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SIOP-62

New Picture.jpg (234×145)Since it was first created in 1960, the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP)--the U.S. plan for nuclear war-
-has been one of the most secret and sensitive issues in U.S. national security policy. The essence of the first
SIOP was a massive nuclear strike on military and urban-industrial targets in the Soviet Union, China, and their
allies. To make such an attack possible, U.S. war planners developed a complex organizational scheme
involving the interaction of targeting, weapons delivery systems and their flight paths, nuclear detonations over
targets, measurements of devastation, and defensive measures, among other elements, and successive
SIOPs would become even more complex. Much of this information remains highly secret and may never be
declassified; it is even possible that no civilian official has actually seen the SIOP (which one author suggests
amounts to a stack of computer print-outs). To ensure tight secrecy, when the first SIOP was created, its
architects established a special information category--Extremely Sensitive Information (ESI)--to ensure that
only those with a need-to-know would have access to the documents.

Note from Webmaster:  The following documents were originally available at the George Washington University National Security Archive, and are archived here for posterity sake.




Source: Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Ann W hitm an File, NSC Series, box 10, 387th Meeting of the National Security Council; published
with ex cisions in U.S. State Departm ent, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-60, Volum e III (Washington, D.C. : Governm ent
Printing O ffice, 1996), pp. 147-152

Early in his administration, President Eisenhower established a special subcommittee of the
National Security Council, the Net Evaluation Subcommittee (NESC), whose mission was to
develop estimates of the net effect of a nuclear war on the U.S., the Soviet Union, and their allies.
Each year, the NESC would look at a different scenario and see how a nuclear war played out in
terms of civilian fatalities, destruction of economic resources, and damage to military capabilities.
The NESC would provide Eisenhower and the NSC a full briefing on their conclusions.




Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files 1959, 3205 (17 Aug 59)

While the NESC prepared the NSC 2009 study, top military leaders worried about endemic
problems with U.S. nuclear targeting. With the huge expansion of the nuclear stockpile in the late
1950s and the wider dispersal of nuclear weapons and delivery systems among the services, the
unified and specified commanders were playing a greater and greater role in nuclear planning.



December 1959

Secret, Excised Copy With More Details Released on Appeal

Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59)

After Twining issued his 17 August memorandum, he distributed to the Joint Chiefs a list of
questions on targeting. While the Air Force Chief of Staff solidly supported Twining's call for reform,
the other service chiefs rejected his concept of greater centralization of nuclear war planning under
the direction of CINCSAC. All agreed with the Chairman's concept of a strategic target system
(excised from this version), but the Army, Navy, and Marines plainly saw the concept of a single
integrated operational plan as a challenge to organizational prerogatives.


of View of Effective Deterrence, of Alternative Retaliatory Efforts," 19 February 1960, enclosing
Memorandum to the President, same title, 12 February 1960, with National Security Council memo,
same title, 17 February 1960

Source: National Archives, RG 218, JCS Chairm an Nathan Twining Papers, 381 Net Evaluation

By the fall of 1959, the NESC had completed its study of nuclear targeting, "Appraisal of the
Relative Merits from the Point of View of Effective Deterrence, of Alternative Retaliatory Efforts."
So far no copy has surfaced and it remains in question if the document still exists. After reviewing
three different target systems--urban-industrial only, military only, and an "optimum mix" of urban-
industrial and military targets, including nuclear forces---the NESC concluded that only a strategy
that focused on the "optimum mix" targets would enable the United States to "prevail" in a nuclear
war.



Coordination and Associated Problems, JCS 2056/149, 26 April 1960, Top Secret, Excised copy with
more details released on appeal

Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59)

Some of the differences among the Joint Chiefs, for example, over the requirements of deterrence,
were difficult to resolve. Nonetheless, Eisenhower had given his marching orders and the next step
was to prepare "policy guidance at the national level" for the preparation of the NSTL. This would
set target priorities and criteria for causing "over-all damage to the Sino-Soviet bloc war potential."



Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Reading Room , Thom as D. W hite Papers, box 29, Top Secret General 1960

The Air Force was determined to play a central role in strategic targeting and planning and Chief of
Staff Thomas White brought a plan to the Secretary of Defense that would codify such a role.
Acknowledging that the Air Force's concept of a unified strategic command, with control over the
Navy's Polaris submarines, was unlikely to win top-level support, White supported a "lesser
solution" to the target coordination problem by designating CINCSAC the "Strategic Targeting
Authority."


