John F. Kennedy photo

Special Message to the Congress on the Defense Budget.

March 28, 1961

To the Congress of the United States:

In my role as Commander-in-Chief of the American Armed Forces, and with my concern over the security of this nation now and in the future, no single question of policy has concerned me more since entering upon these responsibilities than the adequacy of our present and planned military forces to accomplish our major national security objectives.

In January, while ordering certain immediately needed changes, I instructed the Secretary of Defense to reappraise our entire defense strategy, capacity, commitments and needs in the light of present and future dangers. The Secretary of State and others have been consulted in this reappraisal, and I have myself carefully reviewed their reports and advice.

Such a review is obviously a tremendous task and it still continues. But circumstances do not permit a postponement of all further action during the many additional months that a full reappraisal will require. Consequently we are now able to present the most urgent and obvious recommendations for inclusion in the fiscal 1962 Budget.

Meaningful defense budget decisions, however, are not possible without preliminary decisions on defense policy, reflecting both current strategic assumptions and certain fundamental principles. These basic policies or principles, as stated below, will constitute the essential guidelines and standards to be followed by all civilian and military personnel who work on behalf of our nation's security. The Budget which follows, if enacted by the Congress under its own solemn duty "to provide for the common defense," is designed to implement these assumptions as we now see them, and to chart a fresh, clear course for our security in a time of rising dangers and persistent hope.


I. The primary purpose of our arms is peace, not war--to make certain that they will never have to be used--to deter all wars, general or limited, nuclear or conventional, large or small--to convince all potential aggressors that any attack would be futile--to provide backing for diplomatic settlement of disputes--to insure the adequacy of our bargaining power for an end to the arms race. The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution. Neither our strategy nor our psychology as a nation--and certainly not our economy--must become dependent upon the permanent maintenance of a large military establishment. Our military posture must be sufficiently flexible and under control to be consistent with our efforts to explore all possibilities and to take every step to lessen tensions, to obtain peaceful solutions and to secure arms limitations. Diplomacy and defense are no longer distinct alternatives, one to be used where the other fails--both must complement each other.

Disarmament, so difficult and so urgent, has been much discussed since 1945, but progress has not been made. Recrimination in such matters is seldom useful, and we for our part are determined to try again. In so doing, we note that, in the public position of both sides in recent years, the determination to be strong has been coupled with announced willingness to negotiate. For our part, we know there can be dialectical truth in such a position, and we shall do all we can to prove it in action. This budget is wholly consistent with our earnest desire for serious conversation with the other side on disarmament. If genuine progress is made, then as tension is reduced, so will be our arms.

2. Our arms will never be used to strike the first blow in any attack. This is not a confession of weakness but a statement of strength. It is our national tradition. We must offset whatever advantage this may appear to hand an aggressor by so increasing the capability of our forces to respond swiftly and effectively to any aggressive move as to convince any would-be aggressor that such a movement would be too futile and costly to undertake. In the area of general war, this doctrine means that such capability must rest with that portion of our forces which would survive the initial attack. We are not creating forces for a first strike against any other nation. We shall never threaten, provoke or initiate aggression--but if aggression should come, our response will be swift and effective.

3. Our arms must be adequate to meet our commitments and ensure our security, Without being bound by arbitrary budget ceilings. This nation can afford to be strong--it cannot afford to be weak. We shall do what is needed to make and to keep us strong. We must, of course, take advantage of every opportunity to reduce military outlays as a result of scientific or managerial progress, new strategic concepts, a more efficient, manageable and thus more effective defense establishment, or international agreements for the control and limitation of arms. But we must not shrink from additional costs where they are necessary. The additional $650 million in expenditures for fiscal 1962 which I am recommending today, while relatively small, are too urgent to be governed by a budget largely decided before our defense review had been completed. Indeed, in the long run the net effect of all the changes I am recommending will be to provide a more economical budget. But I cannot promise that in later years we need not be prepared to spend still more for what is indispensable. Much depends on the course followed by other nations. As a proportion of gross national product, as a share of our total Budget, and in comparison with our national effort in earlier times of war, this increase in Defense expenditures is still substantially below what our citizens have been willing and are now able to support as insurance on their security--insurance we hope is never needed--but insurance we must nevertheless purchase.

