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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian > Foreign Relations of the United States > Kennedy Administration > Volume III
Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, Volume III, Vietnam, January-August 1963
Released by the Office of the Historian
Documents 1 through 18

I. Reassessment, January 1-March 14, 1963:
Hilsman-Forrestal Report, Wheeler Mission, Mansfield Report, Comprehensive Plan, Thompson Report

1. Editorial Note

On January 2, 1963, regular army and civil guard forces of the Republic of Vietnam engaged a Viet Cong battalion at the village of Ap Bac in Dinh Tuong province, 35 miles southwest of Saigon in the Mekong Delta. The South Vietnamese forces enjoyed a 4-1 numerical advantage in the battle, and, unlike the Viet Cong, were supported by artillery, armor, and helicopters. Despite the disparity of numbers and weapons, the Viet Cong battalion inflicted heavy casualties on the government forces and escaped with minor losses. Three American advisers were killed in the fighting and five helicopters were shot down.

The United States Army Command in the Pacific reported the battle to the Joint Chiefs of Staff as "one of the bloodiest and costliest battles of S. Vietnam war'' and noted that the battle "will provide enemy with morale-building victory''. (Summary telegram 677 from ARPAC to JCS, January 4; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, 1/63) Lieutenant Colonel John P. Vann, senior United States adviser to the Seventh Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, filed an after-action report on the Ap Bac operation which concluded that the operation was a failure. Vann attributed the failure to the poor state of training of the South Vietnamese units, a system of command which never placed a Vietnamese officer above the rank of captain on the battlefield, a reluctance to incur casualties, an inability to take effective advantage of air superiority, and a lack of discipline in battle. (After-Action Report by Senior Adviser 7th Infantry Division, January 9; JCS Files) Information obtained from a captured Viet Cong assessment of the battle indicated that the Viet Cong attributed their success at Ap Bac to preparation, motivation, and discipline in the execution of small-unit tactics. (SACSA Briefing, April 24; Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, ORG-3 WG/VN Mtgs with Other Agencies)

The battle of Ap Bac was reported in the press in the United States as "a major defeat'' in which "communist guerrillas shot up a fleet of United States helicopters carrying Vietnamese troops into battle''. (The Washington Post, January 3, 1963; The New York Times, January 4, 1963) On January 7, The Washington Post printed a front-page assessment of the battle by Neil Sheehan in which he wrote that "angry United States military advisers charged today that Vietnamese infantrymen refused direct orders to advance during Wednesday's battle at Ap Bac and that an American Army captain was killed while out front pleading with them to attack.'' An assessment done in the Department of State on January 15 of press reaction across the country to the battle of Ap Bac noted that "since Ap Bac the complaint has been increasingly heard that the American public is not 'getting the facts' on the situation in Viet-nam, even at this time when American casualties are mounting.'' ("Alert'' on Viet-Nam: Current American Concern and Misunderstanding; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Files of the Office of Public Opinion Studies, U.S. Policy on S. Vietnam, April-Dec. 1963)

The Department of State and the White House expressed concern over the reports printed in the press on the battle of Ap Bac. (Telegram 662 to Saigon, January 7; Department of State, Central Files, 951K.6211/1-763) On January 3, Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric forwarded to the White House a memorandum prepared for the President by the Joint Staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which suggested that the press was painting the battle in misleading colors: "It appears that the initial press reports have distorted both the importance of the action and the damage suffered by the US/GVN forces. Although unexpectedly stiff resistance was apparently encountered, contact has been maintained and the operation is being continued.'' (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, 1/63) On January 7, President Kennedy expressed concern about the Sheehan article published that day which indicated that the South Vietnamese troops involved in the battle lacked courage. (Telegram CAP 63037 from General C.V. Clifton at the White House to General Godfrey T. McHugh with the President at Palm Beach, January 7; ibid.) A copy of a report on the battle prepared on January 4 by General Paul D. Harkins, Commander of the U.S. Military Assistance Command in Vietnam, was forwarded to President Kennedy on January 7 in response to his concern. (Attached ibid.) General Harkins noted that the South Vietnamese forces at Ap Bac had made a number of errors, but he characterized them largely as errors of courage rather than cowardice. "It took a lot of guts'', he wrote, "on the part of those pilots and crews to go back into the area to try to rescue their pals.'' "Like any engagements in war'', Harkins concluded, "there are days-and there are days. This day they got a bear by the tail and they didn't let go of it. At least they got most of it.'' Harkins' assessment closely paralleled that of Admiral Harry D. Felt, Commander in Chief, Pacific, who sought to put the battle into perspective in telegram 100910Z to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on January 10. Felt noted that it was "important to realize that bad news about American casualties filed immediately by young reporters representing the wire services without careful checking of the facts.'' He conceded that the South Vietnamese forces had made mistakes at Ap Bac based upon faulty intelligence and inexperience, but he added "along with the bad news of damage to helicopters and three Americans lost, there is good news which you may not read about in The Washington Post.'' He pointed to a number of other military operations being undertaken successfully by South Vietnamese forces, and concluded: "It also hurts here when irresponsible newsmen spread the word to American public that GVN forces won't fight and, on the other hand, do not adequately report GVN victories which are occurring more frequently.'' (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-182-67)

On January 7, the Joint Chiefs of Staff authorized Army Chief of Staff General Earle G. Wheeler to lead a team of officers to Vietnam to investigate conflicting reports on military problems and report on future prospects for the war. For text of the Wheeler report, submitted to the Joint Chiefs at the end of January, see Document 26.


2. Memorandum for the Record by the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman)/1/

Saigon, January 2, 1963.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Country Series-Vietnam. Confidential. Hilsman and Forrestal visited Vietnam from December 31, 1962, to January 9, 1963, during a fact-finding trip which began on December 28 with a stop in Honolulu for consultations with Admiral Felt, and concluded with stops in Laos, Thailand, and Indonesia before returning to Washington on January 15. According to Hilsman, the trip was undertaken at President Kennedy's request "to see if there was anything more that might be done'' to improve the situation in Vietnam. (Hilsman, To Move a Nation, p. 453) This memorandum is excerpted in Hilsman's memoirs.(Ibid., pp. 453-454) It is one of 17 memoranda dictated by Hilsman on tape during the trip and subsequently transcribed. A few of the memoranda are dated; some, such as the one printed here, can be dated from references in the text. All apparently were dictated during the visit to South Vietnam. Nine of the memoranda are not printed here but are in the same file in the Kennedy Library. After resuming to Washington, Hilsman and Forrestal prepared a report on South Vietnam which was submitted to President Kennedy on January 25; see Document 19.

At this point some thirty-six hours after having arrived in Saigon, I have the impression that things are going much much better than they were a year ago, but that they are not going nearly so well as the people here in Saigon both military and civilian think they are. They have a concept in the strategic hamlet program./2/ They have aid and they have lots of people and this inevitably gives a sense of movement and progress. The trouble is, however, that the progress and the movement is highly uneven. One would wish that this is the fault of the Vietnamese, and it is to a considerable extent. But I am afraid that a great share of the responsibility belongs with the Americans. We have the impression that any one of these programs such as the strategic hamlet program or really any of the others requires precise and efficient coordination of the different activities of many different American agencies. And you also have the impression that this coordination is not really being accomplished. One example is the failure to provide a police program that even remotely is phased in with the provision of wire for the strategic hamlets and radios for the strategic hamlets. Thus you have strategic hamlets going up enclosing Communists inside their boundaries with no provisions for wrinkling [winkling?] out those Communists. Other things are similar. You have also the impression that the military is still too heavily oriented towards sweep-type operations. There is still the same emphasis on air power as there was before. Almost every operation so far as I can tell still begins with an air strike which inevitably kills innocent people and warns the Viet Cong that they should get moving for the troops will be coming soon. I think it justifies [signifies?] that the Americans are as much to blame for this as the Vietnamese. That MACV has requested an augmentation of the Farmgate group./3/

/2/The Strategic Hamlet Program was established by President Diem on a nationwide basis on February 3, 1962, with the creation of an Interministerial Committee for Strategic Hamlets, headed by Ngo Dinh Nhu; see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. II, Document 46.

/3/"Farmgate'' was the code name of the U.S. Air Force Squadron introduced into South Vietnam in 1961 to train South Vietnamese pilots and to fly coordinated missions with Vietnamese personnel in support of Vietnamese ground forces. President Kennedy authorized the dispatch of the Farmgate squadron on October 11, 1961. Regarding this decision, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. I, Document 156.) On December 21, 1962, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gilpatric proposed an augmentation of the Farmgate program, which was approved by President Kennedy; see ibid., vol. II, Document 333.

I think Nolting and Trueheart are doing an excellent job of trying to coordinate the activities of all the U.S. agencies within the leverage that they have at their command. What I am afraid of is that it is not enough leverage. I can't help thinking that the history of the establishment of MACV inhibits both the Ambassador and the DCM in their aggressiveness in providing leadership.

(I stress, however, that this is a first impression very much subject to revision as we learn more about what is going on here.)


3. Memorandum for the Record by the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman)/1/

Saigon, January 2, 1963.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Country Series--Vietnam. Confidential.

Nolting and Trueheart are both very optimistic about the way the war is going in South Vietnam. They took exception, in fact, to several of the cautious, general statements in INR's contribution to the forthcoming NIE/2/ which had just arrived the day before I did.

/2/An apparent reference to NIE 53-63, Document 94.

One of the reasons for their optimism is apparently the vigor with which the South Vietnamese government and especially Brother Nhu have pushed the strategic hamlet program. (R.G.K. Thompson also mentioned that without Nhu's enthusiastic and vigorous backing, the strategic hamlet program would probably not have gotten off the ground. He went on to say, in fact, that he is wrong in his worry earlier this year that the Vietnamese would endanger the program by doing too much of it in too many places. He now feels that Nhu was not wrong in doing this because it attracted a great deal of attention to the program all over Vietnam and hence got an essential momentum.)

Beyond the above it is hard to see exactly what specific basis there is for the Embassy's optimism. Partly it is a question of mood. The sense of activity is much stronger. The morale of the Vietnamese at least in Saigon is higher principally because something is being done and because so much American aid which is so visible has appeared. On a factual basis, they cite as reasons for optimism the increased activity of the ARVN--they are going out more often, attacking more often, and even occasionally engaging in night attacks. (However, see the Memcon of the Conversation with General Ed Rowny.)/3/

/3/Document 4.

I mentioned to Trueheart the figures that CINCPAC gave me--that 18,000 Viet Cong had been killed this past year, but that the total Viet Cong regular strength nevertheless rose from 18,000 to about 22,000 to 24,000 with the sympathizers and supporters remaining about the same. Trueheart scoffed at this and said that the explanation was only that the statistics were more accurate, meaning that last year there were considerably more than 18,000. I still find this hard to believe completely, however, since that would have given a total of around 42,000 regulars in the VC last year and I am sure that though the intelligence was not very good, it was considerably better than that differential would indicate.

Trueheart is running a so-called Junior Country Team which is apparently the guiding direction of the American effort on the strategic hamlet program. He is reportedly doing an excellent job at this. However, I do think his optimism stems in part from identification with the local scene and that it is not entirely objective.

