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Operations Coordinating Board

Karl Kinaski

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quote: wiki

The Operations Coordinating Board was a committee of the United States Executive created in 1953 by President Eisenhower's Executive Order 10483. The board, which reported to the National Security Council was responsible for integrating the implementation of national security policies across several agencies.

The board's membership was to include the Under Secretary of State, who was to chair the board, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Director of the Foreign Operations Administration, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the President's Special Assistant for Psychological Warfare. Also authorized to attend were the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs and the Director of the United States Information Agency.

The creation of the board was a recommendation of the Jackson Committee, chaired by William Harding Jackson, set-up to propose future United States Government information and psychological warfare programs. The same committee recommended the existing Psychological Strategy Board be abolished.[1]

The Operations Coordinating Board was abolished by President Kennedy on February 19, 1961.

Does anyone know Kennedys reasons for doing that? Who recommended it? Was that a prudent move with the Bay of Bigs ahead?



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Council of Foreign Affairs has some information...


On 19 February 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued a Statement abolishing the Operations Coordinating Board:

"I am today issuing an Executive Order abolishing the Operations Coordinating Board. This Board was used in the last Administration for work which we now plan to do in other ways. This action is part of our program for strengthening the responsibility of the individual departments. First, we will center responsibility for much of the Board's work in the Secretary of State. He expects to rely particularly on the Assistant Secretaries in charge of regional bureaus, and they in turn will consult closely with other departments and agencies. This will be our ordinary rule of continuing coordination of our work in relation to a country or area."

Second, insofar as the Operations Coordinating Board - as a descendent of the old Psychological Strategy Board - was concerned with the impact of our actions on foreign opinion - our "image" abroad - we expect its work to be done in a number of ways; in my own office, in the State Department, under Mr. Murrow of USIA, and by all who are concerned with the spirit and meaning of our actions in foreign policy. We believe that appropriate coordination can be assured here without extensive formal machinery.

Third, insofar as the Operations Coordinating Board served as an instrument for ensuring action at the President's direction, we plan to continue its work by maintaining direct communication with the responsible agencies, so that everyone will know what I have decided, while I in turn keep fully informed of the actions taken to carry out decisions. We of course expect that the policy of the White House will be the policy of the Executive Branch as a whole, and we shall take such steps as are needed to ensure this result.

I expect the senior officials who served as formal members of the Operations Coordinating Board will still keep in close and informal touch with each other on problems of common interest. Mr. Bromley Smith, who has been the Executive Officer of the Operations Coordinating Board, will continue to work with my Special Assistant, Mr. McGeorge Bundy [bundy was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations ], in following up on White House decisions in the area of national security. In these varied ways we intend that the net result shall be a strengthening of the process by which our policies are effectively coordinated and carried out, throughout the Executive Branch.""

Kennedy's executive order didn't dissolve the Operations Coordinating Board, it made it invisible. The OCB became an ad hoc committee called the "Special Group." In The CIA File, author David Wise writes, "In The Invisible Government, published in 1964, Thomas B. Ross and I disclosed for the first time the existence of the "Special Group," the interagency government committee customarily cited by intelligence officials as the principal mechanism for control of covert operations. The special Group was also known during the Eisenhower years as the 54/12 Group and has been periodically renamed as the 303 committee - after a room number in the Executive Office Buildings - and during the Nixon administration, it acquired the name "Forty Committee. "... It was this committee to which Allen Dulles was referring when he wrote in a now famous statement, 'The facts are that the CIA has never carried out any action of a political nature, given any support of any nature to any persons, potentates or movements, political or otherwise, without appropriate approval at high political level in our government outside the CIA. '" [14]

In 1975, Philip Agee, in the CIA DIARY, links the "Special Group" to the Operations Coordinating Board. A box on an organization chart writes, "Operations Co-ordination Board (OCB) (later renamed the 54-12 Group, The Special Group, the 303 group and the 40 Committee) Director of Central Intelligence, Under Secretary of State, Deputy Secretary of Defense are ad hoc members. " [15]

Air Force Intelligence Officer L. Fletcher Prouty writes, "During the Eisenhower years the NSC, which at times was a large and unwieldy body, was reduced for special functions and responsibilities to smaller staffs. For purposes of administering the CIA among others, the NSC Planning Board was established. The men who actually sat as working members of this smaller group were not the Secretaries themselves. These men are heads of vast organizations and have many demands upon their time. This means that even if they could attend most meetings, the essential criteria for leadership and continuity of the decision making-process simply could not be guaranteed. Thus the sub-committee or special group idea was born, and these groups were made up of men especially designated for the task. In the case of the Special Group, called by many codes during the years, such as "Special Group 5412/2," it consists of a designated representative of the President, of the Secretary of State, of the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of The Central Intelligence Agency in person. This dilution of the level of responsibility made it possible for the CIA to assume more and more power as the years went by, as new administrations established their own operating procedures, and the control intended by the law became changed." [16] Prouty is understating what "this dilution did" -- it made it impossible to dissolve the Special Group.