4. Our arms must be subject to ultimate civilian control and command at all times, in war as well as peace. The basic decisions on our participation in any conflict and our response to any threat--including all decisions relating to the use of nuclear weapons, or the escalation of a small war into a large one--will be made by the regularly constituted civilian authorities. This requires effective and protected organization, procedures, facilities and communication in the event of attack directed toward this objective, as well as defensive measures designed to insure thoughtful and selective decisions by the civilian authorities. This message and budget also reflect that basic principle. The Secretary of Defense and I have had the earnest counsel of our senior military advisers and many others-and in fact they support the great majority of the decisions reflected in this Budget. But I have not delegated to anyone else the responsibilities for decision which are imposed upon me by the Constitution.

5. Our strategic arms and defenses must be adequate to deter any deliberate nuclear attack on the United States or our allies-by making clear to any potential aggressor that sufficient retaliatory forces will be able to survive a first strike and penetrate his defenses in order to inflict unacceptable losses upon him. As I indicated in an address to the Senate some 31 months ago, this deterrence does not depend upon a simple comparison of missiles on hand before an attack. It has been publicly acknowledged for several years that this nation has not led the world in missile strength. Moreover, we will not strike first in any conflict. But what we have and must continue to have is the ability to survive a first blow and respond with devastating power. This deterrent power depends not only on the number of our missiles and bombers, but on their state of readiness, their ability to survive attack, and the flexibility and sureness with which we can control them to achieve our national purpose and strategic objectives.

6. The strength and deployment of our forces in combination with those of our allies should be sufficiently powerful and mobile to prevent the steady erosion of the Free World through limited wars; and it is this role that should constitute the primary mission of our overseas forces. Non-nuclear wars, and sub-limited or guerrilla warfare, have since 1945 constituted the most active and constant threat to Free World security. Those units of our forces which are stationed overseas, or designed to fight overseas, can be most usefully oriented toward deterring or confining those conflicts which do not justify and must not lead to a general nuclear attack. In the event of a major aggression that could not be repulsed by conventional forces, we must be prepared to take whatever action with whatever weapons are appropriate. But our objective now is to increase our ability to confine our response to non-nuclear weapons, and to lessen the incentive for any limited aggression by making clear what our response will accomplish. In most areas of the world, the main burden of local defense against overt attack, subversion and guerrilla warfare must rest on local populations and forces. But given the great likelihood and seriousness of this threat, we must be prepared to make a substantial contribution in the form of strong, highly mobile forces trained in this type of warfare, some of which must be deployed in forward areas, with a substantial airlift and sealift capacity and pre-stocked overseas bases.

7. Our defense posture must be both flexible and determined. Any potential aggressor contemplating an attack on any part of the Free World with any kind of weapons, conventional or nuclear, must know that our response will be suitable, selective, swift and effective. While he may be uncertain of its exact nature and location, there must be no uncertainty about our determination and capacity to take whatever steps are necessary to meet our obligations. We must be able to make deliberate choices in weapons and strategy, shift the tempo of our production and alter the direction of our forces to meet rapidly changing conditions or objectives at very short notice and under any circumstances. Our weapon systems must be usable in a manner permitting deliberation and discrimination as to timing, scope and targets in response to civilian authority; and our defenses must be secure against prolonged re-attack as well as a surprise firststrike. To purchase productive capacity and to initiate development programs that may never need to be used--as this Budget proposes--adopts an insurance policy of buying alternative future options.

8. Our defense posture must be designed to reduce the danger of irrational or unpremeditated general war--the danger of an unnecessary escalation of a small war into a large one, or of miscalculation or misinterpretation of an incident or enemy intention. Our diplomatic efforts to reach agreements on the prevention of surprise attack, an end to the spread of nuclear weapons--indeed all our efforts to end the arms race-are aimed at this objective. We shall strive for improved communication among all nations, to make dear our own intentions and resolution, and to prevent any nation from underestimating the response of any other, as has too often happened in the past. In addition our own military activities must be safeguarded against the possibility of inadvertent triggering incidents. But even more importantly, we must make certain that our retaliatory power does not rest on decisions made in ambiguous circumstances, or permit a catastrophic mistake.

