Relation of current plans and posture to proposed requirements, ca. 1961

In spring of 1961, Ellsberg was tasked with drafting a new basic national security policy (BNSP) for the Department of Defense. His war plan was informed by the flaws in U.S. nuclear planning that he had learned about while working for RAND Corporation, and it represented a radical rebuke of existing procedures for war. Knowing that his BNSP would be doggedly attacked by the military bureaucracy, Ellsberg wrote this document, titled “Relation of current plans and posture to proposed requirements,” as an informal follow-up to cover his bases. I chose it because it clearly delineates why Ellsberg believed operational changes needed to be made and because it exemplifies the kind of anti-nuclear “activism” he pursued while working within the government.

Andrew Bettencourt