51. Minutes of a Combined Senior Review Group and Verification Panel Meeting1


  • US Strategies and Forces for NATO (NSSM 84)
  • MBFR (NSSM 92)


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • John N. Irwin, II
  • William I. Cargo
  • Martin J. Hillenbrand
  • Ronald I. Spiers
  • Defense
  • David Packard
  • Philip A. Odeen
  • Armistead I. Selden, Jr.
  • John H. Morse
  • CIA
  • LTG Robert E. Cushman
  • Bruce C. Clarke
  • JCS
  • General John D. Ryan
  • LTG Richard Shaefer
  • Col. Robert Fiss
  • ACDA
  • VADM John M. Lee
  • Philip J. Farley
  • OMB
  • James R. Schlesinger
  • NSC Staff
  • K. Wayne Smith
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt
  • John C. Court
  • Robert J. Ryan, Jr.
  • Wilfrid L. Kohl
  • Col. Richard T. Kennedy
  • Jeanne W. Davis


It was agreed to:

1. get an estimate of what needs to be done to remedy the supply situation so as to bring our NATO allies up to the level required to per[Page 202]mit an indefinite conventional war, how long it would take and how much it would cost;

2. get an analysis of the meaning of a 60-day supply concept for us and for our allies in terms of number of forces, combat capability, cost, and the nature of the deterrent;

3. study the various ways of looking at the problems of use of nuclear weapons in Europe;

4. get an analysis of the ways in which the situation would be affected by a 10 percent symmetrical reduction, a 30 percent symmetrical reduction and asymmetrical reductions, including the military costs and the political benefits, if any;

5. get an analysis of the various elements of an MBFR agreement, similar to the SALT analysis, and their verifiability.

Mr. Kissinger: Has everyone seen the summary papers?2 I consider both of these studies first-class and appreciate the agencies’ efforts on them. Let’s consider NSSM 84 first—where we stand on doctrine and on capability. I note in Table 2 on page 5a of the Summary the Army has 77 days of ammunition, the Air Force 37 days, and the Navy 88–90 days. (to General Ryan) What would happen after the 37 days?

General Ryan: We would be out of ammunition.

Mr. Kissinger: Then the Air Force would be out of action?

General Ryan: Unless it were resupplied.

Mr. Kissinger: Could you be resupplied in time to do any good?

General Ryan: Yes, depending on the base in the US.

Mr. Packard: At present, of course, we have a lot of ammunition in the Southeast Asia pipeline.

Mr. Kissinger: Can the Air Force be resupplied faster than the Army?

General Ryan: No.

Mr. Kissinger: If the Air Force cannot be resupplied faster, then your level would govern the entire operation.

General Ryan: It isn’t that simple. It depends on the specific time you would be talking about.

Mr. Packard: We will look at this problem again and see if we can’t get a more specific answer.

Mr. Kissinger: For analytical purposes, may we not assume that the lowest level of supplies would govern the entire operation? If the [Page 203] 37-day figure stands up, is not the problem of resupply for the Air Force more urgent than for other elements?

Mr. Packard: It isn’t a problem if we were willing to divert munitions from Southeast Asia. We have good supplies in Southeast Asia.

Mr. Kissinger: How long would it take, assuming we made the decision to divert?

Mr. Packard: It could be done easily in the 37 days. We are operating on the basis of an either/or situation. As we begin to phase out the war in Southeast Asia, this pipeline will be cut back.

General Ryan: We don’t want to have the pipeline full and then cut off the war. This would leave us with large excess stocks similar to those in Korea.

Mr. Kissinger: I note the UK has ten days’ supplies for its Army; the FRG has 20–30 days for its tanks, 60 days for mortar and small arms and 20 days for its Air Force; France has 27–30 days for its Army and 15–30 days for its Air Force. There is no common theory which in any way relates these levels to each other. The UK would run out of ammunition after ten days.

Gen. Shaefer: The UK has a shorter pipeline, particularly for essentials.

Mr. Kissinger: Shorter than ten days? What essentials? How would they get them in—by air or land? Does anyone know what the British plans are?

Mr. Odeen: These figures are total UK stocks, including those in the UK itself—not just stocks stored in Europe.

Mr. Kissinger: These figures could be off by 50 percent and they would still raise problems. The key question is that it is generally agreed that from M plus 15 to M plus 30 would be the most dangerous period of the mobilization schedule. The situation would improve after M plus 30. However, we would be beginning to run out of supplies after M plus 10. Where does that leave us? What sense is there in planning to have reserve divisions arrive on M plus 120 if we are out of the war on M plus 30? According to these figures, the UK and Germany would be out of action by that time either because they had run out of supplies or because of mobilization difficulties.

