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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 31-59

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

Washington, February 6, 1963, 1:10 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 19-3 US-S VIET Secret. Drafted by Heavner, cleared by Wood and Rice and in the Department of Defense in draft by Bundy. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.

771. Embtels 644,/2/ 686./3/ After weighing all factors concerned and taking into account your views and those DOD, it is Department's view that we should not commit ourselves at this time to turn over jets (RT-33 and T-33) to GVN.

/2/Not printed.

/3/See footnote 2, Document 13.

Recognize need for increased reconnaissance capability and desirability of having GVN embark on this task as part of overall long-term policy giving GVN increasing responsibility for its own defense. However, due to overriding political considerations, involving escalation from US-controlled to GVN-controlled jets as this might affect NVN, Laos situation and Cambodia, we cannot afford take unnecessary international risks now.

You should, therefore, inform Thuan in terms you think appropriate that we are not prepared to turn over jets at this time. FYI. We are prepared to review this question periodically and propose to do so next in March. End FYI.



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

Washington, February 7, 1963, 2 p.m.

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

Mr. Johnson, The Attorney General, Mr. Bell, Mr. Murrow, Mr. Forrestal, Mr. Bundy vice Mr. Gilpatric, General Krulak vice General Taylor, Mr. Colby vice Mr. McCone
Mr. Wood was present for Items 1 and 2

1. Report by General Krulak/2/ on the Situation in South Viet-Nam

/2/General Krulak was a member of the investigative mission headed by General Wheeler sent to Vietnam by the JCS in January. For the report of that mission, see Document 26.

General Krulak prefixed [prefaced?] his remarks with the comment that he believes real progress has been made in the struggle against the Viet Cong since the occasion of his last visit during the summer of 1962. There has been a continuous improvement in intelligence activities and apparent modest gains in the economic area. Vietnamese military operations are moving in the right direction, although more urging is required by U.S. advisors to maintain this momentum.

On the negative side, General Krulak stated that the MAAG and the Assistance Command could be drawn closer together. Coordination of air operations should be improved. Reaction time for air support must be reduced, greater rapport must be established with the Vietnamese in order to obtain advance information on planned operations. Rules of engagement should be modified to permit U.S. armed helicopters to fire upon the Viet Cong without having to wait to be fired upon.

Relative to these rules, the Attorney General suggested that an early decision should be sought as to whether or not this would be desirable. General Krulak will follow through on this. General Krulak continued by stating that Vietnamese morale is good, and suggested that Viet Cong morale is deteriorating. The latter judgment was based on increased defections, the difficulty in retaining personnel, and their demonstrated need to capture supplies, especially medicines.

General Krulak emphasized the need to relieve our logistical system from supporting any effort not essential to the struggle. As an example, he pointed out that in the field of research and development a number of test projects are being carried out which could be conducted elsewhere. JCS will take action to resolve this problem. Infiltration of personnel and equipment by the Viet Cong continues both by land and sea. Captured Chinese weapons are tangible evidence of the infiltration of supplies from outside South Viet-Nam. The members agreed with an observation by the Chairman that it is especially important to develop some hard evidence of this infiltration of personnel and supplies in order that it may be presented to Moscow with another version for release to the press. Mr. William Jorden of the Department of State is scheduled to depart for South Viet-Nam for the express purpose of developing such a substantiated report.

2. Paramilitary Training in South Viet-Nam

The members expressed their desire that in the transfer of responsibility for certain Montagnard training programs to DOD we do not lose the long-term assets [less than 1 line not declassified]. In particular, the members expressed concern at the prospect of Special Forces personnel handling these projects with only a six-months tour in South Viet-Nam. The members agree that while it might not be necessary for personnel conducting normal instruction to stay longer than this period, certain key personnel should be assigned for longer periods.

Mr. Bundy explained the current funding problem for DOD is how to handle the Montagnard training program, as well as other paramilitary programs within normal military accounting procedures. However, arrangements are currently being worked out [less than 1 line not declassified] within Defense to resolve this problem. It was noted that it might be necessary to revise NSAM 57,/3/ which is the basis for this transfer of responsibility to DOD.

/3/Not printed.

Mr. Colby explained that the difficulty of presenting a clear organizational chart for the diverse paramilitary groups in South Viet-Nam resulted from the fact that these groups were developed wherever a potential existed rather than based on a preconceived plan. However, understanding of missions and coordination of operations does exist at the district and provincial level.

The members expressed concern over the prospect of the creation. Of approximately a 50,000 man police program for South Viet-Nam prior to the development of adequate coordination mechanisms for existing paramilitary forces.


A. The Chairman called the attention of the members to Embassy Saigon Telegram No. 726,/4/ which provides an analysis of the press problem.

/4/Document 30.

[Here follows a reference to a scheduled visit of the Interdepartmental Team to Africa.]

James W. Dingeman
Executive Secretary


33. Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Harriman)/1/

Washington, February 8, 1963.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, Schlesinger Papers, South Vietnam. Secret. A copy was also sent to Hilsman.

Contacts with Vietnamese Opposition

In our report/2/ Roger and I did suggest that consideration be given to expanding the contacts between U.S. personnel in Saigon and noncommunist elements of the Vietnamese opposition.

/2/Document 19.

There are, I think, two major reasons for doing this. First, it would be part of a carefully designed program to establish a somewhat more independent U.S. position in SVN. Second, it should eventually increase our alternatives in the event of an accident which results in a shift in the government.

I agree with Fritz Nolting that there are dangers in raising old suspicions in the mind of President Diem and his family about U.S. intentions. But I think that the risks in remaining too closely tied to Diem's government will increase rather than decrease as time goes on.

If the field agrees with the suggestion, I should imagine they would want to move with great caution, and I would agree. If I were Fritz, I would simply encourage our people in Saigon to be available to non-governmental personalities and to listen to their problems. I would avoid at the outset any involvement in officially disapproved activities, but I would not discourage reporting. [1 sentence (1-1/2 lines) not declassified] I have in mind one such area which could be reexamined and that is the trade union movement. As I understand it, the government is starting to take repressive measures against Mr. Brui's [Buu's] union which is the only legitimate labor organization in the country. I would think we might attempt to counter some of these measures by discreet support of this labor organization, if we believe it is soundly based.

At some point, of course, Diem will become aware of shift in our present policy of total public and private support of his person and family. We should face this likelihood squarely and without guilt feelings. It may be necessary to re-state to him as smoothly but as firmly as possible, that the interests of the United States require that we maintain a friendly attitude towards all his people, that we must inform ourselves of all opinion in Vietnamese society, and that, occasionally, we must speak out as frankly as he does on matters on which we have honest differences of opinion.

All this is rather vague and I am quite aware that neither casual visitors to Saigon nor the Department itself can give specific advice on such a matter to our people in the field. The most we can do is to raise questions for consideration and indicate support for broad political principle.

Michael V. Forrestal/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


34. Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Far East, Agency for International Development (Janow)/1/

Washington, February 8, 1963.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Country Series-Vietnam. Secret. Copies were sent also to Byron Engle, Director of the Office of Public Safety in AID, and to Ogden Williams, Special Assistant on the staff of USOM Director Brent in the Embassy in Saigon.

South Vietnam Manpower Problems

I have read Mr. Williams's memorandum to you of February 4th on the police problem of South Vietnam./2/ I think he raises a legitimate point when he emphasizes the care that must be taken to avoid the adverse political consequences of our support of a repressive police force.

/2/The Williams cited here is apparently Ogden Williams. The memorandum has not been found.

I still believe, however, that the overall problem of efficient use of U.S. supported paramilitary organizations in South Vietnam should be reviewed. My understanding of the historical background is that in the early part of last year we were so desperate to get arms into the hands of anyone who would fight the VC, that CAS, AID and MAAG were inclined to provide arms and training to almost any organization in South Vietnam which asked for them. This was a perfectly understandable policy at the time; but the numbers of men and organizations are now reaching a very large total, and I am not convinced that we have a clear idea of the political and military function they will serve.

The police problem is really subsidiary to this manpower problem. R.G.K. Thompson makes a convincing argument that some form of civilian organization is required to relieve the army of normal security functions after an area has been pacified. His major point is that there are no professionally trained people to man mobile check points and other installations to ensure control of the movement of people and property. It is going to take some time to find and train such people, which is why I feel that we should get started before the need becomes country-wide.

From a political point of view, I feel that it is equally important to get population control functions out of the hands of the army and into the hands of carefully trained civilian police types as rapidly as possible. Williams's point is well taken, but this is precisely the reason why our public safety people, who are particularly sensitive about the political problems of the police activities, should be brought in at this early stage.

Only the field, of course, can make sensible judgements about these matters; I would think that a carefully drafted suggestion to them to do some thinking, perhaps in consultation with Thompson, would be useful.

Michael V. Forrestal/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


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

Saigon, February 8, 1963, 4 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, CSM 9-6 S VIET. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.

734. Deptels 618 and 740./2/ All elements TF/Saigon have been intensively examining infiltration problem and have reached following initial conclusions:

/2/In telegram 618 to Saigon, December 21, 1962, the Department of State instructed the Task Force in Saigon to prepare an assessment of the infiltration problem in South Vietnam. The assessment was to focus on three aspects of the problem: possible Communist moves, U.S. and South Vietnamese preventive or reactive moves, and U.S. and South Vietnamese intelligence capability to detect Communist moves. The Task Force was also instructed to consider what measures might be taken to complement military action in order to sustain the South Vietnamese effort in the face of increased infiltration, to forestall increased infiltration through diplomatic and political actions, and to obtain improved intelligence on infiltration. (Ibid., 751K.001/12-2162) Telegram 740 to Saigon, January 26, instructed the Task Force to submit a response to the questions posed in telegram 618, on an interim basis if necessary. (Ibid., 751K.001/1-2663)

I. Possible Communist Moves

A. We believe for immediate future it likely Communists will retain present ideological-military framework (i.e., keeping GVN under as much pressure as possible but stopping short of conventional warfare of movement) hoping for favorable break such as coup or onset of war weariness on part of US or GVN to give Viet Cong opportunity propose political settlement on their terms--international conference and/or establishment of neutral or left-leaning government.

B. If war increasingly goes against them (as we expect during this year), highly probable Communists will increase infiltration. We would expect Communists couple this with political offensive for conference and neutral solution for SVN. If pressure on VC becomes unbearable, we believe Communists would probably choose to go underground rather than resort to steps which would amount to open intervention. Having gone underground, they might work through front groups to attempt to effect change in government and would probably pull cadres back across border into Laos or DRV or into inaccessible areas and continue training against time when armed action might again prove feasible and desirable.

