152. Paper Prepared by the Defense Program Review Committee Working Group1


I. Introduction

The last National Security Council review of this subject occurred in September 1969 when the results of NSSM–3 were considered.2 Subsequently, the President issued five-year fiscal guidance and selected a strategy which calls for military capabilities for an initial defense of NATO Europe or a joint defense of Asia (Korea or Southeast Asia) together with support of Asian Allies against non-Chinese attacks plus a minor contingency (NSDM–27, October 11, 1969).3

During the past year, the economic and fiscal projections on which NSDM–27 was based have changed substantially for the entire planning period, as illustrated by:

  • —revenues in FY 72 have been reduced $7 billion because of the Tax Reform Act of 19694 and softness in the economy;
  • —costs of non-defense programs in FY 72 are $24 billion higher because of Administration initiatives ($11 billion), higher costs in formula-controlled programs, Congressional changes to Administration proposals, higher interest costs, and less rapid decline in inflation (totalling $13 billion);
  • —costs of defense programs in FY 72 are $3 billion higher because of increased pay costs, the decision in NSDM–535 to provide a Volunteer Service, and less rapid decline in inflation;
  • —a $23 billion budget deficit is projected for FY 72 rather than a surplus.

Table 1 shows the current projections of the costs of defense and non-defense programs, estimates of federal revenues, and the resulting budget deficits. These projections include no new Presidential initiatives beyond those announced to date by the Administration. Past experience would indicate that new initiatives add from $1–3 billion in the first year (FY 72) and $5–15 billion in succeeding years. The budgetary projections shown in Table 1, together with current estimates of the behavior of the economy under current policies, call for a reevaluation of defense and non-defense programs.


Federal Budget Projections

(Then-Year $ Billions)

FY 71 FY 72 FY 73 FY 74 FY 75 FY 76
Federal Revenues $198 $214 $231 $253 $280 $306
Federal Expenditures
Defense6 74 79 80 81 83 85
Non-Defense base 138 147 158 165 174 185
Announced initiatives7 1 11 13 15 18 21
Total 213 237 251 261 275 291
Margin $15 –$23 –$20 –$8 +$5 +$15

The following sections of this paper describe the relevant economic considerations for alternative federal budgets, the range of defense and non-defense programs consistent with those budgets, and the implications of these program changes.

II. Economic Analysis

Given the projections of Federal outlays above, the range of possible FY 72 budgets is $220–$240 billion, though the lower end would require some very substantial and severe budget reductions. The relevant issues are:

  • —Would budget expenditures within this range be consistent with reasonable stability of the economy?
  • —Would budget expenditures within this range be consistent with satisfaction of high-priority non-Federal claims for resources?
  • —Would budget expenditures within this range be consistent with the Administration’s credibility upon which its leadership depends?

The answers to these questions depend in part on tax and monetary policy. The questions are discussed on the assumption of no general tax increase, which means revenues around $210–$215 billion in FY 72. The answers also assume that the monetary authorities have a basically similar perception of economic conditions and needs, and respond in an expected and appropriate way. Based on these assumptions, the $220–$240 billion expenditure range can be structured at three budget levels:

Expenditures in excess of $235 billion are probably inconsistent with achievement of high-priority goals for housing construction and for State and local expenditures, including expenditures for environmental improvement.
Expenditures between $225 and $235 billion are probably consistent with achievement of high-priority non-Federal goals and with economic stability, but they involve certain risks which would be smaller, the lower in the range actual expenditures are. These risks are:
Recommendation of a deficit of, for example, $20 billion would so contradict popular notions of economic soundness and statements of the Administration as to create doubts about the Administration’s ability or desire to manage its economic affairs and would, accordingly, raise questions about the Administration’s leadership.
The announcement of a deficit of $20 billion would generate an expectation of inflation which, even though not “really” justified, would at least temporarily set back the decline of long-term interest rates and the revival of housing and State and local investment.
The Federal Reserve might exaggerate the extent to which the budget deficit requires monetary restraint to offset it, and consequently hold the real economy below the levels that are feasible and would be achieved if the budget deficit were smaller.
The estimate that a $235 billion budget is consistent with achieving other goals assumes that the economy will be allowed to rise to its potential by mid-1972. If the Federal Reserve, out of concern with inflation, stretches the recovery out over a longer period, there will be less real resources in FY 72, and our ability to meet both a $235 billion budget and greater goals will be correspondingly reduced.
The higher expenditures are in FY 72, the higher they are likely to be in subsequent years when total claims on resources are likely to be greater than in FY 71 and 72. A large budget in FY 72, therefore, endangers the achievement of other goals in later years (for example, projected revenues for FY 73 are $231 billion, see Table 2).
Expenditures below $225 billion raise a risk of another kind. This is the risk that monetary policy could not stimulate expansion of non-Federal expenditures fast enough to prevent a lag in the recovery of the economy to its potential.

On the assumption of no general tax increase, the foregoing considerations lead to an expenditure target in the $225–$230 billion range in FY 72, yielding a deficit around $10–$15 billion. These considerations, of course, have to be balanced against the benefits of some $8–$13 billion of Federal programs that would be sacrificed in getting the budget down to this range.

The safe level of budget expenditures could be raised by increasing taxes. However, it is generally believed that such a step would be extremely unpopular—i.e., inconsistent with the public’s priorities—and most unlikely to be approved by Congress. Planning for the expenditure side of the budget should proceed on the assumption of no tax increase until the impossibility of a satisfactory solution on that basis has been demonstrated.

The receipts, outlays, and surplus (or deficit) for two feasible budgets are shown in Table 2.


Two Feasible Federal Budgets

(Then-Year $ Billions)

FY 71 FY 72 FY 73 FY 74 FY 75 FY 76
High Budget
Receipts 198 213 231 253 280 306
Outlays 213 232 251 261 275 289
Surplus (deficit) (15) (19) (20) (8) 5 17
Low Budget
Receipts 198 212 230 252 279 305
Outlays 211 225 240 252 267 280
Surplus (deficit) (13) (13) (13) 0 12 25

III. Defense Options

The projections of total Federal budgets and the economic analysis cited above point up the need to examine the alternative levels of defense budgets. This section describes the impact of several alternative defense budget levels on defense strategy and national security interests and commitments, and highlights the management and timing problems associated with large reductions.

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A. Review of Current Planning

1. Budget Guidance

For planning purposes, NSDM–27 specified DOD budgets for FY 71–75. Since NSDM–27, there have been two major changes in the assumptions on which these budgets were based: (1) there have been pay and price increases due to greater than expected inflation; and (2) NSDM–53 added provisions for a Volunteer Service. The NSDM–27 budget, these changes, and the resulting current projections are shown in Table 3.


Projections of Defense Outlays for FY 71–76

(Then-Year $ Billions)

FY 71 FY 72 FY 73 FY 74 FY 75 FY 76
NSDM–27 $76 $76 $75 $75 $76 $778
Increased inflation +1 +2 +3 +4 +5
Volunteer Service +2 +3 +3 +3 +3
Current Projection $74 $79 $80 $81 $83 $85

Thus, simply to keep defense costs within NSDM–27 levels, about an overall 10% reduction in programmed forces, procurement, manpower, etc., would be required in the out-years. In FY 72, cuts of about $3 billion would be required. In addition, defense might be forced to absorb further reductions to keep Federal deficits within the bounds noted in Section II.

