106. Memorandum for the Record by the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Packard)1

  • SUBJECT
    • Safeguard Issues

Phase I of Safeguard was authorized in the 1970 budget (appropriations are not yet settled).

Two sites were authorized, one at Grand Forks and one at Malmstrom. The objectives of Phase I were:

1.
To provide a practical engineering check-out of the system. This involves putting the system together in its operational configuration and going through the operational shake-down to make sure we have a system that works at the earliest possible date. (A program of R&D only could answer some of the questions yet to be resolved but many problems will not be solved until we have a fully operational system.) Two sites were considered necessary because there are important inter-site problems that need to be resolved.
2.
The objectives of Safeguard when it is fully deployed are:
a.
To provide for the defense of our Minuteman missile force which is vulnerable to the developing Soviet force of large accurate missiles including their SS–9, their three warhead version of the SS–9, and the increasing numbers of SS–11.
b.
To provide for an area, country-wide, defense against a small number (tens or even a few hundred) of Chinese ICBMs, or an accidental launch from any country.
c.
To provide protection of our manned bomber force from a short range attack which would reduce warning time below a safe level.
d.
To provide protection for our national command control capability (Washington, D.C.).

When Safeguard was approved by the President,2 it was stated that it would be a phased program and the next step (Phase II) would be: [Page 374]

1.
Initiated when necessary in response to the threat or to the progress in SALT.
2.
Oriented toward the development of the threat.

The developments since the Safeguard decision which need to be considered are as follows:

1.
The Soviets have continued the deployment of SS–9 missiles (276 are now operational or under construction).
2.
The Soviets have continued with the development of the three warhead versions of the SS–9. There is not conclusive evidence that this development has the capability of destroying with high probability our Minuteman missile sites but also there is not conclusive evidence that they will not be able to do so. This possibility combined with the known SS–9 development, 276 sites operational or under construction and a construction rate of 48 per year, is a cause for serious concern for Minuteman survivability in the near future.
3.
Continued deployment of SS–11 missiles, 900 in place or under construction, adds concern to Minuteman survivability.
4.
More rapid production and deployment of Soviet Y Class submarines than was anticipated at the time of the Safeguard decision causes concern about the launch survivability of our bomber force.
5.
Continung development of nuclear warheads by Communist China and continuing work on their missile test facilities supports concern about the potential threat of Chinese ICBM capability. Evidence points toward a possible capability in mid-1970 period of later.

In summary, the threat to our Minuteman force appears more serious now than in January 1969. The threat to bomber launch survivability looks more serious. The Chinese threat appears about the same; it is still realistic but the timing is still uncertain.

There are at least three courses possible in relation to our Minuteman force:

1.
Continue with protection of present force using ABM and/or hard silos.
2.
Abandon fixed Minuteman system and go to mobile missiles.
3.
Accept vulnerability of MM force and place more reliance on SLBM and bombers.

There are several courses available for bomber survivability:

1.
Go to a dispersed basing program.
2.
Proceed with ABM protection of launch survivability.
3.
Put less reliance on strategic manned bombers in future.
4.
Develop new bomber with survivability against short warning time threat. This would involve such things as more protection, short time launch, etc.

[Page 375]

Recommendation. We propose to proceed with Phase I of Safeguard on original schedule. We would recommend a limited Phase II program, limited to one or two additional sites authorized in FY 71.

A full Phase II has significant funding requirements in 1971 and 1972 (one extra billion in 1971 and two extra in 1972—over the one billion and 600 million for Phase I only in 1971 and 1972, respectively). It does not appear feasible to meet these requirements, in combination with other Department of Defense requirements, and remain within total budgetary constraints. To live within these constraints, we would find it necessary to implement a delayed Phase II, which stretches out the program by limiting the rate of deployment to two sites per year. This limits Safeguard costs to roughly $1.5 billion per year and reduces the 71–72 peak. The result of this stretch-out is to delay completion of the nation-wide coverage from CY 76 until January 1980.

There are inconsistencies in such a program which should be recognized and which could be the source of much grief:

1.
Our argument before the Congress last spring, to initiate Phase I, rested heavily on the Soviet threat to Minuteman. We made the point that we were not asking for city protection against the Soviets—that the Chinese threat seemed remote—and we initially wanted Minuteman protection against such threats as the SS–9 MRV.
2.
We’re in no different condition now than we were then, insofar as a Chinese threat to our cities is concerned. We are in worse shape, however, where our missiles are concerned. The Soviets are continuing to increase the size of their ICBM force which could threaten Minuteman.
3.
In view of the above, if we go beyond Phase I, increased protection for Minuteman sites would seem to be more in order. The “no change” condition in Chinese threat between last spring and now would seem to provide heavy ammunition for those opposing the system to rise and challenge the urgency for area defense.
4.
The Minuteman survival problem is quite complex (I intend to discuss another aspect of it below) and it is not readily apparent that the approach of Phase 2A is best. Other alternatives should be explored.

