101. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1


  • NSSM on National Defense Policy and Military Posture

Our national defense strategy has not been reviewed comprehensively since 1969. The study conducted at that time (NSSM 3),2 resulted in an articulation of our overall military posture and defense strategy. The international, political, economic and military environment has changed substantially since that time: we have substantially altered our relationship with the Soviet Union; we have established a dialogue with the PRC; other centers of power have been strengthened; our relationship with developing countries has become more important; and economic issues are weighing more heavily in shaping the over-all east-west balance. As a result, there is a general consensus that a thorough new analysis of our overall defense strategy should be undertaken.3

[Page 430]

In a general sense, the proposed review would determine whether current U.S. policy, planning and capabilities are consistent with current national security objectives and available resources and recommend changes if and where necessary. In specific terms, the study would examine the security and foreign policy impact of a range of alternative strategies for our strategic and general purpose forces, taking into account the current and projected threat and foreign policy, arms control, and budgetary considerations and implications.

The review would be conducted by the NSC Defense Review Panel (DRP). The study group itself would include State, Defense, OMB, CIA, ACDA, and the NSC staff and would be chaired by a representative of the Defense Department. An interim report would be submitted for your consideration by November 30, 1976 (and thus be available for use in making decisions on major issues relating to the FY 78 Defense budget), and a final report by April 30, 1977. Attached at Tab A4 is a draft NSSM which would initiate the proposed study. If you decide this strategy review should be made, I recommend that you personally sign the NSSM in order to emphasize your personal interest in this important review.


That you sign the NSSM at Tab A.

  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 47, NSSM 246 (2 of 2) (1). Secret.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 66.
  3. In an August 13 memorandum, Vest informed Kissinger that Rumsfeld had proposed the review. According to Vest, “DOD top levels had decided that it would be important for the new administration to have this study in hand at the outset; beginning it in January would be too late. Also the next Defense posture statement, due to be submitted to Congress in January, would benefit from the policy review. The defense planning cycle and the domestic political schedule thus appear to be the forces driving this project.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P760133–2370)
  4. Tab A, as signed, is Document 102.