As a result, a major review is needed to display the potential impacts of alternative reductions in defense budgets. Because orderly planning of even a $3 billion reduction in FY 72 will have major impacts in FY 71, decisions on defense planning targets are needed soon. Should actions on a FY 72 defense budget cut of $5 billion or more be delayed until January 1971, the transition problems will become almost unmanageable, as is discussed in Section D.

The current projections in Table 3 are based on the assumptions in Table 4 for the war in Southeast Asia. DOD budgets in the future will be very sensitive to changes in these assumptions. For example, increasing or decreasing the planning level of 260,000 men in South Vietnam by 50,000 men by the end of FY 71 would increase or decrease the incremental cost of the war in FY 72 by $500 million. Increasing or decreasing tactical air sorties by 4,000 per month and B–52 sorties by 200 per [Page 562] month would also change the war costs by about $500 million. The remaining sections of this paper do not vary the assumptions in Table 4.


Southeast Asia Assumptions

(End-Year Deployments and Average Sortie Rates)

FY 70 FY 71 FY 72 FY 73
Actual Budget Projected Projected
Men in SVN 424,000 260,000 152,000 43,000
Men in Thailand 42,000 34,000 20,000 4,000
Fighter-Attack sorties/month 20,000 14,600 10,000 3,000
B–52 sorties/month 1,400 1,200 900 300
Incremental Cost of the War (outlays in then-year $ billions) $12   $8   $4  

The current projections in Table 3 assume that a Volunteer Service is to be created and that it will cost as much as was indicated in NSDM–53. The remaining sections of this paper do not vary this assumption. However, NSDM–53 may need re-evaluation in conjunction with this review of total defense budgets. If the defense budget is reduced significantly, the resulting force levels may be lower than those assumed in NSDM–53, and the costs of a Volunteer Service might therefore be lower. In view of the total Federal budget situation, it may also be appropriate to review the goal of a Volunteer Service and the timing of spending to achieve it.

Two alternatives are available for reducing spending on the Volunteer Service from NSDM–53 levels. The first would defer spending in FY 72 except for that which is already committed (e.g., the 20% first term pay raise effective in mid-FY 71). This alternative would save about $1.4 billion in FY 72 outlays. A second alternative would slow the pace of spending designed to achieve a Volunteer Service while allowing additional actions in FY 72 to improve pay and benefits (primarily for first termers), and improve recruiting and retention for active and reserve forces. This alternative might save $0.4–0.7 billion. Both alternatives would be designed only for delaying attainment of the Volunteer Service. However, the first alternative could be interpreted as cancelling the commitment made by the President in April,9 since there would be much less overt action taken toward the objective in FY 72. The second alternative would allow the implementation in FY 72 of a number of specific actions designed to move toward a Volunteer Service, and would help maintain credence in the President’s commitment. [Page 563] If adopted, savings from these alternatives would be additive to the illustrative reductions in forces and budgets shown in Table 10.

2. Strategy Guidance

For planning purposes, the following strategy guidance was established after the NSSM–3 review of strategic and general purpose forces:

Strategic Forces. NSDM–1610 directed that planning for strategic forces would be based on the following sufficiency criteria:
  • “a. Maintain high confidence that the U.S. second-strike capability is sufficient to deter an all-out attack on our strategic forces.
  • “b. Maintain forces to insure that the Soviet Union would have no incentive to strike the U.S. first in a crisis.
  • “c. Maintain the capability to deny to the Soviet Union the ability to cause significantly more deaths and industrial damage in the U.S. in nuclear war than they would suffer.
  • “d. Deploy defenses which limit damage from small attacks or accidental launches to a low level.”
General Purpose Forces. NSDM–27 directed that planning for general purpose forces would be based on strategy 2 of NSSM–3. In addition to providing forces for a “minor contingency” and a “strategic reserve,” strategy 2 provides that:

“The United States would be prepared for an initial defense of NATO Europe or a joint defense of Asia (Korea or Southeast Asia). The forces are designed so that major operations in one theater must be conducted at the expense of the major capability in the other, leaving a reduced capability in the non-war theater. For example, we could assist our allies in Asia against a non-Chinese attack while simultaneously providing an initial defense of NATO, but we could not conduct an initial NATO defense and a joint defense of Asia simultaneously. If initially engaged in Asia, by disengaging we would have the capability for an initial defense of NATO.”

The President has also announced a policy for assisting Asian nations against conventional aggression:

“We shall furnish military and economic assistance when requested and as appropriate. But we shall look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense.

“This approach requires our commitment to helping our partners develop their own strength. In doing so, we must strike a careful balance. If we do too little to help them—and erode their belief in our commitments—they may lose the necessary will to conduct their own self-defense or become disheartened about prospects of development. Yet, if we do too much, and American forces do what local forces can and should be doing, we promote dependence rather than independence.

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“In providing for a more responsible role for Asian nations in their own defense, the Nixon Doctrine means not only a more effective use of common resources, but also an American policy which can best be sustained over the long run.” (Message to Congress, February 18, 1970)11

This guidance was the initial product of the comprehensive review of national security policy initiated by this Administration. In evaluating the alternative defense programs discussed in the next section of this paper, it is important to note that the strategy guidance itself is under review. At the President’s direction, the DPRC is preparing studies of the strategy guidance in order to define its implications and to re-evaluate its adequacy in relation to our national security interests.

It may be necessary to modify the NSDM–16 strategic sufficiency criteria. For example, the United States no longer has clear strategic superiority over the Soviet Union; in some areas (for example, total mega-tonnage and numbers of ICBMs) the Soviets have superiority. Since the Soviets have an assured destruction capability, we cannot rely on a favorable strategic balance to assist us in managing crises such as Berlin and Cuba. In addition, the Soviets may be developing a capability to make an initial strike, then threaten U.S. cities with their remaining weapons, which would be hardened so that we could not destroy them. Therefore, it might be desirable to change the sufficiency criteria to include an increased capability for strategic warfighting.

On the other hand, our strategy and foreign policy have assumed that the Soviet Union, in a first or second strike, could do unacceptable damage to the United States and its allies. A Soviet initial strike which withheld enough weapons to hold our population hostage would be a dangerous tactic. While U.S. strategic forces could not be used reliably for destroying hardened Soviet missiles, they would provide the President with a variety of nuclear options short of all-out retaliation against Soviet cities. Some believe that a U.S. capability to destroy hardened Soviet missiles would threaten the overall Soviet deterrent and thus could provide a stimulus to the strategic arms race.

The NSDM–27 strategy for general purpose forces needs to be reevaluated and clarified as a basis for force planning. For example, the strategy includes the concept of curtailing operations in Asia and re-deploying selected forces to Europe if necessary for an initial defense of NATO. This concept is subject to considerable uncertainty. The NSDM–27 strategy does not specify how far forward we would want to defend in Europe, or what defense perimeter we would want to [Page 565] maintain in the Pacific in a war with the Soviet Union. We may also wish to reconsider the requirement that we be able to meet Chinese aggression in Southeast Asia with U.S. land forces, because providing for this contingency is a large restriction on our planning flexibility. Large differences in force levels depend on these factors.

B. Alternative Defense Programs

The alternatives that follow should be considered illustrative only and representative of what could be done at various budget levels.

If, for example, we were to reduce ABM funding to an R&D-only level, we could maintain one additional active Army division, two additional tactical fighter wings, an additional attack carrier with its associated aircraft, and an additional one-third of an amphibious task force. Such action would increase our general purpose force capability at the expense of meeting the fourth NSDM–16 sufficiency criterion.

