243. Minutes of Secretary of Defense Laird’s Staff Meeting1


  • Mr. Laird
  • Mr. Packard
  • Mr. Froehlke
  • Mr. BeLieu
  • General Palmer (for Gen. Westmoreland)
  • Governor Chafee
  • Mr. Warner Admiral Zumwalt
  • Dr. Seamans
  • Dr. McLucas
  • General Ryan
  • General Chapman
  • Lt General Vogt
  • Dr. Rechtin (for Dr. Foster)
  • Dr. Hall
  • Mr. Henkin
  • Mr. Kelley
  • Mr. Moot
  • Dr. Nutter
  • Dr. Wilbur
  • Mr. Shillito
  • Dr. Tucker
  • Mr. Buzhardt
  • Mr. Wallace
  • Mr. Baroody
  • Mr. Johnson
  • Mr. Solomon
  • Dr. Walske
  • Mr. Friedheim
  • Mr. Peter Cook
  • B/General Pursley
  • R/Admiral Murphy
  • Colonel Furlong
  • Colonel Boatner
  • Mr. Livesay
[Page 545]

1. Attendance.

Mr. Laird began meeting 0932. He said he had asked Admiral Moorer to go to Thailand, Cambodia and Japan after their trip to South Vietnam. Admiral Moorer will be back this coming week-end. General Westmoreland is testifying this morning on the Okinawa Reversion Treaty; General Palmer is attending. Dr. Foster is meeting with his French and German counterparts; Dr. Rechtin is attending.

2. Secretary Laird’s Trip to South Vietnam.

[Omitted here are reports on Vietnam.]

3. New Intelligence Organization.

Mr. Laird said the new Intelligence organization announced by the President over the week-end2 has been worked on for 7 months. Before Mr. Froehlke left to become Secretary of the Army, he was working on the matter. He provided Defense comments on the report prepared for the President by Dr. Schlesinger, who was with OMB at that time.3 The part of the new organization that bothers Mr. Laird is that they included tactical intelligence, which we had recommended against. OMB feels we have been wasting millions of dollars in the tactical intelligence field. They feel each service is duplicating collection of data. Mr. Laird feels some duplication is necessary in this area. He asked Mr. Froehlke to comment.

Mr. Froehlke said he hoped someone would explain to him what really happened. It is his guess that CIA Director Helms may not be pleased with his new assignment. Mr. Laird said one change that happened while he was gone to South Vietnam is that Helms was to be Chairman of the Net Assessment Group, but it is now in the NSC staff. Mr. Froehlke said he felt it was impossible to put Mr. Helms in charge of all budgeting. Mr. Laird said this was language Mr. Froehlke agreed to. He is not to get involved with our budget detail. The meeting set up for today concerns this. He does not want everyone going over to the meeting today. Mr. Packard said we plan to send Dr. Hall and Fred Buzhardt only. It is his understanding that Mr. Helms has agreed not to get into our organization and tell us what to do. Mr. Laird said he thinks that is the way it ought to be. We do not want to get into difficulty over this situation.

Mr. Packard said it was important for everyone here to understand we made some moves of our own in the Intelligence field, including the appointment of Dr. Hall, to improve management of our Intelligence resources. The steps we have taken are in the right direction. He wouldn’t propose that OMB get into our business any more in the future than they have in the past. We will make the decisions. As far as [Page 546] net assessment goes, he doesn’t know how it will work and he personally doubts it will make any sense. We will continue to improve our ability to make net assessments, particularly net technical assessments. We want to provide better information to our services and commanders to improve their techniques and ways to deal with the enemy threats.

Mr. Packard said there are things directed to be done by the Department. We have been directed to consolidate the 3 services’ mapping activities into one agency. We should be able to do this under a scheme which would enable the requirement for each service to be fully responded to as well as those for the JCS and Unified and Specified Commanders. This is a problem we will have to work out among ourselves. In the field of tactical intelligence there are questions which can not be dealt with outside of this building. This involves military matters, tactics, command, etc. As far as the investigative activities are concerned, we will handle them along the lines Mr. Froehlke and the Defense Investigative Review Council set up. These functions will be transferred over to the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Intelligence). He thinks we can work under the new over-all procedures consistent with what we previously planned. We will keep on course and consider our previous plans carefully. As he indicated at his press conference last Thursday, we need less not more White House involvement.

Dr. Hall said there were two things about the new set up that were bothersome depending on which way they go. Mr. Laird said they might change the idea of taking Mr. Helms out of the assessment business. Mr. Packard said he felt our course would be to continue our own capability of making assessments. Mr. Laird said he is sure some people had gotten the wrong idea about this reorganization, that it will result in saving a billion dollars in the Department of Defense budget. They should not read this into the matter and this reorganization should not be sold on that basis. Dr. Seamans asked how did this discussion compare with the newspapers reporting Mr. Helms becoming the czar of the intelligence field. Mr. Laird thought this was the problem of reading only the first few paragraphs of the release. Mr. Froehlke said the placement of net assessment organization certainly came as a surprise to him. Mr. Laird said he had released a statement on the intelligence reorganization last Saturday.4

[Omitted here are reports and discussion on nine additional subjects.]

The meeting adjourned at 1038.

R. Eugene Livesay
Staff Secretary
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 330 76 028, Chron Files. Top Secret.
  2. Document 242.
  3. Printed as the second attachment to Document 229.
  4. A copy of the statement released to the press by Laird on November 6 is in the Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 330 76 028, Chron Files.