46. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs (Kitchen) to the Ambassador at Large (Thompson)1


  • Politico-Military Contingency Planning
In proposing the establishment of a Contingency Coordinating Committee2 whose task it would be to see to it that coordinated politico-military contingency planning would be initiated, where the situation so demanded, I did so with full recognition that (a) the effort would not be easily accomplished and (b) that acceptance of the mechanism [Page 100] would come slowly and then only insofar as it demonstrated its value. While my reservations have been borne out, it does appear that the undertaking is moving into a new stage, typified by a considerably heightened interagency interest in utilizing the mechanism, in turn leading to planning activities for a larger number of countries, with pressures developing for more expeditious handling. Because I believe this will require more of your time and subsequently of the Secretary’s, if the operation is to be successful, I am taking this opportunity of bringing you up to date and of suggesting that you acquaint the Secretary with developments.
At its last meeting, the Contingency Coordinating Committee (CCC) decided to initiate a more active phase of contingency planning. Having launched two initial studies earlier this year (Indonesia-Malaysia Dispute now undergoing field review, and Arab-Israeli Dispute in final drafting stage), the CCC has now recommended that two studies be undertaken in each geographic area (with the exception of EUR where most urgent contingency planning is carried forward by other planning media).
Perhaps the most important point in assessing the CCC’s activities so far is that all participating agencies are solidly behind its efforts and have fully accepted State’s leadership in working out contingency papers. The cooperation of the Joint Staff has been especially heartening. The J–5, General Spivy, has taken over from Andy Goodpaster as the CCC’s senior JCS representative. Working on a purely military requirement to assemble crisis management data banks for virtually every country in the world, J–5 has agreed to synchronize with the CCC outlines and procedures to assure a maximum pooling of effort. Joint guidelines were worked out which should facilitate the development of forthcoming studies.
There is agreement among all participants that what is wanted in a CCC study is a document which has relevance to the situation at hand or anticipated; paper exercises must be avoided; the studies should be reviewed and updated as required. Ultimately, they are to constitute basic source and operational documents in the event a crisis actually arises. In order to enhance their usefulness as crisis management papers, the contingency studies will contain rosters of key senior staff people that currently work on a situation and who could on very short notice form a task force to assist the policy level.
As the studies are completed I intend to propose that the Secretary convene a meeting of himself, Mr. McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, Admiral Raborn and General Wheeler for the purpose of reviewing the plans. I think it less important that the plans be formally approved by the group than that they indicate their general satisfaction [Page 101] or dissatisfaction and provide any additional guidance which may appear to be required. It should also serve a useful purpose to have the top leadership cognizant of the existence of these plans before a crisis is actually upon us. Finally, I think it would be desirable in our relations with Defense and the White House for there to be evidence of a top level State interest in this work. This would not only be in response to the apparent White House concern about the adequacy of plans for crises anticipation (NSAM 277 enclosed)3 but it will assure an increasingly responsive attitude throughout the bureaucracy in such future contingency planning exercises as may be undertaken.
While the personal contact among representatives of agencies having primary responsibility for national security matters has been highly gratifying, any honest stock-taking should not slough over the fact that the process of preparing the studies so far has been slow, that the papers could be improved by providing more concise planning guidance, and that greater synchronization of political, economic, military and covert actions would be desirable. Particularly with regard to the first shortcoming, lack of speed, the military, especially the Joint Staff, are dissatisfied. Operational priorities and other requirements caused the State-chaired working groups repeatedly to exceed their original deadlines. One of the recommendations approved by the CCC is the appointment of a Primary Project Officer who would be held responsible for the timely production of the study, but it is clear from our past experience that interest and pressure at the Assistant or Deputy Assistant Secretary level must be maintained.
Attachment A4 is a proposed memorandum from you to the Assistant Secretaries reviewing the Department’s role in contingency planning since your memorandum to them of July 1, 1964,5 outlining the road ahead in this field and informing them of operational requirements soon to be presented to them. Attachment B contains four memoranda to the regional Assistant Secretaries, except Mr. Leddy, requesting them to undertake the necessary studies in line with the CCC’s recommendations. These are: (a) For AF: Libya; Ethiopia; (b) for NEA: UAR-Saudi Arabian Conflict over Yemen; (c) for ARA: Uruguay; Bolivia; and (d) for FE: Burma; Implications of the Singapore secession on the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation Issue. In setting deadlines, the CCC has attempted not to overload any one Bureau.
Attachment C is a memorandum from you to the Secretary, informing him of the progress made in Contingency Planning.
Recommendation: that you approve the memoranda in Attachments A, B, and C.6
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316, NSAM 277. Secret. A copy was sent to Yager (S/P).
  2. The Contingency Coordinating Committee (CCC) was established in early 1965, following a proposal from Rusk to McNamara in an October 6, 1964, letter to create “a small State-Defense Working Group that would review existing contingency planning, establish an improved method of State-Defense coordination, and set priorities for the development of additional country studies.” (Ibid.) The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs chaired the committee; also represented were the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, the Joint Staff, and the Central Intelligence Agency. A chart showing the status of the CCC’s work undertaken through May 1966 is attached to an information memorandum on Politico-Military Contingency Planning Pursuant to NSAM No. 277, May 11, 1966. (Ibid., S/P Files-SIG Papers: Lot 74 D 344, Contingency Coordinating Committee) In a memorandum to McNamara, May 12, 1967, Rusk stated that he had recently reviewed the CCC’s work and “concluded that constructive and useful work has been done in coordinating interagency planning to meet possible international contingencies. Cooperation in this matter between your staff, JCS, CIA and the State Department has been excellent.” (Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/IMS Files, Job 78–06423A, US Govt-Interagency)
  3. For text, see Document 5.
  4. Attachments A and C are not printed. Attachment B was not found.
  5. Not found.
  6. Written in hand at this point is “Sent 9/23.” The recommendation was approved on September 15.