209. National Security Decision Memorandum 2071 2


  • The Secretary of State


  • Procedures for Dealing with Various Types of Non-Military Incidents

The President has reviewed the Under Secretaries Committee report on this subject submitted by memorandum of the Under Secretary of State, dated February 24, 1972. He considers that there is a need for more uniform and clearly understood procedures within the government for dealing with various types of non-military incidents which could have an adverse impact upon the conduct of our foreign relations.

Accordingly, the President has confirmed that the Department of State has the primary responsibility for coordinating, with White House concurrence, government planning, actions, and public statements dealing with such incidents. He has directed that the Department of State Operations Center will function as the focal point of coordination. In this connection, he has directed that the following basic procedures for dealing with such incidents be put into effect immediately:

  • —All Departments and Agencies in receipt of this directive are hereby charged to establish a 24-hour watch supervised by a responsible officer, or such other comparable mechanism as will in the opinion of the Department/Agency and the Department of State be adequate to achieve the objectives of this directive. It will be the responsibility of this watch to advise the Operations Center of any incident that is developing in a way that could impact adversely upon U.S. foreign relations. Agency recommendations for dealing with the incident will likewise be made to the Operations Center. Watch officers shall be kept informed of all consultations concerning the incident between officials of various Departments and Agencies.
  • —The Operations Center will promptly inform appropriate Department of State officers and the White House Situation Room of such incidents, and will assure timely communication to the White House Situation Room of information concerning an incident and its development, proposed courses of action, and actions already taken.
  • —The Operations Center is charged with transmittal of guidance from the White House and the State Department to the relevant authorities.
  • —The coordination of press guidance shall be handled in conformity with the procedures described above.

The President further directs that the Chairman, Under Secretaries Committee, shall prepare detailed directives to implement this guidance. Departments and Agencies in receipt of this memorandum shall prepare internal implementing directives and watch lists for transmittal to the Chairman, Under Secretaries Committee, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the White House Situation Room, and the State Department Operations Center.

The President expects that each Department or Agency in receipt of this memorandum shall provide the fullest possible support to the Department of State in the discharge of its responsibilities under this guidance, including, as necessary, the assignment of supporting personnel to augment the coordination capabilities of the Operations Center.

The President has directed that the Under Secretaries Committee should monitor implementation of the procedures set forth in this memorandum for dealing with various types of non-military incidents, and should recommend improvements as necessary.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–239, NSDM 207 (3 of 4). Secret. Copies were sent to the Secretaries of Treasury, Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, and Transportation, and to the Attorney General, the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as the Directors of Central Intelligence, the United States Information Agency, and the Arms Control Disarmament Agency.
  2. The memorandum confirmed that in the event of a terrorist incident, all federal agencies should coordinate response efforts through the Department of State.