148. Summary of Meeting1

Defense Budget Preview Session

I. Major Program Areas

1. Strategic Forces. Of the $2 billion cut in the strategic package, the Safeguard item was felt to be most critical. Safeguard provides a major bargaining element in SALT, and, failing a satisfactory agreement, an essential [element] in the force structure. Bomber reduction and Titan II phaseout were of lesser inherent importance, but should not be implemented prior to a SALT agreement, since they provide bargaining counters. Some interest was expressed in O&M reductions, while retaining bombers in the force structure. Substantial Air Defense reductions could begin in the immediate future—with no untoward consequences for SALT.

Approximately $1 billion in FY 72 reductions could take place. With completion of SALT, it might go higher, perhaps $1¼ billion, from the $2 billion enumerated in the strategic list.2 But, success in the SALT negotiations might also permit an additional $1 billion or more of cuts in outlays for strategic forces.

2. General Purpose Forces. Dr. Kissinger emphasized possible inadequacies in the general purpose forces. A contrast was drawn between reductions in previously programmed forces and reductions in the ability to perform relevant missions—in light of force ineffectiveness or inadequate rationale regarding their employment. In essence, the $3 [Page 537] billion reduction associated with the Reduced Program seemed appropriate, though no hard decisions were made regarding the individual elements. The Low Program seemed imprudent. Concern was expressed regarding any further reduction of land forces. Emphasis was placed on avoiding equal share allocation of budget reductions among the Services.

3. All Volunteer Force. The President felt that the program might have to be slipped to FY 1973. It was indicated that, due to the projected decline of military manpower, the same attractive power for volunteers outlined in NSDM 533 could be obtained with $1 billion FY 72 outlays as with the $2 billion mentioned in the NSDM. Discussion was left at that point, with the President retaining the option to defer till FY 73.

4. Total Indicated Cuts

Prior to SALT Agreement $4.8–5.0 billion
Subsequent to Agreement possibly $5.2–5.3 billion4

II. Future Trends and Problems

1. It was indicated that, barring a transformation of the international climate, the trend for defense spending would be upward in light of pay and price increases and the need for strengthening the general purpose forces. Stress was placed by Dr. Kissinger on the need to develop serious, non-suicidal options for the strategic forces by expanding upon or supplementing the standard SIOP options. Beneath the strategic umbrella, it will be necessary to strengthen and improve the General Purpose Forces to insure that the President has adequate options in various contingencies, especially NATO.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–100, DPRC Meeting 7–28–70. Top Secret. See also Document 147.
  2. Following the DPRC meeting held on July 17 (see Document 145), the DPRC Working Group submitted the fourth revision of its summary paper, “Defense Planning, 1971–76,” on July 23. The seventh and final revision of the paper is Document 152. A revised table, which was included in Kissinger’s talking points for the July 28 meeting, outlined five alternative Defense Department programs and budgets. Alternative A was the current Defense program. Alternative B included two options: either a $2 billion reduction in strategic forces programs or a $3 billion cut in GPF programs. Alternative C called for “limited reductions” in both strategic and GPF programs totaling $3 billion. Alternative D included two options: either “reduced” strategic and GPF programs totaling $5 billion or “low” GPF programs also resulting in a $5 billion cut. Alternative E called for reduced strategic programs and low GPF programs totaling $7 billion in cuts. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–100, DPRC Meeting. 7–28–70)
  3. Document 139.
  4. A handwritten notation indicated that SALT was expected to yield an additional $1 billion in savings.
  5. Kissinger sent a memorandum to DPRC members on August 4 informing them that the President had “decided to postpone issuing revised fiscal guidance” to the Defense Department until the Committee had reviewed a host of issues, including the U.S. air defense posture and air, sea, and ground forces deployments, including those assigned to NATO. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–101, DPRC Working Group Meetings)