Mr. Packard: The point is that our European allies simply do not take the idea of a conventional deterrent seriously. They expect the war would go nuclear before that time.

Mr. Kissinger: For political reasons, any readjustment of our force levels could be dangerous. However, it is politically impossible to tell the American people that we have to follow a course of action which makes no sense. I have been scolded by my staff for taking a position which would accelerate withdrawals. But I think this would be politi[Page 204]cally unavoidable if we don’t fix the discrepancies that exist. Personally, I would much prefer to fix up the situation than to move to withdrawals.

Mr. Packard: We might even be in better shape if we reduced our forces and if we fixed the things that need fixing. This would be true even in the Sixth Fleet.

Mr. Irwin: We would be better off than we are today but not better off than if you fix the things that need fixing and still maintain the forces at their current level.

Mr. Kissinger: If we are talking about the general purpose forces in Europe, our maximum weakness would occur between M plus 10 and M plus 30, assuming we had some strategic warning. If we had no warning, it could be M plus 5.

Mr. Irwin: What would be the source of supplies for countries like Belgium and The Netherlands after their original supplies were exhausted? The US? Germany?

Mr. Packard: Some of our NATO people argue that these countries could resupply using their own resources faster than we could. The situation is not as bad as the figures indicate.

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s get a chart or table of where these supplies would come from, and what would be needed to remedy the supply situation so as to bring all countries up to some specific level.

General Ryan: We should look at the production base in being.

Mr. Irwin: Some of these items may be supplied to some countries by the US in which case their pipelines would be as long as ours.

Mr. Kissinger: We have two questions—what we tell ourselves and what we tell our allies. If our allies want US forces in Europe as a trigger for nuclear war, all right. But we believe that our forces should be maintained in Europe in order to preserve the option of a conventional war. We need a study on whether this belief is valid.

Mr. Packard: We have studied this question, and it is agreed that all critical stocks in all allied countries could be brought up to a 30-day level with a one-time expenditure of $500 million. The real issue is for our NATO friends to decide what they want to do.

Mr. Irwin: If we reduce our forces, we must be prepared to move away from the philosophy of a conventional deterrent.

Mr. Kissinger: I think the objective of a respectable defense in Europe is not that far out of reach.

Mr. Packard: I agree. If our forces were organized, deployed and equipped properly, we could do it.

[Page 205]

Mr. Irwin: This is what the President said at the NSC meeting on burden-sharing.3

Mr. Kissinger: It is agreed then that we will try to get an estimate of what needs to be done in time for the NSC meeting.

How can we state what a reasonable objective is for our own stock level? I understand that our 90-day level gives us in fact the capability for an indefinite conventional war since our forces can be resupplied in 70 days. We may be prepared to fight an indefinite war, but is that true of anyone else?

Mr. Packard: It could be, although possibly not with 30 days’ supplies. The Europeans could probably keep going at lower stocks levels.

Mr. Irwin: Is our Army thinking of using our stocks to supply the allies?

Mr. Packard: The Europeans are beginning to build their own weapons. They are moving away from their dependence on US weapons.

General Ryan: This varies by country. Germany and the UK are building their own, but the others are still dependent on us.

Mr. Irwin: Are they also moving away from standardization?

General Ryan: No, standardization is still effective, but they are producing the items in their own countries.

Mr. Kissinger: Can we get an estimate by the NSC meeting? If European forces were organized on the same theory as ours, what would be the level of supplies required to permit an indefinite war, how many days, how much money?

Mr. Packard: We can get such an estimate.

Mr. Kissinger: Of course, we could estimate that the other side would run out of supplies before that time.

Dr. Smith: They would fix that situation before they attacked.

Mr. Kissinger: I have some questions on which I would like the judgment of the military people. On page 8 of the Summary we say that if the Pact makes a surprise attack after limited mobilization, it might not penetrate NATO defenses but would probably cause NATO to give ground. What is the difference between “penetration” and “giving ground”? Does giving ground mean falling back in good order?

General Ryan: It means fall back to another defense line.

Mr. Kissinger: How far?

General Ryan: It is hard to be specific. Penetration would mean a breakthrough along a contiguous line.

[Page 206]

Mr. Packard: If you look at Table 1 on page 4a, although the Pact shows superiority, there isn’t that much difference in the force levels. The man with his heart in it will win.

