218. Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1


The purpose of this study (NSSM–69)2 is to evaluate the broad range of policy questions and issues we face over the next 5–6 years in Asia. The key areas discussed are: [Page 965]

  • U.S. interests, objectives and commitments in Asia.
  • —The nuclear and conventional threats posed by China through 1978 as well as the form and likelihood of a conventional attack on our allies. The threats posed by North Vietnam and North Korea are also considered.
  • —The possible uses for U.S. strategic nuclear and tactical nuclear weapons as well as the possibilities of planning for selective and limited use of nuclear weapons as a substitute for U.S. manpower in a mainland war.
  • U.S. and allied capabilities against a conventional attack by the Chinese (and their allies) as well as illustrative U.S. military forces and costs of forces required to implement alternative conventional strategies.
  • —Present allied military capabilities and potential for future improvements, is considered along with the prospects for military cooperation between allies. The role of Japan is given special attention.

There has long been a drastic need for this attempt to resolve in a coherent way differences between Presidential and DOD guidance that now exists with regard to our long term military planning for Asia.

U.S. Asian Interests

By all criteria, the paper concludes that our interests in Asia are most affected by Japan and China:

Aside from three major powers, the study also considers the importance of the lesser powers in terms of two geographical groupings:

  • —The mainland countries of Southeast Asia (Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia).
  • —The outer ring including South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand.

To the extent our interests in these two groups are differentiable, the outer line of countries and especially South Korea are most closely linked to our other Asian interests because:

  • —They embody the majority of the population, economic wealth and military potential, and U.S. trade and investment.
  • —Their strategic position makes them supportive of our other Asian interests and limited to our general access to the region.

While the study notes that the U.S. has “significant interests” in the Asian mainland countries, its obvious implication is that the future of Asia will be determined largely by the great powers, and that the lesser powers, particularly in Southeast Asia, are significantly less important. While overemphasized, this judgment does lend perspective to the study.

Chinese Nuclear Capabilities

Our knowledge of Chinese nuclear capabilities and the objectives of their nuclear development program is incomplete. The study, therefore, [Page 966]postulated three strategic postures based on alternative Chinese strategic objectives the Chinese might pursue.

  • —A regional emphasis of force based on a Chinese objective aimed towards deterring Soviet nuclear capabilities and bringing significant forces to bear on other Asian nations.
  • —An intercontinental emphasis force aimed towards development of a capability to strike CONUS and deep into the Soviet Union, and
  • An all out strategic effort to build a large Chinese nuclear force even at the expense of general purpose force modernization and requirements of economic growth.

The study finds that the Chinese are probably planning to build a capability balanced between regional and intercontinental emphasis but does not detract from conventional force modernization or economic demands.

The most important characteristics of this effort are projected to be:

  • A medium bomber force of about 30 TU–16s capable of carrying bombs with yields of some 25 KT and 3 MT respectively. The TU–16 has an unrefueled combat radius sufficient to reach most U.S. Asian bases and industrial complexes on the periphery of China (inflight refueling, radius about 2300 nm). A force of about 200–300 bombers is expected by 1978.
  • The beginnings of a missile force. A few MRBMs may already be operationally deployed and by 1972 about 10–20 (range about 600 nm). [As you know, there is good reason to doubt the validity of this and subsequent intelligence community estimates. For detail see the enclosed memo on our strategic intelligence.]3
  • —Deployment of an IRBM with a 3 MT warhead and a range of about 1500 nm which might already be deployed.
  • —A missile tested to 2000 nm which probably would go farther—perhaps 3000 to 4000 nm—when fully developed. This missile could be operational by about 1974 or 1975. By 1978, about 20–40 ICBMs could be deployed.
  • —A ballistic missile submarine with diesel power as early as 1975. It is more likely a nuclear powered missile submarine with the earliest IOC 1976.
  • —A limited strategic defense composed of jet interceptors supported by improving air surveillance. There is no evidence of a ballistic missile early warning system (BMEWS) program.
  • —A possibility that some tactical nuclear weapons—perhaps a fission weapon suitable for IL–284 delivery—already exists or will be developed.