I told [queried?] both Nolting and Bill Trueheart on the question of whether the officials, both civilian and military, were frustrated by Diem's failures to delegate since this could be a very serious morale problem while parliamentary elections are not. They both said that the officials that they and their staff contacted did not evidence any such frustration nor had they heard of any from other American representatives reporting on their contact. (This, of course, could be attributed to the morale improvement as a result of American aid and might not, therefore, be a permanent phenomenon--i.e., the frustration might manifest itself again if there is no substantial progress in the war itself as opposed to progress in the arrival of American aid.)

Part of our discussion concerned the Cambodian problem. Nolting is very strong in the view that he could persuade the South Vietnamese to be exceptionally forthcoming in a settlement with Cambodia of their outstanding problems if the United States were willing to back bilateral guarantees for Cambodia rather than an international conference which the South Vietnamese fear. He thinks the quid pro quo of the U.S. opposing a conference would be sufficient to make the Vietnamese forthcoming. It was agreed that he would draft a cable inviting instructions to explore the problem with the Vietnamese government.

Nolting and Trueheart are also pleased with the Montagnard program. Paradoxically, one of the things that pleases them is the way that the CIA has managed to take arms away from the Montagnards without alienating them so far as we can tell. Here the device the CIA used was to take the people who are giving up weapons out to the new villages so that they could see that their weapons were being given to other Montagnards who are in less secure areas. The reason that Nolting and Trueheart are pleased, of course, is that the Sough Vietnamese Government is nervous about the Montagnards and about their having too many arms and extremely anxious that the arms be taken away as the areas become more secure. (I am myself a little nervous that the weapons are being taken away prematurely. The Montagnard strategic hamlet program is essential if the infiltration routes are to be cut and I am surprised to find the areas are regarded as secure so soon.)

I questioned Nolting and Trueheart on the progress made in providing police for the strategic hamlets. Apparently an experimental program for one or two villages has been started, but nothing much more. (This to my mind is an enormous gap in the implementation of the strategic hamlet concept.)


4. Memorandum for the Record by the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman)/1/

Saigon, January 2, 1963.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Country Series--Vietnam. Confidential. Hilsman quotes extensively from this conversation in his memoirs, and describes it as "the most disturbing analysis on the military side" which he received during his trip. (Hilsman, To Move a Nation, pp. 454-455)

Conversation with Major General Edward L. Rowny

Ed Rowny is a Major General here on a special mission to provide new weapons and techniques for use in South Vietnam over and above the MAP program. This is a result of the fact that Rowny was the Executive Secretary of the Howze Board, which made a study of modern techniques of conventional war and mobility last year. He was scheduled to take command of a division in Korea as the youngest division Commander in the Army, but was switched to South Vietnam because of his unique background and experience.

I have known Rowny for some 15 years--first when he and I were graduate students together at Yale studying international politics. He is a most unusual Army officer in that he has had advance training in the political side of the equation and this training has taken root in a sophisticated and excellent mind. His judgments from the situation, therefore, are ones to which I would give great weight.

Rowny is optimistic, but with considerable reservations.

One of the greatest troubles he feels is CINCPAC. CINCPAC is still trying to run the war even in practical detail. Many of the plans and operations that are conceived out here in Saigon are still vetoed in CINCPAC. Many of the operations that they launch here are conceived of in CINCPAC. Operation Sunrise,/2/ of course, is a prize example of this.

/2/For documentation on Operation Sunrise, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. II, Documents 103ff.

CINCPAC screens the messages, according to Rowny, that Harkins sends and forwards to Washington only those that he and CINCPAC deem appropriate. Rowny says that on one occasion Felt called Harkins down for infoing the JCS without Felt's advance permission.

Felt also exercises a very tight personal control over requests for equipment. For example, Rowny will recommend to Harkins the introduction from Department of Army sources rather than MAP, of some new weapon or technique or some such. If Harkins decides that it will contribute to the war in Vietnam, the Department of the Army will then honor the request. But CINCPAC must also concur and CINCPAC has not concurred on a very high percentage of the requests. Rowny feels that his operation is about fifteen percent effective, the rest of the time and energy going into attempting to persuade CINCPAC.

Rowny has been on some 20 operations. He describes the typical one as follows. The troops are scheduled to move at a certain hour in the morning. Usually there is a considerable delay waiting for a previous air strike. The air strike is then made on a village at which the Viet Cong is reported to be ensconced. The helicopters then move out, the troops are landed outside the village and they start forward. After a little while there is a flurry on the right and someone drags a peasant out of a rice paddy where he had been hiding. The peasant is bound and taken prisoner as a "suspected Viet Cong.'' They then proceed up the road towards the village. Some time later another flurry appears on the left and a man runs towards the jungle. He is shot and killed and marked down as a Viet Cong since he ran.

They then proceed to the village which is deserted except for an old man or perhaps an addlepated girl--an Ophelia and [as?] Rowny describes her. Under interrogation the senile old man or addled girl points toward some spot in the jungle, or some cellar or something. The troops go there and drag out a man who is hiding who is then bound and captured as a "suspected VC.'' The operation has now reached noon. Everyone sits down, cooks their rice and meal. Patrols are sent out and around finding nothing and then an hour or so later the helicopters come to pick the troops up and take them back to their regular billets.

We discussed why [there are] such elaborate operations, which are preceded by bombing, warning the VC and proceeding so slowly as to give the VC ample time to escape. Rowny puts it down to two things. One, reluctance on the part of the ARVN really to engage in a battle. As he says, they do not really want to tangle with the enemy, they want to be completely safe and not have any really serious fight. The second reason is Diem's attitude towards "defeats.'' Diem's cold propaganda line, as we well know, is that there must never be a defeat even a small one, but only one long series of victories. (For example where the GVN was pleased with my speech given in Chicago,/3/ they did not want USIA which had distributed 2000 copies in English to translate it into Vietnamese because it admitted that there were some dark spots in the picture and that there was some reason to be cautious about one's optimism.) Rowny told of the story where one of the much better commanders, more aggressive commanders, took a group out, killing three Viet Cong officers and 60 regular Viet Cong troops capturing their weapons in a stiff battle in which the ARVN lost one officer and several men. Diem was furious at this "defeat''; to lose an officer is a defeat in his eyes. This pressure for only victories and only total victories at that, leads to excessive caution on the part of the ARVN, in Rowny's opinion.

/3/For text of this speech, delivered on September 18, 1962, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962, pp. 1109-1117.

The fact remains that the extended jungle patrolling extended in time and/4/ of being done. The reliance is on air power, on sweeps, on strikes, and so on.

/4/A marginal notation on the text at this point reads: "(coughs)'', which suggests that the garbled text is due to an inaudible portion of the tape recording upon which this memorandum is based.

The one encouraging note in the military picture is that some of these operations are of the "clear and hold variety.'' That is the troops go out at least a site north of Viet Cong if they do not, or only rarely, seize them or surround them and the province chiefs and what civic action teams are available, then put in strategic villages providing the hold part of the clear and hold./5/ The encouraging thing is that there are some of these operations among the sweep operations and, of course, this does extend the area of effective government control to the extent that the strategic villages built are themselves effective. Here again we will need to learn more about this. . . ./6/ eyes and equipment and in a more responsive MAP program responsive to Vietnamese true needs but he did not think that Harkins was a man who was going to exercise a great deal of initiative. Harkins apparently does not like a bureaucratic fight and wishes to avoid it if possible. For example, he makes no protest when Felt moves squads around on the map generally feeling that if it will make Felt happy, okay. He feels that Harkins is a good officer and competent, but not an imaginative and driving, highly motivated or creative officer.

/5/This confused sentence suggests that the tape recording was again difficult to understand at this point.

/6/Ellipsis in the source text. The omission reflects a gap in the source text, which is explained by a note that indicates the memorandum "is being continued on the other side of the tape.''

Rowny is very high on Nolting and he feels that if CINCPAC were off his back and if he had the authority, that Nolting would be able to manage the war very well indeed, although Rowny added that he, of course, had no real basis for this kind of prediction since he had not seen Nolting in action, but was only giving this as his impression that Nolting would do a good job if given more opportunity and scope.

Rowny feels that what is really saving us out here is the high quality of the sergeants, lieutenants and captains. We discussed the failure on the civilian side to give as much impetus and vigor to what is going on out here as it should do and Rowny said that he had discussed this with Mecklin, the USIA chief, and with Rufus Phillips, the USOM fellow, who seems to be doing such a good job in the USOM part of the strategic hamlet program. Both Phillips and Mecklin pointed out that the civilian agencies simply cannot lay their hands on the high-quality, high-talented younger people that the military can just arbitrarily assign to Vietnam, that the civilian tasks can be better accomplished by the high-quality lieutenants and captains than they could be by the much lower quality civilians that would be the only ones available.

It is interesting that a number of these captains and majors are becoming strong advocates of fewer sweep operations and more civil and political action programs which tends to bear out Mecklin's and Phillips' judgments.

Another problem that Rowny discussed was the Air Force vs. Army-Air. The Air Force is very reluctant to provide escort aircraft for helicopter missions. They put "interdiction'' on a higher priority than supporting or escorting helicopters and "retaining command of the air'' at an even higher priority. There is, of course, no air opposition so it is hard to justify failure to support the helicopters on the grounds of maintaining air superiority. One wonders what they would interdict also, since any movement is by infiltration routes. Apparently what they mean by interdiction is precisely the air strikes on reported VC villages. The Army has gotten around this a little bit by using the Mohawk in an air-support role. The problem here, however, is that CINCPAC has put a restriction on what the Mohawk can carry limiting it only to machine guns rather than the rockets and other equipment that it could carry. To some extent this had had a beneficial effect in that the combination of using the Army Mohawk and its light armament has made the Air Force somewhat more forthcoming in providing some air support for the helicopter operations. The situation, however, seems to be far from satisfactory.

Judging from what Rowny said, Forrestal and I have begun to wonder whether it is wise to approve the requested augmentation in Farmgate./7/ If for no other reason, a refusal to grant this permission might be good as a disciplinary measure.

/7/See footnote 3, Document 2.

Forrestal posed the question to Rowny as to whether it would be impossible to issue instructions to Harkins which in effect kept CINCPAC in the act for supplies, MAP and all of this, administration in other words, but cut CINCPAC out as regards operations, policy decisions, and so on. Rowny said that there was no reason at all that this could not be arranged without ruining the military's chain of command. He thought it was easily possible and certainly desirable.

The following represents Forrestal's remembrance of the Rowny conversation. Rowny made three separate points.

The first point was the relationship of CINCPAC to the South Vietnamese operation. Felt runs the South Vietnam operation like a ship. He interferes in details of tactical planning. He denies requests for equipment. Harkins cannot communicate directly with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Felt actually directs some tactical operations from Hawaii.

The second major point is that the Air Force is not always providing adequate close aerial support. The Mohawk, for example, is an airplane which could carry a great deal more armaments and provide good close support, but the Air Force does not want tactical aircraft in Army hands. Rowny also feels that there is a tendency to use air power for interdiction rather than for close support.

The third major point that Rowny made was concerned with personnel. The best people are the majors, captains and lieutenants. The poorest people are at the staff level in all of the agencies. The top levels, meaning Harkins, Nolting, and Trueheart, and Mecklin are good. And also Rufus Phillips is excellent. The intermediates are not at all good and Nolting and Trueheart are effective by calling on the captains and majors and by-passing or detouring the top intermediate levels of the military. USOM is no good at all, except for Rufus Phillips. Rowny also feels that there are too many American generals in South Vietnam.


5. Memorandum for the Record by the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman)/1/

Saigon, January 2, 1963.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Country Series-Vietnam. Confidential.

