161. Minutes of Defense Program Review Committee Meeting1

    • Military Manpower Policy
      • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
      • State
        • U. Secy. John Irwin
        • Mr. U. Alexis Johnson
        • Mr. Thomas Pickering
        • Mr. Seymour Weiss2
      • Defense
        • Mr. David Packard
        • Dr. Gardiner I. Tucker
        • Mr. Roger T. Kelley
        • Mr. William K. Brehm
      • CIA
        • Mr. Bruce C. Clarke
      • JCS
        • Lt. Gen. Richard T. Knowles
        • Maj. Gen. Richard F. Shaefer
      • ACDA
        • Vice Adm. John M. Lee
      • OMB
        • Mr. James Schlesinger
        • Mr. Caspar Weinberger2
      • CEA
        • Mr. Herbert Stein
      • White House
        • Mr. Peter Flanigan
      • Selective Service System
        • Mr. Curtis Tarr2
        • Mr. Byron Pepitone
      • OST
        • Dr. Edward David
      • NSC Staff
        • Mr. K. Wayne Smith
        • Col. Richard Kennedy
        • Mr. John Court
        • Mr. D. Keith Guthrie


A memorandum will be forwarded to the President analyzing the relationship between planned draft calls for the first half of 1971 and the maintenance of planned overseas deployments through FY 72.3 The memorandum should clearly set forth the implications of maintaining draft calls at the present rate in terms of shortfalls in Army [Page 630] strength in Vietnam and other areas. It should also explain how draft calls would have to be increased in order to meet presently planned deployments.
A working group will be established under the DPRC to review important issues relating to overall manpower policies, including those identified in Secretary Laird’s memorandum of November 19, 1970.4 The Working Group’s conclusions will be submitted to the DPRC for review prior to being forwarded to the NSC.

Dr. Kissinger: We got this meeting together because we have found on a number of occasions that our deployment decisions were being driven by manpower decisions. Also the Secretary of Defense has requested that a broad manpower review be undertaken within the NSC system. As we move toward a volunteer force and project the Defense budget over the next few years, we face some crucial manpower issues. This meeting is to define the issues.

(to Packard) You are ready to present your preliminary conclusions on the question of manpower and overseas deployments.

Mr. Packard: We are going to present the specific problem the Army faces. It is the Army which has a problem; the other services are not dependent on the draft. The relationships linking draft calls, the war in Southeast Asia, and the shortfall problem can be brought into focus by looking at the situation the Army confronts. I am going to ask Bill Brehm to present the briefing.

(Mr. Brehm’s briefing was based on a series of charts, copies of which are appended to these minutes.5 Individual charts are referred to by number at appropriate places in the minutes.)

Mr. Brehm: We want to show what serious alternatives exist for combining various deployments in Vietnam during FY 72 with different draft call levels during the next few months. First, I want to point out certain ground rules and assumptions on which our analysis is based. (Chart 1) Manpower procurement lead time is at least seven months. This is an attempt to give the Selective Service at least two months lead time and to provide five months for training. Lead time for carrying out manpower reductions is one to two months. In general, it is better to err on the high side in planning manpower procurement. This increases options and protects against uncertainty. For instance, there are variations in the number of enlistments and in the [Page 631] rate at which people get out of the Army. At present the latter rate is 55,000 enlisted men per month.

I would like to describe the situation in Vietnam. (Chart 2) It brings out the importance of lead time. When the Army was developing its FY 71 budget, we made the assumption that Army strength would decrease in a straight line until June 1971. Shortly thereafter, in January [1970], the decision was made to hold Army strength constant for an extended period of time, and this decision became the basis for our current plan. Because of the lead time requirement, we could not bring people into the Army to build up its strength. Nevertheless, we tried to implement the decision, but we had to do so at the expense of other areas. The shortfall in Vietnam was about 14,000 in August [1970]; however, in October we made the planned level. Shortfalls were the price we paid for not knowing soon enough that we were going to have more men in Vietnam than we planned.

