390. Letter From Secretary of State Rogers to the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness (Lincoln)1

Dear General Lincoln:

I understand that an inter-agency committee is recalculating stockpile objectives on the basis of new criteria approved last October 31 by President Johnson.2 I would suggest that we suspend the recalculations pending a review by this Administration of those criteria.

I make this suggestion for several reasons. First, new stockpile objectives may lead both to new procurement programs and to new disposal programs involving hundreds of millions of dollars. Second, procurement and disposal programs, even when carefully executed, can [Page 981] have a significant impact on our balance of payments and on domestic and foreign suppliers.

Finally, I am told that the new criteria were approved so late in the previous Administration that there was no opportunity to check them with key members of Congress. I understand that certain Congressmen have been skeptical in the past about the calculation of stockpile objectives and have definite ideas of their own about the way objectives should be determined.

I would like to suggest that the criteria approved by President Johnson be reviewed at a future NSC meeting. Such a review would enable us, for example, to determine whether various assumptions made about the availability of foreign supplies are in line with this Administration’s defense and foreign policies. We might also reexamine the projections of the US economy prepared by the previous Council of Economic Advisers, projections on which estimates of civilian and military requirements are based.

I would also hope that we could go further by examining more basic assumptions. For example, are we stockpiling the items which we are most likely to need in time of national emergency? Are there better ways of holding stockpiles? Could private industry, for instance, hold some of our stockpiles in its pipelines? It seems to me that we might wish to think about these questions carefully before announcing new stockpile objectives.

If we decide to suspend the calculations of stockpile objectives pending a review, I would recommend that during the suspension period we also suspend procurement for our stockpiles except for any commodities whose stockpile levels are critically low. Because many US companies now count on stockpile disposals, however, we might go ahead with current sales programs except in those cases where it is reasonably clear that we might be selling commodities which subsequently we later might have to buy.

We are ready to cooperate with you in any way we can to ensure that this Administration’s stockpile objectives will be as realistic and as up-to-date as possible.

Sincerely yours,

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 73 D 288, NSC/Misc. Secret. Drafted by C.R. Carlisle (E/ISM) and cleared by Greenwald (E), Katz (E/ORF), Schiff (E/ICD), and Schnee (H). Proposed for Secretary Rogers’ signature in Document 389.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. IX, Document 375.