1. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (MacArthur) to the Under Secretary of State (Hoover)2

NSC Action 1290d of December 21, 1954,3 is as follows:

“d. Requested the Operations Coordinating Board to present to the Council a report on the status and adequacy of the current program to develop constabulary forces to maintain internal security and to destroy the effectiveness of the Communist apparatus in free world countries vulnerable to Communist subversion.

Note: The action in d above, as approved by the President, subsequently referred to the OCB for action.”

In connection with the above, I am unable to learn the basis for the reference to “the current program to develop constabulary forces to maintain internal security and to destroy the effectiveness of the Communist apparatus in free world countries vulnerable to Communist subversion.” Insofar as I know, there is no such current program.

However, I do recall that prior to General Collins’ departure for Saigon we gave consideration in the Department to the formation of a constabulary as a means of giving the Vietnamese Government control over security forces because of the Diem–Minh conflict, Collins, however, came up with a concept on the mission of the Vietnamese forces which we all thought was much better. Namely, that while these forces would serve as a small blocking force of “couverture” in the event of aggression, they would also have the [Page 2] basic responsibility for pacification of Free Vietnam territory and the internal security of such territory.

I do not think the problem can be attacked on the basis that constabulatory forces per se can be the answer to internal security. What we should be talking about are effective forces to maintain security whether they be regular armed forces, police, special security forces, or constabulary, or a combination thereof. In effect, it seems to me that the OCB Working Group4 should address itself to paragraph 37 of NSC 55015 approved January 6, 1955, which states that the US should assist in the development of adequate internal security forces.

Our discussions in the Manila Pact Working Group have been quite interesting in respect to this general subject.6 The general consensus of the eight participating countries has been that subversion, generally speaking, takes the following two forms, or a combination thereof:

Overt insurrection.
Continued penetration into every sector of the national life (government ministries such as Interior, Defense, Information; trade union movements; intellectual movements; etc.) with a view to taking over the country without insurrection (i.e., Czechoslovakia) or to support an insurrection if it should be called, (This form includes fomenting local disturbances, strikes, etc.)

With respect to overt insurrection, the strong consensus of the Manila Pact Working Group has been that the regularly constituted armed forces of the nations are in the first instance the instrument which must be relied upon to deal with open insurrection. To deal with it, such forces must be effectively organized, trained, and equipped for this very important mission. In most cases (the Philippines is an exception), this would probably require a substantial change in their training doctrines and possibly additional equipment to enable such forces to have a high degree of mobility and [Page 3] effectiveness (armored cars, recoilless weapons, communications equipment, etc.). If National forces are really well trained and well equipped to deal with insurrection, they will exercise some deterrent against it, since if the Communists believe that such national forces have the ability to crush insurrection in the bud with consequent loss of Communist prestige, they will probably think twice before launching an effort which would be abortive. If nonetheless the Communists resort to insurrection, such armed forces would be primarily relied upon to cope with it effectively.

With respect to the second type of subversion mentioned above, which involves penetration, propaganda, and boring from within, the general consensus of the Manila Pact countries (with the exception of the Philippines which handles all these matters largely through the Army) is that this is best dealt with by the police and special security services, which can be much more effective in this mission if they are knowledgeable about modern police techniques and have the necessary facilities, including communications equipment. But, in the case of both regular armed forces and special service forces, a high degree of training and technical proficiency will be meaningless unless the government in question has the will and determination to use such forces effectively and in time.

Another aspect of the problem we face in most countries which are threatened with subversion is the very limited resources which can be devoted to their over-all security forces, both armed forces and police (including special service units). I believe we would meet with strong resistance from any country we might approach if we told them they should cut substantially their armed forces and transfer the resources thus saved to form a constabulary. Human nature plus prestige considerations in the numerical strength of their armed forces, often in comparison with neighboring armed forces, makes any government reluctant in the extreme to chop down substantially its regular national military establishment to create a constabulary or special police units. Although I have not sufficient information to make a judgment, I am sure in my own mind that there are countries that might usefully devote some of the resources which they now spend on their armed forces to special service units to deal with subversion (whether they be called constabulary or not) and yet such countries are often the most reluctant for reasons of prestige to embark on such a policy. If, on the other hand, the US deemed a supplementary constabulary-type force necessary and were willing to underwrite the entire cost of the formation and maintenance of such a body, many countries would probably be very happy to go along. This, however, except possibly in exceptional cases, would, because of the cost, probably be unacceptable to the [Page 4] US in view of the very heavy nature of our existing commitments to support armed forces.