Under the alternative assumption that the Chinese would emphasize their strategic programs and neglect their conventional forces and domestic economic objectives, the study concludes that they could conceivably have as many as 1030 regional and intercontinental delivery vehicles by 1980 compared with a maximum estimate of 670 under the most likely postulation. The maximum emphasis on strategic weapons required to reach the 1030 is judged highly unlikely, but under any of the projections China will have a significant nuclear capability by the later part of the decade.

The table below compares the three projections of Chinese nuclear delivery capabilities.

Delivery Vehicles in: 1974 Delivery Vehicles in: 1978
Most Likely ICBM Emphasis All Out Effort
Regional 160–250 330–480 240–350 600
Intercontinental 0–5 20–90 90–150 350–410
Grand Total Delivery Vehicles 160–255 350–550 330–500 950–1030

Elements of a Nuclear Deterrent Against China

Planning a deterrent against China requires a different set of criteria than those generally used versus the Soviet Union. This is true because Chinese population is dispersed and the top 1000 cities contain only 11% of her total population (but 80% of her industry and 70% of her urban population). That makes it impossible to strive for the same destruction capability we have against the Soviet Union. (25% of Soviet population and 35–40% industrial destruction) The table below illustrates the relative vulnerability of Chinese industry and the effects of her dispersed population.

[Page 968]

[Table heading not declassified]

U.S. USSR China
% Population 14% 12% 5%
% Industry 45% 28% 40%
% Urban Population 23% 28% 51%

1. Current Capabilities

The execution of the [less than 1 line not declassified] versus China could destroy:

  • —About [less than 1 line not declassified] of Chinese industry and [less than 1 line not declassified] of her urban population as well as 8% of her total population.
  • —Virtually all of her [less than 1 line not declassified] warfighting capabilities.

The attack could be executed without overflying the Soviet Union and would be delivered by a mix of missiles, and bombers. In addition, [1½ lines not declassified].

The deterrence value of this capability is enhanced by the fact that China faces our entire nuclear capability and cannot be certain of what portion would be delivered against itself.

2. Our Soviet Deterrent and SALT considerations

There is general agreement that our Chinese deterrent should:

  • —Maintain a capability to satisfy the sufficiency criteria against the Soviet Union after an attack on the PRC. Current DOD planning will double the warheads available by 1978 and give us ample capability to fulfill this requirement.
  • —Include some damage limiting capability. There is wide disagreement regarding the emphasis we should place on this damage limiting capability.
  • —Continue to plan on a capability that does not involve overflight of the Soviet Union. This means bomber, SLBMs and Pacific based tactical nuclear delivery systems only can be used.
  • —Incorporate the constraints which will probably be imposed by a SAL agreement with the Soviets. This means planning both our Chinese and Soviet deterrents with the currently planned number of war-heads without an area ABM defense.

Since our planned nuclear forces are more than sufficient to deter PRC nuclear attack, the central question concerns our planned counterforce capabilities. This question is also related to our tactical nuclear force planning. In particular:

  • The effectiveness of a disarming strike against Chinese delivery capabilities and the extent we can, therefore, base our overall strategy on the use of tactical nuclear weapons to reduce U.S. ground force requirements. [Page 969]Our capability to locate Chinese missiles is important in this regard.
  • The improvements, if any, we should plan to preserve our disarming capability in the mid-1970s when the Chinese could deploy missiles in silos.

JCS analysis shows that our capabilities to destroy known Chinese nuclear delivery systems will be high until the late 1970s, provided that they can be effectively targeted. The table below illustrates that we will be capable of destroying most of the known Chinese launchers throughout the decade:

Disarming Strike Against China

Requirements and Surviving Warheads5

(No Force Improvements)

FY 72 FY 73 FY 78/79
Known Targets
Warheads Required
Surviving Warheads6

The warheads necessary to implement this strategy will be available under the current plans throughout the 1970s but there will still be significant risk associated with planning a disarming strike including:

  • Possible failure to detect Chinese missile sites and determine hardness and other characteristics with sufficient confidence.
  • —Once the Chinese deploy hardened missile silos (1975/6) we would need a time urgent hard target kill capability. Current plans for the ULMS missile (IOC 1975/6) includes accuracy sufficient for a hard target kill capability but large scale deployment might be interpreted to the Soviet second strike capabilities.
  • —If the Chinese develop an SLBM (1978 but possibly by 1975) the difficulty of preventing retaliation would be sharply increased. Mobile concealed ICBMs are also possible.

