190. Minutes of Defense Program Review Committee Meeting1

    • Defense Strategy and Fiscal Guidance
    • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
    • State
      • Mr. U. Alexis Johnson
      • Mr. Ronald Spiers
      • Mr. Leon Sloss
      • Mr. Seymour Weiss 2
    • Defense
      • Mr. David Packard
      • Dr. Gardiner Tucker
      • Mr. Philip Odeen
    • JCS
      • Adm. Thomas H. Moorer
      • Rear Adm. William R. St. George
      • Rear Adm. Robert O. Welander
    • CIA
      • Mr. Richard Helms
    • OST
      • Dr. Edward David
    • CEA
      • Mr. Herbert Stein
    • ACDA
      • Mr. Philip Farley
    • Treasury
      • Dr. Charls Walker
    • OMB
      • Mr. George P. Shultz
      • Mr. Caspar Weinberger
      • Mr. Kenneth Dam
    • NSC Staff
      • Col. Richard T. Kennedy
      • Mr. Wayne Smith
      • Mr. John Court
      • Mr. Keith Guthrie


In preparation for the August 12 NSC meeting on the FY 73 Defense budget, the DPRC Working Group will identify basic issues for decision in terms of their implications for national security and foreign policy. The list of issues to be prepared by the DPRC Working Group will be submitted by COB August 9 for review by the DPRC.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Dr. Tucker) Do you want to go ahead with your briefing?

[Page 805]

Mr. Packard: I would like to make a few introductory remarks. The purpose of this briefing is first to outline the procedures we use in force planning and budget preparation. Then we want to point out what the things we are planning to do will provide in the way of forces.

There are several budgetary levels that have to be looked at. One is the Five Year Defense Plan, which was prepared last year in connection with the FY 71 budget.3 We thought this was on the high side, and in April of this year we gave the services strategic and fiscal guidance that was somewhat lower.4 This guidance has now been developed into the JFM/POM; that is, it has been translated by the services and the agencies of the Department [of Defense] into specific forces and operating levels. The JFM/POM now have to be reviewed by me and by the Secretary’s office. We will then have some scrubbing to do. We will then have to resolve questions of timing, and we will need to decide whether we are willing to accept the service recommendations and which funding estimates are appropriate.

Some of the material covered in the briefing was not included in the strategic and fiscal guidance. For instance, we have noted the relevant JSOP recommendations.

We have fenced certain areas, e.g. strategic forces. This means that the services were not allowed to modify the guidance provided them; hence, all of their strategic programs are similar. There are certain other areas that were also held inviolate.

I think that today it would be helpful to concentrate on what the forces proposed can do. The final budgetary figures will be the result of our [DOD’s] review and the budget scrubbing. There are certain other steps which we can take that will modify the budget. The point is that we are not going to have hard budget figures today.

Gardiner [Tucker] can go ahead with the briefing. Then Tom [Moorer] can make some comments.

Mr. Shultz: If I may interject a comment, I have the feeling from the material that we [OMB] have seen that we are in danger of passing each other in the night and not coming anywhere near each other. There are severe problems with the overall budget. The President has come down hard in support of a budget balanced at full employment. All the numbers that we have seen point to a budget that is way beyond anything that would be acceptable.

[Page 806]

Mr. Packard: I am not saying that our proposals present no problems. What the President wants to do about our proposals is his decision to make. What we [in Defense] are talking about is what [in the way of military forces] we are going to buy and whether we believe it is adequate.

(Messrs. Johnson, Sloss, Spiers, and Weiss joined the meeting at this point.)

Dr. Kissinger: We have another problem, which also came out of the preliminary budget discussions.5 When George [Shultz] presented his fiscal concerns to the President, he [the President] asked me what substantive comments I wanted to make. I replied that I was not in a position to discuss budgetary figures. He said he wanted a presentation in terms of the overall issues presented by the budget. He has grave doubts about the procedure of allocating one-third to each service. He feels that every year he gets sucked into making decisions by line item.