Dr. Kissinger: Would the shortfall have been greater than shown if the Marines had been taken out earlier? I take it that the gap you describe is in Army strength and not in total strength.

Mr. Brehm: The Marine Corps withdrawal schedule was taken into account in our plan.

Mr. Packard: The Army did not have time to carry out manpower planning.

Mr. Brehm: In Korea (Chart 3) the Army had planned to make withdrawals during the three-month January–March 1971 period. That plan has changed, and Army strength is now to be sustained longer. Because of the diversions to Vietnam, we had a peak shortfall in Korea of 10,000 in August [1970].

To define specifically what we mean by a shortfall, let me present some figures for the 4th Armored Division in Europe (Chart 4). The current authorized manning level is about 90% of full wartime strength. However, current strength is even lower. The shortfall is the difference between the authorized manning level and the actual current strength.

Dr. Kissinger: Do the Europeans know this?

Mr. Brehm: I don’t know.

Mr. Packard: They probably do, but they have worse problems of their own.

Dr. Kissinger: Everybody trades off his own shortages, and nobody talks about those of others.

Mr. Irwin: What type of shortfall is involved?

Mr. Brehm: It is mostly at the lowest level—the squads and platoons. The aggregate shortfall [in August 1970] was 58,000. (Chart 5) When we break down this shortfall, we find that 24,000 was in Korea and Vietnam. In any further manpower program, we wouldn’t want [Page 632] to put the shortfalls in Korea and Vietnam. Europe and CONUS would have to bear the brunt.

Let’s see what has happened in Europe. (Chart 6) In August 1970, we had 10 tank crews per tank company instead of the 17 authorized under the TO&E. In the artillery, there were 3.5 crews per battery versus 6 under the TO&E. As for hard combat skills, we had 31,000 personnel as compared to 38,000 needed under the authorized manning level. The shortfall is concentrated in these areas.

In October 1970 we were better off. (Chart 7).

Dr. Kissinger: Practically, wasn’t it about the same? Rather than show a shortfall, we were just redeploying faster. You were just reducing the ceiling so that you did not have a shortfall.

Mr. Packard: One important point is that it is the fellows on the front line who are cut back.

Mr. Schlesinger: The driving force behind these developments is lower draft calls?

Mr. Packard: Yes. We’ll get to that later.

Mr. Brehm: We have three major variables (Chart 8): vary accessions, vary Army strength in Vietnam, or vary Army manpower shortage outside Vietnam.

Dr. Kissinger: To my untutored mind, this amounts to a choice of increasing draft calls, decreasing Army strength in Vietnam, or decreasing Army strength outside Vietnam.

Mr. Brehm: That’s correct.

Mr. Irwin: Could you reduce the required strength?

Dr. Kissinger: That amounts to changing the target.

Mr. Schlesinger: How about varying the loss rate?

Dr. Kissinger: The practical effect of the second and third options [of Chart 8] is to change our overseas deployments. We decrease our strength in Vietnam and/or some place else. We either lower the authorized level or just have a shortfall.

Mr. Brehm: That’s right.

Let me point out some of the ground rules on which we operate.

[These are set forth in Chart 9]. The early release policy used to apply to those who had three months or less to serve. However, most of these people have one month leave when they get back, and it requires a couple of weeks to process them into a unit. Besides, they are not well motivated.

Lt. Gen. Knowles: They have had their war.

Mr. Brehm: Hence we changed our policy and now provide early release for those with five months or less to serve. Many commanding officers are unhappy about this. They want to let returnees out right away.

[Page 633]

The assumption that there will be one additional enlistee for each additional draftee may be shaky in the short run. Personally, I think it is questionable. As for the assumption that there will be no enhancement of enlistments in the next eighteen months, we have a program for stepping up enlistments, but it is still in the proposal stage.

