Defense Policy: Nixon & Ford
Nixon & Kissinger take a
different approach towards
U.S. security policy:
More flexible, less rigid
regarding possible threats.
Less ideological, more
Recognizes limits of U.S.
Strategies of Détente
engage U.S.S.R. in negotiations
establish links to Communist China
reduce U.S. commitments abroad
demonstrate U.S. resolve to combat
perceptions of weakness
The US would keep all of its treaty commitments.
US to “provide a shield if a nuclear power
threatens” an ally or a nation vital to its security.
For other types of aggression, US to furnish aid if
asked, in accordance with treaty commitments.
“But we shall look to the nation directly threatened to
assume the primary responsibility of providing the
manpower for its defense.”
Financial Impact of Vietnam
U.S. spent $150 billion on the war.
Defense budget reaches $74 billion in
But inflation dramatically eroded the
purchasing power of the dollar:
In real terms, defense spending fell 37%
between 1968 and 1974.
Congressional Reaction to Vietnam
Destroys bipartisan support for defense
Congress moves to constrain executive
War Powers Resolution (1973)
Congressional Budget and Impoundment
Control Act (1974)
Places limits on covert operations (1974) and
arms transfers (1974-76)
leftist government in
Chile overthrown in a
Large outcry in U.S.
Soviet Defense Developments
Nuclear forces expanded and modernized.
ICBMs & SLBMs jump from less than 500 to
about 2,400 missiles.
Soviet missiles improve in accuracy and
U.S.S.R. expands global naval capacity.
U.S. Nuclear Policy
Sought “strategic sufficiency.”
Continued work on new weapons, i.e.
Arms control negotiations with U.S.S.R.
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
(SALT or SALT I), 1969-72
Produced two treaties signed in May 1972:
ABM Treaty: limited each side to 2 ABM sites,
no more than 100 missiles.
Interim Agreement: To last 5 years.
Froze number of ICBM’s and SLBM’s for each side
Allowed moving warheads from ICBM’s to SLBM
within treaty limits.
Did not address SAC or MIRVs.
Arms control continued by Ford
Vladivostok Accords, 1974:
Each side limited to 2,400 on delivery
vehicles, with no more than 1,320 capable of
Did not limit how many MIRVs could be
carried on a given platform.
Problems for US conventional forces.
Reductions in troop levels.
Development of new weapons very costly.
Fewer new weapons
Less $ for operation, maintenance
Overall readiness and capabilities of U.S.
All Volunteer Force
1972: draft ends
1973: U.S. military switches to military
establishment composes completely of
Complicated by new compensation packages.
Initially, poor quality recruits.
Ongoing morale issues.