(to Mr. Shultz) George, you were there. He said to try to get the budgetary presentation put in the form of alternative missions and objectives. He said, “I know you won’t succeed.” I have to admit that so far he has been correct about that. I have not been able to elicit a statement of objectives and missions.6

Mr. Packard: That’s what we are going to give you in the briefing.

Dr. Tucker: First I would like to sum up what Dave [Packard] said. We started in FY 71 with the FYDP. Then we issued fiscal guidance that was $2.0 billion lower. We have received the services’ answers based on the fiscal guidance and are beginning our assessment of those replies. The final program decisions will determine outlays. These numbers will likely be higher than what is [now] shown for the program.

[Dr. Tucker then displayed charts showing (1) alternative funding levels (JSOP, FYDP, and POM/JFM) and (2) a summary of general purpose forces at these three funding levels for FY 73–76.]7

[Page 807]

Notice that there is a significant decrease [from FYDP to POM/JFM] levels in such things as the number of army divisions, aircraft carriers, and in marine amphibious force sealift capability.

[Dr. Tucker showed a chart on peacetime overseas deployments.]

The FYDP involves some changes [from FY 72 to FY 73] in peacetime overseas deployments. We will be continuing the reduction of our land forces in Asia. We will be down to one-third of a division in Korea.

Dr. Kissinger: When?

Dr. Tucker: In FY 73.

Mr. Johnson: Do you mean at the end or the beginning of FY 73?

Dr. Tucker: The end.

Dr. Kissinger: I take it Systems Analysis has proved that this [one-third of a U.S. division] is enough to hold a full-scale attack.

Mr. Sloss: Are these army divisions only which are to be cut?

Mr. Odeen: These are just army divisions. The marine divisions should also be shown.

Mr. Packard: There will be considerable forces in the Pacific apart from these.

Mr. Odeen: There will be an army division in Hawaii.

Dr. Kissinger: What is one-third of a division supposed to do in Korea?

Mr. Odeen: This would in effect be a brigade. It would be in the Panmunjom area and would serve as a nucleus for reinforcement in the event of an attack.

Mr. Johnson: What about air forces in Korea?

Mr. Packard: They will remain just about the same as at present.

Adm. Moorer: We are modernizing the Korean armed forces so that they can take care of their own defense.

Dr. Tucker: This chart shows our capabilities in NATO and particularly how forces can be built up over time. It indicates the capability of our NATO allies to build up their land forces in NATO. It also shows the force requirements established by the Joint Chiefs. This is what the Joint Chiefs believe is required to meet a Pact attack. Finally, this chart also indicates the number of divisions required to meet the Pact Forces at a ratio of 1:1 on most fronts and a disadvantage of no more than 1.7:1 on the two main attack axes.

Mr. Johnson: Are Eastern European forces counted the same as Soviet forces?

Dr. Tucker: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: In World Wars I and II the Germans had inferior forces but beat the allies by concentrating their forces on the main [Page 808] axes of attack. It is misleading to discuss this in terms of overall ratios.

Mr. Packard: It depends whether you are looking at it from an offensive or defensive viewpoint.

Dr. Kissinger: To say that a ratio of 1.7:1 is safe runs counter to historical experience.

Dr. Tucker: On the basis of historical experience it is possible to find many trends going both ways. This ratio was derived from various World War II battles. Of course, the outcome in any given instance depends on non-quantifiable factors such as how the forces are used and the quality of leadership. This just indicates a range of force ratios.

Mr. Packard: That’s right. These are just two calibration lines.

Dr. Kissinger: I see.

Mr. Sloss: Are the U.S. division equivalents calculated on the basis of both numbers and firepower?

Dr. Tucker: Yes, it is a combined calculation.

Adm. Moorer: We have a lot of comparative data on this.

Dr. Tucker: Against these force requirements, we have shown the NATO Allies’ capability to deploy their forces. This is based on commitments that have been formally filed with NATO. The chart indicates that with U.S. forces available under the FYDP and POM, deployments will fall short of the JSOP requirement. To attain a 1:1 ratio would require from 90 to 120 days. This gives you some idea of the risk involved with these force levels.

