345. Letter From Secretary of Defense Laird to Secretary of State Rogers1

Dear Bill:

With regard to your letter of May 18,2 I feel that the overall coordination between our departments concerning the functioning of the military elements of our diplomatic missions overseas is progressing well.

I further consider that the guidance contained in the President’s letter of December 9, 1969 to the Ambassadors3 is clear and is fully understood within the Department of Defense. The role of the Ambassador as the Chief of the Diplomatic Mission and the relationship between him and the various elements of his mission are clearly laid out in that letter and should not be the cause of any confusion either in Washington or overseas. I am pleased to note that the first responses from the ambassadors to your circular message indicate that relationships within the country teams are both amicable and effective.

As you mentioned in your letter, I continue to require a direct channel of communication and line of responsibility with the MAAGs and similar organizations in the missions in order to carry out my statutory responsibilities. I do not feel that this requirement conflicts with the authorities and responsibilities of the Chiefs of the Diplomatic Missions.

My staff will continue to coordinate closely with yours in these responsibilities of mutual concern. I would appreciate your bringing any specific problems in this regard to my attention. With best personal regards,


Melvin R. Laird
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, ORG 1. Confidential.
  2. Document 344.
  3. Document 310.