180. Editorial Note

Secretary of Defense Laird discussed his second annual Defense Report, issued on March 9, 1971, during his weekly staff meeting held [Page 737] on March 8, which began immediately after he returned from the National Security Council meeting held earlier that day (see Document 179). Others in attendance at Laird’s staff meeting included Deputy Secretary of Defense Packard; Moorer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Secretary of the Navy Chafee; Chief of Naval Operations Zumwalt; Tucker, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Analysis; Kelley, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Personnel; and Ryan, Air Force Chief of Staff. The Defense Report, the topic of the Defense Program Review Committee meeting held on February 22 (see Document 177), drew upon Laird’s proposed “Strategy of Realistic Deterrence.” According to the minutes of the staff meeting, Laird stated that his report “recognizes that the period of the 1970s will be different from the 1950s and 1960s. In a position of relative strategic nuclear parity we do not have the same policy options as obtained under the ‘assured destruction’ strategy of the 1960s and ‘massive retaliation’ strategy of the 1950s when we possessed nuclear superiority. This situation makes the conventional deterrent of greater importance. It puts us in a position where the public needs to get a realistic portrayal of the situation.”

Laird added that the new strategy “takes into consideration what our objectives are both as regards foreign policy and military forces. The strategy then tries to apply available resources in a realistic fashion to meet these objectives. Often times in the past, we have not paid as much attention to available resources, not only in the U.S., but also in the Free World. If we do not pay attention to this, we will not be able to develop a strategy that can be credible.” He later added, “We must now show we have been realistic in our approach. We have to rely on our allies. Just as we here in the United States have problems, our allies have the same sort of problems with resources. We must, however, realistically consider the total resources we can expect to plan on during the next five years.”

Laird stated that it was essential that the United States “use the most imaginative and best type of initiatives to put our resources together and to do the best job in the conventional, tactical nuclear, and strategic nuclear areas. Recent information on [Soviet] efforts in the strategic field has been publicized. We know they are spending two times the amount that we are in the strategic nuclear area. We now see new missile construction starts which could change the whole picture in connection with our Minuteman forces. The budget we are defending is the best one we could work out and come up with. We know it will be cut by the Congress because of the atmosphere in which we operate. We have to use gamesmanship to sell it.” (Washington National Records Center, Department of Defense, OSD Files: FRC 330–72–0028, Chronological File)