122. Editorial Note

At the meeting of the Special Group (Counter-Insurgency) on January 3, 1963, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy “emphasized that the President looks upon the Group as having wider responsibilities than the members seem to interpret them to be. He suggested that the members give consideration to what the Group should now be doing.” After U. Alexis Johnson, who had replaced General Taylor as Chairman of the Special Group (CI) following the latter’s confirmation as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, remarked that the Group was operating according to its terms of reference in monitoring programs it had helped to establish, Kennedy commented that although these were the terms of reference, he felt that the monitoring of programs was too restrictive, and that “the members should give thought to redefining the Group’s responsibilities.” (Memorandum by Thomas W. Davis, Jr., Executive Secretary of the Group; Department of State, Special Group (CI) Files: Lot 68 D 451, SG(CI) 11/1/62-12/30/62)

In a memorandum to the Special Group (CI) dated January 22, Johnson wrote that whatever “degree of success the group may have had is due to the fact that it had specific terms of reference in a well-defined field clearly of interdepartmental character,” and that enlarging its role would “adversely impinge” on the work of other interdepartmental mechanisms, including ad hoc working groups as well as the NSC and the NSC Executive Committee. (Ibid., SG(CI) 1/17/63-3/7/63)

In another general discussion of the Special Group (CI) during its meeting on January 24, Taylor opened by saying that it had “a pretty good charter now. He does not think that the committee should be overloaded.” Gilpatric thought the Group was not “following through.” Robert Kennedy agreed and stated that the monitoring of established programs should be done at a lower level. The Group should do “something additional,” such as taking an overall look at countries which might be potential trouble spots, and “figure out solutions and report to the President. Emphasis should be on anticipating trouble.” It was “time to apply the talents of this Group to other countries which do not necessarily have a CI problem.”

AID Director Bell remarked that other interagency committees were in some cases doing for particular areas the job the Attorney General wanted done. Bundy stated: “If the Group develops in this way, it would simply interpose another level between the troops [working level] and the President. Why do this?”

The record of the meeting indicates that after Taylor pointed out that the Group was not in the “command channel,” the meeting ended with a consensus that while “layering” might not be a problem, it would be necessary for the Group to have a permanent staff, possibly with a full time [Page 455] chairman, to perform the surveillance function of identifying trouble spots. The Attorney General agreed to draft a revision of the terms of reference in NSAM No. 124. (Memorandum by Thomas A. Parrott, Jr., January 24, with covering note of same date to Bundy; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Special Group 7/3/62-5/20/63) No such draft revision has been found.

Additional information on this question is ibid., Departments and Agencies Series, Department of Defense, Special Warfare Volume II 1962-1963. See also Document 139.