Coordination and Associated Problems," 29 June 1960, JCSM-273-60, with Enclosures A, "Policy," B,
"Selection of Targets," and C, "Planning and Coordination," Top Secret, Excised copy with more details
released on appeal

Source: National Archives, RG 218, JCS Chairm an Nathan Twining Papers, 381 Net Evaluation

While the proposal for an NSTAP was under considerations, the services began to thrash out
important organizational problems: who would prepare the NSTL and who would prepare the SIOP
itself. For the first task, preparation of the NSTL, the services saw three alternatives: the JCS/Joint
Staff, SAC, or a Unified Strategic Command. For the second task, "to translate the attack of the
targets of the NSTL into an effective national effort", the alternatives were essentially the same: the
JCS, SAC as an "agent" of the JCS, a Unified Strategic Command, or by the Unified and
Specified Command.


"Target Coordination and Associated Problems," SM-679-60, 15 July 1960, Top Secret, Excised copy
with more details released on appeal

Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59)

After several meetings in early July it became apparent that the JCS remained completely split
over the organization and direction of strategic nuclear planning. The spread sheets produced by
the Joint Secretariat illustrate the disagreements. Thus, under the "Objectives and Concepts"
category, the Army and Navy were content to see key target systems destroyed or neutralized and
supported the idea of prevailing in war, but the Air Force had a more thoroughgoing concept
drawing upon older thinking about the utility of bombing to destroy a society's morale; it sought to
"destroy the Sino-Soviet bloc's will and ability to wage war."




Source: U.S. Navy O perational Archives, Arleigh Burk e Papers, SIO P/NSTL Briefing Folder

By early August, Secretary of Defense Gates had met with the JCS numerous times to form a
consensus on strategic nuclear planning but he was not able to overcome the wide gulf between
the services, especially the Air Force and the Navy. While Gates rejected Air Forces ideas for a
unified command, he sought Eisenhower's endorsement of the proposals for an NSTL and SIOP to
be prepared by a Director of Strategic Target Planning. Apparently, Gates saw SAC's vaunted
computer capabilities as a significant reason for lodging strategic planning at Offutt Air Force
Base.


Problems, 22 August 1960, JCS 2056/165, Top Secret, Excised copy with more details released on
appeal

Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59) Sec. 6

After Eisenhower made his decision, the Joint Chiefs fell into line and made a series of decisions
that pushed the SIOP forward. As this document shows, they reached agreement on a final version
of the NSTAP, thus setting objectives for targeting, damage and assurance criteria, and assigning
responsibility for creating the NSTL and SIOP and final review of the effort.


Plans and Policy, to Admiral Russell, 12 October 1960, with List of Questions and Comments Attached,
Top Secret

Source: U.S. Navy O perational Archives, Arleigh Burk e Papers, SIO P/NSTL Briefing Folder

While the JSTPS was establishing itself and preparing the NSTL and SIOP Navy insiders were
closely monitoring the developments. Admiral Paul Blackburn, on Arleigh Burke's staff, prepared a
list of questions whose answers would shed light on the adequacy of the methods used by the
JSTPS. It is likely that the questions were prepared for a Joint Staff briefing that same day by
members of the JCS liaison group that was attached to the JSTPS. In the questions Blackburn
raised a number of problems, including damage criteria (whether they were too severe), plans for
destroying Soviet missiles, data processing procedures, the "cumulative" impact of nuclear attacks
(for example, fires exacerbated by destruction of water supply pumping stations), and the effect of
fall-out on hostile and friendly populations).


JCS 2056/184, 18 October 1960, Top Secret, Excised copy with more details released on appeal

Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59) Sec. 7

This document highlights in detail the mechanisms set up by the Joint Chiefs, the Joint Staff, and
the JSTPS to ensure that the NSTL and the SIOP conformed to JCS guidance.


computers in targeting, information on," 26 October 1960

Source: U.S. Navy O perational Archives, Arleigh Burk e Papers, SIO P/NSTL Briefing Folder

Although SAC had argued that its capacious advanced computer capabilities gave its
headquarters a distinct advantage over the Joint Staff in preparing the NSTL and SIOP, the Navy
concluded that SAC had greatly exaggerated its capabilities. An investigation instigated by
Admiral Blackburn concluded that "computers are used by SAC for less than 5% of the targeting
function." Besides showing how SAC had to rely on its staff to manipulate data manually, this useful
document provides a step-by-step account of how the new JSTPS constructed the NSTL and SIOP
from establishing target priorities to planning "flights" (bomber and missile strikes).