C. Our reading of both Soviet and Chinese policy for this part of world leads us to believe major escalation unlikely. They probably feel that long-range prospects in SEA are on whole favorable and would be reluctant to make move which might provoke direct US intervention. While some indications point to an increase in VC military and political activities in year ahead, these do not imply significant change in character of war. We see at this time no indication from north of preparations for overt intervention.

D. Likewise we discount possibility that Communists would attempt to seize specific area of SVN to serve as seat of "liberation government'' which would then appeal for international recognition. Even with greatly stepped up infiltration from Communist side, strength of RVNAF would be too great to permit VC to exert full military and political control over an identifiable area for any length of time. We recognize that geographic base in SVN is not "sine-qua-non'' for "liberation government''. Would be questionable Communist asset.

II. Communist Capabilities for Infiltration Into SVN

Available documentary evidence on Communist infiltration into SVN (vast majority relating to period prior mid-1962) indicates that primary objective is to provide Viet Cong movement with vitally needed matériel and with human skills which it cannot obtain locally, viz, certain types of arms and munitions, medical supplies, trained cadres and military specialists. VC still relying on local recruitment to fill ordinary manpower needs.

Rate of infiltration has varied from low of 100-200 per month Jan-April 1962 to high of 1,200 during June 1962. Monthly average June-December 1961 was 500-1,000. Difficult judge present rate, but on basis numerous low level and villager sightings and reports we believe infiltration continuing. Intelligence lag is several months because hard evidence needed to substantiate infiltration and establish rate does not normally become available until infiltrators begin to be killed or fall into GVN hands, or documents captured.

Current infiltration operations appear to have dual purpose of improving political and military efficiency of insurgency and providing trained manpower to cadre new units. We believe Communists banking on this type operation to sustain insurgency at current pace or even somewhat higher tempo. We do not know what maximum rate of infiltration (chiefly through Laos, Cambodia and DMZ) Communists could maintain, but note that rate as high as that registered in June did not necessitate fundamental change in nature of infiltration operation. Since that time, however, regroupment of Montagnard population and development of capability of Montagnards to defend themselves and harass VC have certainly increased difficulties VC hard core forces to maintain themselves. Added to this are problems imposed by increasing ARVN forays into VC base areas.

We believe, nevertheless, that they could introduce units up to battalion size and concentrate several if necessary to support critical operations. (Statements of two recent defectors indicate infiltration of battalion-sized group in July and another in August.) We assume DRV units in southern Laos are there to support operations in SVN and could be introduced any time situation dictated. However, unless Communist strategy changed, they would attempt to keep this intervention on a relatively small and clandestine basis.

In sum, as long as infiltration operation [garble--is?] conducted in a clandestine manner, it could vary in intensity from a few hundred crossings a month for purpose of supplying the VC with critically needed equipment and human skills up through introduction of modest number of organized units not exceeding battalion strength. If the Communists decided to up the scale of infiltration to organized units of regimental or division strength, logistic problems involved would probably exceed capabilities of present system and support effort required would destroy clandestine nature of operation.

III. Actions To Forestall Increased Infiltration

Forestalling increased infiltration through diplomatic and political actions will be difficult because: (1) such an increase will likely remain short of overt intervention; (2) US is hampered by lack of direct leverage on countries from which infiltration comes, i.e., DRV, Laos (PL-controlled section) and Cambodia.

In the event of a serious increase in infiltration, there are a number of political and quasi-military courses which might be followed. These could be used by stages, but their effect would probably only be significant if they were part of a package. They might include:

1. Maintaining firm stance, with Western allies, that US would not consider participation in international conference on SVN.

2. Demanding ICC action in Laos and Viet Nam.

3. Warning Russians of danger of escalation. Protesting to them in their role as Geneva Co-Chairman if we can document charge of infiltration through Laos.

4. Invoking SEATO, with the expectation that Council meeting, political pressures and warnings would, if necessary, lead to individual supporting actions by SEATO members rather than to a SEATO operation per se.

5. Active, supporting military countermeasures such as:

A. Aerial reconnaissance of logistic routes in Laos,
B. Anti-infiltration operations outside South Vietnam,
C. Increased harassing and sabotage operations in the DRV.

6. Appeal to UN seeking at least its moral support for counteractions.

We have also continued larger scale actions directed toward hitting Communists where it hurts such as aerial interdiction of Laos supply routes, strikes against selected NVN targets, introduction of US combat units into SVN to oppose infiltration and naval blockade of DRV. The likely consequences of these actions would, of course, have to be considered in light of overall national policy since they involve serious risk of escalation. At this point we would recommend against such measures except in unlikely event of overt intervention. We do believe, however, that their efficacy and feasibility as a response to large-scale infiltration should be investigated.

IV. Updating Jorden Report/3/

/3/Published as "A Threat to the Peace: North Viet-Nam's Effort To Conquer South Viet-Nam" (Department of State Publication 7308, December 1961).

Whatever actions we might undertake, a well-documented case supporting our infiltration charge would appear absolutely essential. Job would be a big one requiring placing [piecing] together numerous bits of information. Other than two previously mentioned defector reports on infiltration in July and August, little or no documentary evidence now available to substantiate infiltration since mid-1962. Experience to date has shown that hard information lags 5-6 months in reaching MACV. With extra effort now being mounted to collect this type info we would hope to begin receiving useful material within next month or two. We would welcome assignment of Jorden to undertake this task on full-time basis as soon as sufficient documentation available so as to have report ready at earliest possible date.

V. [garble] and GVN Capabilities for Detecting Infiltration

With expanding programs along Laos frontier (CIDG, Mountain Scouts, etc.), GVN capability improving rapidly and should be increasingly able, if properly coordinated at central level, to cover area inside SVN's borders. Main problem lies on Laos side. More intensive intelligence collection across border will be necessary to acquire precise info on Communist movements. With present capabilities we could probably detect movement large units into SVN. However, without air surveillance over Laos and covert reconnaissance on the Laos side of the border warning time would be inadequate to insure positive detection.

VI. Sustaining GVN Effort in Face of Increased Infiltration

Question of sustaining GVN effort in face of increased infiltration largely matter of continuing to press forward with counterinsurgency programs already initiated and particularly putting our weight behind National Campaign Plan. It is our judgment that likely scale of increase will not result in any great change in character of war./4/ If, contrary to this expectation, DRV decided to undertake massive intervention, then whole nature of conflict would have changed and we and our allies would be confronted with new decisions. Current US unilateral and SEATO plans address this eventuality.

/4/A marginal notation on the source text, in an unknown hand, reads: "Wishing will make it so.''



36. Memorandum of Conversation Between the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Harriman) and the Chief of Staff, United States Army (Wheeler), Department of State/1/

Washington, February 9, 1963, 11:30 a.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, DEF 19-2 Advisory and Training Asst. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Harriman. Copies were sent to FE, SEA/VN, the Embassy in Saigon for Ambassador Nolting, the White House for Forrestal, and INR for Hilsman. A copy of this memorandum is also in Library of Congress, Harriman Papers.

During his call on me on Saturday, February 9, General Wheeler spoke of General Harkins' difficulties with Diem, and said:

1. General Harkins has been urging Diem to end the small self-defense units which are in static posts. He believes self-defense units should be in larger units, with active patrols laying ambush for Viet Cong.

2. General Harkins feels Diem has been overly cautious in offensive actions in engagement with the Viet-Cong. Diem doesn't want losses. Officers involved in action should be told not to be afraid of blame on account of losses. At the present time, they are afraid if they attack they will be criticized for losses that are sustained.

General Wheeler said that our civilian staff is not restrained in where it travels.

General Wheeler considers the strategic hamlet program good. He spoke well of Rufus Phillips. He indicated that the program was being expanded to take care of additional requirements. He said that none of the radios in strategic hamlets had been lost. Reinforcements are readily available when called for. They were on the alert at the airfields at each of the four Corps areas.

General Wheeler described the U.S. press situation as "terrible.'' He pointed out that there was a good article by Beech in the morning Washington Post. He suggested that there should be a special press tour from U.S. run by Defense. When I questioned him about this, he accepted my suggestion that perhaps it would be better to try to get the press to send especially experienced men out, individually.

It has been arranged that each of the four Corps should have a U.S. press officer to handle the American press when they came there, and also to see that information got out.

Briefings by U.S. military were being conducted to "cut the press in'' on information available to U.S., at least to some degree. He reported excellent relations between Nolting and Harkins. He spoke highly of each.

I suggested that he might wish to develop in more detail his proposal made in the conference with the President, that the South Vietnamese army develop commando capabilities against North Viet-Nam./2/

/2/In another memorandum of this conversation, Harriman noted that he and Wheeler also discussed "the command problem'': "I urged General Harkins should report to the Joint Chiefs, and not CINCPAC, for well-known reasons. He said the Joint Chiefs were considering the matter. He said that confidentially, if left to him, he would take the action we recommend.'' (Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Memoranda of Conversation-Governor Harriman 1963)


37. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Harriman) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor)/1/

Washington, February 9, 1963.

/1/Source: Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, TUVWXYZ. Personal and Confidential.

Dear Max: I had a good talk this morning with General Wheeler about his trip,/2/ and touched on the question of whether General Harkins should report direct to the Joint Chiefs, rather than CINCPAC. This was raised by the President and the Secretary of State in our meeting last week.

/2/See Document 36.

To cite detailed complaints would obscure the main issue which is that if we are to win in Viet-Nam, our people there must have the fullest possible authority with clear lines of responsibility. This is a war of constant, small incidents and innumerable daily problems of every kind. We must leave these decisions to those in the field and permit them to act as quickly as necessary.

What bothers us is that the basic command concept, namely, that there be the closest cooperation and coordination between our military and civilian activities, is not being carried out fully. It does exist in Viet-Nam and in Washington. CINCPAC, however, is off on the side without contact on the political and economic aspects. This is the basic weakness. We are satisfied that it both slows up decisions and leads to military decisions that have not been concerted with the political and economic considerations.

