118. Notes of Defense Program Review Committee Meeting1

At the meeting were: Henry Kissinger, McCracken, Helms, Richardson, Alexis Johnson, Wheeler, Packard, Smith, Lynn, Schlesinger

DP: [Briefing]2 Costs as presented to Congress will include more this year: R&D, AEC.

GS: Is this the annual review?

DP: Part of it. Also intelligence board, scientific review, and NSC.

[Page 409]

HAK: No formal NSC meeting. President will decide. Stop leaks. President may put before small group of NSC. But, no extended debate in newspapers.

DP: [resumes briefing]

Tests: no areas of serious concern

  • —some problems with Sprint, but not troublesome
  • —may be problem of computers and software, but no major problems so far.
  • —There will be Spartan intercept in fall, 1970; Sprint in early 1971.3

No technical problems.

HAK: There are people who claim it is no good for hard point defense.

EW: We have a refutation.

DP: ABMDA doesn’t know status of program.

DP: [on threat] Chinese threat a year slip. Otherwise no easing of threat we were concerned about.

Alternatives considered:

  • —cancel Phase 1, R&D only
    • —delay to 80’s.
  • —Phase 1 only, R&D for HPD
    • —questions raised about capability of SG to defend MM.

We agree that if the threat goes above 1400 RV, we need new R&D on system for HPD. But, that will work along with SG elements.

  • MM defense only
  • CPR defense only
  • —overall system
  • —various schedules.

Why Phase 2 now:

  • IOC 1977
  • —Phase 1 only—delays IOC to meet threat
  • —Chinese delayed but continuing, but intelligence weak and nuclear program continuing.
  • —Even if there is an agreement by Soviets to stop building launchers, higher accuracy for existing launchers could threaten MM
  • —More SSBNs.
  • —technical progress on SG is promising

[Page 410]


  • —Step toward full 12-site Phase 2. Good area coverage with SPN. Full Phase 2 MM.
  • —Increased R&D on new HPD
  • —Begin deployment at Whiteman & NW
  • —Advanced preparation of 3 other sites: NE, D. C., Michigan/Ohio
  • R&D on Improved SPN for area defense.

Budget ($ billion)

1971 1972 1973 1974 1978
NOA 1.5 2.0 2.2 1.6 11.7
Exp. .93 1.3 1.8 1.9 11.7

Schedule for expenditures goes so that we could cut back if we got agreement this year or early next.

ER: Suppose the agreement allowed a 3rd country system only. How much of the $930 million would be useful?

DP: Half is R&D.

HAK: Anyway some MM defense is useful even under agreement.

ER: Of the non R&D part?

DP: Much of it is for first PAR, computers. Some engineering work on sites.

AJ: If you want a light area defense, all this is useful.

DP: Right.

HAK: The light area defense is not negotiable.

GS: But, the issue shouldn’t be treated as untouchable dogma.

HAK: There is no point in arguing here. The President will decide and hear all arguments. For planning, we should assume that’s what he wants now.

DP: All is useful for light area.

AJ: Why NW rather than NE?

DP: Have site, politically easier?

AJ: But fewer population.

HAK: Better for Chinese.

DP: Not really. Anyway, no benefit against Chinese unless you have full coverage, because of blackmail. There is an “interim” seven site system, which with Improved Spartan gives some coverage all over country.

[Chart showing usefulness of silos for MM and 7 site]4

[Page 411]

Chart showing effectiveness against China

Threat assumed

Low High
5–60 & 10–125
ICBMs (74–80) 1m2 1m2
RCS (S band) .01m2 .01m2 (like RCS of our smaller RVs)

ER: What is in a “site”?

DP: Varies: [explain]

DP: On the area coverage against China: There is big debate:

  • —Will they get small RV?
  • —Penaids?

The scientific panel discussed the issue at length.5 It has taken us 10 years to penaids. The preponderance of opinion is that the Chinese won’t have the capability in 1974–80 to develop technical measure to degrade system.

The people who know most about missile technique say that simple penaids like chaff and balloons won’t work. Need more sophisticated devices.

HAK: Can we see report of scientific panel?

DP: Yes.

DP: [Chart on SAC Survivability]

—There will be serious problem in early–mid-70s no matter what we do.

Sch: Base structure?

DP: About as present—more dispersal is very costly.

McC: When will 5–6 Ys be on station? (50% of bombers lost)

RH: Early 70s.

HAK: But no point in attacking SAC before they have enough ICBMs to take out MM.

[Page 412]

DP: [MM chart]

[Threat chart]

Sch: Query Soviet accuracies—our CEP estimates are done by error budgets; operational results much worse.

DP: Not true on latest figures for Polaris tests. Anyway, accuracy improves over time.

Sch: SLBM accuracy may be greater than ICBM.

DP: There really has been progress on accuracy.

HAK: What’s an error budget?

