112. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1

    • Department of Defense FY 1971 Budget

There are two documents which should be signed by you today so that they can be officially transmitted to Secretary Laird on Monday, December 29th. The first is your decision on the FY 1971 Defense budget. The second is your approval of Secretary Laird’s strategy for handling the Vietnamization Program and specifically our force levels in Vietnam within the context of the FY 1971 budget.

—At Tab A is a memorandum for your signature transmitting to the Secretary of Defense your decisions with respect to the Defense FY 1971 budget.2 This memorandum confirms:

Stretchout of nuclear submarine construction and modification of the R&D program as it pertains to the Manned Strategic Bomber for a total savings of $100 million.
The decision memorandum also requires an additional reduction, the specifics of which are to be determined by Secretary Laird, of $335 million including at least a $75 million reduction in marginal naval forces.
Referral of the Manned Strategic Bomber issue to the Defense Program Review Committee for study prior to a commitment to buy the B–1A Strategic Bomber.3
Approval of the nuclear carrier, with the provision that no funds will be committed pending the completion of studies required by the [Page 394] Mondale Amendment,4 the Armed Services Committee and the National Security Council.

—At Tab B is a memorandum for your signature to Secretary Laird conveying your approval of his proposed budget strategy which has been designed to prevent revelation, either directly or indirectly, of our timetable for Vietnamization.5 Secretary Laird’s memorandum to you on this subject is at Tab C6 and provides inter alia:

Furnishing end strength figures for all of the services in the Department of Defense public budget, its posture statement and in unclassified testimony before the Congress.
Army and Marine Corps force structure figures and Southeast Asia and non-Southeast Asia cost breakdowns would only be provided in classified testimony before key committees.
FY 1971 strength figures for Vietnam would not be released in any version to any source.
Rationale for testimony would include the following elements:
  • —We have a plan and have assumed further reductions in the budget but we are not revealing the timetable for reasons stated in your November 3 speech.7
  • —Our budget is flexible enough to support a variable timetable, depending on decisions at the time.
  • —End strength reductions in the budget are a result of many factors besides specific Vietnam reductions.
The Secretary of Defense recommends, and in fact has already built his FY 1971 budget around, a strength of 260,000 men in Vietnam by June 1971.

I believe Secretary Laird’s plan for finessing our Vietnamization plans in his budget presentation is sound although it will require maximum discipline within the Department of Defense if planned strength figures are not to be revealed either in the processing of the budget or through some other leak by a member of his planning staff. For this reason, I have included in your proposed approval of his plan, a strong [Page 395] admonition that maximum discipline be enforced on the whole issue of strength figures associated with Vietnamization.


That you approve and sign the memoranda at Tab A and Tab B.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 206, Agency Files, Bureau of the Budget, Vol. I. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. No drafting information appears on the memorandum, but Haig drafted the attachments, according to a carbon copy. (Ibid.)
  2. The memorandum at Tab A was signed by Nixon and sent to Laird on December 27. It is not printed.
  3. In a December 23 memorandum, Lynn informed Kissinger about his misgivings regarding AMSA, otherwise known as the B–1A, the prototype of the B–1 bomber. Lynn was “convinced that neither the concept nor the design for this aircraft has been thoughtfully considered at the policy level.” As a remedy, he recommended that the DPRC carefully review the bomber’s “strategic requirement and concept.” Kissinger wrote “very interesting” and “Make sure this goes into budget order for Laird” on the memorandum. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 206, Agency Files, Bureau of the Budget, Vol. I) The first contract for construction of the B–1A was awarded in 1970.
  4. Senators Walter F. Mondale (D–Minnesota) and Clifford P. Case (R–New Jersey) in September 1969 proposed an amendment to the annual defense procurement bill that called for delaying the authorization of full funding for a new nuclear aircraft carrier pending a study of the program. The Senate approved the amendment by an 84–0 vote on September 12. (Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1969, p. 275)
  5. The memorandum at Tab B was signed by Nixon and sent to Laird on December 27. It is not printed.
  6. Not found.
  7. See footnote 3, Document 107.