Statement of Policy by the National Security Council on Basic National Security Policy

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A. NSC 162 and NSC 162/1
B. NSC Action Nos. 853, 868, 886, 926 and 944
C. Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, subject, “Review of Basic National Security Policy,” dated October 28, 1953
D. NSC 153/1
E. Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, subject, “Project Solarium,” dated July 23, 1953

The National Security Council, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Attorney General, the Director, Bureau of the Budget, the Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, and the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, at the 168th Council meeting on October 29, 1953, adopted the statement of policy contained in NSC 162/1 subject to the changes which are set forth in NSC Action No. 944-a.

In connection with this action the Council also noted:

a. The President’s statement that if the Department of Defense hereafter finds that the provisions of subparagraph 9-a-( 1), when read in the context of the total policy statement, operate to the disadvantage of the national security, the Secretary of Defense should bring this finding before the Council for reconsideration.

b. That action should be promptly taken to conform existing arrangements regarding atomic weapons to subparagraph 39-b.

c. That the policy in NSC 162/1 does not contemplate any fixed date for D-Day readiness.

d. That the Planning Board would submit for Council consideration a revision of “U.S. Objectives vis-a-vis the USSR in the Event of War,” as presently stated in the Annex, in the light of the provisions of NSC 162/1, as amended.

The President has this date approved the statement of policy contained in NSC 162/1, as amended and adopted by the Council and enclosed herewith, and directs its implementation by all appropriate executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government. As basic policy, this paper has not been referred to any single department or agency for special coordination.

Accordingly, NSC 153/1 is hereby superseded.

It is requested that special security precautions be observed in the handling of the enclosure and that access to it be very strictly limited on an absolute need-to-know basis.

JAMES S. LAY, Jr. Executive Secretary

The Secretary of the Treasury
The Attorney General
The Director, Bureau of the Budget
The Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers
The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission
The Federal Civil Defense Administrator
The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Director of Central Intelligence


Table of Contents

General Considerations 1
Basic Problems of National Security Policy 1
The Soviet Threat to the United States 1
Defense Against the Soviet Threat 5
Present State of the Coalition 10
The Uncommitted Areas of the World 13
U.S. Ability to Support Security Expenditures 14
The Situation as to U.S. Manpower 16
Morale 17
Policy Conclusions 18
Basic Problems of National Security Policy 18
Nature of the Soviet Threat 18
Defense Against Soviet Power and Action 19
Defense Against the Threat to the U.S. Economy and Institutions 23
Reduction of the Soviet Threat 24
Annex (U.S. Objectives vis-a-vis the USSR in the Event of War) 26



Basic Problems of National Security Policy

1. a. To meet the Soviet threat to U.S. security.

b. In doing so, to avoid seriously weakening the U.S. economy or undermining our fundamental values and institutions.

The Soviet Threat to the United States

2. The primary threat to the security, free institutions, and fundamental values of the United States is posed by the combination of:

a. Basic Soviet hostility to the non-communist world, particularly to the United States.

b. Great Soviet military power.

c. Soviet control of the international communist apparatus and other means of subversion or division of the free world.

3. a. The authority of the Soviet regime does not appear to have been impaired by the events since Stalin’s death, or to be likely to be appreciably weakened during the next few years. The transfer of power may cause some uncertainty in Soviet and satellite tactics for some time, but will probably not impair the basic economic and military strength of the Soviet bloc. The Soviet rulers can be expected to continue to base their policy on the conviction of irreconcilable hostility between the bloc and the non-communist world. This conviction is the compound product of Marxist belief in their historically determined conflict with, and inevitable triumph over, “world capitalism” led by the United States, of fear for the security of the regime and the USSR, especially in the face of a hostile coalition, of distrust of U.S. aims and intentions, and of long-established reliance on techniques of conspiracy and subversion. Accordingly, the basic Soviet objectives continue to be consolidation and expansion of their own sphere of power and the eventual domination of the non-communist world.

b. Soviet strategy has been flexible and will probably continue so, allowing for retreats and delays as well as advances. The various “peace gestures” so far have cost the Soviets very little in actual concessions and could be merely designed to divide the West by raising false hopes and seeking to make the United States appear unyielding. It is possible, however, that the USSR, for internal and other reasons, may desire a settlement of specific issues or a relaxation of tensions and military preparations for a substantial period. Thus far, there are no convincing signs of readiness to make important concessions to this end.

4. a. The capability of the USSR to attack the United States with atomic weapons has been continuously growing and will be materially enhanced by hydrogen weapons. The USSR has sufficient bombs and aircraft, using one-way missions, to inflict serious damage on the United States, especially by surprise attack. The USSR soon may have the capability of dealing a crippling blow to our industrial base and our continued ability to prosecute a war. Effective defense could reduce the likelihood and intensity of a hostile attack but not eliminate the chance of a crippling blow.

b. The USSR now devotes about one-sixth of its gross national product to military outlays and is expected to continue this level. It has and will continue to have large conventional military forces capable of aggression against countries of the free world. Within the next two years, the Soviet bloc is not expected to increase the size of its forces, but will strengthen them with improved equipment and training and the larger atomic stockpile.

c. The Soviet bloc now has the capability of strong defense against air attack on critical targets within the USSR under favorable weather conditions, and is likely to continue to strengthen its all-weather air defenses.

5. a. The recent uprisings in East Germany and the unrest in other European satellites evidence the failure of the Soviets fully to subjugate these peoples or to destroy their desire for freedom; the dependence of these satellite governments on Soviet armed forces; and the relative unreliability of satellite armed forces (especially if popular resistance in the satellites should increase). These events necessarily have placed internal and psychological strains upon the Soviet leadership. Nevertheless, the ability of the USSR to exercise effective control over, and to exploit the resources of, the European satellites has not been appreciably reduced and is not likely to be so long as the USSR maintains adequate military forces in the area.

b. The detachment of any major European satellite from the Soviet bloc does not now appear feasible except by Soviet acquiescence or by war. Such a detachment would not decisively affect the Soviet military capability either in delivery of weapons of mass destruction or in conventional forces, but would be a considerable blow to Soviet prestige and would impair in some degree Soviet conventional military capabilities in Europe.

c. The Chinese Communist regime is firmly in control and is unlikely to be shaken in the foreseeable future by domestic forces or rival regimes, short of the occurrence of a major war. The alliance between the regimes of Communist China and the USSR is based on common ideology and current community of interests. With the death of Stalin and the Korean truce, Communist China may tend more to emphasize its own interests, though limited by its present economic and military dependence on the USSR, and, in the long run, basic differences may strain or break the alliance. At present, however, it appears to be firmly established and adds strategic territory and vast reserves of military manpower to the Soviet bloc.

6. a. The USSR does not seem likely deliberately to launch a general war against the United States during the period covered by current estimates (through mid-1955). The uncertain prospects for Soviet victory in a general war, the change in leadership, satellite unrest, and the U.S. capability to retaliate massively, make such a course improbable. Similarly, an attack on NATO countries or ot