267. Aide-Mémoire From the Director, National Security Agency (Gayler) to Director of Central Intelligence Helms 1


  • NSA Plan for a Central Security Service

As possibly useful background in your discussions with Defense and the Congress I want to outline the status of actions relating to the formation of a Central Security Service (CSS).

As requested by Mr. Laird, I submitted on 1 February an organization plan for the CSS. Mr. Laird sent the proposal to the JCS for comment. After much intensive study and discussion, including several conversations between the Chiefs and myself, and some revisions to the original proposal,2 the Chairman yesterday notified SecDef of JCS concurrence in the plan. It is now with him for approval.

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The plan provides for:

  • • a unitary SIGINT system, with centralized management and decentralized or centralized operations, pragmatically decided;
  • • functional division of responsibilities among NSA, CSS, and the Service Cryptologic Agencies;
  • • mission and staff responsibilities to be assigned on a nonduplicating basis: NSA to manage, task, and produce; CSS to operate; SCA’s to provide men, equipment, and facilities which constitute the CSS;
  • • a joint staff serving the Chief, CSS; staff functions absorbed largely from previous SCA operations staffs;
  • • added emphasis to serving specific needs of the tactical military commanders;
  • • improved system-wide coordination of planning and programming, logistics, RDT&E, and specialized SIGINT communications;
  • • improved system-wide coordination of both military and civilian career programs;
  • • improved system-wide coordination of cryptologic training;
  • • added attention to system design and operations research;
  • • procedures for improved dialogue between SIGINT producers and SIGINT users.

The CSS will consist largely of the present field operating stations of the SCA’s. The CSS Chief and his staff will direct field operating elements authoritatively. Advantages accrue from consolidation of various staffs into the Joint Staff of the CSS, improved interface between the SIGINT system and its users, and a better potential to zero in on the specialized needs of the military commander.

I have attached for reference a copy of the Executive Summary to the Plan as originally proposed.3

Warm regard

Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry Files, Job 80–B01086A, Box 12, Folder 386, NSA/Central Security Service. Secret; Handle Via Comint Channels Only.
  2. In a February 29 memorandum Hall notified Laird that Gayler’s plan for the establishment of CSS was received on February 1 and referred for comments to the JCS, the military departments, and selected offices within Laird’s staff. “In general, reactions to the plan to date are negative. On 18 February, the JCS recommended the plan be returned to Admiral Gayler for rework, and this morning his revised plan was received.” (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 330 77 094, 020 NSA 1972)
  3. Not attached.