229. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer) to Secretary of Defense Laird 1

    • Taking Stock
(U) Reference is made to your memorandum, subject as above, dated 3 November 1972, which requested comments on those Department of Defense programs that are within my area of cognizance.2
(U) The past four years have been a period of gradual adjustment of our Defense planning and operations in support of the concepts of the Nixon Doctrine, Realistic Deterrence and Total Force Planning. [Page 1031] A summary of the key issues, objectives, and accomplishments is included in the enclosure.3
(TS/RD) Although much progress has been made during this period, there are several continuing and new problems that have not been solved and require attention:
Worldwide politico-military trends will make it increasingly difficult to maintain the world power balance and the solidarity of our present alliance structure. As we begin a new round of negotiations, our national security must be insured by guaranteeing at least equivalence with the USSR. Also, the nation’s overall military strategy must be under continual review as relative military strengths and alliance relationships change.
If we are to retain our leadership role in the NATO Alliance, we must take into consideration the legitimate concerns of our Allies regarding their security and the cohesiveness of the NATO Alliance and take action to counter Allied suspicions that the United States is reaching secret understandings with the Soviets.
Qualitative improvements and a balanced force must be optimized to avoid any decrease in our present relative capability. There must be assurance in the survivability of our deterrent forces. Qualitative improvements should provide our strategic retaliatory forces with a hard target kill capability.
Urgent efforts are needed to modernize the tactical nuclear weapon stockpile. Modernization will overcome certain inadequacies of the present stockpile such as slow reaction times, unwanted collateral effects, delivery inaccuracies and other deficiencies attributable to the technical age of the systems. Unless prompt and vigorous action is taken at the highest level of government to restart reactors, the United States could be faced with a national security problem of major proportions.
Modernization and upgrading of equipment while remaining within fiscal constraints will continue to be difficult. Research and development and the acquisition of new systems face an inflationary economy and the realization of a significant increase in Soviet capabilities.
Continued emphasis is needed to improve the survivability, reliability, standardization and interface of the WWMCCS to insure adequate command and control of our forces by the NCA. Recent reorganization should improve management in this area.
Timely, reliable and adequate intelligence is needed to provide rapid military response, flexible options, and the capability to monitor technological achievements of our increasingly strong potential enemies. The status of posthostilities intelligence arrangements in Southeast Asia remains of concern to the defense intelligence community.
Regarding our strategic mobility, any further reduction of forward deployed forces places potentially greater demands on strategic mobility forces in the event of a requirement to reinforce and resupply US forces committed overseas. We have instituted improvements in strategic mobility planning and movement control which provide for greater involvement of the transportation operating agencies in the planning process. These improvements have resulted in more efficient utilization of strategic mobility assets. Although we continue to experience difficulty in convincing the international community that strategic mobility is vital to the security of all nations, progress is being made, particularly in the NATO community. Also, we must continue to maintain our sealift and airlift capability for the rapid deployment of forces in a reinforcement role or for a potential “forcible entry or reentry” mission if necessary.
Adequate Lines of Communication (LOC) for wartime support of US forces in Central Europe by means of the UK/BENELUX LOC are not yet a reality. Although approved as a concept in September 1969, Congressional opposition to the concept for the positioning of LOC/PORT equipment remains. In addition, the equipment for the LOC/PORT has not been available and essential country-to-country agreements and technical arrangements have not all been consummated. As a result, in the initial stages of a conventional war, the United States would be unable to support sustained combat operations in Europe without degradation to its reinforcing and combat capability. Therefore, all arrangements required to establish a wartime LOC in Europe, particularly the pre-positioning in Europe of essential LOC equipment, must be aggressively pursued.
Management of Security Assistance is a continuing problem. Proposed programs must be credible and supportable, if we are going to avoid criticism by Congress with the resultant reduction of funds. In addition, DOD should continue to support the traditional relationships between the Chief of MAAGs and Diplomatic missions and resist any initiative that would eliminate the military chain of command in the MAAG system.
There is a definite need to recognize the potential dangers to our national security posture created by the increasing US dependence on foreign energy sources and to recognize this energy gap in our Foreign Policy and national security interests.
