113. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1


  • Planning for Southeast Asia

I understand that following their recent trip to Southeast Asia, Members of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board expressed to you the need for more planning on our future political, military and economic involvement in Southeast Asia.

As indicated in the enclosed summary,2 the Administration has in fact done a great deal of planning for Asia—both within and outside of the NSSM series—and a very substantial portion of this has been done in the Department of State. Rather than observing a dearth, I am concerned as to what might be done to bring more order and greater consistency to these many efforts going forward in a multiplicity of contexts and forums.

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Looking over the record, and taking into account my talks with our Ambassadors at the recent Chiefs of Mission meeting in Tokyo, I believe our work on Asia can be improved in two respects:

  • —A senior group, short of the NSC, should provide a forum for substantive review and discussion of plans and programs for Asia—to the extent such planning efforts cannot be scheduled for, or do not warrant, NSC review. Many of these studies—even, in some cases, when commissioned in the NSSM series—do not now get a full and proper hearing—assuring that the best thinking of our planners be brought to bear on day-to-day operations.
  • —Even more urgent, these various plans and programs must be knit together in a multi-year strategy for the implementation of the Nixon doctrine. This was one of the principal points unanimously made by our Ambassadors at the Tokyo meeting. It should be one of the first tasks of the senior planning group.

A Planning Mandate for the Under Secretaries Committee

I believe that this planning function should be assigned to the Under Secretaries Committee, which would be restricted to its permanent membership for this purpose.

The Committee should schedule meetings from time to time to discuss our longer-term interests and objectives in Asia beyond the present emergency and to appraise current political and program issues— including negotiations, the security situation in Southeast Asia, U.S. and Asian forces posture objectives, aid and trade problems, relations with mainland China—as they bear on these longer-term concerns. As the occasion arises, the Committee should discuss and review planning documents prepared anywhere in the Government—although it should not, of course, preempt other NSC bodies and reviews.

These meetings would be informal but the Committee should, as it wishes, submit its thoughts to you in personal reports individually from its members or jointly through its Chairman.

To do its work properly, the Committee will require some staff support. A few months ago, I constituted a small in-house study group, under Ambassador Green’s chairmanship, which began to examine our options in Cambodia in the perspective of alternative outcomes in Southeast Asia, great power relations, and U.S. long-term objectives. This group, whose existence is classified, has done very useful work. A similar staff group, under Ambassador Green’s chairmanship, should support the deliberations of the senior group.

A Five-Year Strategic Plan for Asia

As one of its first tasks, the Committee should undertake the preparation of a five-year strategic plan for the implementation of the Nixon doctrine, taking into account the severe constraints imposed by ever-growing Congressional limitations and shrinking budgetary resources.

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Such a planning effort, which should involve senior levels of the Government on a continuing basis, is needed:

  • —to provide multi-year planning guidance for all the agencies of the U.S. Government;
  • —to provide concrete and specific guidance from which our Ambassadors can speak to our Asian friends and allies about our long-term intentions;
  • —to clarify for the Congress and, as appropriate, the American public the Administration’s specific long-term intentions and purposes in Asia.

Accordingly, the plan should relate U.S. forces posture planning, military and economic assistance, Asian and U.S. diplomatic and political programs and initiatives, and our continuing bilateral and multilateral commitments. If possible, it should be supported by a comprehensive inter-agency program budget in line with NSDM 4,3 which would provide multi-year program guidance.

This plan will not be easy to prepare during the present period of rapid change in Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, within the context of the Nixon doctrine, I believe an effort should now be made to define more precisely our long-term political, security and economic goals beyond the present emergency and relate current diplomatic and program decisions more closely to these objectives.


If you agree with the foregoing, I recommend that you authorize the issue of a NSDM or other appropriate directive, which would provide:

That the permanent members of the NSC Under Secretaries Committee (the Under Secretary of State, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) assume responsibility as a senior planning group for Asia.
That the Under Secretaries Committee be supported by a small interdepartmental staff group, under the chairmanship of Ambassador Green, for this purpose.
That you direct the Under Secretaries Committee to prepare a five-year strategic plan for the implementation of the Nixon doctrine, which would undertake a more precise definition of U.S. objectives in Asia, beyond Vietnamization, and encompass a political, security and development strategy for the area.4

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files) Box H–300, NSC System, Institutional File General, 1969 through 1974. Secret. Forwarded to the President by Kissinger under an August 3 covering memorandum (Document 114).
  2. The attachment, “Southeast Asia Planning,” is not printed.
  3. Document 13. The revised version of NSDM is Document 71.
  4. There is no indication of approval or disapproval of these recommendations.