the last discussion with you, three modifications in the draft National Security Decision Memorandum (NSDM) have occurred to him. He has asked me to outline the modifications for your consideration:
a. What the Committee Will Do.[Page 161]
The present draft NSDM says “This Committee will review the diplomatic, military and political consequences of issues requiring Presidential determination….”
Mr. Laird suggests the charter be broadened to read: “This Committee will review the diplomatic, military, political, and economic consequences of issues requiring Presidential determination….”
In reality, the U.S. will probably be confronted on a continuing basis with the call for more national security commitments from the various diplomatic, military, and political claimants than we shall have resources to fulfill. In effect, then, two of the key jobs confronting the Defense Program Review Committee would be the delineation of:
- —Sound U.S. diplomatic, military, and economic goals, at least as they look to those involved in national security matters.
- —Alternative national security strategies, i.e., the ways in which resources can be allocated to meet, or at a minimum to avoid violating, the prescribed goals.
b. Committee Membership.
To fulfill the broader charter recommended above, Mr. Laird suggests: adding the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the membership. The counsel of a professional economist will be needed to insure that economic goals are clearly recognized and that the economic impact of alternative national security strategies is considered and evaluated in the Committee’s deliberations. The Director of the Bureau of the Budget, while an important member of the Committee, cannot be expected to fill such a role.
c. The Specific Committee Charter.
Currently, the draft NSDM indicates the Committee, inter alia, will review issues requiring Presidential determination that result from
- —changes in defense strategy, programs and budgets, and
- —changes in U.S. overseas force deployments and in committed forces based in the U.S.
Secretary Laird believes the Committee would be more useful if it were to consider, and make recommendations on proposals affecting strategy, programs, budgets, etc., before changes went into effect. Mr. Laird suggests recasting the NSDM, therefore, as follows:
This Committee will review the diplomatic, military, political, and economic consequences of issues requiring Presidential determination that result from
- —proposals to change defense strategy, programs and budgets,
- —proposals to change overseas force deployments and committed forces based in the U.S., and
- —major defense policy and program issues raised by studies prepared in response to National Security Study Memorandums.3
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–211, National Security Decision Memoranda, NSDM 26. Secret.↩
- See Document 74 for Kissinger’s proposal.↩
- Under cover of an October 9 memorandum to the President, Kissinger forwarded a “slightly revised” version of the NSDM setting up the Defense Program Review Committee. The revisions incorporated the changes proposed by Laird. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 67, Defense Program Review Committee)↩