Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of the President Jimmy Carter administration. Given the interconnectedness of U.S. national security policy and the Cold War, it should be considered alongside Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume VI, Soviet Union; Volume XXVI, Arms Control and Nonproliferation; and Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXIII, SALT II, 1972–1980. Documentation on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its December 1979 “dual track” is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume V, European Security, 1977–1983. The national security policy making process is documented in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume XXVIII, Organization and Management of Foreign Policy, while the formulation of foreign economic policy—which was connected to national security policy—is documented in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume III, Foreign Economic Policy. As with each volume in the Carter administration subseries, Volume IV stands alongside Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume I, Foundations of Foreign Policy.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume IV

The main topics of this volume are strategic modernization, comprehensive net assessment, the defense budget, telecommunications security, crisis management, emergency preparedness, and nuclear doctrine. It begins with the minutes of July 26, 1976, and January 27, 1977, meetings on defense matters that illustrate the policy and personnel differences between Presidential campaigns and Presidential administrations. On February 18, 1977, Carter approved a review of U.S. national security policy in Presidential Review Memorandum 10, “Comprehensive Net Assessment and Military Force Posture Review,” which set into motion a series of Presidential Directives (PDs) commencing with PD–18, “U.S. National Strategy,” which Carter signed on August 24, 1977. Documentation on this review process is published in this volume and includes internal agency memoranda, minutes of interagency meetings at both the principal and working levels, and interagency correspondence. Fulfilling a campaign promise to rein in defense spending, Carter also ordered an early review of the B–1 Bomber, which he cancelled on June 30, 1977. In crafting a FY 1979 budget, Consolidated Guidance, and FY 1980–1984 Defense Program, [Page VIII] Carter looked toward B–52 bombers equipped with air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) and the Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB, later the “B–2”) to fill the gap. Here, documentation on budget decisions reflects the Carter administration’s efforts to cut spending without damaging national security.

While in pursuit of the SALT II Treaty, which he and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev signed on June 18, 1979, President Carter exhorted his team to come up with a survivable basing mode for the MX missile. On September 7, 1979, flanked by Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, Carter announced a Multiple Protective Structure (MPS) system for basing 200 MX missiles, which would be transported among 23 shelters via specially-constructed roadways in western states of the United States at a projected cost of $33 billion. Accompanying the planned Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missile, the refitting of B–52s to carry ALCMs, and the pursuit of stealth technologies, MX was intended to replace the Minuteman III as the land-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad. The Carter administration’s attempt to modernize U.S. strategic forces is in documents such as papers prepared for meetings of the National Security Council, the minutes of these meetings, and records of the Presidential decisions that resulted from them.

Dissatisfied with the implementation of National Security Decision Memorandum 242, “Policy for Planning the Employment of Nuclear Weapons,” which his predecessor Gerald Ford signed on January 17, 1974, (Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXV, National Security Policy, 1973–1976, Document 31) Carter pressed his administration to shore up the U.S. strategic deterrent. Following an August 1978 trip to the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Zbigniew Brzezinski informed Carter of the need for significant improvements to U.S. Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I). The concerns of Brzezinski and Military Assistant William Odom were heightened following the October 1978 crisis management contingency exercise, “Nifty Nugget,” and were incorporated into follow-on studies to PD–18 pertaining to nuclear strategy. They also informed the national security team’s reactions to the 11–3/8 series of National Intelligence Estimates, addressing Soviet intentions and capabilities.

Nuclear attack false alarms in November 1979 and June 1980 intensified the Carter administration’s concerns about the need to improve U.S. C3I systems, while the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 led Carter to withdraw from Senate consideration the unratified SALT II Treaty. In the wake of these events, Carter signed two Presidential Directives: PD–58, “Continuity of Government,” on June 30, 1980; and PD–59, “Nuclear Weapons Employment Policy,” on July 25, 1980. Following Carter’s electoral loss to former Governor Ronald Reagan on [Page IX] November 4, 1980, his administration developed an updated national security strategy document. On January 15, 1981, Carter approved PD–62, “Modifications in U.S. National Strategy.” Extensive documentation on the evolution of all three PDs is included in this volume.

The central figure in the development of U.S. national security policy during the Carter administration was the President himself. As the directives, memoranda, meeting minutes, and marginalia in this volume attest, Carter took a particularly keen interest in the details of nuclear matters and national security policy more broadly. Other key figures in this volume include Brzezinski, Harold Brown, and Odom, as well as members of the National Security Council Staff such as Fritz Ermarth, Roger Molander, Victor Utgoff, and Jasper Welch. Principals and deputies expressed themselves forcefully in meetings of the Policy Review Committee and Special Coordination Committee (recorded here in minutes and summaries of conclusion) and in internal memoranda and interagency correspondence that constitute the backbone of this volume. While Secretary of State Cyrus Vance played a lead role in the negotiation of SALT II, he was much less involved in the formulation of overall national security policy. The same can be said of Edmund Muskie, who, having succeeded Vance in May 1980 following the failed Iran hostage rescue attempt, learned of PD–59 by reading newspaper coverage of it. As a result of Vance and Muskie’s relative lack of influence on matters of national security, this volume contains fewer Department of State documents—such as memoranda, position papers, and telegrams to and from posts—than other volumes in the Carter administration subseries.


The editor wishes to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Jimmy Carter Library, especially Ceri McCarron, Brittany Parris, and James Yancey. Thanks are also due to Nancy Smith, who served as the Director of the Presidential Materials Staff at the National Archives and Records Administration during the research of this volume, Sandy Meagher, who provided access to Department of Defense materials, and to the Central Intelligence Agency for arranging access to the Carter Library materials scanned for the Remote Archive Capture project. The Historical Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency were helpful in arranging full access to the files of the Central Intelligence Agency. The editor would like to thank Jeffery Flannery and Ernest Emrich of the Library of Congress for arranging access to the Harold Brown papers. The Office of the Historian wishes to thank the interagency declassification personnel who conducted the review of this volume, including those at the Department of State, Office of Information Programs and Services, the FRUS Coordination Staff at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, Office of Prepublication and [Page X] Security Review, the OSD, Records and Declassification Division at the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, the National Archives and Records Administration, and particularly, the Directorate of Records and Access Management at the National Security Council.

Additionally, the editor wishes to thank the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) for adjudicating the appeal of documents selected for inclusion in this volume. Keri E. Lewis provided invaluable assistance to the Office of the Historian in her capacity as FRUS Coordinator at the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS), and in serving as the Department of State ISCAP liaison. The editor also thanks the staff at the National Archives and Records Administration facility in College Park, Maryland.

Peter Kraemer collected and made an initial selection of the documentation to be included in this volume. James Graham Wilson conducted additional research and edited the volume under the supervision of Kathleen B. Rasmussen, then Chief of the Global Issues and General Division. The volume was reviewed by Kathleen B. Rasmussen and then Historian of the Department of State Stephen Randolph. Chris Tudda coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of Carl Ashley, Chief of the Declassification Division. Heather McDaniel and Stephanie Eckroth did the copy and technical editing under the supervision of Mandy A. Chalou, Chief of the Editing and Publishing Division.

James Graham Wilson