20. National Security Study Memorandum 651


  • The Secretary of Defense


  • Relationships Among Strategic and Theater Forces for NATO

As a result of National Security Council discussion of the U.S. strategic posture, prepared in response to National Security Study Memorandums 3 and 24,2 the President has directed that you prepare a [Page 67] follow-on study to analyze the relationship among U.S. strategic nuclear, tactical nuclear and conventional postures in deterring and, if necessary, coping with both conventional and nuclear aggression against NATO. The analysis should be based on scenarios for both large-scale and limited aggression.

It should address the following questions:

1. What capabilities are required if U.S. strategic forces are to contribute to the deterrence of strategic, tactical nuclear and conventional attacks on our Allies and to coping with such attacks if deterrence fails?

2. What capabilities are required if tactical nuclear forces are to (a) contribute to the deterrence of conventional attacks on Allies and of attacks involving the use of tactical nuclear weapons, and (b) cope with such attacks if deterrence fails?

3. Under what types of circumstances and how might U.S. strategic and theater nuclear forces be employed in improving war outcomes?

4. What command and control systems and procedures are required to give the President the force employment options described in the answer to question 3?

5. What changes or improvements, if any, seem indicated for our programmed theater nuclear posture?

6. Based on the analysis, what modifications or additions, if any, should be made to the criteria for strategic nuclear sufficiency?

The study report should be prepared and submitted to the NSC Review Group by the Secretary of Defense by October 1, 1969. Close liaison should be maintained in all phases of the study with the Office of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

The analysis should draw as much as possible on the results of the study completed under NSSM–3.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Executive Secretariat, Files on Select National Security Study Memorandums, 1969–70, Lot 80D212, NSSM 65. Top Secret. Copies were sent to the Secretary of State, Director of Central Intelligence, and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  2. NSSM 3, “U.S. Military Posture and the Balance of Power,” January 21, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIV, National Security Policy, 1969–1972, Document 2; NSSM 24, “U.S. Military Posture Review,” February 20, is ibid., Document 10.