45. Memorandum From K. Wayne Smith of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • NSSM–104 SRG Meeting on December 9, 1970

Attached at the indicated tabs are:

  • —your talking points,2
  • —an analytical summary,3
  • NSSM–104,4
  • —the full NSSM–104 report tabbed separately.5

I recommend you read the analytical summary first then the talking points. You may want to thumb the pages of the NSSM–104 report, although the analytical summary covers it fully and makes several additions.

Considering the short time available, the NSSM–104 study is a first-rate contribution. I believe the result proves that your decision to give DOD responsibility for the study was the correct one.

[Page 137]

The study was intentionally focused on the naval threat in the Indian Ocean and possible U.S. and Allied responses. Thus, it does not give detailed consideration to all the instrumentalities of our presence or the Soviet presence, e.g., military and economic assistance.

While it is true that we could respond to increased Soviet involvement by increasing non-naval activities, the utility of such responses in this case is limited by:

  • —the fact that we are concerned with an ocean and the threat involved is a naval threat;
  • —the likelihood that projecting a naval presence is one of the best ways to maximize the contributions of our allies;
  • —our desire to pre-empt Soviet use of naval facilities such as Singapore because this may be the best way to deny the Soviets low-cost, high-benefit opportunities;
  • —the limited flexibility we have in our use of other foreign policy instruments such as military assistance in the area. This condition results from the already large Soviet role, our limited economic assistance funds, and, in many cases, hostile political circumstances.

In summary, NSSM–104 is a useful exercise in sub-optimization.

The State Department has been a willing and constructive participant in this study. I have no information that would suggest they will denounce it for its narrow focus. I suspect they will stress the political implications of the activities contemplated, but that is their job.

I have given CIA advanced warning that they will be asked to respond to specific questions on the threat (although I haven’t told them what the questions will be). State and DOD have been asked to be up on the plans and wishes of the U.K., Australia, Singapore, etc.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–176, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSM 104. Secret.
  2. Smith amended the language of the attached talking points “in light of the fact that John Thomson will be attending tomorrow’s meeting.” Thomson was British Prime Minister Edward Heath’s Emissary on Indian Ocean Affairs. Smith’s changes involved addressing if the United States would “be accused of an imperialistic racist policy if we cooperate with the U.K. and Australia?”, if it were “possible that the U.K. is seeking our involvement in the Indian Ocean area to justify a resumption of arms sales to South Africa?”, and whether “the Australians and the U.K. [will] do more if we do more or will they do less?”
  3. Document 46.
  4. Document 42.
  5. See footnote 2, Document 46.