Base, to JCS, 29 October 1960, Top Secret

Source: U.S. Navy O perational Archives, Arleigh Burk e Papers, SIO P/NSTL Briefing Folder

In this progress report, the JCS's liaison to the JSTPS reviewed how the Planning Staff developed
its methodology for estimating damage expectancy against a given DGZ, the problem of gauging
the survivability of U.S. bases under conditions of nuclear attack, and the status of target plans for
the "alert force" (those bombers and missiles that are in a high-state of readiness for attack), the
relationship of SACEUR's forces to the plan, and procedures for execution of the SIOP.



20 November 1960

Source: U.S. Navy O perational Archives, Arleigh Burk e Papers, SIO P/NSTL Briefing Folder

As the Army and Navy learned more about the NSTL and SIOP they began to articulate their
reservations. In mid-November senior Army officers prepared a position paper which Admiral
Burke transmitted to top commanders noting that the Army's thinking "coincides closely with our
positions."



(Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet), CINCUSNAVEUR (Commander-in-Chief U.S. Naval Forces Europe),
22 November 1960

Source: U.S. Navy O perational Archives, Arleigh Burk e Papers, SIO P/NSTL Briefing Folder

Burke would soon comment on the Army paper but in the meantime he shared his thinking with top
commanders. Recognizing that Air Force critics could not derail the inexorable NSTL/SIOP
process he suggested that the most feasible approach was to treat the plan as a "good first effort"
but that many areas, such as damage criteria, the point system, and constraints, and JCS
guidance itself needed rethinking.


(Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet), CINCUSNAVEUR (Commander-in-Chief U.S. Naval Forces Europe),
24 November 1960

Source: U.S. Navy O perational Archives, Arleigh Burk e Papers, SIO P/NSTL Briefing Folder

In this message, Burke developed a few areas where he disagreed with the Army. For example,
Burke dissented from the Army's interest in extending the SIOP beyond the "initial strike" so it
included follow-on attacks. According to Burke, this would be impractical because "there is going
to be a lot of confusion after initial strikes and control of subsequent operations must rest in Unified
Commanders and local commanders."
 
 
 
Document 18: Note by the Secretaries to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Review of the Initial NSTL and SIOP,
JCS 2056/194, 9 December 1960, Top Secret, Excised copy with more details released on appeal
 
Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59) Sec. 8
 
On 1 December 1960, Secretary of Defense Gates, the Joint Chiefs and the CINCs traveled to
Offutt Air Force base to get briefings on, and review, the NSTL and the SIOP. So far, there are no
primary sources available on these discussions, but Kaplan has a fascinating interview-based
account of top-level SIOP briefings that same month which may about this episode. (Note 19) As
this document shows, a week later the Chiefs met and decided that the NSTL and SIOP were
"satisfactory for the integration of the initial national strategic attack" and should be used for "the
preparation of detailed implementing plans and procedures." SIOP-62 would go into effect on 1
April 1961. Looking ahead, the Chiefs called for a review of the war plan to determine areas where
changes might be in order.
 
 
 
 
Document 19: Note by the Secretaries to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Review of the NSTL/SIOP-62 and
Related Policy Guidance, JCS 2056/197, 30 December 1960, Top Secret, Excised copy with more details
released on appeal
 
Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59) Sec. 8
 
During the weeks after the Chiefs approved the SIOP some of the service chiefs and the CINCs
sent in comments, some of them skeptical. Not surprisingly, Admiral Burke sent in the first such
assessment. His arguments will be familiar by now, as they express reservations about the
damage criteria, which are "based on blast damage only" not taking into account "thermal and
radiation effects." Thus, the new policy "results in damage levels and population casualties beyond
those which appear to be required." He also saw problems in the interpretation of assurance for
arrival of weapons at the BRL, resulting in "extremely high levels of assurance" and the unrealistic
estimates of radiation doses. Plainly worried about the fallout effects on friendly countries and U.S.
forces, Burke asked for an analysis of "world-wide contamination, to include effect of Soviet
weapons employment."
 