(TS) Perspective comments are provided on the following items: [Page 1033]
It should be possible to decentralize management control in still more areas as programs stabilize. Where possible, eliminate redundancy among the Services by vesting management of like functions in a single Service as has been done in some procurement and R&D programs.
Continued efforts are needed to overcome the problems associated with the attainment of an all volunteer armed force to include improvement of housing, stability, equal opportunity for advancement, job satisfaction and an equitable retirement benefits program. Improvements in these areas will enhance our ability to obtain and retain the quantity and quality of personnel required. A key to attainment of our goals is Congressional approval of the Uniform Services Special Pay Act (USSP) which provides bonus authority to attract the selected military occupational skills needed to meet our mission requirements. Our effort to achieve equal opportunity for minority personnel and women must continue. Race relations education and equal opportunity programs can and must be implemented without compromise of disciplinary or performance standards.
The definition of objectives for strategic forces has given new direction to our strategic force planning. The development of the Presidential sufficiency criteria has provided a clearer understanding of force requirements and helped to establish priorities for developing proposed defense programs. We are in complete agreement that flexibility should be incorporated into defense programs to hedge against failures in negotiations, increased threats, or unexpected failures in US systems, and to preserve the ability to capitalize on opportunities that arise. However, additional emphasis and clarification of guidance for strategic forces are required to insure that proposed programs satisfy our national security objectives. We believe that the capability to successfully terminate nuclear war at the lowest level of nuclear conflict is vital. If our national authorities are to have the options necessary to deal with all levels of crises, we should develop both an assured destruction capability against urban/industrial targets and the capability to selectively destroy an enemy military target system.
Guidance for general purpose forces has appropriately stressed the priority importance of deterring conflict in the NATO area and providing capabilities for joint defense should deterrence fail. A prime prerequisite of these forces is that they be versatile, capable of operating in a nuclear or non-nuclear environment with realistic and effective employment options.
Substantial progress has been made in implementing the Total Force Concept. Reserve and National Guard forces are being built up to strength slowly and first line equipment is being provided as it becomes available. However, a more realistic method of appraising the [Page 1034] actual capabilities and limitations of Reserve forces as a part of the Total Force Concept should be undertaken to avoid the possibility of over dependence on these forces in time of crisis. Also, security assistance programs to strengthen our allies should be selectively tailored for allies capable of assuming major roles in accordance with the Nixon Doctrine.
Regarding General Support or Overhead as related to mission accomplishment, it is anticipated that additional areas will be found for improving combat to support ratios. Also, approval of base reductions/closures consistent with reduced funding and force levels is essential if any significant overhead savings are to be made.
The readiness of our existing forces to meet a contingency was adequately demonstrated during the recent surge effort in Southeast Asia. As redeployment is completed, reduced personnel turbulence, and improved stabilization of unit assignment should result. However, readiness will require continued emphasis because of its greater significance in the post-Vietnam period when lower force levels will require maximum effectiveness from the resources available.
(C) A key impediment experienced in carrying out our tasks is the annual requirement to operate for several months under a continuing resolution until the Congress acts on the budget. This decreases the effectiveness of our management efforts. When budget reductions occur after several months of the fiscal year have already passed, severe actions are required in the remaining months to meet the budgetary constraints.
(S) In summary, there has been much progress in the past four years. However, there is much remaining to be accomplished. The next few years will be especially challenging because of the significant effort which will be required to convince all elements of our society that we cannot afford to let down our military guard. Strategic realities must continue to predominate in providing for our common defense.
T. H. Moorer
  1. Source: Ford Library, Laird Papers, Box 28, Taking Stock. Top Secret; Restricted Data.
  2. Laird’s November 3 memorandum to Moorer, the military service secretaries, and select Defense Department officials, asked them to review “the past four years, in terms of the key issues, objectives, accomplishments and failures that from your perspective reflect the effectiveness of the Administration’s stewardship.” He also asked that recipients “identify those continuing or perhaps new problems that lie ahead.” (Ibid.)
  3. Attached but not printed is a 10-page paper entitled “Summary of Past Four Years.”