41. National Security Study Memorandum 641

  • TO
    • The Secretary of Defense
    • U.S. Strategic Capabilities

As a result of National Security Council discussion of the U.S. strategic posture, prepared in response to National Security Study Memorandums 3 and 24,2 the President has directed that you prepare a follow-on study as follows:

With respect to strategic nuclear attacks on the United States, evaluate U.S. strategic forces projected through 1978 in terms of (a) their capability to deter and respond to less than all-out or disarming Soviet attacks, and (b) a range of possible war outcome measures in addition [Page 163]to surviving population and industry, such as surviving military and other economic assets. The analysis should be based on both low and high Soviet force levels in the National Intelligence Projections for Planning and on greater than expected threats.

The analysis should include consideration of the actual and required capabilities of the U.S. command and control system under the postulated operational situations.

The study should also address the following questions:

  • —What general strategic force levels and what types of force mixes and force characteristics are indicated to improve relative U.S. strategic capabilities as now projected?
  • —What improvements, if any, seem indicated for our programmed strategic command and control systems?
  • —Based on the analysis, what modifications or changes to the criteria for strategic sufficiency should be considered?

The study should be forwarded to the NSC Review Group by October 1, 1969. Close liaison should be maintained in all phases of the study with the Office of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 365, Subject Files, NSSMs, Nos. 43–103. Top Secret. Copies were sent to William Rogers, General Earle Wheeler, Richard Helms, and Robert Mayo. In a July 1 memorandum to the President, Kissinger recommended that Nixon approve a draft NSSM that examined “our strategic capabilities and force requirements under circumstances other than ‘massive retaliation.’ “According to Kissinger, “The objective will be to develop measures which are appropriate for the kinds of situations which the President might actually face in a crisis—specifically it should examine more discriminating options than the present SIOP.” Nixon indicated his approval by initialing the memorandum. (Ibid., NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–127, NSSM 3)
  2. Documents 2 and 10.