Country Team Meeting on Wednesday, January 2, 1963

Present were the heads of all the agencies there. The first item on the agenda was the planned operation beginning today which was a very large scale sweep operation directed against a headquarters in Tayninh Province. This is a very large scale affair and, of course, comes very close to the Cambodian Border which aroused Forrestal because of the implications of the Cambodian problems. The result was to impress those peasants with Washington's concern about the relationships with Cambodia.

General Harkins raised the question of this desire to overfly Laos in order to get photographs of Tchepone and the buildup which he suspects is taking place there. He also wants permission to probe in Laos.

Another agenda item was the operation in the Ca Mau Peninsula in which two Marine battalions will be landed. This is a VC stronghold which the government has been unable to enter since 1945. Additional motives for the operation are the problem of charcoal for Saigon and also an attempt to cut off the export of fish from the Viet Cong territory to Singapore. The Embassy has doubts about this since they feel that it will tie down the two Marine battalions for many, many months. General Harkins' response was to imply that the Marine battalions might not otherwise be used and that it was a clear and hold operation. Other of the Embassy doubts are that in the whole area of clear and hold only four strategic hamlets are planned and the Embassy feels that these four will be inhabited by women and children only and that they will require the resettlement of people and will be in effect concentration camps. It is recognized by everyone concerned that this operation is an exception to the general rule.

General Harkins described several clear and hold operations in VC strongholds, Phu Bon also in a VC stronghold, An Lac area also a VC stronghold. Others he mentioned as examples are Phu Yen Province, Vinh Binh Province, Quang Ngai Province, and the Ben Cat area.

The question of napalm came up for discussion with the Ambassador making the point that the South Vietnamese already had napalm and we could not control completely their use of it. And General

Harkins making the point that napalm really put the fear of God into the VC and was very effective. This led to a discussion of Farmgate and the requested augmentation. Apparently, air strikes have gone from one hundred a month to over a thousand a month partly as a result of the ARVN learning more about our air power and how to use it.

General Harkins also mentioned that following Tet he hoped for a nationwide intensification of ARVN offensives. This is his word now for the so-called explosion.

The Ambassador raised the point about the Cambodian bid for neutrality and his fear that this would be associated within South Vietnameses' minds the desire [sic] for U.S. cutback in U.S. presence which might come early in '63. The Ambassador was very fearful that these two would make the South Vietnamese afraid that we were getting out and seeking a neutral solution for all of Southeast Asia. The Ambassador felt that this was to be handled very carefully and if it caused us a break with the French, he was willing to accept that cost.

I raised the question of Diem's inability to delegate and asked whether this was leading to frustration on the part of technical and professional and bureaucratic elites. The Ambassador said that he thought that there was considerably less frustration both at the provincial and the national levels for three reasons. First, because of our aid and the momentum that has been generated these officials now have more to do than they ever did before. The second, they have a plan which they understand and are following and third, the mere fact of momentum lifts morale and dissipates doubts. I suggested that this morale might be shortlived and due mainly to our aid and participation only to emerge [submerge?] again if Diem's habits about failing to delegate continued.

There was some discussion of this in which the Country Team generally sided with Diem and said that usually when he interfered he was right and the other people were wrong. My net reaction was that the case was not entirely persuasive.


6. Memorandum for the Record by the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman)/1/

Saigon, January 1963.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Country Series-Vietnam.


Forrestal and I spent four and a half hours with Diem. It is perfectly obvious that Diem regards these long conversations as a form of amusement. He schedules them when he has plenty of free time and it is a substitute for bridge, movies, music, or social evenings. He, of course, monopolizes the conversation, but what it does illustrate is his very profound knowledge of his own country. There is no facet of it that he does not know everything about. He spoke at great length about the Montagnards of which he knows a great deal. He concentrated upon the differences in the different tribes and their nature, and the way they behaved, and so on.

Diem also described in great detail the recent activities of the province chief in Tay Ninh and the operations there. There was a headquarters located in Tay Ninh province of the Viet Cong. By accommodation [a combination?] of airdrops and sweeps on the part of civil guard and ARVN forces large quantities of rice supplies, a radio, a Viet Cong colonel and so on and so forth were captured. In addition a great many Viet Cong were killed.

He also described in great detail the operations in Mackaday Zone D. This is adopting the long advocated but rarely done long-range patrols by ranger companies. At the time he was talking, these four or five day patrols had killed a total of 108 VC with very few losses to themselves. Diem's general plans in this called for keeping the reserves outside of Mackaday but to parachute or helicopter them in if the long-range patrols ran into overwhelming resistance.

Diem also had some criticisms to make of the Plei Mrong operation and of our Special Forces there. His major criticism was that the defense perimeter was badly planned and organized. Unfortunately, I am afraid he is right.


7. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman) and General Roland H. Anthis /1/

Saigon, January 2, 1963

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Country Series-Vietnam.

The Farmgate now has eight B-26s, eight T-28s, four C-47s, and four U-10As. The complement is 43 officers and 104 airmen. The augmentation requested is for eleven B-26s, five T-28s, two C-47s, and 130 additional people. The Vietnamese Air Force on the other hand has two fighter squadrons; one squadron of T-28s consisting of 25 airplanes and one squadron of AD-6s consisting of 25 airplanes. We had a long discussion of the procedures by which targets are selected and fired. In brief, there are two ways in which targets are selected. The first is through the photographic interpretation route. If the American PIC sees a suspected area, it reports it to the Vietnamese PIC who on confirming this gives it to corps and corps to division. The other route is if it is requested by a division which then goes straight to the joint operations center and a strike is laid on.

Thus the key is the division. It is the division that really decides whether they will bomb a village or not. There is a US air liaison officer at the division level but he does not usually participate in target selection, but only in laying on a strike.

There are roughly two kinds of strikes. One is the close support, that is when a unit is actually in contact with the enemy and is fired upon. No, wait, there is a fallacy here. Close support is when the planes actually accompany the troops. One circumstance, of course, would be when the troops were fired upon and the planes were then bombed but under the rubric of close support would also fall air strikes done in preparation in softening up of a ground attack. (I will check on this today.)

The other kind of strike is the so-called interdiction. An interdiction strike is a bombing and/or strafing run on a suspected VC installation indicated by intelligence.

There are roughly 1,000 strikes a month. In November, 32 per cent of these were interdiction, 53 per cent were in direct support and 15 percent were other, i.e., reconnaissance and so on. Thus over 300 strikes per month are pure interdiction and it is unknown how many of the 15-53 percent are strikes based on intelligence rather than strikes on people who are actually shooting at the ground forces.

There are 63 so-called free areas which change constantly.

The request for augmentation is based really on three things. First, the ARVN is "learning more how to use air power and calling for it more.'' The second is that there are nine active divisions and if you total up all the odd SCSDC and civil guard companies and so on, a total of 51 divisions equivalent all of whom are calling for air support. The third justification is in anticipation of General Harkins' "national intensification'' which he is planning to begin immediately following Tet. (This is what we understood as explosion in the states.)

The American Air Force here is, of course, terribly sensitive on this issue of "indiscriminate bombing'' and really quite defensive in their conversations with us. The key to the issue is, of course, intelligence and this is something we will look into today.


8. Memorandum for the Record by the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman)/1/

Saigon, January 1963.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Country Series-Vietnam.

The following are notes on the situation here.

1. Is there a plan? The answer is no. There are five or six plans many of which are competing. There is, consequently, great confusion.

2. How about implementation? Are the military and political action coordinated? The answer-Imperfectly at best. There are huge gaps in what people are doing. For example, the police program has not even begun to get off the ground, and this raises the possibility that the strategic villages will be built around Communists and will rot from within which could bring the whole thing down in shambles.

3. Is the U.S. effort coordinated? Is it guided by a clear conception which permits effective meshing of our various efforts? Answer--Individual agencies are doing a superb job (e.g., Rufus Phillips, Richardson of CIA and the Special Forces). But it cannot really be said that there is wide understanding of [or?] a clear conception though some individuals do have a clear conception.


9. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam/1/

Washington, January 10, 1963, 4:21 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.551/1-1063. Top Secret. Drafted by Howard Meyers in G/PM and Fred Greene in INR. Cleared by James M. Montgomery in SEA and by Charles Maechling Jr., Director for Internal Defense in G/PM. Also cleared with DOD/ISA, JCS, and CIA.

670. Joint State-Defense message. Re: Paramilitary Personnel: Interdepartmental committee charged with study feasibility increased use third-country personnel in paramilitary operations needs country team views ASAP in outline on:

1. Efficacy present use and desirability increasing numbers and roles any of third-country nationals already being used in South Vietnam [2 lines not declassified]. Comment on major contributions and problems encountered.

2. Uses personnel of other third-countries not now participating, which you consider desirable and feasible.

3. Auspices and organizational devices under which additional personnel could be used with USG, GVN and country of origin approval (e.g. Under unilateral third-country auspices, or US; possible non-attributable control; civilian contract, or overt military).

In formulating views, exclude third-country personnel engaged in essentially economic-social work; include those directly employed in other aspects counter-insurgency operations or supporting them, whether military or civilians./2/

/2/In telegram 694 from Saigon, January 22, the Embassy responded that, in view of the sensitivity of the information involved, a coordinated mission reply was being sent through other channels. The reply would indicate that the mission favored increased third country military or paramilitary assistance to Vietnam. The mission expressed the hope that such assistance could be provided overtly under the participant's own flag, and noted that it would be necessary to fit such assistance into existing military programs and operations. (Ibid., 751K.551/1-2263)

The source text does not have the usual stamped signature.


10. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State/1/

Saigon, January 11, 1963, 7 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5/1-1163. Secret. Repeated to CINCPAC.

664. CINCPAC for POLAD. Dept pass USIS. Ref: Embtel 627,/2/ Tousi 138,/3/ and A-369./4/ GVN apparently intends proceed surrender program at Tet./5/ As reported ref messages first phase of program will apparently last until July 7 (anniversary Diem taking office) then continue in phase two until March 1964. Civic Action Minister Hieu in meeting with DGI Tao, Psywar Director Gen. Oai, and US reps Jan 9 said President would make pre-recorded radio proclamation (which would also be filmed) January 25 (Tet). GVN will attempt provide us with tape and film of proclamation (which reportedly to be submitted for President's approval today) prior Jan 15.

/2/In telegram 627 from Saigon, December 27, 1962, the Embassy reported on a number of indications of progress in the development of a Viet Cong surrender program by the Diem government. (Ibid., 751K.00/12-2762)

/3/ Not found.

/4/Airgram A-369 from Saigon, January 11, enclosed a translated text of the proposed surrender plan which was approved in principle by the Interministerial Strategic Hamlet Committee of the Vietnamese Government on December 21. The airgram also enclosed a copy of a paper prepared for President Diem by R.G.K. Thomson, head of the British Advisory Mission, on the question of interrogation of Viet Cong who surrendered. (Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5/1-1163)

/5/ The "Chieu Hoi'' policy anticipated in this telegram, which called on Viet Cong members to surrender, was formally established on April 17 with a proclamation issued by President Diem. See Document 92.

