7 MAY 57

An Air Force Concept for an Optimum Military Strategy


Last November, General Strother invited me to address you on the subject of "An Air Force Concept for an Optimum Military Strategy." I accepted his invitation with pleasure and with the thought in mind that I might also be able to find time to test my hunting strategies on a few wild turkeys.

My task today would be much easier if I could outline my optimum strategy for getting a shot at a gobbler. He will always be vulnerable to a suggestive call. His strengths and weaknesses are not subject to change.

This is not true of the military strengths and weaknesses we face today when compared with those we can expect to face in 1960. In view of the changes expected, our strategies of today will not be the optimum strategy for the future. The balances of military power are changing rapidly and the development of an optimum military strategy for the 1960 period presents a great challenge to all military planners.

You have recently had the opportunity to hear my counterparts in the Army and the Navy view their thoughts on this subject therefore I will confine my thoughts to an Air concept. You will then be free to choose from the three views in your formulation of a total optimum U.S. military strategy.

There are many factors which enter into the development of this optimum strategy. First and foremost of these are our National Military Objectives. Since our military strength is an inseparable instrument of National policy, our military strategies must be developed in support of national policies and objectives.

Second, a sound strategy must be based, on the exploitation of friendly strengths, and the identification of those enemy strengths whose destruction will result in his capitulation. Thus, one of our major problems when examining the 1960 period is to identify the various enemy strengths and his courses of action enabled thereby and, in accord with this evaluation, determine the nature of the destruction or denial that can or should be inflicted on the enemy.

Third, the resources required to support our strategy must be reasonably attainable. This restriction is necessary in order to sustain our national economy over the long pull.

A fourth point for consideration is that our strategy should be compatable with our concept of collective security since a considerable portion of our worldwide strength is dependent upon allied support. This limitation is not a completely restrictive one however, because our national policy will permit risking the loss of allied support if taking such risks is necessary to the security of the United States.

Using these four considerations as a base I will now discuss each in more detail in order to arrive at a concept for an optimum military strategy for 1960.

Returning to the need for a strategy which will support our national military objectives, it might be well to review those most pertinent to our problem.


U.S. Military Objectives

1. Deter aggression.

2. Secure the U.S.

3. Be prepared to fight a general war with the objectives of:

a. Securing the U.S. against attack.
b. Reducing the capabilities of the USSR to the point where it has lost its will or ability to wage war.

4. Be prepared to fight a military conflict short of general war with the objectives of:

a. Deter the USSR from use of their military power.
b. Fulfill the military aspects of our treaty obligations.
c. Deal swiftly and effectively with any local aggression in a manner and on a scale best calculated to prevent the hostilities broadening into total atomic war.

I am sure you are all familiar with these objectives and I am equally sure that they will not change during the next few years. I would, however, like you to file for future reference during this address the first and third objectives listed on this chart. They will be discussed in some detail later.

Even though these objectives may not change, their achievement will become more difficult with the passage of time. A few short years ago we had an atomic monopoly, a quantitatively and qualitatively superior long range air force and a worldwide system of bases surrounding the Soviet Bloc.

Collectively these advantages posed a grave threat to the enemy. Our strategy then and now, exploited these advantages and equated the imbalance of land and tactical forces with the nuclear weapon superiority we enjoyed. These advantages are fleeting and by 1960 the Communists may be able to overcome or neutralize them all.

When we do lose these past advantages how are we going to achieve our first military objective of deterring aggression? To me this is the all important and overriding objective of military forces. All studies indicate that by 1960 any nation involved in a general war will suffer devastating destruction and the irretrievable loss of its national stature and strength. The amount of destruction involved defies the imagination. First and foremost then we must deter general war.

The most probable form of military aggression which could lead to a general war is local aggression or local war. In local wars which have the expansion of communism as their objective, we plan to employ atomic weapons if it is militarily advantageous to do so. We have announced publicly and repeatedly that we will do this. So far this may be a significant reason for the recent absence of this type aggression. The time will come, however, when we may have to back up these words with deeds. If we stand behind our words and demonstrate our willingness to employ atomic weapons in combating local wars of this nature, then thru this demonstration we will have provided the same deterrence to local war that is now accorded to the deterrence of general war.

There could also be local wars between free nations. U.S. forces could become involved. In this case we would probably not use atomic weapons but again we must defeat the aggressor swiftly and .decisively with conventional weapons and tactics. Here again however our demonstrated willingness to come to the aid of the oppressed should act as a deterrent to future aggressions of this nature.