We also have a chart that shows the corresponding deployment data for an attack from North Korea. It shows ROK capabilities and the JSOP stated requirements. It also shows the range of force requirements computed in the NSSM 69 study.8

Dr. Kissinger: Is this to defend against an attack by the North Koreans?

Dr. Tucker: Plus the Chinese. This assumes that the Chinese hold some forces on the Soviet borders, that they reduce troop densities, and that they are constrained by various factors which slow down their build-up.

Dr. Kissinger: You are saying that South Korea can resist a combined North Korean and Chinese attack if the Chinese maintain their troop deployments against the Soviets.

Dr. Tucker: They would not have the capability if the ratio of enemy to friendly forces were more than 1.3:1. Now if we assume that [Page 809] there has not been time to mobilize, then we can build up at these rates [indicates on the chart] with the FYDP and POM forces. If we build up in this way—without mobilization—then we have to draw down our NATO forces. Thus, we have looked to see what such a build-up would do to our NATO capability. This chart shows that to attain the required force levels in NATO under these circumstances would require until M + 80 with POM forces. This could possibly be well after D-day. Thus, there is a significant risk if we go into Korea without any advance mobilization.

We assume we can’t go to Korea with all of our forces. We can build up to the level of our DPQ commitment (eight divisions) by withholding from any deployments to Korea a minimum force for NATO. That means we have to take another look at Korea to see what we would be able to do under those circumstances. This chart shows that with POM forces, we can’t ever match the JSOP requirements in Korea. With FYDP forces, we can come close.

One of the consequences of going from the FYDP to POM force levels is that it affects Marine Corps readiness. It reduces Marine Corps manning from 90% to 75%, which means that the number of rifle companies is cut. Aircraft procurement is reduced, as is amphibious capability. This means that to deploy two Marine divisions to NATO, we will draw units from the third division and thereby decimate it. Or if we go first to Korea with two Marine divisions and then have to go to NATO, we can use the third division in NATO plus a reserve division, assuming FYDP levels. At POM levels, we can introduce the third active division but the other division can’t come in until later. What this means is that we have a reduced capability to go to the NATO flanks.

Turning to the question of the capability of NATO sea-control forces, we find that with the POM levels, a Navy analysis shows that during the first few days there would be heavy shipping and submarine losses while we are attritting the Soviet submarine fleet. There would be a significant exposure to losses at sea which would have an effect on our ability to deploy to NATO.

Dr. Kissinger: We could run out of ammunition.

Dr. Tucker: That is true. That is why for our own forces we have prepositioned supplies for eight divisions.

Mr. Packard: We have looked at the total stocks. There is enough for several months.

Dr. Kissinger: I am just trying to get an agreed definition so that we would know what we are working against.

Mr. Packard: We won’t run out of ammunition in 90 days if we get it shipped.

Dr. Kissinger: If we get it shipped. The question is whether we run out before we get the pipeline established.

[Page 810]

Adm. Moorer: That’s what the ninety-day supply is all about.

Dr. Tucker: We have stocks and equipment for our eight divisions for about 60 days. As for our Allies, that’s a different story.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t want to repeat yesterday’s discussion.9 All I want is an understanding of the factual situation. No one wants to be shut off entirely after 90 days. We need to have a picture of what is included in the 90-day supply. We should not take average figures based on consumption rates and think we are planning on a realistic basis.

Mr. Johnson: Have you weighed your deployment capabilities with likely shipping losses?

Dr. Tucker: For the U.S. forces, we have. We can sustain eight divisions for 60 days. For Allied forces, we can’t assure that we can do so.

Dr. Kissinger: Would the ships be available right away.

Adm. Moorer: They would have to be assembled.

Dr. Tucker: There is currently a Joint Staff study underway on this issue.

Dr. Kissinger: Then we couldn’t assume that we could start shipping on D-day.

Dr. Tucker: That is why we have prepositioned supplies: for use while we are building up our shipping and killing enemy submarines.

Mr. Johnson: This may sound like a Navy speech, but it is based on the material from the study, and the study certainly wasn’t under Navy control. Given growing Soviet capabilities and given our growing shortage of naval sealift and protection capability, can we demonstrate that we can really deploy equivalent ground forces in Asia and Europe? There seems to be a serious shortfall in our sea forces, and our other forces have little meaning if we can’t supply them.