DP: [Eff. measures chart

Surviving MM

Surviving alert aircraft

Time for NCA decision]6

DP: How Soviets could expand MM threat—2000 RV by 1977. Phase

2 MM defense degraded if arriving RVs exceed 1300.


  • —more SG
  • —new HPD
  • —rebase MM


  • —Threats could develop faster;
  • —Timing/duration of defense against Chinese is judgmental
  • —bomber surprise tactics;
  • —bigger MM threat

HAK: After this year (FY 71) expenditures we can still go either way.

DP: True, except that NW site is not much good for MM. All work is useful for area defense.

ER: How about the HPD R&D?

DP: Report of Defense Science Panel:7 [gives members]

HAK: My science advisers have come to the conclusion that:8 [Page 413]

  • MM defense won’t work and therefore must be abandoned;9
  • —Area defense will work and therefore must [not?] be abandoned.

DP: [reads more of report] (from part assuming both objectives)

ER: Do they say the system can do the job?

DP: With exception

  • —heavy MM threat in which case the system will be overwhelmed;
  • —rapid Chinese movement to defeat system.

HAK: What is basis for argument that only 20 MM will survive?

DP: Depends on assumptions about:

  • —number of RVs;
  • —accuracy.

We don’t give them an accuracy today for SS–11 that gives them enough RVs to give SG much trouble.

HAK: Suppose they target radars? Blackout?

DP: We don’t care how they use up their RVs. We can use the Sprints to protect radars or MM. Doesn’t make any difference.

HAK: Blackout?

DP: We think we are in good shape on that.

HAK: Would area defense black out HPD?

DP: I think we are OK on that.

The issue not yet addressed is whether this is best of all possible means to protect strategic capability. Idea is to maintain triad.

Other devices:

—mobile MM.

ER: Political problem of moving them around.

GS: No. It’s a garage system.

DP: One mile radius system.

DP: Or you could go to more subs?

ER: Isn’t it likely that in SALT context that we’d be more likely to defend area defense more than MM.

GS: We have to ask the President about that.

DP: We recommend more homework on debate this year than last. Political problems will be serious.

ER: There is also the factor of position relating FY 71 deployments for Phase 2 to resumption of SALT. We need to be clear about the negotiability of ABM levels. This bears on rate of development and [Page 414] deployment. Must reflect fact that we don’t know if or what agreement could be—must cover case of no agreement.

HAK: Do we need rationale when budget is submitted?

DP: Yes.

Sch: That’s Feb. 2.

DP: Don’t have to have arguments in budget documents, but there will be press questions.

HAK: Will be NSC meeting a week from Friday.10

ER: The SALT implications must go into the rationale from the outset.

HAK: No NSC possible before Friday a week. Assume decision will be made early the next week. Cannot have various agencies saying different things. Should be group in “here” to work out uniform rationale which all will use.

GS: I hadn’t realized this was the “annual review.” I thought it was fall out from budget. I’m in no position to give ACDA view now. If on Hill, I could not now say that I have been involved in annual review and am satisfied with outcome.

GS: I sensed that there is some suggestion that we need Phase 2 for bargaining purposes. I disagree: Phase 1 and R&D does as much for bargaining position as Phase 2.

DP: That’s a key issue—a factor we must consider is effect of decision on SALT bargaining. But, must also consider what would happen if no agreement. Soviets are going ahead.

HAK: The issue is one for the President—same as last year.

GS: If you seek big program and lose in Congress, that really hurts bargaining position.

DP: I don’t disagree. But, considering all the factors, I think this is the best thing to do. And we have to get together within the Government if there’s to be any chance on the Hill.

GS: I will support program if President decides for it. But, there are unanswered issues apart from SALT:

  • —technical feasibility
  • —objectives

It is clear that Soviets are most interested in ABM; possibility of expansion.

HAK: I’m persuaded that if you stop Phase 2, the opposition will go after Phase 1—especially if it’s unrelated to a bigger system.

[Page 415]

The opposition scientists are implacable on anti-ABM and they’re only for alternative HPD because it doesn’t exist.

ER: I think Soviets have worked out bargaining position to give us maximum trouble:

  • —carriers, transfers, allied forces give them more bargaining counters.
  • —that they’re worried about ABM—or say so—suggests that it is a valuable bargaining counter.

GS: The real counter to ABM is SSBN/ICBM construction.

HAK: If they would stop. ABM—Phase 2 or otherwise—is negotiable. The issue is what action by us alone now gives more bargaining power:

  • —on-going capability
  • —stop with threat to restart

Sch: Could put money in budget with details for later submission. Harlow is pessimistic.

DP: So is Laird.

HAK: We were told there was trouble over appropriations.

DP: Another factor is the computer facility. Soviets are well behind. They couldn’t build such an ABM system now, because of software problems. They may be very worried about high U.S. SG capability, domestic criticisms notwithstanding.