 
Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59) Sec. 9
 
With this cable CINCPAC Harry Felt informed the Joint Chiefs that his recent review of SIOP-62
confirmed "doubts in my mind." Like White House science adviser George Kistiakowsky (see
document 23 below), Felt was concerned that JCS damage criteria were excessive and would
produce damage far beyond what a relatively small nuclear weapon did to Hiroshima in 1945. This
comparison "revealed the extremes to which we have gone in our plans in the past 15 years." The
United States could reach its objectives (presumably to prevail over the adversary) while obtaining
far less destruction. Like Burke, Felt believed that damage criteria were unrealistic in that they only
considered blast effects but did not take "heat, fire, and radiation" into account. Also like Burke,
Felt worried about the fallout hazards to friendly forces and nations: "When we consider that
worldwide about 1450 weapons are programmed by alert forces and about 3400 weapons by all
the committed forces, we realize that our weapons can be a hazard to ourselves as well as our
enemy."
 
 
 
Document 21: Note by the Secretaries to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Review of the NSTL/SIOP-62 and
Related Guidance, JCS 2056/204, 19 January 1961, Top Secret, Excised copy with more details released
on appeal
 
Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59) Sec. 9
 
On 17 January Army Chief of Staff General George Decker presented the Joint Chiefs with his
assessment of SIOP-62. Like some of his colleagues he believed that the damage criteria were
excessive and that the constraints criteria were unrealistic. Like Arleigh Burke, Decker saw the
SIOP as problematic because it was a "capabilities plan" that simply threw available nuclear
weapons at the Sino-Soviet bloc. (Note 20) As Decker put it, "SIOP-62 reflects an initial strike
capability of the forces made available." What Decker thought was needed was a SIOP that was
more firmly based in objective; he suggested that the "selection of more precise objectives should
more effectively neutralize the war-making and political potential of the … Bloc at the same or
lesser degree of effort." Also like Burke, Decker worried about SAC domination of the JSTPS and
called for a more "equitable representation among the services" on the planning staff.
 
 
 
Document 22: Note by the Secretaries to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Review of JCS NSTL and SIOP-62,
JCS 2056/206, 26 January 1961, Top Secret, Excised copy with more details released on appeal
 
Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59) Sec. 9
 
The Atlantic Command chimed in next, with a six page critique from acting CINCLANT Vice-
Admiral Fitzhugh Lee. Using the "committed force" for a nuclear strike, Lee argued, produced
destructive results that exceeded the specific objectives specified in the NSTAP. To correct that
problem he recommended that the Chiefs "establish the Essential National Task which must be
accomplished should … deterrence against general war fail." Like Burke and Decker, Lee critically
assessed damage criteria, assurance delivery, constraints policy and questioned SAC's
predominant role at the JSTPS. He also questioned the JSTPS's point system used for target
worth (excised here, but military targets were "alfa" targets, while urban-industrial targets were
"bravo" targets; see document 12).
 
 
 
Document 23: Note by the Secretaries to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Strategic Target Planning, JCS
2056/208, 27 January 1961, Top Secret, Excised copy with more details released on appeal
 
Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59) Sec. 9
 
In November 1960, before Secretary of Defense Gates and the Joint Chiefs had approved SIOP-
62, White House science adviser George B. Kistiakowsky, with two assistants, George Rathgens,
from his staff, and Herbert Scoville, jr., then director of CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence, went to
SAC headquarters to receive briefings on, and study, the SIOP. General Power and the JSTPS
cooperated with Kistiakowsky only because Eisenhower had signed a letter that gave his adviser
"about as much authority as that of the secretary of defense."
 