[9 paragraphs (30 lines) not declassified]

[Page 970]

Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Although there is general agreement regarding the deterrence value of our tactical nuclear deployments, a wide divergence of opinion exists regarding:

  • The extent we can rely upon these weapons to cope with a conventional attack, and in particular to supplement a conventional defense and substitute for the commitment of large U. S. land forces in an Asian land war.
  • —Our capability to terminate a conflict once nuclear weapons have been introduced without unacceptable collateral damage and adverse political effects. This depends upon the Chinese reaction to our use of these weapons.

Our current tactical nuclear posture probably provides a warfighting tactical nuclear option in each theater that could involve only minimal reliance on conventional forces. The issue here is whether to plan a tactical nuclear posture designed to reduce the need for conventional forces.

Alternative Uses

To understand the effectiveness of theater nuclear weapons in Asia, the study considered a number of possible uses for these weapons designed to combine the necessary resolve and restraint to induce the enemy to halt aggression. These include:

  • Demonstration use in which one or more weapons are detonated to demonstrate U.S. determination. This tactic would be combined with a threat of future attacks and its value results from increased deterrence and not from warfighting effectiveness. It would not be relied upon to reduce U.S. manpower requirements for any Asian strategy.
  • Defensive use which includes the detonation of atomic demolitions to slow the rate of enemy advance and also perhaps the use of nuclear tipped air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles.
  • Battlefield use which would result in some reduction in manpower needed to defend against a PRC attack.
  • Full-scale interdiction of Chinese supply and communication lines and staging areas which would result in some reduction of U.S. manpower.

Mixed Conventional and Tactical Nuclear Posture

The actual relationship between manpower required for defense using tactical nuclear weapons as opposed to requirements for a purely conventional defense is difficult to determine analytically because: [Page 971]

  • —the effectiveness of tactical nuclear weapons depends upon the dispersal of enemy troops as well as our target acquisition and communication capabilities in a nuclear environment.
  • —the effect of enemy retaliation with nuclear weapons is extremely difficult to predict.

However, estimates were made for the study assuming [less than 1 line not declassified] weapons would be required to destroy each attacking division and the Chinese do not retaliate with nuclear weapons themselves. Results are:

Illustrative Asian Manpower Requirements With and Without Use of Tactical Nuclear Weapons8

(High PRC Threat)

Theater Defended
Korea Divisions
Southeast Asia Divisions

This analysis is deficient because it considers only direct destruction of enemy divisions and therefore requires high numbers of nuclear weapons. It does not for example, consider effects of nuclear interdiction on enemy supply lines and depots or other possible uses.

Since PRC nuclear forces will be small compared to both the U.S. and USSR over the next five years, alternative uses for a small number of tactical weapons should be further pursued. No analytical basis has been developed, however, and good evaluations of these uses will not be available for some time.

Systems Analysis has started a renewed analytical effort which should bear some results in six months or so. Meanwhile, the conclusion of the work done for the last DPRC meeting was that the analysis was sufficient to support a decision on the broad role we plan for tactical nuclear weapons in Asia. Uses such as (a) primary means of deterring and if necessary responding to large conventional attacks, (b) back up for U.S. and allied conventional forces, (b) no role in deterring [Page 972]or responding to conventional attack except through the threat of escalation to nuclear war.

On the other hand, none of the agencies recommended that our Asian planning be based on substantial reliance upon tactical nuclear weapons for the following reasons:

  • OSD (ISA) believes that our experience and knowledge of use of these weapons is so limited that it is “not possible to make a fairly precise measure of the savings in ground combat manpower that can be made because of their use.” This analytical deficiency does not mean we should completely reject this strategic option, however.
  • —State believes the “political implications of using nuclear weapons make it unwise to base a strategy on their use.” This judgment is not further developed by State.
  • JCS believe tactical nuclear weapons are not a substitute for manpower but provide “increased firepower for conventional forces.” But if “increased firepower” does not increase combat effectiveness, there is little justification for the substantial investment we make in conventional forces to increase our firepower.

