96. Minutes of Defense Program Review Committee Meeting1

HAK [Kissinger]:2 Originally, President found himself arbitrating defense issues on a line-by-line basis. He didn’t like being put into this position.

We’re concerned with political doctrinal implications of long-term force projections.

You’ve seen NSDM 26. Implications of force postures, in relation to five year projection,3 and in relation to NSSMs. In this context, this Group performs same function NSC Review Group performs.

Other contexts are five-year plan due by Jan 15 and next year’s DOD budget.

We can’t reopen budget line-by-line. We can review implications, e.g., NATO implications, doctrinal implications, it’s this problem we are here to deal with.

Defense strategy, overseas deployments and policies and programs. Comments Elliot?

ER [Richardson]: As a Group we should be concerned with regular mechanism between State and Defense, see that political implications are taken into account. We should improve this machinery.

DP [Packard]: Let me tell you what we’re going to do in response to NSDM 26, developing a better planning base. Line item basis is impossible.

[Page 316]

JCS developed JSOP. This hasn’t worked well. No fiscal guidance, poor communications between Services, JCS, and OSD. We have a better plan.

We get initiation of force structure, fiscal guidance at an early date, come up with forces. Process has started.

FY 71 budget submissions have been made. JCS will go back and redo JSOP with guidance from NSDM 27, ISA political in part. This will give us some analysis of problem by Jan 15. Can’t do thorough job, but can come up with strategic plan—NATO, SEA—that this Committee can look at.

DP: Five Year Plan will come into reasonable conformance with NSDM 27 by Jan 15. But it will be into FY 72 budget cycle before we can get it firm. But we’re trying to put NSDM 27 guidance into specific terms. Force structure and budget will be fairly well in conformance with it.

We should [review?] political, budgetary issues, look at overall program, not line-by-line. We’ll address the question of how many airplanes.

HAK: That’s what we think.

Wheeler: I agree with Dave. His role on this body is an appropriate one, precluding line item approach. You can’t strip out single lines.

HAK: We did this this Spring. I didn’t know what we were doing.

Helms: Hear, hear.

HAK: Jim, what do you think?

Schlesinger: We need realistic fiscal objective from outside. Budgetary situation is growing grim. BOB has written to DOD about this problem.

In past there has been joint BOBDOD review. They raise questions, which SecDef decides (subject/issues). They report back to Director. These subject/issues are reviewed by Director.

Budget must go to printer by first of January.

HAK: This won’t work perfectly well for FY 71. We don’t want to be widely inconsistent with NSDM 27.

DP: I don’t object to you people having a look. We need help. I’m objecting saying that we must have responsibility for fitting plan into requirement of strategy, fiscal guidance. It’s been helpful to have problem addressed within fiscal contexts.

Schlesinger: I introduce caveat that NSDM 27 doesn’t replace ordinary process of budget review.

HAK: NSDM 27 is guidelines for general posture. This group is then supposed to work on some of this, along with other fiscal mechanisms.

[Page 317]

DP: We should give you some definite dates.

HAK: Larry Lynn is my staff man on this.

Stein:4 Can we make advanced provision for tension between fiscal requirements and DOD budgets?

DP: We’re giving five-year guidance consistent with NSDM 27. We’re trying to avoid bow-waves, designing programs consistent with FYs 72, 73, 74 and 75.

Wheeler: Fact that we don’t have FY 70 budget puts hooker in what we do here. I don’t know how you can do better than educated guess as to next year unless we can get something soon.

DP: I don’t think it will be too bad. We will have a few problems. Our attempt is to keep flexibility with authorization, see how much money we want to spend. We’ve time to get on with cuts so all reductions don’t have to come in second half of year.

HAK: Two problems.

1. When to get look at FY 71 budget.

Schlesinger: After December 1.

HAK: President is restive about having to overrule frozen position. He wants a crack at preliminary discussion before it becomes bureaucratic issue. December 1 is pretty late. You can get it now piecemeal.

Schlesinger: I don’t know what can be done about it. Wheeler concurs.

ER: I don’t understand this.

Schlesinger: You can’t get overview, get only pieces.

HAK: What are pieces? GPF, Strategy F5 or carriers, etc.

DP: We have a strategy now we’re getting specific. When we get it done we ought to come in for review.

HAK: When?

DP: December 1 is target. Could do it sooner. Maybe Nov 20 for briefing.

HAK: Month from now.

DP: Then we have problem of arriving at force levels. One problem is getting end strength. Other problem is nuclear, strategic area, but no significant changes: we’ll go ahead with basic elements. There’s [Page 318] Phase I of Safeguard. We will probably record against Phase II.6 We don’t need this step at this time.

HAK: President will be very sensitive to this.