In connection with the immediate problem, which is a study called for by the NSC, I believe that NSC Action 1290d is inappropriately phrased and does not address itself to the problem, which should not be a report on development of constabulary forces per se but rather a report on the development of adequate security forces whatever they may be. That is, regular armed forces, police, special service units, constabular-type forces, or a combination thereof, to produce maximum internal security, taking into account political, psychological, and economic considerations. I do not see how this problem can be tackled on other than a country-by-country basis, for the various internal considerations and possibilities vary by country. Furthermore, the degree of urgency and priority also varies. By this I mean that rather than try to develop generalized conclusions for all countries, it would probably be most profitable first to draw up a list of those countries which we feel are most seriously threatened and where the need is greatest. Generally speaking, this would probably relate to their proximity to the Communist orbit, although in the case of Latin America, as the experience in Guatamala proved, we cannot even generalize on this.

Before calling a meeting of the OCB Working Group, I believe we should have if possible a meeting of the four geographic Assistant Secretaries under the chairmanship of yourself or Mr. Murphy to see if they are in general agreement with the above concept on how the OCB study should proceed. If they are, I think we should in State draw up a priority list of countries which we think are seriously threatened. I would then call a meeting of the OCB Working Group and espouse the concept. If there were agreement on the country-by-country approach, I would suggest:

That we agree on a priority list of countries where the problem is most serious.
That we send instructions to our diplomatic missions asking for a report with recommendations to be submitted by the Embassies, to include the views of the MAAGs (or Defense Attachés if there are no MAAGs), CIA, and FOA, on what can be done to strengthen the internal security forces taking into consideration their existing effectiveness and the political, psychological, and economic factors involved.
As these reports and recommendations are received we would be in a position to decide what course of action we would adopt.

This may seem to be a slow process, but there is no way that I can see for an OCB Working Group to arrive at worthwhile conclusions without the considered judgment of our people in the field.

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Since I have no staff of my own other than one assistant who is kept very fully occupied across the board on matters where I have responsibilities, I would have to call upon various areas in the Department for assistance. Since this study is for the NSC, I would most definitely wish to have someone from S/P (Mr. Stelle 7 if he were available), as well as at least one officer from each geographic bureau to assist me as necessary.

Douglas MacArthur II 8
  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Working Group on NSC 1290d. Top Secret.
  2. NSC Action No. 1290–d was taken at the 229th meeting of the National Security Council, December 21, 1954, ( Ibid .) For text, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. II, Part 1, p. 844.
  3. The OCB Working Group, also referred to as the NSC 1290–d Working Group, was established in early January 1955 to consider ways and means of carrying out NSC Action No. 1290–d. The committee was chaired by Douglas MacArthur II of the Department of State and included Major General W.W. Wensinger, USMC, Department of Defense; General J.D. Balmer, Central Intelligence Agency; General Robert W. Porter, Jr., Foreign Operations Administration; and Livingston Satterthwaite, Operations Coordinating Board.
  4. NSC 5501, “Basic National Security Policy,” was approved by the NSC on January 6 and by the President on the following day. It is scheduled for publication in volume XIX.
  5. The Manila Pact Working Group was established in November 1954 to arrange an agenda for the Bangkok Conference of February 23–25, 1955. Representatives of the nations that signed the Manila Pact, September 8, 1954, later known as the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), were included in the working group and attended the February conference.
  6. Charles C. Stelle of the Policy Planning Staff.
  7. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.