GS: Can we put a paper before this group?11

HAK: Don’t put it in posture where President will have to overrule ACDA.

ER: How position is put on SALT is very important.

DP: [DOD rationale plan]12

AJ: Developing rationale will also help President decide.

HAK: Such group should be created—even before decision. I will talk with President on this.

[Page 416]

DP: Fiscal Guidance:13 “no decision necessary,” unless you want to do something different.

—Final fiscal guidance March 4.

SEA Assumptions: U.S. Forces (thousands)

end 1971 1972 1973
VN 260 144 29
Thai 38 24 4


ULMS, AMSA—stretched out

Phase 2

Continental Air Defense—minimal

Upgrade ICBMs


‘65 ‘71 ‘76
Down to 16–17 Divisions (3 lower than 65) 19 16-1/3 9 reserve against 7 in 65 19 16-1/3
Bigger lift capability (index) 100 230 360
Helicopters 4900 10,700 9000
Tac air 5100 5800 4600
CVA 16 15 12
Navy—SSN 21 52 70
CVS 9 4 3
Surface ships 278 241 178
1 Pac
Amphibious + 1-1/3 1-1/3
1 Atl
Manpower 2660 2920 2250

Issue is whether we can live with this level of program.

HAK: We should take this as a point of departure and use it to develop a long term military budget. Also:



DP: We recommend 1. A joint effort with BOB & CEA

HAK: And Lynn.

[Page 417]

DP: … to look at relation of defense to civilian budget and economy.

2. Get State/DOD study of commitments

AJ: Also deployments—bases, MAP

[Omitted here is discussion of proposed CY 1970 reductions in United States naval forces committed to NATO.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–99, DPRC Meeting, January 15, 1970. Top Secret. No drafting information appears on the original. The brackets are in the original.
  2. Rear Admiral Frank W. Vannoy, Deputy Director of the JCS Plans and Policy Directorate, prepared a memorandum for the record of the DPRC meeting that summarized Packard’s briefing: Packard “reviewed the status of present program, the threat, the necessity for Phase II deployment, the alternatives considered, OSD recommendation (build toward full twelve site Phase II, with FY 71 funding from Whiteman and NW with advanced preparation NE, DC, Michigan/Ohio, with increased R&D to improve capability), costs, relative seven and twelve site effectiveness against CHICOM, and effect of full twelve site in defense of Minuteman and bombers.” (Ibid., RG 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Records of the Chairman, Admiral Moorer, Box 84, DPRC File)
  3. A typed note in the margin next to this point reads: “Note: These are 5–6 month slips.”
  4. None of the referenced charts was found.
  5. The Ad Hoc Panel on Ballistic Missile Defense (see footnote 3, Document 117) discussed the effectiveness of area defenses against Chinese ICBM attacks. According to their report, submitted to Laird on January 9 and sent by Packard to Kissinger five days later, some panelists believed “that the probability is high that a thin area defense will be highly effective; possibly achieving damage denial, for as much as a decade.” Others believed that the Chinese “would respond to the presence of a U.S. area defense and materially reduce its effectiveness by the use of penetration aids and other measures.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–99, DPRC Meeting, January 15, 1970)
  6. A hand-drawn brace next to these three items points to the typed and bracketed word: “[criteria]”
  7. An apparent reference to the Ad Hoc Panel on Ballistic Missile Defense.
  8. On December 30, 1969, DuBridge sent Kissinger a report by the President’s Science Advisory Committee’s (PSAC) Strategic Military Panel that expressed reservations about Safeguard’s ability to defend Minuteman silos and instead favored a dedicated, hard-point defense system advocated by ABMDA. Lynn forwarded the report to Kissinger on January 5, 1970. Kissinger wrote two comments on Lynn’s covering memorandum: “We must get PSAC def strategy” and “What do the systems tell us about upgrading problem?” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 840, ABMMIRV, ABM System, Vol. III)
  9. Bracketed correction added by the editor.
  10. January 23.
  11. On January 21, Gerard Smith sent a memorandum to Nixon in which he recommended deferring deployment of Phase II of Safeguard and instead increasing R&D. Such a course would, Smith argued, increase Congressional support for the system, maintain U.S. negotiating leverage in the SALT talks, and avoid provoking a Soviet offensive arms buildup. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 840, ABM/MIRV, ABM System, Vol. III)
  12. On January 14, Packard sent Kissinger an undated 1-page memorandum entitled “Plan for Disseminating Information About Safeguard.” The memorandum outlined a strategy for crafting a well-coordinated, clear, and well-defended presentation of the Safeguard program to Congress and the public. (Ibid., NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–99, DPRC Meeting, January 15, 1970)
  13. On January 13, Packard sent the Defense Department’s Fiscal Guidance to Kissinger, Richardson, Helms, Wheeler, McCracken, and Mayo. (Ibid.)