18. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to the Assistant Secretaries of State1


  • Systematic Planning for Crises

As a result of several meetings on the anticipation of crises, I am requesting a new procedure to strengthen our performance in this area.

While the exact shape and date of a particular crisis is virtually unpredictable, we can endeavor to isolate and act briskly to exploit moments of transient opportunity, observe trends and situations that are likely to produce crises, and systematically think out ahead of time the critical dimensions of the problems these crises will create. In the light of such thought we may generate lines of action which could prevent, mitigate, or even turn such situations to our advantage. A great deal of work within the Department is already addressed to these objectives.

A successful program to meet these objectives will require the closest cooperation among those who illuminate the alternatives available to us, those who make decisions, and those who carry them out. I want to insure that a greater portion of the energies of the desk officers, who are so often absorbed in the day’s immediate problems, are directed toward steps we should be taking now in order to improve our posture in the future. The purpose of this program is to provide a systematic means for strengthening the contribution of the Policy Planning Council to the operating bureaus in this respect. The operating bureaus retain full discretion and responsibility for the implementation of recommendations emanating from the informal working groups organized under this program.

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I am therefore requesting Mr. Rostow to consult with each of you in order to undertake the following program:

Arrangements for consultation on a regular and systematic basis, between designated officers of the Policy Planning Council and the operating bureaus to select an initial list of problems for anticipatory planning on a priority basis and to establish a regular procedure for identifying situations of opportunity.
Establishment of small, informal working groups under the leadership of the Policy Planning Council, including representation from the responsible bureaus, and the intelligence and planning community, to develop specific plans and time tables for action on each designated priority problem.
Presentation of reports and recommendations of the working groups to the Assistant Secretary of the responsible bureau for his consideration and such action as he finds appropriate.

Dean Rusk
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/P Files: Lot 70 D 199, Planning, 1962. Confidential.