We feel strongly that there would be a substantial benefit if General Harkins as MACV would report directly to the Chiefs of Staff, obtaining, however, logistic support from CINCPAC. We have too much at stake to permit the sensitivity of command procedures to interfere with the most direct and effective channels./3/

/3/In a letter of February 14, Taylor informed Harriman that he had "initiated a directive to the Joint Staff to review this command organization. In making it, we will give close attention to the views contained in your letter.'' (Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, TUVWXYZ)


W. Averell Harriman/4/

/4/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


38. Letter From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Nolting) to the Vietnamese Secretary of State at the Presidency and Assistant Secretary of State for National Defense (Thuan)/1/

Saigon, February 14, 1963.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 19-3 US-S VIET. Secret; Limit Distribution. Transmitted to Washington on February 18 as enclosure 2 to airgram A-435 from Saigon.

Dear Mr. Secretary: My Government has carefully considered the request for four T-33 jet aircraft contained in your letter to me of December, 10, 1962./2/ We appreciate your Government's desire to be come better equipped to counter any threat to South Viet-Nam posed by unauthorized incursions into Vietnamese air space. We understand, however, that there has been no actual confirmation of such incursions and that there is insufficient evidence to concluded that a threat of this kind exists at the present time.

/2/Not found.

My Government's position in this matter rests essentially on the following considerations. The delivery of jet aircraft to your Government could open our two Governments to charges of violating the specific prohibition against jet engines contained in Article 17 of the Geneva Accords. It could also lead to the acquisition of jet aircraft by the North Vietnamese regime, thereby enhancing the threat which that regime poses to South Viet-Nam.

As you know, for some time our Military Assistance Program for Viet-Nam has included four RT-33 jet aircraft. However, because of the considerations referred to above, the delivery of these aircraft has not been authorized. In our view, these considerations continue to outweigh the advantages which a jet reconnaissance aircraft capability would have for our joint efforts to restore internal security in South Viet-Nam. Additionally, the requirement for a jet aircraft reconnaissance capability, as you are aware, is at present being met by other means.

I wish to assure you that we have this matter under continuous study. Should any new information be brought to our attention which would materially change our assessment of the situation, we would be prepared to review our present position.

Accept, Mr. Secretary, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.

Frederick E. Nolting, Jr./3/

/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


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

Washington, February 15, 1963-6:20 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 19 S VIET. Secret. Drafted by Heavner and cleared in FE by Wood, Abram E. Manell, and Harriman, and in P by Robert J. McCloskey. Admiral Heinz in DOD/ISA was informed about the contents of the telegram. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.

807. Embtel 749./2/ Agree that reporters cannot be prevented from observing Farmgate operations but Embassy and MACV should insure that Farmgate cover maintained to extent that there are no stories or publicity on Farmgate given out by US sources. We concerned by news reports US air combat role because (1) this is clear violation Geneva Accords; (2) we have stated repeatedly in public that no US combat forces as such in Viet Nam and these stories give lie to all high officials who have made statement; (3) these stories also give substance to Commie charge this is US war on VN people; (4) combat role US forces may raise demand for Congressional action, since we have repeatedly stated their role limited to advisory logistic.

/2/See footnote 7, Document 30.

We also concerned by stories on US jets doing photo reconnaissance work. We note Feb 7 AP story quotes General Anthis directly on this subject. Policy on jets remains that we will not accuse ourselves of violating Geneva Accords nor give Commies any excuse for overt escalation by admitting that we have introduced jets into Viet Nam.



40. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)/1/


Washington, February 16, 1963.

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

Rules of Engagement for US Helicopters in Vietnam

It came to the attention of General Wheeler's team during his visit to Vietnam, that under local interpretation of JCS instructions, all US aircraft other than Farmgate are precluded from using their weapons until they are actually fired upon even in the case of clearly identified enemy personnel discovered during the progress of combat. This prohibition is more restrictive than the Joint Chiefs of Staff had intended and seriously limits effective self-defense. Accordingly, CINCPAC has been authorized to permit all helicopters to fire on clearly identified Viet Cong elements which are considered to be a threat to the safety of the helicopters and their passengers./2/

/2/On February 25, Chalmers Wood sent a memorandum to Harriman which indicated that the decision to change the rules of engagement for U.S. helicopters in Vietnam had been cleared with the President but not with the Department of State, and had become an embarrassment because of a news leak: "Today's Washington Daily News runs the headline 'New Order to American Troops in Viet Nam . . . "SHOOT FIRST" ' ".

''On reading this headline I called JCS and asked them to send a message to Saigon within 24 hours inquiring under what authority the Secret order changing the rules of engagement for helicopters had been released by informed military sources' to the UPI. I learned that CINCPAC has sent such a message.

''I also asked why JCS had not cleared the order changing the rules of engagement with State. They replied that the Attorney General had wished the matter taken to the President for decision quickly. While this is true, they would not have been delayed if, for example, Bill Bundy had called you on the matter before it went to the White House. DOD has, once again, promised to clear such matters with us in the future.'' (Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, PR-11 Press Relations)

John Mecklin described this as a "spectacular leak'', which "leaked so rapidly that stories appeared in the press before the new rules had even taken effect.'' According to Mecklin, the leak should have been anticipated: "The order had to be circulated among something like a thousand persons, most of them young, embittered helicopter crewmen who had lost buddies to V.C. fire, and many of whom were close personal friends of newsmen.'' (Mecklin, Mission in Torment, p. 119)

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Maxwell D. Taylor
Joint Chiefs of Staff


41. Letter From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Harkins) to President Diem/1/

Saigon, February 23, 1963.

/1/Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 334, MAC/V Files: FRC 69 A 702, 204-58 Command Reporting Files (1963). Secret.

Dear Mr. President: This is a report on progress as I see it in our common drive to put down the Communist Insurgency in the Republic of Vietnam. I feel that this report is particularly timely as we implement the National Campaign Plan.

I am convinced that we have taken the military, psychological, economic and political initiative from the enemy. We have kept steadily mounting pressure on him in all phases of the war to return the loyalty and control of the people to the Government of Vietnam. The next four to eight weeks will tell us all whether or not my conviction is true.

As you know, the Communists' capabilities confronting the Government and people of the Republic of South Vietnam remain very formidable indeed. Capturing the initiative and winning a decisive victory are two very different objectives. Victory is not attainable, if we do not exploit our hard-won initiative. Victory can be delayed indefinitely or never won if we do not act decisively, while applying ever increasing pressure on the enemy in all areas of the conflict.

The VC are still everywhere. They still have much of their relatively secure strategic base structure. If the pressure which we have gradually developed everywhere is allowed to level off or decrease, we will lose the initiative. We have the means to increase this pressure on all fronts beginning now.

I believe we seized the initiative in September or October, though we may not have realized it at that time. Analysis of progress, militarily, politically, economically and psychologically leaves no doubt in my mind. Here are some indicators as we see them--results achieved by not only the RVNAF, but all elements of your government. Results achieved since October 1962 are compared with those during the prior 18 months for which records are available to me.

Prior to October there were 3,089 Strategic Hamlets, protecting 4,096,391 people in varying degrees. On 14 February 1963 6,988,826 people were living in 5049 Strategic Hamlets. If we count the citizens of Vietnam living in the metropolitan areas of Saigon, Dalat, Qui Nhon, Quang Ngai, Danang and Hue, who are not in strategic wards, an additional 823,827 people are living and working in secure conditions. The number of people enjoying the security of Strategic Hamlets will steadily increase as each day passes.

Prior to October, there were many different ideas in the RVNAF and the Provinces on how the VC threat should be defeated. Through your leadership, these differences in methods and strategy have been dramatically reduced. Our advisors report for the first six weeks of 1963 that 80% of the RVNAF effort has been applied to Clear and Hold operations, directly supporting and protecting the Province Rehabilitation and Strategic Hamlet programs.

Militarily, the average number of VC initiated incidents per week prior to October 1962 was 347. Since October it has been 271 with the trend continuing downward.

Prior to October, the VC initiated 98 armed attacks per week, now the average is 80, again the trend downward. Part of the explanation is that the VC has had to increase the size of attacking forces if they hope to be successful. This is good because the VC cannot now be in as many places simultaneously. Militarily, this is good because the VC is exposed to more decisive defeats by the RVNAF.

Another reliable military index is weapons captured. Prior to October the monthly averages were 474 GVN weapons lost and 304 VC weapons captured. Since October the ratio is increasingly in favor of the GVN, 401 GVN weapons lost each month to 506 VC weapons captured.

Rapidly improving communications permit reporting of many smaller scale incidents and engagements which never have come to the attention of Saigon authorities before. I believe the figures we now have are the most reliable possible.

Several primary reasons have made these gains possible. There is ever increasingly effective intelligence on the enemy, military and political. The population is seeing physical evidence of its government's interest and ability to protect and assist them. The VC more and more must rely on force and brutality to supply themselves and recruit personnel at the cost of both the political and psychological support of increasing numbers of the people.

These vital improvements in the RVN position could not have occurred without a steadily improving military situation. The 9th Division has been trained and equipped; their record in full field operations is one of which we all should be proud. The 25th Division will complete its training and be fully equipped for field operations in April. The M-113 units are equipped, trained and operating. The state of training and equipment of the other elements of the RVNAF, combined with steadily improving leadership, have made our gains possible.

There remain several important elements of the RVNAF which are not being used to full advantage. Some of the artillery is not being effectively used. I have directed a study which will develop solid recommendations for improvement. The ARVN reorganization has not proceeded the way we would hope, especially the organization and functions of the ARVN headquarters, as they pertain to logistical operational functions. Control of these functions has been retained at JGS level, whereas in original joint planning it was agreed that they could best be accomplished by ARVN headquarters by delegation of authority and appropriate transfer of personnel. Division TOC's are not yet capable of giving Division Commanders the ability to monitor and control operations that they must have if they are to be effective. The JOC already provides the JGS with much current information. However, operational control must be decentralized to the Corps and Division Commanders who have the responsibility, the means and the tactical knowledge to do the best job possible. As we gain more experience in the new organization of the ARVN, I am confident that these conditions will be corrected.

As you know, the strategic hamlet program--the real core of our effort here in the Republic of Vietnam--is proceeding at a rapid pace. The military clear and hold operations, the construction of defenses and the training and arming of defenders are moving along in a well-planned and coordinated effort. However, I am sure that you will agree with me that the military effort is just half the battle. Along with the military programs there must be other governmental programs such as public health, education, agricultural assistance, psychological warfare, etc., etc., etc. All these are necessary to win the hearts and minds of the people, to inform them of what the government is trying to do, and to assure them that the government is doing everything in its power to suppress the common enemy and restore peace and freedom in the Republic of Vietnam. Therefore I would suggest that all agencies of the government be urged to intensify their efforts within their particular fields so that the National Campaign Plan will not be solely a military effort, but in fact a true national effort. I am not sure at this time that all agencies are completely familiar with the details and objectives of the National Campaign Plan.

