65. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Don Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
  • Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Rumsfeld: First lets discuss Angola and the Christian Science Monitor article [claiming the USG was sending mercenaries].2

The second item is the Budget. The Congressional budget procedure is so difficult, with the Budget resolutions, that this may be the biggest Congressional decision of the year—both as the Budget as a whole and the proportion going to DOD. We therefore ought to get together a massive campaign to bring our full weight to bear. Cabinet meetings, meetings with editors, leadership meetings, and maybe the budget committees to meet with you.

President: I agree, we can’t afford that.

Rumsfeld: The fight will be between the 15th of April when the committees report and May 15 when it must be adopted.

President: I think we better set up a series of meetings beginning as soon as Congress gets back. Maybe a breakfast with the top DOD and State people with the top Budget committees and Defense subcommittees.

I finished the Budget with Lynn yesterday. You got $112.4 billion and $100.7 billion outlay. The budget looks like $394.3 billion.

I added the Transitional Quarter figures that State wanted to the FY 77, at the NSC recommended levels.

Rumsfeld: Inouye has asked me to testify on the Security Assistance Bill of ’76. I don’t see why I should.

There are briefings of candidates on national security matters. What should be done, and is DOD involved?

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On the Budget, we should get the message to the people. It should be in the State of the Union address3 so that the people know the importance of it.

President: We shouldn’t get into detail, but it will hit the importance of defense strength. It will come when Henry is in Moscow.4 We should take account of that.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to national security policy.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 17, January 2, 1976—Ford, Rumsfeld, Scowcroft. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. Brackets in the original. On January 2, a story in the Christian Science Monitor by David Anable reported that, despite congressional efforts to keep the United States out of Angola’s civil war, the CIA was secretly “recruiting American ex-servicemen” and dispatching them to Angola to fight as mercenaries on behalf of the southern Angolan liberation movement UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola). (David Anable, “U.S. Role in Angola Grows Despite Denials,” Christian Science Monitor, January 2, 1976, p. 1)
  3. In his State of the Union Address, January 19, Ford spoke of the need to strike “a new balance between the spending on domestic programs and spending on defense—a balance that ensures we will fully meet our obligation to the needy while also protecting our security in a world that is still hostile to freedom.” As such, Ford announced that his FY 77 Defense budget would “show an essential increase over the current year. It provides for real growth in purchasing power over this year’s defense budget.” (Public Papers: Ford, 1976–1977, Vol. 1, pp. 32, 41)
  4. Kissinger left the United States on January 19, traveling first to Copenhagen (January 19–20) and then to Moscow (January 21–23).