Mr. Kissinger: The Germans won in the west in 1914 and in 1940 with inferior forces by concentrating most of those forces at one point and rolling up the front. I don’t draw absolute comfort from the numbers alone. Who made the judgment that the NATO forces would give ground?

Dr. Smith: That is a working group judgment.

Mr. Kissinger: You didn’t say how much ground.

Mr. Morse: It isn’t that precise an exercise.

Mr. Kissinger: The history of European wars indicates that, without a breakthrough, you can still knock countries out of the war by getting a good part of their territory. If the Germans withdrew in good order to the Rhine, I question whether we would really have a German army fighting on the West Bank of the Rhine. We need some conception of how far back they would go.

Mr. Odeen: No one can agree on how far. They can agree that NATO forces would lose some ground. This would be relatively minor because the Pact would not have a chance to build up its forces. Penetration means a major breakthrough. Giving ground means some local penetration, some losses, but the ability to maintain some defense.

General Shaefer: If the NATO forces were caught in a surprise attack, there are different judgments as to where they would hold.

Mr. Kissinger: But if NATO allows the Pact a two week jump in mobilization, there is a high probability that NATO forces would be penetrated. Look at the Germans in World War II.

Mr. Irwin: Aside from local defenses, are there plans covering where the best lines of defense are?

General Ryan: Yes.

Mr. Irwin: Have we planned our preferred lines of withdrawal?

Admiral Lee: One estimate indicates that if we withdraw 75 kilometers back from the front we would require nuclear support within 24 hours.

Mr. Kissinger: I think Jack Irwin’s question is exactly the point.

Mr. Packard and General Ryan: We have all sorts of plans.

Mr. Kissinger: These may be paper exercises unless we can define the assumptions behind the plans. It’s a question of definition.

I have another question. We are relying on reserve forces which are supposed to arrive in Europe on M plus 120. For what purpose? I have seen no scenario to which these forces arriving at that time would be relevant.

[Page 207]

General Ryan: The 90-day period is a logistical planning factor, not an estimate of the duration of the war.

Mr. Kissinger: I understand that. However, I can perceive no situation in which the war could last 120 days. If there is simultaneous mobilization, our allies will run out of supplies in 10–30 days unless we fix the pipeline situation in such a way that they could fight indefinitely.

General Ryan: We assume we would get strategic warning.

Mr. Kissinger: If the Russians tell us on July 1 that they will attack on September 1 they will still break through and exhaust the allies. There is no way our allies can last for 60 days unless they have the same pipeline we do. We don’t need any reserves until we can fix the pipeline situation.

Mr. Packard: This goes back to the question of whether they want to fight for 30 days.

Mr. Kissinger: But we may need those reserves for the Middle East or some other place. We don’t want to pull out of Europe for political reasons. But if we can’t hypothesize a reason for maintaining these reserves, possibly we should reconsider what we are spending the money for.

Mr. Packard: I agree.

Mr. Farley: The figures indicate no mobilization, but it may be that mobilization will precede hostilities. Maybe the Europeans need a better mobilization base. If they were faced with Soviet mobilization, could they bring their forces up in the time allowed?

Mr. Kissinger: I agree with Mr. Farley. I would prefer to fix up the situation so that they could.

Dr. Smith: We will get an estimate for you of the allied pipeline figures, what it would cost to fix them and how long it would take.

Mr. Packard: With regard to the table on page 4a, there can be different assumptions as to what would be deployed. We could deploy 4,000 tactical aircraft if we made adjustments in other areas. We would also have to make certain assumptions as to what the Soviets would do. Would they move all their aircraft to the front or would they keep some behind for defense of their cities?

Mr. Kissinger: Is it really as urgent to keep our Air Force deployed as fully as our ground forces? Would it be better to keep our Air Force back and move them in as the situation develops? Aren’t our planes more vulnerable in Europe than they would be elsewhere?

Mr. Packard: That’s a good point.

Mr. Kissinger: As long as our ground forces are there, our allies will know that we would bring in aircraft if they were needed.

General Ryan: Of course we have some national forces not committed to NATO.

[Page 208]

Mr. Kissinger: Even our committed forces, why must they be in Europe?

General Ryan: To be in a position to render support. They have much greater utility if they are kept in Europe. This is the reason we are building shelters to give them more protection. We do have dual based squadrons.

Mr. Spiers: Isn’t that expensive?

General Ryan: Yes, it is more expensive to keep two sets of bases.

Mr. Packard: Our revetment program needs more attention. We also need more room to operate from in Europe.

