23. Editorial Note

On January 18, 1963, the Senate Subcommittee on National Security Staffing and Operations chaired by Senator Henry M. Jackson issued a staff report entitled Administration of National Security: Basic Issues (Washington, 1963). The Senate had established the subcommittee in May 1962 as successor to the Subcommittee on National Policy Machinery. As the foreword to this report indicated, the subcommittee’s purpose was to “review the administration of national security at home and in the field, and to make findings and recommendations for improvement where appropriate.” The subcommittee was “concerned with the administration of national security—with getting good people into key foreign and defense posts and enabling them to do a job. It is not inquiring into the substance of policy.” The report outlined basic issues on which the subcommittee would hold hearings during the present Congress. These issues included the President’s problems in dealing with national security issues; dilemmas of administration; the President, the Secretary of State, and the problem of coordination; the Ambassador and the Country Team; Executive responsibility for administration; and communications.

In a memorandum to President Kennedy on April 2, Bundy referred to recent discussion of the need for strengthening interdepartmental planning and coordination of major national security issues. The Executive Committee of the NSC established during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 had been useful for major interdepartmental decisions, but was “not so good for lesser matters of coordination.” Bundy proposed a new Standing Group of the NSC to be known as the Plans and Operations Committee. The Committee would be parallel to the NSC Executive Committee, but would not include the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, or Secretary of Defense. The new [Page 45] Standing Group would meet weekly with Bundy as chairman; it would review ongoing interdepartmental programs and future planning problems and would be “used for the occasional discursive review of drastic alternatives to existing policies.” The text of Bundy’s memorandum, entitled “A Standing Committee of the National Security Council,” is printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, volume VIII, Document 131.