Dr. Tucker: There is no quick way to fix this situation. By spending more money in FY 73 we can’t make things come out any differently. There are ways of compensating, however: by prepositioning equipment and having redundant shipping.

Adm. Moorer: Don’t forget that there are people on those ships that are being sunk.

Mr. Packard: That’s what we have the C–5A’s for.

Dr. Tucker: Exactly.

[Page 811]

If we take a look at manpower, we find that from the FY 64 level there was an increase because of the Southeast Asia conflict. Now we are cutting manning levels, which reduces readiness, in the Marine Corps. We are decreasing some of our air forces, which means that we have 10–20% less initial air combat capability. We have also squeezed our general support.

Mr. Packard: This chart is important. It shows we are now below FY 64, that is, pre-Vietnam, strength.

Dr. Kissinger: With a much higher budget.

Mr. Packard: We would have to add $25 billion to have the same forces as in 1964. There is one thing that can be said, however. The forces we have today are more capable than those we had in 1964.

Mr. Johnson: That is also true of the other side’s forces.

Dr. Tucker: That is why we have modernization programs. It is interesting to note that in making cuts required by shifting from the FYDP to the POM, the services opted for a 12% cut in RDT&E but only a 3% cut in procurement.

We have a final chart that shows the principal shortfalls and the amount of funds required to correct them. These shortfalls include the loss of Marine Corps readiness, of army NATO capability, and of tactical air capability, elimination of ASW carriers, and a reduction in the number of ships committed to NATO.

Mr. Packard: That last item is important. Both of the budget levels proposed involve a significant reduction to our present DPQ commitments.

Dr. Kissinger: Do these figures on funds required to correct the shortfall apply to the $81.7 billion budget level?

Dr. Tucker: No, they are what would have to be added to the budget at a $78.6 billion level.

There are other shortfalls that could be mentioned—reductions in naval repair facilities, a cut in research and development, the reduction from one division to one-third of a division in Korea, decreasing tactical air sorties below the 10,000 level in Southeast Asia, a reduction in MAP to Cambodia.

Dr. Kissinger: Are you planning to cut Cambodian MAP?

Mr. Odeen: $200 million was allotted under the FYDP. Now the figure is $160 million.

Dr. Kissinger: On what theory?

Mr. Odeen: There are more demands on the funds.

Mr. Packard: This is part of the scrubbing.

Dr. Tucker: There are also various ways we could list to save money. We could make further reductions in tactical air.

[Page 812]

Dr. Kissinger: No, you can’t.

Dr. Tucker: We could also reduce the number of carriers more rapidly. We could go to 10 instead of 12. We could take out the Army brigade in Alaska and the division in Hawaii. We could reduce our air forces, phase out the B–52s, reduce Safeguard.

Mr. Packard: Cutting Safeguard wouldn’t help us much in FY 73.

Mr. Johnson: In referring to these reductions, do you mean that they would reduce the budget below the $79.6 billion level?

Mr. Packard: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: I think we have all got the point about what you want to do. It is beyond my absorptive capacity to hold any more of this sort of information. We are not going to discuss individual items here. (to Adm. Moorer) Tom, do you have anything to add?

Adm. Moorer: I would just say that since 1968 we have been methodically and continually reducing our military forces. At the same time, the Soviets have been building up all across the board. As far as the POM and FYDP are concerned, the Chiefs were worried even before these cutbacks were made. We are reducing Titan, we are making no improvements in our strategic forces, we are cutting our capability to protect the flanks of NATO, we are taking 3-1/3 divisions out of Asia, and we are faced with a serious threat to our shipping. The Soviets are in the Pacific, as well as the Atlantic. If we have to run to the Pacific, we could get flanked in Central Europe. Conversely, we can’t leave Hawaii, Guam, and Alaska unattended. Today the Soviets are deploying Polaris-type submarines on the West Coast. We are cutting our tactical air squadrons by four. We have been talking for three years about rock-bottom defense budgets. No longer can I go to Congress and testify that this is rock-bottom. I think the risk is unacceptable. I make the plea that rather than devise some magic strategy, we say that we can’t afford an adequate defense, that we are broke, and that we have to pull in our horns and move back to the U.S. With these reductions the President cannot have the flexibility required for a viable foreign policy in the light of the Soviet build-up. We cannot gloss over the fact that this [budget] carries very high risks and reduces the President’s options.

