337. Letter From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Packard) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson)1

Dear Alex:

I agree completely with the point made in your 2 August letter to me that all U.S. Government activities and organizations abroad coming under the jurisdiction of the Chief of Mission must be responsive to the direction and supervision of the Ambassador.2 I also agree that the Ambassador must be kept fully informed of all activities having policy implications. As you know, applicable DOD directives and terms of reference governing the MAAG’s clearly stipulate the status of the MAAG’s in the U.S. Mission and the responsibilities of the Chief of the MAAG to the Ambassador. MAAG Chiefs are, of course, also responsible to the Secretary of Defense because of the responsibilities assigned to him by the Foreign Assistance Act and the Foreign Military Sales Act. They are, as well, under the military command of the Commanders of the Unified Command to which the MAAG is assigned.

While I understand your desire “to ensure that the Chief of Mission has access to all communications to or originated by subordinate DOD elements which are part of the U.S. Mission,” I believe the procedures you suggest to accomplish this objective are unnecessarily restrictive.3 I suggest, instead, that communications procedures be modified to require that all significant messages having policy implications to or from subordinate in-country DOD elements which are part of the U.S. Mission include the applicable U.S. Embassy as an information addressee. I am sure you will agree that routine administrative and technical traffic concerning spare parts, personnel accounting, etc., can be exempted from this requirement. This would give full effect to the President’s directive that Ambassadors have “the right to be kept informed … of all the information or recommendations reported by an element of the Mission,”4 [Page 750] without vitiating the Secretary’s statutory responsibilities for Military Assistance and Sales, or command relationships between the MAAG Chiefs, the Secretary of Defense, and the Unified Commanders. Attached is a redraft of your proposed Joint State/Defense message which reflects these suggestions.5

We in the Department of Defense believe that the basic organizational relationships between the MAAG’s, the DAO’s, and our Diplomatic Missions are sound and have been working effectively for some years. I was, therefore, very concerned to learn that there have been misunderstandings between individuals assigned to Diplomatic Missions and their Ambassadors. I would appreciate it if you could send me the details of these incidents so that I can see that corrective action is taken.


  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, ORG 1. Confidential.
  2. In his August 2 letter, (ibid.) Johnson stated that he had “been struck over the past several months by the number of misunderstandings between individuals in the field assigned to Diplomatic Missions and Ambassadors over the position of these people in the Diplomatic Mission and their responsibilities to the Ambassador. Some of these cases involved contravention of relationships which were established by President Nixon’s letter of December 9, 1969, to Chiefs of Mission” (Document 310).
  3. Johnson proposed dispatching a joint message that established procedures “to ensure that the Chief of Mission has access to all communications to or originated by subordinate DOD elements which are part of the U.S. Mission.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, ORG 1)
  4. Ellipsis in the source text.
  5. Not printed.