109. Notes of Defense Program Review Committee Meeting1


HAK: The President wants to go ahead with Phase II.2 How we define it is open. One purpose is to describe our options for Phase II and how to do it.

Last time we discussed 1 site in Washington, or 1 in N.E. perhaps moving it westward to get area coverage with Improved Spartan.

Resor: [Speaks for DOD] Alt. 13 would add $0.7 Billion NOA to DOD Budget; outlays?

Starbird: I don’t know what’s in 1971 budget. It would add $110 million.

Resor: Alt. 3 is old 7C which Packard sent over.

HAK: What is difference between 2 & 3?

Starbird: Preserves option of moving all back to MM. It is old Phase II.

HAK: You lose area defense if you move to MM?

Starbird: Yes Resor: 3 gives you Washington, D. C. & Whiteman in FY 71.

AJ: Why Whiteman?

Resor: Strengthens MM defense. We made main pitch last year on defense of retaliatory forces.

HAK: If you had Whiteman and NW you would:

  • —add MM defense,
  • —add area defense for lower Texas.

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Starbird: Timing problems; PAR in NW take 5 years. Washington, D.C. needs only MSR. You get extra time to react if Soviets bring subs in close.

(Discussion of how fast subs could fire; ours fire 1 minute apart; we assume theirs do. [Foster: we could cut this down.] Relevant to how long it would take to penetrate our defenses.)

Resor: Alt. 3 gives you money to shift Washington to Warren if MM threat gets large enough. This is in DOD budget currently.

4 same as 3 except don’t do advance eng. and procurement for others 3 sites.

Starbird: You lose a year in getting 7 sites.

5 same as 3 except substitute Warren for D. C. You don’t abandon thin area coverage, but you defend your deterrent.

Whiteman is part of your area defense. Warren is part of your 12 site area defense.

(Discuss on acquisition assumptions in each option. Avoid going to Armed Services Committee for land acquisition.)

HAK: Why avoid this?

Starbird: The Committees ask, how far you are going to go? They object to your taking the land. If you stop short, they think the Administration isn’t committed.

HAK: But that produces endless debate. Shouldn’t you get that out of the way?

Resor: It’s a judgment as to Congress. RN said do what is necessary but not more than is required.

HAK: To be Devil’s Advocate, RN has said area defense isn’t negotiable; shouldn’t we get that out of the way? Show that MM is regulatable by SALT? If we go MM route, if SALT should get somewhere, he will be in position of not going any further with non-negotiable part.

Resor: Even if SALT is successful, you need at least this MM defense. Area Defense is where you have the toughest time with Panofsky.4 You buy defense against China for only a short time. They will go pen aids route.

HAK: We took 10 years. They have primitive economy, no ICBMs yet. Why could they do it quickly?

Resor: We didn’t go all out pen aids; they would.

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Starbird: We didn’t have any in pen aids. We published our problems. If he knew where our sites were, he would defeat them with simple exo pen aids. He could steal our secrets.

Wheeler: You will have problems with Congress if you go in with land acquisitions. I am not as pessimistic about time thin area defense. It would be useful against CPR. They are pressed, have a limited technology base.

Foster: There isn’t any info on what they will do. You need radars that look at pen aids, that is problem. But 7 years is a long time. Up until last year our scientists said pen aids wouldn’t work; but we found Mark IA pen aid works. So you need radars, say on ships in Indian Ocean. No evidence of this.

Again 7 years is a long time.

HAK: Leaving aside CPR, other countries with nuclear potential would have lead time problems.

Foster: 7 site thin defense is fragile, or brittle. It takes 12 sites, original Spartan to make it pretty tough.

HAK: This building had nothing against 12 sites; we approved it last year. You came up with 7 sites. We could go with 12 sites.

Foster: Original plan presented by President and Laird to Congress is still valid. Phase II will do jobs we decided it would do. What has changed?

  • —Congress was hard on it.
  • —Money has become tighter.

HAK: We want to know what is right. RN will worry about Congress.

Foster: Both alternatives are driven by many considerations.

HAK: Why improve Spartan?

Foster: Old Spartan relied on large yield to attack large volume of objects. Subsequent to that, we saw we could get loiter capability. It can loiter 50–60 seconds. With last min. info, so you direct it, you don’t need as much yield, and you can get greater ranges. So you could have fewer sites.

HAK: I don’t understand. Original 12 sites gave you defense less easily spoofed, less subject to pen aids. What does it cost to get Improved Spartan?

Starbird: $450 million.

HAK: Why do we want it?

Foster: You can deal with advanced pen aids.

HAK: What you should do with advanced one is add more sites.


  • —The sites can reinforce each other, so fewer sites needed.
  • —If he uses depressed trajectory, big Spartan can’t catch depressed trajectory.
  • —Improved Spartan gives you loiter, 150 mile effectiveness against advanced pen aids. Don’t have to use Sprints.

HAK: We have major doctrinal problem. Chinese won’t have SLBMs. If rationale is China, aren’t you better off with old Spartan.

Starbird: No, with old, you get non-overlapping coverage. With Improved Spartan you have overlap. This is important as numbers build up.

HAK: Why, is it thinner?

Foster: You are carrying out low yield.

HAK: Why not 12 with a mixture?

Answer: That’s what we have, on both.

AJ: Isn’t 7 on way station to 12?

Foster: Yes.