It would not be appropriate at this time or in this message to either boast of our strength or dwell upon our needs and dangers. It is sufficient to say that the budgetary recommendations which follow, together with other policy, organizational and related changes and studies now underway administratively, are designed to provide for an increased strength, flexibility and control in our defense establishment in accordance with the above policies.


A. Improving our missile deterrent. As a power which will never strike first, our hopes for anything close to an absolute deterrent must rest on weapons which come from hidden, moving, or invulnerable bases which will not be wiped out by a surprise attack. A retaliatory capacity based on adequate numbers of these weapons would deter any aggressor from launching or even threatening an attack--an attack he knew could not find or destroy enough of our force to prevent his own destruction.

1 Polaris--the ability of the nuclear-powered Polaris submarine to operate deep below the surface of the seas for long periods and to launch its ballistic, solid fuel nuclear-armed missiles while submerged gives this weapons system a very high degree of mobility and concealment, making it virtually immune to ballistic missile attack.

In the light of the high degree of success attained to date in its development, production and operation, I strongly recommend that the Polaris program be greatly expanded and accelerated. I have earlier directed the Department of Defense, as stated in my State of the Union Message, to increase the fiscal year 1961 program from 5 submarine starts to 10, and to accelerate the delivery of these and other Polaris submarines still under construction. This action will provide

5 more operational submarines about nine months earlier than previously planned.

For fiscal year 1962, I recommend the construction of 10 more Polaris submarines, making a total of 29, plus one additional tender. These 10 submarines, together with the 10 programmed for fiscal year 1961, are scheduled to be delivered at the rate of one a month or twelve a year, beginning in June 1963, compared with the previous rate of 5 a year. Under this schedule, a force of 29 Polaris submarines can be completed and at sea two months before the present program which called for 19 boats, and two years earlier than would be possible under the old 5-a-year rate. These 29 submarines, each with a full complement of missiles, Will be a formidable deterrent force. The sooner they are on station, the safer we will be. And our emphasis upon a weapon distinguished primarily for its invulnerability is another demonstration of the fact that our posture as a nation is defensive and not aggressive.

I also recommend that the development of the long-range Polaris A-3 be accelerated in order to become available a year earlier at an eventual savings in the procurement of the A-2 system.

This longer range missile with improved penetration capability will greatly enhance the operational flexibility of the Polaris force and reduce its exposure to shore-based antisubmarine warfare measures. Finally, we must increase the allowance of Polaris missiles for practice firing to provide systematic "proving ground" data for determining and improving operational reliability.

The increases in this program, including $15 million in new obligational authority for additional crews, constitute the bulk of the budget increases--S1.34 billion in new obligational authority on a full funded basis, over a 4 year period though only $270 million in expenditures in fiscal 1962. I consider this a wise investment in our future.

2. Minuteman--another strategic missile system which will play a major role in our deterrent force, with a high degree of survivability under ballistic missile attack, is the solid fuel Minuteman. This system is planned to be deployed in well-dispersed, hardened sites and, eventually, in a mobile mode on railroad cars. On the basis of the success of tests conducted to date and the importance of this system to our over-all strategy, I recommend the following steps:

(1) Certain design changes to improve the reliability, guidance accuracy, range and re-entry of this missile should be incorporated earlier than previously planned, by additional funding for research and development.

(2) A more generous allotment of missiles for practice firing should, as in the case of the Polaris, be provided to furnish more operational data sooner.

(3) The three mobile Minuteman squadrons funded in the January budget should be deferred for the time being and replaced by three more fixed-base squadrons (thus increasing the total number of missiles added by some two-thirds). Development work on the mobile version will continue.

