103. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1


  • Moving Security Assistance to the Defense Budget

Secretary Laird has written to you proposing again this year that the funding of the Security Assistance program be transferred from the Foreign Assistance Act to the Defense Department Authorization and Appropriations bills.2 I believe the problem is sufficiently serious for me again to convey to you directly my strong opposition to the proposal.

The most significant problems with Secretary Laird’s proposal will be with the Congress. An attempt to shift jurisdiction for this program from the traditional committees would be opposed by some of the most helpful and most crucial supporters of our foreign policy on the Hill. The Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee continue strongly to support Chairman Morgan who is firmly committed against giving up jurisdiction on the one important substantive bill handled each year by his committee. Senator Stennis does not wish to handle the authorization of military assistance in his committee and is strongly opposed to attempts to alter jurisdictional responsibilities in the Senate in an effort to circumvent committees which now have jurisdiction. He made this point clearly and publicly in the recent Senate debates on the Jackson Amendment for Israel when he strongly opposed any shift in jurisdiction (Statement attached).3

We have been working hard at putting together a new set of Congressional supporters for development aid and Security Assistance. This requires moving many House and Senate conservatives formerly opposed to “foreign aid” to support the Security Assistance legislation. We believe that we have made progress in building a new coalition favoring Security Assistance and that this effort should not be jeopardized by a proposal for circumventing established committee jurisdictions.

Shifting Security Assistance funding to the Defense Department budget will not help to avoid the principal problems which we have had in the past—the determination of the Senate to add crippling [Page 250] amendments and to cut funds for Security Assistance. Rather I believe our effort to seek new support for Security Assistance is the best answer to the problem of cuts. Also a shift to the Defense budget will provide Administration critics in the Senate with a single and more vulnerable focal point to which to attach the kinds of crippling amendments which in the past they have tried to fix to the Foreign Assistance Act.

Secretary Laird has stated that moving Security Assistance would facilitate Defense Department planning to integrate support for allied forces with that for our own. However, it is foreign policy rather than force planning which has increasingly come to dominate our thinking about Security Assistance. This is certainly true with our major programs in Asia and the Middle East in such countries as Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and even to a considerable extent in Korea. I cannot agree to transfer control over these important foreign policy matters to the Defense Department.

With the increasing prospects for a settlement in Indo-China, we should be considering now, how and under what conditions we should move Laos and Vietnam from the Defense budget into the Security Assistance program, rather than contemplating a move in the opposite direction. Secretary Laird makes clear in his memorandum to you on this subject that: “In the event of a negotiated settlement in Southeast Asia, Congress has clearly indicated that Military Assistance Service Funded (MASF) for Southeast Asian countries will not be authorized beyond FY 1973”. I share his judgment on this point and believe it rules out a shift of Security Assistance to the Defense budget (MASF).

Curtis Tarr as Under Secretary for Security Assistance has been in the State Department for six months working on this program. I recently sent to you recommendations for the FY 1974 budget which he prepared after extensive study of the program designed to insure the broadest possible Congressional support.4 I believe we should give these recommendations a chance to work to gain the wide support which we need and should have in the Congress. Now is not the time to reverse the direction you have selected or the new steps we have already taken or propose to take. I believe our present direction is right and is the best course to find the necessary funding to insure that the approach of the Nixon Doctrine succeeds.

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 324, Foreign Aid, Volume II 1972. Confidential. Attached to a January 4, 1973, memorandum from Kissinger to Laird (see footnote 1, Document 101).
  2. Document 101.
  3. Not attached. In a list at the end of the memorandum, it is identified as an excerpt from the Congressional Record, July 31, 1972.
  4. Not found, but see Document 99.