The effects of our declared intent to participate in local wars could also be applied to the deterrence of general war. By 1960 relative numbers of military forces will have lost their significance and each side will have the ability to deliver a sufficient number of thermonuclear weapons to destroy a nation. For purposes of illustration consider that 500 weapons would satisfy this objective. Assuming this to be true then a U.S. ability to deliver 500 nuclear weapons against the USSR should constitute a deterrent to general war regardless of how many weapons the USSR was capable of delivering to the U.S. When this balance of power is reached, our continued deterrence to general war will rely on a demonstrated willingness and ability to employ these weapons should the need arise.

I don't think there is any doubt in the Soviets mind about our intent to use atomic weapons in a general war. Therefore the important point here is to demonstrate our ability to employ them. The recent round-the-world flight by the B-52's is a good example of the demonstrations I have in mind. Our public announcement to alert the Strategic forces in the Suez situation is another. Even the mishaps we have in our testing programs have their advantages. The SNARK may have escaped control and headed for Brazil but the fact that it could get there was a demonstration of our missile development progress. Our atomic weapons tests are another example of the demonstrations that lend to the deterrence of general war.

In the coming years our demonstrations may have to become more pointed and involve greater risks. Based on past Soviet reactions however it does not appear that they are willing to accept the same degree of risk to the security of their regime as we are willing to present. This attitude may change as they balance the advantages we now enjoy but in this international poker game we must put our chips on the table and be willing to cover all bets. We must also be willing to back our play to the limit of our resources.

As a result of the actions and counter-actions in these maneuvers we will always be faced with the possibility of a general war. Should this occur, the initial atomic exchange will take place within a matter of a few hours. No one can say at this time what the results will be or whether hostilities will cease. Regardless of these unknown factors there are certain things we can do now to alleviate the effects of the exchange and place the United States in a better position to recover from its effects.

First I would recommend an extensive and public education program on the effects of atomic weapons. Until people are thoroughly aware of the dangers involved we cannot expect them to plan intelligently for an atomic attack. Right now the attitude seems to be that the atomic exchange would be so devastating that nothing can be done, to alleviate its effects, therefore, the problem is ignored. The problem must be recognized and resolved to the best of our ability.

Our President, for one is recommending what to me is a most significant step in the right direction. He is proposing the construction of shelters for urban populations. This appears to be a much better method of ensuring survival than merely hoping to evacuate millions of people out of target areas. I only have to look out my window and see a car stalled on Shirley highway to recognize the futility of trying to evacuate a city.

Once these people are sheltered however there is still the problem of feeding them and caring for the injured. This nation now has a surplus of food and with a concentrated effort could produce a significant stockpile of medical supplies. This food and medicine must be so located as to be immediately available to the people. The lack of transportation will prohibit large scale movement of such stocks after the atomic exchange.

Along with the food and medical supplies we should also be stockpiling basic structural materials for use In relieving devastated areas. Instead of stockpiling tanks, guns and mess kits for a long war, we should be stockpiling materials which will assist this nation to survive.

Our national strategy - both military and civilian must recognize that through education, proper planning, and survival programs we can do a great deal to offset the effects of an atomic exchange. Our preparations would provide additional evidence that we were prepared for this eventuality and would be another factor contributing to the deterrence of general war.

Deterrence of aggression will consist of many complex factors and facets. We will have to exploit them all in the achievement of our national objectives.

A second and related factor that must be considered in the development of our strategy is the identification of opposing strengths which can be exploited to our advantage.

In attempting to identify opposing strengths, the first thing that comes to mind is how will we stack up against the Soviet military forces in 1960.




















SRM (850 NM)


SRM (350 NM)



















500 kt to 2 mt




5 kt to 20 kt




0.5 kt to 4 kt



This chart depicts a National Intelligence estimate of the major combat forces that will be available to the Soviets in 1960. This military capability, and particularly that depicted for the Long Range Air Army Forces appears to me to be quite optimistic. I must point out however that these forces are well within the Soviet capability to produce should they decide now that this is their objective for 1960.

There is one point we must examine for a possible enemy strength and that is their ability to employ their long range air forces effectively. It will be a monumental task for them to achieve the training and experience necessary for them to employ this force with the same degree of effectiveness we now expect from our strategic forces. Again however, this experience could be achieved if they devoted the time and resources to such an effort.

In the tactical Air Army area, the Soviets will have an overwhelming numerical superiority against the combined allied tactical air forces. One of the more significant factors during this period is the availability of 400 to 800 IRBM's.

Soviet Air Defense forces will also present a greatly increased capability to an attacking force in 1960. Their manned fighters will be all weather and this surface to air missile capability is most significant. Their 11,000 launchers with over 44,000 missiles would present a formidable defense to any attacking force. In addition, we should not overlook the increased ECM capability.