General Ryan: CINCEUR has recently been authorized to negotiate with the Germans for more room.

Mr. Kissinger: We have identified one possible objective—to maintain enough forces to fight an indefinite conventional war. What is the next step down? Can we identify another objective other than an indefinite conventional war? What about a 60-day concept? We might be able to reduce our forces and increase our combat capability and still cut costs by juggling logistics. We would, of course, lose staying power. What would a 60-day concept mean?

Mr. Packard: We would cut down our staying power but increase our capability. If, by doing so, we would create a better deterrent there might be some merit in it.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Wayne Smith) Have we an analysis of where a 60-day situation would leave us in terms of various mobilizations?

Dr. Smith: We have some judgments.

Mr. Kissinger: I want to get, before the NSC meeting, the number of alternative ways of looking at the problem. What would a 60-day concept mean for us? What would it mean for our allies? If our allies won’t build for an indefinite war, is there anything else they will do? Would we be better off with an overall 60-day level as compared to 90 days for the US and 30 days for our allies? Let’s get some analysis on this and include Mr. Packard’s point about the possibility of creating a better deterrent.

Mr. Packard: We might be able to put 2,000 more tanks in with what we would save on logistics.

Mr. Odeen: We could also add 24,000 men.

Mr. Court: Our analysis showed that with what we would save if we went to a 30-day concept, we could create two new US divisions. On a 60-day concept we might finance 25,000 new combat forces with the logistical savings.

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s look at it in terms of where it get us and what the corollaries are for our European allies.

[Page 209]

Mr. Irwin: Why are there such big differences in the estimates on tactical aircraft in the table on page 4a?

Mr. Packard: It is the difference in judgment as to their employment. We, of course, have a lot more aircraft.

Mr. Irwin: Which one would be guiding in the present situation?

Mr. Packard: The JCS estimates higher deployment than do the Systems Analysts.

Mr. Odeen: JCS counts all aircraft. OSD has excluded certain aircraft—e.g., OSD has not included aircraft which might be retained for defense of Pact cities.

Mr. Packard: We should remember that many of our aircraft are maintained on training bases. If they are not being used for training they could be sent to fight.

Mr. Kissinger: Could we now turn to the nuclear issue, which I don’t really know how to tackle. (to General Ryan) When do nuclear weapons get used in the scenario?

General Ryan: They are not included in the scenario at all.

Mr. Kissinger: If we fix the maldeployment, the pipeline deficiencies, etc., there is a chance that conventional forces can hold. If we do not, and our allies run out of supplies and we are pushed against the Elbe, nuclear weapons won’t help. Could nuclear weapons restore the situation if the British and Germans should collapse?

General Ryan: If we use nuclear weapons, they will, too. If we begin with tactical nuclears, it will probably escalate to general war.

Mr. Kissinger: Assuming that it does not become general nuclear war, can we envision any use of tactical nuclear weapons that would restore the situation?

Mr. Packard: No, because the weapons are not symmetrical. We can’t assume symmetrical use of tactical weapons. The Soviets just don’t have that type of weapon. They have area-type weapons which could devastate a general area so that their troops could go through. They have an entirely different approach. There is no scenario for going to nuclear weapons that makes any sense or that has any realism whatsoever.

General Ryan: I agree—their deterrent value is their main value.

Mr. Kissinger: How can we deter with something that doesn’t make sense?

Mr. Packard: Because their use would be so horrible to contemplate.

Mr. Kissinger: If a part of the front should collapse and we should use tactical nuclear weapons could we stop them? I have seen an indi[Page 210]cation that 1400 nuclear weapons would not necessarily stop an advance.

Mr. Morse: No one knows. We have not had enough experience and analysis cannot substitute for experience. This is the great unknown.

Mr. Kissinger: So you are saying that the uncertainty produced by the nuclear weapons provides the deterrent. No one is saying we should pull out our nuclear weapons. But can we find a rational use for them? (to General Ryan) If we were on the verge of losing, would you recommend we use them or not use them?

General Ryan: We would probably recommend we use them.

Mr. Kissinger: Why?

General Ryan: We might give the Soviets pause to stop and think about whether to use them.

Mr. Kissinger: For demonstration purposes, in other words. But we don’t need 9400 weapons for demonstration purposes.

General Ryan: We must assume the Soviets know how many we have and that this would have an effect.

Mr. Irwin: This might be possible on one assumption—if they were used defensively in our own territory and not in Pact territory. We could take the position that if the Soviets use them in Germany, we would use them in the Warsaw Pact area. It would be a question of targeting.

