103. Notes of Secretary of Defense Laird’s Staff Meeting1

ATTENDEES

  • Mr. Laird
  • Mr. Packard
  • Mr. Beal (for Mr. Resor)
  • General Westmoreland
  • Mr. Warner (for Mr. Chafee)
  • Admiral Zumwalt
  • Dr. Seamans
  • Dr. McLucas
  • General Ryan
  • Admiral Moorer
  • General Walt (for General Chapman)
  • Dr. Foster
  • Mr. Froehlke
  • Mr. Henkin
  • Mr. Kelley
  • Mr. Moot
  • Dr. Nutter
  • B/General Hayes (for Dr. Rousselot)
  • Mr. Gibson (for Mr. Shillito)
  • Dr. Tucker
  • Mr. Buzhardt
  • Mr. Wallace
  • Mr. Prendergast (for Mr. Baroody)
  • Mr. Capen
  • Mr. deRosa
  • Dr. Walske
  • Mr. Friedheim
  • Mr. Dickson
  • General Pursley
  • Captain Murphy
  • Colonel Boatner
  • Mr. Livesay

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT or ABM.]

6. Safeguard ABM and SALT.

Dr. Foster said we have an urgent matter with regard to Safeguard ABM Program. There is a tendency to think the battle is won.2 Actually, from the political, military and technical points of view, the situation is a mess. We are talking with the Soviets on the establishment of ABM protection of the National Military Command Authority. In our case, it would be protection of the Washington, D.C. area. This is a big job. We have no carefully thought out technical program. It would be costly. While the defense of Minuteman is militarily and technically feasible, such a defense is not permitted in the U.S. negotiating proposal to the Soviets in the SALT Talks. The hard-point defense plan being developed by Army only aggravates the situation. Dr. Foster is encouraging the Air Force to develop their approach faster to see if some jointly agreed hard-point defense plan could be presented to [Page 342]Mr. Laird for decision. The U.S. proposal for the SALT Talks for a mobile system is one in which the Soviets are interested. However, there is no money in the Air Force budget to support vigorous Air Force action for a mobile system. We are in a terrible trap. The urgency is such that the Secretary may have to go before the Senate on a National Military Command Authority ABM system. Mr. Packard said the whole thing is in a complete shambles. Either we get a SALT Agreement or write off the Safeguard. Mr. Laird said we may have to accept Minuteman vulnerability.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT or ABM.]

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 330–76–0028, Secretary of Defense Staff Meetings, 1969–1972, Chronological. Top Secret.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 98.