173. Memorandum From the Director of Central Intelligence (Bush) to Recipients of National Intelligence Estimate 11–4–771
1. The production of NIE 11–3/8–762 has disclosed a wide range of views within the Intelligence Community on the question of Soviet objectives for strategic forces, a question on which very little hard evidence is available. NIE 11–4–77, forwarded herewith, examines the broader question of Soviet strategic, objectives overall, and is not intended to supersede NIE 11–3/8. NIE 11–4 uses a presentational technique different from that of 11–3/8. It is intended to help the reader understand the argument, rather than to resolve it.
2. For this reason NIE 11–4–77 is an unusual estimate. It presents two general lines of argument without requiring the NFIB principals to define their positions. Obviously, within these two general positions there are differences of emphasis among the individual agencies, but I believe that to state these would be more likely to hamper the reader’s basic understanding of this important issue than to assist it.
- Source: Central Intelligence Agency, National Intelligence Council, Job 79R00603A: O/DDI Policy Files, Box 7, NIE 11–4–77: Final with Distribution List. Secret. Bush’s memorandum and the estimate’s Key Judgments section are also published in the CIA’s Intentions and Capabilities, pp. 391–395.↩
- The attachment to Document 170.↩
- Secret; [handling restriction not declassified]. The CIA and the intelligence organizations of the NSA, ERDA, and the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury participated in the preparation of this estimate. The DCI submitted this estimate with the concurrence of all members of the NFIB except the representatives of the FBI and the Department of the Treasury, who abstained.↩
- The Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Department of the Air Force believes the frequent use of such words as fear, anxiety, worry, caution, and concern to describe the state of mind of the Soviet leadership is overdone. He warns the reader that he should not let this excessive use of these words distract from the obvious determination and drive of the Soviet leadership to achieve strategic military superiority. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- The Senior Intelligence Officer, Energy Research and Development Administration believes that the crucial issue is not whether the Soviets “succeed” or “fail” to achieve their objectives within then years, but rather whether they make substantial gains toward their longer-range strategic objectives. [Footnote in the original.]↩
The Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, the senior intelligence officers of the Military Departments, and the Senior Intelligence Officer, Energy Research and Development Administration believe that this formulation overstates Soviet concerns about the brittleness of their system and the extent to which fear of East European instability might inhibit the USSR in initiating a major war. They believe that the Soviet leaders recognize that their system, while strong, is also faced with internal differences and difficulties, and that stress could weaken the system. Therefore, over the years, these leaders have evolved a number of control mechanisms—including party discipline and regulations circumscribing Western influence—to ensure that these potentially debilitating elements do not become major hindrances to the USSR in the pursuit of its objectives. As the Soviets contemplate Eastern Europe, their concerns are doubtless much stronger—they have on occasion resorted to drastic measures to maintain control and are pushing economic, political, and military measures to tie the East European states closer to the USSR. All these factors would be reviewed carefully to ensure full control prior to a Soviet decision on any major action that could lead to war.
The Deputy Director of Central Intelligence believes that problems of dissent and disaffection are regarded as extremely important by the Soviets, affecting as they do not only the party leadership’s political control, but Soviet relations with the West and with fraternal Communist parties as well. He believes, however, that in comparison to other inhibitions which would have to be overcome before taking so cataclysmic a step as initiating a major war, concerns about internal dissent would not have major significance. Indeed, he questions to what extent dissent in any form would survive if the USSR were placed on a war footing. He agrees that the Soviets would be more affected by misgivings about the reliability of their Warsaw Pact allies than by concerns about their own population. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- The Central Intelligence Agency’s recently revised estimates show that the USSR has been devoting about one eighth of its gross national product to defense during the 1970s; the Director, Defense Intelligence Agency and the senior intelligence officers of the Military Departments think the share probably is higher. Research in underway to determine the corresponding ration in the 1960s. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- See footnote 2, Document 48.↩
- The Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, the senior officers of the Military Departments, and the Senior Intelligence Officer, Energy Research and Development Administration believe that, in sum, the Soviets are unlikely to make concessions in either SALT or MBFR unless, after extensive probing, they are convinced that concessions are required on their part to continue the détente process, keep the West from expanding its military capabilities, or score gains which they consider more important. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- The Director, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Department of State believes this statement exaggerates the likely impact of Soviet civil defense efforts. He believes that these efforts will not materially increase Soviet willingness to risk a nuclear exchange and will not undermine the deterrent value of US strategic attack forces. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- The Director, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Department of State believes this sentence could be misleading since Soviet positions at SALT are consistent with a broad range of possible objectives, including maintenance of rough equivalence with the US. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- The Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Department of the Air Force believes that the Soviets have additionally made great strides toward achieving general military superiority over all perceived constellations of enemies and for attaining a war-winning capability at all levels of conflict. [Footnote in the original.]↩
The Director, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Department of State believes that this paragraph exaggerates the USSR’s confidence in its theater forces against NATO. While the Soviet forces are formidable, there is a body of evidence that the Soviets are extremely conservative in their reckoning of the balance and that they believe they have reason to doubt whether their forces could succeed in carrying out the kind of massive offensive which Soviet strategy for a war in Europe requires.
He takes a different view of the significance of exercise scenarios in which reinforcement does not precede initiation of hostilities. In his view, the exercise evidence seems to fit better with the hypothesis that the West struck before the Soviets could reinforce than with the conclusion that the East chose to attack before reinforcement. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- The Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, the senior intelligence officers of the Military Departments, and the Senior Intelligence Officer, Energy Research and Development Administration believe that the Soviets are striving for a marked change in their favor in the complex balance in Europe in the next decade by continued improvements in their current programs in nuclear, chemical, night fighting, mobility, electronic warfare, and mass fire capabilities. They believe Soviet expectation of political movement reinforces their hopes for such a change. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- The Director of Naval Intelligence, Department of the Navy notes that Soviet success and failure in any such intervention would be heavily affected by a number of other variables—particularly the stance of regional states and the disposition of the forces of the other major power. [Footnote in the original.]↩