100. Minutes of Defense Program Review Committee Meeting1

In attendance: Dr. Kissinger, David Packard, General Wheeler, Alexis Johnson, Dr. Lynn, Jim Schlesinger, Ron Spiers, Richard Helms, Major Kanarowski.

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DP: [Described the basic FY 71 budget and options using a tabular layout distributed at the meeting.]2 Vietnam reductions reflected on the tables begin as of 1 July 1969. The first option would withdraw roughly 100,000 troops more than we have now committed ourselves to take out as of Nov. [Packard referred to Phases IV and V, with which I am not familiar.]3

HAK: As I understand it then, the extreme case would be to withdraw 300,000 troops by the end of calendar 70.

DP: The end strength figure is most important in these options. We can hit these figures without SVN withdrawals by reducing CONUS forces or readiness. What we need is guidance on one of these schedules: guidance on end strength figures. If we cannot meet the end strengths because SVN withdrawals proceed too slowly, then NATO readiness would have to give.

HAK: If the President decides on Option I, II, or III—I don’t believe Schedule IV is realistic—will it show in the budget?

DP: If Defense adopts alternative I or II, the reduction could be related to a stand down in CONUS. Also, if we commit ourselves to a budget level, we might be able to find other program reductions to take the place of VN withdrawals. No matter how we go, I don’t believe the budget can be reduced below $72.5 or $72 billion without the pay raise.

HAK: As I understand it then, you need an end strength decision only—not a withdrawal schedule. The President is most reluctant to commit himself to withdrawals.

DP: Yes, end strengths only.

GW: I don’t believe that the withdrawal issue can easily be concealed; when Secretary Laird appears before Congress, the questions will get at the withdrawal assumptions.

DP: CONUS-based readiness will have to give.

AJ: What is the NATO worst case?

GW: The 1st, 2nd, and 5th Divisions now in CONUS and committed to NATO might have to be used for training. This would be evident to our allies and should be reflected in the DPQ.4

DP: This issue will have to be examined more critically.

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JS: I think we are going to have to stick with $72.5 billion or lower for defense: there is an unbalanced budget program and non-defense programs are increasing and the surtax issue is unresolved.

DP: We don’t save much in FY 71 by reducing carriers to a lower level. The savings occur in out years. I believe the DPRC should address the CVA issue. As you know, during peace time we need three CVAs to maintain one on-station. During a period of crisis, one carrier out of two could be deployed; and during a war, eight out of ten. Denis Healy5 told me the reasons the UK left the carrier business were that they don’t want to move families overseas, and without doing that, the hardships associated with carrier duty became too great. With respect to ASW carriers, we reduced forces from six to four in order to reduce FY 70 costs by $3 billion. In general, we can count on one out of two ASW carriers being deployed since the stations are closer to CONUS.

[There then was a general discussion of deployments to the Atlantic, the Far East, and the Middle East and the risks and gambles.]

HAK: In the Middle East, more forces are needed for ASW.

JS: The S–3 needs to be developed. [Schlesinger also made reference to NSSM 3 force levels6 and asked whether they are our guidance.]

DP: The NSSM 3 force levels are illustrative only.

We won’t let the forces in NSSM 3 be used as guidance. NSSM 3 does not go into detail on the desirability of various force levels to meet a given strategy.

HAK & GW: Yes.

AJ: What is the relationship between the carriers and the SIOP? I understand they have a substantive role in the Pacific and the Mediterranean.

GW: When the carriers are not available, targets are not covered and other forces have to be committed. For example, the 7th Fleet was relieved from its SIOP task. During a contingency, these forces could be flipped back onto the SIOP with warning. Of course, they would have to move further north. The same general observations apply to B–52s. Every week I receive a briefing on the “number of degrades.”

DP: With respect to carriers, we need to know how important they are for non-SIOP options.

HAK: We are losing land bases for aircraft. This raises serious doctrinal issues of what we should do with carriers. How are calculations for meeting our carrier needs made? From the point of view of non-military considerations, how many carriers are needed? I think the [Page 350] range is probably 12–15 with two in the Med. and probably two in SE Asia after SVN. Maybe we should have a discussion of this issue; Larry, prepare something.

GW: When we retire a CVA, we also retire four escorts and one replenishment ship.

JS: Can we rotate carrier crews like Polaris?

GW: The proposals don’t meet the problem because people are the expensive item: in fact, the rotation might cost more.

HAK: CVSs are needed in the Med. I would like to leave issues III and IV on the Navy to Defense; I don’t think the Committee can make a contribution.

[Dave Packard and General Wheeler went on to describe proposed reductions III and IV. There was some question as to whether we would want to maintain forces for an amphibious operation in NATO.]

HAK: Alex, should we look at the planning for amphibious operations?

[Dave Packard and General Wheeler then discussed the Marine air wing team. Dr. Kissinger said this issue could be resolved in DOD. He said what was involved were Systems Analysis-type issues, which were not DPRC concerns.]

GW: With respect to reductions of tactical Air Force capabilities, we can now deploy 14 squadrons to NATO in a short period. With the reductions proposed, a certain number of these aircraft will not be immediately ready for rapid deployment.

