91. Presidential Directive/NSC-411


  • The Vice President
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense


  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Administrator, General Services Administration


  • U.S. Civil Defense Policy (U)

I have reviewed the recommendations of the Policy Review Committee meeting on PRM–32. Based on them, I direct that the U.S. Civil Defense program seek to:

Enhance deterrence and stability in conjunction with our strategic offensive and other strategic defensive forces. Civil defense, as an element of the strategic balance, should assist in maintaining perceptions of that balance favorable to the U.S.
Reduce the possibility that the U.S. could be coerced in time of crisis.
Provide some increase in the number of surviving population and for greater continuity of government, should deterrence and escalation control fail, in order to provide an improved basis for dealing with the crisis and carrying out eventual national recovery.

This policy does not suggest any change in continuing U.S. reliance on strategic offensive nuclear forces as the preponderant factor in [Page 399] maintaining deterrence. U.S. civil defense programs will take advantage of the mobility of the population stemming from wide ownership of private automobiles, the extensive highway systems, and the large number of non-urban potential housing facilities to achieve crisis relocation of the urban population. Civil defense programs should also help deal with natural disasters and other national emergencies.

Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, General Odom File, Box 14, Civil Defense: Policy Review Committee: 8/14/78–9/78. Secret. Based on the conclusions reached by the PRC on PRM–32 (see Document 73), Brzezinski submitted two versions of PD–41 to Carter under a September 19 covering memorandum. One version referred to a consensus among State, Defense, CJS, and OMB that “makes no special claims for civil defense but explicitly ties it to crisis stability and the strategic balance,” a connection that had been made “clear to the Soviets in SALT.” Brzezinski advised Carter to sign the consensus version. ACDA submitted the other version as a dissent. Referring to the consensus PD favored by Brzezinski, Carter wrote in the upper right corner of Brzezinski’s memorandum: “Zbig—It says nothing. J.” The President also noted in the bottom right corner: “Incorporate specifics of ACDA proposal at least.” At the bottom left, Brzezinski wrote to Odom: “WO revise, adding #’s marked by me. We will resubmit. ZB.” The PD printed here reflects those amendments. (Ibid.) In an October 12 memorandum to Mondale, Vance, and Brown, as well as Jones, Turner, and GSA Administrator Jay Solomon, Dodson noted that the ACDA Director had been “inadvertently omitted from the address list of PD/NSC–41,” and asked that recipients change their records “as necessary.”