Within these constraints, the only alternatives in Safeguard deployment are variation in the sequence of site deployment. If we were to give complete precedence to Minuteman defense, we should start work on the Warren and Whiteman sites next. On the other hand, if we believe that light defense of our cities is most urgent, we should turn to Boston and Seattle next. There are compromises in between. For example, we could deploy next the Whiteman Minuteman site near St. Louis and the Washington, D. C. site, both of which form part of the defense of our strategic weapons and their command and control system against Soviet attack and are required also for the full Phase II [Page 376]area defense. Another compromise which leans more toward earlier provision of light city defense would be to deploy next the Washington, D. C. site and the New England site. This choice would have to be made at about the same time that we decide to proceed. A fact sheet3 is available which shows various costs and improved Spartan footprints.

No matter how we optimize Safeguard deployment to match the observed threat we may not be able to keep pace with it at the funding levels we can afford. Consider defense of our population against a light attack. Unless all major population centers are covered, we face unacceptable losses since an enemy could attack the undefended population first. Completion of nationwide coverage by 1979 may well lag by several years the development of a limited nuclear ICBM force by Communist China. The defense of Minuteman presents a similar dilemma because extrapolation of the present build-up of SS–9s plus better guidance for the growing SS–11 force would require a faster growth of ABM capability than the $1.5 billion/year limit allows. The rapid multiplication of Soviet capability to destroy Minuteman which would result from their retrofitting SS–9 with MIRV and retrofitting SS–11 with accurate guidance presses hard on the Safeguard deployment build-up even with no cut in Phase II funding. With this in mind, we are engaged in R&D on new ballistic missile defense components, particularly radar, which will provide a tougher and, hopefully, less expensive growth module, for defense of Minuteman.

It is important that the Department of Defense and the Administration consider carefully these issues, that we agree on a recommended course of action, and that we fully understand the rationale behind that recommendation before we recommend to Congress a FY 1971 defense budget.

There are problems in the funding for our strategic forces in future years. Two major considerations, here, are the growth of Soviet missile forces and the projected improvement in their accuracy, which are likely to make our land-based missiles vulnerable in the near future. Although our vulnerability is accelerated if the SS–9s MRV is a MIRV, Soviet ICBM forces are growing large enough that the smaller missiles, as they are made more accurate, will constitute a threat independent of MIRVs. Figure 1 shows the U.S. accuracy projections and our judgment of the accuracy of the SS–9.4

We must take appropriate expeditious action now to remedy this situation and the courses that can be pursued to provide a “fix” are as follows: [Page 377]

1.
The continued development of Hard Point defense systems is one possibility; also, we have had under development, and are still working on, a Hard Rock Silo program.
2.
We have recently started to explore several mobile schemes to add survivability to the Minuteman force.
3.
By early spring we expect to be in a position to assess the relative merits of the Hard Rock Silo and Mobile systems and then, based upon that assessment, initiate action on development of the chosen system.

As a consequence of the situation described above, one can foresee the possibility that, because of greater inherent survivability, we may wish to shift the primary role in our strategic deterrent posture to our sea-based systems. Envisioning this, we are looking for chinks in our sea-based armor—in the Polaris/Poseidon system. Although we do not see any immediate chinks, we do see possible future problem areas. To forestall these, we are initiating development of ULMS (Underwater Long-Range Missile System). This is a new submarine based missile system characterized by a much longer range missile (up to 6,500 n.m.) and a quieter submarine, employing the latest in defensive measures and dedicated solely to the ULMS task. The longer range expands the searoom available for operation from the present approximate 3½ million square miles for Polaris/Poseidon, to the order of 40–55 million square miles. It also lengthens and complicates the logistics of Soviet attackers, avoids the need for our submarines to operate in chain, permits CONUS basing and simplifies targeting. In combination with the improved, quieter submarine we believe ULMS will make us substantially independent—at least for many years—of threat technology advances against our sea-based system.

If we were to pursue all of these systems, the B–1 (AMSA),5 a delayed Safeguard Phase II, ULMS and rebased Minuteman, Figure 2 would represent the increase in funding and Figure 3, the details of the strategic budget.

There is one specific point which has to do with the relative allocation and build-up rate of the MM Rebasing and ULMS programs. Although we expect to decide this spring on what MM Rebasing option to pursue, it may not be until possibly 1973 that we are able to determine with certainty our degree of success in “fixing” the MM problem. Should it turn out to be a good fix, giving us high confidence in the [Page 378]survivability of a significant quantity of our land-based force, then we may be able at that time to slow down the ULMS program somewhat and reduce the rate of expenditure. It could also affect our decision on hard point defense.

On the other hand, should it not turn our very successfully, we probably would wish to expedite the ULMS and hard point defense and possibly terminate MM rebasing.

David Packard
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–75–103, 373.24, Safeguard. Top Secret. The memorandum was included in Kissinger’s preparatory materials for the DPRC meeting held on December 9. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–99, DPRC Meeting, December 9, 1969)
  2. See Document 25.
  3. Not found.
  4. The referenced Figures 1–3 are attached but not printed.
  5. A long-range bomber capable of flying intercontinental missions without refueling, the B–1 was expected to replace the B–52 as the mainstay of the U.S. bomber fleet.