Mr. Packard: They are already targeted on [less than 1 line not declassified] and the like.

Mr. Kissinger: I am not pushing a particular point of view. I am asking what it is we want to do with our nuclear establishment in Europe. What do our commanders think they will do with it?

Mr. Packard: They hope to keep it in the barn. They plan to use it like other weapons except that it gives them more fire power.

Mr. Kissinger: We don’t know whether nuclear weapons could restore a situation, but could they prevent defeat?

Mr. Packard: If the other side does not use them.

Mr. Kissinger: What if both sides use them? If we can’t make this judgment now we certainly can’t make it in the crisis atmosphere of ten Russian divisions heading for Hanover. What decision would we ask from the President if this should happen? Would we tell him to release a few tactical nuclear weapons? Can we get a judgment on this?

Mr. Morse: We can’t get it.

Mr. Kissinger: Then how can we ask the President to make a decision? We must have some theory of what we are trying to do.

[Page 211]

Mr. Packard: The most rational theory would call for the use of a few tactical weapons in the hope that the situation would not escalate to general nuclear war.

Mr. Kissinger: In other words, hope for a shock effect.

Mr. Schlesinger: If we are considering use of nuclears for demonstration purposes we should adjust our whole nuclear setup. Our present structure was inherited from the 50’s. If we contemplate demonstrable use, these weapons should be made secure and relatively invulnerable. If we wait for a breakthrough to use them they will be overrun.

Mr. Kissinger: Can we get a statement of the various ways of looking at this problem?

Mr. Morse: Yes.

Mr. Kissinger: If we plan to consider asymmetrical reductions under MBFR we might consider trading some of our nuclear weapons for some of their tanks. [2½ lines not declassified]

Dr. Smith: There are two in the paper—battlefield use and demonstration use.

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s look at them in terms of what we are planning to do.

Mr. Court: There are three possible variations of our current strike plan in the paper dealing with survivability and target acquisition.

Mr. Kissinger: If we are serious about this we must address Mr. Schlesinger’s question. If we contemplate the use of nuclear weapons, what would we have to do to adjust our forces? I recall the President raised this question the first time he visited the Pentagon.

Mr. Packard: I agree we need this badly. We don’t know what to do in planning future nuclear weapons.

Mr. Kissinger: We need to establish some criteria so we could tell the President what he would be getting into. I agree it is tough but it won’t get any easier in a time of crisis.

Mr. Irwin: Have these questions been war-gamed?

Mr. Morse: For years.

Dr. Smith: All the studies have concluded that there would be no favorable outcome.

General Cushman: Their response would probably be strategic nuclear attack, Europe-wide.

Mr. Irwin: What about the political side?

Mr. Kissinger: I think we might get that decision after we have seen these other studies, so we are not trying to settle it in the abstract. This will be one element which could come from the NSC discussion.

[Page 212]

Could we now turn to MBFR. The decisions on MBFR will be partially determined by the judgments on NSSM 84. If it is decided that an effective conventional defense is within reach, MBFR decisions will be heavily influenced on the security side. If, however, we agree that our forces are in Europe for political reasons, the MBFR decisions should be made on the basis of the political factors. We might leave aside the political considerations for now since we haven’t made the necessary judgments on 84. If we assume our troops play a security role then we would have to analyze MBFR on the basis of security considerations.

I want to express my appreciation to all the agencies for this MBFR study. It is first class. For the moment I would like to take the security or arms control approach to MBFR. Assuming our own military objectives, and assuming that we are trying to get MBFR to improve the security situation for both sides, we should analyze on the basis of the defense capability of both sides. Are we agreed that it would be good to enhance the defense capability and reduce the offensive capability and that this would contribute to reducing the likelihood of war? Is this a fair statement of the security way of looking at it?

All agreed.

Mr. Kissinger: What worries us most in the existing situation is the Pact tank force. In their potential, we are most worried by their reinforcement and mobilization capability. It would be nice to get something that would reduce their edge in tanks and would reduce their reinforcement and mobilization capability vis-à-vis our own. There are three ways to do this: 10 percent symmetrical reduction, 30 percent symmetrical reduction, and asymmetrical reduction. Is it true that symmetrical reduction would magnify our problem from the military point of view? Can we analyze in what way these problems would be magnified? How much would it reduce the time? Would it be M plus 10, for example, as opposed to M plus 50? Can we make that kind of judgment?

Dr. Smith: Yes.