(Mr. Shultz left the meeting at this point.)

Dr. Kissinger: When this whole issue first came to the President, it was formulated in terms of what the budget could stand. I took the position that I could make no contribution to such a discussion. Once it was formulated in terms of its impact on our national security, then I could comment. The President replied: “That’s true, but I have yet to see a budget presentation that I can understand and that will give me a choice.” If you give him a list like the last one [the chart showing possible additional reductions], he doesn’t know what it means. He [Page 813] wants to know how all of this affects the security and foreign policy of the United States. The Defense Department staff works months on the budget, my staff spends weeks, but the President can devote only a few hours. That is the natural way for the decision-making process to work. I told the President: “Give us a week to work this over.” He said: “Take three weeks.” He is going to be restless if the analysis that he receives is in military or budgetary terms.

Dr. Walker: Just before I came to this meeting I talked with Secretary Connally. I told him that as a newcomer to this group I planned just to listen and keep my mouth shut. He said: “Don’t keep your mouth shut.” He was at the meeting you [Kissinger] mentioned. If anything, I think you have understated the color of the language the President used. He felt extremely strongly about the formula of allocating one-third of the funds to each service.

Mr. Weinberger: I have known the President a long time, and I have rarely seen him so exercised. He said that talking about “pieces of horses” meant nothing. 72% of the budget is uncontrollable and 28% controllable, of which 70% is Defense. No one is out to get Defense, but that is the only area we can look at without asking Congress to make laws that we can’t realistically expect them to make.

Mr. Packard: We can go to a lower budget. However, it could mean that we would have no ability to deploy ground forces in Asia, that we couldn’t deploy in the Mediterranean, or that we couldn’t go to NATO if necessary.

Dr. Kissinger: I am convinced that if we can present this to the President in terms of what is needed for national security, he will go for more than we can afford. However, if we give it to him as it has been presented here, he will take a whack here and there in order to fit it into the full employment budget. You will have to explain what these items mean. He doesn’t understand why we are reducing our air defense when we can’t handle a small attack and are not even trying for the capability to meet a large attack. If you don’t give him the answers to these questions, he will just cut.

You talk about having one-third of a carrier in the Pacific. Yet Japan is thinking more about going neutral. The Indonesian Ambassador was just in to see the President and told him that what is important is that the U.S. retain a physical presence in the Pacific. Budget terms don’t mean a thing to the President. We are facing a major readjustment in our Asia policy. The Japanese and Thais are watching us. We can say that we are not going to abandon our friends, but they want to see what we are doing.

Mr. Johnson: That is my speech.

Dr. Kissinger: If the Asians see that all American forces are leaving, it will trigger consequences that over time could cost us ten times [Page 814] as much as maintaining our forces. Japan might decide to go nuclear. The Koreans might make their own security arrangements. With these countries not so dependent on us, it would be more difficult to make headway with them on economic issues. This is the crude political argument.

When we talk about comparing today’s forces with those we had in 1964 and 1968, we are referring to a period when—in 1964—the U.S. had overriding nuclear superiority. Even in 1968 we still were in a very strong position.

I have often asked myself under what circumstances I would go to the President and recommend that he implement SIOP, knowing that this would result in a minimum casualty level of 50 million. I don’t think you can find fifteen contingencies where we would wish to do so and where our opponents would believe that we would do so. Therefore, the whole strategic picture has changed. Other countries judge us by what we are capable of doing. It is not consoling to make comparisons with 1964 when the whole strategic situation was different. We haven’t changed SIOP in fifteen years. Of course, we have been through all of this before in our discussions of the value of having a damage-limiting capability and whether we might just be hitting empty holes if we had one.

