95. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Laird to President Nixon1


  • Planning Guidance for the FY74 Security Assistance Program

Cap Weinberger has sent me a copy of his letter to Bill Rogers giving planning ceilings for the 1974 Budget for Security Assistance Programs.2 He has stated that your decisions on the budget totals require that the budget for the Military Assistance Program and Foreign Military Sales Program be at or below $580M and $570M respectively.

In combination with the low level of Congressional appropriations for FY72 and the levels which can be realistically expected from the Congress for FY73, a FY74 budget for MAP/FMS at the levels prescribed by the Director, OMB, would severely impede the transition of our friends and allies toward greater self-reliance against internal and [Page 233] sub-theater conventional military threats. We could not meet the objectives of the bilaterally established Korean Modernization Program and the objectives of the Cambodian and Thai programs, nor could we provide essential assistance to Turkey or sustain, within the OMB ceiling, other smaller but vitally important programs such as Indonesia and Jordan, in a manner consistent with your previous decisions.

With respect to Foreign Military Sales Credits, we will be constrained in satisfying adequately the requirements of several countries in the Middle East where an arms balance is essential; in providing funds for several Latin American countries where modernization of obsolete equipment is needed; and in providing funds for those countries like Turkey and Taiwan that are transitioning from military grant aid to more self-supporting sales basis. If we are not able to be forthcoming with FMS credit, which is paid back in full plus interest, it will certainly not be to the overall U.S. interest, particularly from a national security and economic point of view.

As you are aware, the FY72 appropriations for MAP and FMS were $500M and $400M NOA, which was $205M and $110M below your budget The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has recommended cuts of $180M for MAP and $127M for FMS credit. The levels given by the OMB for FY74 MAP are comparable to the very low levels appropriated by the Congress in FY72. levels given by the OMB for FY74 MAP are comparable to the very low levels appropriated by the Congress in FY72.

Unless you direct otherwise, I intend, in consultation with Bill Rogers, to recommend a MAP and FMS budget for FY74 at levels derived in consideration of the total allied and U.S. efforts necessary to maintain the security of the United States and sustain the foreign policy and collective security objectives of the Nixon Doctrine. I would expect to fund the MAP and FMS levels within the FY74 budget levels you ultimately establish for the Department of Defense after full consideration of the necessary balance between Military Assistance and Military Functions Programs.

Melvin R. Laird
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 324, Foreign Aid, Volume II 1972. Confidential. Forwarded to the President under cover of an August 14 memorandum from Kissinger. In an August 9 memorandum, Kennedy reminded Kissinger he had discussed Laird’s concern with Weinberger and Laird on August 7, and they had “agreed that programs would be developed to meet our essential security needs following which consideration will be given to what adjustments in the ceilings would be necessary.” Kennedy recommended that Kissinger sign a memorandum to the President informing him of Laird’s concern and that programs to meet security needs would be developed within the basic limits of the Defense expenditure ceiling. (Ibid.) Regarding the August 7 meeting, see Document 96. The August 14 memorandum to the President noted that Laird and Rogers would develop programs within the limits of the Defense Department expenditure ceilings and concurred with Laird’s view that the Security Assistance ceilings were too low. The memorandum indicated that Laird and Weinberger would make recommendations on adjusting the expenditure levels.
  2. Document 92. Weinberger’s letter to Laird providing a copy of the letter to Rogers is also dated July 21. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 324, Foreign Aid, Volume II 1972)