Mr. Kissinger: The Working Group has spent weeks on this problem and we have spent hours. Our principals will probably spend 45 minutes with it at the NSC; therefore, we should make it as specific as possible. We should say these reductions would reduce the time by X so they would know what risk they are running.

Mr. Morse: We can set a bracket.

Mr. Kissinger: A ten percent reduction may not make our situation too much worse. Is there anything good we could get out of it?

Mr. Packard: Not militarily.

Mr. Kissinger: Could we benefit politically? Could we buy a ten percent reduction of their forces in exchange for something we are going to do anyway?

[Page 213]

Mr. Irwin: To the degree we show some political movement it may lessen the desire of the Europeans to demand more military movement.

Mr. Kissinger: If it might result in an improved security situation, why not? A ten percent reduction might be a way of making political gains although at some military cost.

Mr. Irwin: It depends on what the military costs are.

Mr. Kissinger: We need a good statement of the military costs, if any, and of the political benefits.

Mr. Packard: Even without MBFR, some things could be done to better our force situation without costing too much. We should be careful that MBFR doesn’t stop us from doing things we should do anyhow—fixing deficiencies, modernizing, etc. We should fix these things first. If we become involved in a ten percent reduction it will be more difficult to fix the things that need it. We might not do the things that we should do anyway.

Mr. Kissinger: A 30 percent reduction just magnifies the ten percent reduction problem even if it is symmetrical. We haven’t done the same kind of work that we did on SALT. Although I have seen vague references to verifiability, they have not been developed with the precision as in SALT. We need to get a detailed judgment on the range of error. How sensitive would any MBFR agreement be to verifiability? Would reductions be made from actual strength or from authorized strength? How would we convince the other side of the base from which we were drawing down? What if they say they will pull out ten percent of each unit rather than pulling out entire units? Could we verify this?

General Cushman: It would be very difficult.

Mr. Kissinger: Could we insist that they could only pull out whole units?

Mr. Packard: This is a very important point. Speaking of a ten percent reduction is a vast oversimplification of the problem. We would have to be specific on what would be reduced and how.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Wayne Smith) We need a study on this: how would we find out, how would we confirm, what countermeasures could we take, what lead time would be required?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: We also need a definition of what would be permitted by way of replacement or modernization.

Mr. Kissinger: We would need this for any kind of reduction. Since symmetrical reductions aren’t good on security grounds, how about asymmetrical reductions? In SALT we tried to find trade-offs for the SS 9’s which worried us. Is there anything we could trade off for tanks and reinforcement and mobilization capability? How could we inhibit their reinforcement capability? How can we define it? What can we of[Page 214]fer in an asymmetrical reduction? Tactical nuclear weapons might be one example. We might give up some forward deployment of aircraft. How can we assess these questions? These are only ideas, not an instruction of any kind.

Mr. Schlesinger: We might consider sustaining support units.

Mr. Kissinger: We need an analysis of the basic restraints and collateral restraints as we did for SALT.

Mr. Hillenbrand: Will this procedure lead to anything in time for the NATO Ministerial Meeting? Do we have the same NSC date?

Mr. Kissinger: Yes, November 18. At some point we should bring the Europeans into the thinking we have done. Should this be done at the NATO Ministerial Meeting?

Mr. Irwin: We would prefer it before.

Mr. Spiers: We have prepared a sanitized version of the paper for circulation.

Mr. Kissinger: I think that would be premature.

Mr. Irwin: It would not be premature in time but it might be premature given the status of this discussion.

Mr. Hillenbrand: The Ministerial Meeting is December 3–4.

Mr. Irwin: We have raised so many questions here today that I doubt they will be resolved by December. The basic political question does need solution, however. By the time of the Ministerial Meeting we have to know whether or not to hold firm on the basic force structure.

Mr. Kissinger: I think we can probably make this decision, at least in a preliminary way, by the Ministerial Meeting.

Mr. Irwin: We may have to make the political decision separate from the military decisions within the next brief period.

Mr. Kissinger: We are talking only of a three-week delay. When the inevitable questions come, we would be better prepared to answer them if all these questions had been considered and if we have some expression from the President of where we want to go.

Mr. Irwin: We may have to make the force level decision apart from the decisions within the US.

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s try to keep the discussion confined to the US until after the NSC meeting.

Mr. Farley: In the meantime, we might look at the sanitized version of the paper and get it ready to go so that we can move quickly after the NSC meeting.

Mr. Kissinger: This might raise all the other questions, however.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–111, Senior Review Group, SRG Minutes Originals 1970. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. Not found.
  3. See Document 49.