121. National Security Decision Memorandum 851


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • The Director, Office of Emergency Preparedness
  • The Director, United States Information Agency


  • The National Security Council Senior Review Group

To assist me in carrying out my responsibilities for the conduct of national security affairs, I hereby direct the establishment of the National [Page 265] Security Council Senior Review Group which shall assume the functions of the present Review Group constituted by NSDM 2.2 This Senior Review Group will comprise the Under Secretary of State, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs who will act as Chairman. Depending on the issue under consideration, other agencies shall be represented at the discretion of the Chairman.

The Senior Review Group shall review papers prior to their submission to the National Security Council for consideration or to me for decision. These papers may be received from NSC Interdepartmental Groups, from NSC Ad Hoc Groups, or from Departments (at their discretion). The Senior Review Group shall be empowered to assign action to the NSC Interdepartmental Groups or NSC Ad Hoc Groups, as appropriate.

The role of the Senior Review Group shall be to assure that the issues have been sharply defined, all relevant factors considered, realistic alternatives with their costs and consequences clearly set out, and the views of all interested departments and agencies fairly and adequately presented. The Senior Review Group shall recommend whether a paper, after review by it, should be referred for consideration by the National Security Council, forwarded directly to me for decision or returned to the originating body for revision before further consideration by the Senior Review Group.

The Senior Review Group shall assume the responsibilities assigned by NSDM 79 to the Special Review Group for South East Asia3 and by memorandum of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs of January 2, 1970 to the Ad Hoc Group for the Middle East.

This memorandum supersedes Section B of NSDM 2.

Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–219, National Security Decision Memoranda, NSDM 85. Secret.
  2. Document 11.
  3. Document 117.