(4) Minuteman capacity production should be doubled to enable us to move to still higher levels of strength more swiftly should future conditions warrant doubling our production. There are great uncertainties as to the future capabilities of others; as to the ultimate outcome of struggles now going on in many of the world's trouble spots; and as to future technological breakthroughs either by us or any other nation. In view of these major uncertainties, it is essential that, here again, we adopt an insurance philosophy and hedge our risks by buying options on alternative courses of action. We can reduce lead-time by providing, now, additional standby production capacity that may never need to be used, or used only in part, and by constructing additional bases which events may prove could safely have been postponed to the next fiscal year. But that option is well worth the added cost.

Together, these recommendations for Minuteman will require the addition of $96 million in new obligational authority to the January budget estimate.

3. Skybolt--another type of missile less likely to be completely eliminated by enemy attack is the air-to-ground missile carried by a plane that can be off the ground before an attack commences. Skybolt is a long-range (1000 mile) air-launched, solid-fuel nuclearwarhead ballistic missile designed to be carried by the B-52 and the British V bombers. Its successful development and production may extend the useful life of our bombers into the missile age--and its range is far superior to the present Hound Dog missiles.

I recommend that an additional $50 million in new obligational authority be added to the 1962 budget to enable this program to go forward at an orderly rate.

B. Protecting our bomber deterrent. The considerably more rapid growth projected for our ballistic missile force does not eliminate the need for manned bombers--although no funds were included in the January budget for the further procurement of B-52 heavy bombers and B-58 medium bombers, and I do not propose any. Our existing bomber forces constitute our chief hope for deterring attack during this period prior to the completion of our missile expansion. However, only those planes that would not be destroyed on the ground in the event of a surprise attack striking their base can be considered sufficiently invulnerable to deter an aggressor.

I therefore recommend the following steps 'to protect our bomber deterrent: 1. Airborne alert capacity. That portion of our force which is constantly in the air is clearly the least vulnerable portion. I am asking for the funds to continue the present level of indoctrination training flights, and to complete the stand-by capacity and materials needed to place one-eighth of our entire heavy bomber force on airborne alert at any time. I also strongly urge the re-enactment of Section 512(b) of the Department of Defense Appropriation Act for 1961, which authorizes the Secretary of Defense, if the President determines it is necessary, to provide for the cost of a full airborne alert as a deficiency expense approved by the Congress.

2. Increased ground alert force and bomb alarms. Strategic bombers standing by on a ground alert of 15 minutes can also have a high degree of survivability provided adequate and timely warning is available. I therefore recommended that the proportion of our B-52 and B-47 forces on ground alert should be increased until about half of our total force is on alert. In addition, bomb alarm detectors and bomb alarm signals should be installed at key warning and communication points and all SAC bases, to make certain that a dependable notification of any surprise attack cannot be eliminated. $45 million in new obligational authority will pay for all of these measures.

C. Improving our continental defense and warning systems. Because of the speed and destructiveness of the intercontinental ballistic missile and the secrecy with which it can be launched, timely warning of any potential attack is of crucial importance not only for preserving our population but also for preserving a sufficient portion of our military forces--thus deterring such an attack before it is launched. For any attacker knows that every additional minute gained means that a larger part of our retaliatory force can be launched before it can be destroyed on the ground. We must assure ourselves, therefore, that every feasible action is being taken to provide such warning.

To supplement the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS), on which construction is now proceeding as fast as is practical, the satellite-borne Midas system, now under development, is designed to provide about 30 minutes of warning by detecting missiles immediately after launching. Together with BMEWS, Midas would greatly increase the assurance and reliability of timely warning. I recommend that an additional $60 million in new obligational authority be added to the 1962 budget to accelerate completion of the development phase of the Midas program, with the goal of achieving an operational system at an earlier date.

For the next several years at least, however, we shall have to continue to provide a defense against manned bomber attack. Such an attack is most likely to coincide with, or follow, a ballistic missile attack seeking to incapacitate our anti-bomber defense system. Measures must therefore be taken to enhance the ability of the air defense system to cope with a combined attack. I recommend $23 million in new obligational authority be added to the 1962 budget for this purpose.

