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46. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • President Gerald R. Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • James R. Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[Omitted here is discussion of SALT.]

The President: What is so important about the military construction authorization?

Secretary Schlesinger: Lots of things we need.

Secretary Kissinger: If we don’t get it this year, we won’t.

The President: Mansfield will be away. Can’t we win it in the Senate? I think we should stick with Hebert and hang tough. It is a hard knockout.

Secretary Schlesinger: On the ’75–’76 budget we have to make reviews in 1975 of what the impact will be on 1976. I’ve got to take it from the procurement for operations. In ’76 we have an agreement with OMB to build in the inflation on procurement. That gives us $107–108 billion in the budget and $95.1 billion in outlays. Since we have to take it from the procurement for operations, we should put it back in in ’76.

The President: Does the $95.1 include everything?

Secretary Schlesinger: It is just a continuation of the present program.

The President: What would $94 billion do?

Secretary Schlesinger: I’ll get you a readout. We can manipulate expenditures. The problem is in the TOA area. The budget savings is in the process which will reduce the Services by $3 billion to get to $95.1.

The President: What would they add?

Secretary Schlesinger: It would not be a precise add-on, more a chipping away.

The President: Roy [Ash] says you don’t want to stall promotions.

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Secretary Schlesinger: I’d be happy to go on a government-wide basis, but not on DOD alone. Otherwise I would rather get the savings elsewhere. Across the government, it would be okay.

The President: How would you save it?

Secretary Schlesinger: In the personnel account, PCS, etcetera. I worry about the discriminatory aspect.

The President: If you can give Roy the $27 million from elsewhere, okay. Do I have to make a decision on the $95.1 today?

Secretary Schlesinger: No. I just want you to know I must take it out of procurement for operations and that has implications for ’76. I wanted to get your views on the supplemental versus transfer authority.

The President: How big a supplemental would it be?

Secretary Schlesinger: About $700 million.

The President: Which is best?

Secretary Schlesinger: I think it is best not to go for the supplemental.

The President: I would save up the good will for next year. I would not go the supplemental route. My inclination would be to go for bigger than Roy. His is $94 billion?

Secretary Schlesinger: It may have slipped to $93.

The President: Does the unemployment situation help the recruiting?

Secretary Schlesinger: It is making the All Volunteer Force.2 It will get harder as the war baby generation thins out.

The President: I lean to a higher figure, but don’t know how much higher at the moment.

Secretary Schlesinger: I think Roy is prepared to be reasonable.

On the base closings, we are thinking of closing Loring AFB. Muskie will be the head of the budget committee—they will be organized in one year. Muskie is not in a good position to complain.

The President: What was its mission?

Secretary Schlesinger: It’s marginal SAC base. We are moving them inland.

The President: How many SAC bases would you close?

Secretary Schlesinger: I think five. We would also close Frankford and Pueblo arsenals. We would close Rome, N.Y.

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The President: I want to reemphasize that no closing should result in a transfer which Congress could claim we are bowing to Hebert, etc. That can’t be done.

Secretary Schlesinger: One has to watch the Services on this. It will not happen.

The President: I will study up on SALT.

Secretary Schlesinger: They will size you up. Show them they can work with you.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser’s Files, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 7, November 15, 1974—Ford, Kissinger, Schlesinger. Top Secret. The meeting, held in the Oval Office, concluded at 1:09 p.m. Kissinger departed at 12:54 p.m. (Ibid., Staff Secretary’s Office, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. In April 1970, Nixon decided to reduce draft calls as a step toward instituting an all-volunteer armed force. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XXXIV, National Security Policy, 1969–1972, Documents 131, 133 135, and 137 139.