189. Minutes of Defense Program Review Committee Meeting1

    • U.S. Strategy and Forces for Asia NSSM 692
    • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
    • State
      • Mr. U. Alexis Johnson
      • Mr. John N. Irwin
      • Mr. Thomas Pickering
      • Mr. Leslie Brown
      • Mr. James Wilson
    • Defense
      • Mr. Gardiner Tucker
      • Mr. Paul Brands
      • Rear Adm. H.H. Anderson
    • JCS
      • Gen. William C. Westmoreland
      • Brig. Gen. William Burrows
      • Col. Robert Archer
      • Col. Linwood Lennon
    • CIA
      • Lt. Gen. Robert E. Cushman
      • Mr. Bruce Clarke
    • OMB
      • Mr. George P. Shultz
      • Mr. Caspar Weinberger
      • Mr. Kenneth Dam
    • ACDA
      • Mr. Philip Farley
      • Vice Adm. John M. Lee
    • OST
      • Mr. John Walsh
    • NSC Staff
      • Col. Richard T. Kennedy
      • Mr. Wayne Smith
      • Mr. John Holdridge
      • Mr. John Court
      • Mr. John A. Knubel
      • Adm. Robert O. Welander
      • Mr. Mark Wandler


It was agreed that:

  • —A specialized nuclear force targeted on China was not needed in the next decade.
  • —Additional preparations were necessary before a summary of the NSSM 69 study3 is prepared for NSC consideration on August 12.4 Accordingly, the DPRC Working Group should conduct the following studies:
    • —a projection of the forces required for a disarming strike on China’s nuclear delivery capabilities in 1972 and 1976. The projection should include the cost of any qualitative improvements in our current capability and any potential degrading of our SIOP capability versus the Soviet Union. It should also estimate the effectiveness of the strike.
    • —a refinement of the conventional force analysis, to include an estimate of U.S. force requirements against the most likely threat for each of the alternative conventional options, as well as an assessment of the implications of some level of insurgency. The requirements should also examine the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
    • —an analysis of the political and diplomatic effects on our allies of a U.S. military presence in Asia through 1976. The analysis should discuss what deployment and basing structure we will need to meet our political and diplomatic objectives over the next five years.

Dr. Kissinger: Is Beecher (New York Times military correspondent) here? Are we going to have a briefing? How many charts do you have, Gardiner?

Mr. Tucker: We have about fifteen of them.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t know if we need to take all that time. Everyone here has read every word of the study.

Mr. Tucker: If you want, we can skip the briefing.

Dr. Kissinger: How long do you think it will take?

Mr. Tucker: About ten or fifteen minutes. We can make it as long as you like.

Dr. Kissinger: I suggest we start the meeting off with a discussion of strategic nuclear forces. We can follow up with the tactical nuclear forces and then the land forces.

Mr. Tucker: We want to talk about the methodology and results of the ground force analysis. I think we should do this before we talk about tactical nuclear forces because the approach we take on tactical forces will to some extent depend on the ground force analysis.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Tucker) While we talk about strategic forces, you can plan the 10–minute briefing on land forces. We need discussion of these issues more than we need briefings on them.

[Page 792]

I have one general observation to make. George [Shultz] knows, I appealed to the President at a recent meeting5 not to handle the DOD budget by setting up ceilings. He agreed to listen to a presentation which would cost out the objectives. Then he would make decisions in the middle of August. The meetings coming up between now and August 15 are, therefore, crucially important. I don’t want the President to be put in the position where he has to rule on something like an extra aircraft carrier or a division. We should be able to relate what we do in various parts of the world to the strategies we should follow. We have to do everything we can to avoid making totally arbitrary cuts.

All of you worked hard on this paper. Our aim now is to get the NSC to consider this paper, and others, on August 12 or 13. We have to put choices before the President. We have to make it clear that at certain levels of operations, we will be giving up certain objectives. We also have to cost out the implications of the choices.

With this as background, let’s go through the implications of the paper. The hidden assumptions in it remind me of the debate on Europe which took place in the early 1960s. Let’s just see what the choices are.