D. Improving the command and control of our strategic deterrent. The basic policies stated at the beginning of this message lay new emphasis on improved command and control--more flexible, more selective, more deliberate, better protected and under ultimate civilian authority at all times. This requires not only the development and installation of new equipment and facilities, but, even more importantly, increased attention to all organizational and procedural arrangements for the President and others. The invulnerable and continuous command posts and communications centers provided in these recommendations (requiring an additional $I6 million in new obligational authority) are only the beginning of a major but absolutely vital effort to achieve a truly unified, nationwide, indestructible system to insure high-level command, communication and control and a properly authorized response under any conditions.

E. There are a number of other space and research programs related to our strategic and continental air defense forces which I find require additional support. These include missile defense and penetration aids, Dynasoar, Advent, Defender, Discoverer and certain other programs. An additional $226 million in new obligational authority is requested to finance them.


The Free World's security can be endangered not only by a nuclear attack, but also by being slowly nibbled away at the periphery, regardless of our strategic power, by forces of subversion, infiltration, intimidation, indirect or non-overt aggression, internal revolution, diplomatic blackmail, guerrilla warfare or a series of limited wars.

In this area of local wars, we must inevitably count on the cooperative efforts of other peoples and nations who share our concern. Indeed, their interests are more often directly engaged in such conflicts. The self-reliant are also those whom it is easiest to help-and for these reasons we must continue and reshape the Military Assistance Program which I have discussed earlier in my special message on foreign aid.

But to meet our own extensive commitments and needed improvements in conventional forces, I recommend the following: A. Strengthened capacity to meet limited and guerrilla warfare--limited military adventures and threats to the security of the Free World that are not large enough to justify the label of "limited war." We need a greater ability to deal with guerrilla forces, insurrections, and subversion. Much of our effort to create guerrilla and antiguerrilla capabilities has in the past been aimed at general war. We must be ready now to deal with any size of force, including small externally supported bands of men; and we must help train local forces to be equally effective.

B. Expanded research on non-nuclear weapons. A few selected high priority areas--strategic systems, air defense and space--have received the overwhelming proportion of our defense research effort. Yet, technology promises great improvements in non-nuclear armaments as well; and it is important that we be in the forefront of these developments. What is needed are entirely new types of non-nuclear weapons and equipment--with increased fire-power, mobility and communications, and more suited to the kind of tasks our limited war forces will most likely be required to perform. I include here anti-submarine warfare as well as land and air operations. I recommend, therefore, an additional million in new obligational authority to speed up current limited warfare research and development programs and to provide for the initiation of entirely new programs.

C. Increased flexibility of conventional forces. Our capacity to move forces in sizable numbers on short notice and to be able to support them in one or more crisis areas could avoid the need for a much larger commitment later. Following my earlier direction, the Secretary of Defense has taken steps both to accelerate and increase the production of airlift aircraft. A total of new, longer range, modern airlift aircraft will be procured through fiscal year 1962, compared with the 50 previously programmed. An additional $172 million new obligational authority will be required in the 1962 budget to finance this expanded program.

These additional aircraft will help to meet our airlift requirements until the new specially designed, long-range, jet powered C-141 transport becomes available. A contractor for this program has been selected and active development work will soon be started. Adequate funds are already included in the January budget to finance this program through the coming fiscal year.

I am also recommending in this message $40 million in new obligational authority for the construction of an additional amphibious transport of a new type, increasing both the speed and the capability of Marine Corps sealift capacity; and $84 million in new obligational authority for an increase in the Navy's ship rehabilitation and modernization program, making possible an increase in the number of ship overhauls (as well as a higher level of naval aircraft maintenance).

But additional transport is not enough for quick flexibility. I am recommending $230 million in new obligational authority for increased procurement of such items as helicopters, rifles, modern non-nuclear weapons, electronics and communications equipment, improved ammunition for artillery and infantry weapons, and torpedoes. Some important new advances in ammunition and bombs can make a sizeable qualitative jump in our limited war capabilities.

D. Increased non-nuclear capacities of fighter aircraft. Manned aircraft will be needed even during the 1965-75 missile era for various limited war missions. Target recognition, destruction of all types of targets when extreme accuracy is required, and the control of air space over enemy territory will all continue to be tasks best performed by manned aircraft.

