Under Secretary’s Meetings: Lot 53 D 250: Minutes

Record of the Under Secretary’s Meeting, March 24, 19501


Priorities for Research and Development, and Intelligence To Overcome Soviet Jamming (D–872)

Mr. Barrett gave an outline for the background of the communications problem created by Soviet jamming, stressing the need to bring to bear on the problem the best possible technical brains. He envisages a program involving the following three measures:

Stepping up the VOA program already operating
The action recommended in the present paper, UMD–87, i.e., referring the problem to the NSC and establishing a special staff group constituted by the NSC to study the question
Establishing a three-man technical advisory group of private citizens

Mr. Armstrong3 agreed that the problem should be taken up by the NSC but felt that in referring it the Department should provide a more concise framework than that of UM D–87. Accordingly, he sent a revised series of recommendations and certain other changes to be made in the P paper. These recommendations provide for establishment by the NSC of an ad hoc committee under State chairmanship to consider the problem of jamming in relation to all of the related problems in the field of communications. Mr. Armstrong also added that Interdepartmental exploration of this problem should be immediately undertaken through the IAC to provide NSC study with more intelligence than is now available. Mr. Armstrong suggested that the R revisions would carry the Department and the Government further along the lines recommended by P than the P paper itself.

Mr. Hickerson4 observed that the problem of jamming is of very direct interest to the International Telecommunications Union, which [Page 281] meets in Florence this spring.5 He said that unless our delegation to that meeting attempts to solve the problem of Soviet jamming through the ITU, it will be difficult to obtain Congressional support for further U.S. participation in this international body. Mr. Sargeant6 said that in view of the many uncertainties connected with the future operations of ITU (it is not even certain that the Soviets will attend the Florence meeting) our delegation must not be given an inflexible program to pursue.

Mr. Rusk7 expressed considerable doubt as to the advantages to be gained by referring this question to the NSC. He noted that for purposes of solving this problem the Department of State and particularly the members of the UM were in fact the NSC. He asked if the present authority of the Secretary of State in this field were not adequate to provide for interdepartmental study pointing towards a solution of the major issues involved. By throwing this matter into the NSC we needlessly expose ourselves to the threat of interdepartmental dispute as to the basic authority of the Department in this field.

Mr. Barrett and Mr. Armstrong felt that the first requirement in attacking this problem is the assignment of a high priority to the problem. They pointed out that other agencies working in communications had placed such low priorities on research dealing with jamming that we can count on very little interdepartmental action without Presidential direction on the basis of an NSC recommendation. Mr. Rusk suggested that if we do refer this problem to the NSC our paper should take the form of a proposed NSC directive based on our views as to how the problem should be solved. Mr. Sargeant, on the other hand, felt that until there is a considerable amount of study through an interdepartmental organization it is impossible to foresee exactly the nature of the recommendations which should govern the further efforts of the U.S. Government to overcome the effects of Soviet jamming. It was also agreed that the ad hoc group which undertakes this study for the NSC will consider the question of closer coordination with the U.K. in solving the problem of jamming.

[Page 282]

It was agreed that UM D–87 should be referred to the NSC, as amended to spell out more precisely the framework under which the NSC should consider the problem.8

  1. This record was presumably prepared by the Executive Secretariat. Regarding the Under Secretary’s Meeting, see footnote 1, p. 266.
  2. Supra.
  3. William Park Armstrong, Jr., Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Research and Intelligence.
  4. John D. Hickerson, Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs.
  5. The reference here is to the International High Frequency Broadcasting Conference, held first at Florence and then at Rapallo, Italy, April 1–August 19, 1950. This was an administrative conference convened within the framework of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the International Telecommunication Convention of October 2, 1947. For a summary of the proceedings of the conference, see Department of State Publication 4216, Participation of the United States Government in International Conferences: July 1, 1949–June 30, 1950 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1951), pp. 156–159.
  6. Howland H. Sargeant, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.
  7. Dean Rusk, Deputy Under Secretary of State and Deputy Chairman of the Under Secretary’s Meeting.
  8. For the revised paper, circulated to the National Security Council as NSC 66, April 4, see p. 286.