225. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Meeting with the JCS on SALT and Strategic Force Modernization

You are meeting with the JCS (and Harold Brown and Charles Duncan) on Friday, November 17, to discuss SALT and strategic force modernization.2 This meeting grew out of a recent JCS memorandum on this issue which Harold forwarded to you (Tab A).3

In preparation for the meeting, I believe it will be adequate that you simply review my cover memorandum and Harold’s transmittal [Page 912] memo which summarizes the JCS views. I suggest that you take this opportunity to:

—Confirm that the JCS are still on board at this stage of the SALT negotiations.

—Let them know that you will expect their strong support in the SALT ratification proceedings.

—Assure them that you do not interpret the SALT non-circumvention provision as necessarily restricting our rights to transfer cruise missiles and related technology to our Allies.

—Assure them of your commitment to a strong national defense and, in particular, a vigorous strategic force modernization program (while deflecting their request for a “formal commitment” to programs at this time).

Since the Chiefs are undoubtedly aware of the questions raised at the recent Defense budget review about the need for a Triad, they may broach this issue at the meeting. You will want to indicate your willingness to continue efforts to respond to the problem of Minuteman vulnerability.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 53, SALT: 10–11/78. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Carter initialed at the top of the first page and wrote: “JCS—Summit, Security leaks, Budget limit/priority.”
  2. According to the President’s Daily Diary, he met with the Chiefs from 9 to 9:35 a.m. (Ibid., Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) No other record of this meeting has been found.
  3. Tab A, a memorandum dated October 23 from Brown to Brzezinski, is attached but not printed. In his October 25 covering memorandum to the President, Brzezinski noted that the “JCS are adopting a cautiously positive attitude towards the SALT TWO agreement, conditioned on satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues.” Brzezinski urged caution with respect to the JCS request for a Presidential commitment for an “aggressive strategic force modernization program” before initialing the SALT II treaty and “explicit assurances” on exploitation and transfer of cruise missile technology to U.S. allies. He recommended instead general Presidential assurances to the Chiefs on “strategic force improvements and strengthening the NATO alliance.” (Ibid., National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 53, SALT: 10–11/78)