Our limited analytical capability to deal with nuclear weapons does not justify these extreme agency positions. I have previously forwarded a memo to you on this subject. A copy is in your book.10

General Purpose Forces

Planning an overall general purpose force strategy involves analysis of:

The countries and regions to be defended as well as the form and level of threat to be defended against.
Allied capabilities and the degree we wish to plan upon allied capabilities.
The role we might plan for tactical nuclear weapons.

Size and Likelihood of the Chinese General Purpose Force Threat

Because the preferred Chinese tactic for aggression is projected to continue to be the low risk, low cost strategy of sponsoring subversion or “peoples war,” an overt Chinese conventional attack in Asia is considered unlikely.

[Page 973]

Three alternative levels of threat have, however, been projected for Korea based on:

  • —A minimum threat (25 divisions) which includes North Korea attacking South Korea with only logistical support from China.
  • —A moderate combined NK/CPR threat (40 divisions) assuming that the present Soviet concentration along China’s borders and the continuing internal demands on the PLA limits the number of troops and aircraft China would commit to a Korean conflict.
  • A maximum threat (60 divisions) which assumes only a minimal Soviet threat and that Peking would be willing to commit as large a force as physical constraints on the Korean peninsula would allow.

Force Requirements for Korea

In 1950, a North Korean force of about 140,000 men attacked and drove into an enclave a ROK force of 65,000 men. About 50,000 U.S. troops supported the ROK troops in the enclave.

In 1952, a combined CPR/NK force of about 890,000 men were stalemated by a total U.S./ROK force of about 600,000 men.

In assessing current capabilities both the JCS and OSD (SA) concluded that the current 570,000 man ROK forces (without the assistance of the U.S. divisions in Korea) could successfully defend against the 405,000 man NK army and might stalemate even a moderate Chinese attack. U.S. logistical and naval support would of course be required.

These estimates are shown below:

Force Requirements for Korea (1976)

Combined NK/PRC Attack
NK Attack Moderate Threat High Threat
U.S. Divisions
OSD (SA) 0 0-1/3 5-1/3
JCS 0 4 8
U.S. Tactical Aircraft
OSD (SA) 670 1100 1220
JCS 1160 (not estimated) 3060

Southeast Asia Situation

The situation in Southeast Asia in 1976 is much more difficult to predict and U.S. force requirements are a good deal less certain because:

  • —The level of insurgency we can expect is not known. The intelligence estimate is that insurgency levels should be within the [Page 974]capabilities of allied police forces and militia alone but the uncertainty associated with this estimate is high.
  • —The success of Vietnamization is still to be determined and varying outcomes could affect the military situation in Asia, perhaps radically.
  • —The threat is believed to be logistically constrained in Southeast Asia, but the road capacity to move supplies is uncertain.

Threat to Southeast Asia

Three alternative threat levels are estimated for Southeast Asia. In all cases, the total ground threat is limited by logistical constraints which produce the spread of figures noted below:

If the Communists mounted an all-out, one dry season campaign throughout SEA, it would be limited by logistical constraints to about 20–26 PRC and 13–14 NVN division slices (630,000–760,000 troops).
If the Communists did not count on a one season victory, but planned to fight year-round, they could support only an estimated 16–21 PRC and 11 NVN division slices (515,000–610,000 troops) as a portion of their logistics capability would have to be used to stockpile supplies for wet season combat.
The threat posed by the North Vietnamese acting alone with only logistical support from the PRC is considered.

Force Requirements for Southeast Asia

Estimating force requirements for Southeast Asia is also made difficult by uncertainty regarding the type of war which we might expect. If Vietnamization succeeds and allied capabilities improve, we might plan for a war with a well-defined front and no insurgency. If these optimistic assumptions do not materialize, U. S. force requirements will be sharply increased.

To allow for these uncertainties, we have made the following alternative assumptions:

  • —An optimistic assumption that Vietnamization is completely successful and Thailand builds an effective military force. Both the Thai (two U. S. division equivalents) and Vietnamese regular armies (six U. S. division equivalents) are free to meet the external attack.
  • —A pessimistic assumption that Vietnamization is less than successful and although the government survives, the South Vietnamese and Thai forces are completely absorbed in counter-insurgency.