In the field of atomic weapons, the Soviets are expected to achieve a most significant increase in the number of weapons that will be available. This chart depicts two possible stockpile compositions depending on whether or not the Soviets decided to emphasize high yield or low yield weapons. In either case, however, the significant point here is that the Soviets will have enough atomic weapons to eliminate, for all practical purposes, the atomic weapons superiority we now enjoy. Relative numbers of atomic weapons will have lost their significance by 1960.

Chart #2








































119-146 RESERVE









On our side of the picture we will have 11 wings of B-52's. Two wings will be equipped with the Model Improved version which will have a 30% increase in range over the first production models. We will have 27 wings of medium bombers with the 1st wing of B-58’s entering into the inventory during this period. Test flights on this aircraft are meeting or exceeding contractor estimates. If the aircraft can do the job we will replace several wings of B-47's with the B-58 but if it doesn't pan out we will spend the money on more B-52's.

In the strategic area we will also have several strategic missiles in the inventory. The ICBM program is on schedule with the first test firing scheduled for April of this year. We should have two operational squadrons by 1960, IRBM's will be under the operational control of SAC and we should have 4 squadrons of either our THOR or the Army developed JUPITER. The SNARK cruise type missile is testing out quite well. [except for that one that developed a stubborn streak and headed for Brazil.] All tests are not, of course successful. We expect six squadrons of SNARK by 1960.

In the tactical area we [will] expect to have 31 wings - down 8 wings from their current total of 39 wings. This will require a reduction In the number of wings we will be able to place in overseas areas but to partially offset this reduction we will have 150 fighters capable of being zero launched. 100 of these will be in Europe and 50 in the Far East. We will also have the two wings of Matadors but there is no follow-on TAC missile in the inventory. One of these wings may be given to selected Allies by 1960.

Our Air Defense forces will consist of 32 [be down 4 wings from their current 36] wings total [but] and we will have modernized the force to a great extent and should have an operational BOMARC wing in 1960.

Troop Carrier forces will be reduced but the replacement of C-119's with C-130's will not reduce the over-all capability.

In any analysis of this nature where we are attempting to identify opposing military strengths, we have to include the strengths of the other Services and our Allies. With respect to land forces, I don't think the free world will ever be able to match the number of divisions the Soviet Bloc will maintain. On the sea, the Allied Navies will probably be able to exercise control over surface shipping but the Soviet submarines and aircraft will present a grave threat to Allied shipping. In the air the Soviet Bloc will be able to match the numerical strengths of the Allied countries and in many cases their aircraft will be superior to those possessed by our allies.

Summing up this discussion of opposing military strengths, I can only come to the conclusion that in this category there are no outstanding enemy or friendly strengths in military forces that make apparent the optimum military strategy. We will have to look further into the relative advantages enjoyed by the opposing powers.

One of the more important advantages now enjoyed by the enemy is the initiative. As long as the free nations continue to support their democratic principles, this initiative will remain with the Soviets, They can choose the time, place and method of aggression. They are free to exploit the advantage of surprise. Our optimum military strategy must eliminate this enemy advantage if at all possible. I think it can be done.

It can be done by developing an intelligence system which will deny this advantage to the enemy. Some of the components of this system could be obtained from our earth satellite program which could be modified to provide information on military activity beyond the curtain; from a sympathizer in the Soviet general staff; from existing intelligence sources and from detection devices which will provide positive warning of a Soviet attack. I believe we should put as much effort behind an intelligence program as we placed on the Manhattan project. The information required is just as essential to our continued security as are atomic weapons. If [We] can get the information, [and] and our reaction should convince the enemy that we are prepared for his assault. If he knows we are prepared, he would [will] in all probability cancel the attack. Thus intelligence would be an effective tool in the deterrence of aggression. We need this tool to offset the enemy advantage of the initiative.

The enemy has another advantage in his centralized control and direction of his armed forces. Our Allies on the other hand are handicapped by the diversity of equipment, tactics, commands and national objectives. This is another enemy advantage that can be overcame but it can only be overcome if nations are willing to surrender some of their national prerogatives. I don't think this will happen during peacetime unless there is the compelling threat of a general war in the immediate future.

As I [General Lindsay] pointed out [in his address] to you earlier this month, there is one aspect of this centralized control and direction of military forces that we, the United States can develop and improve upon to offset the enemy's advantage. This is the centralized control for the delivery of atomic weapons. Since these weapons will decide the outcome of the war, it behooves us to develop a plan which will result in their most effective delivery. We are making strides in the coordination of our atomic strike plans between the Services and the JCS commanders. We still have a long way to go however in the development of a coordinated strike plan which provides for an optimum matching of priority targets with available delivery forces.