We have a nice intimate group here. I hope every newspaper gets an equal shot at us. The New York Times get all the goodies.

Mr. Tucker: At least it’s more legible in the Times.

Mr. Johnson: And more readable.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand everything better after I read it in the Times. Getting back to the paper, the first thing we have to consider is the Chinese strategic threat. I understand from the study that the Chinese could have 1,000 launchers late in the 1970s if they made an “all-out” effort. This force would include 200 ICBMs. If they made a token effort, they might develop a force of as few as 100 launchers. The most likely outcome, though, is that they will have about 400–500 launchers available in the late 1970s, with as many as 90–150 ICBMs directly threatening the U.S. I have some questions about the various assumptions supporting this threat analysis. We say the Chinese would not resort to nuclear blackmail against the U.S. or its allies because this would run counter to historical Chinese military doctrine. I don’t know what historical military doctrine we’re talking about. They did not build the Middle Kingdom without advancing from somewhere.

We are also assuming they will stick to their stated policy of “no first use.” The Soviets said the same thing at one time. I remember that the Soviets said they would follow a “no first use” policy after they exploded their first nuclear weapons. They claimed they would use their nuclear power to move mountains and do other peaceful things.

[Page 793]

Are these assumptions, then, simply based on Chinese statements?

Gen. Cushman: The assumption that the Chinese would probably not resort to nuclear blackmail is based on the fact that they have overwhelming conventional military superiority over neighboring countries.

Mr. Clarke: This is the situation they find themselves in at the moment. Nevertheless, at this stage of their evolution, they are on the defensive.

Dr. Kissinger: But we should be talking about the time when they have a nuclear arsenal.

Mr. Clarke: Even ten years from now, when they do have a nuclear arsenal, they will still be on the defensive, compared to the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Dr. Kissinger: What we are really saying, then, is that they will never engage in nuclear blackmail because they won’t be able to. I have no problem with the assumption if it is stated that way.

Can anyone think of something else that would induce greater restraint on the Chinese? I’m just asking. We should proceed on the assumption that we will design a strategy against the Chinese the same way we would design a strategy against any country that had the same capabilities as the Chinese.

On the issue of a strategic deterrent, there are two problems. The first is should we plan to attack China after we have a large-scale nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union? If we decide to so this, do we do it with reconstituted forces, or do we establish a specialized Chinese deterrent in the Pacific? The other problem is what strategy do we propose to pursue vis-à-vis the Chinese? What capability do we think we need in order to deter them? (to Gen. Westmoreland) Westy, what do you think? Can we depend on residual forces after a large-scale nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union or should we earmark special forces?

Gen. Westmoreland: [3 lines not declassified]

Mr. Irwin: What kind of a response do we plan for China?

Gen. Westmoreland: Retaliatory. [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Johnson: Even after a massive Soviet attack on the U.S. and a response from us, would we still retain the capability of destroying China?

Gen. Westmoreland: Not necessarily. The Soviets, for example, could launch a preemptive attack on us, and they have three times the megatonnage that we have. Anyway, I think it’s academic to talk about residual forces knocking out China because we would be in a very disadvantageous position vis-à-vis the Soviet Union.

Dr. Kissinger: Hence, we would not be able to knock-out China.

[Page 794]

Gen. Westmoreland: No, not if we have been preempted by the Soviets. We should, however, have enough residual force to knock out the Chinese industry. But it would be academic for us to spend our remaining weapons on the Chinese when our industrial base has been crippled.

Dr. Kissinger: As I understand it, if we are preempted by the Soviets, we can retaliate against the Soviets or the Chinese. But we can’t attack both of them.

Mr. Irwin: What would we need in order to have the ability to respond to Soviets and still have something left for the Chinese?

Dr. Kissinger: The point is that we would not strike the Chinese without provocation.

Gen. Westmoreland: We would have enough residual force capability to destroy Chinese industry, if we chose to go after the Chinese instead of the Russians.

