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MEMORANDUM FOR: Deputy Director for Science and Technology
Eventual Utilization of OXCARTovert
there arises the question whether or notover be usedovert vehiclelausibly deniableover China and tho Soviet Union. Certainly if anshot down or otherwise falls into unfriendly hands, there couldplausible deniability either as to ownership or intent. We could,
of course, in the absence of an accident continue to deny that overflights had occurred, regardless of how much screaming might be done by the other people who would be fully knowledgeable as the result of radar intercept.
Thinking along the foregoing lines then the question arises as why we should attempt to be so deeply covert and deeply clandestine in the operation. Does it make any difference whether the aircraft is pilotedivilianilitary man? Does it make any difference whether the aircraft has military insignia or "research" insignia? Does it make any difference whether the missions are operated by the CIA or by the Air Forces?
The one asset the Agency haso not think the military can duplicate is tho ability to plan and conduct such operationsneed-to-know" basis and with maximum security. We can get in and out with perhaps one tenth the fanfare that the military would generate. The only asset here, however, ie an increased protection to the mission itself,reater facility in denying overflights even though they have in fact occurred.
ould like you lo do is to put some people thinking about this and working up the pros and cons of the matter. eed some talking points when the type ofave put forward above is brought up
ineriodically get involved _
tVJH HLLLASL HATE: 7
Marshall ST-Carter Lieutenant General, USA Deputy Director
MEMORANDUM FOR: Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
Utilization of OXCARTovert
referenced memorandum poaes certain questionseventual utilisation of the OXCART vehicleovert Specifically, it asks whether there is, in fact, anywhether the aircraft is pilotedivilian or aand docs it make any difference whether the missions aretho CIA or by the Air Force.
In seeking an answer to the questions therein raised, we must necessarily lean heavily on the experience we havo derived fromrogram. It must be assumed that the political philosophy which guided the evolutionperational concepts, as well as program management, has not altered significantly with the passage of time.
As you will recall, one of the basic factors upon which political approval restedverflights of the USSR were first undertaken6 was our ability to present to the highest political authority the means whereby this vital intelligence might be collected without placing the United Statesosture wherein the USSR could accuse the United States of an act of pure military aggression. ery fundamental ingredient in achieving this capability was the irrefutable factthat tho pilotivilian employgc_gfncy whosebusasjnonage.
In tho years since we began covert overflights of denied territory, thore has evolved in the minds of responsible political authorities an accepted modus operandi applicable to this type of activity, that is,
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that if the United States was not willing to acknowledge publicly_$hefd_enied air apace by military forces" therTthaTmission must
This policy haTbeen'reaffirmedccasions in the intervening years by the USIB, the Special Group and higher authority.
5. In essence, the logical conclusion depends mainly on thecovert versus overt operations, and the political ramificationsto each type of operation. We are of the opinion that oncethe military element,n Air Force pilot, theruly covert collection effort butilitaryshould properly bc conducted by the appropriate militaryis further believed that CIA civilian sponsorship clearlyas non-aggressive and permits more plausibleits nature as defensive rather than offensive. Militarybe exploited by the opposition as an example of thefor undertaking military adventures of an aggressive naturewithout consent of political authority. In addition, CIA controlsweapons, which rules out any propoganda suggestion thatsubordinate commander
ery practical sense, we have learned from experience that CIA sponsorship in the caserotestuccessful overflight permits the U. S. military commander in the area to truthfully state, after investigation, that no military aircraft were involved and to deny any knowledge of the flight without fear of subsequent exposure.
The rationale which dictates the use of civilian CIA pilots for overflights of denied areas leads directly to the question of program management of covert collection activities. There appears to be no practical means of severing operational control of such programs from the management and developmental aspects of the activity. It would serve no purpose to dwell on the detailed security measures which have been evolved by the Agency to protect those operations from public exposure. It is equally as certain that the Air Force cannot duplicate these procedures which are uniquely associated with Agency operations.
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As you have noted In the referenced memorandum, these rather complex, but essential, procedures contribute materially to increased protection of the mission itself,reater facility in denying overflights even though they have in fact occurred.
8. In examining the backgroundrogram planning, which in large measure would be projected into the OXCART program, thereumber of procedures which have been established by the Agency to further the objectives and effectiveness of the project. Por example, CIA has over the yearsighly sophisticated analysis and personal evaluation program for selection of psychologically adapted individuals to perform overflights. It has also conceived andound program for indoctrination and psychological preparation of the individual in event of capture in these very unique circumstances. It is doubtful that the Air Force could effectively duplicate these programs. CIA also takes stringent measures to compartment and limit knowledge of the individuals as soon as they join the program. Military data availableilitary pilot on active duly with the Air Force probably couldin this same manner and would be subject to Compromiso in the eventapture.
9. From the operational standpoint, in eight years of CIAand controlverflights of denied areas in all parts of the world (moreverflights of approximatelyenied countries) there has been only one incident which has resulted in genuineto the United States Government, this being the lossver the Soviet Union in May This rather remarkable record was not established by happenstance; rather it is the product of the entire concept of the CIA operation including meticulous security, judicious mission planning and timing, specialized maintenance by expert contractor personnel on long-term assignment, careful development of plausible cover stories and detailed contingency planning (including world-wide coordination and authentic documentation) to eliminate or minimize the harmful affects of an incident or mishap.
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10. In this context, it should be recorded that although CIA has been criticized on occasion for exercising restraint in committing its assets to hazardous overflights of questionable value and of dubious potential success, this very restraint has been one of the most significant contributions to the unexpectedly prolonged life of the program. The "shotgun and saturation" approach to overflight reconnaissance which customarily has been associated with Air Force endeavors in this field can never successfully be employed in any covert reconnaissance program. The record is quite clear on this point, but
despite some enlightening experiences, such as the ill-fated BLACK
KNIGHT program, which expired from over-exposure and unwarranted operational enthusiasm withinours of its first operation, the Air Force has failed to absorb this fact of reconnaissance life and it appears doubtful that it ever will.
11. Tho picture is not complete without Borne reference toin the field of aircraft and systems Improvement and development. It should be noted that In the eight yeara sinceecame operational there have been many innovations to improve the performance, versatility and defensive capability of, among them the introduction of5 engine, in-flight refueling, the carrier configuration, counterystems such as theirdwatcher, improved camera systems, improved eject system and personal equipment, etc. In every instance these innovations and improvements were initiated and developed by CIA. Conversely, the Air Force has contributed virtually nothing to the improvement of the aircraft during these years, and, in fact, has in most instances failed to take advantage of the developments and modifications that were conceived and consummated by the Agency. The Air Force today is flying essentially the same limited's that wereeight yeara ago.
Because of this lack of foresight and initiative on the part of the military, when situations have arisen which required utilization of the more sophisticated capabilities of the Agency-owned aircraft, we have been forced to deplete our assets and forego our high priority committments in order to provide to the Air Force the necessary equipment to accomplish its objectives.
The foregoing exposition of the considerations encompassed in the two ostensibly uncomplex questions posed in the referenced memorandum may appear to be an "over-kill" of the problem, however, when we confront the political question of military versus CIA pilots,
a chain reaction occurs which inevitably leads to examination ofoperational control and developmentalexamination has led us to the conclusion that the OXCARTit is ever to be politically acceptable and succe6sfully employedreconnaissance, must be under the operational control ofand must utilize civilian CIA
ALBERT D. WHEELON Deputy Director for
Science and Technology
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top secret-Original document.