The Executive Committee
President Kennedy created a group of advisors known as the Executive Committee of the United States National Security Council on October 16. This hand-picked group of 19 men helped Kennedy through the crisis. From providing intelligence briefings, to editing Kennedy's letters, to arguing over the best course of action, EX-COMM proved to be an irrefutable way to manage the crisis. The group consisted of America's best and brightest--almost all had prestigious collegiate backgrounds, and all were highly motivated to perform at their best.
Statutory members included:
In addition, the EX-COMM unofficially included:
Deputy Under Secretary of State U. Alexis Johnson
Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze
former Secretary of State Dean Acheson
private advisers John McCloy and Robert Lovett
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Adlai Stevenson
Deputy Director of the USIA Donald Wilson
Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Edwin Martin
Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Charles Bohlen
President Kennedy chaired the Executive Committee.
Under Secretary of State in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations as a member of EX-COMM. George Ball was a prominent dove during the Cuban Missile Crisis, arguing repeatedly about the importance of avoiding irreversible actions that might have severe unintended consequences. As such, he was a strong proponet of the quarantine of Cuba and a critic of those advocating stronger military action, such as an air strike against the missile sites or an invasion of the island.
Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and a member of EX-COMM. Dillon had wide experience with nuclear diplomacy after being Ambassador to France and Under Secretary of State during the Eisenhower Adminstration. While in Paris he handled the interchange between the French, who requested American nuclear assistance in Vietnam, and the Eisenhower Adminstration which refused. Dillon was a prominent hawk in the EX-COMM.
Special Counsel to President Kennedy and a member of EX-COMM. Author of several works on the Kennedy Administration and Presidency. Sorensen was President Kennedy's Chief of Staff, close political advisor, and confidant. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Sorensen drafted most of the President's key letters and speeches. He was a dove throughout, and a cautious advocate of the quarantine. His book, Kennedy remains a standard account of the Kennedy Presidency.
Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Kennedy and a member of EX-COMM. Paul Nitze was the primary drafter of the National Security Council Memorandum 68 (NSC-68), which formalized the Truman Administration's doctrine of Containment. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he was a forceful hawk who strongly believed that the United States' conventional superiority in the Caribbean and its stragetic nuclear superiority over the Soviet Union, assured an American victory. He also lead the Berlin Task Force charged with constructing possible responses to an anticipated Soviet move against Berlin.
General Maxwell Taylor
Army Chief of Staff under President Eisenhower and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Kennedy Administration and a member of EX-COMM. General Taylor described himself during the Cuban Missile Crisis as a "twofold hawk" who, like the other Chiefs of Staff, advocated stronger action against the Soviet missiles in Cuba.