Hieu described three aspects of program: philosophy, techniques, and organization. Asked us suggestions and help with last two but pointedly not with first. He stated program which will follow general outlines his proposal described ref messages, and will be called "Chieu Tap'' (rassemblement), will receive "generous'' support from Interministerial Strategic Hamlet Committee but will also require some US aid. Principal means of carrying out program will be civic action cadres who will receive indoctrination under DGI and Psywar Director beginning next week. All ARVN Psywar officers will also be brought to Saigon for special course. Three days of ten-day Strategic Hamlet school in Saigon now being devoted to surrender program. Additional points brought out in meeting: program will include national and provincial "welcome'' centers and district "welcome'' bureaus with latter merely serving to turn over surrenderers to province centers. National center for those considered "interesting enough'', presumably from intelligence standpoint, will be located in Gia Dinh in rehabilitated camp formerly used receive refugees from DRV. After interrogation those surrenderers not sent to national center will be returned to hamlets or used in GVN propaganda teams.

At meeting it tentatively agreed:

1. DGI will supply film and tape of President reading proclamation, USIS to make special newsreel and film leader on event, plus maximum use of all its publications including Kien Quoc.

2. On morning of Jan 26 air drop (possibly including US aircraft) will be made of one million leaflets in white areas and two million in red (to be printed by USIS, DGI and Psywar). Leaflets to have text proclamation, and on reverse side instructions to friendly population and military forces on reception surrenderers. Radio coverage to be handled by DGI. Use of theater programs and street banners also planned.

3. USIS will also print 400,000 posters with Diem picture in color and proclamation text. Planning to bring posters by air from Manila printing center.

Next joint meeting set for Jan 29, to be held monthly subsequently. Thompson Mission working closely with GVN and us on program. We will inform US military advisors and USOM rural reps general outlines plan and provide them with guidance on how to assist in its implementation. We will also impress on GVN need for adequately informing population and particularly military personnel of treatment to be afforded surrenderers.



11. Current Intelligence Memorandum Prepared in the Office of Current Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency/1/

[document number not declassified]

Washington, January 11, 1963.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, 1/63. The source text is labeled "Sanitized Copy,'' and the original classification has been obliterated. Ellipses throughout the document are in the source text.

Current Status of the War in South Vietnam

1. Though the South Vietnamese government probably is holding its own against the Viet Cong and may be reducing the menace in some areas, the tide has not yet turned.

2. South Vietnam has made some military progress in its struggle with the Viet Cong due largely to extensive US support. The Viet Cong, however, continue to expand the size and effectiveness of their forces, and are increasingly bold in their attacks. Furthermore, Diem's political improvements have not kept pace with purely military achievements.

3. Various statistics indicate government progress against the Viet Cong during 1962, but these can be misleading as a basis for a conclusion on who is winning. For instance, Viet Cong casualties during 1962 were reported at more than 30,000 including some 21,000 killed in action. Yet current Viet Cong strength is estimated at 22,000-24,000 regulars, as opposed to an estimated 17,600 last June. This suggests either that the casualty figures are exaggerated or that the Viet Cong have a remarkable replacement capability--or both.

4. The ratio of weapons captured to weapons lost has recently turned in favor of the government. For example, in October and November, the last two months for which complete statistics are available, the South Vietnamese lost a total of 736 weapons and captured 860. But many of the Communist weapons are old French equipment or crude homemade rifles and pistols, while government losses are generally modern US weapons.

5. The number of government strikes has certainly increased during the past year. But all too frequently the Viet Cong are gone when the strike force arrives. Hence, a pure count of government-mounted operations may indicate a more determined government policy but not necessarily a weakened enemy.

6. Nor is it completely safe to judge the condition of this enemy by the type of operation he mounts. Widespread small-unit attacks do not necessarily mean that the Viet Cong are on the defensive any more than a series of battalion-size operations necessarily heralds the advent of positional war. Each type of action is an integral part of the strategy known as "mobile warfare''-essentially a war of attrition.

7. The South Vietnamese, with extensive US assistance, have instituted military and political measures which have had some success in curbing the insurgency menace. Training has been intensified, counterguerrilla tactics have been improved, and force levels augmented. These, in conjunction with new US-provided or operated equipment and US tactical advice, have all resulted in a measure of increased effectiveness, mobility and aggressiveness on the part of government forces. A recent reorganization of the military command structure is designed to facilitate quicker and better responses to Viet Cong military moves.

8. In the political sphere, various counterinsurgency projects-of which the strategic hamlet program is the most important-have improved the local security situation in some areas and made some progress toward persuading the rural population to identify its fortunes with those of Saigon. Results of politico-military "clear and hold'' operations-where an effort is made to follow up a military success with a political action program-have been encouraging. So too have been the results of work among the Montagnards and a heterogeneous variety of civilian paramilitary units known collectively as Citizens Irregular Defense Groups.

9. The overall effectiveness of the counterinsurgency effort, however, continues to be blunted by the government's political modus operandi. Assorted control measures designed to guard against disloyalty in the military forces hobble their combat effectiveness. Recent military appointments have removed some competent officers from responsible positions and replaced them with others deemed more loyal. The political danger of acting without the protection of explicit orders is frequently responsible for unit commanders' reluctance to exercise initiative. Provincial administration remains a major weakness; in some areas counterinsurgency programs have been carried out in such a way as to antagonize the peasantry further. Insensitivity to real or fancied popular grievances or to issues of popular interest such as corruption has done little to enhance the regime's internal image.

10. The Viet Cong actively exploit the government's domestic political shortcomings. The Viet Cong-controlled National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam purports to combine all shades of political opinion and works vigorously to identify itself with the peasantry, as do the Viet Cong troops. On 1 December 1962, 793 of 2,530 South Vietnamese villages were either physically held by the Viet Cong or subject to their control. The government controlled 1,617 and the remaining 120 were not under the effective control of either side. This represents a gain of 27 villages for the Viet Cong since 1 October 1962 and 75 for the government. While the government does seem to be showing some progress in the contest to win control of the countryside, it is difficult to establish a really meaningful trend because the total number of villages in South Vietnam fluctuates with administrative reorganizations. In the areas dominated by the Viet Cong, the Communists exercise effective authority including taxation. Viet Cong sympathizers are also found in government-held areas. In fact, South Vietnam's rural population constitutes the principal support of the Viet Cong military establishment.

11. . . . /2/ the Communists anticipate a long struggle and have no fixed timetable for the development of their forces. Their strategy, however, requires a gradual progression toward conventional warfare. The Communists are a long way from that stage, but they are making a continuous and determined effort to improve the fighting effectiveness of the Viet Cong military establishment.

/2/Approximately 1line of source text was excised here.

12. This development has been assisted by North Vietnamese army regulars who have infiltrated through Laos into South Vietnam. These regulars provide cadre for Viet Cong units as well as commanders and technicians. These infiltrators sometimes come down in sizeable groups-one unit of 400 entered South Vietnam in late September, for example. Other aspects of the Viet Cong military development include: . . . /3/ special logistics, operations, and staff groups duplicating those found in the North Vietnamese army; the formation of regimental staffs to coordinate the operations of several independent battalions; and, since early spring, the improvement of firepower, in some instances with Chinese Communist weapons. The Viet Cong have improved their tactics against low-flying aircraft-from January through November 1962, 115 US aircraft were hit by Viet Cong groundfire and nine of these downed.

/3/Approximately 2 lines of source text were excised here.

13. The Communists, however, face some very serious problems. Recent government operations have destroyed Viet Cong food stores and there are increasing reports of low morale as a result of hunger and the lack of medical facilities. This situation seems most acute among Viet Cong in the highland regions. Despite their improving ability to down helicopters, the Viet Cong are finding it difficult to concentrate and move troops in the face of greater South Vietnamese mobility. While it is difficult to assess the exact damage being done by air strikes, Viet Cong prisoners have expressed the fear these strikes instill in the individual guerrillas.

14. On balance, the war remains a slowly escalating stalemate. Both sides have problems, but both have improved their capabilities during recent months.


12. Report to the Special Group for Counterinsurgency/1/

Washington, January 15, 1963.

/1/Source: Department of State, Special Group Counterinsurgency Files: Lot 68 D 451, Special Group (CI) 1/17/63-3/7/63. Confidential. Drafted in the Vietnam Working Group by Edmund H. Kelley. Circulated to the Special Group on January 15 under cover of a memorandum from Maechling, in anticipation of its January 17 meeting; see Dcoument 14.


Early in 1962 the U.S. undertook to canvass DAC members and certain other Free World nations on increased economic aid to Viet-Nam with emphasis on commercial import which could provide local currency for assisted projects. Preliminary soundings by Ambassador Riddleberger/2/ and Tuthill/3/ in Paris indicated that while most countries agreed on the political importance of Viet-Nam's struggle, they were somewhat reluctant to come forward with increased aid; especially of the grant commercial import variety.

/2/James W. Riddleberger, Ambassador to Austria.

/3/John W. Tuthill, Ambassador to the European Communities.

By mid-year a consensus had been reached that a proposed aid coordinating group for Viet-Nam should be handled outside DAC since at this stage of DAC's evolution, a group on a hot point in the cold war could compromise DAC's economic character. We then proposed the formation of an informal Saigon group outside DAC which would have no connection with the OECD body and would for the present receive no publicity.

It was agreed that a coordinating body should meet in Saigon which would serve two main functions. First of all it would serve as a vehicle for reviewing the aid contributions made by the various members and thus expose duplication or areas of neglect. Secondly it would give us a means to get across the financial facts of life to the other western nations that had a more peripheral interest in Viet-Nam. Thirdly, it would provide the necessary spadework for a later meeting of senior officials from capitals that could discuss the policy issue of commercial import aid for Viet-Nam. Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom agreed to participate in the Saigon Group.

Beginning August 31 three meetings of the Saigon Group have been held./4/ The first was primarily organizational, but included also a review of the U.S. commercial import program and a reiteration of the desirability of similar aid by others.

/4/Records of this meeting and subsequent meetings of the coordinating committee are in the Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Post Files: FRC 67 A 667, 500 Economic Matters.

At the second meeting,/5/ the Australian and German Ambassadors agreed to draw the attention of their governments to the desirability of paying plaster costs of their project aid. The third meeting/6/ was more encouraging. The British predicted they would provide more paramilitary aid rather than expanded economic aid. The group unanimously adopted a report/7/ drawn up by financial experts from each country. This report, while not binding the countries to its conclusions, called for long term loans to cover the local currency costs of sponsored projects.

/5/September 14,1962.

/6/September 27,1962.

/7/The report is entitled "Conclusions of the Experts of the Viet-Nam Aid Coordination Group'', undated. (Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Post Files: FRC 67 A 667, 500 Economic Matters)

The meetings in Saigon have shown a certain amount of success within the limits set by the circumstances. One year ago most western countries were probably quite sceptical both of South Viet-Nam's future and our commitment to it. By now they are probably reassured on both points. This does not mean that they feel an obligation to increase their aid significantly. Continuing efforts in Saigon, Washington, Paris, and the respective capitals are required to capitalize on these earlier soundings.

In October we directed our embassies to approach their host countries on the possibility of financing the local currency costs of projects they assist in. This was to be done without weakening our earlier stand on commercial import aid. So far there has been no reported reaction to this approach.

Viet-Nam was discussed briefly in December at a Far East Regional meeting of DAC in Paris. Germany indicated that it was considering grant commercial import financing. France claimed that Viet-Nam had not made use of previous general import credits (which are not grant in nature). Japan indicated that remaining reparation credits should be used before additional aid is made available.

Since then we have received indications that the Australians are seriously considering adopting a commercial aid program for Viet-Nam including agricultural and dairy products.