1. Strategic Force Alternatives

General. The strategic forces needed to implement any set of strategic sufficiency criteria are subject to uncertainty about the threat, differing views on the amount of redundancy and thus confidence that is needed, and various interpretations of the scenarios against which we should design our forces. For example, we currently maintain an assured destruction capability in each of three forces: bombers, ICBMs, and SLBMs. This Triad concept hedges against Soviet development of counters to our forces and against unexpected failures in our forces. As the Soviet counterforce capability improves, one or more of these systems may become vulnerable, making it an attractive target in a crisis. We must then either make the investment necessary to restore its survivability, or remove it, abandoning the Triad concept. In the latter case, to maintain the same total confidence in our assured destruction capability, compensating improvements in the reliability, survivability, and penetrability of the remaining strategic forces would have to be made. To maintain the same total destruction capability, the level of these remaining forces would have to be increased. The adequacy of alternative strategic force postures must be assessed in light of the inherent uncertainties and different possible design assumptions.

Some of the illustrative programs described below show major reductions in continental air defense forces. Appendix A gives a more complete discussion of objectives and alternatives for air defense programs.12

[Page 566]

Four alternative illustrative forces considered below are summarized in the following table, with end-FY 70 forces shown for comparison:


Comparison of Illustrative Strategic Forces13

End FY 70 JSOP Current Program Limited Reduction Program Reduced Program
Strategic Forces
Bombers 540 503 503 443 346
Titans 54 36 36
Minuteman 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000
Polaris/Poseidon Subs 41 41 41 41 41
Air Defense Interceptors 650 627 579 410 266
Surface-to-Air Missiles 1,570 1,685 1,370 290 290
Planned Safeguard Sites 12 12 12 8 414
Cost of Strategic Forces 15
FY 72 Outlays $15 $12 $11 $10
FY 76 Outlays $14 $12 $11 $ 9
Average Annual Outlays FY 72–76 $15 $11 $10 $ 9

a. JCS Recommended Objective Forces. This alternative (JSOP) was developed by the JCS in consideration of NSDM–16, with no specific fiscal restraints. It represents the JCS view of attainable forces with a prudent level of risk. These strategic forces would cost about $15 billion in FY 72. The JSOP objective levels include the B–1 starting in FY 77, the Undersea Long-range Missile System (ULMS) in FY 78, and the rebasing of 140 Minuteman III into hard rock silos (3,000 psi) by FY 77. The JSOP forces are intended to meet all the NSDM–16 strategic sufficiency criteria.

b. Current Program. This alternative was developed under fiscal guidance consistent with NSDM–27 and would cost about $12 billion in FY 72. It would contain about the same offensive forces as the JSOP, but the Minuteman hard rock silo program would be replaced with a hardening program to upgrade existing silos, and ULMS would become operational in FY 80 versus FY 78. The forces under this alternative are still designed to meet all the strategic sufficiency criteria. If [Page 567] the Soviet strategic threat increased at rates above those projected in intelligence estimates for planning, and we did not adapt to such changes, some of the NSDM–16 sufficiency criteria might not be met in the late 1970s. The substitution of a hardening program for Minuteman III in existing silos versus rebasing Minuteman III in hard rock silos could result in as many as 150 fewer survivors (375 fewer RVs) in the late 1970s. Possibly less than 100 missiles would survive. Air defense capabilities would be as described for the Current Program option in Appendix A.

c. Limited Reduction Program. As part of an annual overall defense reduction of $3 billion in outlays, strategic forces could be reduced by about $0.6–0.7 billion from the Current Program. The eight-site Safeguard deployment plan would provide a light area defense of the country and some protection of Minuteman. This planned deployment would provide the basis for emphasizing National Command Authority (NCA) and Minuteman defense or could be a step towards a 12-site defense level deployed at a reduced rate. Damage limiting capability against aircraft attacks, small missile attacks, and accidental missile launches would be reduced with this program. Thus, the fourth NSDM–16 sufficiency criterion might have to be changed. The first three NSDM–16 sufficiency criteria should be met with limited risk against the greatest threat projected in the National Intelligence Projections for Planning (NIPP). An independent assured destruction capability in each of the three force components should be maintained through the mid 1970s. The phase out of 36 Titans would result in the loss of 325 megatons and our only missile warheads with yields of over 1.2 megatons. However, there would be no significant loss in counter-force capability because of the limited accuracy of Titan. The current capability to use bombers against the CPR would be retained, though at the cost of a temporary degradation in some Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) tasks against the Soviet Union. However, our flexibility to use strategic bombers for conventional operations would be reduced.

All strategic bombers would continue to be included in the SIOP. They would continue to be targeted against all categories of targets including urban industrial targets, key military installations, and nuclear threat targets such as heavy and medium bomber bases, command and control facilities, submarine bases, ICBM sites, and hardened nuclear storage sites. Our capability to execute the SIOP would be decreased because of the lower force levels; we would lose up to 240 (264 megatons) high-yield gravity weapons out of about 2,000. Strategic bombers could be diverted to other than the SIOP commitment, but SIOP effectiveness would be reduced if this were done. The direct effect on the SIOP would be a function of the size and the location of the force that was diverted. For example, current support of Southeast Asia causes [Page 568] degradation of 20 alert (out of about 170) and 20 non-alert (out of about 280) B–52 sorties from Guam. These sorties are responsible for targets in Communist China and North Korea. Elimination of these 40 sorties, with no compensating retargeting, would result in 38 CPR targets (out of about 270 targets covered by bombers) being completely uncovered.

The air defenses in the early 1970s would have approximately the same capabilities as those described for the Austere option in Appendix A, but the retention of 410, instead of 266, interceptors would provide some additional confidence against light bomber attacks. In the mid to late 1970s, the air defenses would have approximately the same capabilities as the fourth or “Expanded” option in Appendix A, when the Over-the-Horizon (OTH) radar16 and AWACS aircraft become operational.

d. Reduced Program. Under this alternative, annual outlays for strategic forces would be reduced by about $2 billion (including related intelligence and R&D reductions) as compared with the current program. There would be either a very light (seven-site) area defense system against ICBMs or a four-site system that could defend portions of four Minuteman fields. Alternately, if SALT terminated installation of Safeguard at Minuteman sites by 1 July 1971, a reinforced NCA site complex could be installed by mid-1978. If the seven-site light area defense of the country were chosen, rather than the four-site system which could defend portions of four Minuteman fields (or alternatively the NCA and three Minuteman fields), it would be necessary to cancel the Malmstrom site already authorized and underway and the Whiteman site for which authorization is now being sought before Congress. Also, it is unlikely that long leadtime funding for the additional sites could be obtained until 1972 in light of Congressional opposition to the concept of the area ABM defense. Under those conditions, the full operational capability of the system could not be obtained until FY 80, at which time the CPR could possibly have the missile capability to penetrate such a defense.