These force requirements estimates are shown below:

[Page 975]

Force Requirements for Southeast Asia (1976)

Combined CPR/NVN Attack
Land Forces
NVN Attack Maximum
Moderate Threat
Optimistic 0 1–2 0-1
Pessimistic Not estimated 8 6-1/3
JCS11 4 8-2/3 Not estimated
Tactical Aircraft
OSD(SA) 550 1220 1100
JCS 1160 3060 Not estimated

Current Capabilities

Based on these force requirement estimates, the presently planned force structure of 13 Army and three Marine divisions could:

  • —Satisfy OSD(SA) requirements for a Chinese attack on Korea (4 divisions) and still withhold sufficient forces to honor our NATO DPQ commitment, but
  • —Based on JCS estimates of four to eight full divisions for Korea would require us to drawdown our NATO capabilities as many as four full divisions.

In Southeast Asia, the OSD(SA) optimistic requirements of only two U.S. divisions could, of course, also be satisfied, but:

  • —Meeting the JCS requirements of 8-2/3 divisions would require drawing upon those forces listed in our NATO DPQ listing by about five full divisions, while
  • —Meeting the OSD(SA) estimate for SEA would require a draw-down of 2-1/3 divisions.

In view of these large force requirements and the uncertainty surrounding improved allied capabilities in SEA, the key question is the form of hedge we will plan against failure of allied capabilities to improve as planned. Two options have been considered which would not significantly increase budgets.

  • —plan on the use of tactical nuclear weapons to substitute for U.S. manpower—this would reduce U.S. manpower requirements in [Page 976]support of the NSDM–2712 strategy to 4–5 divisions—within the capabilities of our 16 Army and Marine divisions without significantly drawing down NATO.
  • —plan on no defense of our allies in SEA against a PRC attack. Since the situation in Korea is more stable, and force requirements are less, we could also support this strategy at little increase in cost.

Issues for Decision

Several issues are highlighted for Presidential decision in the context of our overall strategic planning for Asia.

Deterrence/Warfighting Use for Nuclear Weapons

While there is general agreement that our nuclear superiority vis-à-vis the Chinese is an adequate deterrent to Chinese nuclear attack on the U.S. or our allies, there is no consensus on whether we should rely on our nuclear superiority to deter Chinese conventional attack as well.

The issue which must be decided is, therefore, (a) whether we want to plan a conventional defense and rely on nuclear weapons to deter the Chinese use of nuclear weapons and or a back up to the conventional defense, or (b) plan on a lower level of conventional forces complemented by tactical nuclear weapons which would constitute the primary response to conventional attack, or (c) plan no conventional or tactical nuclear defense against a Chinese attack and rely on strategic nuclear weapons to deter a Chinese conventional attack on our allies.

Counterforce Capability Versus China

There is agreement that use of tactical nuclear weapons as a supplement for ground forces in defense against a Chinese conventional attack, would be reliable only if the Chinese did not retaliate with nuclear weapons. There is disagreement regarding the likelihood of Chinese retaliation.

The study found that we might use tactical nuclear weapons without launching a disarming strike but that we may wish to combine the planned use of tactical nuclear weapons to reduce U.S. manpower requirements with planning a disarming strike capability.

Our planned nuclear force capabilities are sufficient to target all known Chinese nuclear launchers for the next 8–10 years. However, when the PRC deploys hardened missiles we will need to make missile accuracy improvements in order to have high confidence capability to destroy PRC missiles on the ground.

[Page 977]

The issue concerns the steps we should take, if any, to improve our counter force capabilities vis-à-vis China principally by improving the accuracy and yield of our sea based missiles. Since these improvements will not be needed until the Chinese deploy hardened missile sites (1975/6) and the ULMS missile development program will incorporate sufficient accuracy, a deployment decision need not be made now. Deployment would affect U.S.-Soviet relations which are being addressed in the DPRC study on Strategic Objectives and Forces.13

Theaters to be Defended

Present NSDM–27 strategy calls for defense against a Chinese attack in either Northeast or Southeast Asia plus simultaneous aid against a non-Chinese attack in the other theater. If we do not plan to continue with this regional strategy, we should decide what Asian theaters we plan to defend (i.e., NEA, SEA, both or neither). This will have a significant impact on the forces maintained for Asia. For example, against the higher of the two Chinese threats, 4–6 U.S. divisions are needed to support a strategy defending in Northeast Asia versus 8–9 divisions in Southeast Asia.

