Two former high officials of the Carter administration yesterday criticized the administration's response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as "too narrow" in its concentration on military reactions, and warned against "an emotional pursuit of security through military means."

John J. Gilligan and Paul C. Warnke, who served as foreign assistance chief and chief arms control negotiator, respectively, in the first two Carter years, called for a more balanced U.S. policy including "economic, political and diplomatic as well as military components."

Gilligan and Warnke spoke at a news conference for New Directions, a private lobby group that claims some 14,000 members. Gilligan is board chairman of the group and Warnke is chairman of its policy committee. Their joint statement was adopted by the organization's policy committee, which includes several other former officials.

The two spokesmen approved a degree of U.S. military improvement in conventional forces readiness, reliability and flexibility, especially training and transport, to enchance deterrence against an attack by Soviet troops in the Middle East.However, they opposed a "massive buildup" of U.S. conventional and nuclear forces and said the administration's commitment to such a buildup "reflects an oversimplified view of security threats."

Gilligan expressed "a real concern that a psychology may be developing to convince the American people that if they simply put enough money into weaponry, all our problems may be solved."

While viewing Soviet military power as a major threat, the policy statement added that "other threats capable of undermining our economy, poisoning our environment or destroying our country would remain even if Soviet troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan."

Among these threats, according to New Directions, are "shortages or disruptions in the supply of raw materials, worldwide inflation, population pressures, the growing income gap between industrialized and developing nations, pollution of the oceans and the biosphere, the spread of nuclear weapons and the Soviet-American arms race."

"These threats will not yield to military solutions," the prepared statement added.

The former officials made several suggestions to bring U.S. policy into better balance:

Gasoline rationing and other conservation measures to lessen U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

Establishment of a grain reserve with some of the 17 million tons denied to the Soviets in reaction to Afghanistan. Such a reserve, previously rejected as too expensive, now could be established more easily as a hedge against emergency needs for developing countries, the former officials pointed out.

An increase in development aid abroad in order to deal with problems that are at the heart of instability. Gilligan said that a proposed $16 billion increase in U.S. military spending is more than twice the sum allocated for U.S. economic aid worldwide. Gilligan said this is "seriously out of balance."

A proposed regional agreement in the Persian Gulf-Southwest Asia in which the neutrality and security of participating nations are guaranteed by the United States and the Soviet Union. This would require a Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and might bring one about, the statement said.

Warnke, who was a senior negotiator of the SALT II arms limitation pact with the Soviets, said regional tension makes strategic nuclear accommodation even more important. He called SALT II "a perishable commodity with a limited shelf life."