The reduced program would not fully maintain the Triad concept, because an independent retaliatory capability in the land-based missile force would not be assured beyond the mid-1970s, and the number of bombers would also be reduced. The capability of the land-based missile force would be reduced in the mid to late 1970s as Minuteman survivability against the estimated Soviet threat decreased. However, the capability of the sea-based missile force would be increased as Poseidon [Page 569] missiles with MIRVs were deployed. Thus, Soviet incentives to concentrate on ASW would be increased since a larger proportion of our overall surviving capability would be in sea-based missiles. The reduced Minuteman survivability would result in less damage-limiting capability, and there would be reduced confidence that Soviet incentive to strike first was sufficiently low. Our flexibility to use strategic bombers in conventional conflicts while maintaining SIOP alert would be severely reduced. Sufficient bombers would be available for strategic attacks on China only by accepting a temporary loss in capability against the Soviet Union. Simultaneous attacks against the Soviet Union and the CPR would have reduced coverage. If ABM funding were used for defense of Minuteman, the fourth NSDM–16 sufficiency criterion would not be satisfied. The reduced air defenses would provide approximately the same capabilities as described for the Austere option in Appendix A in the early 1970s. In the mid to late 1970s the capabilities would be essentially those described for the third or “Austere and OTH” option.

All strategic bombers would continue to be included in the SIOP. They would continue to be targeted against all categories of targets as under the Limited Reduction Program. Our capability to support the SIOP tasks will be affected because of the lower force levels; we would lose 628 (690 megatons) high yield gravity weapons out of about 2,000 in the total bomber force loading. In addition to this permanent reduction of SIOP weapons, continued support of the war in Southeast Asia would create further temporary SIOP degradation. While strategic bombers could be diverted to other than the SIOP commitment, there would be a resulting reduction in SIOP effectiveness based on the size and the location of the force that was diverted. In a crisis, we would be forced to execute the SIOP with a reduced bomber contribution. In addition to targets currently uncovered because of the diversion of bombers to Southeast Asia, some additional targets requiring accurate weapon delivery and some more non time-sensitive targets would be left untargeted (e.g., nuclear storage sites and submarine bases).

Support of the war in Southeast Asia is currently being performed by specially modified B–52 C–F aircraft. If the bomber force levels in the Reduced Program were reached prior to the desired end of B–52 bombing in Southeast Asia, we would have to use B–52 G/H aircraft to fly Arc Light missions. This would necessitate modification of some of the B–52 G/H aircraft. For example, at least 21 months would be required to modify 60 aircraft at a cost of $24 million.

e. SALT. The JSOP or Current Program would have no significant effect on SALT. The Limited Reduction Program and the Reduced Program, with reductions in Safeguard and retirement of Titan and some B–52s, might weaken our bargaining position, but the reduced forces, [Page 570] instead of being destroyed, could be retained in non-operational status to mitigate any adverse impacts. Alternatively, in order to minimize the effect of strategic bomber reductions on the USSALT negotiating position, we could keep a force of about 500 bombers in FY 72. To reduce costs, four bomber squadrons could be deactivated and the 65 aircraft, together with reduced ground and flight crews, could be redistributed from these units to the remaining B–52 bases. There would be an attendant loss of 24 out of about 170 SIOP day-to-day alert sorties; however, in times of emergency, manning and basing would be adequate to generate virtually all bomber aircraft to an alert status in about 48 hours (compared to 24 hours with the current program). Such an increased alert status could be maintained for short periods of up to 30 days. The FY 72 savings for this alternative would be $0.2 billion, as compared with $0.3 billion for the Limited Reduction Program or $0.4 billion for the Reduced Program. Neither of the alternatives with strategic force reductions is based on any presumption of a SALT agreement which would cause an alteration in force planning. A SALT agreement, as contemplated by NSDMs 69 and 73,17 could allow reductions in strategic forces beyond those in the Reduced Program. As examples, if ABM spending were reduced to R&D only, FY 72 outlays could be reduced about $0.8 billion; if bombers were reduced by about 100 below the Reduced Program, FY 72 outlays would be cut $0.3 billion. However, annual savings over the longer term cannot be projected with certainty until a complete agreement is reached.

f. Additional Considerations. If U.S. strategic forces were reduced, the Soviet Union might perceive itself to have achieved a position of relative strategic advantage and, so believing, embark on even more aggressive courses of action. On the other hand, the Soviets might be satisfied with a rough strategic balance, and U.S. reductions could provide them with the opportunity to devote a greater share of their economic resources to priority non-defense programs or to general purpose defense programs.

If the planned Safeguard program were reduced to a four-site defense of Minuteman under the Reduced Program, it would not be possible to meet the fourth NSDM–16 sufficiency criterion. Such action would deprive us of the added flexibility in crises involving a Chinese nuclear threat, which is one of the major purposes of the Safeguard program.

While we currently maintain sufficient forces to provide an independent retaliatory capability in each of three offensive force components [Page 571] (the Triad concept), reductions in strategic forces would make it unlikely that an independent retaliatory capability could be maintained in the Minuteman force. A more vulnerable Minuteman force could increase the Soviet’s incentive to strike first and possibly violate the second NSDM–16 sufficiency criterion.

The reduced strategic defensive force levels in the Limited Reduction and Reduced Programs would require coordination with the Canadian Government. Diplomatic efforts would be needed to preserve Canada’s participation in the air defense of North America.

2. General Purpose Force Alternatives

The general purpose forces required to meet the broad goals described in NSDM–27 are subject to uncertainties concerning the size and quality of the threat, the availability and quality of allied forces, and the performance of our own forces. There are also varying views concerning the specific interpretation to be placed on the NSDM–27 goals and the degree of risk acceptable in implementing them. Table 618 shows a range of force requirements for NATO, for the Pacific against the CPR, and for minor contingencies. The higher forces are those recommended by the JCS for meeting the requirements of NSDM–27 with a prudent level of risk. Moving toward the lower levels introduces additional risk by making favorable assumptions for some of the following issues:

Whether French forces are included with NATO forces.
Whether forces are sized to give a NATO commander confidence of defeating the Pact or sized to match capabilities, giving neither side assurance of success, and perhaps deterring the Pact from initiating military actions.
Whether allied air ASW forces can be relied upon for area ASW. In all cases, allied escorts must be relied upon for convoy protection during the first month of a war.
The percentage of USSR tactical aircraft assumed active in a NATO war.
The size of the enemy force that can be sustained in combat.
The quantity of tactical aircraft allocated for deep interdiction missions.
The relative quality of U.S. and enemy forces.
The capabilities of allied forces.

The land forces, tactical air forces, and naval forces which support sea-based tactical air forces shown in Table 6 for different theaters will not add to give total forces because simultaneity is not assumed. For other naval forces, a war with the USSR would probably be a two ocean war, and area ASW forces and escorts must be provided for both the [Page 572] Atlantic and Pacific. On the other hand, an Asian conflict with the Chinese would have little impact on the naval balance between the Atlantic and Pacific. Therefore, these naval forces are displayed as allocated between Atlantic and Pacific in a ratio of 2 to 1.

Table 719 compares the capability of the forces in each of the five alternative general purpose force programs described below to the requirements shown in Table 6. In Table 7, the columns headed NATO show for each alternative the force levels that can be deployed to NATO within 90 days, while simultaneously retaining peacetime deployments in the Pacific and withholding the forces shown for Minor Contingencies and Strategic Reserve. The columns headed Pacific show the maximum deployments possible to a war with the CPR in Korea or Southeast Asia while retaining the capability to reinforce NATO.

In the reduced force alternatives, older ASW escorts would be retired in numbers consistent with the reductions in aircraft carriers needing protection. The reduced programs would continue to rely on allied, U.S. naval reserve, and Coast Guard escorts for convoys. The JSOP, current planning, and all reduced programs provide escorts for naval forces (e.g., aircraft carriers, amphibious groups, and underway replenishment ships), but do not provide active escorts for military or economic support shipping. Thus, the escort force levels shown in the reduced force alternatives represent no change in force planning factors from previous plans, but the resulting escort levels provide less flexibility in meeting possible requirements of the strategy.