What of the enemy? The VC know they have an adversary who, for the first time, is capable of defeating him. They have become the hunted instead of the hunter. Captured documents and personnel, plus other intelligence, reveal VC dismay and concern. However, he is a long way from defeat. He may have more military capability today than he did a year ago. But, he is being driven from the base of his support, the people.

The ever-increasing rate of VC defectors, including hard core people, attest to the enemy's concern. However, the VC can recapture the initiative if the GVN pressure on him is lessened or allowed to level off. In certain areas, notably the Camau peninsula, he is as strong or stronger than ever. In the northern provinces he has the people, organization and forces to turn the tide in his favor if we should allow him to do so.

What of time? Time is on our side if we use the ever-increasing RVN capabilities to steadily increase the pressure on the VC in every way, militarily, politically, economically and psychologically. Time is on the VC's side if this pressure is relaxed, or we rest on our laurels.

Time and weather are either for us or against us. In the high plateau, and in southern Vietnam, half of the dry season has already passed. When the wet season arrives, we will no longer be able to apply all the mobility and firepower we have developed. Between now and then, the VC must not be allowed to regroup or rest. We must attack and destroy them. We must hurt them so badly, that they will be forced to apply all their remaining resources merely to survive. If we don't, the VC may neutralize much of the gain we have won at great cost and effort. In the meantime, we must apply ever increasing pressure on the VC in the north and central coastal areas to make new gains, protect and consolidate those we have won, and prepare for increased operations with the coming of good weather.

Time is on our side, if we use it properly. All plans must guarantee that the VC get no relief from the steadily increasing pressure of our efforts to win the population and put down the Communist insurgency.

The National Campaign Plan which you have recently approved places high priority on eliminating the enemy ability to infiltrate into the Republic of Vietnam and to move about the country. We must succeed in this task.

I conclude that the Republic of Vietnam is defeating the VC. I conclude that to relent now, in optimism over the favorable results and achievements of the past few months could be ruinous or fatal to the RVN counterinsurgency. Your senior military and political leaders in the field sense that victory for the first time is in their grasp. Your armed forces rank and file are as fine soldiers as exist in the world today. They are young and ready to carry on with the fight. Their leaders, tired as they are of a generation of fighting for their country and very existence, have the skill and determination to lead them to victory. The means and morale needed for RVN victory over the insurgents are evident everywhere.

As for me and my advisors, I now see the way clear to achieve decisive military results in the next six months which will permit the ultimate complete defeat of the Communists in the Republic of Vietnam. There will be bitter fighting for much longer but the military result should not be in doubt. The tremendous task of transforming a colonial empire into a prosperous, proud and democratic Republic, a model for all of Asia, will take even longer. The means of military victory are now in hand. The foundations of liberty and prosperity are in process. Time is the key to our success or failure. I urge that we use time to our advantage-give the enemy no rest. Attack on all fronts until the Communist insurgency is put down and they are driven from the country, physically and spiritually./2/

/2/In telegram 132315Z from CINCPAC to DIA, Admiral Felt quoted extensively from this letter, and noted that he concurred "wholeheartedly'' in it. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, 2/63-3/63)

Paul D. Harkins/3/
General, United States Army

/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


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

Washington, February 25, 1963, 12:19 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/MANSFIELD. Official Use Only; Priority. Drafted by Wood and cleared in SEA by Deputy Director Norman B. Hannah. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD and pouched to Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Rangoon, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila.

822. Ref Saigon's 771./2/ Herewith principal points re Viet-Nam in Senate Foreign Relations Report "Viet-Nam and Southeast Asia'':/3/

/2/In telegram 771 from Saigon, February 25, the Embassy requested the text of those portions of the Mansfield report that dealt with Vietnam. (Ibid.)

/3/The report, Viet-Nam and Southeast Asia: Report of Senator Mike Mansfield, Senator J. Caleb Boggs, Senator Claiborne Pell, and Senator Benjamin A. Smith, was released as a Senate Foreign Relations Committee print on February 25. For background on the preparation of the report, see footnote 4, Document 24. The report was generally known as the Mansfield report.

I. Letter of transmittal (Mansfield to Fulbright).

(1) Focus report is Viet-Nam.

(2) Mansfield expresses "great admiration'' for Diem, but voices deep concern over trend in VN in seven years since last Mansfield visit. "Viet-Nam now appears to be, as it was then, only at the beginning of a beginning in coping with its grave inner problems.''

II Body of report.

(1) During lull in struggle (1955-1959) considerable constructive work undertaken, but in past three years these achievements overshadowed by resumption guerrilla war.

(2) By 1961 total collapse in VN dangerously close. A joint US-VN re-evaluation undertaken. Vietnamese themselves devised new strategic theories to meet situation.

(3) Strategy three-fold: to win Montagnards in order to render hazardous VC supply lines, to enable ARVN seize initiative, and to regroup rural population into strategic hamlets.

(4) Responsible Americans and Vietnamese directing operations predict "success in a year or two''. Success defined as "reduction of guerrillas to point where they no longer serious threat to stability GVN''.

(5) In best circumstances very substantial outside aid will be necessary for many years and will not suffice "without a great mobilization of selfless Vietnamese leadership in all parts of the country and at all levels.'' GVN is in many respects authoritarian. Very difficult situation which GVN inherited when it took power, VC pressures and some political and social progress are recognized. However, "present political practices in Viet-Nam'' do not appear to be mobilizing potential capacities for able and self-sacrificing leadership on a substantial scale. Such mobilization necessary for success.

(6) Primary responsibility success lies with GVN and VN people, " . . . /4/ there is no interest of the United States in Viet-Nam which would justify, in present circumstances, the conversion of the war in that country primarily into an American war, to be fought primarily with American lives.''

/4/All ellipses in this document are the source text.

In final conclusion dealing with all SEA report makes several recommendations of which following concern Viet-Nam:/5/

/5/The numbered paragraphs correspond to numbered paragraphs in the report.

(3) Induce more equitable contribution from other free nations to costs aiding freedom in SEA.

(4) Encourage vigorously . . . throughout region relations of mutual advantage.

(6) Help bring internal peace to VN, but maintain scrupulously our advisory capacity, recognizing primary responsibility in all areas is Vietnamese.

(7) Emphasize social, economic and political aspects our policy.

Comment follows in septel./6/

/6/See Document 43.



43. Editorial Note

In telegram 823 to Saigon, February 25, 1963, the Department of State provided the Embassy with the following guidelines for discussion of the Mansfield report with the South Vietnamese Government:

''Report should only be discussed with GVN if they bring it up. If queried Embassy may wish note emphasis which report paces on importance Vietnamese winning their own war and, if occasion arises, report's clear implication that GVN political practices need improvement to-obtain fuller mobilization of people." (Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/MANSFIELD)

The report prompted a stronger reaction in South Vietnam than in the United States. On March 1, Consul John J. Helble reported from Hue that President Diem, who was in Hue, was "quite upset'' by the report. (Letter from Helble to Trueheart, March 1; Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Embassy Files: FRC 67 A 677, 360.01 Hue) In telegram 798 from Saigon, March 8, the Embassy reported that important Vietnamese officials, including Vice President Tho, feared that the report was based upon the premise that "the less US involvement in SEA, the better for US interests.'' (Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/MANSFIELD) On March 24, the majority "Personalist Bloc'' in the Vietnamese National Assembly issued to the press a comment on the Mansfield report which took issue with a number of the statements in the report, and attempted to rebut "doubts expressed as to Viet-Nam's political stability.'' (Telegram 848 from Saigon, March 27; ibid.) On April 3, Assistant Secretary of State-designate Hilsman sent a memorandum to Frederick G. Dutton, Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Affairs, in which he assessed the overall impact of the Mansfield report on relations with South Vietnam:

''The reaction within the GVN, particularly at the higher levels, has been sharp. We are informed by Saigon that the GVN, and in particular Counselor Ngo Dinh Nhu, sees the report as a possible prelude to American withdrawal. Uncertainty about our intentions has become an obstacle in current negotiations of importance.'' (Ibid., Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, Leg-Mansfield Report)

For John Mecklin's assessment of the impact of the Mansfield report on relations between the United States and South Vietnam, see Document 60.


44. Letter From the Director of the Vietnam Working Group (Wood) to the Minister-Counselor of the Embassy in Vietnam (Trueheart)/1/

Washington, February 26, 1963.

/1/Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, PR-11 Press Relations. Confidential; Official-Informal. Drafted by Heavner and Wood.

Dear Bill: It would help my relations with the Governor if you could give me information on the following points concerning Task Force Saigon's relations with U.S. press. The Embassy's previous telegrams have been very useful.

I know that with about 12,000 military men in Viet-Nam, it is hopeless to expect that they will all see the overall picture and phrase their remarks accordingly when they talk to newsmen. Nonetheless, the impression persists here that the lack of perspective which has been characteristic of news reports from Viet Nam springs at least in part from inadequately informed American military sources. Could you give me a brief rundown on what is being done to insure that official Americans in Viet-Nam understand why we are in Viet-Nam, what our role there is, and how, in general, the war is going? How are they briefed? Is it possible to give MAAG advisers in the field a regular news picture of how the war is going (beyond their own bailiwick)? Any chance of increasing the coverage of the Armed Forces radio? We have survived guerrilla war between the GVN and the reporters, but public criticism between U.S. and ARVN brothers in arms can be more serious.

You will recall that in a recent letter to the Ambassador,/2/ the Governor suggested that since the Vietnamese appear unable or unwilling to give the newsmen adequate, accurate, and timely information on the war, we must do at least part of the job ourselves, perhaps on an unattributed basis. I believe that in fact you have been doing this discreetly for some time (e.g. Embtel 7583),/3/ but I don't know how far you have gone. Are you still avoiding giving out news which does not have some connection with American personnel?

/2/Document 24.

/3/Dated February 16, telegram 758 reported that the Task Force planned expanded efforts to promote news about South Vietnamese social and economic progress. (Department of State, Central Files, PPV 7 S VIET-US)

I believe the consensus here on this problem is that we should give the newsmen as complete a picture as possible without regard to the source of our information or the degree of US involvement. If the GVN complains, we can simply say that we have to be candid with our press in order to maintain our present Viet-Nam policy. I don't think we have your full views on this idea or know exactly what you are now doing.

