107. Notes of Defense Program Review Committee Meeting1

Packard briefs budget paper.2

Packard: Not sure 260,000 [residual force objective for Vietnam by June 30, 1971] assumption is safe. May be slippage. Could meet this figure from other sources, not NATO committed forces. Might hit readiness a little bit, munition levels.

Kissinger: How will handle this before Congress. The President doesn’t want to show timetable, wants to preserve flexibility. Could you give me an analysis of what we will be facing before Congress?

Packard: We’re afraid of leaks. Might get away with not revealing end strength.

Kissinger: Would they err on high side?

Wheeler: Yes. 260,000 to 300,000.

Packard: Doubts there will be a serious problem.

[Page 379]

Wheeler: It will be leaked. They will have to have end strength.

Kissinger: We have to leave this issue open. Could destroy much of what President said on November 3.3 [Asked me to think about it quickly.]4 Could we turn NATO divisions into [fighting or heavy?] divisions to fuzz things up?

Wheeler: This will be done anyway. We would have 6-1/3 divisions in Europe by M+30 rather than 8. We would not have 8 before M+120 days.

Packard: Maybe we could confuse issue by NATO readiness reductions.

Kissinger: If we say we will keep our NATO commitment and make VN drawdown look lower.

Packard: Let’s work on this; send it over to Larry [Lynn].

Kissinger: OK.

Packard: Highlights uncertainty about C–5A [termination?] costs.5

We may be in a position of being in default. Maybe $300 million bill. What we have is the Air Force’s optimistic projection. No money for Safeguard. We’re at about the point. I will recommend not going ahead with CVAN 70. I don’t want to recommend anything else.

[Packard] goes to Phase II of Safeguard. MM survivability even worse. Submarines going ahead faster. Good argument for keeping emphasis on MM survivability. We have alternatives. I came out we should proceed with Phase I.6 I think we can put Phase I auth[orization] level below $1 billion in FY 71. Improved Spartan can be had as early as regular Spartan.

Issue: what Pres[ident] wants to do.

Kissinger: He definitely wants to go into Phase II. Level is subject to discussion. This move (two sites?) would be consistent with SALT. [Wheeler?] stressed MM defense. Now we shift to area defense. President has always stressed area defense.

Packard: I pointed out we have other ways of protecting MM, but these four sites are needed.

Johnson: When is it too late to move these two sites?

[Page 380]

Packard: Next spring. We could reorient it. Options get closed off next couple of months. I would go ahead with one additional site, but we could go ahead with two. Would [be willing to agree to] two.

[Packard] gives out funds phasing chart.7 We ought to plan on a $10 billion level and fit it into that.

Kissinger: Pres[ident] feels strategic forces have been under-funded. Must do more after VN. Safeguard summary: issue is MM protection or area defense. With SALT, can stop at two sites, get reasonable protection if these footprints are right. Issue of going to Phase II is not open. Issue is what [to] get: added MM protection, area defense.

Farley: Best for SALT is area defense.

Packard: Simplest program is add one site.

Schlesinger: We can expect substantial cost overruns.

Kissinger: Will have to come out of other [programs?].

Packard: We can cover it.

Kissinger: Does this group believe we should go into area defense rather than MM defense? Alternatives are one extra site, two extra sites.

Packard: Get him [Nixon] to take a look, give us further guidance.

Kissinger: Important point is footprints.

Packard: I can show you footprints without improved Spartan. We ought to [illegible] for area coverage. Costs are for improved Spartan unless I tell you otherwise. Bomber issues: do we want one or not?

Kissinger: One would have to see some studies.8 Packard: This group could get into detail.

Kissinger: What is doctrinal issue?

Wheeler: [Interjects]9 Three strings to bow-de-dow.

Kissinger: Maybe Lynn could circulate a paper with issues pro and con. Then put it up to President. Is this agreeable?

Bus [Wheeler]: Yes; Packard, yes.

Kissinger: If Pres[ident] says yes, then it is a DOD issue.

Packard: This is good. Issue doesn’t have to be decided before FY 71 budget.

Kissinger: Right, we’ll look at it in five-year review.

[Page 381]

Packard: Carriers. Hold current level fifteen. I’m going to recommend not going ahead with new CVAN 70 carrier.

Kissinger: If it upsets services deeply, do it as part of five-year program.

Schlesinger: BOB may recommend taking force down some, say to twelve.

Kissinger: We can’t make doctrinal recommendations on short notice.

Packard: I’m going to stay with $72.5 billion10 when I get [illegible] from committee.

Schlesinger: Committee isn’t always sure of guidance.

Kissinger: Two issues: obscure VN timetable; Phase II Safeguard. Dave [Packard], you’ll make recommendations on first. I’ll check with principals on second to make sure I’ve stated it fairly.

