Secretary of State George P. Shultz, in an effort to improve long-range foreign policy planning, yesterday announced the formation of a five-member council to head his department's policy planning staff and to advise him on major issues.
The reorganization calls for the council members to serve as equal heads of policy planning under the chairmanship of Stephen W. Bosworth, whom Shultz previously had selected to direct the 26 foreign service officers and outside specialists on the staff.
The other members will be Peter Rodman, a senior fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Strategic and International Studies and a close associate of former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger; Jeremy Azrael, a Soviet affairs specialist and former professor at the University of Chicago; Paul H. Boeker, a career officer who has specialized in economic affairs, and Robert Osgood, a professor and former dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Their task, Shultz said, will be to help him find ways "of standing back and thinking a little more broadly and strategically about what it is you want to do and where it is you want to go."
In particular, he said, their job will be to work on problems other than "what is immediately in front of you" and to ensure that subjects that cut across specific geographic areas "don't fall between the cracks."
Bosworth cited as an example of "this cross-cut focus" the concern about the problems that many countries have been encountering in paying their international debt. That, he noted, "involves economic issues with political implications" that could affect many governments and institutions.
It also is among the subjects in which Shultz has shown the greatest interest. Department sources said the fact that he had asked the council to give it special attention was a sign of the new importance Shultz attaches to the planning staff.
The staff was founded in the postwar period by George F. Kennan, the architect of the Truman administration's "containment" policy toward the Soviet Union, and traditionally has been regarded as the department's in-house "think tank."
During recent years, however, some secretaries have tended to use it more as a speech-writing apparatus, and there have been frequent complaints within the department that the planning staff had moved too far afield of its original purpose.