DP: We’re not planning on this. Would require money. We can show what we are planning for in 71 budget. Force levels are important. Then there’s Vietnam. Soviet naval threats, question of [MIRVs?]. Number of carriers. We can show you our plans, see whether we’re going in right direction.

ER: I would like to enter reservation for the record. I’m not sure I understand how this whole process will work, whether it’s sufficient and adequate to insure that political issues get factioned [factored] in, that State should be excluded until December 1. Doesn’t give us enough time.

DP: We can get your people involved. You, I and Alex 7 can handle this.

HAK: Let Larry sit in on this too.

[no response]8

Stein: Will your [omission in the original] program be with [omission in the original].

HAK: To sum up.

Between November 20–December 1 we will get a look at next year’s proposals.

When five year plan?

DP: Wait until next Jan 15 deadline to see five year plan.

HAK: Between these contexts we will see all these issues. In the meantime we will channel through this with the NSSMs and nuclear policy, deployment in Korea.9

I’d like to circulate to this group some suggestions about format, get your comments. Headings to enable this group to review it most effectively. I’d like to circulate a suggestion for comment. Useful for specific assignment of this group, i.e., not aircraft carrier per se.

ER: But a/c carriers vs bases is important.

HAK: We should show that trade off.

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DP: Guidance that will help us is what to plan on [omission in the original] to bases.

Wheeler: Special staff, or putting existing staff together.

HAK: We’ll see if we can use existing staff, not have special staff. Don’t need new staff. We might want ad hoc working groups.

DP: Reserve Ad Hoc group for some problem.

Schlesinger: [omission in the original] on budget. [If [omission in the original] strategy, foxes or so in the hole.]10

We gave DOD the most generous figure we could give. We face at least $9 billion decline in revenues, perhaps further. FY 71 may have less than FY 70. Largest wave of mandatory increase we’ve ever had.

It is [possible?] we could present budget with a deficit.

HAK: President is aware of budgetary constraints. NSDM 27 reflects the judgment of [what the Bureau?] of [the Budget?] is willing to stick with.

Wheeler: My forecast is that this group will be surprised at what U.S. strategic capabilities will be in light of money we are talking about. It will give our funds [friends] in State a very hard time in dealing with Allies, e.g., cutback in Navy ships, leak of NSDM decisions. It’s going to have a major impact.

HAK: Does State not have time to work out a political scenario.

DP: What Buzz [Wheeler] says is right. We are at bottom of barrel in NATO.

HAK: We’re putting out NSSM on this whole NATO doctrinal question.11 [The NATO allies?] want maximum of Americans there if possible, but [do] not do enough to make them meaningful, make us use our strategic weapons.

We should get something everyone can agree to. We can’t dribble forces out without creating crisis of confidence.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–118, DPRC Meetings Minutes, Originals, 1969–1973. No classification marking. No drafting information appears on the minutes. The members of the DPRC, representing their various agencies, were as follows: Kissinger, Richardson, Packard, Helms, Wheeler, McCracken, and Mayo.
  2. According to talking points prepared by Lynn of the NSC Staff, Kissinger was prepared to discuss NSDM 26, specifically “the kinds of issues the DPRC should address,” and NSDM 27, including the Defense Five Year Force and Program Plan (FYFPP). Kissinger wanted the DPRC to address strategy, budget, program, and overseas deployment issues. As for NSDM 27, Lynn recommended in the talking points the FYFPP, which would “display the programs, forces, and budget level which we should routinely monitor. Then, whenever an agency proposes to change a significant part of the defense plan, we in the DPRC will be notified automatically.” (Ibid., Box H–99, DPRC Meeting, October 22, 1969) NSDM 26 is Document 55; NSDM 27 is Document 56.
  3. This and all such subsequent references are to the FYFPP. On October 31, Kissinger sent a memorandum, drafted by Lynn, to all DPRC members with an attached tentative format for the new FYFPP. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 301, National Security Council, DPRC)
  4. Herbert Stein, representing the Council of Economic Advisers.
  5. An unclear reference. The report prepared by the NSSM 3 Interagency Steering Group, which served as the basis for the NSC meeting on September 10 and for NSDM 27, identified five worldwide strategies, numbered 1 through 5. See Document 45.
  6. Phase I of Safeguard, which Nixon opted to pursue in March 1969, consisted of construction of ABM defenses at two Minuteman complexes. Phase II, still under consideration at the time of the DPRC meeting, called for construction at additional sites. See Document 25.
  7. U. Alexis Johnson, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
  8. Brackets in the original.
  9. Kissinger was probably referring to NSSMs 64, “U.S. Strategic Capabilities,” and 69, “U.S. Nuclear Policy in Asia.” See Documents 41 and 42.
  10. The outer brackets are in the original.
  11. NSSM 84, issued on November 21, is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XLI, Western Europe; NATO, 1969–1972.