35. Memorandum From the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Weinberger) to President Nixon1
- Possible supplementals for Military and Economic Assistance
With the exception of military credit sales to Israel, Secretary Laird’s proposal to proceed immediately with supplemental appropriation requests for military and economic assistance raises serious problems of both timing and amounts.2
Timing of requests
The severe constraints on the availability of budget resources to meet new and pressing requirements, particularly in Cambodia, argue for proceeding at an early date to seek necessary supplementals. The longer we wait to seek additional funds the greater the risk that this Congress will not act, requiring us to start all over again with the new Congress. Such a delay would open a gap in meeting the needs in Cambodia that would have to be filled by reprogramming funds away from other countries with the political costs that such action would entail.
However, there are persuasive reasons not to proceed until after the November election:
- New legislation to authorize appropriations will be necessary before the appropriations process can begin. Military credits for Israel are the only exception. This means hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which almost surely would rekindle the debate over our policy in Southeast Asia. Such a debate might well induce the very delay in action we wish to avoid.
- The request as proposed by Secretary Laird, including $500 million for military credits for Israel, would total almost $1 billion at a time when you have been urging restraint upon the Congress in acting upon your budget requests and backing up those urgings with vetoes of excessive domestic appropriation bills.
- In any event, since the Congress will recess in just a few days, it would not be able to start action on the authorizing legislation until it reconvenes after the election.
- As outlined below, the executive branch is not yet in a position to set forth a convincing justification for specific levels of aid for Cambodia.
Korea MAP. Secretary Laird proposes an additional $150 million in grant military assistance to Korea and a special two-year authorization to turn over to Korea equipment of withdrawing U.S. forces (estimated value $117 million in FY 1971). Korea also will probably receive substantial material from Defense excess stocks. Thus, total 1971 grant military aid to Korea would be approximately $450 million, estimated as follows:
|Equipment of withdrawing U.S. forces
The proposed level of military aid would represent a substantial “front-end loading” of the $1.5 billion five-year modernization program you recently approved subject to a funding ceiling of $1.25 billion. We believe that a “front-end loading” approach would not be desirable for the following reasons:
- —It could lead to unrealistic Korean expectations for future aid levels.
- —The funding requirement for ROK Air Force modernization may increase in the later years of the five-year period since the proposed aircraft may not be available until 1973 or 1974.
- —Congressional receptivity to additional aid to Korea at this time may suffer from the recent Symington subcommittee report on the cost of Korean forces in Vietnam as well as the advertisement of the ROK Minister of Defense in the September 25 Washington Post urging more U.S. military aid and postponement of planned withdrawals of U.S. troops.
We recommend seeking $177 million in authority from the Congress, to enhance the Korea package, consisting of a supplemental request of $60 million and authority to turn over equipment worth about $117 million. This would provide total 1971 grant military aid of about $367 million.
Cambodia MAP. Estimates of Cambodia’s military assistance requirements are uncertain. Based on the initial NSSM 993 estimate that $125 million in additional MAP will be needed beyond the $40 million already allocated, the $60 million proposed supplemental probably would not be sufficient to support the strategy favored by the Senior Review Group. On [Page 81] the other hand, there is doubt about the level of Cambodian forces that it will be feasible to organize and train during this fiscal year. These uncertainties should be sufficiently resolved by the end of October to permit a more accurate estimate of requirements. We believe $100 million is a better current estimate than the proposed $60 million.
Economic Aid to Vietnam. Secretary Laird is recommending a $100 million supplemental for this purpose. NSDM 80,4 which you approved on August 13, 1970, established a target input level for Vietnam of $750 million to be financed by a combination of AID funds, PL 480, and U.S. purchases of piasters by Defense. NSDM 80, based on thorough analysis, concluded that no supplemental would be required to meet this level. Nothing has occurred since then to suggest that a supplemental would now be needed to carry out that decision.
Economic Aid to Cambodia. Secretary Laird recommends a supplemental of $130 million for this purpose. Lack of basic information, however, precludes accurate calculation of economic support requirements for Cambodia at this time. The best current estimate, by the NSSM 99 study group, is that Cambodia may need roughly $180 million in FY 1971 to finance needed imports during that period and to build the necessary pipeline for FY 1972, in order to meet military related needs and prevent a serious deterioration in standards of living. After using other sources of import financing estimated to be readily available (Cambodian foreign exchange holdings, PL 480 food aid, third country aid, and a portion of the AID contingency fund), the Cambodians may need roughly $75 million in Supporting Assistance to meet this total import target. Since AID has some flexibility on reprogramming current funds, a supplemental request of more than $75 million would be difficult to justify at this time. Even this amount is speculative and is subject to considerable revision.
On balance, we believe that the odds for favorable congressional action will be considerably better if we wait until after the elections to send forward supplemental foreign aid requests.
If, however, you decide that it is better to proceed now, we recommend the following levels:
- —$100 million for Cambodia MAP, as compared to the $60 million proposed by Secretary Laird.
- —$60 million for Korean MAP (compared to the $150 million proposed), together with authority to turn over equipment worth about $117 million.
- —$50 million for MAP for other countries, as proposed.
- —$75 million for Cambodia Supporting Assistance, compared to $130 million proposed.
- —No supplemental for Vietnam Supporting Assistance.
Consideration is now being given to military assistance of $30 million for Jordan. If we proceed now with supplemental requests, it is important to include all identifiable requirements at one time.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 194, AID, Volume IV 9/11/70-10/6/70. Secret. Attached to an October 5 memorandum from K. Wayne Smith to Kissinger, which indicated that a September 27 summary of Weinberger’s memorandum, along with the memorandum, went forward to the President on October 6. The September 27 memorandum has not been found.↩
- Reference is presumably to Laird’s September 11 memorandum to Kissinger, Document 32.↩
- Entitled “U.S. Strategy for Southeast Asia,” dated August 17, 1970.↩
- Entitled “Vietnam Economic Policy,” dated August 13, 1970.↩