Key players in the "Secret Team" of the


Edited by Bernice Moore
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@ Bernice- thx for the prompt answer...it is my understanding, that Kennedys move was an attempt of creating new and faster decision making processes and an attempt of a simple transfer of power- from such confusing boards and committees to the White House...a prelude to his NSAMs 55,56, 57, which were not only triggered by the BOP fiasco...

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Thanks to Bernice for that information. Here's that February 19 statement by President Kennedy in a more "official" format: http://quod.lib.umic...=100;view=image

Memo from the Department of State (George McGhee) to Bundy: http://history.state...s1961-63v25/d10

President Eisenhower's Executive Order 10483, establishing the OCB: http://www.presidenc...x.php?pid=60573

President Kennedy relied heavily on the advice of Richard E Neustadt in terms of making changes during the transition from the Eisenhower administration. It was Neustadt that first suggested dismantling the OCB. The memos make for fascinating reading: http://www.jfklibrar...OF-064-011.aspx

Simply put, President Kennedy was totally restructuring the National Security System. The eventual creation of the DIA was a major part of that, of course.

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I think John will want to give Richard E Neustadt a Spartacus page. Neustadt was an expert, among other things, in the field of national security.

A couple of excerpts from a short biography written by a Harvard Kennedy School colleague:

Dick remembered President-elect Kennedy’s saying during the 1960–61 transition that he knew no one at the CIA except Richard Bissell,

then head of the agency’s operational wing. Bissell had once taught economics at Yale and had been teacher or colleague for some of Kennedy’s

close-in aides. He had also had an important role in the Marshall Plan. An unexamined stereotype based on this knowledge of Bissell’s

background helped to make Kennedy less skeptical than he should have been when Bissell came to the Oval Office in early 1961 as chief advocate

for the plan to put a brigade of Cuban exiles ashore in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Dick believed that Kennedy would have been better served

if members of his staff had given him more information about Bissell’s recent role as chief salesman for covert operations and had also enabled him

to “place” the CIA as an organization and Bissell’s directorate in particular. Kennedy might have learned that the CIA’s directorate

of intelligence was forbidden to report its own view that there would be little or no support in Cuba for the Bay of Pigs brigade and that Bissell’s

own number two, Richard Helms, had strong but muffled misgivings about the operation.


Kennedy’s murder—Dick always used that noun in preference to the more ambiguous term “assassination”—led in time to Dick’s leaving Columbia for Harvard,

where he added the image of “founding father.” In the Institute of Politics he brought together on the one hand Washington luminaries such as Jacqueline Kennedy

and Averell Harriman and, on the other hand, an eclectic mixture of professors and students from Harvard’s varied faculties.


Neustadt wrote this book on the Skybolt Crisis after his report to JFK was declassified: http://www.amazon.co...y/dp/0801436222

Neustadt's NY Times obituary: http://www.nytimes.c...presidents.html

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from the book......


In March 1963, President Kennedy asked Richard E. Neustadt to investigate a troubling episode in U.S.-British relations. His confidential report-intended for a single reader, JFK himself, and classified for thirty years-is reproduced in its entirety here. The Anglo-American crisis arose out of a massive misunderstanding between the two governments. The British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, had been operating on the assumption that Washington would proceed with, and sell for British use, an airborne missile system named Skybolt. In its defense planning, the United Kingdom relied on Skybolt to sustain its nuclear deterrent. The Americans, however, decided to cancel the program. This decision rocked the British government and seriously strained Anglo-American relations.Upon reading Neustadt's report, Kennedy passed it to his wife, Jacqueline, remarking, "If you want to know what my life is like, read this." She had it with her in Texas five days later, when he was killed. Today the document remains fascinating for the insight it provides into American-style foreign policymaking. This volume adds to the report Kennedy's comments, a glossary, a cast of characters, and new information gleaned from recently declassified British files.......thanks michael b

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