91. Editorial Note

On December 11, 1969, President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger and Secretary of Defense Laird met for breakfast to discuss the Defense Department’s role in the National Security Council process and, in particular, the function of the Defense Program Review Committee. No record of their discussion has been found.

Asked by Kissinger to provide talking points, Laurence Lynn, Director of the NSC’s Office of Program Analysis, provided notes for discussion that highlighted some of the problems he had discussed in his December 8 memorandum to Kissinger (Document 90). Among his points were the following: 1) “Many in DOD (mainly in Systems Analysis and ISA) appear to attach a low priority to compliance with NSSMs and to cooperation with the interagency groups such as the DPRC and the VSSG. More and more I hear the question, ‘Is the President really [Page 202] interested, or just you?’” 2) “Deputy Assistant Secretary Wu has told me Laird does not intend to have the defense policy and program NSSMs submitted to the DPRC, that this is not his understanding of the DPRC’s function. (Wu said to me, ‘after all, Laird created the DPRC.’)” 3) “The problem, simply, is that OSD is not putting its best efforts—or even at times any effort at all—into responding to the interagency, NSC instigated or led study and analysis efforts. I attribute this to Mel Laird’s indifference or outright opposition, to Packard’s impatience with interagency studies staffed by ‘clerks,’ to poor relationships between Packard and Laird, and to incompetence in ISA.” (Undated memorandum; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Staff Files—Staff Memos, Box 1050, Lynn, Laurence E., Jr.)

A set of talking points for Kissinger’s breakfast meeting, prepared by an unidentified member of the NSC staff, reads in part:

“1. Main issue is role of DPRC. Key points are:

  • “—Though the analysis of national priorities and the allocation of total Federal resources should receive top level attention, as Laird suggests, this task is too ambitious for the DPRC; a special staff and much wider agency participation would be required.
  • “—On the other hand, Laird is quite right in believing that DPRC shouldn’t be another ‘project manager’ for DOD programs. It shouldn’t consider which tactical aircraft to buy or how to equip a division.
  • “—The President’s intent was to have an interagency forum to consider those issues with major doctrinal, diplomatic, or economic implications. The President wants State, CIA, BOB, and CEA views considered in the process of reviewing such issues.
  • “—The DPRC seems to be the most logical forum to review the defense policy and program NSSMs. [Laird has opposed this rather strongly.] The NSSMs typically address issues of Presidential interest with broad implications.” (Ibid., Agency Files, Box 223, Department of Defense—01 Dec–31 Jan 70, Vol. V. Brackets in the source text)