144. Action Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs (Spiers) to the Under Secretary of State (Irwin)1


  • DPRC

The DPRC has proven to be an important and worthwhile step in institutionalizing the role of State in the Defense budget process and in focusing the attention of senior officials on major Defense planning issues with fiscal or foreign policy implications. However, the performance of the DPRC has not matched our original expectations in many respects. I am particularly concerned that the working procedures within the DPRC are not contributing to the overall effectiveness of that organization and, in turn, limiting its usefulness to the President.

Among the positive contributions that the DPRC offers in the formulation of Defense policy are the following:

  • —Acts as a sounding board for top level ideas.
  • —Facilitates the exchange of information between Departments.
  • —Provides a vehicle for integrating, not just coordinating, various Defense programs.
  • —Helps to highlight crucial Defense problem areas for the President and informs him of various Department’s views (ABM).
  • —Elicits concrete guidance from the President.

While the DPRC has provided a desirable forum for the exchange of ideas among the top echelons of the various USG agencies, its specific accomplishments have been limited. In analyzing the purpose and history of the DPRC the following problem areas are noted:

DOD drafts most of the papers considered by the DPRC with minimum consultation or opportunity for study by other members prior to meetings.
The DPRC Working Group is not used effectively. It meets infrequently and does not get involved in preparing papers for DPRC consideration.
The DPRC, itself, meets sporadically, and with an agenda that is put together on an ad hoc basis. This provides little opportunity for research of complex issues at lower levels prior to meetings.
There is no apparent follow-up on many of the issues raised. There is no pressure to get projects out and reported back to DPRC.
The organization is not used to review NSSMs as originally intended.
Normally, there is no conclusion reached or even substantive agreement on issues discussed. (Except ABM.)
While we have taken the initiative on several occasions to bring problems and proposals before the Committee for discussion, there might be a better, more structured way of focusing on key issues. At present, there is no prescribed way of getting issues before the DPRC, and no apparent agreement on what types of issues should be raised and who should be responsible for introducing these issues to the DPRC.
DOD appears reluctant to use the DPRC to review such considerations as force size and deployments. This is perhaps the most critical of all the problems facing the DPRC. Unless DOD opposition to the full and candid use of the DPRC in resolving the more difficult Defense questions can be overcome, no amount of improvement in the working procedures of the DPRC will help to make the organization an effective management tool for assisting the President.

I recognize that a number of practical problems contribute to this state of affairs, but I believe we can and should improve upon the present system in order to make it more responsive to the needs of the President and his advisors. The following suggestions are offered:

We should propose more interagency drafting of DPRC papers.
We should urge that drafts be discussed at the staff level before senior-level review in DOD.
We should urge more meetings of the DPRC Working Group.
We should recommend a regular schedule of recurring discussion topics over a given Fiscal Year to facilitate advanced planning and study (i.e., 5-Year Force and Program Plan).
We should obtain agreement as to types and the scope of issues to be raised at the DPRC and a set procedure for bringing these issues before the Committee for review. We feel the ideal would be to have DOD prepare the basic paper and turn it over to the Working Group who, in turn, would review the paper for the purpose of highlighting and focusing attention on the key issues prior to submission to the DPRC.
We should encourage the monthly dissemination of a DPRC Working Group Status Report which would provide a description of the issue under study, the individual(s) responsible for the study, the expected completion date for presentation to the DPRC, and scheduled meeting date(s) of the Working Group for the coming month.


I suggest that you discuss our concern about the DPRC and the above suggestions informally with Dr. Kissinger at one of your upcoming [Page 303] luncheons.2 We have reason to believe that he and his staff share many of the views noted above. If you wish, we would be happy to discuss these matters with you prior to such a meeting.

A brief review and analysis of the DPRC to date is attached.3

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 74 D 164, KissingerIrwin Meetings. Secret with Top Secret attachment. Drafted by Robert Ainsworth of PM/ISP on March 2 and cleared by Leon Sloss (PM/ISP) and Weiss (S/PC).
  2. Veliotes forwarded Spiers’ memorandum to Irwin under cover of a March 15 memorandum in which he touched on the DPRC and three other topics for Irwin’s March 16 lunch with Kissinger. Irwin returned the memorandum to Veliotes with a note next to the DPRC item stating: “not discussed. Give me back for next luncheon.” (Ibid.) Kissinger and Irwin met for lunch on March 16 from 1:21 to 2:20 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76, Record of Schedule) No record of the discussion at the next luncheon has been found.
  3. Attached but not printed. There is no indication of approval of the recommendation. To the right is written: “Ron agrees no discussion required.”