286. NSC Report1

NSC 6027
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to the





  • A. NSC 116
  • B. NSC Action No. 2215–c

The NSC Planning Board on December 6, 1960, reviewed NSC 116, pursuant to NSC Action No. 2215–c, and agreed that revisions of an editorial nature only were required to bring this policy up to date.

Accordingly, the enclosed statement of policy on the subject, incorporating the editorial revisions agreed upon by the Planning Board, is transmitted herewith as NSC 6027 in accordance with NSC Action No. 2215–c, which provides that where NSC policy papers do not require “revision except of a purely editorial nature, the NSC Planning Board should make a written report to that effect to the Council as a matter of record.”

In approving paragraphs 4 and 5 of NSC 116 on September 19, 1951, the President directed their implementation by all appropriate Executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government, as indicated therein. These instructions by the President continue to be applicable to the enclosure.

NSC 6027 supersedes NSC 116.

James S. Lay, Jr.
Executive Secretary

cc: The Secretary of the Treasury

The Director, Bureau of the Budget

The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Director of Central Intelligence

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Statement of Policy

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1. The Standing Group, in considering the provision of warning of imminent attack, has concluded that there is a clear requirement for certain defined national responsibilities and established secure channels for the transmission of warning of attack.

2. The Standing Group has suggested that the following responsibilities should be recognized by the signatory Powers of the North Atlantic Treaty, and should be included in orders to the Major Commands of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):

a. The discoverer of credible information indicating definite preparations for, or movement in initiation of attack against any element of NATO is responsible that the substance of such information be transmitted immediately through the duly established channels for the information of the Major Commands of NATO and the Standing Group.

b. Each Power and each Major Command of NATO is responsible for preventing the transmission in its name of unofficial and/or unevaluated warning of attack. To this end, it should advise the Standing Group and the Major Commands of NATO as to the agencies who are authorized to transmit warning messages.

c. Only in extreme emergency, in which the element of time would prohibit normal complete processing through internal channels, should there be recourse to releasing the information at some lower level.

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3. The Standing Group suggested the following channels for transmission of urgent intelligence as being currently appropriate and adequate:

a. From the designated agency of the country or command first receiving AND EVALUATING the information, to the Standing Group via the duly established channels (see subparagraph 2–b above) with information copies to the NATO Major Commands.

b. In cases of extreme urgency, when the element of time is vital, any internationally identifiable agency (for example, ambassadors and commanders in chief, as opposed to those specifically designated) should inform the Standing Group by the quickest means available, with copies to Major Commands of NATO.

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4. In implementation of subparagraph 3–a above, it is considered that advantage should be taken of existing agencies and action channels. At present, intelligence is furnished to the Watch Committee of the United States Intelligence Board by the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Military Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Atomic Energy Commission. This intelligence is quickly evaluated by the Watch Committee and its conclusions immediately given to the United States Intelligence Board which, in turn, through the Director of Central Intelligence, advises the National Security Council. The personnel and functions of these agencies (Watch Committee, United States Intelligence Board and National Security Council) are so inter-related and organized as to provide for the most expeditious handling of and making recommendations to the President on matters concerning information on the imminence of attack. It may be noted that the Watch Committee is composed of representatives from all agencies dealing with the evaluation of intelligence, with their superiors constituting the United States Intelligence Board, whose superiors in turn are either members of or attend the meetings of the National Security Council. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who normally attends these meetings, ensures that the U.S. Representative to the Standing Group is kept informed. It is therefore considered that in order to provide both political and military consideration, the President, on the advice of the National Security Council, should authorize the transmittal of warning of attack messages to the Standing Group and Major Commands of NATO. It is further considered that, in view of the communications channels available to them, the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be the U.S. agency to transmit warning of attack messages. In case actual hostilities have commenced, or the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider hostilities too imminent that time is of vital importance, the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be authorized to transmit to NATO such warning of attack messages simultaneously with transmission to the President, the members of the National Security Council and the Director of Central Intelligence.

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5. It is considered that, in cases of extreme urgency, when the element of time is vital (reference subparagraph 3–b above), information available to the United States of the imminence or actual commencement of hostilities will reach the Standing Group and the Major Commands of NATO through already established intelligence procedures and channels which are internationally identifiable.

  1. Source: “Channels for Transmission of Warning of Attack.” Top Secret. 6 pp. NARA, RG 273, Policy Papers File.
  2. This paper was originally a memorandum for the Secretary of Defense from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dated August 14, 1951. It was concurred in by the National Security Council on September 18, 1951 (NSC Action No. 558) and paragraphs 4 and 5 were approved by the President on September 19, 1951. Pursuant to NSC Action No. 2215-c, the NSC Planning Board editorially revised the paper, to bring it up to date, by amending paragraph 4 and deleting paragraph 6 of the 1951 paper. [Footnote is in the original.]