In view of the expected Soviet capabilities, we can ill afford to dissipate our retaliatory efforts by dividing them among several commanders. We must employ every weapon we can deliver in its most effective and timely manner. [We cannot afford duplication of effort.] Our strategy must provide for the centralized control and direction of the U.S. retaliatory effort.

Up to this point I have discussed the balances of military power that are expected to exist and the advantages enjoyed by the enemy. There are two advantages which we could exploit during this period. You will note that I said "could" since I don't think we have made optimum use of them in the past.

The first of these is the target systems facing the opposing enemy planners. As long as the Soviets have the initiative their primary objective must be to destroy the retaliatory forces. This will require a considerable portion of their military effort.

At the present time our target system also places priority on the destruction of the enemy's long range air forces. [In view of the nature of war in 1960 I believe this priority can be modified to our advantage. In the first place, the Soviets will have the weapons and delivery capability to make a decisive attack in one wave. Therefore there is not much point in our striking empty air bases. The bonus effects achieved will be considerable, but our retaliatory effort will not be delivered against the most sensitive targets.]

[As a suggestion] I would like to return to that [ILLEGIBLE] THIRD military objective discussed earlier. This was the objective of reducing the capabilities of the USSR to the point when it has lost its will or ability to wage war. Two words in this objective should be transposed;. It should read "to the point where it has lost its ability or will to wage war." This change is made to emphasize a more positive approach to defeating the enemy and that is to destroy his ability to wage war.

To do this our priority targets should be those which contribute the most to the enemy's ability to wage war. This system of target selection should also recognize that in the 1960 period and beyond, ballistic missiles will be playing an ever increasing role in the composition of our strategic forces. Our target system must be compatible with the capabilities of the weapons to be employed. It must also be compatible with the number of weapons we can expect to deliver.

In view of enemy defenses and his initiative, our studies have indicated that we will not be able to deliver enough weapons to prevent the Soviet Long Range Air Army from launching a re-strike against the United States. If this is true, then SAC cannot accomplish any one of the Bravo, Romeo Delta objectives. Since these objectives cannot be achieved, it is time to begin thinking of a target system whose destruction will result in the achievement of our national military objectives.

My criteria for the target system to be selected for attack in 1960 would then be:

1. A target system which is primarily designed to destroy the enemy's ability to wage war.

2. A target system whose destruction can be accomplished by attacks from both manned bombers and ballistic missiles.

With such a target system we will be able to achieve the small advantage I mentioned earlier. The Soviets will, of necessity, have to devote a major portion of their effort to the destruction of SAC bases. Secondary emphasis will be given to the destruction of our other abilities to wage war. Our retaliatory efforts would be directed solely towards striking those targets which contribute most to his ability to wage war. By careful analysis I believe we can select a target system which is compatible with our capabilities and whose destruction would immobilize the Soviet Bloc military forces. Our military strategy for 1960 must provide for a new approach to the selection of a target system.

So much for the analysis of opposing military strengths and weaknesses. The next factor to be discussed briefly is that the resources required to support our strategy must be reasonably attainable. Unless modified by congress, the majority of the resources we will have in 1960 have already been fixed by the President's FY 1958 budget. We can therefore assume that the 1960 forces shown previously are reasonably attainable. I would like to point out, however, that in the initial preparation of the President's budget, we in the Air Force felt that an additional $3 billion would be required to support our strategy, modernize the force and maintain 126 effective wings in 1960. We now expect to have 118 wings during that period. This shortage of resources certainly requires us to take a long hard look at our current strategy to see if we can't develop one which will meet our objectives and is capable of being implemented by the forces that will be available.

Future budgetary actions will undoubtedly result in a lesser amount of money than the Air Force considers essential. Thus there will always be a certain calculated risk inherent in any force made available to support our military strategy. Our strategy must therefore be one which reduces this risk to one that is militarily acceptable.

The last major consideration I used as a base for the development of this strategy was that it should be acceptable to our allies. As the [recognized leader] source of strength of the free world, the United States must develop a strategy which is compatible with the national objectives of our allied nations. The allied nations must be bound by unity of purpose and common objectives if the free world is to present a strong and indivisible bulwark to communist expansion. To do this they look to the United States for leadership and aid.

If we are to retain this leadership it must be dynamic, forceful and powerful. Above all else it must be successful. To quote an old cliche "Nothing succeeds like success." This is particularly true in the field of international relations and it is probably the surest method of getting the undecided to join the forces of the free world.

