79. Memorandum From the Senior Military Assistant, National Security Council Staff (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

    • Items to Discuss with the President, October 13
Inform the President that Defense is proceeding with the alert measures which he approved last week and that the first series of actions will involve a stand down on a selective basis of US worldwide flying training activities. The stand down posture will continue until our intelligence indicates that the Soviets have become aware of the increased readiness. We are awaiting recommendations from the field prior to initiating the other steps which include radio and other communications silence, increased surveillance of Soviet shipping to North Vietnam, increased ground alert of SAC tankers and bombers, and movement of SAC and Air Defense nuclear capable forces to their military dispersed operating bases. We expect detailed plans today or tomorrow from Defense.2
I believe you should discuss with the President the need to inform both Secretary Rogers and Under Secretary Richardson of the increased measures listed above.3 Recognizing that they will probably object strongly, it is nonetheless essential in my view that they be cut in since feedback will most certainly come immediately through State channels. And while we may be able to live with confused Ambassadors in the field, I do not believe Rogers or Richardson will forgive our failure to keep them informed. In the final analysis, this failure will probably be brought to the attention of the press with accompanying criticism.4

[Omitted here are items 3 through 5, which deal with unrelated matters.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 334, Subject Files, Items to Discuss with the President, 8/13/69–12/30/69. Secret.
  2. Kissinger highlighted the paragraph’s final two sentences.
  3. During a telephone conversation held on October 13 at 12:05 p.m., Laird told Kissinger that he would instruct Pursley to notify Theodore L. Eliot, Jr., Special Assistant to the Secretary and Executive Secretary of the Department of State, “that we are having a routine SAC exercise and that it has been discussed with the President.” At 9:30 a.m. the following morning, Laird informed Kissinger that he had “played it low key with State on these exercises. Ted Eliot briefed Richardson. K[issinger] asked if they squawked. Laird said they asked what it was all about and he told them they would have to ask the highest authority about it. He told them it was a training exercise.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  4. Kissinger highlighted this entire paragraph, drew a line through it, and wrote a marginal comment: “how?”