DP: The reductions in Air Force squadrons has an impact on deployments to Japan and Okinawa.

HAK: Alex, shouldn’t we look at the effect of the Air Force reductions on our contingency plans?

AJ: Yes.

HAK: Could you give us an assessment of how this reduction in aircraft impacts on contingency plans? [I don’t know who the “you” is—probably Packard and AJ together.]

DP: The F–111 is an internal defense issue. We have no specific commitment to NATO to deploy F–111; however, the deployment is expected as part of our force mobilization. When deployed, their primary purpose will be deep interdiction. A–7 and F–4 are also an internal matter.

RH: In other words, for big reductions in the budget, big decisions are needed.

HAK: Let’s meet again on the NATO issue: I need a brief assessment of the effect of budget reductions on the readiness of NATO forces and State views of the diplomatic and political consequences of these reductions. Then we may have to make some recommendations to the [Page 351] President. Alexis Johnson and Ron Spiers should do this. Admiral Johnson will give them the impact of the reductions on our contingency plans.

DP: With respect to the F–14 and F–15 issue, these aircraft are useful in SE Asia. They have a longer range and better load capabilities. They also are the modernization aircraft we need for the 1975–83 period. However, getting cost down will be a big problem.

[Packard then turned to strategic force issues.]

DP: On Minuteman, we will have 10 in FY 70 and 110 in FY 71. This is a stretch-out and reduction of earlier planned deployments. FY 71 costs are reduced by $180 million, but the long-term cost will increase by about $50 million. We could have 210 by FY 72, 330 by FY 73, 446 by FY 74, 500[H11001] by FY 75. This decision pushes the Minuteman modernization problem out in front. As a result of Congressional action on Poseidon, we have reduced modernization from 7 to 3 for FY 71. [This means we would have 16 out of the 31 Poseidon modernized by the end of FY 71.] We also intend to implement the stellar navigational capability program. This will cost $21 million. We should take another look at this problem.

The strategic bomber presents a big problem in the long run; however, the FY 71 implications are not great. We are looking at three alternatives saving from $138 million up to $252 million: The Secretary of the Air Force is recommending something in between. Should we look at this issue (AMSA) in the Committee?

HAK: Larry, do this.

DP: I will furnish back-up material on the AMSA issue.

HAK: Do we have a big problem with Poseidon?

GW: It takes a long time to refit Poseidon missiles with MIRVs—one year. Three are now in for refit.

DP: The FY 71 budget includes $958 million for Safeguard. The FY 70 budget included $893 million. There is a little delay in the progress: completion date is now Sept 1974 for Phase I. There are three alternatives for Phase II: defense of MM, defense of bombers and areas, and overall China defense. Phase II would be completed by 1976. FY 71 outlay is roughly 1/3 what is shown on the table. I think we ought to discuss Safeguard next time.7

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HAK: We need enough of Phase II to show a commitment to China area defense.8

DP: When we look at alternatives, we will have to decide whether we should include Washington, D. C.

HAK: The alternatives should focus on area defense for CONUS. I would like Dave to give us two alternatives for an area defense.

DP: The modified area defense would be using four sites covering the four corners of the U.S. and some radars oriented against SLBMs.

JS: I think we ought to start with the Northwest.

HAK: The President wants something like that—and let’s keep away from Washington. Let’s look at two alternatives, one high and one low, at a future meeting. We will also look at the NATO contingency and CVAs.9

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–118, DPRC Meetings Minutes, Originals, 1969–73. Top Secret. No drafting information appears on the minutes, but they were probably prepared by Lynn. The meeting was held to discuss the FY 1971 Defense budget. All brackets are in the original.
  2. Not found.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume VI, Vietnam, January 1969–July 1970, Document 114.
  4. The United States annually submitted a Defense Planning Questionnaire (DPQ) to NATO.
  5. U.K. Secretary of State for Defense.
  6. See Document 45.
  7. In a November 7 memorandum, Lynn informed Kissinger that the Department of Defense had concerns about Safeguard. Accordingly, Laird “may welcome delays in Phase I precisely because they enable him to postpone a decision on Phase II until FY 72. The political problems of convincing Congress that Phase II is necessary now, particularly since SALT will be underway, could appear so difficult to Defense that it may not want to raise the issue in the FY 71 budget.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–99, DPRC Meeting November 13, 1969)
  8. In an undated action memorandum, Kissinger recommended that Nixon approve the issuance of directions to the Department of Defense “to include at least the area defense of Safeguard Phase II within the budget totals so that the President isn’t forced into unpleasant decisions at the last minute.” Nixon initialed his approval. (Ibid., Box 844, ABM/MIRV, Sentinel ABM System, Vol. III)
  9. In a December 6 memorandum to Kissinger, Lynn summarized the three decisions taken by the DPRC in its November 13 meeting. The CVA force would remain at 15 rather than being cut back to 12. The Pentagon would “proceed with full engineering development of AMSA in FY 71, though there has been no formal commitment to procurement.” And Defense anticipated “no need to cut NATO readiness” following its “decision on a residual force objective for Vietnam of 260,000 by June 30, 1971.” Only one issue, the future of Safeguard, remained unresolved. (Ibid., NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–99, DPRC Meeting, December 9, 1969)