150. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Shultz) to President Nixon1


  • Country Programming


A critical determinant of the success of our national security and foreign policies is the effectiveness with which we integrate the policies and programs in key countries such as South Vietnam, Jordan, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, and Cambodia. These are the countries where the Nixon Doctrine will succeed or fail. They play pivotal roles in the balance of power in their regions.

These countries have the fullest U.S. involvement, encompassing in most cases a U.S. force presence, a large military assistance program, and economic development and supporting assistance programs, in addition to the usual U.S. trade, educational, cultural, and information efforts.

Despite the importance of these countries to our foreign policy objectives:

  • We lack an overview of all of our programs in these countries. Our programs are often not consistent with our primary policy goals. In Thailand, for instance, a recent country programming effort found that, despite the Nixon Doctrine, as U.S. forces withdraw, our total assistance to the Thai was scheduled to decline. No one (except the Thai) had added up the total of our effort.
  • Our programs are fragmented and often contradictory. We found recently that our PL 480 rice sales to Indonesia to stabilize its economy had all but pre-empted Thailand’s traditional export market. Thus, while we had an economic development program in Thailand, it was more than offset by the effect of low rice prices (caused in part by our rice exports to Indonesia) on Thai rural incomes.
  • There is little attempt to make program trade-offs. It takes major bureaucratic surgery to obtain $10 million a year for three Thai special guerrilla units, yet a 10% cutback in U.S. fast-moving jet sorties for one month would save $10 million. It is always easier to spend money on our own forces than on someone else’s. The key aspect of the Nixon Doctrine is how best to develop local capabilities to substitute for U.S. capabilities, but our options are rarely presented in such trade-off terms.

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Country Programming

We have worked on these problems on an ad hoc basis from the beginning of your Administration. For example, the Korea study was a path-breaking effort to develop explicit options on possible trade-offs between U.S. forces and local forces assisted by military and economic assistance.

From our programming experience with Korea, Cambodia, Thailand and aspects of our effort in Vietnam, we have developed a country programming approach to the problems cited above. Country programming:

  • —pulls together in one presentation all major U.S. and U.S.-supported programs related to a particular country allowing one to view both the totality of our effort and its major thrusts in relation to our objectives;
  • —permits analysis of key program trade-offs, for example, between U.S. and local forces;
  • —facilitates the development of options on central issues such as: (a) assistance for economic growth versus assistance for stabilization (Indonesia), (b) ground versus air interdiction in South Laos, and (c) balanced local air/ground/navy forces versus local force specialization (e.g., in ground forces) complemented by U.S. (air and naval) forces.

We are recommending that you approve the implementation of a country programming effort limited to a short list of key countries. Such an effort would enable the highest levels of this Administration to give attention to the problems identified above in South Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Korea, India, Indonesia, and Jordan. (These are the obvious candidates, although the list could be modified at the initiative of State, Defense or CIA.)

For these countries, before FY 1973 budget decisions are made, a Country Programming Memorandum (CPM) would be completed and submitted to the Senior Review Group and, if necessary, to you for final decision.

The CPM would be prepared under the technical direction of the NSC and OMB staffs. It would be developed by an inter-agency committee chaired by the agency with major program responsibility in the particular country. This set up would insure that State and DOD have the fullest opportunity to exercise leadership of these studies within the NSC system.

At Tab A is a proposed NSDM to implement the country programming effort we have outlined.2

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We believe that the country programming effort just described will play a vital role in the strengthening the basis for decisions on national security affairs and that it should be undertaken as soon as possible.


That you authorize the issuance of the NSDM at Tab A.3

Henry A. Kissinger
George P. Shultz
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–224, National Security Decision Memoranda, NSDM 112. Confidential. Sent for action. A notation on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. The President initialed his approval. The memorandum is attached to a note card on which Kissinger wrote: “We ought to make clear who gets the chairmanship of the first countries in directive to ease gas pains. Perhaps separate directive.” In a June 7 memorandum to Kissinger, Smith submitted a revised NSDM for Kissinger’s signature and a “supplementary memorandum” which, according to Smith, “attempts to avoid ill-feeling in State by stressing State’s responsibilities while placing the exercise fully in the NSC system” and “reduces agency resistance by stressing that the CPMs will deal with a few policy issues and not with the details of individual programs.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–224, National Security Decision Memoranda, NSDM 112) Kissinger signed both documents (see Document 151).