166. Memorandum by the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Packard)1


  • Dr. Henry Kissinger
  • Mr. John N. Irwin II
  • Mr. Richard Helms
  • Dr. Gerard Smith
  • Lt. Gen. John W. Vogt

    • Attached Paper on Safeguard

I would appreciate your handling the attached papers on a close-hold basis for now. They deal with the Administration posture on Safeguard for FY 72.

The reasons for including the Washington, D.C. site in our FY 72 proposed programs are three:

It is the next logical step towards the area defense the President is committed to.
It is a part of the U.S. SALT approaches and proposal.
We need to find out whether Congress is willing to authorize a Washington Defense or not. If they will, we should proceed with it. If they won’t, we must adjust our defense program and SALT approaches accordingly.

I would like to get together with the addressees on Saturday morning (1/16/71) to discuss the issue. Thereafter we can determine any further modification and distribution of the paper.

David Packard
[Page 669]



    • Safeguard and Related Strategic Programs

In the FY 72 Defense Department Budget we are proposing the following key programs:

  • —Proceed with a hardening program to upgrade the Minuteman silos to 1000 psi.
  • —Continue the 4-site Safeguard program and add advanced funding for the Washington, D.C. site. Maintain the option to start area defense procurement in FY 73.
  • —Initiate Advanced Development of a Hard-Site Defense system to augment the 4-site Safeguard deployment in the late 1970s.
  • —Do concept formulation on mobile Minuteman as a further hedge to Minuteman survivability.

In coming to these proposals we have had to address four key issues:

What do we do about the future of Minuteman? We have the options of (a) leaving Minuteman to become vulnerable which raises crisis stability questions, (b) phasing it out, which compromises the President’s “diplomatic” sufficiency criterion2 (no conspicuous or apparent disadvantage) until an alternative force could be deployed, or (c) improving its survivability which improves the confidence in our deterrent.
Do we want a U.S. area defense system? There has been no decrease in the threat from accidents or Nth countries which could rationalize our eliminating the area defense component of Safeguard. Such a defense would meet our strategic sufficiency criterion against small attacks and provide protection for strategic bombers and command and control sites.
Do we want an NCA defense? An NCA defense would give added warning and decision time and could give effective protection against small or accidental attacks. Such a defense would be consistent with the latest U.S. SALT position.
What is the relationship between the issues above and our latest SALT proposal? There is a clear difference between the rationale for our [Page 670] planned strategic forces in the absence of an arms control agreement and the rationale for the forces permitted in our latest SALT proposal. The U.S. is committed to an area defense and survivable forces through the Strategic Sufficiency Criteria. Yet Option E3 gives up area defense of the U.S. and precludes any option (except upgrading the hardness of existing silos) for improving Minuteman survival against Soviet threats which are feasible within the limitations of Option E. In addition, even though we have proposed an ABM defense of Washington coupled with offensive constraints in SALT, Congress failed to approve the Washington, D.C. site in the FY 71 budget.

The program we are proposing for FY 72 is based upon the following DOD assessment of the issues above and of the future direction for U.S. strategic forces:

  • —We need to maintain a survivable Minuteman force so long as we can effectively do so;
  • —We are committed to an area defense of the U.S.;
  • —We desire a defense of the NCA either as part of an area defense, as an addition to a Minuteman defense, or alone as a possible part of a SALT agreement; and
  • —We desire to reach an equitable and verifiable agreement on strategic arms limitations. Our current SALT position is subject to modification because of changes in the strategic situation since tabling of the U.S. proposal. Clearly a successful agreement could modify the three directions above.

The attached paper on Safeguard planning and related strategic programs focuses in more detail upon these issues and the proposed programs.4 We would welcome your views on the major issues affecting these programs.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–30, NSC Meeting, Safeguard, 1/27/71. Top Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. NSDM 16, Document 39, established “strategic sufficiency” criteria upon which to base the U.S. defense posture.
  3. NSDM 74, issued on July 31, 1970, consists of a detailed statement of Option E. For the full text of NSDM 74, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972, Document 100.
  4. Attached but not printed is a 9-page paper, dated January 13 and entitled “Safeguard and Related Programs.” It includes sections on the Threat, Technical Progress on Safeguard, SALT, Area Defense, Minuteman, NCA Defense, and the DOD Proposed Program and Rationale for FY 72.