83. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense Marshall1


  • Scope and Pace of Covert Operations
In accordance with the request contained in your memorandum dated 29 June 1951,2 the Joint Chiefs of Staff have studied the recommendations of the Special Committee of the Senior National Security Council Staff regarding the “Scope and Pace of Covert Operations”, forwarded by a memorandum from the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (NSC), dated 27 June 1951.3
The Joint Chiefs of Staff have prepared a Study, a copy of which is attached hereto.4 The Conclusions to this Study are quoted below for ready reference:
  • “a. In the light of the world situation, the United States should, within its capabilities, bring to bear upon the USSR appropriate cold-war resources and weapons during peacetime with the objective of [Page 194] weakening the power and will of the Kremlin to wage either cold or hot war;
  • “b. It is possible that the present cold war may continue over a period of many years. However, the implementation of a well-planned United States program of covert operations (as defined in NSC 10/2),5 against the Kremlin conceivably might shorten the period of the struggle, might also be decisive in winning the cold war, and thus might prevent the eventuation of overt war. These possibilities appear sufficient to justify the United States in undertaking a covert effort of great magnitude;
  • “c. In order to assure a well-planned United States program of covert operations against the Kremlin during peacetime:
    • “(1) The Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) should develop the strategic concept and national program, based upon national objectives, consistent with current military planning and within available economic means;
    • “(2) After approval by the National Security Council (NSC) of the concept and program, necessary operational plans, including costing and other appropriate estimates, should be prepared by the appropriate agencies under the direction of the PSB and subject to its review and approval;
    • “(3) In the event of any conflict of interests among the agencies directly concerned, the NSC should be the final arbiter in each case; and
    • “(4) All elements of the national program of covert operations should be reviewed by the NSC at least quarterly;
  • “d. Responsibility for the conduct of covert operations in wartime must be as directed in NSC 10/2. In this connection, it is axiomatic that all wartime operations in any military theater or area (specifically including covert) shall be under the direction of the military commander of the theater or area. On the other hand, responsibility for the conduct of covert operations in peacetime should rest in the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI)
  • “e. On the long-range basis, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) should procure and maintain its own personnel;
  • “f. On both long-range and short-range bases, the Department of Defense should support CIA peacetime covert operations by:
    • “(1) Providing for approved projects, appropriate equipment and services as practicable which either cannot or should not be obtained elsewhere; and
    • “(2) Assisting in training, as practicable, and in providing necessary training facilities (such as not to interfere with research and development installations and installations required to be maintained in a combat-ready status) particularly when cover is an inherent requirement for the training;
  • “g. Department of Defense support of CIA peacetime covert operations at an increased scope and pace will call for some expansion of the mobilization base and mobilization requirements. This expansion should, in general, be related to the increase in CIA covert operations;
  • “h. In view of the present restricted capability of CIA, such peacetime projects as can be justified by reason of their immediate urgency and of the national importance of the results reasonably to be expected therefrom, should be supported by the Department of Defense. On the short-term basis, this support in terms of military personnel will include a limited number of specially qualified active duty officers and men and certain retired and/or reserve officers not on active duty. Some of these reserve officers may, on the short-term basis, be called to active duty for assignment to CIA for a specific project. This must be subject, however, to an overriding priority for the Services whenever a Service specialty qualification is involved. In addition, assistance by the Department of Defense to CIA probably will be necessary with respect to the duty status and process of procurement of certain potential inductees and personnel with reserve commissions:
  • “i. The following procedures and restrictions must apply to the assignment of military personnel to CIA:
    • “(1) Arrangements for assignment of active duty officers and men will be made with the Services through the Joint Chiefs of Staff organization;
    • “(2) The need for personnel must be justified in each instance. Numbers will be limited to the minimum for performance of specific tasks in approved projects and programs;
    • “(3) As far as practicable, all details or assignments will be on a voluntary basis and under no circumstances will an individual be assigned to CIA against his will. All details will be temporary in nature and subject to Services practices of rotation;
    • “(4) No individuals in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) or in other officer candidate groups will be made available to CIA; and
    • “(5) CIA must make every effort to assure to the military personnel assigned to it an equality of opportunity for advancement (in pay and allowances or rank, etc.) commensurate with that of their contemporaries serving on active duty with their parent Service; and, where applicable and feasible, to obtain for individuals concerned a remuneration consistent with that paid to personnel obtained from other sources and performing comparable duties;
  • “j. In order for the Department of Defense to support a CIA accelerated program the requirements for personnel, supply, and services [Page 196] should, except in extreme emergency, be forecast sufficiently in advance to enable the Services to include such requirements in their mobilization base and requirements. Personnel provided to CIA by the Services should be on a reimbursable basis so that they will not be charged against the authorized strength of the Services; and
  • “k. All matters concerning the support to be rendered CIA by the Department of Defense will be subject to the overriding reservation that such support either for a single project or for the total of all projects will not jeopardize seriously the capabilities of the Department of Defense to carry out its responsibilities. If the conflicting needs of the Department of Defense and the projects for covert operations impinge upon the question of the security of the United States, the question should be decided on a level no lower than the President.”
The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the recommendations in the memorandum, subject as above, dated 27 June 1951, from the Executive Secretary of the NSC, be approved, subject to:
Acceptance by the NSC of the military considerations, together with the reservations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as set forth in paragraph 2 above, and
The revision of paragraphs 1 and 2 of the recommendations to read as indicated below (with appropriate renumbering of the succeeding paragraphs):
  • “1. Direct the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) to submit at the earliest practicable date a strategic concept for a national program of covert operations directed against the Kremlin under cold war conditions designed in general order of emphasis to:
    • “a. Place the maximum strain on the Soviet structure of power, including the relationships between the USSR, its satellites, and Communist China; and when and where appropriate in the light of U.S. and Soviet capabilities and the risk of war, contribute to the retraction and reduction of Soviet power and influence to limits which no longer constitute a threat to U.S. security.
    • “b. Strengthen the orientation toward the United States of the peoples and nations of the free world, and increase their capacity and will to resist Soviet domination.
    • “c. Develop underground resistance and provide assistance to underground resistance movements and guerrillas in strategic areas to the maximum practicable extent consistent with 1–a above, and to provide the base upon which the military may expand these forces on a military basis in time of war within activated theatres of operations.
  • “2. As an interim measure, and subject to future NSC action on the report to be submitted by the PSB as directed in paragraph 1 above, approve in principle as a national responsibility the immediate expansion of the covert organization established in NSC 10/2, and the [Page 197] intensification of covert operations designed to accomplish the objectives set forth in the three preceding subparagraphs, in accordance with approved plans and projects.”
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Omar N. Bradley
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Truman Library, President’s Secretary’s Files, Subject File. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Lay circulated the memorandum to the National Security Council on August 22. (Ibid.)
  2. Not found.
  3. Document 76.
  4. Not printed.
  5. NSC 10/2 is in Foreign Relations, 1945–1950, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment, Document 292.
  6. Printed from a copy that indicates Bradley signed the original.