20. Editorial Note

In response to the President’s request of July 18, 1962, in National Security Action Memorandum No. 173 ( Document 19) for the initiation of a program of Interdepartmental Field Visits by specially constituted teams, Secretary Rusk met later that day with General Maxwell D. Taylor, the President’s Military Representative, and William H. Orrick, Jr., Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration. Rusk subsequently assigned Orrick responsibility for developing a program of Interdepartmental Field Visits. In early August, Rusk discussed the matter again with Taylor and with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and Rusk approved a paper dated August 7, drafted by Orrick, for discussion by the Special Group (Counter-Insurgency) at its August 9 meeting. These discussions are described in a memorandum from Orrick to Rusk, August 7. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316, NSAM No. 173)

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The August 7 paper set forth the terms of reference and composition of the Interdepartmental Field teams. In consultation with the Ambassador in a given country and the members of his staff, as well as with local officials as appropriate, the teams would:

  • “(a) ascertain whether our country team plans are adequate to meet existing conditions, are consistent with our national interests and policy objectives, and are based upon reliable intelligence;
  • “(b) ascertain whether U.S. Government officials, under the leadership of the Ambassador, are pursuing the country team plans aggressively and effectively enough. For example, given the local situation, is there adequate contact with youth, labor, opposition and other outside-government groups as well as with Government circles;
  • “(c) ascertain whether the Ambassador is fulfilling his role as leader of the country team, is familiar with all country team programs, and is thoroughly aware of all policy directives from Washington to country team members;
  • “(d) ascertain the total image of the country team operation in the country under survey, including the standing of the Ambassador and the country team in the local community.”

Each team was to submit a detailed report to the Secretary of State, who would then forward it to the President. Each team would be under State Department chairmanship and would not exceed in membership a total of four persons, excluding an Executive Assistant from the State Department. In addition to the Department of State, the Department of Defense, AID, USIA, CIA, and other agencies would be represented as appropriate to conditions in a given country. From time to time a public member might be added. Because of the immediate importance of relations with Latin America, it was recommended that the first team visit the Dominican Republic and Colombia as soon as possible, with a second team visiting Brazil and Argentina.

At a meeting later in August of the Special Group (CI) under the chairmanship of General Taylor, it was decided that the first team would visit Venezuela and Guatemala. (Letters from Rusk to John G. Bell, Ambassador to Guatemala, and from Rusk to C. Allan Stewart, Ambassador to Venezuela, both dated August 20; ibid.)

Under the provisions of NSAM No. 173, the Special Group (Counter-Insurgency) approved the creation of a joint survey team, headed by General William H. Draper, Jr., to visit Brazil and submit appropriate recommendations. The report of the Survey Team on Brazil to President Kennedy, dated November 3, 1962, is in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, volume XII, Document 228.

An Interdepartmental Survey Group on Liberia and Tunisia was also formed by the Special Group (Counter-Insurgency) under the authority of NSAM No. 173. The report of this group to President Kennedy was dated April 19, 1963; the portion on Tunisia is printed [Page 41]ibid., volume XXI, Document 184. Additional documentation on the Survey Group on Liberia and Tunisia is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316, NSAM No. 173.