HAK: I’m concerned about what we want. There isn’t more than 2 or 3 next year. Big issue is location. Depends on what you go for, not Improved Spartan.

Starbird: Not quite right. If you want to fill 12 sites ASAP, need more than 2 or 3.

HAK: But 1 or 2 wouldn’t get BOB approval.

Foster: You have to decide when you want it. If by 1976, you need 1 or 2. If you let it go until 1977 or 80 you can get away with less. You have to decide whether or not to choose to meet Chinese or Soviets on schedule.

HAK: What should we do?

—can’t say

HAK: What if he wants to stay on schedule?

Starbird: 1 or 2

Foster: Whiteman and Warren are ready to go in now. If you want all 12, there advantages to putting in Southern MM sites first.

JS: If you want population coverage, you are driven to East Coast, West Coast first.

Foster: If in 1976, a piece is missing, there is a free side in.

HAK: Something has to be last.

Resor: But last summer, we stressed protection of deterrent, even if SALT is successful. So you have to go ahead with MM sites.

JS: You have to decide on objective.

Farley: Question. How do we maintain survivability of land based component? Why not land mobility?

Foster: People get enthused with new systems, but discover problems later. With mobile Minuteman, question is cost-effectiveness. We [Page 389] can put it in a truck, that’s easy. Problem is with shelters. If garage costs $1 Million, we are out of business. If we get it for $0.25 mil., we can do it cheaper than they can build RVs. If this costs more than active defense, we should have active defense. We haven’t looked at it enough.

HAK: We don’t do this because we can do the other, but we don’t do the other.

Foster: Cost of hard rock silos doesn’t make it competitive with active defense.

Farley: Question is how fast we go into MM defense.

Foster: We hope you can select 2 or 3 approaches so we can study it in detail.

HAK: We have flexibility.

Foster: Unless we go full Phase II, full speed.

HAK: Can we squeeze $700 million out of other programs?

Wheeler, Resor: No, we would need larger ceiling.


Resor: Buzz wants chance to make a recommendation. You could narrow area of debate.

Foster: Mel thinks we will have terrible time getting it through Congress. He’s uncertain about how urgent or important area coverage is going to be. Congress rejected Chinese threat, even neglected bomber problem. As we saw debate, emphasis was on MM. Even if SALT is successful—a freeze—you should move ahead on MM. On area defense, not so much a military judgment. Area coverage is White House problem. MM defense is military problem.

Farley: Concept of 4 sites, minimum level, with this purpose, hasn’t been a concept for SALT. We have to decide this one. There isn’t much understanding about what we mean by area defense.

HAK: If the President wants area defense, why isn’t a military problem to provide it?

Resor: It’s question of priorities.

HAK: It is a priority.

Basic problems

—What do we need for area defense?

I understand problem at Congressional hearing, area defense dropped.

Buzz: This was line taken by Congress. Other missions weren’t addressed.

Foster: We in DOD have dug ourselves in. If we go ahead without MM extension, it looks like a major change.

HAK: We’re going to have a Committee to get a basic paper for all the government to use. Before we go to Congressional Committees.

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Foster: Therefore $1.5–1.7 billion we can proceed at a rate to give us area coverage for about 1978.

HAK: We should get a study

  • —What could you do if President wants to give priority to area defense.
  • —What to do if we give priority to MM defense, what this would do to area defense.
  • —What we could do with mixed system.

If you went with Whiteman, plus NW or NE, you would argue you are getting MM defense, also area defense.

There are three basic categories.

Subsidiary decision is what we mean by area defense:

  • —lightest
  • —12 sites
  • —something in between.

Wheeler: We should ultimately have 12 sites. Gives you best protection tech. can provide.

Alt. 3 is step to getting to 12 sites.

3, 4, 5 are way stations.

HAK: President doesn’t want to proceed with D.C. in next year. He has always wanted to phase it in later. You can make a case for NCA if you want; gives fourth category.

It doesn’t seem outrageous to protect heavily populated areas first. Make special case for NCA.

Are these fair statements of options?

Run D.C. consideration into each of these if you want to.

I think 65 and 1 and 2 are not in ball park.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–118, DPRC Meetings Minutes, Originals, 1969–73. No classification marking. No drafting information appears on the notes. The brackets are in the original. The following attended the meeting, scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. in the White House Situation Room: Kissinger, Johnson, Wheeler, Schlesinger, Farley, Foster, Secretary of the Army Stanley R. Resor, and Safeguard System Manager Lieutenant General Alfred D. Starbird.
  2. Kissinger discussed President Nixon’s wishes regarding Safeguard with Laird during a telephone conversation held at 7:40 p.m. on December 19. According to the transcript, Kissinger “said he had been told that Dave Packard had decided to eliminate Phase II. K said the President wants Phase II started to get the controversy out of the way. Now what level of Phase II should be discussed—the President doesn’t care about the size.” Kissinger added, “If Phase II isn’t discussed now, it will never get off the ground.” (Ibid., Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  3. See Document 108.
  4. Wolfgang K.H. Panofsky, Director of Stanford University’s Linear Accelerator Center and consultant to the Office of Science and Technology and ACDA, wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times on June 8 asserting that Safeguard would provide very little defense of the Minuteman’s realiatory force because of its vulnerable radars and insufficient number of interceptors.
  5. Alternative 6, according to a table attached (not printed) to Document 108, called for a full 12-site Safeguard that included Phase I and Phase II of the program.