The Level of Chinese Threat

The study concludes that the most likely form of Chinese aggression over the next five years will be continued covert support for insurgencies. Overt military moves outside the PRC’s borders are not likely unless the Chinese feel their security immediately and directly threatened. Nevertheless two estimates of the PRC conventional threat were made based on:

  • —the willingness of the PRC to commit troops to an attack on Korea in face of Soviet troop concentrations on its northern border, and
  • —in SEA whether or not the PRC/NV would plan on a one season campaign or plan for a year round campaign and therefore stockpile their supplies for use during the rainy season. Under the later assumption, the PRC/NV would commit less troops to the attack.

Although differences in the threat have a major effect on force requirement estimates, this does not seem to be an issue that we should determine for our force planning five to six years into the future. Instead, we should continually re-evaluate our force capabilities relative to both threats as they change over time.

Planning on Allied Participation

The extent we base our force planning on the availability of allied forces and improvements in their military capabilities will significantly [Page 978]affect the U.S. forces and costs, and risk associated with supporting our Asian strategy.

Analysis shows that with continued security assistance, our allies in both Northeast and Southeast Asia will be increasingly capable of providing for their own defense against non-PRC attacks. However, especially in Southeast Asia considerable uncertainty surrounds this estimate. If our military planning is based on a high level of allied participation and this participation fails to materialize, we run the risk of being unable to support our planned Asian strategy without significantly drawing down our capability to deploy forces to NATO.

A second issue involves an assessment of the level of insurgency which will accompany a Chinese attack in Southeast Asia. There is a difference of about six U.S. divisions needed to counter a PRC attack if our planning is based on an assumption that Vietnamization does not meet its intended goals and on an assumed high level of Thai insurgency activity rather than upon successful Vietnamization and low level insurgency assumptions.14

The threat estimate conducted for this study concluded that: (a) the insurgent activity in Thailand is not expected to increase significantly in the next few years, and (b) that if Vietnamization meets its intended goals, allied police and militia forces should be capable of controlling insurgent activities. There is considerable uncertainty associated with these assessments and risk is associated with planning our forces based on these favorable assumptions. On the other hand, about 15–17 Army divisions would be required to support the NSDM–27 strategy unless we were to plan to seriously draw down our capability to deploy troops to NATO.

Force to be Set Aside for NATO

Previous planning decisions have given NATO a priority if a simultaneous conflict should arise in both NATO and Asia. To honor this priority, we would plan on withholding a certain quantity of forces from Asia to have them available if a conflict should start in NATO after we have committed our forces to Asia. Two levels of forces that we might plan to withhold for NATO have been examined by the study. The highest withhold approximates our DPQ submission to NATO while the other level follows the Secretary of Defense’s interim planning guidance for FY 1974–1978. Both assume full mobilization of reserve [Page 979]component forces at the outset of an Asian conflict so that active NATO-earmarked forces could be deployed to Asia and replaced by mobilized reserves.

A second aspect of this issue is that if we accept greater risk in planning our Asian strategy under optimistic assumptions which may not materialize, we increase the probability that those forces withheld for NATO will have to be drawn upon if an Asian conflict occurs. Thus, the risk we accept in planning our Asian strategy directly affects the risk we accept in our capability to defend NATO after an Asian conflict has started.

Like the threat issue, this does not appear to be an issue we should determine in our force planning five to six years into the future. Each force structure should be analyzed under various assumptions regarding the NATO withhold.

The Level and Location of the U.S. Asian Presence Required to Make Our Security Commitment Credible to Our Allies

A separate but parallel issue from the force structure required to support any given strategy involves the size, type and locations for force deployments (including tactical nuclear deployments) necessary to provide political credibility and enhance the deterrence of any strategy for Asia. It is conceivable, for example, that we might want to retain ground force deployments in Asia for political reasons even if our strategy did not call for a U.S. conventional defense against a Chinese attack. Detailed deployment decisions will be made when the ongoing study of basing and deployment options is complete late this spring.15

Alternative Overall Asian Strategies

Four broad illustrative strategy options have been structured to reflect the range of views held within the government regarding the proper course for our Asian strategy over the coming five years.