Each of the alternatives for reduced forces would retire ASW aircraft carriers. However, using ASW aircraft on CVAs could restore ASW capability lost with the CVS reductions. There would, however, be displacement of tactical aircraft by ASW aircraft on CVAs and a resultant reduction in sea-based tactical air capability. Currently, because of the limitations of the S–2 ASW aircraft, CVSs are only marginally effective for ASW. None of the illustrative reductions described below would alter our planning for nuclear submarines. The Reduced and Low GPF options would reduce land-based patrol aircraft about 10%.

Since FY 71 is a year of transition, decisions for FY 72 should set the basis for our plans for the 1970s. In addition to defense budget issues, it is important to consider the possibility of changes to to the NSDM–27 strategy guidance. All of the alternative general purpose forces considered below are based on attempting to satisfy the NSDM–27 strategy and are evaluated with respect to their ability to meet it. It would be possible, however, to consider different degrees of [Page 573] emphasis on various force components and to develop different general purpose programs at the same budget levels, with or without changes in the NSDM–27 strategy. Trades between tactical air forces, naval forces, and land forces could be made, as well as trades between strategic and general purpose forces, as discussed in the previous section. For example, a roughly equal cost trade would be one Army division with its associated initial support increments for one-third of an amphibious task group or three Air Force F–4 wings. Moreover, as is discussed later, trades could be made between expensive procurement programs and the retention of additional forces with less expensive modernization programs. Thus, all the alternatives discussed below should be considered only illustrative; other mixes of forces could be developed at the same budget levels.

The following table summarizes the five illustrative forces considered in the next section, and for comparison, the end-FY 70 forces:


Comparison of Illustrative General Purpose Forces20

End FY 70 JSOP Current Program Limited Reduction Program Reduced Program Low Program
General Purpose Forces
Active Divisions 20⅓ 19⅓ 16⅓ 16⅓ 16⅓ 14⅓
Total Divisions 29⅓ 28⅓ 25⅓ 25⅓ 25⅓ 23⅓
Fighter Attack Aircraft21 5,800 6,100 5,300 4,900 4,400 4,100
CVAs/CVSs 15/4 16/8 13/4 1422 12 12
Escorts 240 265 204 172 169 169
Amphibious Task Forces 1⅓ 1⅔ 1⅓ 1 1 1
C–5A 20 111 78 78 78 78
C–141 275 275 275 275 275 195
Cost of General Purpose Forces 23
FY 72 Outlays $58 $49 $47 $46 $44
FY 76 Outlays 55 42 39 36 32
Average Annual Outlays (FY 72–76) 55 43 41 37 35
[Page 574]

a. JCS Recommended Objective Program. This alternative (JSOP) was developed by the JCS in consideration of the NSDM–27 strategy guidance with no fiscal restraints. It represents their view of a prudent level of risk, and the general purpose forces, including the cost of the war in Southeast Asia, would cost about $58 billion in FY 72. Of the total divisions, 16 are active Army and 3 are active Marine divisions, and there are 26 Air Force, 16 Navy, and 3 Marine tactical fighter wings. With these force levels, the higher range of requirements shown in Table 6 could be met for all theaters, but not simultaneously. CVA deployments and commitments could remain at current levels, as could the commitment of Navy ships to NATO.

b. Current Program. This alternative was developed under fiscal guidance consistent with NSDM–27 and would cost about $49 billion in FY 72. Compared to the JSOP, this alternative would have three fewer Navy carrier wings and three fewer Air Force fighter attack wings. Peacetime forward deployments would be reduced by one wing in both NATO and the Pacific. CVA deployments to Southeast Asia would be reduced by one (as is currently planned), and the commitment of Navy ships to NATO would have to be reduced somewhat. Compared to the JSOP, the Current Program would involve increased levels of risk in meeting the NSDM–27 strategy because of the reduced levels of active forces and increased reliance on strategic warning, an earlier decision to mobilize, and reserve readiness. With the forces in this alternative, a total of 16 divisions (14 Army and 2 Marine) and 31 tactical fighter attack wings (six on CVAs) could be deployed to NATO within 90 days, compared to the ranges of 14 to 17 divisions and 27 to 42 tactical fighter attack wings, shown as requirements in Table 6. With regard to Pacific areas, the high side of the requirements range could be met for all but naval forces, which would exceed the low side of the range of requirements, causing increased risk. As in the JSOP, active U.S. ASW escorts would be sufficient for meeting only naval forces escort requirements.

c. Limited Reduction Program. This program would reduce general purpose forces by about $2.3 billion annually from the Current Program. With the reduction in amphibious task forces, a division-sized amphibious assault capability would be lost in one theater. (There would be a one-brigade assault capability in the Atlantic and a two-brigade capability in the Pacific, with a “swing” of one brigade between oceans being possible within about 30 days.) Changes in current deployments would be the same as for the Current Program. In addition to planned land force reductions in SEA, one division would withdraw from Korea in FY 71 and two-thirds in FY 73 (one brigade would be left), and one attack carrier would withdraw from Southeast Asia in FY 71.

The general purpose forces in the Limited Reduction Program would be sufficient to meet the NSDM–27 strategy, but at greater risk than in the Current Program. Two fewer fighter attack wings could be [Page 575] deployed to NATO or the Pacific by M+90 than under the Current Program, but capabilities would still be greater than the low side of the range of requirements in Table 6 (with acceptance of risks and favorable assumptions previously discussed) except for Navy escorts. This alternative maintains ASW modernization programs at the expense of retiring older, less capable ASW forces. This would result in a degraded ASW capability, especially during the early 1970s. The U.S. force would have a marginal capability to contain the Soviet submarine threat in the Atlantic; sea lines of communication in the Pacific might be exposed during a NATO war. As in the current program, full reliance would have to be placed on some 315 allied, 35 naval reserve, and 15 Coast Guard escorts for point defense of convoys (NATO Allies have about 225 escorts, Pacific Allies about 90).

d. Reduced Program. This program would make a $3 billion annual reduction in outlays for general purpose forces. Support and modernization levels for the forces would also be reduced relative to the Limited Reduction Program. Forward deployments would be the same as in the Limited Reduction Program, with the exception of a decrease of one more tactical air wing for the Pacific and one more in Europe. Both reductions would not have to be made in FY 72, but it would be desirable to do so.

This program would involve more risk than the Limited Reduction Program, but capabilities for NATO and Asian conflicts would exceed the low side of the requirements range in Table 6 (with acceptance of risk and favorable assumptions previously discussed) except for the capability to deploy one additional air wing. The ASW escort level would involve about the same level of risk as in the Current Program. As in the Limited Reduction Program, full reliance would have to be placed on allied, naval reserve, and Coast Guard escorts for point defense of convoys.

e. Low Program. This program would result in an annual $5 billion reduction in outlays for general purpose forces. It would be desirable to accelerate the withdrawal of the ⅔ division from Korea to FY 72 instead of FY 73. These reductions would make it desirable to change the NSDM–27 strategy by reducing forces available for deployment to Asia, because the extremely heavy reliance upon strategic warning, coupled with severe reductions in forces, would provide no flexibility of response except at the expense of a marginal NATO initial defense posture. This change could be consistent with the Nixon Doctrine only if our Asian Allies develop their self-defense capability at an accelerated rate.

f. Additional Considerations. The five general purpose forces programs discussed above reflect a progressive degradation of capability in meeting elements of the approved strategy. Compared to the JSOP program, which the JCS designed to provide the capability of meeting all elements of the strategy at a prudent level of risk, the Current [Page 576] Program and Limited Reduction should meet the various strategy elements with some increased risk, primarily involving reliance on strategic warning, an early decision to mobilize, and on reserve readiness. These plans call for greater reliance on ready reserves in the 1970s than in the 1960s. Yet it may be difficult to maintain even current levels of reserve readiness as we move toward a Volunteer Service, since the draft is a major stimulus to participation in the reserves. The Reduced Program would involve increased risks, particularly for tactical air and naval forces, but also for land forces, as support and modernization would be curtailed significantly. While the NSDM–27 strategy could be supported under the Reduced Program at substantial risk, it probably could not be supported under the Low Program, since our potential future commitment of forces to Asia would have to be reduced.