 
 
 
Source: U.S. Navy O perational Archives, Arleigh Burk e Papers. NSTL/SIO P Messages, Ex clusives & Personals
 
 
Source: FO IA Release to National Security Archive
 
While the records of the Gates-JCS-JSTPS conference from December 1961 have yet to surface,
two accounts of the first visit by Gates' successor, Robert S. McNamara, to Offutt Air Force Base, a
JSTPS memo and a Navy cable, have been declassified. (Note 24) The cable from the Navy's
chief representative to the JSTPS, Vice Admiral Edward N. Parker, is particularly informative.
Recognizing McNamara's background on probabilities, Parker was impressed by his "penetrating"
questions on damage probabilities, assurance, and the effectiveness of force structure but he also
found the new Secretary to be "weak in his knowledge of weapons effects."
 
 
 
Document 25: Note by the Secretaries to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Review of the NSTL/SIOP-62 and
Related Policy Guidance, JCS 2056/220, 11 February 1961, Top Secret, Excised copy with more details
released on appeal
 
Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59) Sec. 9
 
Fred Kaplan's account of the Pentagon's initial review of the SIOP includes an especially
memorable episode. During the briefings, Marine Corps commandant David Shoup (the service
with the most marginal nuclear responsibilities) saw a chart that showed that the initial attack would
kill tens of millions of Chinese. At the closing meeting, General Shoup asked General Power what
would happen if Beijing was not fighting; was there an option to leave Chinese targets out of the
attack plan? Power was reported to have said that he hoped no one would think of that "because it
would really screw up the plan"--that is, the plan was supposed to be executed as a whole.
Apparently Shoup then observed that "any plan that kills millions of Chinese when it isn't even their
war is not a good plan. This is not the American way."
 
 
 
Documents 26A and 26B: Memorandum by the Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force for the Joint Chiefs of Staff on
Strategic Target Planning, JCS 2056/230, 17 March 1961, Top Secret, Excised copy with more details
released on appeal
 
Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chief of Staff, Decim al Files, 3205 (17 Aug 59) Sec. 9
 
After some delay, the Air Force Chief of Staff issued an initial response to Kistiakowsky's report;
General White's memo, however, avoided taking on the major criticisms and took issue with he
called a "misleading" reference to the 2009 study. White's memorandum is heavily excised but,
according to a Joint Staff memo prepared a few days later, the main point was a disagreement
with the "statistical comparison of SIOP-62 and Study 2009" made in Tab "B" of document 22.
Seeing this a "minor" error "that is not likely to disturb the SECDEF," the Joint Staff recommended
that action on White's paper be deferred until the JSTPS had commented on the entire
Kistiakowsky report. Those comments, completed in June 1961, remain to be declassified.
 
 
 
 
Source: U.S. Navy O perational Archives, Arleigh Burk e Papers. Messages, file # 2, NSTL/SIO P Messages O ther Than Ex clusives &
Personals, Period 1 Jan
 
Only a few weeks after SIOP-62 went into effect (on 1 April 1961), the JSTPS began a more or
less constant effort at updating the plan so as to take into account the availability of new weapons
and changes in alert postures, among other considerations. For example, as this document shows,
the crystallization of plans to put 50 percent of SAC bombers on ground alert meant the
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enlargement of the alert force and the need to reconfigure the DGZs assigned to the bombers.
 
 
 
Document 28: History & Research Division, Headquarters, Strategic Air Command, History of the Joint
Strategic Target Planning Staff: Background and Preparation of SIOP-62, n.d., Top Secret, Excised copy
with more details released on appeal
 
Source: Freedom of Inform ation Act request and appeal
 
Not long after the completion of SIOP-62, SAC headquarters produced an official history. While
rather short, on the whole it is balanced, giving a judicious view of the controversies that preceded
the high-level decisions to create the JSTPS and synchronize target planning through a SIOP-
mechanism. Unfortunately, despite an appeal, which took seven years to process, the Defense
Department withheld significant portions from the concluding, and most important section,
"Preparation of SIOP-62." Significantly, the Defense Department reviewers did release a summary
of the NSTAP's prime target objectives, thus allowing readers to fill in the blanks in document 9.
Interestingly, the reviewers also released the aggregate number of targets--4,000-- in the National
Strategic Data Base (NSTDB). In addition, a footnote on page 21 includes what is probably a
description of the size of the alert force. No doubt much more information, possibly the entire text,
could have been released from this history without harm to national security. A new declassification
request, recently filed by the Archive, may elicit additional information.
 
 
 
Note from Webmaster:  The following documents were originally available at the George Washington University National Security Archive, and are archived here for posterity sake.
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