42. Note From the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Lay) to the National Security Council1

NSC 10/4


References: NSC 10/2 and NSC 10/32

Upon the recommendation of the Acting Director of Central Intelligence, his enclosed memorandum and its attached draft Directive on the subject are circulated herewith for consideration by the National Security Council.

As recommended in paragraph 3 of the enclosed memorandum, the Departments of State and Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are being requested to transmit to this office their respective comments for Council consideration in connection with the enclosed draft Directive.

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It is requested that special security precautions be taken in the handling of this matter.

James S. Lay, Jr.


Memorandum From Acting Director of Central Intelligence Jackson to the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Lay)4


  • Draft of NSC Directive on Responsibilities of CIA (OPC) with Respect to Guerrilla Warfare
Under date of January 8, 1951, the Director of Central Intelligence transmitted to the Executive Secretary, National Security Council, a draft NSC directive on covert operations and clandestine activities.5 In paragraph 4 of the memorandum of transmittal, which accompanied this draft, he stated that a paper dealing with a related subject requiring NSC clarification would shortly be submitted to the NSC.
Submitted herewith is the draft of a directive for issuance by the NSC which defines and delimits the responsibilities of CIA (OPC) with respect to guerrilla warfare. This draft was prepared in collaboration with representatives of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It is recommended that this draft be sent by the NSC to the Departments of State and Defense and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for consideration and comment.
William H. Jackson
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The Problem

1. To determine the appropriate responsibilities of CIA (OPC) in the field of guerrilla warfare.


2. For the purpose of this study the several types of military or paramilitary forces which may be involved in armed conflict are defined as follows:

National Military Forces. Organized and uniformed military elements which are organically components of a national military establishment.
Guerrilla Forces. Organized bodies of politically motivated and predominantly indigenous irregulars, in or out of uniform, not organically a part of national military forces, trained and equipped for armed conflict of specialized character and for limited objectives.
Underground Resistance Forces. Politically motivated and predominantly indigenous individuals and groups organized and trained clandestinely for covert subversive operations against the state and, when opportunity offers, for semi-covert physical operations, including armed conflict. In the latter stages, underground resistance movements tend to become identical with guerrilla organizations.


3. This study deals with the respective roles of the U.S. Military Forces and CIA (OPC) in the exploitation of friendly guerrilla forces in order to determine the responsibilities of CIA (OPC) in this field.

General Responsibilities of CIA (OPC) in Guerrilla Warfare

This organization is the national agency responsible under specified conditions for the “planning, preparation and execution” of the various types of covert operations enumerated in NSC 10/2. Some of these operations do not involve armed conflict and will not be discussed in this study. Some of the physical types of covert operations might indirectly involve armed conflict but it is primarily in the field [Page 78] of guerrilla warfare that responsibilities of CIA (OPC) and the national military forces overlap.
The responsibility of CIA (OPC) with respect to guerrilla operations differs in peace and war. In peacetime, OPC formulates doctrine and technique for utilization and employment of guerrilla warfare, plans guerrilla warfare operations to be implemented in case of war in response to and consistent with the requirements of the military authorities, and within the limits of feasibility, makes the physical preparations necessary for such implementation. It foments, supports and conducts only such peacetime guerrilla operations as may be authorized by the State Department with the approval of the Department of Defense. In wartime, OPC implements plans previously prepared, and continues the planning and execution of guerrilla warfare operations within the framework of organization and command specified in NSC_______.8

Characteristics and Capabilities of CIA (OPC) in Support of Guerrilla Warfare

4. a. The covert operations of CIA (OPC) “do not include armed conflict by organized military forces.” Therefore CIA (OPC) has no responsibility for the organization, training or operations of such units as “Commandos,” “Rangers,” etc., which are in all respects organic components of national military forces. This does not, however, prevent mutual arrangements between the national military forces and CIA (OPC) for employing the same facilities, when appropriate, for the training of individuals or groups in subjects of common interest.

b. A distinguishing characteristic of guerrilla operations by CIA (OPC) is the employment of relatively limited numbers of American CIA (OPC) personnel. This consists of individual operatives and leaders rather than large bodies of men. Such personnel, however, must have specialized qualifications, including linguistic and political background, imagination, resourcefulness and initiative. They must have access to clandestine intelligence sources. They will be concerned with such intricate matters as establishing initial contacts with appropriate leaders of underground or guerrilla forces in enemy territory, gaining their confidence and developing their capabilities by furnishing communications, weapons, equipment and training, and by exercising such controls over their organization and operations as will insure that their activities support U.S. political and military objectives.

c. These operations will generally be strategic rather than tactical in nature. Initially and usually they will be deep in enemy territory and will require special intelligence, communications and covert transportation [Page 79] facilities. In the initial phases, the fomentation, development and exploitation of indigenous underground and guerrilla forces should be exclusively a responsibility of CIA (OPC). Without wasteful duplication, the national military forces could not be expected to have the assembled talent and flexibility of organization for such operations.

