136. Memorandum From President Nixon to the Chairman of the Defense Program Review Committee (Kissinger)1

This year, I would like to review major defense policy and program issues when the Defense program is still in its formative stages, well in advance of the final review of the Defense Department’s budget in December.

I would like the Defense Program Review Committee to assist me in this review by undertaking immediately a series of studies on our military posture and forwarding the results to me over the next six months.

I would like this review to cover the following subjects:

  • —a definition and analysis of our overall strategy for general purpose and theater nuclear forces in relation to the threats we face and to our interests and commitments;
  • —the availability of funds for defense and non-defense programs over the next five years and potential trade-offs between defense and non-defense expenditures;
  • —an analysis of the actual and projected capabilities and costs of our general purpose forces in relation to specific military threats, in particular Army and Marine Corps land forces, carrier-based and land-based tactical air forces, and anti-submarine warfare forces;
  • —an analysis of the actual and projected capabilities and costs of our strategic nuclear forces in relation to the Soviet and Chinese threats and to our criteria for strategic sufficiency, including analysis of U.S. requirements for a manned bomber and for continental air defense forces;
  • —an analysis of our overall concept and programs for military research and development in relation to projected requirements for new weapon systems.

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Would you please have the Defense Program Review Committee prepare terms of reference and a schedule of completion for these studies and forward them to me for my review by April 10, 1970.2

Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–98, Meeting Files, DPRC General, 1969–Feb. 1970. Top Secret; Sensitive. Kissinger sent the memorandum to Nixon under a covering memorandum, March 30, that reads as follows: “In order to prevent a repetition of the problems which we had with the FY 71 Budget as it pertained to Defense Department expenditures, a basic charter is needed for the Defense Program Review Committee. It is requested that you sign the attached memorandum, which is designed to provide direction for this year’s DPRC efforts.”
  2. Kissinger breakfasted with Laird on April 8 and discussed, among other items, the President’s directive to the DPRC. No record of the conversation was found, but in an April 7 memorandum, Haig advised Kissinger to insist that a representative from the NSC, rather than the Defense Department, chair the DPRC Working Group so as to moderate the expected “sharp” interagency divisions by retaining “at least the fig leaf of White House steerage.” According to Kissinger’s handwritten notes on the memorandum, although Laird still had misgivings about the DPRC, he was generally “Pleased with it.” (Ibid., Box 224, Agency Files, Department of Defense, Vol. VI, 1 Feb 70–20 Apr 70)