3. National Security Study Memorandum 81

  • TO
    • The Secretary of Defense
    • Technical Issues Concerning U.S. Strategic Forces

In addition to the study of the U.S. military posture requested in NSSM 3, the President has directed the preparation of a separate study on technical issues concerning U.S. Strategic Forces including questions of reliability and command and control.

The President has directed that this study be performed jointly by the Department of Defense and the NSC Staff in a manner to be determined by the Secretary of Defense and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. The results of the study should be reported directly to the President.2

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 365, Subject Files, NSSMs, Nos. 1–42. Top Secret.
  2. The study done in response to NSSM 8 was incorporated into the response to NSSM 3, the summary of which is printed as Document 34. See in particular section II, part B, number 3, and section V. In his memoirs, Kissinger recalled his dissatisfaction with the response to NSSM 8, a shortcoming he blamed on the Pentagon. According to Kissinger, the development of “strategies to meet contingencies other than all-out nuclear challenge” remained incomplete until James Schlesinger’s tenure as Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975. (Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 216–217)