Mr. Schlesinger: How sensitive are your final conclusions to that assumption?

Mr. Brehm: Not very. Any enhancement of enlistments would be deferred into FY 72 or perhaps until the last quarter of FY 71.

Mr. Kelley: This also follows from the six to seven month lead time requirement.

Mr. Brehm: The extent of DOD reliance on the draft is shown in the next chart. (Chart 10) The figures on draft-induced volunteers are based on an analysis of the lottery sequence numbers of enlistees.

Dr. Kissinger: It has been said that if all our combat forces were taken out of Vietnam, we would only need to draft 50,000 men per year to support our forces. Yet, you are planning to spend $3.5 billion on an all-volunteer force. Is that because we need to compensate for the losses [in draft-induced volunteers] of the other services if the draft is ended?

Mr. Brehm: Perhaps.

Dr. Kissinger: That is a hell of a lot of money to spend to avoid drafting 50,000 people.

Mr. Packard: That must be a wrong estimate.

Dr. Kissinger: Can somebody find out?

Mr. Brehm: We have three draft-call options. [These are set forth in Chart 11]. The low option will involve draft calls of 10,000 per month during January–June 1971. The medium option requires 14,000 per month during the same period; and the high option from 15,000 to 17,000 per month.

Dr. Kissinger: Which option is our present program following?

Mr. Brehm: That is what we are trying to determine.

Dr. Tucker: We haven’t yet established the January draft call.

Mr. Brehm: We are three weeks behind in advising Curtis Tarr of our requirements. It is urgent to decide soon.

Our planning assumptions for Vietnam call for a decrease in Army strength from 203,000 at the end of FY 71 to 115,000 at the end of FY 72. (Charts 12 and 13) The total DOD strength in Vietnam at the end of FY 71 will be 260,000. The highest curve [of Chart 13] shows the impact of maintaining a ceiling of 10,000 per month on draft calls. There will be a shortfall of 40–60,000. We will continue to have the readiness problems we have today, and we will have special difficulties in CONUS and Europe. The two lower curves show the shortfalls under the medium and high draft call programs.

[Page 634]

Mr. Irwin: Is it a fair question to ask how this relates to the budget?

Mr. Brehm: The swing [over the three options] amounts to about $350 million for FY 72.

Mr. Packard: Today we are looking at the problem apart from the budget.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s right.

Mr. Packard: This shows that with a 10,000 per month ceiling on draft calls, we will be in serious trouble under the current 203–115 reduction plan.

Mr. Kelley: Unless we take some action that has impact toward achieving zero draft calls.

Mr. Packard: There is not much that we are likely to be able to do on this during the early period.

Dr. Kissinger: This 40,000 shortfall has to be distributed over Europe and CONUS?

Mr. Packard: Yes.

Mr. Schlesinger: Can we hit other than divisional forces, for example, the brigades in Alaska and the ones in Panama?

Mr. Brehm: There is not much gold to be mined there.

Let’s go on to the other alternatives. One would be a 192–115 plan from end FY 71 to end FY 72. (Charts 14 and 15)

Dr. Kissinger: That would make only a difference of 10,000 in the total shortfall?

Mr. Brehm: Yes.

The lowest projection is from 180,000 at end FY 71 to 102,000 at end FY 72. (Charts 16 and 17)

Mr. Packard: This represents the optimum balance unless we are willing to increase draft calls. If we adopt this plan and if we can also make progress in increasing the number of volunteers, we would do fairly well. We could live with this. A 30,000 shortfall is no worse than what we have lived with before.

If we want to maintain our strength in Vietnam and keep the shortfall down, there is no alternative but to go to higher draft calls—up to 15,000 per month.

Dr. Kissinger: If we cut back to 180,000 in Vietnam [at the end of FY 71], we will still have a shortfall.

Lt. Gen. Knowles: There will be 20,000 fewer than the CINC says he requires.