In the suggestion box we have a couple of ideas on the press problem which I pass along to you for whatever they may be worth. We are somewhat concerned that the plan originally called "explosion'' which matured into the national offensive will be picked up by the newsmen and played as the last big push. To prevent this, perhaps we could make it clear in discussions with newsmen that the national offensive now getting under way is really only a gradual increase in activity rather than a sudden or climactic acceleration of the war effort.

Also, to improve the American image of the Vietnamese fighting man--which unhappily is not good at the moment because of unfavorable press reports of the Ap Bac affair--I wonder if we could not find ways of bringing individual acts of heroism and valor to the attention of the newsmen. Probably the best way to do this is through our advisers in the field who are most familiar with such stories and who see newsmen from time to time.

I will see John Mecklin here. So sorry he had to come back on a medical.

All best wishes,


Chalmers B. Wood/4/

/4/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


45. Letter From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Nolting) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Harriman)/1/

Saigon, February 27, 1963.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, 2/63-3/63. Secret; Official-Informal.

Dear Governor: This is in response to your letter of February 18/2/ outlining Mike Forrestal's thoughts about more contacts between American personnel in Viet-Nam and non-Communist members of the Vietnamese opposition.

/2/Not found.

I am sorry that Mike didn't voice these thoughts while he was here. We could then have filled him in on what is done in this regard on a regular basis and with the knowledge of the GVN. In fact, I should have been glad to introduce him to dozens of non-commie members of the Vietnamese opposition at our home. These might have included a wide assortment of Vietnamese friends--bankers, businessmen, labor leaders, landowners, layers, doctors, university professors-who would doubtless have had a field day criticizing the government in varying degrees and from various angles. But what good this would have done--outside of demonstrating a point and possibly stimulating a coup--I don't know!

I must confess to being somewhat astonished by the implication that we are living in cocoons here, dealing only with GVN officials and deliberately cutting ourselves off from other Vietnamese elements. This has never been the case since I have been here. One of the first things I did upon arrival was to tell President Diem personally that I intended to see and talk with members of the opposition; that I wanted him to know this and trusted that he would not consider it as plotting or as throwing doubt on US support of South Viet-Nam through its duly elected government. He accepted this in good spirit and we have been doing it ever since. All members of my staff know that they are free to do the same. I have heard some false reports to the contrary. These I attribute to the proclivity of certain oppositionists (and to certain former members of our Mission) to charge a freeze-out when, after hours of conversation, they fail to change one's opinion.

There is, of course, a great difference between being accessible to oppositionists and giving them encouragement. Many of them tend towards radical solutions and we give them no encouragement. If we are not crystal clear on this, we would stimulate revolution. We have, however, frequently passed on to members of the government what seemed to be reasonable suggestions from oppositionists, and some of these have resulted in government actions. I think, for example, of suggestions about "the complaints department'', the Council of Economic Advisors, and the Provincial Advisory Councils; also such specific complaints as local officials' overcharging for identity cards in certain Saigon districts.

In brief, I think we have been doing all along what Mike suggests, if I interpret the suggestion correctly. If, however, the idea is to try to build up an alternative to the present government, I believe you already know that I am opposed, for reasons: (1) that I see no viable or better alternative; (2) that any such attempt would ruin the carefully built base of our advisory and supporting role here, which must rest on persuasion and on confidence in our integrity.

I should add that, after the unequivocal public pronouncements of Vice President Johnson two years ago, and more recently the Attorney General and other high US officials, which I myself thought right and proper, I would not find it possible to be the agent in a change of. US policy away from forthright support of the legitimate government, which happens also, in my opinion, to be the best available at the present time.

Sincerely yours,

Frederick E. Nolting, Jr./3/

/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

P.S. I am enclosing a memo/4/ from Barney Taylor on what we're doing vis-a-vis the CVTC.

/4/This memorandum, prepared by the Labor Attache in the Embassy, has not been found.


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

Washington, February 27, 1963, 5:24 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 19 S VIET Secret. Drafted by Heavuer and cleared by Wood, Rice, Harriman, and Forrestal. DOD/ISA was informed about the cable. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.

828. Deptel 807/2/ and Embtel 749./3/ News accounts of American combat role continue. Recent stories quote informed American military sources in Viet-Nam as stating US personnel now authorized to "shoot first'',/4/ state that most combat missions are flown by Americans. We wish reiterate our concern over such stories and reasons for concern as stated Deptel 807. These news reports very damaging both here and abroad and we must do everything possible prevent them in future.

/2/Document 39.

/3/See footnote 7, Document 30.

/4/See footnote 2, Document 40.

Our policy remains that American role Viet-Nam strictly limited to advisory, logistic, training functions. Any activities such as Farmgate which may be construed as American combat role are not to be discussed with newsmen. This policy set at highest level at time of initiation increased aid to Viet-Nam. It has not changed.

Request all official Americans be instructed above policy still in force and they expected observe it rigorously.

This message approved by White House.



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

Washington, February 27, 1963, 8:37 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, AID(US) S VIET Confidential. Drafted by Walter G. Stoneman in FE/VN, AID. Cleared in draft in the Department of State by Wood and Maechling, and in Defense and AID.

Aidto 1658. Joint State/AID/Defense message. Subject: Counter Insurgency Measures.

Measures to deny VC sources of supply have received considerable Washington attention recently. Realize CT has considered subject, and that with respect to proposals for control of movement of goods and people, a public safety pilot project being undertaken Phu Yen and that a PROHAB committee established to study subject.

Also realize this is complex subject related to total anti-commie effort on which fully integrated CT judgment must be brought to bear. Recognize this subject also element of recently submitted Comprehensive Plan and plans for intensified national effort this year. We anxious be kept informed your plans and developments in this regard and without attempting second-guess CT, would appreciate your views on following:

1. Desirability of not augmenting planned number of men under arms for above supply denial function, but rather drawing needed personnel from already existing paramilitary organizations.

2. Desirability of establishing clear responsibility for movement control as primary mission of force charged therewith.

3. Importance of assigning local personnel to movement control functions as to give appearance of indigenous control effort rather than of imposing outside control.

4. Need to adapt control system to province chief command structure while developing centralized data collection and professional guidance systems.

5. Need to develop program in way which would complement and support, and not impair key political aspect of developing grassroots political strength for struggle against VC.

6. Need to develop clear lines of responsibility as between civilian police authorities and military/paramilitary forces depending upon actual conditions in area concerned.

7. Need to avoid identification U.S. personnel with actual movement control operations.

8. What new U.S. costs may be involved and can they be offset by concomitant savings to U.S. programs by reason of utilization of personnel or equipment already available.

Would appreciate early reply on interim basis if necessary.



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

Washington, February 28, 1963.

/1/Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, Pol 26-1 Counterinsurgency. Secret. Sent through Rice.

Status of Strategic Hamlets

1. 5,000 strategic hamlets, with a population of 7 million (58% of the rural population) have now been built. Of these 5,000 the VC attacked 9 and gained entry into 5 during the week of February 13-20.

2. There are three basic problems connected with the hamlets:

(a) Their defense. DOD is finding out urgently about what is being done to train village militia.

(b) Their administration. Far too few existing strategic hamlets have trained officials. AID is sending out a very capable man, Gus Herz, who with 5 assistants, will work full time to speed training of those Vietnamese who will in turn train hamlet chiefs and their subordinates. Herz has just returned from a 30-day survey in Viet-Nam. He reports that the Vietnamese Government recognizes the serious need for training hamlet officials and is most willing to cooperate with Herz and his people in speeding up and improving these training programs.

(c) Their cost. The 10 million dollars with which we bought piasters to finance the strategic hamlet program will soon be expended. We believe that the Vietnamese can assume this burden from their own funds, but time is growing short. We are preparing a draft telegram which will contain a suggested letter from you to Secretary Thuan on this subject. It will also review the whole problem of financing the strategic hamlets. Our thought is to ask Fritz in the telegram whether such a letter from you to Thuan would give him the support he needs in the difficult negotiations which will be required to persuade the Vietnamese to increase their own expenditures.

3. Risks of Interdiction Bombing of Populated Places. I have talked with Mike about this yesterday and he agrees that we should try to stop, or at least severely curb, this practice which will probably cost us more in good will than it is likely to achieve in destroying VC installations. We recently bombed a strategic hamlet by mistake. I will try next week to get Bill Bundy's support and will keep you informed.


49. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)/1/


Washington, March 5,1963.

/1/Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 69 A 3131, Vietnam 091.4 thru 320.00 1963. Secret. Wood concurred in the memorandum for the Department of State.

Problem: To act on a JCS recommendation for increase of the GVN paramilitary force levels that are authorized MAP support./2/

/2/In memorandum JCSM-152-63 to the Secretary of Defense, February 21, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that fiscal year 1963 MAP support be authorized for the increase in South Vietnamese paramilitary force levels noted in this memorandum. (Ibid.)

Discussion: The GVN paramilitary force levels now authorized for MAP support are compared below with those proposed 21 Feb 63 by the JCS:




Civil Guard



Self Defense Corps



Junk Force

None (some materiel support)


The increases recommended by the JCS will support the planned intensified national effort, meet the time-phased requirements of "clear and hold'' operations, and support the strategic hamlet program in South Vietnam. The main objective in increasing the paramilitary strength to the proposed levels is to ensure permanent control in areas secured as the national campaign progresses. The proposed levels were developed by applying a formula that allows, for example, two squads of SDC for each secure village, one platoon for each village not under government control, one platoon for each group of three villages, and one platoon for each training center. Requirements developed in this manner were 2500 platoons and 1600 squads. Civil Guard requirements were estimated by province in a parallel manner. It is anticipated that the Junk Force will be a continuing paramilitary operation that should be regularized to a status comparable with the SDC. CINCPAC foresees the future and continuing requirement to be 4,600 junk sailors to man 644 junks. The actual strengths on 15 Jan 63 were Civil Guard--77755 and SDC--99797.

A related consideration is the Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam (CPSVN) that has been proposed by CINCPAC to provide for bringing the counterinsurgency effort to a successful conclusion, withdrawing U.S. special military assistance, and developing within the GVN a capability to defend against the continuing threat in Southeast Asia. The JCS are currently preparing recommendations as to the CPSVN, and the ensuing force levels for FY 64 and subsequent years. The FY 63 force levels that would be approved if the attached memorandum is signed are compatible with the force levels proposed by CINCPAC in the CPSVN.

The proposed increases for FY 63 can, according to the JCS and CINCPAC, be accommodated within the currently approved FY 63 MAP funding ceiling.

