222. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1
- US Civil Defense Policy
Background. In 1969, we undertook an interagency review of our civil defense program options.2 Our current program costs about $84M and, besides increasing emphasis on our capability to deal with natural disasters, it is geared to provide fallout protection, warning systems development, public training and emergency hospital programs. Its major deficiencies are the maldistribution of the over 190M shelter spaces (mostly in downtown urban areas) and the still limited planning for dealing with crises.
We need a decision on the general level of our civil defense effort for the next few years to provide guidance to the agencies for 1974 budget preparations.
Options and Agency Views. The study presents six alternatives beginning with a minimal program and adding basic new program elements to each successive option. (Options are detailed in the analytical summary at tab.)
In brief, Option 1 is a low protection minimal program supported by ACDA; Option 2 is a status quo program supported by State; Option 3 would add a major crisis planning and management program; Option 4 would add more and better distributed fallout shelter protection (OEP, Defense and JCS support this option to improve our life-saving potential in nuclear attack and our capability to deal with natural disasters); Option 5 would add more advanced R&D, particularly on the feasibility of extensive blast shelters (AEC supports this spending level but wants more emphasis on such programs as rapid urban evacuation and longer-range population dispersal); Option 6 would add prototype development and deployment of blast shelters.
My View. Major new programs would have high political visibility and require substantial cost increases over several years. More importantly, our strategic posture for the foreseeable future does not [Page 1003] necessitate an expanded civil defense effort. Today’s program provides some life-saving potential for nuclear attack or natural disasters and a valuable infrastructure extending into 50 states.
Therefore, I recommend maintaining the current level of effort. I also recommend that you endorse the objective of increasing emphasis on our capability to deal with natural disasters. This would not entail any major program reorientation or cost increases.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–236, NSDM 184. Secret. Sent for action. Michael Guhin of the NSC Staff sent the memorandum to Kissinger under a covering memorandum of August 7. (Ibid.)↩
- See NSSM 57, Document 28.↩
- Document 223.↩
- Haig approved the recommendation on behalf the President.↩
- The summary of the response to NSSM 57 was apparently prepared by Guhin of the NSC Staff, who sent it to Kissinger on April 11 under a covering memorandum. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–236, NSDM 184) Lincoln, Chairman of an Interagency Ad Hoc Group, submitted the group’s response to NSSM 57 to Kissinger on June 26, 1970. Lincoln’s covering memorandum reads in part as follows: “An important conclusion of this study is that an extensive civil defense program should not be undertaken at this time.” (Ibid., Box H–151, NSSM 57) In an August 18, 1971, memorandum to Kissinger, Guhin and Richard T. Kennedy of the NSC Staff explained that the Ad Hoc Group’s response had since been scheduled for review by the SRG on several occasions, but was each time “displaced by higher priority issues.” (Ibid., Box H–152, NSSM 57)↩
- See NSDM 16, Document 39.↩