Expected phase-out of Navy and Air Force fighters by 1965, together with reduced numbers and increasing obsolescence of the remaining aircraft, make necessary the development of an advanced tactical fighter emphasizing non-nuclear capabilities. I am requesting $45 million in new obligational authority for this purpose.

Meanwhile, I am recommending $25 million in new obligational authority for the modification of the F-105 tactical fighter to improve its capability to handle conventionally armed ordnance items, and to increase its suitability for airstrips of all types of areas.

E. Increased personnel, training and readiness/or conventional forces. I am recommending $39 million in new obligational authority for increases in Army personnel strength to expand guerrilla warfare units and round Out other existing units, and an increase in the Marine Corps to bring it up closer to authorized strength levels. (In addition, personnel is being added to the Navy for Polaris crews, and to the Air Force for the ground alert expansion.) The sum of these personnel additions is 13,000 men. I am also recommending $25 million additional in new obligational authority for pay of retired personnel of the military forces.

But more personnel alone is not enough. I am recommending an additional $65 million in new obligational authority for increased readiness training of Army and Air Force units. These funds will provide for additional field training and mobility exercises for the Army and test exercises for the composite air strike forces and MATS unit. We recognize the role of exercises and deployments in demonstrating to our friends and opponents our ability to deploy forces rapidly in a crisis.


The elimination of waste, duplication and outmoded or unjustifiable expenditure items from the Defense Budget is a long and arduous undertaking, resisted by special arguments and interests from economic, military, technical and other special groups. There are hundreds of ways, most of them with some merit, for spending billions of dollars on defense; and it is understandable that every critic of this Budget will have a strong preference for economy on some expenditures other than those that affect his branch of the service, or his plant, or his community.

But hard decisions must be made. Unheeded facilities or projects must be phased out. The defense establishment must be lean and fit, efficient and effective, always adjusting to new opportunities and advances, and planning for the future. The national interest must be weighed against special or local interests; and it is the national interest that calls upon us to cut our losses and cut back those programs in which a very dim promise no longer justifies a very large cost.


1. Our decision to acquire a very substantial increase in second-generation solid-fuel missiles of increased invulnerability (Polaris and Minuteman) enables us to eliminate safely the last two squadrons of Titan originally contemplated. These would not have become operational until 1964, and at a cost of $270 million--a cost several times that of the Minuteman missiles we are purchasing for the same period and could increase with our stand-by facility. $100 million in the 1962 budget can be saved by this adjustment.

2. The phase-out of a number of B-47 medium bomber wings already planned will be accelerated to provide promptly the trained crews required for the expanded ground alert program. (Fiscal 1962 savings: $35 million.)

3. Additional personnel will also be made available by the immediate phase-out of the subsonic Snark airbreathing long-range missile, which is now considered obsolete and of marginal military value in view of ICBM developments, the Snark's low reliability and penetrability, the lack of positive control over its launchings, and the location of the entire wing at an unprotected site. (Fiscal 1962 savings: $7 million.)

4. The acquired missile capability programmed by this message also makes unnecessary and economically unjustifiable the development of the B-70 Mach 3 manned bomber as a full weapons system at this time. The B-70 would not become available in operational numbers until well beyond 1965. By that time we expect to have a large number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, fully tested and in place, as well as a substantial manned bomber force mostly equipped with air-to-ground missiles. In view of the extremely high cost of the B-70 system, its lesser survivability as a ground-based system and its greater vulnerability in the air compared to missiles, its capabilities as a second strike system do not appear to have sufficient advantages over a much less expensive missile, or even a B-52 or successor bomber equipped with Skybolt, to justify a request in fiscal 1962 for $358 million.

We recognize, however, that there are still uncertainties with respect to the operational characteristics of our planned missile force. We also recognize that there are certain advantages inherent in a controlled force of manned bombers. To preserve the option of developing this manned bomber weapon system, if we should later determine such a system is required, I recommend that the B-70 program be carried forward essentially to explore the problems of flying at three times the speed of sound with an airframe potentially useful as a bomber, with the development of a small number of prototype aircraft and related bomb-navigation systems. We should also explore the possibility of developing a manned bomber system specifically designed to operate in an environment in which both sides have large ICBM forces.