Recommendation: That you sign the attached memorandum./3/

/3/On March 8, McNamara signed the attached memorandum to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that reads as follows:

''MAP support is authorized for FY 63 GVN paramilitary force levels of 86,000 Civil Guard, 104,100 Self Defense Corps, and 4,100 Junk Force personnel.''


50. Editorial Note

On March 7, 1963, Forrestal sent a copy of Nolting's letter, Document 45, to Deputy Assistant to the President Carl Kaysen with a covering note that reads: "Everything is just dandy in Saigon!'' (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, 2/63-3/63) Also on March 7, Forrestal sent a letter to Harriman expressing appreciation for receiving a copy of Nolting's letter. Forrestal added:

''It's about what I expected, since this is more a question of attitude than of making a case one way or the other.

''The last two paragraphs are significant because I think they suggest that Fritz tends to be more concerned about preserving the legitimate government than keeping in touch with the opposition.

''I might also add that his statement, 'All members of my staff know that they are free . . . ' to see and talk with members of the opposition was not entirely borne out in conversations that Roger and I had with some members of his staff. I don't think it does any good to tell Fritz this, because I am sure he is sincere in what he says.

''Your letter has obviously done some good in reminding Fritz of our concern with the issue.'' (Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Forrestal, Michael V. The ellipsis is in the text of the letter.)

Special Assistant to the President Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. sent a memorandum to Forrestal on March 9 in which he reacted to Nolting's letter and suggested that a new Ambassador should be sent to Vietnam

''The letter from Nolting is one of the most dismal documents I have ever encountered. If Ed Gullion is leaving the Congo, how about sending him back to Saigon.'' (Ibid.)

Forrestal sent a copy of Schlesinger's memorandum to Harriman on March 11 and asked what Harriman thought of the Gullion suggestion. (Ibid.) Harriman's response to this suggestion has not been found.


51. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)/1/


Washington, March 7, 1963.

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

Comprehensive Plan, South Vietnam

1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed the attached Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam (CPSVN), submitted 25 January 1963 by CINCPAC/2/ for approval in response to your directive set forth during the 23 July 1962 Honolulu Conference.

/2/Printed as Document 18.

2. This comprehensive plan provides the special military assistance and equipment the Government of Vietnam will require to carry on an adequate and effective counterinsurgency program with essentially no help from US personnel after Calendar Year 1965.

3. To attain its objectives, the CPSVN is dependent upon the success of the parallel development of many mutually supporting national plans and programs such as the National Campaign Plan, the Strategic Hamlet Program, and the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) Program. For example, the Strategic Hamlet Program, which normally is conducted in areas controlled by the Government, is perhaps the greatest single factor in the all-important effort of the Government to reach the people. In close support is the CIDG program which will provide security initially in those areas where the inhabitants do not identify themselves with the Government. It is intended that the successful prosecution of these two mutually supporting national programs will result in 90 per cent of the population pledging allegiance to the Government of Vietnam. The attainment of such a goal is inseparable from the success of the CPSVN.

4. The CPSVN plans a peak armed strength of 575,000 in FY 64-65. This total includes a CIDG with a strength of 116,000 [less than 1 1ine not declassified] which will be phased out as the Government approaches its goal of control of 90 per cent of the population. In this connection, the plan considers the 18 months between FY 64 and end CY 65 as the maximum effort "phase down'' period for the CIDG, during which time the strength of these forces is to be reduced from a ceiling of 116,000 to a theoretical zero. The plan also provides a balanced residual national military strength approximating 368,000. Maintenance of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces at the levels proposed in the CPSVN, while providing an essential part of the desired military balance within Southeast Asia, will result in an economic imbalance in South Vietnam. Continued US assistance will be required to maintain these forces. This assistance must be subject to continued assessment to reflect requirements resulting from situation changes both in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. By separate action the Joint Chiefs of Staff are establishing procedures for semi-annual formal review of the over-all situation in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN). In this review the size of the proposed residual force will be considered to insure that it is planned to be maintained at a level consistent with the degree of control of the insurgency attained. Conceivably, should the insurgency be reduced to a state of subversion as currently exists in Thailand, some reduction in residual forces could be attained provided the United States guarantees protection against external aggression and renewed insurgency. Long-range AID programs are expected to provide for assumption of internal security responsibilities by a national police force permitting a planned reduction in Government of Vietnam forces.

5. The CPSVN cannot be considered apart from military assistance planning, and to be in consonance, the period of the CPSVN has been extended through FY 69. Based upon current in-country experience factors, a comparison of the estimated costs of the CPSVN with the new dollar guidelines/3/ indicates an over-all requirement in military assistance planning for an additional $66 million, exclusive of the CIDG program. The preponderance of this additional requirement will be needed in FY 64 when the major portion of the costs of increased training programs, new equipment, and construction occur.

/3/Defense Message DEF 923923, DTG 222243Z Jan 63. [Footnote in the source text. For a summary of this message, see footnote 4, Document 18.]

6. Because the greatest increase occurs in FY 64 military assistance planning, an early decision on the CPSVN is required.

7. Related political, economic, and sociological problems, which are under the purview of US Government agencies other than the Armed Services, and which are capable of influencing the success of the CPSVN, will have to be resolved separately. Not the least of these problems is consideration of the effects of the CPSVN on the outflow of gold, the ability of the RVN to undertake additional deficit spending, and the impact of planned residual force structures on the RVN economy. Others include the development by the Country Team of a national police plan for the eventual return to a situation of law and order under normal police controls, and the probable requirements thereafter for continuing US assistance. In addition, the communications-electronics portions of the plan, as it relates to utilization of the tropospheric scatter systems, poses the problem of the replacement of the US military system by the proposed AID microwave system manned by Vietnamese. The problem is presently being reviewed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff along with the impact that redistribution of PACOM communication resources would have on current contingency plans for Southeast Asia. US personnel and materiel will have to be further augmented in view of the increased force levels, compression of training, and accelerated introduction of equipment, for RVN forces, called for in the CPSVN. The Commander in Chief, Pacific, has been requested to furnish an estimate of the peak US military personnel required./4/ With regard to materiel, some other transport aircraft, such as C-47 or C-119 aircraft, will have to be substituted for the RVN C-123 aircraft requirement in the plan, since no C-123 aircraft will be available for MAP in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, the Joint Chiefs of Staff agree that the CPSVN provides an adequate basis for defining the five-year MAP and a realistic framework for integrating the efforts already being expended in related and mutually supporting nation-wide programs and plans such as the National Campaign, the Strategic Hamlet, and the CIDG programs.

/4/In a March 26 memorandum to the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that Admiral Felt had estimated that peak U.S. military strength in Vietnam should not exceed 15,640 personnel. (Washington National Records Center RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 69 A 3131, Vietnam 380 thru 381 1963)

8. The CPSVN has been coordinated with the RVN Country Team and concurred in by the Ambassador for MAP planning purposes. It now requires careful coordination and integration of effort by all involved governmental agencies at the Washington level. CINCPAC and Commander, US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, have recommended that the CIDG program (Switchback) be funded from outside of PACOM MAP. Funding of Switchback for the period FY 64-66 has not been resolved and requires early action to insure a capability for supporting CPSVN as well as other programs covered by NSAM 57./5/

/5/Not printed.

9. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the CPSVN submitted by CINCPAC be approved as the basis for the refinement of the FY 64 MAP and development of the FY 65-69 Military Assistance Plan.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Maxwell D. Taylor
Joint Chiefs of Staff


52. Memorandum From the President's Special Representative and Adviser on African, Asian, and Latin American Affairs (Bowles) to the President/1/

Washington, March 7, 1963.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Staff Memoranda-C. Bowles.


Recommendations for a Fresh Approach to the Vietnam Impasse

I hesitate to play the role of Cassandra again in regard to Vietnam and Southeast Asia. However, I remain deeply concerned about the outlook there, and having talked to Mike Mansfield about his Report and the rather fragile nature of our present position, I feel that I should frankly express my misgivings to you.

I see nothing in the present course of events to dispel my conviction, expressed to you and the Secretary on several occasions, that this situation may ultimately prove to be as troublesome as Cuba in its effects on the Administration's position at home and abroad.

Although the general outlook here in Washington and in Saigon now seems to be cautiously optimistic, it may be worthwhile to remind ourselves of the confident assumptions of the Eisenhower Administration in a somewhat similar situation during the winter of 1954.

Thus on February 19, 1954, Congressman Walter Judd told the New York Times that Admiral Radford, in testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, reported "the development by the French and Vietnamese commanders in Indo-China, supported by United States financial and military assistance, of a broad strategic concept which within a very few months should insure a favorable turn in the course of the war . . . /2/ Communist prospects of achieving any decisive immediate successes are slight while their prospects for ultimate victory are non-existent.''

/2/Ellipsis in the source text.

One month later, on March 22nd, following a White House conference with President Eisenhower, General Ely, and Defense Secretary Charles Wilson, Admiral Radford was again reported in the New York Times as saying that he planned to take up with General Ely the question of U.S. participation in training the Vietnamese army./3/ "The French are going to win,'' the Admiral was quoted as saying. "It is a fight that is going to be finished with our help.''

/3/For documentation on discussions concerning Vietnam with General Paul Ely, Chairman of the French Chiefs of Staff, in Washington in March 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952-1954, vol. XIII, Part 2, pp. 1133-1173.

Six weeks later, on May 8, 1954, came the surrender of the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu, and the collapse of the entire French position in Southeast Asia.

Nine years have passed, and now it is we who appear to be striving, in defiance of powerful indigenous political and military forces, to insure the survival of an unpopular Vietnamese regime with inadequate roots among the people. And now, as in 1954, many able U.S. military authorities are convinced that the situation is moving in our favor and that victory can be foreseen within two to three years.

I wonder if these assurances are not based on a dangerously false premise, i.e., that the Communists will not embarrass us by upping the military ante.

What we are now holding in check is the Communist "Fourth Team,'' most of which, as General Harkins pointed out in a recent interview in Saigon, is made up of local forces armed with old weapons. A much more effective Third Team could be produced by introducing a few thousand of General Giap's well-armed North Vietnamese troops as "volunteers,'' either as cadre infiltrators or as organized units. A still more formidable Second Team could emerge through the addition of Chinese "volunteers'' with modern equipment. The First Team (an admittedly unlikely entry since it would create an all-out war) would comprise the Chinese and Vietnamese armies themselves.

Is it not a serious mistake for us to assume that the Communists will limit their efforts in South Vietnam to actions that we can conveniently contain through our present "advisory'' operations? On the contrary, it seems to me very likely that Communist counter-pressures will grow in direct proportion to the effectiveness of our own efforts.