Mr. Kelley: The time of maximum shortfall is the point at which we ought to be making some progress on the all-volunteer force. As we go ahead, we should be able to flatten out that [shortfall] curve.

[Page 635]

Mr. Packard: These are all lower force levels than under the current plan.

Dr. Kissinger: Can the situation in Vietnam be helped by keeping the Marines there?

Lt. Gen. Knowles: According to the Marine Corps Commandant, he has a drastic personnel turbulence problem. The Marines do have a problem of repetitive tours overseas.

Mr. Schlesinger: How high a draft call would eliminate the shortfall?

Mr. Packard: 15,000 per month.

Mr. Schlesinger: With the 180–120 option?

Mr. Packard: If you went up to the 203–115 option, the required draft calls would go up to 20,000 per month.

Dr. Kissinger: The 203,000 level is the present plan?

Mr. Packard: Yes. We would have to go up to a 20,000 per month draft call in January in order to eliminate any shortfall.

Mr. Brehm: The hump [in the shortfall curve] relates to the fact that our training base is limited. We could put more people in if we changed that assumption.

There are two other variations. One would be if the President decided to hold our strength in Vietnam constant for a period after the beginning of FY 72. (Charts 18 and 19) If Army strength were maintained for three months, then there would be very steep spikes in the shortfall curve.

Dr. Kissinger: If there was an offensive any time during these periods [of peak shortfall], we would be in the position of having to withdraw while the offensive was going on.

Mr. Packard: Yes.

Mr. Flanigan: We could put most of the shortfall in the United States.

Lt. Gen. Knowles: We need to maintain a training base in the US.

Mr. Irwin: What is it practicable to reduce in the US?

Lt. Gen. Knowles: I don’t think you can cut much. We need the training base.

Mr. Irwin: Then substantially all of the cuts will come out of Europe in FY 72.

Mr. Packard: We are just down to bare bones as far as strategic reserve is concerned.

Dr. Kissinger: Remember what we were up against in the Jordan crisis.

Mr. Packard: The problem is not the budget but the draft. Even if we get all the money we are asking for, we couldn’t do what is required.

[Page 636]

Dr. Kissinger: What creates the draft problem?

Mr. Flanigan: It’s a little bit of a political problem. Having kept calls at the present low level for a while, it is difficult to raise them.

Mr. Packard: What has been the recent draft call level?

Mr. Pepitone: Around 10,000 per month.

Mr. Packard: There is a political question whether we can indeed raise calls over 10,000 per month.

Mr. Brehm: In August 1970 an announcement was made on this. We advertised the calls as less than 10,000 per month.

Mr. Packard: If we go up to 15,000 we might generate a political problem.

Mr. Irwin: It is a choice of which political problem to face—the one here or in Europe.

Mr. Schlesinger: What would it cost to extend the tour of duty in Vietnam?

Mr. Flanigan: That would help in Vietnam, but not here.

Lt. Gen. Knowles: Changing the length of tour for men who are already over there would hurt morale.

Dr. Tucker: It would be hard to do unless there were an enemy offensive.

Mr. Packard: One possibility would be to change the policy of early release for those with less than five months to serve.

Mr. Brehm: That adds warm bodies.

Mr. Kelley: The high potential shortfalls indicate we ought to get on with the volunteer force.

Dr. Kissinger: What is holding it up?

Mr. Packard: Nothing except our own planning.

Dr. Kissinger: It is not a budgetary problem?

Mr. Packard: It is entirely in our [DOD’s] hands. We have a number of things under way.

Mr. Kelley: Our judgment on draft calls shouldn’t be based on the expectation that the [shortfall] curve will be as high as shown in this chart.

Mr. Brehm: It is dangerous to quantify this. I think that any shortfall above 30,000 is serious.

Mr. Packard: We need some black magic.

Dr. Kissinger: Like what?

Mr. Packard: A big boost in enlistments.

Mr. Irwin: If you increase draft calls, increased enlistments will result.