Force modernization would be progressively reduced with decreased funding for general purpose forces. At the Reduced Program level, many modernization programs previously delayed as a result of Southeast Asia funding would be eliminated. On the other hand, many high cost modernization programs are included in all alternatives, although they are slipped or reduced in some cases. For example, the B–1, ULMS, DD–963, S–3A, F–14, and F–15 are included in all alternatives. It would be possible at equal cost to replace some of these programs with less costly ones to retain more operational forces. For example, if the DD–963 and DLGN programs were replaced with less expensive destroyer and missile escort programs, it would be possible to retain one more active Army division or two to three more F–4 fighter attack wings. We could keep such additional forces at the expense of adopting more austere procurement programs under any budget level, but there would be the potential increased risk in the performance of the less expensive systems against the Soviets.

As the total general purpose forces are reduced, our ability to maintain overseas deployments would be degraded. Major end-FY 70 deployments and FY 72 changes thereto that would be necessary under the various general purpose force alternatives are shown in the following table. In addition to these changes, an additional two-thirds of a division would be withdrawn from Korea in FY 73 under all cases except the Low Program, where it would come out in FY 72.

It should be noted that large sections of the NATO–Warsaw Pact front are manned by our allies, and not by U.S. forces. Currently these allied forces are not adequate in size, nor adequately equipped, to defend conventionally against a Warsaw Pact offensive for 90 days. In considering U.S. force levels in Europe, it should therefore be emphasized that the outcome is greatly dependent on our allies’ performance and is not solely dependent upon the U.S. force structure. Another consideration for U.S. force planning is that since the opening weeks of a [Page 577] war in Europe would be critical, forward deployed forces are much more important than long-term reinforcement capability.

Reductions in overall force posture and forward deployments could lead potential aggressors to conclude that they could pursue their objectives with less risk, thereby leading to more aggressive foreign policies and hostile initiatives. Rapid and precipitous reductions in deployment might preclude orderly and fruitful consultation with allies.

Our commitments of naval and tactical air forces to NATO would have to be changed under the various reduced programs, as is shown in Table 9 on page 20. The reductions in the commitments of naval forces would be politically significant, since they would continue the series of reductions in NATO committed forces that have been going on for the last two years. The change in commitment of tactical air forces under the Low Program would also cause concern on the part of our allies about our ability to support the current NATO strategy.

[Omitted here are Table 9, “Illustrative General Purpose Force Deployments in FY 72,” and Table 10, “NATO Defense Planning Questionnaire (DPQ) Commitments and Changes That Would Be Required As Result of Reduced Programs.”]

In general, the force reductions included in the Current Program should present no unmanageable foreign policy problems. The reductions in deployments included for the Low Program would present more serious political problems. The cut in Korean-based forces, if accelerated as shown, could cause the Asian Allies to have misgivings about the Nixon Doctrine and its implementation. The cuts in the Low Program, particularly if combined with major strategic force cuts, could undermine Japanese confidence in U.S. security guarantees and cause a change in the direction of Japanese security planning. On the other hand, some believe that American force cutbacks have been anticipated and probably discounted by our allies and our potential opponents alike for some time.

g. Other Mission Changes. All of the illustrative reduction options include changes in other defense missions, such as intelligence, communications, and research and development. The combined $7 billion reduction of reduced strategic forces and low general purpose forces includes a $0.6 billion cut in other missions. The reduction in intelligence programs would cut only marginal programs, but it would thereby reduce flexibility to respond to new requirements. The reductions in research and development would hold the FY 72 level about even with that for FY 71. Some believe that reduced programs could require increased intelligence programs, because the reduced programs plan increased reliance on strategic warning. Similarly, it could be necessary to expand R&D efforts to provide hedges against the decreased capabilities in the reduced programs.

[Page 578]

h. Support to Other Nations. The Nixon Doctrine relies on increases in support for our allies as a partial substitute for U.S. forces. This Support to Other Nations includes the Military Assistance Program (including Foreign Military Credit Sales) funding in the DOD budget for procurement of war reserve stocks for our allies, and on-going combat support of allied forces in SEA. All alternatives provide for continued support of South Vietnamese combat forces at declining levels of activity through the FY 72–76 period ($2.6B in FY 72 declining to $1.1B by FY 75–76). All alternatives provide MAP/FMCS at $1.0–1.1B per year ($0.3–0.4 above FY 70–71 levels) and a total of approximately $2B in FY 73–76 for building war reserve stocks of ammunition and equipment for U.S. allies. Given current Congressional attitudes and problems with Support to Other Nations authorizations, it may prove difficult to win Congressional authorization for these increases.

B. Total Defense Program Alternatives

Table 10A shows alternative defense budgets and alternative combinations of strategic and general purpose forces programs. The reductions shown for FY 72 are from the current defense budget projections in Table 3. Table 11 summarizes illustrative force changes and other impacts associated with each of the strategic and general purpose forces illustrative alternatives discussed above. The impacts of any case in Table 10A can be determined by referring to the appropriate sections of Table 11. For example, Case D2 is described by the right column of Strategic Forces and the next to the last column of General Purpose Forces. For all cases in Table 10A, reducing the Safeguard program to research and development only would produce an additional $0.8 billion reduction in FY 72 (an $11.5 billion reduction in FY 72–80). An additional $0.4–1.4 billion reduction could be obtained by deferring the Volunteer Service.


Alternative DOD Programs and Budgets

[Page 579]
Case Strategic Forces Programs General Purpose Forces Programs Budget Changes from Current Planning 24
(Outlays in FY 72 $ Billions)
A Current Current 0
B1 Reduced Current –2
B2 Current Reduced –3
C Limited Limited –3
Reductions Reductions
D1 Current Low –5
D2 Reduced Reduced –5
E Reduced Low –7

C. Evaluation of National Security Impact and Possible Effects of Defense Programs

Decisions regarding U.S. strategic and general purpose force levels must be made in the context of national security interests and commitments and the possible effects various defense programs would have. In the past decade the strategic balance between the United States and the Soviet Union has shifted from one of U.S. nuclear superiority to one of nuclear parity. Some believe the Soviets will attempt to achieve nuclear superiority. Whereas a decade ago the strategic balance appeared to constitute a real constraint on the Soviets, these advantages may no longer pertain in the future. Despite U.S. nuclear superiority, the United States has assumed for at least eight years that the Soviets have a strong second-strike capability. Thus, Soviet advances leading to rough numerical parity may not change the impacts of this long-held assumption.