If this assumption is borne out by events, it is more than possible that we may soon be faced with increasing Communist opposition, growing U.S. casualties, and rising public resentment here in the United States, followed, as in the days of Korea, by politically inspired demands that we either "admit our error'' and withdraw, or go after "the real enemy, which is China.''

I am not unaware of the enormous amount of time, energy and dedication that our people in Washington and Saigon are giving to the problems we face in Vietnam. Nor do I profess to have a handy formula that will enable us quickly to move to firmer ground in our Vietnam operations. I am nonetheless convinced that the ground on which we now stand is likely to become steadily more treacherous unless we attempt a new approach to these problems.


In the light of this situation, I believe that some basic changes in the policy and personnel aspects of our South Vietnam operations are required as quickly as may be feasible.

These changes should be designed (1) to strengthen our political and military position in Vietnam vis-a-vis the Viet Cong; (2) to lay the groundwork for an acceptable negotiated political settlement in Southeast Asia as a whole at a time when we still retain some strong cards; and (3) to head off serious political pressures here at home well in advance of the 1964 open political season.

Specifically, I suggest action along the following lines:

1. A directive by you, requesting an immediate review in depth of our present Vietnam position within the framework of Southeast Asia as a whole. Such a request might pose the following questions:

(a) What are our basic long-range interests in Southeast Asia and, specifically, in South Vietnam?

(b) What kind of South Vietnam will best serve to secure these interests and to assure the continued existence of a viable state free of Communist control: a U.S. military bastion (like Taiwan or South Korea), or a buffer-state area that can be reasonably neutralized (like Malaya or even Burma)?

(c) What sort of military operations are best designed to achieve our minimum political objectives in Vietnam? Our maximum objectives?

(d) What are the political tactics, vis-a-vis the Diem Government and the South Vietnamese people, best calculated to put us in an effective negotiating position?

What we need is not merely a policy to "win the war,'' but a definition of what constitutes "winning the war,'' and how our military operations relate to realistic political objectives.

I suggest that with all the information now at hand such a policy review could be completed within thirty days.

2. A directive by you to AID and Defense to commence at once a Long-range Assistance Strategy (LAS) study of Vietnam to be used as a contribution to this basic policy review of our interests in Vietnam and Southeast Asia as a whole.

3. On the basis of this overall review, I suggest that the draft speech on U.S. interests and policy in Southeast Asia which I prepared for you last June/4/ be updated for early delivery on TV or elsewhere by you, the Secretary, Averell Harriman, or some major Administration spokesman.

/4/A copy of this speech is attached to a June 13, 1962, memorandum from Bowles to Kennedy. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memos, Staff Memos, Chester Bowles) For the text of the memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. II, Document 214.

By laying down a clear and realistic set of objectives now, we could begin to neutralize present and potential domestic critics of our position, bring pressures on the Diem Government, and strengthen our influence among the people of Southeast Asia.

4. Simultaneously, a series of moves should be prepared to narrow the gaps between Diem and the anti-Communist-left and between Saigon and the villager.

Such measures should include: increased pressure on Diem for the broadening of the government's urban political base and for the wider delegation of political and military authority; new proposals for increased peasant welfare (perhaps along the lines of the Taiwan JCRR); and plans for a gradual lessening of conspicuous one-family rule.

5. At the earliest appropriate moment, a responsible representative (Averell Harriman would appear to be best fitted for the assignment) should be sent to Saigon to make clear to Diem that our continued assistance to his regime is dependent on his acceptance of the fresh political, economic and military approach that these moves embody.

Should Diem refuse to accede to this request, we should be prepared to convey our disapproval of his actions and our openness to alternative leadership through increased Embassy cultivation of Diem's chief political and military critics.

I do not underestimate the risks of such a course; I simply suggest that they are far less than those we now run, tied as we appear to be to Diem's coattails.

6. In order to symbolize our shift in policy (and not in any sense to impugn his efforts), I recommend that we recall Ambassador Nolting. Ambassador Edmund Gullion, who knows the area intimately and whose courage, persuasiveness and toughness have been thoroughly tested, would be my first choice as Nolting's successor.

Gullion's appointment would indicate to everyone concerned a new U.S. resolve to achieve a more favorable balance among military, political and economic factors in Vietnam.

Although this is admittedly an inopportune time to transfer Gullion from the Congo, he is so ideally qualified for the difficult task in Saigon that I believe the sacrifice to be justifiable.

7. Through personnel changes or otherwise, we should see that the Administration's new approach is clearly understood and fully supported by U.S. military officers at the highest level in the Pacific Command.

8. Simultaneously, we should seek ways to widen our present set of political choices in dealing with the area as a whole and with Vietnam in particular.

I believe that the time may be ripe, for instance, for a discreet, noncommittal, and confidential approach to the USSR in which the potential dangers to both Moscow and Washington that the Vietnam impasse contains may be underscored.

Indeed, there is already some evidence of an increasing concern about the two Vietnams on the part of the USSR, a concern that we might profitably explore.

Against the background of my previous talks on Cuba and Communist China with Ambassador Dobrynin, there may be something to gain--and certainly nothing to lose--in my quietly raising the Vietnam dilemma with him in an informal way.

The eight-point program which I have proposed is admittedly strong medicine. But, in my opinion, our present course of action within a rigid political and military framework dominated by Diem is very likely to fail, and for this failure we may eventually be called upon to pay a heavy price, both in Asia and here at home.

Again forgive me the Cassandra role, but I am deeply alarmed about the present situation, and I feel that more promising policy choices are available to us.


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

Saigon, March 8, 1963, 6 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, AID(US) S VIET. Confidential. Repeated to CINCPAC.

800. CINCPAC for POLAD. Dept pass Defense and AID. Aidto 1658./2/ Control of movement of goods and people is indeed complex subject which enters into every phase of counterinsurgency. Necessary reemphasize this because tendency exists consider it separate field of action. PROHAB Committee studying means supplement the principal measures for control of movement and denial of support to VC, which are Strategic Hamlet program and military action against VC. Recognizing this, and the necessity to ensure that additional measures are worth the cost in terms of financial and personnel resources and in possible adverse popular reaction, committee is still engaged in seeking to evaluate possible additions to, or possible expansion or improvement of activities currently in progress.

/2/Document 47.

To this end, committee has instituted province-by-province survey to determine (a) what controls are presently in existence; (b) who is carrying them out; (c) how effective are they; (d) present critical VC commodities; (e) present VC source supply (f) present VC methods of movement of commodities. In addition two pilot projects (in Binh Duong and Quang Ngai) using existing military and paramilitary forces especially trained this work by National Police and USOM PSD are expected provide essential practical experience.

At this point, committee's views on specific points raised reftel are as follows:

1. Agree.

2. Point is ambiguous. Committee does not favor establishment of new force with primary mission control of movement goods and people. Nor does it believe that latter should be primary mission any existing force, civil or military. Movement control should be a complementary effort and one of the tasks accomplished by forces already engaged in security missions. In any given area, however, responsibility for this (and other) functions should of course be clearly defined.

3. Concur in use local personnel for majority control functions except insofar as carried out by ARVN. Also must be recognized that activities of a specialized nature (administration, communication, and investigation) may require use of other than local personnel.

4. Agree.

5. This is essential.

6. Agree.

7. This is true of all U.S. military and civilian effort in RVN. U.S. personnel expected to act in normal advisory role in movement control operations. Though U.S. not identified with operation it must not be onerous or will conflict with essential objective cited para 5.

8. We have little or no basis for cost estimate at this time. if program conducted along lines cited paras 1-7 above, any additional U.S. cost should be modest.

Above replies based on situation which now exists in RVN. National Police organization functions as the primary security force in major urban areas while military forces have this role in rural areas. Military forces, as part of their mission to secure rural areas, engage in movement and population control measures; as areas are cleared of insurgents and the military begins to relinquish control, civil law and order must be established. At this time National Police should be phased into rural area control function, and plans must be developed to accomplish this. It is visualized that members of paramilitary units being demobilized would provide a recruiting base for local police. It is also recognized that necessity for movement and population controls will be greatly reduced when civil law and order replace military controls. In this regard the final disposition or status of the Civil Guard must be determined.



54. Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Harriman)/1/

Washington, March 8, 1963.

/1/Source: Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Forrestal, Michael V. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Also addressed to McGeorge Bundy and Kaysen.

Conversation with Ambassador Tran van Chuong of Vietnam

I had lunch today with Ambassador Tran van Chnong. After lunch the Ambassador said he had something very important and private to tell me.

He began by saying that he had great difficulty in assessing the political importance of the Mansfield report. He said that his own estimate of public opinion in the United States was that it was 99% against the Diem Government, and that sooner or later the political effect of this report would be felt on U.S. efforts in South Vietnam. The Mansfield report, he believed, was just another manifestation of this feeling, and it would no doubt be followed by worse reports.

He then said that he had been in this country for eight years and. under normal circumstances would have resigned as Ambassador a long time ago. The reason he didn't was that he did not see how he could return home as a private citizen and live in any security. He said he did not dare even to write to his brother, who is still living in Vietnam.

As a Vietnamese patriot, he said he strongly disapproved of the Diem regime, which was not only a dictatorship, but worse-an inefficient one. He said he realized the United States had brought all sorts of pressures on Diem to liberalize the regime but that such pressures were doomed to failure, since running a totalitarian regime was like riding a tiger--you could not get off its back.

The Ambassador said he knew Mr. Nhu very well, since he was his son-in-law. Nhu was the intellectual force behind Diem and would never give up his political power willingly. Indeed it was largely because of Nhu that the Vietnamese Government was deprived of the services of its most able people. There has been a deliberate policy of forcing any person of competence out of his job and into exile. As a result, no matter how much American aid is poured into the country, it will not be managed properly. He estimated that within six months it would become obvious that the Diem regime could not possibly win the war against the Viet Cong. The Ambassador fervently maintained that the United States could not and should not withdraw from his country. To do so, he said, would condemn all Southeast Asia to Communist control. On the other hand, we could not win with Diem. Therefore there was only one course open to us and that was to bring about a change in government, which could probably only be done with violence.