In summary there are encouraging signs that Australia, Germany, Japan could be moving toward a commercial import program. This possibility did not exist before our efforts began a year ago. The UK will provide slightly increased paramilitary aid, but is inclined to hold off on anything else because of the demand for Indian aid. Italy has had no experience in this area, but is showing limited interest.

During his recent visit to the Far East, Assistant Administrator Janow stressed in Saigon the need for prompt utilization of available French and Japanese credits. We propose to press forward in identifying specific projects and segments of the commercial aid program (such as spare parts) which are particularly suitable for financing by other countries.





(Estimated $1,000,000 for FY 63)
--RR cars, Radio Station, jeeps, barbed wire, mills,
--corrugated iron, participants, etc.


--Five Year export credits
--Six scholarships

China, Republic of

--Two geological engineers
--Technical advisers


--Five additional Medical Professors for Hue
--Architectural Engineer


--Steel Rolling Mill (under war reparations)
--Continuing work on Da Nhim Cam

New Zealand

--Surgical team for Provincial Hospital
--Equipment for Hue Medical Faculty


--$300.000 worth of wheat flour


(FY 63 effort about 4.8 million)

--Commercial Credits


13. Memorandum From the Director of the Vietnam Working Group (Wood) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Harriman)/1/

Washington, January 16, 1963.

/1/Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, Def 19-3 Equip and Supplies. Secret. Sent to Harriman through Edward Rice. Copies were also sent to U. Alexis Johnson and Henry Koren.

Jets for the Government of Viet-Nam

Background: Secretary Thuan has asked Ambassador Nolting if the U.S. would supply four T-33 jets. Nolting proposes to reply subject to the Department's concurrence to the effect that jets are not warranted in Viet-Nam at this time./2/ We have asked for DOD approval of a telegram concurring in Ambassador Nolting's refusal.

/2/Nolting reversed this recommendation on January 19. In telegram 686 from Saigon, Nolting stated that, after meetings with Admiral Felt and General Harkins, he was prepared to "Recommend that Department concur in delivery these aircraft to GVN soon as possible. Critical point which has led me to this recommendation is desirability of VNAF beginning to develop own effective photo recce capability over long term. For us to assist GVN in acquiring this capability would be consistent with U.S. Govt's long-range objective of making GVN self-sufficient in its ability cope with internal subversion.'' (Ibid., Central Files, 751K.5/1-1963)

However General Taylor has approved a recommendation that the Vietnamese be given four RT-33 (photo-reconnaissance) jets and two T-33 (training) jets./3/ Bill Bundy will decide whether to approve this recommendation before sending it to Secretary McNamara. I have asked that Bundy call you for your views before making a decision. If Bundy and McNamara approve there will be a letter from Secretary McNamara to Secretary Rusk.

/3/Taylor endorsed the JCS recommendation in a January 15 memorandum to McNamara. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 69 A 3131, Vietnam 401 and above 1963)

Pros and Cons:

Pros: 1. Jets for photo-reconnaissance are needed in Viet-Nam now. This need is being filled by U.S. planes and pilots. If the Vietnamese are given these planes they can then assume one of the responsibilities which they will have to undertake as we phase out. Most Vietnamese pilots have jet training and it is believed that they could take over fairly quickly.

2. DOD also points out that since the Cambodians have jets Vietnamese morale would be improved if they too had these planes.

3. The six jets which DOD would like to give the GVN have been suitably modified and are now ready for delivery.

Cons: 1. The Vietnamese don't need jets now. This job is being done very well by the Americans. As you remember General Harkins told Secretary McNamara in October that he had everything he needed.

2. To give the Vietnamese jets would put both the United States and the GVN in flat violation of Article 17 of the Geneva Accords. We could be cited for a substantive violation by the ICC in Viet-Nam and to give the Vietnamese jets might have a bad effect on our attempts to get ICC Laos to function more effectively. It is true that we are flying jets over Viet-Nam and have been cited by the ICC for doing so. However, these jets are under our control and can be pulled out at any moment if the international situation makes it in our interest to do so.

3. If we give jets to the Vietnamese we increase the risks of border violations over Cambodia.

4. Jets under Vietnamese control would be a small but significant escalation in the terms of the war we are now fighting. It would give the Communist countries an excuse to introduce jets into North Viet-Nam.

5. It is true that at some point jets should be turned over to the Vietnamese as we phase out but this is far in the future.


Giving jets to the Vietnamese now would not increase their military potential or shorten the war; it would significantly increase the risks of international incidents and repercussions. It would to a significant degree change the terms of the limited war which are now quite well understood on both sides in Viet-Nam.


That we oppose giving jets to the Vietnamese at this time./4/

/4/Harriman indicated in a handwritten note on the source text that he approved the recommendation, and added, "what do we do''? On January 24, Wood sent another memorandum to Harriman in which he argued that the Department of State should make the decision on the issue, over Department of Defense objections if necessary, since it was a policy question affecting U.S. international relations. He noted that William Bundy, who was handling the question within the Defense Department, did not feel strongly about supplying the jets. He added that "this is really not a major issue since American reconnaissance jets are already doing the same job.'' A handwritten note by Harriman on this memorandum indicates that he discussed the matter with William Bundy who agreed that the additional reconnaissance required in Vietnam could be provided by the United States directly without supplying jets to South Vietnam. (Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, Def 19-3, Equip and Supplies)


14. Minutes of a Meeting of the Special Group for Counterinsurgency/1/

Washington, January 17, 1963, 2 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Special Group Counterinsurgency Files: Lot 68 D 451, Special Group (CI). Secret. Drafted by James W. Dingeman who is not listed among the participants.

Mr. Johnson, Mr. Bell, General Taylor, Mr. McCone, Mr. Dungan, Mr. Wilson vice Mr. Murrow, Mr. Bundy vice Mr. Gilpatric
Mr. Koren and Mr. Wood were present for the meeting

1. Southeast Asia Status Report

[Here follows discussion of Thailand.]

South Viet-Nam

Mr. Wood in discussing the situation in South Viet-Nam observed that the recent helicopter episode in which three Americans were lost was more serious from the political viewpoint than militarily./2/ Mr. Dungan pointed out, however, that should such episodes be repeated, and coupled at the same time with public criticism from Vietnamese exiles in this country, it could result in difficulties with Congress.

/2/See Document 1.

The Group discussed at length the question of relating press coverage in South Viet-Nam to the positive side, as compared to the current predilection for articles critical of the Diem Government, and those which reflect the more adverse circumstances. Mr. Wilson will meet with the public relations officers of the several departments concerned, and try to develop ideas for improving the situation./3/ In the meantime, General Wheeler will be notified that he should be prepared for a public appearance when he returns from his present trip, such as discussing the South Viet-Nam situation on "Meet the Press'' or some similar television program. It was also agreed that it might be desirable to arrange background briefings for key members of Congress in the hope of heading off adverse reaction to the newspaper articles.

/3/On January 18, Johnson sent a memorandum to Koren commenting on the discussion of press coverage in the Special Group:

"I today informed the Secretary of our discussion in the Special Group (C.I.) yesterday of U.S. press coverage in Viet-Nam. In addition, the Secretary suggested that we have Saigon look into the possibility of 'keeping a book' on correspondents out there for a period of perhaps two weeks or so which perhaps in some way could demonstrate the present apparent bias of many of them toward reporting only defeats or alleged defeats and ignoring the successful operations. What the Secretary had in mind was Saigon keeping track of the offers made by ourselves or the Viet-Namese to the correspondents to cover successful operations and constructive accomplishments and the number of these accepted by the correspondents as compared with their acceptance when they sensed a less successful operation. Depending on the results of such a record, we could then decide what use could best be made of it.'' (Department of State, Central Files, 951K.6211/1-1863)

The members, in general, agreed that there has been some improvement in the situation in South Viet-Nam during the last year. However, this has seemingly not affected the ability of the Viet Cong to maintain the size of their forces through local recruitment. It was also noted that it is extremely difficult to obtain significant information on the extent of infiltration of personnel or supplies.

2. Economic Assistance to South Viet-Nam from Third Countries

The Group agreed that progress is being made, but that much more remains to be done. Mr. Bell discussed this subject with Japanese officials during his recent trip, and also with the German Ambassador in South Viet-Nam. The latter suggested that it should be taken up with the German Government from the Washington level. Mr. Bell has asked the President to bring up the subject with the Italian Prime Minister during the latter's visit. It was agreed that the field should develop specific types of assistance needed from third countries, and that Washington would then contact the respective capitals to seek cooperation. State will work with AID and the field on the details, and will then develop a coordinated circular telegram to Chiefs of Mission in the third countries concerned.

3. Emergency Medical Program for South Viet-Nam

The members agreed with an observation by Mr. Bell, that as the AID and DOD memoranda/4/ were uncoordinated, and thus did not present an overall picture, a joint briefing memorandum should in the future be prepared for the convenience of the members where two or more departments make reports on the same subject. Mr. Johnson said that his assistant will monitor this, and see that it is done.

/4/Not found. Notes on the meeting prepared in USIA give the following summary of the discussion under item 3:

"AID support of village and hamlet health stations, provincial hospitals, surgical teams, malaria control, mobile clinics, and nurses training. DOD complementing this program by sending out 29 teams of U.S. Army medical personnel in February, 1963 to assist and advise VN Armed Forces, Civil Guard, and Self-Defense Corps, in developing medical capabilities. USIS provides informational support and publicity.'' (Washington National Records Center, RG 306, USIA/IAF Files: FRC 68 A 416, C.I. Special Group Meeting Notes)

4. Civic Action Teams in South Viet-Nam

General Taylor expressed his concern as to whether enough is being done by the South Vietnamese military in the field of civic action. However, it was agreed to hold off the development of a further report on this subject until General Wheeler returns.

[Here follows discussion of the final item, "Miscellaneous''.]

James W. Dingeman
Executive Secretary


15. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs Naval Aide (Bagley) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor)/1/

Washington, January 17, 1963.

/1/Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-240-69. Secret.

South Vietnam

1. One thing it is to be hoped will emerge from the future recommendations of the JCS Military Mission to SVN is a critical appraisal of current restrictive political policies in SEA./2/ There is sufficient evidence available to suggest that, in the situation which prevails, radical reinforcement and increased support will not gain decisive combat superiority. Other factors, on the strategic plane, will continue to exert a controlling influence.

/2/See Document 26.

The first of these factors is the question of satisfactory isolation of South Vietnam from external support. This is largely a political problem and is twofold:

a. The ability of a neutral Laos government to prevent use of the Panhandle for infiltration from NVN into SVN.

b. The willingness of Sihanouk to deny use of northeast and east Cambodia to the Viet Cong.

Souvanna has not been able to exert any governmental control over, or even access into, the Panhandle. Despite assurances to Harriman by Pushkin,/3/ the Soviets are making no visible effort to prevent DRV exploitation of this avenue of support to the Viet Cong in SVN. There have been recent reports that 1000 regular DRV troops infiltrated to the south. Our own capability to evaluate and meet the infiltration problem is hindered by political decision to halt air and ground reconnaissance and harassment in Laos. Thus our political willingness to remain passive to these breaches of faith in the name of supporting Souvanna is jeopardizing our military position in SVN.

/3/Harriman reported these assurances in telegram 882 from Rome, September 13, 1961. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/9-1361)

The border control problem in Cambodia is essentially academic if the Laos question is not addressed. Freedom to move into Cambodia is a matter of convenience to the Viet Cong. If Laos is open, support can enter SVN-without use of Cambodian territory. If Laos borders are sealed, it should be easier politically to focus Sihanouk's attention to the remaining and lesser problem.

