33. Memorandum From the Director of the Program Analysis Staff, National Security Council (Lynn) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Role of Program Analysis Office

On April 9 you signed a NSSM which directs a study of Post Vietnam Asian Policy.2 The scope of this study includes every major U.S. resource program in East Asia: military grant aids and sales, economic assistance, U.S. bases and forces, and the implications on these programs for the U.S. budget and balance of payments.

I did not see this NSSM in any form until after it had been signed. Now that a formal study of all U.S. resource programs in East Asia has been directed, what does that leave for my Program Analysis Office in the region? I am immediately exposed to the reasonable argument that any study I attempt in the region “is already being done.” Over the last few weeks, I have tried without success to obtain the cooperation of your staff on studies in East Asia, in particular, to get a first rate study of Thailand started. Now that I am confronted with this fait accompli, I feel I need to have a better understanding of how you view the role and purpose of my office.

Because I was not asked to comment on NSSM 38 before it went out over your signature and because it can be interpreted (and will be interpreted by the State Department) as pre-empting work which I have underway on East Asian countries, I think it sets a dangerous precedent. The NSSM says nothing about the need for in-depth analysis, and it will be undertaken by operators, yet it can and will be used to suppress the kind of analytical work which is badly needed and which I thought my office was designed to undertake.

The policy decisions that the study will bring forth will in effect dictate a wide variety of program decisions which in my judgment should not be made until we have undertaken the relevant program budgeting studies.

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For example, decisions are contemplated with respect to “SEATO,” “new regional arrangements,” “military forces and deployments,” “U.S. bases,” “military grant aids and sales,” “economic assistance,” and “budget and balance of payments costs.” In nearly every case program decisions are called for and I can see the results pouring concrete around our policy in, for example, Thailand in a way which precludes analysis. There is little doubt that SEATO and our bilateral ties with Thailand will be reaffirmed, base decisions will be made affecting U.S. forces in Thailand, planning decisions will be made which affect our aid and military assistance programs to Thailand, etc. All this will be accomplished without analysis of U.S. force effectiveness, of the possibilities of developing Thai forces, of the need and opportunities for economic assistance to Thailand, of the costs of alternative commitments, of the likelihood of the anticipated threats, etc.

The fact that the East Asia IG will conduct the study makes it inevitable that, as in the past, costly and possibly ineffective program commitments will be made by operating agencies. NSSM 38 can lead to a sterile product which serves up as policy recommendations the operators’ preferences buttressed by nothing more than the conventional wisdom. Meanwhile the possibility that the process of program analysis will affect the thinking of the State Department or obtain the necessary cooperation in Washington or in the field seem to me to have been all but precluded.

I have put together a bright and experienced staff. We have approached our analyses in a deliberate manner, seeking to lay the foundation for an analytical approach to program issues and related policies. Since this kind of work has never been done on a broad scale in the government, careful preparation is necessary both to obtain successful studies and to protect your interests with the agencies.

I have drafted a NSDM3 which I think is necessary to place our studies in the proper relationship with the results sought by NSSM 38 and other such NSSMs. I believe you should sign it. It is required to give us the latitude necessary for our work.

Since this subject affects my “vital interests” I would like to discuss it with you.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Staff Files—Staff Memos, Box 1050, Lynn, Laurence E., Jr. [Jan. 1969–Aug. 1970]. Secret; Eyes Only. Haig wrote in hand at the top of the first page: “File—Lynn says no longer necessary.”
  2. Reference to NSSM 38, April 10. (Ibid., Box 365, Subject Files, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSM 38)
  3. Attached but not printed. The proposed NSDM was not issued.