409. Memorandum from Komer to Coffin, May 21

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Frank, forgive this rather long and rambling discourse, but as you know my heart’s in the right place. I see your report on MAP/AID coordination as the charter you need to bring MAP under control, and am anxious to give all the help I can.

R.W. Komer
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  • AID Draft on Methods for Improving the Coordination of Military and Economic Aid Programs

Our meeting on April 30, and the preliminary agency comments, all convince me that the exercise called for in NSC Action 2447 is of crucial importance. In effect, the purpose of the exercise is to give the AID Coordinator the necessary tools to do his job. Without these tools we will not get the unified and optimized overall aid program which the Administration seeks. Therefore I feel that we should take the time necessary to refine the draft report, assimilate the experience of the Greek, Turkish and Korean restudies and achieve inter-agency consensus if possible.

Viewed in the above light, Charles Wolf’s draft marks a definite step forward. While one may cavil with some of his ideas, in general he seems on the right track. For example, his three suggestions for meshing the MAP and AID planning and programming cycles seem non-controversial; as essential groundwork for any coordination process, perhaps they should be carried out as soon as feasible, without waiting on the rest.

However, I believe that the report needs to be strengthened in several respects.

1. Most important, the basic objective toward which we are working is to devise techniques and machinery for achieving the best possible [Typeset Page 1673] “mix” of total US aid, military and economic. To this end we want to unify foreign aid planning as much as possible, while preserving the freedom of the agencies concerned with various aspects of US aid to make the case for their own programs. Hence I feel that how to get the best “mix” should be the central theme of the report and more fully developed.

2. On this score, I feel that the so-called “high-low” approach to constructing alternative “mixes” is, despite the many complexities involved, the best available technique for assessing the pros and cons of various options open to us. Admittedly, it is as yet a very rough technique, which we’ll have to refine as we go along. But only by presenting alternative program options can we get a rational framework for choice.

“High-low” of course is a misnomer. What we really mean by “low” is the minimum program the US could support without taking wholly unacceptable military or political risks. By high we mean the optimum [Facsimile Page 3] program we would like to undertake within the constraints of available local resources and absorptive capacity. In effect the MAAG would outline both what it would really like and what it could get along with if it had to. So would the USOM. Then we can have a useful dialogue as to which program we want to optimise and which to try to carry at minimum ongoing cost.

In some cases, we may want to optimize both the MAP and AID programs (Turkey may be one); in others we may want to “carry” a country at minimums on both. In yet other cases we may want to split the difference in some way. Moreover, we always want to retain flexibility to shift emphasis from one country to another, if there is a case for doing so. For these reasons, while agreeing with Bill Bundy’s point that “high” and “low” military and economic programs will seldom be of similar dollar magnitudes I don’t see this as a bar to the “alternatives” approach.

3. The paper as presently drafted confines itself primarily to techniques for coordinating MAP and AID programs; it is very lean on the bureaucratic machinery needed to ensure that these techniques are effectively carried out and that the inevitable differences which will arise are suitably aired and resolved. For example, what happens after the two planning and programming cycles are meshed, and a number of alternative mixes for MAP and AID programs have been proposed? What machinery is there for adjudicating these differences and if necessary pushing them up the line for decision? This is of course the function of the Coordinator, but I would like to see this function spelled out so that everyone would have it clearly in mind. It might run as follows: (1) PRCS would prepare a list of issues arising from the comparison of MAP and AID programs, etc.—this list with its recommendations [Typeset Page 1674] for solution would be sent to the Coordinator; (2) the Coordinator would rule on these issues, after suitable hearings; (3) If AID, State, or DOD still objected to certain of his decisions, the Coordinator would submit these issues to the Secretaries of State and Defense jointly; and (4) if unresolved at that level, they would be taken to the President.

Therefore, the report should have a section on machinery for carrying out coordination.

Equally important is adequate machinery for achieving prior agreement on overall program guidelines before each five year guidance is sent to the field. I regard this as a very important exercise, because [Facsimile Page 4] it tends to set the pattern for the annual program cycle. Yet, while AID and DOD each devote great effort to working out the guidelines for their own programs (and Congressional presentations), any impression is that all too little time is spent on the inter-relationships between these programs. The “alternatives” approach to key countries would almost force a more meaningful exercise along these lines.

4. Shouldn’t greater emphasis be placed on the role of the country team in doing the first stage analysis of the optimum mix desired in a given country. We want the Ambassador himself to consider meaningful choices between MAP and AID inputs and to render the initial judgments. But we will not be able to get him to do so unless he has real reason to believe that if he opts for a road instead of a Hawk battalion he’ll have a fair chance of getting it. None of the techniques for developing meaningful alternatives will be worth a hoot unless we actually decide back here to pursue one or the other in a few key cases, and thus prove we mean what we say. But perhaps I’m putting the cart before the horse.

5. The AID report should specify when the recommendations are to be put into effect. I gather that there is some testing this should not be done before the FY ’65 planning cycle. Shouldn’t we at least consider moving up the date for the meshing of the planning cycles to FY ’60 instead of trying to take everything in one big [illegible in the original]. We should begin moving as soon as possible in the directions suggested by the report.

6. More emphasis might be given to expounding the essential rationale for MAP and AID coordination which underlies the report. Pages 6–9 of Wolf’s draft make a good start but could be somewhat beefed up.

7. Finally, while AID ought to be allowed the time to do the job right, an interim report would be useful to show that you’re moving and to keep the momentum. It will relieve the pressure for an early final report, and justify your taking another two months or so. Propose a new final deadline and we’ll concur.

R.W. Komer
  1. AID draft on improving coordination of military and economic aid programs. Secret. 4 pp. Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Kaysen Series, Foreign Aid, General, 5/62–11/63, Box 373.