Dr. Kissinger: But not both.

Mr. Tucker: We could carry this a step further. If the Soviets preempted us and if we responded, we would still have the residual capability of attacking China. We would still have the submarines in the Pacific and the theater aircraft. But how would we choose to expend this residual capability? This is hard to judge.

Mr. Irwin: We would have no ICBM capability left.

Mr. Tucker: That’s right.

Dr. Kissinger: We have to decide if we want to spend our residual forces on China. If we do, we will be totally at the mercy of the Soviet residual forces.

Is it fair to say that our strategic forces are not helpful in keeping China from moving? Our residual forces will approach their strategic forces in the late 1970s. Only then will we be close to nuclear parity.

Mr. Tucker: This might be true if we take into account our forward-based weapons. We would also come closer to parity if we take the more ambitious Chinese strategic force projection.

Mr. Irwin: The paper says that if we deliver 100 warheads, we can take out about 50% of the Chinese industry.

Dr. Kissinger: We went through these theoretical exercises for Europe. I don’t believe that any political leader could order an attack on the industry without also ordering a disarming strike. Who would make that kind of decision when he knows the other side would still have weapons?

Mr. Tucker: I, frankly, find it hard to identify a post-exchange situation with the Soviets where we would be faced with the Chinese threat.

Mr. Irwin: Wouldn’t that be the case if we were protecting Japan?

[Page 795]

Gen. Westmoreland: It’s hard to see the Chinese getting involved with a U.S.-Soviet nuclear exchange. It would be foolish for them to do so, and it would be more favorable for them to wait it out.

Dr. Kissinger: Suppose we use our strategic weapons against the Chinese first. Would the SIOP be degraded?

Gen. Westmoreland: [2 lines not declassified]

Mr. Tucker: We wouldn’t lose all our weapons. The submarine launchers, for example, would still be intact, and we could possibly use them again.

Mr. Weinberger: We could also use the aircraft stationed at our advanced bases.

Mr. Tucker: We have the capability in-theater.

Mr. Irwin: Is it reasonable to think the Soviets might attack China?

Mr. Tucker: That’s not clear, Jack. If we were to have an exchange with the China first, this would not be a bad situation for the Soviets.

Dr. Kissinger: This would be in the late 1970s.

Mr. Tucker: Yes, when we’ve come close to nuclear parity with the Chinese. The Chinese, however, might not be prepared.

Dr. Kissinger: The Russians are more worried about China than we are.

Mr. Tucker: That’s right. The Chinese have plenty of weapons trained on the Soviet Union.

Dr. Kissinger: It is your judgment, then, that in the next decade we do not need a specialized nuclear force targeted on China.

Let’s look now at what we want to achieve with our forces in Asia. When we look back at the post-war period, we find that the nuclear parity we thought existed in the late 50s didn’t arrive until the 60s. I admit that I am one of the culprits. Our analysis was correct, but it was premature. Perhaps we are falling into the same trap once again.

As I see it, we have five strategic options in Asia. The first is the minimum retaliatory capability. Next is a continuation of the current retaliatory capability, in which about 600 weapons destroy 75% of China’s industry but only 8% of her population. We have the development of improved capabilities, including special targeting of dikes, dams, etc. We also have the offensive damage limiting options, predicated on either Chinese first use of nuclear weapons or U.S. first use in the form of a disarming strike coupled with use of tactical nuclear weapons. Finally, we have the defensive damage limiting option.

The options boil down to two categories: disarming and retaliatory capabilities. Should we make the effort to achieve a disarming capability against China through the 1970s? If we choose retaliation, we must decide whether we want to destroy 40 or 75% of the enemy’s industry, but that isn’t something we have to argue about in this group.

[Page 796]

We never had a force issue to decide in the past. The only choice was to rely on retaliation and decide if we wanted some other capability as well. If China comes through with the development of a nuclear arsenal, we must decide if we want to achieve a disarming capability. This capability would then become subject, of course, to the same inhibitions as the disarming capability directed against the Soviets. We have to put this main question before the President. Are there any views on this?

