Memorandum by the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Rusk)1

top secret

The National Security Council has assigned the following project to its Staff: (NSC Action No. 270, January 5, 1950)

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“Directed the NSC Staff, with the advice and assistance of all appropriate Executive Departments and Agencies, to prepare a report for Council consideration assessing and appraising the objectives, commitments and risks of the United States under a continuation of present conditions or in the event of war in the near future, in relation to our actual and potential military power, in the interest of national security, including any recommendations which should be made to the President in connection therewith.”

A copy of the Executive Secretary’s memorandum to the Council giving the background of this project is attached.2

During the preparation and upon the completion of this report the Department will have an opportunity to assure that other Departments and agencies understand better the integration and interrelationship of our political and military policies and programs. Real progress should be made toward clarifying the basic concepts and the principal elements of our national security program both in the event of war or under a continuation of conditions similar to the present. This study should bring about not only a greater understanding on our part of the strategic thinking of the military departments, but should also enable us to have a more direct effect on their thinking. At the same time we will be able to explore carefully the broad implications of our own programs as they affect and are affected by our military policies and by our actual and potential military power. It may well be that we shall ourselves find profit in ideas and suggestions from the military and other agencies and departments.

This study will obviously call for important contributions by all of the bureaus and offices of the Department. For example, it might be worthwhile for each of the principally interested bureaus and offices to consider the feasibility of preparing, as a first step, the following material:

List and describe briefly the principal problems and conditions in the area of its responsibility favorably or unfavorably affecting our national security.
List and describe briefly the principal projects and programs, in the area of its responsibility, in effect or planned measures to attack the above problems or improve those conditions.
List important questions, pertinent, to its area of responsibility, which might be put to the Department of Defense, to the National Security Resources Board or to any other interested department or agency during this study.

Because of the importance and scope of this problem, I would suggest that you or your deputy follow this personally.

I expect to raise this matter at the Under Secretary’s meeting on Friday, January 20.

Dean Rusk
  1. This memorandum was directed to the following individuals: George W. Perkins, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs; W. Walton Butterworth, Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs; Edward G. Miller, Jr., Assistant Secretary for American Republic Affairs; George C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs; Willard L. Thorp, Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs; Howland H. Sargeant, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs; W. Park Armstrong, Jr., Special Assistant for Intelligence; Henry A. Byroade, Director of the Bureau of German Affairs; James Bruce, Director of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program; John D. Hickerson, Assistant Secretary for United Nations Affairs; and R. Gordon Arneson, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for atomic energy policy.
  2. Of December 20, 1949; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. i, p. 416.