[Page 637]

Mr. Brehm: There is a second “hold” option [involving maintaining Army strength in Vietnam constant for three months after January 1972]. (Charts 20 and 21.)

Dr. Kissinger: Where do the [shortfall] peaks come from?

Mr. Brehm: They are the result of holding Army strength constant in early 1972.

Dr. Kissinger: The shortfalls are actually worse in combat units. They are as high as 45% among tank and artillery crews, on the basis of what you showed us about the situation in Europe.

Mr. Packard: A one-month extension in Vietnam would give us 18,000 people to apply against the shortfall.

Mr. Brehm: Let me show a wrap-up chart. We don’t want to seem presumptuous, but this gives the conclusions that can be drawn from the data we have presented. (Charts 23 and 24) If the President wishes to retain the current withdrawal plan in Vietnam, he must either accept sustained shortfalls in other areas of over 50,000, agree to draft call levels of over 15,000 per month during the first half of 1971, or agree to changes in established personnel policies, such as the twelve-month tour in Vietnam. If the President wishes to limit draft calls to about 10,000 per month, then he must either reduce Army strength in Vietnam below currently planned deployments, accept sustained shortfalls in other areas, or agree to changes in established personnel policies.

Dr. Kissinger: This shows what we have got to face. We can distribute the material contained in the briefing to this group.

Mr. Brehm: We have to decide whether we want to retain the original 203–115 Vietnam withdrawal plan or to limit draft calls to 10,000 per month.

Dr. Kissinger: What happens if we go to a level of 193,000 in Vietnam? We would still have shortages.

Mr. Brehm: That’s right. The alternatives I cited are the extremes. Mr. Packard: Remember that in the briefing we did not take into account the Air Force, Navy, and Marines. As long as we have draft calls, we can proceed on the assumption that these services can continue to be manned with volunteers. However, this does not address the long-range situation.

Dr. Kissinger: This briefing answered about all of the questions I had expected to ask. However, I would like to know about the shortfalls in the next few months.

Mr. Brehm: In gross terms we will come out about even in December [1970]. There will be localized shortfalls because of shortages of specialized skills.

[Page 638]

Dr. Kissinger: What about the following six months?

Mr. Brehm: There will be a peak shortfall of about 35,000 in March.

Dr. Kissinger: There are two problems to be put before this group. One is the impact of manpower policies on deployments. The other has to do with the broader question of what our manpower policies should be. Secretary Laird has written me to suggest an NSC study of the latter problem.6 However, we can’t address it without some staffing, and I propose to create a working group to undertake this. We would then come back to the DPRC and then go to the NSC.

It is obvious from today’s briefing that we have been operating on two totally inconsistent tracks. On the one hand we have the Presidential directive that there are to be no further withdrawals from Europe, Vietnam, or Korea beyond those he has approved for FY 71.7 On the other hand we have manpower policies that force the President to make changes which make it impossible to carry out planned deployments. The President has to address this problem immediately. We should take into account any alleviating features, such as progress on the all-volunteer army.

Within a very brief period of time we should present the President with a summary of this briefing, with your [Brehm’s] conclusions, which seem to me unchallengeable. We should also point out that Korea is in poor condition for any further reductions because of the political impact these would have on Korea. Further cutbacks also run counter to the conclusions of the NSC meeting last Thursday [November 19, on NATO strategy and forces].8

Even as the manpower situation stands, it gives us no latitude. We can continue withdrawals from Vietnam in the face of an offensive or undertake a drastic drawdown in Europe. Therefore, if you agree, we will submit this briefing to the President. The most elementary decision he has to make is whether to reduce draft calls or go below the established withdrawal program. One of them has to go. If we go below the planned withdrawal level, we run into the CINC’s conclusion that this would mean jeopardizing the military situation and the Vietnamization program.

[Page 639]

Mr. Irwin: There is another question it might be worth investigating, and that is how this all relates to the budget.