Even on this more limited basis, the B-70 project will cost $1.3 billion before it is completed in 1967. Approximately $800 million has already been provided, $220 million is now requested for 1962--$138 million less than the amount included in the January budget--and the balance will be required in subsequent years. The total development program which I am recommending will cost $1.4 billion less than that previously planned.

5. Nearly fifteen years and about $1 billion have been devoted to the attempted development of a nuclear-powered aircraft; but the possibility of achieving a militarily useful aircraft in the foreseeable future is still very remote. The January budget already recommended a severe curtailment of this project; cutting the level of effort in half by limiting the scope to only one of the two different engines under development, although not indicating which one. We believe the time has come to reach a clean-cut decision in this matter. Transferring the entire subject matter to the Atomic Energy Commission budget where it belongs, as a non-defense research item, we propose to terminate development effort on both approaches on the nuclear powerplant, comprising reactor and engine, and on the airframe; but to carry forward scientific research and development in the fields of high temperature materials and high performance reactors, which is related to AEC's broad objectives in atomic reactor development including some work at the present plants, making use of their scientific teams. This will save an additional $35 million in the Defense budget for fiscal 1962 below the figure previously reduced in January, and will avoid a future expenditure of at least $1 billion, which would have been necessary to achieve first experimental flight.

6. The January budget did not include funds for the continued development of the Navy's "Missileer" fleet defense aircraft, but funds were included for the continued development of the Eagle missile--designed for use by the Missileer--in the hope that it could be adapted for use by some other aircraft. I am now advised that no such alternative use is in prospect; and I have directed the cancellation of that project, with a saving estimated at almost $57 million in 1961 and 1962.

7. The plan to install Polaris missiles on the Cruiser Long Beach has been canceled. For effectiveness in a nuclear war, the money would be better spent on the far less vulnerable Polaris submarines. In a limited war, the cruiser's utility would be reduced by the presence of the missiles. (Savings in fiscal 1962: $ 58 million.)

8. Finally, technological progress causes obsolescence not only in military hardware but also in the facilities constructed for their deployment. We must continually review our nearly 7,000 military installations in the light of our needs now and in the event of emergency. Those bases and installations which are no longer required must be inactivated, and disposed of where feasible, and I have so directed the Secretary of Defense. He has already taken steps to have 73 domestic and foreign installations discontinued as excess to our needs now and at any time in the future; and studies are continuing now to identify additional facilities which are surplus to our requirements.

I am well aware that in many cases these actions will cause hardships to the communities and individuals involved. We cannot permit these actions to be deferred; but the Government will make every practicable effort to alleviate these hardships, and I have directed the Secretary of Defense to take every possible step to ease the difficulties for those displaced. But it is difficult, with so many defense and other budgetary demands, to justify support of military installations, with high operating and payroll costs and property values, which are no longer required for the defense of the nation. The closing of excess installations overseas will in many cases help alleviate our balance of payments deficit.

No net savings are expected to be realized in 1962 from these inactivations because of the added costs involved in closing, and no reductions in the 1962 budget are proposed on that account. Substantial savings, approximately $220 million per year, will be realized, however, in subsequent years.

(I am also proposing that $320 million of the obligational authority required be provided by transfer from the current balances of working capital funds in the Defense Department.)


Our military position today is strong. But positive action must be taken now if we are to have the kind of forces we will need for our security in the future. Our preparation against danger is our hope of safety. The changes in the Defense program which I have recommended will greatly enhance the security of this Nation in the perilous years which lie ahead. It is not pleasant to request additional funds at this time for national security. Our interest, as I have emphasized, lies in peaceful solutions, in reducing tension, in settling disputes at the conference table and not on the battlefield. I am hopeful that these policies will help secure these ends. I commend them to the Congress and to the Nation.


Note: The tables submitted with the President's message, "Summary by Program of Proposed Adjustments in New Obligational Authority in Fiscal Year 1962 Budget" and "Summary of Defense Department Budget," are published in House Document 123 (87th Cong., 1st sess.).

John F. Kennedy, Special Message to the Congress on the Defense Budget. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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