3. The second factor is the matter of US willingness to take actions to discourage further DRV support for the Viet Cong. This issue also is related to strengthening Souvanna control in the RLG. If a truly neutral regime can be fostered in Laos, DRV support would lose its most effective route of support and the need for US pressures to dissuade DRV subversion in SVN would decrease. On the other hand, if the Laos situation continues in its present form, the DRV problem sharpens. We may be faced with a decision as to the relative advantages between chancing escalation of covert actions against NVN and pressing for strict observance of the Accords in Laos./4/

/4/For text of the Declaration and Protocol on the Neutrality of Laos, signed at Geneva on July 23, 1962, by representatives of Burma, Cambodia, Canada, the People's Republic of China, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, France, India, Poland, the U.S.S.R, the United Kingdom, and the United States, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962, pp. 1075-1083.

4. The last major factor is the state of the political climate in SVN. No amount of military effort can succeed if the parallel political action program to include economic and social reform is not positive and enlightened. To measure this factor requires varied shades of information perhaps not available. It is clear that the economic and social side is getting unprecedented attention. If a responsible political evaluation were made and was adverse, the question of how to achieve corrective action that was not politically disruptive to the GVN would remain. On balance, this factor probably should remain secondary to the first two for the time being. This may not be possible, however, because this rather intangible issue that on the surface can be confronted without risk of war (while the alternatives cannot) is the first target of those who would question US policy in SVN.

5. The doubters continue to wait in the wings and there are some signs that they are becoming restless. Dispatch of the Wheeler Mission affords them sustenance because it implies some concern with the military situation. If the mission recommends more of the same equipment and support the US is now providing SVN, and the proposals are made in isolation from, or in acceptance of, these other factors, I would expect an uprising of despair. It is of vital importance that the mission address the questions of external support to the Viet Cong and the effectiveness of the GVN. The dual line of preaching patience in SVN and patience in Laos will not long be tenable for the two policies are in fact contradictory. The entire circle will be further aggravated by what will surely be the mission view that subversion in Thailand is on the rise, sustained from a Lao base.

6. It is interesting that analysis of the several factors which limit the effect of our efforts in SVN comes back to the matter of a neutral Laos. There is a legal base for stronger political action in the Accords. Evidence exists that our power position in SEA is influencing Communist moves there. What is needed is a review of the possibilities and risks of enforcing the Geneva Accords on Laos through strong diplomatic pressures to avoid a long war in SVN, escalation in NVN, and a new war in Thailand. The returning Wheeler Mission affords a reason to reopen this matter.

7. I recommend you make this reasoning an essential part of evaluating the Wheeler Report and press State on the entire Laos situation as it affects the US position in SVN and Thailand.


/5/Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.


16. Letter From the Counselor of the Embassy in Vietnam (Manfull) to the Director of the Vietnam Working Group (Wood)/1/

Saigon, January 23, 1963.

/1/Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, Def-19 Milit Assist-3rd country. Secret; Limit Distribution; Official-Informal.

DEAR BEN: During Admiral Felt's recent visit, one of the subjects discussed at some length was the augmentation of Farmgate. Some time prior to Admiral Felt's arrival, MACV, without clearing it with the Embassy, requested that Farmgate be augmented by 10 B-26's, 5 T-28's and 2 C-47's. By the time we found out about it, the JCS had already approved it. During Admiral Felt's visit the Ambassador pointed out this lack of coordination to General Harkins, who expressed surprise that the Embassy had not been consulted and said he would ask his staff to coordinate with the Embassy on such matters in the future. Because the Farmgate augmentation in question was of limited size, and therefore appeared to have no serious political implications, the Ambassador concurred in it ex post facto.

At the same time, we learned that MACV had informed CINCPAC that it was considering requesting a second, whopping Farmgate augmentation to meet the requirements of the "National Campaign.'' MACV wanted to request:

1 sqn of B-26's (25 aircraft)
1 sqn of T-28's (25 aircraft)
2 sqns of C-123's (16 aircraft each)
1 company of Caribous (25 aircraft)
3 sqns of L-19's (22 aircraft each)

Admiral Felt pointed out to General Harkins that such a request would mean that the GVN in fact was unable to achieve victory over the VC without a significantly increased US commitment in Viet-Nam. The Admiral also informed MACV that, in endorsing the latter's first Farmgate augmentation request, he had felt obliged to state to the JCS that there would be no additional similar requests. He asked MACV to study the matter further in light of his views, and to tailor its request accordingly. He agreed to receive the request but did not commit himself to it.

After the Admiral's departure, MACV consulted the Embassy. The Ambassador said he could go along with a request for additional Farmgate transport capability (L-19's, C-123's and Caribous) if in General Harkins' view the additional aircraft were necessary to meet the increased requirements of the "National Campaign.'' (As you will note from a message/2/ through other channels, consideration is being given to meeting some of this airlift requirement from third country contributions.) However, the Ambassador took a firm stand against the additional strike aircraft (B-26's and T-28's), using the same arguments that Admiral Felt had used and, in addition, expressing concern that a request of such size for additional strike aircraft could raise political questions at home regarding the soundness of the Administration's policy in Viet-Nam and the ground rules under which we are operating here. In light of the views of Admiral Felt and the Ambassador, MACV is looking into the problem further and will seek the Ambassador's concurrence on any request going to CINCPAC.

/2/Not found.

On a related subject, you will have seen Embtel 686,/3/ on RT-33's. The over-riding consideration in the Ambassador's mind was the need and desirability for the GVN to develop its own effective photo reconnaissance capability.

/3/See footnote 2, Document 13.

We assume that WG/VN was better coordinated on this subject than we were here during the initial go-round. However, I would appreciate knowing to what extent the JCS or ISA consulted the Department on the proposed augmentations./4/

/4/On January 31, Wood sent the following reply to Manfull, noting that he had discussed it with Deputy Under Secretary Johnson, "who agrees completely'':

"In answer to your question, we were informed by DOD when the request for 10

B-26s, 5 T-28s, and 2 C-47s came in to them. We assumed that it had been cleared with r the Ambassador and it was with this assumption in mind that we approved it at this end. I will certainly discuss the matter with DOD and the Ambassador should be assured that we will approve no increases which are requested of us by DOD until we have had the Embassy's views.'' (Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, Def-l9 Milit Assist-3rd Country)

With best regards,

Sincerely yours,

Melvin L. Manfull/5/
Counselor of Embassy for Political Affairs

/5/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


17. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam/1/

Washington, January 24, 1963, 1:31 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 951K.6211/1-2463. Confidential. Drafted on January 22 by Wood. Cleared by Frank P Lockhart, Harriman, Robert J. McCloskey, and in USIA by James N. Tull. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.

729. Joint State/USIA. WG/VN for TF/Saigon. Request your frank, general, and confidential evaluation overall job being done by U.S. newsmen in reporting war in Viet-Nam to U.S. public. Context our concern as follows:

1. We are still getting adverse play in daily press; somewhat better coverage in weekly publications (e.g. Newsweek Jan 28, Life Jan 25). In general war in Viet-Nam going better than being reported to U.S. public.

2. Poor relations between U.S. press reps and GVN not likely be significantly improved.

3. Realize wire service correspondents have difficulty in leaving Saigon, where they in contact with home office, to go into country.

4. If correspondent has time, how difficult is it for him to get transportation a, to cover military operations, b) to go into countryside to cover strategic hamlets and other rural activities?

In general is it TF view that, given local obstacles and problems, U.S. correspondents are doing adequate or inadequate job of covering war?

Would appreciate your carefully weighed overall view this 1ong vexed question and would welcome any suggestions as to how we may assist or encourage them to do better job either here or in Saigon.



18. Memorandum From the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff/1/

CINCPAC 3010 Ser 0079

Honolulu, January 25, 1963.

/1/Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 69 A 3131, Vietnam 380 thru 381 1963. Secret.

Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam (CPSVN)

(a) CINCPAC Record of Sixth Secretary of Defense Conference of 23 July 1962, dtd 26 July 1962 (Item No.2)/2/
(b) JCS Msg 5455, DTG 262318Z July 1962/3/
(c) OSD Msg DEF 923923, DTG 222243Z January 1963/4/

/2/See Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. II, Document 248.

/3/Not found.

/4/In telegram DEF 923923, January 22, the Department of Defense transmitted to CINCPAC preliminary fiscal year 1965-1968 dollar guidelines for military assistance programs for countries in the East Asia area, including Vietnam. (Washington National Records Center, RG 319, U.S. Army Message Center Microfilm, Reel 11225)

(1) Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam

1. Pursuant to directives in references (a) and (b), subject plan has been prepared to provide for bringing the counterinsurgency effort to a successful conclusion, withdrawing U.S. special military assistance, and developing within GVN a capability to defend against the continuing threat in Southeast Asia.

2. The primary limiting factor in developing this plan was the GVN capability to provide necessary trained personnel within a short period of time to efficiently assume those special functions now being executed by U.S. military personnel. Shortages of junior leaders, pilots and personnel with special skills will exist to some extent into FY 65. However, such shortages are not considered of sufficient magnitude to affect the feasibility of the plan.

3. Concurrent with the development of this plan, it was necessary to revise the FY 63 MAP to support the intensified counterinsurgency effort. As the plan developed it became apparent it could not be treated apart from MAP. Therefore, the period covered by the plan was extended through FY 68 to show the cost and phasing of forces in relationship with the FY 63-68 MAP. It is emphasized that the Comprehensive Plan has been developed using factors based on in-country experience to date and is subject to change. Order of magnitude dollar figures have been used in some cases, particularly with respect to construction. It does not represent a refined detailed program. This will be accomplished during the development of the FY 64-69 MAP.

4. The Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) program (Switchback) is an important counterinsurgency force, complementary to other programs in SVN and has been integrated into the Comprehensive Plan. However, experience on the ground has shown that this program is not susceptible to MAP procedures and should be treated as a separate but related program.

5. To defeat the insurgency by the end of 1965 and effect early withdrawal of U.S. special military assistance, it will be necessary to accelerate training, equipment deliveries, and combat operations. Comparing the DOD dollar guidelines provided in reference (c) with the Comprehensive Plan costs extended through FY 69, the net difference is about 66 million dollars. The preponderance of the increase is required in FY 64.

6. The plan has been developed by COMUSMACV, coordinated with the SVN Country Team and concurred in by the Ambassador.

7 It is recommended that:

a. The Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam be approved as the basis for the development of the FY 64-69 MAP for South Vietnam./5/

/5/On March 7, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended adoption of the Comprehensive Plan; see Document 51.

b. Switchback be funded from sources outside of PACOM MAP.

c. Administration of Switchback funds be accomplished through DA channels, and authority be granted to dispense funds in an unvouchered manner and without compliance with a number of requirements that cannot be observed in an operation of this nature.

H.D. Felt



Memorandum From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Harking) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt)/6/

Saigon, January 19, 1963.


Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam

1. References:

a. JCS Msg 5455, DTG 262318Z Jul 62.
b. CINCPAC Msg DTG 140428Z Aug 62./7/
c. OSD Wash DC Msg DTG 082316Z Jan 63./8/
d. CINCPAC Msg DT-G 100910Z Jan 63./9/

/7/Not found.

