103. Information Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs (Howe) and the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Wolfowitz) to Secretary of State Haig1


  • NSDD–32: US National Security Strategy2

The President has recently issued NSDD–32: US National Security Strategy, completing the NSDD–1 study process.3 Although the document is being treated with extreme sensitivity within the Administration, [Page 379] its general contents were briefed in classified session to Congressional committees concerned with defense issues, Judge Clark made a public address on the study at a CSIS gathering on May 21,4 and Cap Weinberger discussed it before the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs on May 27.

The NSDD–32 decision document begins by stating that the entire 87 page NSSD–1 study (which is appended to NSDD–32) will serve as guidance. It then summarizes each section of the study. It does not set firm guidelines and does not significantly refocus or restructure our national security policy or DOD programming and budgeting. In other words, there are no surprises.

The major conclusions are:

  • The Soviets represent the major threat we will face for the next decade. The Soviet military will continue to modernize and expand. While it is unlikely that the Soviets will initiate hostilities with the US, a war with a Soviet client is more likely and could risk a direct US-Soviet confrontation.
  • The US must increasingly draw upon the resources and cooperation of allies and others to protect our collective interests. A strong unified NATO remains indispensible to protecting Western interests. Outside Europe the US will place primary reliance on regional states to deal with non-Soviet threats, providing security assistance as appropriate. Against Soviet threats, US forces will be key, and for Southwest Asia we will develop the capability by the end of the FY 1984–1988 FYDP to deploy and sustain seven divisions in the region. (Although the language in NSDD–32 is fairly specific on this latter point, DOD is continuing to object to the seven division force in the context of NSSD–4, the NSC study on Southwest Asian security.)5
  • Recognizing that strategic decisions will be determined by the situation during hostilities, we will be governed for the present by the following wartime planning priorities: North America, NATO, Southwest Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and Africa.
  • Modernization of our strategic nuclear forces and the achievement of nuclear parity with the Soviet Union shall receive first priority in our efforts to rebuild US military capabilities.
  • In a conflict involving the Soviet Union, the US must plan, in conjunction with allies, for a successful conventional defense in a global war. Given current conventional force insufficiency, however, we must plan to focus our forces first in areas of most vital concern, while undertaking lesser operations elsewhere as appropriate. To close the gap between strategy and capabilities, we must undertake a sustained and balanced force development program with readiness as first priority, followed by upgrading C3, improving sustainability, increasing mobility, and then modernizing and expanding our forces.
  • Security assistance is a vital, integral component of our strategy. A priority effort, involving the White House, shall be made to pass our legislative initiatives. We should also plan for steady real growth in the security assistance budget.
  • All defense resources are to be mutually supporting and thoroughly integrated with each other and with other elements of US national power. We must expand the scope of mobilization and industrial capabilities and frequently review manpower policies to ensure adequacy of manpower.

The decision document concludes with a requirement that SecDef and the Chairman include as part of their annual reports on the state of our defenses, a discussion of the progress made in implementing the provisions of NSDD–32. The Department is expected to report periodically on security assistance through the Arms Transfer Management Group. It is unclear what effect this reporting requirement will actually have; but we will monitor the process and keep you informed, particularly with respect to DOD budgeting on the development of forces for Southwest Asia.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/P Files, Memoranda and Correspondence from the Director of the Policy Planning Staff to the Secretary and Other Seventh Floor Principals: Lot 89D149, S/P Chrons PW Chrons to Secy June ’82. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent through Eagleburger, who did not initial the memorandum. Neither Howe nor Wolfowitz initialed the memorandum. Drafted by Beers on June 7; cleared by Kanter and Pappageorge.
  2. Issued on May 20; scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XLIII, National Security Policy, 1981–1984.
  3. NSSD 1–82, “U.S. National Security Strategy,” issued on February 5; scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XLIII, National Security Policy, 1981–1984.
  4. See Richard Halloran, “Reagan Aide Tells of New Strategy on Soviet Threat,” New York Times, pp. 1, 15, and Michael Getler, “Option of Deploying MX In Older Silos Supported,” Washington Post, p. A3; both May 22, 1982.
  5. NSSD 4–82, “US Strategy for the Near East and Southwest Asia,” issued on March 19; scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XXII, Middle East Region; Arabian Peninsula.