It is within this broader context that the preceding illustrative reductions between FY 70 and FY 72 of up to 25% in active divisions, 25% in carrier decks, 20%–25% in fighter attack aircraft, 35% in strategic bombers, and 50% in air defense fighters must be weighed. Some believe that our potential adversaries, under economic pressures substantially like those which confront the United States, would use U.S. force reductions to justify comparable reductions in their armament investments. Others hold that our adversaries would see in U.S. defense program reductions an opportunity to acquire military advantages and greater freedom for political initiatives.

[Omitted here is Table 11, “Comparison of Illustrative Forces and Implications on Strategy and Commitments.”]

Any major changes in U.S. force levels will be visible to allies and enemies alike. The chance will exist that our capabilities, intentions, and resolve might be misinterpreted. Reductions in U.S. military forces will be used by factions within the Soviet Union and elsewhere to argue for further testing of our abilities and commitments to our allies. Historical precedents, such as Berlin—1948, Korea—1950, Berlin—1961, Cuba—1962, and Vietnam—1961–1965, suggest that Communist aggression may be induced, in part, by reduced U.S. force levels. At the times of the Berlin and Cuban missile crises, the Soviets apparently perceived the United States as having the capability to pre-empt their strategic weapons, which may have been the major factor in their decisions not to escalate those crises further. Since the Soviets now have rough strategic parity with the United States, the U.S. strategic forces could form less of a deterrent to Soviet escalation in a crisis. We may [Page 580] therefore be more dependent on our general purpose forces to handle crisis situations.

The Nixon Doctrine calls for U.S. allies to assume a greater burden of their defense, particularly with respect to ground forces. Thus, reductions in U.S. forces do not necessarily reduce total free-world capabilities if our allies increase their own capabilities and strengthen regional security arrangements. There are, however, major political barriers to substantial increases in the military forces and budgets of our NATO Allies. Increases in allied capability in Asia will be dependent, for at least several years, on increased U.S. materiel support.

Our allies already have considerable capability as indicated below. They generally, however, spend a lesser share of GNP on defense than does the United States. Thus, consideration can be given to increased allied defense spending, especially with U.S. assistance, and at least the question of what is the U.S. and allied fair share of defense should be raised.


Selected U.S. and Allied Defense Forces

U.S 25 Other NATO Japan S. Korea
Ground Forces, Active Manpower 1,000,000 1,000,000 200,000 600,000
Fighter/Attack Aircraft 5,200 2,500 400 230
Naval Escorts 200 232 35 6
Submarines 85 119 10
Defense Exp. as % of GNP 6.5% 4.5% 0.9% 4.0%
Defense Exp. per Capita $380 $78 $11 $6

It has been suggested that reduced conventional forces for defense of Europe are made more acceptable by the fact that we can, if necessary, fall back on tactical nuclear weapons for European defense. For the past decade, we have maintained forces designed to avoid primary reliance on tactical nuclear weapons against the more likely conventional threats in NATO. We would continue to do so under the Reduced or Low Programs considered in this paper. (Against the unlikely threat of mobilization by the Pact with no corresponding NATO mobilization, our conventional forces would be inadequate to prevent the Pact from making a deep penetration into Western Europe, but nuclear weapons would not be likely to provide a more favorable outcome.) We maintain tactical nuclear forces primarily to deter the Pact from starting a nuclear conflict and to cause them to be uncertain as [Page 581] to our response if they mount any type of aggression. Thus, NATO’s nuclear forces assist in preventing the Pact from making a confident assessment that they could achieve a favorable outcome in any conflict, even one that started with only conventional weapons. Our nuclear forces also provide a capability to engage in a nuclear conflict and destroy Pact forces if deterrence fails. Reliance on tactical nuclear forces in NATO Europe for waging war (as opposed to deterring war) would provide little assurance that the ultimate war outcome would be favorable to NATO. Both sides have significant inventories of survivable tactical nuclear weapons. An exchange would result in heavy destruction to both sides, with the ultimate outcome highly uncertain. The military and civilian losses in a tactical nuclear exchange are likely to be considerably larger than in conventional conflict. Therefore, such a strategy would not lead to reductions in conventional force requirements.

In Asia, our long-range plans call for the Asian Allies to develop more effective armed forces and alliances for self-defense. Our experiences in Korea and Vietnam show that it takes years of steady effort and a reasonable degree of security to achieve a self-defense capability. A deliberate plan of phased reductions with reserve capability to respond to crises, coupled with extensive diplomatic efforts and MAP programs, is essential to effective implementation of the Nixon Doctrine in Asia.

We have also maintained forces designed to avoid reliance on the use of nuclear weapons to counter the more likely conventional threats in Asia. Such a policy could be continued under the Current Program or the Reduced Program. (In the event of concurrent major CPR and Soviet aggression, which the NSDM–27 guidance does not provide for, adequate conventional forces would not be available in Asia.) The more likely threats in Asia, with the exception of Korea, have been and continue to be insurgencies rather than large overt attacks with a relatively well defined battle line. Against such threats, nuclear weapons would have limited tactical utility at best. Tactical nuclear forces are maintained primarily to deter the use of nuclear weapons by the CPR and to cause them to be uncertain as to our response if they mount any type of large overt attack. Thus, our nuclear forces oriented toward Asia assist in preventing Asian communists from making a confident assessment that they could be successful in an overt attack. Such forces also provide a capability to counter Asian communist aggression if deterrence fails.

The issue arises whether tactical nuclear powers (as opposed to a major strategic nuclear strike) would provide an adequate hedge or option against the CPR in cases where general purpose forces appear insufficient. As the CPR develops its nuclear weapons and delivery [Page 582] capabilities (IR/MRBMs in particular) such a strategy becomes increasingly less attractive. Because of the concentration of U.S. forces and the difficulties of support and supply, a tactical nuclear campaign in Korea or Southeast Asia against the CPR when it has the ability to retaliate is not likely to be to U.S. advantage. Such a situation should exist by the the mid-1970s at the latest. Thus, while reliance on tactical nuclear weapons might appear to be an attractive alternative to modifying our Asian strategy (e.g., by redefining potential lines of defense) when conventional forces appear to be inadequate, tactical nuclear forces actually are not a reasonable alternative for conventional defenses. Thus, under the Low Program it would be more appropriate to modify the strategy rather than rely on tactical nuclear forces.

D. Transition Problems

The problems of transition to lower defense budgets and force levels fall into two categories, those relating to foreign policy and relations with our allies and those relating to the management of reductions within DOD. As discussed below, there will be serious transition problems in FY 71 and FY 72 even if the defense budget is maintained at current planning levels. During this period, we are already planning major reductions in defense programs for two reasons: (1) we plan reduced activity in Southeast Asia, and (2) we are reducing our post-war baseline forces in keeping with the strategy and budgets in NSDM–27. Further reductions will magnify these already serious transition problems. The severity of the transition problems will depend on the extent of the reduction and the lead-time available for phasing. The most critical aspect of the transition problem is timing. To make large reductions, action must start soon to minimize management problems within the Defense Department and to allow time to explain strategy and force changes to both Congress and foreign governments to maintain their confidence in Administration policies.

1. Foreign Policy Considerations

The possible adverse effect on SALT of reductions in strategic forces prior to any agreement has been discussed earlier. Also mentioned earlier was the need for a deliberate transition plan, coordinating our planned force and deployment changes with diplomatic efforts to preserve the confidence of the allies in NATO’s continuing effectiveness and to induce the allies to make compensating increases in their commitments to match our reductions.

