CV 1958-1970

Daniel Ellsberg

Curriculum Vitae 1958-1970 (pre-Pentagon Papers)

Harvard University, B.A., Economics, 1948-52 (summa cum laude; Phi Beta Kappa).

King’s College, Cambridge University, Woodrow Wilson Fellow, 1952-53.

Harvard University, Society of Fellows, 1957-59.

Harvard University, Ph.D., Economics, 1962 (undergraduate and Ph.D. theses on decision-making under uncertainty).

Military Service

Officer, U.S. Marine Corps: rifle platoon leader, rifle company commander, operations officer, 1954-57. (Voluntarily extended enlistment for 8 months, 1956-57, to serve in Mediterranean during Suez crisis.)

Government Research, Consulting and Employment 1958-70

RAND Corporation, Santa Monica: Strategic analyst, Economics Department, 1958-64, 1967-70. (RAND is a non-profit research organization; Ellsberg’s work was on contract to the Air Force and, later, the Office of Secretary of Defense).

Consultant to the Defense Department, State Department and White House on command and control of nuclear weapons and on strategic nuclear war plans, 1961-64; on Vietnam options and lessons, 1967-69:

  • Task Force on CINCPAC (Commander-in-Chief, Pacific) Command and Control of Nuclear Weapons, 19589-60.
  • Joint Staff Study Group on Survivability of National Command and Control of Nuclear Weapons, December 1960.
  • Sole drafter of the general nuclear war section of the Secretary of Defense Guidance on Basic National Security Policy, 1961 (the highest-level Kennedy Administration policy guidance for the annual operational nuclear war plans of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). Consultant on SIOP (Single Integrated Operational Plan, the strategic nuclear war plan) Options.
  • Consultant to the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, McGeorge Bundy on strategic war plans on delegation of Presidential authority to execute nuclear war plans, 1961.
  • Consultant to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (drafted several major policy speeches, including final draft of Ann Arbor “no cities” speech, 1962, and annual top secret statement to NATO, December, 1963) 1961-63.
  • Consultant to Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric on strategic nuclear war planning. Reviewed for Mr. Gilpatric the annual Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan, the annual operational war plan of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1961-63.
  • Proposed and drafted the “Gilpatric Speech” at Hot Springs, VA, October 21, 1961, revealing U.S. strategic nuclear superiority, ending Soviet claims of “parity” and Khrushchev’s 1961 pressure on Berlin (but figuring, very regrettably, in Khrushchev’s decision to move medium-range missiles to Cuba in 1961).

  • Defense Directorate of Research and Engineering (DDR&E) Task Force on Limited War Research and Development, 1961.
  • Partridge Task Force (headed by General Partridge, formerly Commander, North American Air Defense Command) on Presidential Command and Control and Devolution of Presidential Authority, 1961.
  • Consultant to the Chairman of the Policy Planning Council, State Department, Walt W. Rostow, on Basic National Security Policy, 1962.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962: member both of Rostow Working Group on “long-range planning” (two weeks ahead)  and ISA Working Group (preparing invasion plans for the coming week), reporting to the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOM).
  • Sole researcher on Interagency Study of Presidential Decision-making in Nuclear Crises, for Policy Planning Council of the State Department, with special clearances higher than Top Secret and with access to high-level files of State Defense Departments, CIA, and Joint Staff, JCS, 1964.

Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs John T. McNaughton, 1964-65 (GS-18: highest Civil Service “super-grade,” civilian equivalent of Lt. General), working primarily on Vietnam policy during the escalation of the war, 1964-65.

Senior Liaison Office under Edward Lansdale, State Department (FSR-1, State Department equivalent of GS-18), U.S. Embassy, Saigon, South Vietnam, 1965-66. Member of Roles and Missions Study for Mission Council, 1966.

Special Assistant to Deputy Ambassador William Porter, U.S. Embassy, South Vietnam, 1967, evaluating pacification (involving considerable field observation of combat operations with ARVN and U.S. units).

McNamara Task Force on History of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68 (subsequently known as the Pentagon Papers), 1967-69. Original drafter of volume on 1961 Kennedy decisions. Sole researcher with authorized access to entire 43-volume study, as part of “Lessons of Vietnam” study at RAND Corporation, 1968-69.

Consultant to Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger, December 1968-March 1969. Drafter of Vietnam Options paper (presented to the National Security Council at its first meeting under Nixon) and of National Security Study Memorandum 1 (NSSM-1, a set of presidential questions and directed studies on Vietnam).


  • Reply rick go May 12, 2011 at 11:04 am

    You seem like someone that I would really like to sit down with over a large bottle of wine and reminisce about the future. If you are ever in East Asia, feel free to stop by. /rf/jp05112010

  • Reply Colleen Donahue May 2, 2011 at 4:02 am

    Dear Dr. Ellsberg,

    The University of Minnesota is having a small celebration to honor Professor John Chipman and the newly created John S. Chipman fellowship on Wed, May 4th. I just learned that you were a student of his and I thought if you had any memories you would like to share about Prof Chipman, we would be most honored to include your sentiments at the lunch. My apologies for not being able to give much time for your thoughts and to invite you to the luncheon. Best wishes, Colleen Donahue

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