Schlesinger: To what extent does it fall within purview of this committee to relate ‘71 force structure to President’s generally lower decision in NSDM 27.11 Army and Marines cut down; Air Force, Navy very little.

Packard: Force structures in NSSM 312 stand eleven carriers. This was illustrative only. Committee should get into this in long run. We haven’t done enough study to know what force structure should be. We’ve moved ahead in all areas, e.g. CVAN 70.

Kissinger: I tend to agree with Dave. I think we learned how to go about these fundamental things thoughtfully. We should fix those things we can and then review five-year program for next budget cycle.

Packard: We’re getting started on ‘72 budget cycle. We’ve got JSOP, strategy, first year or five-year program.

Johnson: We’ve got three major statements coming up. I’d welcome formation of a working group—a subgroup of this group—on these statements.13

Packard: We can get a statement over to you, Alex.

[Page 382]

Kissinger: We should get a look at it.

Packard: We should have one statement agreed to by everybody.

Kissinger: I agree with having a group.

Johnson: Tom Pickering is my man.14

Packard: BOB may have cut out some key programs in AEC budget.

Schlesinger: AEC didn’t request money.

Kissinger: Do you want to appeal, Dave? That’s what I’m here [for].

Packard: Tac[tical] nuc[lear] modernization is important. We should get on with it.

Kissinger: Make an appeal, Dave, do it fairly soon.

Schlesinger: Wait. There is a formal review process. Agency should appeal.15

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–118, DPRC Minutes, Originals, 1969–73. No classification marking. No drafting information appears on the notes, which are handwritten with the instruction “please type.” According to a December 9 memorandum from the NSC Secretariat to the White House Police, the meeting was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. in the White House Situation Room. The following attended the meeting: Kissinger, Johnson, Packard, Helms, Wheeler, Vannoy, Schlesinger, McCracken, Farley, and Thomas Pickering, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs. The meeting, according to Lynn’s December 6 memorandum to Kissinger, was called to address the FY 1971 Defense budget, including Safeguard Phase II. (Ibid., Box H–99, DPRC Meeting, December 9, 1969)
  2. The Department of Defense budget paper cited here has not been found. It is apparently the same paper outlining the FY 1971 Defense budget that Packard introduced at the DPRC meeting on November 13. See Document 100.
  3. On November 3, Nixon gave a national address in which he announced his plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Vietnam. Rather than announcing a “timetable,” the President stated that the rate of withdrawal depended upon progress at the Paris peace talks and enemy actions. (Public Papers: Nixon, 1969, pp. 901–909)
  4. Brackets in the original.
  5. First operational in June 1970, the C–5A is a heavy-cargo transport aircraft designed to provide strategic airlift for deployment and supply of combat and support forces.
  6. See Document 16.
  7. The chart is one of the figures attached to Document 106; not printed.
  8. According to his talking points prepared for him by Lynn, Kissinger was advised to ask Packard why the Pentagon was unenthusiastic about proceeding beyond Phase I of Safeguard. He was also advised to ask, “How important is a nation-wide area defense to the survivability of our bomber force? Are there other ways of assuring bomber survivability that are more efficient?” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–99, DPRC Meeting, December 9, 1969)
  9. Brackets in the original.
  10. Laird and Kissinger discussed the aggregate defense budget during a telephone conversation at 11:40 a.m. on December 1. According to the transcript, Laird “said we can’t bring the budget down below $72.5 [billion]. K said he completely supports L on that.” Kissinger added that he “had talked to the P[resident]; it’s out of the question to go below 72.5. K said he completely agrees with L on this. L said as far as NATO is concerned, we will probably have to make a few cuts even at 72.5. K said we’ll probably have to reduce forces here. L said here, but not in Europe. L said we’ll tell them we have a few budget problems, but fears of cutting back in NATO because of Vietnam are ill-founded.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  11. Document 56.
  12. Document 2.
  13. Not further identified.
  14. Thomas R. Pickering, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs.
  15. In a December 10 memorandum to Kissinger, Lynn summarized the results of the meeting and noted that Kissinger “indicated that the President is already committed to proceeding with Phase II of Safeguard, so that the issue is how to proceed.” Moreover, “The Principals agreed that the additional FY 71 site(s) should be for the purpose of providing area defense rather than extending Minuteman defense. The alternatives, it was agreed, are to construct one or two additional sites located so as to provide the broadest area coverage.” On that note, “Packard indicated in this regard that we could count on deploying the Improved Spartan missile, which has a larger footprint than the regular Spartan missile, in both Phase I and Phase II.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–99, DPRC Meeting, December 9, 1969)