/8/In telegram 082316Z to CINCPAC, January 8, the Department of Defense asked for CINCPAC comment on proposed FY 63-FY 64 funding from MAP contingency reserves. (Washington National Records Center, RG 319, U.S. Army Message Center Microfilm, Reel 11208)

/9/In telegram 100910Z, January 10, CINCPAC reported to JCS that preparations were being made for the scheduled visit to Vietnam by General Wheeler and a JCS team. CINCPAC also commented on the continuing impact of the Ap Bac battle, and pointed to contrasting successes on the part of the South Vietnamese army. (Washington National Records Center, RG 319, U.S. Army Message Center Microfilm, Reel 11254)

2. In compliance with instructions contained references a. and b., an outline Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam (CPSVN) covering the period FY 63-68 is hereby provided.

3. In view of the close relationship between this plan and the Military Assistance Plan, they should not continue to be treated as separate entities.

4. Consideration of the source and method of funding Switchback has been included in the plan, as well as the relationship of the CIDG Program to the GVN military and paramilitary forces.

5. It is recommended that:

a. The Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam (CPSVN) be approved as the basis for preparation of the FY 64-69 MAP for South Vietnam.

b. Funding of Switchback in FY 64 and future years not be funded by the Vietnam MA Program.

c. Funds to support Switchback be administered through DA channels.

6. The US Ambassador concurs.

Paul D. Harkins




1. Requirement

During the Secretary of Defense Conference of 23 July 1962 in Hawaii, action was directed to develop a Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam (CPSVN), looking ahead for three years and covering requirements in all categories of Government of Vietnam (GVN) military personnel, training and equipment. The plan was to be designed to meet the GVN military needs on an orderly basis so that, as US special military support assistance is withdrawn, the GVN would have developed the skills and the means to assume the total military responsibility.

2. Guidance

The CPSVN was developed by COMUSMACV based on the following CINCPAC guidance:

a. Objective

Develop a capability within military and pare-military forces of the GVN by the end of CY 65 that will help the GVN to achieve the strength necessary to exercise permanent and continued sovereignty over that part of Vietnam which lies below the demarcation line without the need for continued US special military assistance.

b. Assumptions

(1) The insurgency will be under control at the end of three years (end of CY 65).

(2) Extensive US support will continue to be required during the three year period, both to bring the insurgency under control and to prepare GVN forces for early take-over of US activities.

(3) Previous MAP funding ceilings for SVN are not applicable. Program those items essential to do the job.

3. Concept

a. General

To accomplish the objective of the CPSVN and bring the insurgency under control, several programs are developing along parallel lines and will become integrated and mutually supporting as the ultimate objective is achieved. Concurrent with the development of the CPSVN, the FY 63 MAP was revised to support the intensified counterinsurgency effort and has now become the FY 63 portion of the CPSVN. The FY 64-68 portion of the CPSVN constitutes an outline plan which will serve as the basis for the refinement and development of the FY 64-69 MAP.

b. National Campaign Plan (NCP)

The NCP establishes a concept for conducting an aggressive offensive campaign against the Viet Cong (VC) on a national basis. Tactical operations are being intensified with the view toward drawing the VC into areas where they can be destroyed. Areas within each province which are controlled by the GVN will be expanded through continuous operations, moving into uncontrolled areas immediately adjacent to controlled areas, consolidating, annexing, and expanding again. Those areas which are not controlled by the GVN will be subjected to continuous pressure by the military forces until they can be brought under martial law. Every effort will be made by all available forces in each province to maintain continuous pressure on the VC requiring them to keep moving until they are forced to stand and fight or surrender. The NCP stresses that operations will use every conceivable means to intensify offensive action. Close and rapid follow-up of military successes will be made by civic action teams. All programs will be integrated to support the NCP. The Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF), Civil Guard (CG), Self Defense Corps (SDC), Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (CIDG), and Strategic Hamlet Program will be brought into play in the consolidation effort to organize and secure rural communities and to restore normal GVN control with civil law and order throughout SVN. To have a better appreciation of the over-all concept it is necessary to examine the relationship of the Strategic Hamlet Program and the CIDG.

c. The Strategic Hamlet Program

Strategic Hamlet operations consist of the civil-military measures necessary to gain or maintain security of village and hamlet communities and establish presence of the government among the people. This program is conducted in those areas where GVN control and authority are reasonably well established and recognized by the people. The basic purpose is to isolate the people from the VC physically and ideologically. This is accomplished by providing the people the means for self protection from VC reprisals and denying the VC information, recruits, food and shelter. All agencies of the GVN must contribute to these operations. Plans provide for the civil consolidation of security gained initially by military action.

d. The Civilian Irregular Defense Group Program

Concurrently with the development of the Strategic Hamlet Program, the CIDG Program is being developed in those areas of SVN where GVN authority is not recognized by the people and the efforts by RVNAF to establish law and order would be actively resisted. This is not to imply that these people are necessarily sympathetic to the VC. They are ethnic tribes and minority groups who have not previously been under governmental controls. Thus, they are prime targets for the VC as a source of food, shelter, labor and intelligence. The CIDG program was initiated in 1961 for the purpose of clearing and holding specified VC controlled areas of SVN through the motivation, organization, training and arming of these non-GVN controlled groups. Responsibility for this program is currently being passed [less than 1 line not declassified] to COMUSMACV, under Switchback and is being executed by USA Special Forces. CIDG forces may reach a peak strength of 100,000 by July 1964, [1-1/2 lines not declassified]. The source of CIDG personnel and responsibilities for the program are portrayed at Enclosure (1)./10/

/10/None of the enclosures is printed.

e. Transition and Disposition of SVN Forces

There will be a "phase down'' of CIDG forces as the areas in which they operate come under GVN control. Concurrent with this "phase down'' the SDC and/or CG will establish GVN control in these areas. The CIDG personnel will then either be absorbed into the National Police, SDC, CG, RVNAF or demobilized. Subsequent to the period of the insurgency, steps will be taken to revert from martial law and re-establish civil law and order as quickly as possible. At this time military and pare-military forces will revert to their peacetime role and the National Police Force will assume the task of maintaining civil law and order. The above concept is portrayed graphically at Enclosure (2).

4. Force objectives for South Vietnam

Force objectives for SVN should provide the capability to defeat the current insurgency with US special military assistance; defeat any new insurgency threat which may arise after phase down and withdrawal of US special military assistance; and provide an initial defense against overt invasion until outside forces can be introduced. Total SVN forces contemplated under the CPSVN increase to a possible peak strength of 575,000 in FY 64 as portrayed at Enclosure (3). However, it is emphasized that this peak strength will probably not be reached as the CIDG will be continually demobilized or absorbed by the CG and SDC as the GVN control expands. There is a rapid decrease commencing in FY 65 as the CIDG is replaced by GVN forces and the paramilitary forces are phased down. After withdrawal of US special military assistance no significant reductions in levels or in number and types of RVNAF units are contemplated in view of the threat of re-insurgency and overt aggression. This threat will probably continue for an extended period of time unless there occurs an unforeseen change in international attitudes resulting in a definite relaxing of tensions and cold war activities throughout Southeast Asia.


The RVNAF force structure shown at Enclosure (4) can be supported by the currently authorized (by JCS for MAP support) strength of 225,000, except during FY 64 and FY 65. During these years it will be necessary to provide a maximum of 6,000 additional spaces to accommodate an increased number of trainees, students, and patients (pipeline), additional logistical and administrative support units, and for minor changes in combat forces. Increases in pipeline personnel are necessary to support an intensified training program and provide for higher patient density during peak fighting period. After FY 65 the strength level can be reduced to 224,000, primarily as a result of a decrease in pipeline personnel. It should be noted that this strength is 6,000 less than that contained in the FY 63-68 MAP.

(1) The Army is being reorganized as a four corps force of nine divisions. By eliminating the restoration of the fourth rifle company previously planned for each infantry battalion, and making other adjustments, sufficient spaces can be generated during FY 63 and FY 64 to expand the training base, round out logistical and administrative support forces and provide minor augmentations for combat units. An additional 5,000 spaces above the original MAP figure of 204,000 in FY 64 will be required to provide adequate pipeline spaces to maintain unit operational effectiveness. A reduction to 202,000 by end FY 66 can be made in view of decreased requirements for pipeline personnel.

(2) Major changes in the Navy force structure are the deletion of a high speed transport (APD), the addition of a River Escort Group and five Coastal Surveillance Command Centers (CSCC), and increased personnel for the Junk Force. The River Escort Group will provide protection for essential cargo traffic in the delta area. The CSCC are required to control the Junk Fleet of 644 junks and coordinate the coastal surveillance effort.

(3) The Air Force structure has been revised to place increased emphasis on the counterinsurgency effort in the FY 63-65 time frame. A third fighter squadron is activated in FY 63 rather than FY 65. Augmentation of the liaison capability has been expanded from three squadrons (66 aircraft) to four squadrons (80 aircraft) in FY 64. The number of helicopter squadrons is increased from two to four in FY 65, rather than waiting until FY 68 to achieve an increased capability. The introduction of jet fighter aircraft has been slipped from FY 65 to FY 66 and the total number of squadrons has been increased from one to two by FY 67. The initial introduction of jet aircraft in FY 63 in the form of four RT-33s and two T-33s is dependent upon the lifting of the State Department suspension stemming from the Geneva Accords.

b. Paramilitary Forces

During FY 63-65 the paramilitary elements will be expanded as indicated in Enclosure (4) in accordance with the time phased requirements of clear and hold operations and the Strategic Hamlet Program. The CG and SDC will be increased to maximum strengths in FY 64 of 101,000 for the CG (current authorization 90,000) and 122,000 for the SDC (current authorization 80,000). Requirements for this phased build up include the need to formalize GVN control in areas in which the CIDG elements have achieved a reasonable degree of security. After FY 65 it is expected that the CG strength will be phased downward as it assumes the role of a provincial force to counter reinsurgency. The SDC will be reduced after FY 65 by transfer to the National Police Force and demobilization. A total of 4,600 junk sailors will be required to man the 644 junks.

c. Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG)

Total planned US supported SVN forces include the CIDG as shown on Enclosure (4). The CIDG is an important counterinsurgency force which is complementary to RVNAF, SDC, and CG. With respect to the CIDG, the 18 months between end FY 64 and end CY 65 must be considered the maximum effort "phase down'' months for the CIDG, during which time the strength of these forces is reduced from a ceiling of 116,000 to a theoretical zero.

d. Hamlet Militia

The strategic hamlet kits programmed for FY 63 and FY 64 will provide ordnance materiel support for approximately 201.6 thousand hamlet militia personnel. Subsequent to FY 65, this force will rapidly decline in strength, and weapons will be withdrawn as civil law and order is restored.

5. Personnel Training Feasibility

a. Training proposed in the CPSVN is adequate to provide the personnel required to execute the plan within the three-year period. Shortages of personnel in critical categories of pilots, junior leaders and special skills will exist to some extent during the three-year period, but they are not considered sufficient to affect the feasibility of the plan.

b. Specific requirements for critical categories of personnel are listed below:

(1) Helicopter Pilots: Availability of helicopter pilots in FY 63 for two squadrons totaling 22 aircraft will be five short of the optimum requirement of 64. The 108 pilots required to permit increase of the total aircraft in the two squadrons to 40 in FY 64 will be available. The 228 pilots required to permit increase to four helicopter squadrons in FY 65 will be available.

(2) Pilots--All Other: This requirement will increase to a peak of 572 in FY 65. Sufficient pilots to meet this requirement will be available by mid-FY 65 (end CY 64). This category includes approximately 180 command control pilot positions.

