108. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Borg) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1


  • B–1 Issues Paper

We have reviewed the B–1 issues paper distributed by the NSC Secretariat on 10 November2 to the Defense Review Panel principals. We understand that this paper is to be presented to the Congress as a B–1 “White Paper” and thus is intended to be an advocacy argument for a B–1 production decision by the next Administration. As such, it will probably be given a good deal of publicity and more than usual attention by supporters and critics of the B–1.

We have no objection to the publication of this paper but would suggest that it be reviewed again in Defense to ensure that it does not inadvertently add to the controversy already surrounding the B–1 program. There are a number of assertions and statements in the present draft that would tend to do just that and would be difficult to defend in public. For example, the Executive Summary asserts in the third paragraph that the Soviets are attempting to “gain nuclear superiority.” This is not a view unanimously held either within the intelligence or national security communities3 nor among the informed public and it is not really relevant to the question of buying B–1. There are other questionable statements elsewhere in the paper. On page iii of the Executive Summary, the claim is made that the doubling of the program costs [Page 458]from $11.2 billion to $22.8 billion is not due to “real cost growth” but to the “effect of economic escalation.” The meaning of the phrase “economic escalation” and how it is distinguishable from cost growth is nowhere explained. Earlier, on the same page, there appears this statement: “This is a fine airplane of intrinsic versatility which can be exploited for many varied missions currently unidentified.” It does not seem to us helpful to suggest, as this statement does, that we cannot identify the missions for this expensive aircraft, no matter how varied they may be.

With careful editing to remove these and other statements of questionable merit, the draft could be issued in unclassified form as a B–1 White Paper.

C. Arthur Borg Executive Secretary
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Agency Files, Box 8, Defense, Department of, 11/18/76. Secret.
  2. For the executive summary, see Document 104.
  3. Acting DCI Knoche’s November 15 memorandum to Rumsfeld, which contained the CIA’s response to the B–1 issues paper, recommended that the paper, while generally “consistent with national intelligence estimates of Soviet capabilities through the mid-1980s,” be amended to convey “uncertainties about the effectiveness of Soviet forces—particularly defenses against low-altitude cruise missiles—during the potential operational lifetime of the B–1 bomber.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Agency Files, Box 8, Defense, Department of, 11/18/76)