Dr. Kissinger: That is no problem. The budget relates to the 203,000 level.

Mr. Packard: Essentially it does although there may be some flexibility. The point is that the budget is not controlling. There are several things that might be done. The decision should be made on the basis of the discussion here.

As for the all-volunteer program, the best that we can achieve on that will result in only a marginal saving.

Dr. Kissinger: At least for FY 72.

Mr. Packard: For CY 71 and FY 72. It will give us some margin of safety.

Mr. Flanigan: With regard to FY 72 and the All-Volunteer Force, we want to make sure it is clear by the end of that period that the program is leading to success. We don’t want to limit the enthusiasm for the All-Volunteer Force.

Mr. Packard: We are moving ahead. We have a firm commitment from the Army to put it on the front burner.

Dr. Kissinger: As I understand the briefing, the shortfall in combat effectiveness is even worse than the overall shortfall. This under-cuts the NSC decision on Europe and the appeal we want to make to our Allies.

Mr. Johnson: That is an important point.

Mr. Schlesinger: Remember that combat personnel are made up of draftees. Everyone who fights is drafted.

Mr. Flanigan: The situation can be alleviated by changing the policy on letting returning Vietnam veterans out of the Army after five months. This might affect that draft profile. We would not have such a sharp sweep upward in early 1971.

Mr. Schlesinger: The problem is that we have arrears that have to be made up.

Mr. Flanigan: That is a big percentage increase if you look at the politics of it.

Dr. Tucker: We generally have low draft calls at the end of the year, followed by a surge at the start of the following year. This is the established pattern.

Dr. Kissinger: We have to have that memorandum for the President done this week. The facts are obvious. This has been one of the most uncontroversial, if depressing, meetings I have ever attended. This is one case where the facts really do speak for themselves.

We will need to elaborate a little on what they mean in a few cases when presenting this to the President. We should particularly explain [Page 640] about the impact on combat effectiveness and the possible effect if there is an enemy offensive in Vietnam.

To handle the long-term aspects, we will get the Working Group going.

This could affect NATO, Korea, and our whole basic defense policy. It will determine whether our policy is to be driven by draft calls.

Mr. Schlesinger: (to Brehm) What is your assumption as to Army loss rates?

Mr. Brehm: 45–50,000 per month.

Mr. Schlesinger: That is more than the previous figure. It shows the volatility of the loss rate. This affects the basic draft calls although it doesn’t change the basic conclusion.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Packard) I have been pressing you for a long time to give us options, and the first time you do, I don’t like them.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–118, DPRC Minutes Originals, ‘69–’73 [1 of 3]. Secret. All brackets are in the original.
  2. Left the meeting prior to completion of Mr. Brehm’s briefing. [Footnote in the original.]
  3. Left the meeting prior to completion of Mr. Brehm’s briefing. [Footnote in the original.]
  4. Left the meeting prior to completion of Mr. Brehm’s briefing. [Footnote in the original.]
  5. On December 10, Kissinger sent a memorandum to Laird, Shultz, and Tarr announcing that Nixon had “decided that draft calls over the period January–April 1971 should be at a rate of 17,000 a month.” However, a handwritten notation on the memorandum indicates that it was rescinded, at Haig’s direction, two hours after its issuance. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 319, Subject Files, Draft Reform [1969–1970])
  6. Laird sent Kissinger a memorandum on November 19 calling for a review of manpower issues directed by the NSC. (Ibid.)
  7. Not found attached.
  8. See footnote 4 above.
  9. Kissinger sent a memorandum on October 27 to Rogers, Laird, and Shultz announcing a Presidential decision that there were to be no additional withdrawals of U.S. forces from NATO, Korea, or Vietnam pending further analysis of manpower issues by the DPRC. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–98, DPRC General, Mar. 1970–Dec. 1970)
  10. The record of the meeting is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XLI, Western Europe; NATO, 1969–1972.