11. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Hillenbrand) to Secretary of State Rogers1


  • NSC Meeting on US Policy Toward NATO—BRIEFING MEMORANDUM

NSC Meeting Objectives

The NSC will consider on Tuesday, April 8,2 the study developed in response to NSSM–6, “US Policy Toward NATO.”

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The Department’s objectives should be to obtain decisions on:

—US troop levels in Europe,

—Position for offset negotiation with the FRG, and

—Alliance consultation.

These decisions should reflect vital US political interests and security considerations, and accord with the President’s statements to European leaders.


NSSM–6 of January 21 directed a review of US policy toward NATO. Following the President’s European trip, the NSC Review Group Chairman refined the study requirements and directed that the paper address short-term issues for decision and identify longer-term issues for further study.

The paper the NSC will address (Tab A)3 was prepared by the NSC staff, which drew upon an earlier paper produced by the Chairman of the IG/Europe and divergent views of other Agencies.


The paper identifies these short-term issues for decision: (a) degree to which a proposed Secretary of Defense program (REDCOSTE) for reducing costs in Europe by removing troops should be implemented; (b) type of agreement we should seek with the FRG to “offset” US balance-of-payments costs of stationing troops in Germany; (c) means of improving Alliance consultation; (d) possible new areas for NATO consultation. The first two of these issues are as controversial during this Administration as they were during the last.

Short-Term Issues

1. REDCOSTE Implementation:

The issue here is political. While the REDCOSTE problem may be short-term, it is related to the more basic issue of the level of troops the US will maintain in Europe.

If REDCOSTE were fully implemented, the US would withdraw from Europe a total of 26,000 troops, almost 10% of our forces there. While many of the reductions would involve non-combat forces, some combat and combat-support forces would be withdrawn.

Reductions of this size would cause Europeans to question the firmness of our resolve to participate in European defense, our will [Page 49] ingness to meet our NATO commitments, and our combat capabilities. Such reductions would call into question the President’s statements in Europe about maintaining our force levels.

There would be strong, even compelling, motives to characterize the reductions to Congress as a “package,” with gross savings of personnel and monies attached. Thus, our Allies would soon learn of the proposed reductions, even though they are time-phased for implementation through 1973.

The Department has agreed to proceed with some of the REDCOSTE reductions. We should be prepared to proceed with some others, dependent upon the outcome of on-going negotiations with Turkey and Spain.

There are four options regarding implementation of REDCOSTE. They are:

1. Halt further implementation of REDCOSTE in place by stopping further reductions (without reversing actions already completed).

2. Proceed only with those REDCOSTE items already agreed to or under discussion with Allies and not consider any further cutbacks for the near term.

3. Proceed with entire REDCOSTE package.

4. Direct State and Defense to examine deferred REDCOSTE items based on additional guidance and make a recommendation on each.

We should support Option 2: Proceed only with those REDCOSTE items already agreed to or under discussion with Allies, and not consider any further cutbacks for the near term.

We should also support making qualitative improvements in our forces in Europe. (Talking Points at Tab B.)4

2. Offset Agreement with FRG:

We require cooperation from the FRG to offset balance-of-payments costs of maintaining our forces in Germany.

The offset options in the NSC paper are:

1. Push for a “hard” agreement, seeking offset of foreign exchange losses through military purchases, FRG assumption of local support costs of our troops, and possibly non-military purchases clearly additional to those that would otherwise occur, but excluding measures such as loans and bond purchases.

2. Accept a “softer” agreement, settling for an offset which included non-military and financial measures as well as military purchases.

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3. Replace military offset concept with one of German cooperation on broader international monetary matters.

Politically and rationally, we cannot hope for complete offset by means of military purchases alone, nor can we discard this means of offset. We should therefore support Option 2: accept a “softer” agreement. This is consistent with the President’s statement to the FRG that our troop levels are determined on security grounds. It is consistent with the instructions followed by the US representatives at their March 20 offset discussions in Bonn. (Talking Points at Tab B.)

3. Means of Improving Alliance Consultation

This item at the NSC Meeting flows from the President’s statements in Europe about improving Alliance consultation.

Regarding the Immediate Issues in the paper on improving consultations:

(a) we should support wide-ranging Alliance consultations through special committees, ad hoc groups, meetings at Under Secretary level, restricted sessions of the North Atlantic Council at ministerial level, and possibly, periodic heads of government meetings;

(b) we should propose and take the lead to establish Alliance meetings at the Under Secretary level to take place between ministerial meetings, and we propose that the President advance this in his statement to the Ceremonial Session April 10.

4. Possible New Areas for Consultation

Regarding the Immediate Issues in the paper on new areas for consultation:

(a) we should support the suggestion that the President’s speech to the forthcoming Ceremonial Session of the April Ministerial Meeting be used as a basis for launching a new initiative for cooperation within the Atlantic Community on common problems in technologically advanced societies;

(b) we should support the suggestion that the US propose follow-up work be done in NATO and the OECD, and through US cooperation with European multilateral organizations. (Talking Points at Tab B.)

Medium- to Long-Term Issues

The paper proposes four major subjects for subsequent papers. They are: Strategic Doctrine, US Troop Levels in Europe, Nuclear and other Military Relations with the UK and France, and Future Shape of the Alliance.

We should support all four studies with priority being given to Strategic Doctrine and US Troop Levels in Europe. (Talking Points at Tab B.)

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Executive Secretariat, Files on Select National Security Study Memorandums, 1969–70, Lot 80D212, NSSM 6. Secret. Drafted by Smith and cleared by Springsteen and McGuire. Sent through Pedersen and S/S. Copies were sent to Office of the Under Secretary, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, and Counselor of the Department.
  2. Only handwritten minutes were taken at the meeting. The NSC discussed the issues that would be addressed at the upcoming NATO meeting, many of which carried over from the previous administration. These included avoiding a French-German clash over Berlin, contributing to the language for a European security conference (although the President doubted whether a conference would ever take place), keeping the Italians from leading others in an attack on the Greeks in the official communiqué, reacting to possible Canadian reduction of troops, determining the effect of the Czechoslovak situation on détente, coping with Congressional pressure to proceed with REDCOSTE while needing to improve military hardware, and discussing the best method of negotiating an offset agreement with West Germany. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–109, NSC Meeting Minutes, NSC Minutes Originals 1969)
  3. Tab A is attached but not printed. Davis forwarded the undated paper, entitled “US Policy Toward NATO,” to the Vice President, the Secretaries of State and Defense, and the Director of Emergency Preparedness under cover of an April 5 memorandum. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–021, National Security Council Meetings, NSC Meeting NATO 4/8/69)
  4. Attached but not printed.