Mr. Irwin: How much of an inroad would be made in our normal strike force vis-à-vis the Soviet Union if part of that force were to be targeted against China?

Dr. Kissinger: We couldn’t use ICBMs because they would have to overfly the Soviet Union.

Mr. Tucker: The Joint Staff, if I recall, has a disarming strike plan which calls for [less than 1 line not declassified].

Dr. Kissinger: But this is a current plan.6 We need a projection for the 1970s. If a disarming strike couldn’t be carried out with theater capabilities, we would have to do it with improved Polaris subs or B–52s. We have to determine how much this would degrade the SIOP.

Mr. Lennon: We can carry out a disarming strike against existing Chinese forces with [less than 1 line not declassified]. We can do this today because we have to hit only soft targets. When our Minuteman has been improved, we might be able to divert some B–52s to China.

[Johnson leaves meeting at this point]

Gen. Westmoreland: With modernization of our forces, we won’t have any problem delivering [less than 1 line not declassified].

Dr. Kissinger: But [less than 1 line not declassified] may not be enough. We need a projection of what our side will need to overcome the Chinese forces. We also need to know what this will do to the SIOP. I don’t want to pre-judge the situation. But we have to make a judgment about our disarming capability.

Mr. Smith: We can make a table. However, it will be complicated by the Chinese SLBMs.

Mr. Tucker: We also have to consider how effective this disarming strike would be.

[Page 797]

Dr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Tucker) You’re right. The President will certainly ask that question.

Mr. Irwin: We should also develop the philosophy of such a strike because the President will want to know this, too.

Mr. Tucker: The philosophy of it is that it is the most effective deterrent of the Chinese.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me ask one other question just for my political education. The paper says that if we did develop a disarming capability, some countries might “loosen their ties” with us. Who says this? Which countries are we talking about?

Mr. Smith: We didn’t write that.

Dr. Kissinger: Goddammit, Smith, my own staff. Let’s disregard this argument. I think we have taken this issue as far as we can. (to Mr. Smith) You, Gardiner and the Joint Staff should prepare a projection of what we would need to achieve a disarming capability against the middle and high Chinese strategic threats. You should estimate what residual force we would have left after such a strike, and you should also see if such a capability is financially feasible.

Mr. Farley: What exactly does “disarming strike” mean? Can we achieve that capability with [less than 1 line not declassified]?

Dr. Kissinger: A “disarming strike” means that we substantially eliminate their ability to launch a nuclear attack on us. It means that they would have less of an incentive to attack us after the strike than they had before it.

[1 line not declassified]

Col. Lennon: About [less than 1 line not declassified] committed to be used against nuclear plants.

Mr. Tucker: We can work up a table of projected sorties in 1978 against military targets.

Dr. Kissinger: There’s no dispute, then, about the disarming strike capability if we can have it. Does anybody believe it is an undesirable capability to have?

Gardiner, can we have the chart presentation in 10 minutes or less.

(The following briefing was based on the attached charts)7

Mr. Brands: The object of the general purpose forces analysis was to examine the Asian Communist conventional threats and to assess the force and cost impact of alternative U.S. strategies for conventional defense in Asia. We also considered the impact of the Nixon Doctrine. [Page 798] Incidentally, we only treated the conventional aspect of the conflict in Asia. We did not focus on insurgency.

The four key military variables we considered were: (1) the theater, basically Northeast Asia or Southeast Asia; (2) the countries; (3) the threat levels and (4) the defense lines. We also considered the relationship of the two Nixon Doctrine variables—MAP levels and Asian regional security arrangements.

We have a methodology which we followed to put the various forces on a comparative basis. Basically, the methodology consists of four steps: (1) it converts all Asian forces (both allied and enemy) to U.S. infantry division equivalents, (2) it selects force ratios to be achieved along each avenue of attack, (3) it adds sufficient U.S. DFEs to the local, attacked forces in order to achieve the desired force ratios, and (4) it applies various combinations of military assistance options and regional security arrangements against the requirements for reinforcements to yield needs for U.S. forces.

