U.S. Department of State
96/09/26 Press Release FRUS: Vol. VII, 1961-1963, National Security Policy
Office of the Historian

For Immediate Release
September 26, 1996

Release of Foreign Relations Series: National Security Policy, 1961-1963

The Department of State is releasing today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961(1963, volume VIII, National Security Policy, a volume in the Department's long-standing historical documentary series. Volume VIII is one of many volumes documenting the foreign policies of the administration of John F. Kennedy.

The volume documents the Kennedy administration's major restructuring of the national security bureaucracy, which the preceding Eisenhower administration had systematically developed. President Kennedy abolished the Operations Coordinating Board, transferred some of the functions of the Planning Board to the Department of State, and consolidated the National Security Council and White House foreign policy staffers under his National Security Adviser, McGeorge Bundy. In so doing, he created the embryo of the modern NSC organization. The documents reveal that the policymaking process in the Kennedy administration swiftly reflected the organizational innovations. The White House set up ad hoc committees and working groups to deal with on- going crises, while the traditional NSC process of drafting approved interagency policy papers came to a halt. One paper the administration did take seriously was NSC 5906/1, "Basic National Security Policy," which was finally rescinded in January 1963 after 2 years of effort and disagreements.

The volume also contains documentation on the President's emphasis on counterinsurgency and paramilitary operations, stating the responsibilities of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in counterinsurgency as well as conventional warfare, requesting an inventory of U.S. paramilitary assets, and giving Special Group 5412 responsibility for paramilitary operations as well as covert activities. Another issue documented is the controversial "missile gap." One of the first public results of a concerted inquiry into the role, mission, and doctrine of strategic and conventional forces, which continued throughout the administration, was an administration-inspired newspaper story that the "missile gap" was unlikely to materialize.

The volume documents Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's recommendations for the FY 1963 defense budget of substantial increases in strategic capabilities and his subsequent shift to a greater emphasis on deterrence with a stress on assured destruction. While the debate on strategic policy was clearly focused, the Kennedy administration never succeeded in formulating a clear policy on tactical nuclear weapons. A consensus did exist, however, on the need for increased emphasis on non- nuclear forces, both conventional and for counterinsurgency.

An announcement and a summary of the contents of volume VIII are available in the Press Office. Ordering information is included in the announcement. A copy of the volume is available for reading and consultation in the Press Office, and other copies are available for consultation in the Office of the Historian.


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