25. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Under Secretary of State (Richardson)1

The President has ordered a ten per cent reduction in all American overseas civilians directly hired by the U.S. Government and certain American military personnel overseas. Each agency with personnel overseas will be required to meet the ten per cent quota, and reductions will be made on a country-by-country basis, insofar as practicable. The reduction should take account of national security priorities and special local problems, without prejudice to the objective of ten per cent for each agency. Attention should be given to the political problems raised by cuts in U.S. personnel in Thailand. Civilian personnel in South Vietnam will be cut by more than ten per cent.2

The President has directed the Under Secretaries Committee to report by September 30 its plans to carry out this directive, and actions already undertaken. Monitoring will thereafter be the responsibility of the Bureau of the Budget, which should make quarterly reports to the Under Secretaries Committee.

It is anticipated that the reductions will approximate 14,900 military and 5,100 civilian personnel.

The reductions will be based on the actual strengths as of June 30, 1969, as determined by the Bureau of the Budget for the Under Secretaries Committee, minus outstanding BALPA cuts and other programs of reductions which have been approved.

The reductions do not apply to U.S. military forces committed to NATO or in Berlin or essential to their support, to forces stationed in Korea or in Vietnam, or to units stationed elsewhere in Southeast Asia that are directly engaged in related military operations. The exception in these areas does not, however, apply to direct-hire or contract U.S. civilian personnel working with our military commands there.

Peace Corps Volunteers, but not administrative personnel, are also exempted.

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The reductions should commence as soon as possible, and must be completed during FY 1970.

The Committee should also consider means of reducing the number of foreign personnel hired locally by U.S. agencies abroad. Special study should be given to means of reducing U.S. contract personnel whose contracts are not directly with the U.S. Government.

Defense and CIA will together prepare plans for the reduction in Intelligence Community personnel, submitting these plans for review by the Under Secretaries Committee working group. Recommendations will be made in consonance with the priorities for intelligence coverage established by the United States Intelligence Board, and the objective of a reduction of ten per cent in overseas personnel will be accomplished in such a way as to cause the least possible loss of access to intelligence needed for national security purposes.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 73 D 288, Box 838, NSC/USC Memos. Secret.
  2. This memorandum launched Operation Reduction, OPRED, a military and civilian counterpart to the balance-of-payments/budgetary REDCOSTE exercise already underway in Europe. For a statement regarding the OPRED objectives and the Department of State’s November 24 announcement of post closings to comply with the July 21 directive, see Department of State Bulletin, December 22, 1969, p. 591.