114. Minutes of Defense Review Panel Meeting1


  • NSSM 246


  • OSD
  • Secretary Rumsfeld (Chairman)
  • Dr. James P. Wade
  • State
  • Under Secretary Robinson
  • Mr. Sonnenfeldt
  • ACDA
  • Deputy Director Lehman
  • Mr. Behr
  • OMB
  • Director Lynn
  • Mr. Ogilvie
  • JCS
  • General Brown
  • General Smith
  • CIA
  • Deputy Director Knoche
  • Admiral Bergin
  • NSC
  • General Scowcroft
  • General Boverie
  • Major Jayne

Rumsfeld: Brent, we should consider how the President would like to receive this report. I think we should try for an NSC meeting Thursday or Friday for the purpose only of briefing on 246 (not a decision meeting); Brent will get a time.2

Rumsfeld: We have to approve the study to go forth. Is there any objection to the paper as it now stands? Everyone is here but Jim Lynn.

Ogilvie: I have no objection myself, but I don’t know what Jim’s views are. Can we leave it open until he gets here?

Rumsfeld: Okay. Assuming no objections, we can transmit it today. I will give Brent the transmittal memo. Does anyone have any problem with the text of my cover memo? I, myself, am a little concerned about how poor the cost figures are. Maybe we need to emphasize that more.

Ogilvie: I agree. We need one more sentence on cost uncertainty.

[Page 540]

Brown: I think it needs one more sentence on cost uncertainty at the end.

Rumsfeld: We’ll add a stronger sentence on the cost figures and how poor they are. The President should be cautioned as to what they are worth.

Scowcroft: [Referring to the “Issues for Decision” memo].3 There is not enough meat in the memo. It is insufficient—it doesn’t go far enough.

Rumsfeld: Why don’t you re-do it.

Scowcroft: Let’s just wait for now; we’ll get a reaction from the President.

Ogilvie: Trying to get agreement on issues now is impossible, but it doesn’t help the President. We know the implications of the alternatives (in the issues memo), but he doesn’t.

Rumsfeld: He (the President) can figure it out. We shouldn’t worry about it.

Brown: I think we should stop at the second paragraph; don’t list the options.

Rumsfeld: The President will have advice from all of us.

Robinson: I like the paper.

Rumsfeld: I think we’ve got some confusion between the cover memo and the issues memo. Let’s move now to the issues memo.

Scowcroft and Ogilvie: That’s the one we mean.

Rumsfeld: This is free play. Obviously, the President shouldn’t depend on 246 too heavily on some of those decisions regarding the budget, but 246 does have utility. I could go along with not having this memo.

Scowcroft: It is insufficient. I don’t know if we need it. The President will be briefed, and we will have two NSC meetings. I’m not sure those oral sessions won’t take the place of this issues memo. After that, we can gather these things together.

Lehman: Good idea.

Robinson: What are we really adding beyond a transmittal note?

Rumsfeld: The issues memo gives the President the range of his possible choices. It gives him perspective. That’s the value of this check list, an indication on how to think about utilizing the study. To get something more obviously wasn’t possible. I know the Working Group tried, but it just wasn’t there yet.

[Page 541]

Scowcroft: I’d be inclined to wait.

Brown: I agree we should hold off on this.

Robinson: A better focused memo of this sort could come later. [Lynn arrives]

Lynn: We do plan for an NSC meeting this week, don’t we? It is okay with me to forward the report now.

Rumsfeld: We’re discussing the issue of what kind of paper to attach—the consensus is that our draft is inadequate, so don’t send it.

Scowcroft: I suggested that for the second NSC, based on the President’s reactions at this week’s meeting, we could then, if appropriate, write a “pro and con” memo on issues for decision, giving agency positions.

Rumsfeld: I would envision a long memo, maybe 40 issues.

Scowcroft: Yes, maybe 15 pages, 40 issues.

Lynn: We need a helpful bridging document between 2464 and specific issues like M–X—a decision paper relating M–X to various alternative strategies, etc.

Scowcroft: You want a bridge to a budget. That’s different from what I see. I think there could be a number of other issues for decision too.

Lynn: He might as well address both strategy and budget issues together. Why doesn’t OMB do a draft of what we have in mind. It will link the budget to alternative strategies. We have not put into context the immediate implications of choosing a strategy.

Brown: Take M–X; what is the strategic implication of the 1978 budget level on that system? The real strategy issue involves the basing mode. You don’t get at that through the budget. You could foreclose an option through the budget, but you really leave many open.

Robinson: We at State see the budget issues as not really being critical to strategy.

Rumsfeld: Let’s have OMB do it; work with Aldridge and Wade on it.

Ogilvie: We could use some guidance from the DRP. We would see about four decisions: M–X, ships, civil defense, and sustainability, and reasonable people can argue on others.

Rumsfeld: The Navy shipbuilding issue should be decided on the basis of the Navy Study,5 after 246 has been briefed.

Lehman: I agree.

[Page 542]

Ogilvie: We can easily link 246 options to budget decisions. Do we want to go into other issues?

Lynn: The President may say that certain decisions are dependent on further studies.

Rumsfeld: But what else does he do beyond the budget? Some of the key issues are different, and are much harder than issues for further study.

Lynn: We’re really in the dark on the numbers, but the general guidance is clear. We need to know the President’s thinking, and ask him to work in some given direction, even if it’s tentative, so that we can keep our actions consistent with his general thrust.

Scowcroft: I don’t think those considerations require a firm decision on NSSM 246. The President doesn’t have to select a strategy to do that.

Lynn: But it’s tough to keep the broad stuff in mind as you go through specific issues. You need to pick a guide, a strategy.

Scowcroft: That still doesn’t require decision. We should not force him into an early decision on 246. He may not want to do anything.

Rumsfeld: I think we’ve covered everything. I’ll sign the transmittal memo, and Brent, you can just add a sentence at the bottom emphasizing the cost problem. Thank you all.

  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 25, Meeting Minutes—Defense Review Panel. Secret. Brackets are in the original minutes. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room. The meeting’s purpose, according to Boverie’s November 29 briefing memorandum to Scowcroft, was to review the NSSM 246 summary report (Document 113), which had been revised in light of comments made at the November 24 DRP meeting (Document 111) “The fundamental issue for the DRP” was if and how the revised paper was to be transmitted to the President, wrote Boverie, whose memorandum is ibid., Box 22, Defense Review Panel Meeting, 11/30/76—NSSM 246 (1).
  2. An NSC meeting was held on December 2. See Document 115.
  3. Attached to Boverie’s November 29 memorandum to Scowcroft, but not printed, is a decision memorandum drafted by the DRPWG. The DRPWG’s draft was not issued.
  4. For NSSM 246, see Documents 102 and 113.
  5. See Document 110.