d. Most resistance activities and movements in their earlier stages are covert in character, and have their origins in the successful establishment and operation of underground organizations. As they begin to develop strength, these movements have a tendency to come out into the open and under proper circumstances, including support by the local population, favorable terrain, and assistance from the outside, develop into organized resistance movements on a major scale. Assuming the successful development of large-scale and relatively well organized resistance movements behind enemy lines resulting from successful covert operations or originating spontaneously, the control and exploitation as well as the support and provisioning of such resistance movements should become the responsibility of the theater commanders whose interests are most directly affected or benefited.

e. However, such guerrilla movements never entirely lose their covert characteristics in that they maintain contacts with underground operatives located in cities and in or near centers of enemy control; and moreover, in that they depend for their survival upon extreme mobility and secrecy as to their location and movements as of any given time. Finally, they remain highly political in their nature and inspiration, and for this as well as other reasons already mentioned, cannot be used against all types of objectives and targets. It follows that even though control and direction of large organized resistance movements should pass to the senior military commanders, there remains the necessity for close cooperation by and assistance from those experienced in covert operations.

Responsibility of the National Military Forces in Unconventional Combat Methods

5. a. As previously stated, guerrilla forces are not to be confused with organizations such as “Commandos” and “Rangers”. These latter are organized by and are organically a part of the national military forces. The combat operations of these types of units will often require methods similar to those employed by guerrillas. The training of such organizations will, in some respects, be analogous to that of guerrillas. Their operations can best be described as employment of “unconventional combat methods” by orthodox forces—unconventional only in the sense that they have been little exploited in the American Military Forces and are more flexible and adaptable to circumstances than those of conventional combat units.

b. Independent Commando-type units can accomplish close-in or distant raids for a variety of purposes. They may include airborne or [Page 80] landing operations. Ranger-type units, organic to the division, consist of specially equipped personnel trained in hand-to-hand combat, furtive movement and individual resourcefulness in all situations. They are adept at infiltration and disruptive tactics behind enemy lines. The activity of these units is limited to the zone of combat of the parent division and is employed to assist the division in carrying out its specific missions. These units may at times employ local indigenous inhabitants. While they employ tactics similar to guerrillas, neither Commando nor Ranger operations are deemed to be guerrilla operations, and CIA (OPC) has no responsibility respecting them.

Responsibility of the National Military Forces in Guerrilla Warfare

6. a. The national military forces rarely, if ever, will be in position to assume responsibility for the covert techniques required in fomenting guerrilla movements, establishing initial contacts with existing ones, and in the early development of the movements into appreciable military assets. This is the mission of CIA (OPC) and that agency should be afforded all feasible logistical support by the military forces.

b. In wartime, a guerrilla movement having successfully been built up to a certain magnitude, may require military direction and logistical support from an appropriate military commander similar to that furnished regularly constituted forces under his command. Such direction and support will exceed the resources of CIA (OPC). At this time, control, exploitation and supply of the movement should be assumed by or assigned to the appropriate military commander. Nevertheless, for reasons stated in paragraph 4–e, CIA (OPC) personnel should either serve as, or continue to be a part of, the operating link between that commander and the guerrilla forces.

In some cases a decision by the theater commander becomes necessary as to whether or not command of the guerrillas should pass. In a few cases, attended by profound political implications, consultation in the matter of command will be advisable between the theater commander and higher authority.


7. a. Guerrilla warfare is defined as the operations of organized bodies of politically motivated and predominantly indigenous irregulars, in or out of uniform, not organically a part of national military forces, trained and equipped for armed conflict of specialized character and for limited objectives.

b. CIA (OPC) is the agency of this Government which in peacetime has the sole responsibility under specified conditions for the planning, preparation and conduct of guerrilla operations. In wartime CIA (OPC) is responsible for continued planning and conduct of guerrilla [Page 81] warfare, subject to the provisions of NSC___________,9 and in collaboration with the national military forces as follows:

CIA (OPC) is responsible for the development of existing guerrilla movements and the fomentation of new ones; and for the control and support of guerrilla operations until their magnitude requires that such control and support be passed to an appropriate military commander. Such elements of CIA (OPC) as may be required should either serve as, or continue to be a part of, the operating link between that commander and the guerrilla forces.


8. That the National Security Council accept the Discussion as guiding principles and approve the Conclusions.

  1. Source: Truman Library, Papers of Harry S. Truman, President’s Secretary’s Files, Subject File. Top Secret.
  2. For text of NSC 10/2, see Foreign Relations, 1945–1950, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment, Document 292. DCI Smith’s interpretation of NSC 10/2 as conveyed by Wisner to the Departments of State and Defense and JCS is printed in The CIA Under Harry Truman, p. 347. A draft of NSC 10/3 is in Foreign Relations, 1945–1950, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment, Document 419. Other versions are attachments to Documents 38 and 43.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
  4. Top Secret.
  5. Document 38.
  6. Printed from a copy that indicates Jackson signed the original.
  7. Top Secret.
  8. NSC 10/3, as approved. [Footnote in the original.]
  9. NSC 10/4, as approved. [Footnote in the original. NSC 10/4 was withdrawn at the request of the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence following approval of NSC 10/5 on October 23 (see Document 90).]