These strategies include:

  • —Planning a high confidence conventional defense against a Chinese attack in NEA or SEA while aiding our ally in the other theater. Planning would not be based on substantial improvement in allied capabilities and on a PRC attack which included insurgency. Nuclear weapons would be relied upon to deter Chinese use of nuclear weapons.
  • —Planning a conventional defense against a Chinese attack in Korea only plus aid to our allies against a non-Chinese attack in SEA. In addition, a variant to this strategy option has been included at the [Page 980]request of State/ACDA which bases our planning on the lesser of the two Chinese threats.
  • —Planning a conventional defense with the same regional coverage as NSDM–27 and strategy one. Count on improved allied capabilities16 or failing this, the use of tactical nuclear weapons to keep U.S. manpower requirements for defense of our allies against a PRC attack to a low level.
  • —Planning on nuclear weapons to deter, and, if deterrence fails, defend our allies against Chinese attack.

A summary of these strategies, costs and force requirements is attached.17

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–106, DPRC Meeting, U.S. Strategy and Forces for Asia (NSSM 69),7/21/72. Top Secret. No drafting information appears on the paper, but internal evidence indicates that it was drafted by the NSC Staff. According to a July 19 memorandum from Wayne Smith to Kissinger, the summary was included in Kissinger’s briefing materials for the July 21 DPRC meeting. (Ibid.) This paper summarizes an executive summary of the response to NSSM 69; see footnote 7, Document 181. On October 29, 1971, the NSC Secretariat distributed the executive summary, prepared by an interagency group, including State, Defense, CIA, JCS, OMB, ACDA, and the Council of Economic Advisors, to Iwrin, Packard, Helms, Moorer, McCracken, Shultz, and Farley. The 64–page executive summary included the following sections: Introduction, Devising Alternative Asian Strategies, The Chinese Nuclear Threat and Alternative Strategies to Deter Chinese Use of Nuclear Weapons, Tactical Nuclear Weapons, General Purpose Forces, Alternative Asian General Purpose Force Strategies, and Selection of Overall Strategy for Asia. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S–I Files: Lot 80 D 212, NSSM 69) The executive summary, first requested at the July 29, 1971, meeting of the DPRC, served as the basis for the group’s meetings held on December 8, 1971, and July 21, 1972, to discuss NSSM 69. See Documents 189, 202, and 219.
  2. Document 42.
  3. Brackets in the original. The NSC Staff’s undated memorandum, entitled “Summary of Projected Capabilities to Detect and Locate PRC Nuclear Delivery Systems,” summarized a January 1972 CIA memorandum, which was not found. The summary detailed the limited U.S. intelligence about the numbers, locations, and capabilities of Chinese bombers and missiles. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–106, DPRC Meeting, 7/21/72)
  4. The IL–28 was a jet bomber of Soviet origin.
  5. The tabular data were not declassified.
  6. In addition, there might be warheads surviving on delivery vehicles which could not be located for targeting. [Footnote in the original.]
  7. Does not include attrition due to air defenses. [Footnote in the original.]
  8. From a JCS analysis based on PACNUC 68–72 study. Assumes no Chinese nuclear retaliation. [Footnote in the original. The referenced study was not found. The column headings and tabular data were not declassified.]
  9. Forces are required to deliver the weapons required (assumes conventionally configures forces.) [Footnote in the original.]
  10. Reference is to an August 9, 1971 memorandum from Wayne Smith to Kissinger. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–106, DPRC Meeting, U.S. Strategy and Forces for Asia (NSSM 69), 7/21/72)
  11. JCS states that under similar assumptions, JCS estimates would be similar to OSD(SA) but that force planning should not be based on optimistic assumptions. [Footnote in the original.]
  12. Document 56.
  13. See Document 204.
  14. For purposes of this analysis, “Successful Vietnamization” is defined as improvement in South Vietnamese military capabilities such that insurgency is controlled by police/militia forces and the regular forces are available and competent to face the external attack. [Footnote in the original.]
  15. Not found.
  16. Specifically, South Vietnam would be counted on to supply six U.S. division force equivalents while Thailand supplied two U.S. division force equivalents. [Footnote in the original.]
  17. A page-length table, entitled “Summary of Illustrative Asian Strategies,” is attached but not printed.