What we need is to tell the President what you [Defense] are trying to do and explain what the constraints are at a level of $79 billion. If we slide along making cuts here and there, we will wind up with an empty shell. Sooner or later we will have to pay the price.

The President doesn’t picture the issues in terms of thirteen or fourteen or fifteen or twelve carriers. He wants to know the role of carriers in the emerging situation where every country is reexamining its position. I frankly don’t think he would understand the presentation we have had here. He wants to know what the implications are for foreign policy and national security.

Mr. Packard: I think we can put this in simple terms. The basic questions are what we should deploy in Asia and whether we are to back off in NATO. Of course, we could save $11.5 million if you would let us close bases here at home without restraints.

Dr. Kissinger: That will have to wait until the day after the election. It would help if we could tell the President that if we make certain reductions in our NATO forces while providing more for Asia, there will be certain consequences. Or we should explain to him that if he wants to meet our commitments in NATO and Asia, then the Defense budget will have to go up by so much.

Mr. Packard: I am happy to give it to you in those terms. But here we have been discussing how we manage our ammunition supply.

[Page 815]

Dr. Kissinger: For the NSC meeting this material should be presented in gross terms. The significant cuts should be explained not in terms of the budget but in terms of some mission.

Mr. Weinberger: The rule of one-third to each service brings out the President’s strongest language. He believes there are other substantial dollar savings possible in the budget.

Dr. Kissinger: This is not an exercise in forcing the budget down. The idea is to present the issues in such terms that the principals can handle them at one meeting.

Mr. Weinberger: That’s right.

Mr. Johnson: Aren’t there three elements involved? The first involves our own forces in absolute terms.

Mr. Packard: We have provided some analysis in relative terms, for example, on losses at sea.

Mr. Johnson: The second element would be the relative position of our ground, air, and naval forces compared to Soviet forces. The third would be the foreign policy effects. This all has to be integrated. We would be glad to contribute.

Dr. Kissinger: I am not worried about which working group does it. I just want to know whether we can have it by Monday evening.10

Mr. Johnson: (to Mr. Packard) Do you think you can package the alternatives in terms of foreign policy objectives?

Mr. Packard: We can package the alternatives that way. The problem is in making judgments on such matters as the 1.7:1 force ratio [for a NATO defense]. (to Adm. Moorer) We have to reexamine the purpose of some of these forces, Tom.

Adm. Moorer: The President shouldn’t have to bother about line items.

Dr. Kissinger: He doesn’t want to. Let’s aim for Monday as a deadline for having the issues paper prepared. We might have a quick meeting of this group to look it over before the NSC meeting.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, 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 White House Situation Room. Brackets are in the original. In an August 4 memorandum to Kissinger, Wayne Smith stated that the purpose of the meeting was “to review the state of our defense posture and the capabilities it makes available to meet our strategic objectives.” (Ibid., Box H–104, DPRC Meeting, DOD Strategy and Fiscal Guidance, 8/5/71)
  2. Not present at the beginning of the meeting. [This footnote in the original referred to all four participants from the Department of State.]
  3. See Document 152.
  4. An apparent reference to “Planning and Programming Guidance for the FY 73–77 Defense Program,” sent by Laird to the service secretaries and Moorer on April 21. See footnote 6, Document 184.
  5. See Document 188.
  6. Kissinger discussed his objective for the DPRC meeting with Shultz’s deputy, Weinberger, during a telephone conversation on August 5. According to the transcript, Kissinger told Weinberger that he was “going to be brutal at the meeting this afternoon. I am saying I am ordered by the President not to accept this approach [by the Defense Department of allocating equal amounts of the Defense budget to the three branches of the armed services], that he wants alternative missions and wants to know what can be cut and what can’t.” Kissinger asked Weinberger to “back me up,” by saying he too had attended the budget meeting with President Nixon on July 23. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  7. The charts referenced in the minutes were not found.
  8. See footnote 7, Document 181.
  9. On August 4, the DPRC met to discuss NATO force improvements. The minutes of the meeting are scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XLI, Western Europe; NATO, 1969–1972.
  10. August 9. The paper was submitted on August 11; see Document 192.