51. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Komer) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


Comments on Taylor Report.2 Can’t say I’m greatly impressed. I tried repeatedly to get him focused not just on the Washington organizational aspects but on the many inadequacies in our C–I3 programs, particularly in fire prevention. These latter items are covered only in his Annex I (which is pretty good), and he has few practical suggestions for dealing with the inadequacies there described.

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One gut problem is that C–I itself is so hard to define. Broadly construed, it could cover all sorts of threats, and the programs to deal with them cut across every inter-agency line. So locating action responsibility for dealing with C–I is peculiarly difficult, as is the problem of developing sensible, well-defined programs. I can feel for Taylor, and would buy his prescriptions (as far as they go), subject to the following comments.

In attacking the “basic” problem of how to improve the direction, coordination and supervision of activities designed to cope with what he has renamed “counter-subversion”, Taylor suggests a prescription which seems to encompass crisis management and US overseas activities in general. The imprecise role he assigns the OOG (old C–I Group) can be interpreted as making it overall inter-agency body supervising just about everything. It may well be sound to strengthen SecState’s responsibility for “supervision and direction,” rather than just “coordination,” of inter-departmental activities overseas. But this is a far broader question than that of supervising counter-subversion activities. It can raise inter-agency hassles with Agriculture, AEC, Interior, AID, and numerous others.
So the proposed NSAM needs rewriting to specify more precisely what the role of the OOG and its regional sub-groups should be. Are they to deal with all interdepartmental matters affecting overseas operations or just those with a counter-subversion aspect? Obviously, it is quite difficult to draw a line here, since it can be argued that almost any US overseas activity contributes in some measure to counter-subversion capabilities.
It is probably sensible to put the proposed OOG under SecState rather than in the WH. Logically, SecState should have this responsibility, and a better machinery for exercising it. But Taylor, you, and I know that putting this new machinery in State will not result in greater attention to the problem, but probably less. In fact, Taylor earlier told me that after six months this would become apparent, and the machinery could then be moved over to the White House. However, this thought fills me with no enthusiasm either.
Taylor skirts the question of who in State should be “Executive Chairman” of the new OOG. Charlie Schultze sees a possibility of combining this function with that of a new Under Secretary who would also be responsible for departmental administration, thus filling the function that Bowles and then Ball were supposed to fill.
The proposal for regional counter-subversion committees headed by State’s Assistant Secretaries makes good sense. ARA already has one, and this should be duplicated elsewhere.
Taylor loves his list of “critical countries,” which should get priority attention. Should this list include Vietnam, Laos, or even Thailand? My own view is that those countries where we already have active [Page 122] insurgency should be automatically removed from the list, and handled as special cases requiring drastic measures. In this case the new machinery’s purview would be properly limited to countries where a greater preventive effort is required to forestall any Vietnams occurring in the first place.
I do not share Taylor’s view that our organization overseas is relatively satisfactory, while the big problem is in Washington. As I watch them in practice, few of our ambassadors pay enough attention to counter-subversion and even fewer of their AID, MAAG, or CIA subordinates. So any new LBJ letter to ambassadors should not only strengthen the ambassadors’ authority but give them a boot in the tail. By the same token, any new NSAM should not simply realign responsibilities, but also express the President’s judgment that more effort is required both in Washington and abroad.
R.W. Komer
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Gen Taylor. Secret.
  2. See the attachment to Document 50.
  3. Counterinsurgency.