During the pursuit of a dynamic leadership there will be occasions when our actions do not meet with the approval of all allies. The recent Suez action is a good example of the strains which could develop. These strains, however, are to be expected. Our action in this situation, while straining the ties with old allies, certainly strengthened the willingness of other nations to accept the leadership of the United*States. By similar acts, supporting the freedom and Independence of all nations, this nation can continue to strengthen the ties and resolutions of the free world, and add to the forces deterring communist aggression.

While on this subject I would like to add one further comment on the extent to which we should pursue a dynamic leadership. The Hungarian situation will provide the background. In this situation the U.S. and the U. N. merely offered words of encouragement and a haven for refugees. If our alliances and allies had been stronger and more willing to accept the risks involved, they could have made a much more positive approach towards eliminating communist domination of Hungary. Action instead of words might have provided the strength necessary to free this satellite nation Had Hungary been successful in regaining its independence other satellites would have followed. The free world would have gained immeasurable strength. We would have reversed the trend of communist expansion. Our political and military strengths should be ready to exploit such situations and weaken the ties that bind subjugated nations to the will of their communist masters. Thus our strategy must not only be acceptable to our allies but it should also offer [more] positive assurance that any nation opposing communist domination will be the recipient of U. S. support.

President Eisenhower gave a mighty clear indication of his views on the role this nation will play in world affairs when he stated during his inaugural address that: "We recognize and accept our own deep involvement in the destiny of men everywhere. And beyond this general resolve, we are called upon to act a responsible role in the world's great concerns or conflicts - whether they touch upon the affairs of a vast region, the fate of an island in the Pacific, or the use of a canal in the Middle East.

"For one truth must rule all we think and do. No people can live to itself alone. The unity of all who dwell in freedom is their only sure defense. The economic need of all nations - makes isolation an impossibility; not even America's prosperity could long survive if other nations did not also prosper. No nation can longer be a fortress, lone and strong and safe. And any people seeking shelter for themselves can now build only their prison."

This Presidential statement sums up the necessity for a strategy which will include consideration of the security interests of our allies because in all conflicts short of general war the continued security of our nation is dependent upon the contributions made by other nations in the free world. The only time we can afford to jeopardize our allied support is when we are forced to take actions which involve a greater risk of general war than is acceptable to our allies but is an action which is calculated to prevent a general war. This may be a rather ambiguous statement but what I have in mind is a situation wherein international tensions have reached the point where we consider it necessary to deploy our strategic and tactical forces to overseas bases. Our allies may object strenuously to such deployments. We cannot afford to let their objections overrule the necessity for demonstrating the U.S. willingness to react as long as such a demonstration has a chance of deterring the Soviets from the use of their military power.

This brings us back to the principal national military objective so the cycle is complete. During this cycle I have discussed these objectives, opposing strengths, attainability of forces and our dependence on allied support. It is time now to wrap up all these considerations into an optimum military strategy. Here is the strategy I would propose:


1. Deter the communists from the use of their military power by:

a. Demonstrating an ability and stating a willingness to employ atomic weapons against any overt communist aggression.
b. Maintaining the capability to destroy the Soviets ability and will to wage war.
c. Obtaining and reacting to intelligence information which indicates that the Soviets are intending to initiate an aggression,
d. Supporting dissident elements within the Soviet Bloc in order to divide and weaken their political and military strengths.

2. Be prepared to support any nation against local aggression by maintaining forces with sufficient strength and flexibility to react swiftly and positively against the aggressor.

3. Be prepared to fight a general war by:
a. Selecting and maintaining the ability to attack and destroy those targets which are essential to the Soviet's ability to wage war.
b. Taking measures to improve the ability of the United States to survive an atomic exchange,
c. Maintaining a reasonable defense of the United States.


1. React swiftly and positively to any aggression using atomic weapons when militarily advantageous to the suppression of an aggression which has as its objective the expansion of communism. In local wars between free nations, conventional forces and tactics will be .used to assist the nation being subjected to an aggression.


1. Destroy the Soviets ability to wage war while defending the United States to the maximum extent practicable,

2. Assist in the relief and restoration of the national strengths remaining after the atomic exchange.

This concludes my views on the optimum military strategy for the 1957 - 1960 period. It undoubtedly differs in certain respects to the strategies presented by the Army and Navy.

In view of the marginal advantages available, it is mandatory that we in the military decide on an optimum strategy that can and will be supported by all Services as well as our allies. We cannot afford to divide our strengths in support of individual strategies. Our strengths must be united and directed towards a common goal. You who have had the benefit of the three Service views may be able to develop an optimum military strategy for the United States. I will leave this challenge with you and hope you can provide a better answer than I have given you today.

Gentlemen, it has been a pleasure, thank you.