86. Letter From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration (Crockett) to the Country Director for Iran (Eliot)1

Dear Mr. Eliot:

I have been asked by many officers to make clearer what the Country Director is, what is expected of him, and how he should operate.

I would like you and your staff to have the following thoughts on this subject. These thoughts reflect the Secretary’s deep and personal interest in and support of the Country Director concept, as well as my own views.

The Country Director is not mentioned in the President’s directive to the Secretary, but the need for the Country Director is implicit in the interdepartmental responsibilities placed on the Secretary and the Department. The Secretary spoke to that need when he referred to establishment of the Country Director position in his statement to the Department and the Foreign Service.

Full understanding of the Country Director starts with an understanding of the action requirements placed by the President on the Department and the Foreign Service.2

First, the Department is clearly committed to action—with leadership responsibilities for insuring that programs of other foreign affairs agencies are not only well-conceived to carry our policy, but do, in fact, succeed in their purpose.

This broader action responsibility requires a Presidential point of view—a concern for the success of all U.S. agencies’ missions abroad. The Department is not a competitor in conflict with other agencies, but the President’s representative looking at foreign affairs across the board and across programs.

The Department has special responsibility for broad policy development and for sensitivity to the international political impact of U.S. actions. It must also take into account possible domestic effects of foreign [Page 184] affairs activities. But these responsibilities are not to be viewed as the specialized interests of one Department in competition with the specialized interests of other agencies. Rather, the Department’s policy considerations must accommodate the totality of U.S. objectives, including foreign affairs operating programs, so that they are truly Presidential in outlook—not parochial and bureaucratic.

The Department must look outward for ideas. Officers at all levels should seek suggestions and ideas for foreign policies and programs from other agencies. They should urge their colleagues throughout the government to contribute to their thinking. Their antennae should constantly be out in search of the hitherto unexplored approach.

The broader responsibility of the regional bureaus requires them to make full use of the ideas and assistance of the functional bureaus and offices, which play vitally important roles in interdepartmental leadership. This is particularly necessary in the areas of policy planning, economics, public affairs, science and technology, cultural and educational affairs, international organization affairs and administration.

One more thing. Leadership does not imply stifling of important divergences of views. There is no justification for delay based on purely bureaucratic rivalries. There is, however, a great and over-riding need to ensure that divergent views of substance and importance be sharply identified and promptly submitted to higher authorities for decision. New organizational responsibilities may not be used to shield the Secretary and the President from controversy which can properly be resolved only at the highest level.

Against the background of these basic principles, the Country Director’s reason for existence, his role and his responsibilities can be briefly outlined.

International relations are in large part carried out on a bilateral country-to-country basis.

It is at the country level that most crisis-related issues first become visible, at which interrelated programs must be developed for the most effective use of all government and domestic resources, and at which implementing action starts.

It is in the country context that the Ambassador and the field mission must be served and backstopped.

Informed, timely focus on day-to-day interdepartmental activities in the country context is necessary for timely accurate definition of major issues requiring action at the level of the regional bureau and the Secretary.

The Country Director thus is the essential block on which Assistant Secretaries, the Interdepartmental Regional Groups and the Senior Interdepartmental Group build.

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The Country Director, for assigned countries, must exercise the same leadership, foresight, government-wide overview and wisdom that the Secretary and the Assistant Secretaries exercise at their levels and that the Ambassador exercises at the diplomatic mission.

To meet this challenge the Country Director must—

  • —have insight into and appreciation of the total range of the President’s interest, concern and responsibility for all U.S. activities both at home and abroad
  • —appreciate the objectives and potentials of the entire spread of programs which implement foreign policy
  • —understand the meaning and techniques of leadership
  • —have a profound sense for timeliness and decisiveness in action, and for anticipating and heading off problems
  • —know the difference between serving as a focus of action in contrast to acting as a supervisory layer in a hierarchical structure
  • —be able to distinguish between decisions which should be made at the Country Director level, and those which can be made only at a higher level

The Country Director sees that the Ambassador’s needs are served both within the Department and government-wide. He assures that the mission is fully supported in the full range of its requirements: policy, program, resources, operations and administration.

For example, the Country Director must—

  • —provide policy guidance on which operating agencies will base their programs
  • —insure that recommended programs of the various agencies are consistent with and support U.S. policy objectives and provide the most effective total use of proposed U.S. resources
  • —develop devices for ensuring interdepartmental implementation of decisions requiring interdepartmental action
  • —maintain continuing purposeful contacts with other agencies’ representatives, and establish channels for prompt interchange of information on policies, country developments, potential crisis situations and similar matters
  • —marshall his interdepartmental team to meet IRG and SIG requests, and bring his detailed knowledge to IRG discussions when his assigned country is concerned
  • —maintain constant readiness on an interdepartmental basis to anticipate and meet crises, and serve as the base for crisis task force operations when necessary

It is for the Country Director to decide when to meet with other agencies’ representatives or with members of functional bureaus; how to bring them into problems; what mechanisms to establish; how to inspire officers to work as a team. The essential is that he rise to the challenge of creating a Government-wide approach characterized by intelligence, imagination and timely action.

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The Country Director must learn to think, act and provide leadership for his team in much the same sense as the Ambassador does for his.

I am certain that you personally realize how crucial the Country Director is to the Secretary’s and the Department’s new responsibilities. The way in which this concept evolves in the next months and years will depend on you, and on other officers assigned to Country Director positions. In the words of the Secretary, “no organizational chart can substitute for the abilities and attitudes of people.”

In the period immediately ahead, my staff and I will welcome your frank comment and reactions. Particularly, let me know in what ways I can be useful in this effort.


William J. Crockett
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, ORG 1–1. No classification marking. The same letter was apparently sent to all Country Directors. The text of the letter was included in the appendix to A Management Program for the Department of State (see Document 84), under the heading Country Director Doctrine. For information on the development of the Country Director system, see William I. Bacchus, Foreign Policy and the Bureaucratic Process: The State Department’s Country Director System (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974).
  2. For text of Rusk’s statement on March 4, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1966, pp. 1128–1129.