143. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Report on the U.S. Navy by the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board

The President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) has submitted a report to you entitled “A Report to the President Regarding His Objective of a U.S. Navy ‘Second to None’ (Tab B).2

Background

At a meeting with the PFIAB on October 4, 1973,3 you directed the Board to assess the adequacy of U.S. naval forces, emphasizing the importance of maintaining our Navy “second to none.” On February 8, 1974, you again met with the PFIAB.4 At that meeting, Admiral George W. Anderson, Chairman of the PFIAB, indicated that the Board had completed its assessment of the Navy, and he summarized principal conclusions of the review.

The PFIAB report portrays a highly negative picture of the U.S.-Soviet naval balance, which it characterizes as tenuous and uncertain. It indicates that the Soviets, in situations of their choice, could effectively oppose U.S. naval forces, and thereby diminish the utility of the U.S. Navy as an instrument of foreign policy. The PFIAB report recommends a national commitment under your leadership to recoup U.S. naval preeminence, and it recommends substantial increases in funds for the Navy. The report specifically recommends that National Security Memorandum (NSSM) 1775—entitled “Military Missions Involving Naval Forces”—be completed as a matter of urgency, and that you direct the Secretary of Defense to submit a comprehensive cost analysis and time-phased plan to achieve the goal of naval superiority.

Comments

Clearly, we all share Admiral Anderson’s concern that we maintain a strong and adequate Navy. However, as Admiral Anderson has [Page 653]indicated, a clear perception of the threat, what is expected of the Navy, and an integral assessment of naval requirements in conjunction with other strategic priorities are prerequisites to any national commitment. The study we have underway in the NSC system—NSSM 177—is intended to provide that perception. Before undertaking any major new commitment, or providing substantially increased resources, we should first acquire the more definitive understanding which should result from the current NSC study.

The results of the on-going NSC study, combined with those of the PFIAB review, will further illuminate the relative capabilities of the U.S. and Soviet navies, and will assist in the delineation of the practicable options available to maintain our naval strength.

I have prepared a letter to Admiral Anderson, citing the value of the PFIAB report to future decisions concerning U.S. naval forces and expressing appreciation to the PFIAB members and staff for their efforts.

Recommendation

That you sign the letter to Admiral Anderson at Tab A.6 [Dave Gergen7 concurs in the text of the letter.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 278, Agency Files, PFIAB, Vol. 8 (1973). Top Secret; Sensitive. All brackets are in the original memorandum.
  2. PFIAB’s report, February 8, is attached, but not printed.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 142.
  4. The record of that meeting is Document 142.
  5. Document 12.
  6. The President’s signed letter, March 18, is attached, but not printed.
  7. Special Assistant to the President, January 1973–August 1974.