91. National Security Action Memorandum No. 1620


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Attorney General
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Director, United States Information Agency


  • Development of U.S. and Indigenous Police, Paramilitary and Military Resources

The President has approved the following statement and proposed assignments of responsibilities to various agencies as recommended by the Special Group (Counterinsurgency):

The study of U.S. and indigenous paramilitary resources pursuant to NSAM 561 reflects gratifying progress in the development of an adequate U.S. capability to support both the training and active operations in indigenous paramilitary forces. Certain deficiencies, however, were clearly revealed. The deficiencies, to which all efforts and shortcomings to date are related, should be the basis upon which internal defense requirements are established for each country to be assisted.

1. Country Internal Defense Plans

With one or two exceptions, there exist no outline plans to unify and orchestrate U.S. internal defense programs and activities in friendly countries facing a [Page 306] threat of subversive insurgency, or which provide strategic guidance for assisting such countries to maintain internal security. The Department of State has prepared a list identifying the countries facing a threat of subversive insurgency and will direct the formulation of outline plans for internal defense (Country Internal Defense Plans) by the Country Team in each such country which encompass the total U.S.-supported internal defense field. These plans will include the military, police, intelligence and psychological measures comprising a well rounded internal defense plan and will be consistent with the military, economic, political and social measures constituting the overall country plan. Such plans should be completed and in the hands of the Department of State by September 1, 1962, available for review by the Special Group (Counterinsurgency). From that time on, in accordance with the provisions of NSAM 124,2 the Special Group will keep these country internal defense plans under periodic review, and insure prompt resolution of interdepartmental problems arising in connection with their implementation.

2. Improvement of Personnel Programs of Agencies Concerned with Unconventional Warfare

A study will be made by the Armed Forces and appropriate civil agencies concerned with unconventional warfare activities of how to improve their personnel programs. Particular attention will be directed to the following:

Personnel programming for officers and men, including establishment of career programs which protect the special skills and professional qualifications of personnel assigned to unconventional warfare duties.
Ability to perform efficiently in foreign areas in conditions of stress and danger for prolonged periods.
Morale factors such as family housing, tours of duty, hardship allowances, hazardous duty pay, special recognition such as rewards.

3. Orientation of Personnel

As part of the current effort to train more personnel in the problems confronting underdeveloped societies, both civil and military agencies of the Government will assign, where feasible and subject to the availability of funds and personnel, middle-grade and senior officers to temporary duty for orientation purposes in selected countries experiencing internal security problems.

4. Deployment of Counterinsurgency Personnel

In order to insure a timely deployment of qualified counterinsurgency specialists to impending crisis areas, CIA and AID will take action to insure that adequate qualified personnel with paramilitary skills are available. Periodic reports of progress to achieve this objective will be submitted to the Special Group (Counterinsurgency) by CIA and AID.

[Heading and 3 paragraphs (22 lines of source text) not declassified]

[Page 307]

6. Increased Use of Third Country Personnel

The Department of Defense, in collaboration with the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency, will undertake a study to determine on a selective basis the feasibility of the concept of the increased use of third-country personnel in paramilitary operations. Particular attention will be given to the following:

[1 paragraph (6 lines of source text) not declassified]

b. The feasibility of using third-country military or paramilitary forces to operate under their own or other national auspices in crisis areas.

7. Exploitation of Minorities

In view of the success which has resulted from CIA/US Army Special Forces efforts with tribal groups in Southeast Asia, continuing efforts will be made to determine the most feasible method of achieving similar results in other critical areas. On a selective basis, CIA and the Department of Defense will make studies of specific groups where there is reason to believe there exists an exploitable minority paramilitary capability.

8. Improvement of Indigenous Intelligence Organizations

Recent experience shows that most underdeveloped countries need more efficient intelligence coordination and dissemination systems to counter subversive insurgency. Therefore, the CIA will expand its present training and support efforts to achieve needed improvements in indigenous intelligence organizations and that other U.S. agencies contribute to this CIA coordinated program.

9. Research and Development for Counterinsurgency

The Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency will carry in their research and development programs a special section devoted to the requirements of counterinsurgency. The Special Group (Counterinsurgency) will follow up on this action and receive reports from time to time with regard to progress in developing modern equipment suitable to meet the requirements of counterinsurgency.3

McGeorge Bundy
  1. Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316, NSAM 162. Secret.
  2. Document 33.
  3. Document 68.
  4. By NSAM No. 165, dated June 16, the President added to the Group’s purview eight countries “sufficiently threatened by Communist-inspired insurgency to warrant the specific interest of the Group.” They were Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Iran, Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, and Venezuela. (NSAM No. 165, signed by Bundy; Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 69 D 121, NSAMs 1962) A July 6 memorandum from Lemnitzer to the Special Group summarizes the development of U.S. and indigenous police, paramilitary, and military resources in implementation of NSAMs No. 124 and 162. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, NSAM 162)