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


  • Five-Year Military Assistance Program (MAP)

In extension of our Monday morning telephone conversation, I offer the following observations on State’s (or anyone’s) proposed submission on MAP to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.2 I have no objection to, in fact, I favor, a substantive dialogue on MAP with the appropriate Congressional committees. I believe, however, the dialogue should be positive, consistent with the President’s foreign policy objectives and policies, and consonant with the best estimates of world-wide economic and political facts of life. In my judgment, the letter and table State proposed to give Senator Fulbright complied with none of those criteria.

The Nixon Doctrine is a positive program. Built on the three pillars of strength, partnership, and willingness to negotiate, it offers a hopeful prescription for security, peace, and Free World burden-sharing. Moreover, the President’s February 25, 1971 Report to Congress on U.S. Foreign Policy for the 1970’s said:

“The Nixon Doctrine requires a strong program of security assistance.

“But it is not simply a matter of helping friends and allies do more for themselves. Particularly in the areas of the world where we are reducing our manpower, we must make resources available to help them make the transition with us. In some cases this will require substantial assistance during the period of adjustment. This is central to our new approach to American foreign policy in the 1970’s.”3

In contrast to these positive and explicit Presidential statements, the proposed State letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (a) does not mention the Nixon Doctrine at all and (b) delineates substantially [Page 156] declining security assistance levels in the aggregate, for each region addressed, and for almost each nation included.

It is not clear to me the proposed letter is consistent with the Secretary of State’s March 26, 1971 report on United States Foreign Policy.4 In that report, State says:

“As a basis for our assistance and advice to major recipient countries, we are attempting to develop total force planning goals that reflect balanced consideration of such factors as threats, risks, costs, resource constraints, and manpower limitations.”

I see no evidence in the proposed State letter of balanced consideration of the many factors involved. I believe if there were such consideration, the MAP levels would look markedly different—in aggregate terms, as well as for particular regions and nations. The March 15, 1971 Defense Report observed:5

“… Changes in the forces of our friends and allies cannot take place overnight, and just as is the case for the long leadtimes required to develop new defense weapon systems, there is leadtime associated with a shifting of the burdens of security.”

Proposed cuts during a brief five-year span of more than 50 percent in MAP and more than 25 percent in FMS credits do not reflect the leadtime reality, much less the other realities for security assistance planning.

In addition to the points made above, I would add two more diverse observations. First, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in my judgment, is interested primarily in selected key areas. Among those would be Greece and Cambodia, of course, which are included in the proposed State tables. Of equal, or perhaps more interest, are those nations (Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos) for which aid is supplied through Military Assistance Service Funding (MASF). The State letter does not provide much MASF data, but opens that door tantalizingly to the Committee. Second, as an administrative matter within the Executive Branch, I believe we need to be consistent and mutually supporting in our approach to the Congress. It is anathema to both branches of Government to have Executive Branch decisions (such as executive privilege on MAP planning) announced one day and to have separate Departments go a different way the next. Also, as an administrative matter, we should recognize that Department approval of planning data should never be implied until the Secretary or his designated representative [Page 157] has signed off on the material. I have not given my approval to the tables in the proposed State submission. In fact, I heartily non-concur in both the intent and substance of much of that submission.6

I have talked with Bill Rogers and have given him the essence of the remarks in this memorandum.

Melvin R. Laird
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 228, Department of Defense, XIII 8-11/71. Secret; Eyes Only. Attached to an undated, handwritten note from Kennedy to Haig that reads: “Al: A hold was put on Rogers. Defense is doing a new draft which will be sent to State (and to us). John [illegible word] is sitting on top of this.”
  2. Presumably a reference to Rogers’ draft letter to Fulbright, Document 63.
  3. U.S. Foreign Policy for the 1970’s: Building for Peace—A Report to Congress by Richard Nixon, President of the United States, February 25, 1971. The quoted passages are on pages 183 and 184. It is also printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1971, pp. 219-345.
  4. United States Foreign Policy, 1969-1970: A Report of the Secretary of State. The quoted text is on pp. 167-168.
  5. Not further identified.
  6. Laird had previously taken issue with the State Department on military assistance. In a May 10 letter to Rogers he had objected to an April 22 circular airgram to all posts that implied the State Department was now directing military assistance planning, and to the short notice the Defense Department was being given to comment on proposed security assistance testimony by Spiers before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 11. Laird noted that Spiers’ proposed statement set out a State Department role that was at variance with the President’s decisions. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 226, Department of Defense XI 2/24/71-5/15/71) Regarding Laird’s letter, Haig informed Kissinger in a May 10 note that he had “drastically altered State’s testimony in a way which I think more than met Defense’s concern.” Haig indicated that “we are going to be in a refereeing role continually on the Security Assistance issue … the outlook is bleak because of the lackluster testimony given by Irwin and old pork barrel reservations on the Hill.” (Ibid.)