(3) ARVN Officers and NCO's: The peak requirement for ARVN officers is 15,837 in FY 64 and can be supported. The peak requirement for ARVN NCO's is 35,743 in FY 64 and can be supported.

(4) CG Officers and NCO's: The peak requirement for CG officers and NCO's is 5,513 and 20,330 respectively in FY 64 and FY 65. Sufficient officers will be available by mid-FY 64. Shortage of NCO's in mid-FY 64 will approximate 30%. This will be reduced to a 5% shortage by mid-FY 65 and thereafter planned availability will match requirements.

(5) SDC Platoon and Squad Leaders: The peak requirement for platoon leaders will increase to 5,080 by mid-FY 65, and for SDC squad leaders to 9,240 in mid-FY 65. Sufficient platoon leaders and squad leaders will be available to meet the requirement.

(6) VNN Officers and Petty Officers: The requirement for VNN officers is about 700 in FY 65 and thereafter. By FY 65, 90% of the required officers will be available, with the remainder becoming available in the first part of FY 66. The availability of petty officers matches requirements at 1,860 in FY 65 and the supply will meet the demand as it rises to a maximum of about 1900 in FY 68.

(7) VNMC Officers and NCO's: The Marine Brigade will reach its required strength of 270 officers and 990 NCO's in FY 63.

(8) ARVN Troposcatter Units: It is planned that the ARVN will take over operation of the US troposcatter system in FY 66. The requirement for troposcatter operators and related radio-relay operator-repairmen at that time is 600. A 19% shortage of ARVN troposcatter personnel will exist in FY 66. Off-shore schooling is the only source for the training and it is not feasible to plan on producing trained personnel at a faster rate. The shortage should be corrected by mid-FY 67.

(9) Medical Officers:

(a) The requirement for medical officers is 890. At the end of FY 65 a 39% shortage will exist, with this shortage being reduced to 23% at the end of FY 68.

(b) The requirement has been developed using modified US standards. By these standards the situation appears critical throughout the planning years. However, the military forces have above average medical support when compared to in-country civilian standards.

(c) The sole source of medical officers is from the Saigon Medical School. At present ARVN takes approximately 50% of the 80 doctors trained annually. If more were taken by the military, it would be at the expense of the civilian population.

6. Planned Phase-Out of US Forces and Activities

a: Activation of RVNAF units listed below will permit relief of US units indicated:


Year To Be Operational

To Be Equipped by Transfer From US Units

Permits Relief of US Unit

ARVN Troposcatter Radio Unit


Yes, Incl Tropo system

1 Army Troposcatter Co

2 VNAF CH-34C Helo Sqdn


No, 40 MAP a/c

2 Army H-21 Sqdns

Ln Sqdn (U/E increase and activation of 4th Sqdn)


Yes, 3 L-20 (and 20 L-19 unless Cessna 185 is acceptable)

Equivalent Army Element

b. As indicated in Enclosure (5), the phase-out of the US special military assistance is envisioned as generally occurring during the period July 1965-June 1966, with earlier phase-down (or phase-out where feasible) of US units and activities taking place concurrently as RVNAF becomes sufficiently proficient and qualified to assume their functions. The major commands of USMACV stationed in SVN primarily for the purpose of providing special military assistance which will not be required after the US objectives in SVN have been met are:

(1) The US Marine Element which provides helicopter transportation support.

(2) The 2d Air Division which provides the USAF portion of the special military assistance support performed in SVN. This support includes such major contributions as operation "Farmgate'' (Fighter), "Mule Train'' (Transportation), and "Able Mable'' (Reconnaissance). It also provides USAF administration and logistical support for USAF personnel and equipment engaged in special military assistance to

(3) US Army Support Group Vietnam (USASGV) which provides the US Army portion of the special military assistance support for SVN (except that performed by MAAG and Headquarters MACV) including helicopter and fixed wing air transportation, signal communications, and special forces. It also provides US administrative and logistical support for assigned and attached personnel and equipment engaged in the special military assistance.

(4) Headquarters Support Activity Saigon (HSAS) which provides administrative support to the US Headquarters and other US government sponsored agencies and activities located in Saigon.

c. No increase in MAAG Vietnam is proposed during the three-year period through FY 65 except for 127 civic action medical personnel. MAAG strength will be reduced by one-half after FY 65. The reduced strength contemplates the minimum essential personnel required to continue necessary advisory and military assistance functions, and to assume those functions in SVN currently executed by Headquarters USMACV and HSAS, which are assumed to be phased out at that time.

7. Cost Data

a. The FY 63 MAP was revised to provide support of the objectives of the CPSVN in accordance with the concept in paragraph 3 above. The revised FY 63 MAP, held within the OSD-approved fund ceiling of 187 million for FY 63 was forwarded to OSD on January 1963./11/

/11/Not found.

b. Order of magnitude costs ($ millions) of the CPSVN in comparison with the original FY 63-68 MAP are as shown in Enclosure (6) and summarized below:


FY 63

FY 64

FY 65

FY 66

FY 67

FY 68










Original MAP (a)
















CIDG (b)





(a) Packing, crating, handling and transportation (PCHT) costs excluded.

(b) Funded FY 63 by OSD MAP Contingency Reserve. Source FY 64 funds unresolved.

c. Materiel Costs

(1) The following tabulation reflects the materiel cost comparison between the original MAP and CPSVN:


FY 63

FY 64

FY 65

FY 66

FY 67

FY 68










Original MAP
















(2) Increases in costs throughout the plan years are generally attributable to the earlier acquisition of major items of material, increased usage rates, and to the costs of intensified training programs. The additional material costs are particularly evident in the Air Force program as a result of the earlier acquisition of aircraft and the increased aircraft flying hour authorizations. Increased training ammunition requirements are due to the training program placing increased emphasis on completing required courses; increased availability of trainees; and, in the later plan years, an extensive replacement training program.

(3) Significant materiel changes contributing to net cost increases are as indicated below:

(a) FY 64--Increases in operational ammunition required for intensified combat; acceleration of communication equipment from FY 68 to FY 64 to permit relief of the US troposcatter unit FY 66; material for 2053 strategic hamlet kits, early funding for 40 CH-34 helicopters. Significant decreases involved in the changed cost include the deletion of: F-86 aircraft, war reserve ammunition, previously planned addition of a fourth rifle company to each infantry battalion, and an additional airborne battalion.

(b) FY 65--Acquisition of 10 F5 A/B aircraft; and deletion of two F86F attrition aircraft with Follow-On Spares (FOS).

(c) FY 66--Acquisition of 19 F5 A/B aircraft, and deletion of two F86F attrition aircraft and FOS and cancellation of an APD activation.

(d) FY 67--Acquisition of 11 F5 A/B aircraft and 16 RF-5B aircraft; and the deletion of 20 CH-34 helicopters.

(e) FY 68--Deletion of 18 F-104G aircraft and advance funding FY 64 troposcatter equipment

d. Construction Costs.

(1) The difference in the cost of the construction program is summarized in the following table


FY 63

FY 64

FY 65

FY 66

FY 67

FY 68










Original MAP
















(2) The construction programs in the Revised FY 63 MAP and FY 63 CPSVN are the same, except for minor revisions to be made by deviation without increasing the total cost.

(3) As indicated in the above table, there is a significant increase in the construction program during the period FY 64-68. The major increases occur in FY 64 and FY 67. The increase in FY 64 is generated by the following requirements:

(a) Construct facilities at three major Navy installations.

(b) Construct one airfield in the delta area and complete airfield construction at Da Nang.

(c) Improve two airfields in the delta area and two in Central SVN.

(d) Provide miscellaneous support facilities at seven airfields.

(4) The increased cost in FY 67 is to construct a jet-capable airfield in east Central SVN.

e. Training Costs.

(1) A comparison of training costs is reflected in the following


FY 63

FY 64

FY 65

FY 66

FY 67

FY 68










Original MAP
















(2) For FY 63, except for deviations which may be necessary to meet operational considerations during the balance of the fiscal year, the requirements of the approved FY 63 MAP and the CPSVN are identical.

(3) The increase in FY 64 and FY 65 is attributable to accelerated training for officers, NCOs, specialists, and technicians with particular emphasis on junior leaders, pilots and communications personnel.

(4) The decreases in the FY 66-68 period are attributable to a phase-down of MAAG personnel and the training of pilots and communications personnel now planned for FY 64-65.

f. Support of CIDG

The CIDG is not susceptible to MAP support procedures. Selected groups receive support from other US sources and experience on the ground clearly indicates that the concept of irregular warfare must be designed to immediately exploit local politico-military successes in the battle for the people. The arming, training and support of irregulars must be carried out with the ultimate in flexibility of funding (to include necessary deviations) and administrative support. Current MAP lead times and administrative practices are unacceptable if the successes gained by the CIDG program to date are to be continued and exploited to the maximum degree.

g. Piaster Support

The proposed increase in force levels in FY 64 will cost an estimated additional 846 million plasters (an equivalent of $11.6 million at 73 to 1) and represents a 3% increase in the GVN national budget. The estimate was made using a straight line projection and costs per person derived from the CY 63 GVN budget applied to the FY 64 force levels. The estimate included the plaster cost of maintaining the RVNAF, CG, SDC and Junk Force; but excluded the cost of the strategic hamlet program since it is monitored by USOM. A major portion of the plaster cost of maintaining the RVNAF is borne by the counterpart fund and a significant, though minor, part of the cost is borne by the GVN. All of the plaster cost for the maintenance and support of the CG, SDC and the Junk Force is borne by the GVN and is a real part of the cost of the counterinsurgency effort. In view of the fact that generation of counterpart plasters from US AID Programs for the first few months of this fiscal year has lagged behind last year's rate and that the CPSVN requires additional plasters in FY 64, the GVN will have to undertake an additional amount of deficit financing. Such financing may raise the inflationary pressure on the plaster and increase the possibility that further inflation will occur. This risk is small when compared to the over-all magnitude of the effort involved in SVN.

8. Summary

a. To prosecute the counterinsurgency effort to a successful conclusion and develop a GVN capability to defend against the continuing threat in Southeast Asia, it is necessary to temporarily increase the SVN force levels, provide essential equipment, and develop a GVN military posture similar to that contained in the CPSVN. The cost of such a program will be roughly the same as that contained in the CPSVN, but spread over a longer period of time. Therefore, to accomplish the ultimate objective of the CPSVN, early withdrawal of US special military assistance, the major costs of the program must be compressed into the FY 63-65 time frame. This is pointed out in the following table which compares the DOD dollar guideline with the CPSVN costs:

CPSVN-DOD Dollar Guidelines Cost Comparison


FY 63

FY 64

FY 65

FY 66

FY 67

FY 68










DOD Guidelines
















PCHT Added
















(a) Excludes PCHT
(b) Estimated by CINCPAC

b. It is emphasized that the Comprehensive Plan has been developed using factors based on in-country experience to date and is. subject to change. Order of magnitude dollar figures have been used in some cases, particularly with respect to construction. It does not represent a refined detailed program. This will be accomplished during the development of the FY 64-69 MAP.

[Here follow the enclosures: 1. "Chart, Non-MAP Supported Paramilitary Operations in SVN'', 2. "Chart, SVN Forces-Mix and Integration'', 3. "Graph, Total US Supported SVN Forces'', 4. "Table, Force Structure'', 5. "Table, Forecast of Phase-out of US Forces'', and 6. "Chart, Cost Comparison''.]



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