Regarding the threat to Northeast Asia, we could expect a 25 division slice from the North Koreans. In 1976, the Chinese Army will have about 150 combat divisions. Under the maximum threat, constrained only by the geographical restrictions of the Korean peninsula, the Chinese contribution would be 35 division slices. This maximum estimate assumes that the Soviets are no longer putting any pressure on the Chinese and that the Chinese Army is not tied down with the political aspects of running the country. We figure they could have 1.1 million men on the DMZ in 30 days. For the moderate threat, the Chinese would commit 15 division slices, while the North Koreans would still contribute 25.

The situation in Southeast Asia is more uncertain and complex. There are five avenues of approach for the enemy, and he is more LOC constrained [monsoons, poor roads, rough terrain] than he is in Northeast Asia. The maximum effort would be a one dry season campaign—a “do” or “die” effort—employing about 20 Chinese division slices and 13 North Vietnamese division slices. If the Chinese didn’t succeed in this campaign, their troops in Southeast Asia would be vulnerable and difficult to support. If, however, the campaign were put on a year-round basis, the Chinese could only commit 16 division slices and the North Vietnamese 11.

Our analysis shows that U.S. forces would be needed in Southeast Asia to stalemate both the maximum and moderate Chinese threats. Against the maximum threat, about four U.S. division equivalents, assuming Burma is not defended, would be needed if the Thai regular forces are used to counter insurgent activity. If the Thai regulars are available for the conventional conflict, about two U.S. division equivalents are needed.

[Page 799]

Assuming Burma is not defended, about two or three U.S. division equivalents are needed to stalemate the year-round Chinese threat, if the Thai are used to control insurgents. Less than one U.S. division equivalent is needed if the Thai regulars are available to fight the Chinese.

Dr. Kissinger: You think we can defend Southeast Asia with one and a half U.S. divisions? We have not been able to do this in Vietnam, with eight divisions.

Mr. Brands: When we add insurgency into the mixture, it changes the figures. We then need higher force levels.

Mr. Tucker: We also figured that Vietnamization was successful.

Mr. Brands: We attempted to show how each weapon is rated, relative to the comparable piece of U.S. equipment. This way we were able to get a force equivalent for a Chinese division.

Now we move on to look at the requirements for U.S. forces.

Dr. Kissinger: What does “no mutual defense” mean?

Mr. Brands: It means that we are the only other country contributing to the defense effort.

Dr. Kissinger: And what does “limited defense” mean?

Mr. Brands: In the case of Korea, it assumes that the Nationalist Chinese contribute 2 divisions, or in terms of DFEs, 2/3 of a U.S. division. When we get to the moderate threat for Korea, we need less than one U.S. DFE.

Dr. Kissinger: All of this analysis assumes that there is no insurgency.

Mr. Brands: We assumed that the police and local forces would be able to handle the insurgency situation. The RF and PF would control it in Vietnam and the police would control it in Thailand. We also assumed that Vietnamization worked.

Suppose there is an insurgency in Thailand, and all the Thai regulars are used to counter the insurgency. Then we would need 4 U.S. DFE’s to counter the maximum Chinese threat. If Vietnamization is not successful and if all of the ARVN forces are tied up in counter-insurgency operations, then we would need 8 U.S. divisions to handle the situation.

This is a summary chart. As I said before, we assumed that Vietnamization works as defined—meaning that ARVN regulars are not needed to counter an insurgency.

Dr. Kissinger: Who would do it?

Mr. Brands: The RF and PF. If these local forces can successfully counter the insurgency problem, we won’t need any U.S. ground forces to counter the non-Chinese threats. With the high MAP assistance and Thai regulars available, we can handle all moderate threats. With high [Page 800] MAP assistance, Thai regulars available and an enclave defense, we can handle the maximum Chinese threats in Southeast Asia.

Dr. Kissinger: Do you agree, Westy?

