137. National Security Decision Memorandum 2111


  • Secretary of State
  • Secretary of Defense


  • Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR)

The President has approved the attached paper setting forth the approach of the United States to Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions in Central Europe.2 It should be provided to the Allies before the end of this month. The supporting annexes called for in the paper should also be made available to the Allies by that time.3

The objective of our consultations with the Allies should be to get them to focus on the outcome the Alliance should seek for MBFR before turning to the tactical problem of developing an Allied position for the negotiations in the fall. U.S. representatives should bear in mind that our analysis makes clear that indigenous reductions are disadvantageous to NATO and that stationed reductions including U.S./Soviet reductions are more advantageous.

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Once the views of the Allies are available on the outcomes that would be acceptable, we will consider these views and provide the Allies with our preferences regarding the initial approach to be taken in the negotiations, including concrete proposals on reductions that should be developed jointly by the Allies.

United States representatives should make clear to the Allies the importance of reaching agreement on concrete reduction proposals before the negotiations begin in the fall. This does not necessarily imply that such proposals would be made at an early point in the negotiations. However, it is necessary in order to ensure that Allied negotiating tactics and presentations on substantive MBFR issues are consistent with the proposals the Allies will eventually advance.

The President wishes to emphasize the importance of an Allied commitment to further improvements in Allied forces in connection with MBFR. The Secretary of Defense should prepare a presentation on a program for U.S. and Allied force improvements to be delivered at the upcoming NATO Defense Ministers meeting. Adraft of this presentation should be made available for review by May 15, 1973.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 364, Subject Files, National Security Decision Memoranda (NSDM’s), Nos. 145–264. Secret. Copies were sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Acting Director of ACDA. The NSDM was sent to USNATO in telegram 79255 on April 27; it was addressed eyes only for Rumsfeld. (Ibid., Box 263, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. XIII)
  2. The attached paper, “U.S. Approach to MBFR,” April 13, is not printed. The paper put forward the three alternative reduction concepts presented by Kissinger to the NSC meeting on April 12 (see footnotes 3 and 4, Document 135): “phased ten percent reductions in NATO stationed and then indigenous ground forces together with Soviet and [Warsaw] Pact indigenous reductions, respectively, to common ceilings for both sides; reduction to parity in overall NATO/Pact ground force levels in the Center Region by means of U.S. and Soviet reductions of one-sixth of their forces; [and/or] a mixed package illustrating an approximate 20 percent reduction of U.S. nuclear systems for 20 percent reduction in Soviet armored attack capability resulting in more defensively-oriented postures and approximate stationed ground force parity on both sides.” “Each of these alternatives,” the paper continues, “have been examined as possible outcomes of the negotiation. As such they would yield an outcome for MBFR that would be acceptable to the United States.”
  3. The paper proposed that a series of annexes be attached and sent along with the paper: an annex with details of each of the three proposed reduction options; a separate annex discussing nuclear aspects of MBFR; and three additional annexes discussing “elements which would need to be considered in connection with our overall negotiating strategy but which are not of themselves functionally related to the specifics of the reduction approach we select,” that is, “force limitation agreements, possible pre-reduction collateral constraints,” and “verification measures.”