155. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson 1


  • Organization of the National Security Staff
Once or twice you have asked me about the people who work on the National Security side here, and I have the impression that you may wish to know more about who they are and what they do. You may even think there are too many of them.
When I took over this job in 1961, there were 71 people assigned to the NSC/OCB. Currently there are 48 people, and the real reduction is greater still because a number of the present people are shared with outfits like the Office of Science and Technology and the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
About one-third of these people (plus a CIA-supplied group of rotating watch officers in the Situation Room) constitute a classified message center for the whole White House and Executive Office Building. We handle all classified papers for the NSC staff, most of your own classified stuff, and also cable traffic for the Bureau of the Budget and the Office of Science and Technology. This is a matter of keeping proper control and distribution of several hundred items a day. It is a service which we could turn back to the State and Defense Departments, and to CIA, but only at the price of losing our own grip on the flow of information.
The real heart of the office is in 17 professional officers with their secretaries. Of these, two are here in the White House keeping track of the daily business—Bromley Smith as executive manager, and Gordon Chase as my assistant (and UN liaison). The remaining 15 are in the Executive Office Building. There the three top men are Bator on Economics and Europe, Komer on the Middle East and Africa, and Cooper on the Far East, especially Vietnam. These three officers have a total of six junior professionals to assist them.2
The remaining professionals are essentially liaison officers and monitors for specific agencies and offices—one (Bowman) for the Joint [Page 361] Chiefs of Staff; one (Jessup) for CIA covert operations, one (C.E. Johnson) for the AEC and NASA; one (Bowdler) for Latin American Affairs; and one (Keeny, half-time) for military technology and disarmament. Finally, we have one FBI graduate (Ash) who does our security checks with one finger and uses the other nine to assist Pat Coyne in the work of Clark Clifford’s Intelligence Board. (If Ash were not on the NSC payroll, he would have to be carried by the White House.)
Three of these liaison officers (and several of the other junior professionals) are paid by the Departments with which they work3—but I think I can claim that all of them have demonstrated that their first loyalty is to you, and not to any one agency.
Man for man, I would not trade this staff for any other in Washington. Its one present weakness is that there is no all-around Deputy. There are a couple of ways of dealing with this problem, but they tie into State and Defense personnel questions. Perhaps we can discuss them at one of our Tuesday lunches soon.
McG. B.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President-McGeorge Bundy, Vol. 13. No classification marking.
  2. In a July 19 draft memorandum to the President, Bromley Smith stated that Bator was assisted by Edward Hamilton, on detail from BOB; Komer was assisted by Harold Saunders and Ulric Haynes, on detail from State; and Cooper was assisted by James Thomson, on detail from State, and Donald Ropa, on loan from CIA. (Ibid., Bromley Smith Papers, BKS Chron)
  3. Bowman was on detail from DOD, Jessup on detail from CIA, and Bowdler on detail from State.