Gen. Westmoreland: I think this overestimates the capabilities of our allies and underestimates the capability of the enemy. This is the first time I’ve seen this analysis. Is it realistic?

Mr. Brands: The threat panels assumed it was realistic in Thailand. They also assumed Vietnamization worked.

Dr. Kissinger: This analysis assumes no limit on MAP assistance.

Mr. Irwin: I don’t understand why with the high MAP we can handle the moderate threat and with the medium MAP we can handle the maximum threat.

Mr. Tucker: In the latter case, we’re also using an enclave defense. The charts merely show that with the maximum threat against Thailand and South Vietnam and with no U.S. ground forces, the best defense would be an enclave around Bangkok. If the U.S. puts in two divisions, the chart shows you what you could handle—forward defense against the maximum threat.

Mr. Irwin: What about the Thai regulars?

Mr. Brands: They would be fighting the Chinese and North Vietnamese. If they were absorbed in counter-insurgency, we would have to increase our forces to 3–2/3 divisions.

Dr. Kissinger: I heard Gen. Abrams 8 talk about the Thai when I was in Vietnam. Do we really think they can handle the Chinese by themselves? I don’t care about systems analysis. They can’t handle the North Vietnamese. How in God’s name will they be able to handle the Chinese?

Mr. Brands: With an enclave defense and high MAP, you have a far different situation than a forward defense.

Gen. Westmoreland: Before they even get to that point, they will reach accommodation with the Chinese.

Mr. Brands: Perhaps. But this analysis looks at the potential situation.

Dr. Kissinger: There will be no nuclear weapons, right?

Gen. Westmoreland: In Korea, we would defend south of Seoul, not at the DMZ.

Mr. Brands: When we were doing the analysis, the Joint Staff agreed to the DMZ.

[Page 801]

Gen. Westmoreland: Our estimate is that we would need eight divisions to defend at the DMZ.

Mr. Brands: And what level of military assistance?

Mr. Tucker: That’s another analysis. The one we’re talking about right now is concerned only with conventional conflict. It did not consider the use of nuclear weapons or insurgency.

Dr. Kissinger: The analysis assumes: (1) no insurgency, and (2) Thai willingness to defend with no U.S. ground support. These things are not going to happen. They will not stand up.

Mr. Brands: We were trying to set up a relationship, to see how good one of their men is compared to one of ours.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Gen. Westmoreland) What do you think?

Gen. Westmoreland: As I said before, I think we’re greatly overestimating our allies. The Thai are not going to fight the Chinese unless we are fighting with them. Half their battalions are not capable of combat now. I don’t know if they can bite the bullet. In Korea, it’s inconceivable to me that if the Chinese are involved, we can hold on the DMZ with five and a half divisions.

Mr. Brands: With the Joint Staff analysis, the figure was six divisions. In Southeast Asia, assuming there was insurgency, the figure was eight divisions.

Gen. Westmoreland: According to the JSOP study, we would fight south of Seoul.

Dr. Kissinger: All of this discussion is very helpful. How is the analysis affected by tactical nuclear weapons? We don’t say that we can substitute tactical weapons for men. Therefore, what do we need the weapons for?

Gen. Westmoreland: We need them to help maintain the deterrent. We can’t work a trade-off for them. We hope to stabilize the situation with men, but the weapons may be needed, and they should be on the scene. The weapons could also interfere with the enemy’s LOC. When he lengthens his supply lines, the LOCs become more vulnerable.

Mr. Tucker: The tactical weapons can reduce the need for conventional forces. This analysis indicates that we have the capability of a conventional defense against a conventional attack. Under these circumstances, should we rely on tactical weapons?

Mr. Irwin: What is the scenario for the deployment of these weapons?

Mr. Tucker: [1 line not declassified]

Dr. Kissinger: The paper said that if we [less than 1 line not declassified], we would reduce our force requirement to 3-2/3 divisions. This was the JCS estimate.

Mr. Tucker: That was an earlier analysis.

[Page 802]

Mr. Irwin: When the U.S. is at M-Day, where are the Chinese?

