72. Memorandum From the Staff Secretary, National Security Council (Watts) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Revised NSC Staff Arrangements
[Page 154]

At your direction, a revised National Security Council staff pattern follows:

I. The Planning Group

This group will have four broad areas of activity.


Identification of Problem Areas

Focused effort must be directed to the isolation and identification of potential problems in the near and middle-range future, as well as over the long haul. What kinds of questions need to be answered? What is the range of choices facing the USG? What actions can we begin to take in the immediate future to ward off or ameliorate these problems?

The operations staff rarely has the time to concentrate on such considerations. This must, accordingly, be a prime function of the planning group.

In many instances, problem areas which the planners identify will lead to operational requirements. In these cases the planners and operators will work together, with coordination by the Staff Secretary.

The operators, of course, will maintain contact with their counterparts in other agencies. At the same time, the planners will also develop ties with their logical counterparts, particularly in the new Office of Planning and Coordination in State.


Assessments and Choices

In order to provide Dr. Kissinger with constant intellectual stimulation over and above what is contained in the standard operational paper flow, the planners will be charged with developing think-pieces, policy options and alternative approaches on the entire range of National Security Affairs issues.

Clearly, such efforts may also have operational consequences. Again, it will fall upon the Staff Secretary to coordinate this with the operations staff.


NSC Planning

The NSC system needs constant idea regeneration if it is to maintain momentum. To this end, the planners must be concerned with planning questions to be channeled into the formal NSC system, just as the operators will be concerned with operational questions. The planners and the operators will work together in development of NSC papers, with primary responsibility dependent upon the topic at hand. The Staff Secretary will be responsible for coordination.

Crisis Management

The planning group can broaden staff strength at times of emergent and actual crises. The planners can provide support to the operators, as they form ad hoc emergency groups under the direction of Dr. Kissinger.

[Page 155]

The planning group will include:

Kennedy—Deputy Director
Morris (plus Africa)
Lord (plus UN)

II. Operations Staff

This remains largely unchanged. Close cooperation between operators and planners, as discussed above, will be critical.

Assignments would be:

Latin AmericaVaky/Nachmanoff

Europe—Sonnefeldt/Hyland/Lesh (Lesh will be replaced shortly by Arthur Downey from the Office of the Legal Adviser in State)

East Asia—Holdridge/Moor/Grant

Near East and South AsiaSaunders/Foster (Foster will be replaced shortly by Hoskinson)


United NationsLord

International Economic AffairsBergsten/Johnston/Hormats

Scientific Affairs (space cooperation, science and technology, CBW, disarmaments and Seabeds)—Behr. This area has much in common with Sonnenfeldt’s interests in SALT and NATO, so they need to work closely together. Behr will also have a special relationship with WSAG.

III. The Secretariat

The distribution and filing activities of Information Liaison (IL) will continue as is.

The same applies to the entire handling of day-to-day paper flow relating to operational actions. This includes screening of incoming messages, assignment of action, logging through of activities from start to finish, and keeping other agencies informed of decisions made. Overall immediate supervision of the logging and status function will be performed (under Mrs. Davis’ guidance) by John Murphy who will shortly join the staff. The regular and official channel for action, guidances and directives will be via the NSC Secretariat to the State Secretariat.

The most critical function is handling from beginning to end of NSC paper work. This includes scheduling, assuring that requisite papers for each meeting are on hand on time, preparation of books for each meeting (books for NSC and other meetings must be in Dr. Kissinger’s hands 48 hours in advance), note-taking, record-keeping and follow-up. These activities must be formally centralized in the Secretariat to provide continuity and a single voice and point of contact.

Notes at National Security Council meeting will be taken by Watts. Note-taking and record-keeping at all other meetings (Review Group, [Page 156] pre-NSC and pre-RG meetings, etc.) will be handled by Mrs. Davis.

The informal channels which exist between operators, planners and the program analysis staff, on the one hand and their counterparts in other agencies on the other must, of course, continue open and active. Only in this way, and through a constant monitoring of the entire system, will it be possible to get the kind of supervision and performance record that is required.

The Secretariat, working closely in each case with the appropriate concerned staff men, will establish and maintain a system of monitoring the status of action, including implementation of decisions, on all items that have been brought into the NSC system. The framework is now being worked out by Mrs. Davis and Guthrie, who has just joined the staff. In order to complete this operation as quickly as possible, Rodman will help out for the next few weeks. Once established, the system will be actively maintained by Davis and Guthrie, under the direction of Watts. Rodman will then move to his regular assignment on the Planning Staff.

The Secretariat will maintain close contact with various special groups, such as the Verification Panel, the Defense Program Review Committee and WSAG.

IV. Program Analysis Staff

This staff and its functions remain essentially unchanged. More emphasis needs to be placed on program budgeting, as Larry Lynn desires, and greater activity in this area is anticipated.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger–Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1969–77, Box 40, Administrative Files, National Security Council Organization (5), 8/19/69–12/1/69. Confidential. This memorandum is Tab B to a September 14 covering memorandum from Watts to Kissinger, which discusses some personnel actions. Tab A, suggested talking points for Kissinger’s use at the September 15 staff meeting, refers to the departure of Morton Halperin from the NSC Staff. In an August 15 memorandum to Kissinger in which he discussed two alternative approaches to planning in the NSC system, Halperin commented on his possible departure: “I must tell you frankly, the question of whether it makes sense for me to remain on the staff is related not only to the issue of the problems involved in my dealings with Defense and the question of my relations with the Assistants for Operations, but also to the question of whether, given your own style of operation, any job on the NSC staff involves enough responsibility and opportunity for independent initiative.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Name Files, Box 817, Halperin, Morton H.) In an August 22 letter to Kissinger, Halperin wrote: “I am prepared to stay on for a two-month trial period provided we can reach a clear understanding on my functions and provided that you communicate this understanding at a staff meeting as soon as you return from California.” Halperin attached a job description for himself as Chief, NSC Planning Group, and talking points Kissinger could use on the NSC system at a staff meeting. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger–Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1969–77, Box 40, Administrative Files, National Security Council Organization (5), 8/19/69–12/1/69) Halperin’s proposals apparently failed to prevent his departure. A draft of this memorandum, dated September 12, is ibid. A September 13 draft is in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 314, Staff Meetings.