Vietnamization is a keystone in the Nixon Doctrine. But flexibility to slow or stop currently planned reductions in activity levels to meet unexpected developments in Southeast Asia is severely constrained at defense budgets $6 billion below the currently planned level. The force [Page 583] reductions shown for the reduced and low general purpose force levels depend on meeting the currently programmed schedule of withdrawals from Southeast Asia (see Table 4). For example, the higher levels of Vietnam activity cited on page 5 would cost a total of $1 billion. Offsetting such an increase within the defense budget would require additional force or procurement reductions, such as inactivation of a CONUS division committed to NATO ($500 million), retirement of two CVAs ($200 million), and cancellation or deferral of major procurement such as nuclear frigates and the B–1 bomber. Thus, at reductions as large as $6 billion, the President’s options to slow programmed cuts in Vietnam force and activity levels would be sharply limited, unless he were willing to accept substantial reductions in our capability to reinforce NATO.

2. DOD Personnel Management Problems

To bring about a $6 billion reduction in the defense program in FY 72, it would be necessary to reduce defense manpower levels by over 700,000 during FY 71 and another 500,000 during FY 72 (see Table 13). This total reduction of 1,200,000 personnel in two years is about 500,000 more than would be necessary under current planning. It may not be possible to reduce manpower this rapidly. If this were so, for each 100,000 reduction not made by the end of FY 71, an additional $1 billion of procurement and R&D budget authority would have to be cut to reach the FY 72 outlay target.


Total DOD Manpower

(Millions at End Year)

FY 69 FY 70 FY 71 FY 72
Current plans 4.9 4.4 4.0 3.7
$6 billion reduction 4.4 3.7 3.2

These large and rapid reductions would cause a number of serious problems which would affect the attractiveness of military careers, and would make it more difficult to attract and retain career personnel. The following are possible resulting consequences:

A combination of involuntary discharges and reduced promotion opportunity for military personnel would be necessary. For example, to maintain “normal” promotion opportunity, over 100,000 (of a total of 1.1 million) senior enlisted men would have to be forced out in FY 72. This could be partly alleviated by forced retirement of some of the 130,000 enlisted personnel with over 20 years service. Legislation may be required to release regular officers, temporarily increase officer grade structure, and obtain severance pay for career enlisted men.
About 200,000 men would be released early from service while over 100,000 others are being drafted to meet Vietnam requirements in FY 71.
There would be a 30–40% increase in transfers of military personnel, with attendant personal hardships and reduced combat readiness.
There would be involuntary assignments to Vietnam for second or third tours, particularly in special skills. For example, about 2,000 (12% of the total) Infantry, Armor, and Engineer Captains and Majors would have return tours in FY 71.

3. Effect of Defense Reduction on National Economy

The reductions in defense manpower, coupled with reduced procurement programs and the 40–50 base closures that would be necessary, would cause large economic dislocations. In addition to the defense personnel reductions, employment in defense products industries would fall by 700,000 (200,000 more than under current planning). Thus, the total reduction in defense-related jobs would reach nearly 2,000,000 (700,000 more than under current planning), or about 2% of the nation’s labor force. Even if the decision to reduce were made today, the phasing of the reduction would not be sufficiently gradual that these workers could be immediately absorbed into other sectors of the economy. As a result, unemployment might be 0.2–0.3% higher by the end of 1971 than at current defense planning levels.

4. Timing Considerations

All of the impacts described above would be alleviated by a more gradual phasedown of manpower. This would result from either a smaller budget reduction or from deferral of the uncommitted Volunteer Service spending as part of whatever reduction must be made. Conversely, all of these effects would be exacerbated by a delay in decision, whatever the magnitude of reduction that must be made. For example, a delay until January 1971 in deciding to reduce defense by $6 billion in FY 72 would mean that manpower reductions would be smaller in that year and that reductions of an additional $2 billion in procurement and R&D budget authority would be needed to reach the outlay target.

[Omitted here are Section IV, which outlines non-Defense program options, and Section V, which includes a table representing 12 combined Defense and non-Defense budgetary options.]

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–73A–1971, 381, Defense Planning FY 71. Top Secret. Previous drafts of this paper were discussed at the DPRC meetings of July 17 and August 10 and a special meeting, attended by Nixon, held on July 28 at the Western White House in San Clemente to discuss the defense budget. See Documents 145, 149, and 148, respectively.
  2. The NSC met on September 10, 1969, to discuss the response to NSSM 3, submitted 5 days earlier. See Documents 45 and 49.
  3. Document 56.
  4. The Tax Reform Act of 1969 (P.L. 91–172), which cleared both Houses of Congress on December 22 and was signed by Nixon on December 30, was the most comprehensive revision of the tax code since the implementation of the income tax in 1913. The measure provided for annual tax cuts totaling $9.1 billion and long-term tax reform expected to generate $6.6 billion in additional revenues. (Congress and the Nation, 1969–1972, pp. 2–3, 79–85)
  5. Document 139.
  6. NSDM–27 budget, adjusted for pay and price increases and Volunteer Service (NSDM–53). [Footnote in the original.]
  7. Includes only initiatives announced to date; not new ones. Figures are net with increases offset by $2.2 billion reduction each year in proposed program reforms. [Footnote in the original.]
  8. Not given in NSDM-27; based on extrapolation from FY 74-75. [Footnote in the original.]
  9. See Document 139.
  10. Document 39.
  11. A reference to President Nixon’s First Annual Report to the Congress on United States Foreign Policy for the 1970s, issued on February 18. (Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 115–190)
  12. Seven appendices are attached but not printed: A. Continental Air Defense, B. Theater Nuclear Forces, C. Alternative Safeguard Programs, D. Non Visible Bomber Force Reductions, E. Anti-Submarine Warfare, F. Tactical Air Force Levels, G. NATO—Strategy Forces and Burden Sharing.
  13. Out-year objectives. In most cases these force levels would be obtained by end-FY 72. [Footnote in the original.]
  14. Could be seven if a light area defense of CONUS were deployed rather than a four-site defense of three Minuteman fields and the National Command authority. [Footnote in the original.]
  15. FY 72 $ billions. [Footnote in the original.]
  16. A radar system that uses atmospheric reflection and refraction phenomena to extend its range of detection beyond the line of sight. Over-the-horizon (OTH) radars may be either forward scatter or back scatter systems.
  17. For the texts of NSDM 69, “Strategic Arms Limitation Talks,” July 10, and NSDM 74, “Detailed Statement of Provisions of U.S. SALT Position,” July 22, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972, Documents 94 and 100.
  18. Attached but not printed is Table 6, entitled “Range of U.S. Force Requirements in Mid-1970s.”
  19. Attached but not printed is Table 7, entitled “U.S. Forces Available in Mid-1970s To Meet Requirements Under Alternative Illustrative Programs.”
  20. Out-year objectives. In most cases these force levels would be obtained by end-FY 72. [Footnote in the original.]
  21. Includes active and reserve. [Footnote in the original.]
  22. Total carriers; the mix of CVAs and CVSs to be determined; four ASW air groups would be retained, possibly operating from CVAs. [Footnote in the original.]
  23. Cost in FY 72 $ billions. Includes incremental cost of the war in Southeast Asia, as shown in Table 4. [Footnote in the original.]
  24. Includes appropriate changes to support programs and Other Mission Programs (such as intelligence and research and development). [Footnote in the original.]
  25. Based on current planning for FY 73. [Footnote in the original.]