Mr. Brands: We assumed in the study that there was a 20-day period of rising tensions. M-Day is the same for both sides, but we give them a 20-day headstart.

Dr. Kissinger: Where would we keep the troops we would plan to deploy to Asia?

Mr. Tucker: Do you mean where would we keep them in peace time?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Mr. Tucker: We would keep them in CONUS.

Mr. Brands: There would be a Marine division on Okinawa.

Dr. Kissinger: Not Okinawa.

Mr. Brands: There would be 2/3 of a division there.

Dr. Kissinger: There would be no forces based in Korea or Southeast Asia.

Mr. Brands: There would be one brigade in Korea, but none in Southeast Asia.

Dr. Kissinger: The departing Indonesian Ambassador is not a warmonger, and he doesn’t care about the Peking move. When he went in for his farewell call on the President, he said there would be a collapse in the Pacific area if the U.S. withdrew.9 We should study the political factors in this whole situation and not just take a systems analysis approach. We have to look more closely at what the Thai would do. We also have to examine those Vietnamese assumptions. If we withdraw from Thailand, the Thai won’t fight. I may be wrong on this, but I don’t think I am. Maybe we shouldn’t want the Thai to fight. History will not stop if Thailand goes back to being a neutralist country.

Let me give you my candid impression on the tactical nuclear weapons. One group feels that an analysis of tactical nuclear weapons will show that we should depend on them and that we should decrease dependence on conventional forces. Another group is scared that an analysis of tactical weapons will support the rationale for conventional forces.

The paper had no discussion of the U.S. political presence in Southeast Asia. The President will not come up with zero conventional forces in Asia. Using that as a background, we should do an analysis with more realistic assumptions on tactical nuclear weapons, insurgency and [Page 803] the outcome for Vietnam. We should show the President what is implied under the less favorable assumptions.

If the U.S. pulled back to Hawaii, what would the impact on Asia be—no matter what we said we would do from CONUS? What would be the impact on Japan if we adopted zero forces for Asia?10

We can keep these charts and the favorable assumptions. However, we should also make less favorable assumptions and see what would then be required.

Let’s also look at the tactical nuclear weapons again.

Mr. Irwin: From the political side, do you want to know where we would keep the troops earmarked for deployment in Asia?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. (to Mr. Smith) Wayne, can your group do this?

Mr. Smith: We will. But there isn’t much time.

Dr. Kissinger: We will all have to work like hell. The President, as George [Shultz] knows, has held up decisions.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–118, DPRC Meetings Minutes, Originals, 1969–73 (2 of 3). Top Secret. The meeting was held in the Situation Room of the White House. All brackets except those that indicate omitted material are in the original.
  2. Document 42. See Document 181 for a previous discussion of the subject by the Senior Review Group.
  3. See footnote 7, Document 181.
  4. The NSC meeting on defense strategy and fiscal guidance was held on August 13; see Document 195.
  5. See Document 188.
  6. According to a May 10, 1969, memorandum from Wheeler, then Chairman of the JCS, to Laird, Kissinger had requested military plans to destroy China’s nuclear capability 8 days earlier. Wheeler’s memorandum outlined several conventional options, using B–52s only, and nuclear options, using some combination of B–52s and Polaris SLBMs. Laird forwarded Wheeler’s memorandum to Kissinger on May 14. (Ford Library, Laird Papers, Accession: 2001–NLF-020, Box 20, PRC)
  7. Not found.
  8. General Creighton W. Abrams, Commander, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam.
  9. According to the President’s Daily Diary, departing Indonesian Ambassador Soedjatmoko met with Nixon in the Oval Office on July 27 from 11:05 to 11:32 a.m. Kissinger also attended. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files)
  10. In an undated handwritten note to Kissinger, Haig wrote: “I believe Asian strategy is a disaster. It will surface publicly and combined with recent events finish us in the region.” (Ibid., NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–103, DPRC Meeting, DOD Budget (San Clemente), 7/15–17/71)