98. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Laird to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Defense Program Review Committee (DPRC)

I believe that we should carefully reconsider the role of the DPRC. Your memoranda of January 19 and February 26, 19702 indicate that we do not share the same views on this subject. I hope we can fully agree on this issue, because I believe that the DPRC should, and can, fulfill a critical function which is not being, and which has never been, performed.

The primary concern of the DPRC should be the allocation of resources within our economy. The studies would include the allocations between the public and private sectors, within the public sector, and between defense and other Federal programs.

In considering this problem of overall resource allocation, the DPRC should examine the following types of questions:

The resources available for defense. This would include studying the total level of overall resources, the availability of resources to the public sector, and allocations within the public sector between defense and other needs.
Our national security objectives and strategy. We need a better understanding of the implications of our current strategy in terms of the broad tasks to be accomplished.
The relationships among goals, resource availability and policy. To meet national security goals, while striving for other public sector objectives, may require fiscal, monetary, and debt policies—even to include controls—that constitute diminution of other national goals. We should consider the trade-offs, for example, among national security, price stability, balance of payments equilibrium, and the absence of controls.
The foreign policy implications of defense actions. If we cannot meet all obligations within reasonable terms, a variable in our studies should be reformulation of US interests and commitments.

As you note in your memoranda, DOD will normally be the agency most concerned with the issues before the DPRC. Under your proposed [Page 219] procedure, the Working Group would thus usually be referring its work to DOD. Given this situation, I believe it is essential that a DPRC Working Group be chaired by someone within DOD, that is, if the Working Group is to be maintained. I would designate my Assistant Secretary for Systems Analysis, Dr. Gardiner Tucker, to direct such DPRC Staff work.

Melvin R. Laird3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–098, Defense Program Review Committee Meetings, DPRC General 1969–Feb. 1970. Confidential.
  2. Documents 93 and 97.
  3. Printed from a copy that indicates Laird signed the original.