The conversation was almost entirely one-sided, and I was sufficiently non-plussed that I contributed very little to it myself. I protested some of the Ambassador's statements in the early part of the conversation, but this only served to make him more emotional. Although it occurred to me that the Ambassador might be provoking a reaction, I am inclined to think that he believed what he was saying. He asked that our conversation not be reported./2/

/2/In a March 13 memorandum to Forrestal, Harriman indicated that he was familiar with the views of Ambassador Chuong:

''I regime and his son-in-law, Mr. Nhu. I received an hour's run-down from General Joe Collins, formerly Chief of Staff of the Army, who has known the Ambassador well during his Saigon days. I passed this on to the boys working on Viet Nam and they told me that they had been thoroughly familiar for some time with the Ambassador's feelings. He has evidently talked this way to a number of people and to each one has asked that the conversation 'not be reported'.'' (Ibid.) have been thoroughly alive to the emotional views of the Ambassador, both about the Diem



55. Telegram From the United States Information Agency to the Embassy in Vietnam/1/

Washington, March 11, 1963, 8:25 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIEI Secret. Drafted in USIA/IAF by Mecklin, who was in Washington because of a medical problem. Cleared in USIA by W. Kenneth Bunce, Deputy Assistant Director for the Far East; Thomas C. Sorensen, Deputy Director for Policy and Plans; and Murrow. Cleared in the Department of State by Harriman and James L. Greenfield, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Cleared in the Department of Defense by Sylvester and in the White House by Salinger.

Usito 235. Joint State/USIA/Defense message. Embtel 497, Deptel 516./2/ As Saigon undoubtedly aware, Communist bloc propaganda on "poison gas'' in Vietnam apparently is to be massive effort comparable with Korean germ warfare campaign. If Mission concurs, we feel situation calls for action vis-ŕ-vis free world press considerably beyond limits set by reftels. Our thinking is that news dispatches with Saigon datelines telling whole story [of] exactly what is happening would be helpful.

/2/In telegram 497 from Saigon, November 9, 1962, the Embassy asked for press guidance in connection with the South Vietnamese crop destruction operation in Phuoc Lon Province. The Embassy suggested that, if questioned regarding U.S. involvement, Embassy officials should reply that the United States had provided chemicals and advice, at the request of the South Vietnamese Government. (Ibid., 751K.00/11-962) The Department of State responded, in telegram 516 to Saigon, November 14, that the Embassy's suggestion was sound, but any such explanation should be prefaced by remarks emphasizing that this crop destruction program was inspired and operated by the South Vietnamese. (Ibid.)

Suggest accordingly, if Mission has not already done so, that newsmen there, including all available third country correspondents, be called in and told in complete detail everything about both crop destruction and defoliation operations. This preferably should be done by GVN but if this not feasible, Mission itself should conduct briefing on non-attribution basis.

Briefing should particularly accent extreme precautions being taken to spray only crops which are established beyond doubt as part of Communist food supply. It should include details on provisions for compensation of damage done unintentionally to innocent peasants, and copious anecdotal background on such advance preparations among population as sacrificial animals for Montagnards. Note that these chemicals widely used in US.

Point should be clearly made that operations are being conducted exclusively by Vietnamese planes and personnel with US only supplying chemicals. If Mission finds it feasible, perhaps plane could be provided to fly newsmen over sprayed areas.

Principle applicable here, in our opinion, is fact that extraordinary precautions have indeed been taken to limit spraying to unquestionably legitimate military requirements, that denial of food and ambush sites is wholly normal procedure in counter-insurgency warfare, and that neither US nor GVN has anything to hide about this. It is essential to achieve necessary credibility, especially in uncommitted third countries, that every possible detail (short of compromising future operations) be given to newsmen on scene. Harriman, Sylvester, Mecklin concur.

Advise action taken./3/

/3/According to a memorandum of a telephone conversation, Murrow discussed the telegram with Harriman on March 11, and Harriman agreed to the necessity for such a message. Harriman also suggested that it might be useful to obtain information concerning the type of weed killers used by the Soviet Union. (Harriman Papers, McMNO) In telegram 858 to Saigon, March 12, the Embassy was instructed to consider whether it "might be worthwhile add that these chemicals similar to and no more toxic than weed killers used in USSR and commercially available to farmers throughout most of world.'' (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27-10 S VIET)



56. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)/1/


Washington, March 11,1963.

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

Air Augmentation

1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed two requests from CINCPAC, both of which recommend that the US air commitment in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) be augmented. The expanded air effort would be temporary in nature, required until the success of the forthcoming national effort is assured. In addition to recommending that the pilots and maintenance personnel strength of Farmgate be doubled, a requirement for 111 aircraft and about 1,200 personnel was established, consisting of:

2 squadrons L-28 (or equivalent) aircraft (44 a/c)
2 photo reconnaissance aircraft, RF-101
1 squadron C-123 aircraft (16 a/c) with a second squadron to follow if need is confirmed by CINCPAC
1 company CV-2B (Caribou) aircraft (16 a/c)
1 platoon U-1A (Otter) aircraft (8 a/c)
15 0-1 aircraft (L-19)
10 UH-1B helicopters

2. The additional liaison and photo reconnaissance units requested by CINCPAC are required to provide an improved forward air control and an increased air reconnaissance capability. This increased capability is essential to the success of the accelerated counterinsurgency operations in South Vietnam as a part of the national campaign. There are now four L-28 aircraft in Farmgate which are available for visual surveillance and tactical air control. Although programs such as the one for RT-28 pilot training are underway to increase the VNAF capability, effects will not be felt until the second quarter of FY 1964. Therefore, the additional air photo reconnaissance capability at this time must be provided by the US Air Force from resources not currently available in RVN. These commitments would be separate and apart from Farmgate.

3. Further, the RVN National Campaign requires an increase in air transport. With the effectiveness of the national rail and highway systems limited by the security problem, seaport redistribution centers at Danang, Qui Nhon, Nha Trang, and Can Tho are planned to facilitate the sea movement of supplies from Saigon to these coastal points for inland movement, predominantly by airlift. The total monthly air transport requirement is estimated to be 4,375,700 ton miles. Compared with the present air transport capability of 2,190,500 ton miles, a lift deficit of 2,185,200 ton miles is indicated. There are two C-123 squadrons and one CV-2B company in South Vietnam now. The proposed addition of one US Air Force C-123 squadron and one US Army CV-2B company would overcome the anticipated air transport deficit.

4. The U-1A (Otter) aircraft would provide light cargo capability for the Civil Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) program and direct support for US Army advisers. Additional day to day support for the advisers and the CIDG program would be furnished by the 15 0-1 aircraft. Three 0-1 aircraft would be located with each of the five CH21 companies and would provide an estimated 302 sorties per month in support of small unit movement of supplies and personnel, movements of staff, detachment, and control personnel, mail and courier service, and light cargo emergency resupply.

5. The ten UH-IB helicopters will provide the 52nd Aviation Battalion, authorized for deployment in March 1963, with a capability similar to that of the 45th Army Aviation Battalion now in RVN. This has been proved to be most effective in support of Vietnam Army commanders and corps advisers during tactical operations for medical evacuation, inspection visits, sector lift requirements, and other administrative functions. The UH-1B aircraft will also furnish support of US Special Forces in areas where limited or no fixed wing facilities exist, and can respond to tactical lift requirements within the adjacent CIDG protect areas.

6. In addition to augmenting air resources in South Vietnam by the means outlined above, CINCPAC indicates that a 30-35 per cent increased sortie rate for Farmgate would result from doubling pilot and maintenance resources, with appropriate adjustment made to the flying hour program. The present combined monthly sortie rate for Farmgate and the Vietnam Air Force is 1,462. Compared with the estimated monthly sortie rate of 2,642 to support the national effort, a deficit of 1,180 sorties per month will exist. Present strength of Farmgate, including the recent augmentation, totals 42 aircraft and 277 personnel. Increasing the Farmgate sortie rate by the assignment of additional personnel would reduce the estimated sortie deficit established by the increased national effort.

7. During the Joint Chiefs of Staff consideration of the requests by CINCPAC for air augmentation in Vietnam, agreement was reached regarding the additional air units and personnel augmentation as listed in paragraph 1, above. Agreement was not reached, however, on the US source of the two squadrons of L-28 (or equivalent) aircraft.

8. In consonance with the foregoing, the Joint Chiefs of Staff are of the opinion that the requests for air augmentation are necessary and timely, and therefore recommend that you authorize the deployment to RVN of the US Army and US Air Force units requested by CINCPAC. In addition, it is requested that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chief of Staff, US Army, and the Chief of Staff, US Air Force, meet with you at an early date to discuss the divergence mentioned in paragraph 7, above.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Maxwell D. Taylor
Joint Chiefs of Staff


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

Washington, March 12, 1963, 3:44 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 19 S VIET Secret; Priority. Drafted by Wood and cleared by Barnett, in AID by Stoneman, and in DOD/ISA by Colonel Kent. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.

856. Joint State/DOD/AID. References: 1) Embassy Airgram A-417;/2/) Embtel 800./3/ The Joint Chiefs of Staff have recommended that the Comprehensive Plan for South Viet-Nam (CPSVN) be approved as the basis for refinement of the FY 64 MAP and development of the FY 65-69 Military Assistance Plan for Viet-Nam./4/ Require ASAP specific Country Team recommendations concerning the CPSVN in view of following factors:

/2/Airgram A-417 from Saigon, February 8, enclosed three copies of the Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam, and indicated that "the Ambassador has concurred in the Plan as a basis for MAP planning.'' (Ibid.)

/3/Document 53.

/4/See Document 51.

(1) Imminence presentation FY 64 MAP to Congress (estimated April). If State/DOD/AID decide accept CPSVN, presentation may be affected.

(2) Fact that most significant cost increase under CPSVN (approximately $75 million) over dollar guidelines occurs in FY 64.

(3) Fact that detailed review of 64 Program is scheduled at CINCPAC in April.

(4) Stated urgency some of the requirements for activations under the increased FY 64 force levels proposed in CPSVN.

(5) Likelihood that to attain objectives of the CPSVN requires parallel development of other mutually supporting national plans and programs. To enable State/DOD/AID expedite decision whether accept CPSVN for planning, request Country Team views or estimates concerning following:

1. GVN willingness make the required additional financial contribution. Realize that CT may judge that direct approaches to GVN now proposing additional GVN deficit or other fiscal measures might adversely affect current negotiations re GVN contribution counterinsurgency funds. If this is case, request CT judgment (without GVN consultation) what portion of additional required piaster financing GVN would accept. If this is less than total 846 million piasters, request general outline of the modification of the CPSVN that would be necessary and revision of total dollar costs for FY 64 that would result.

2. Para 3e of the CPSVN indicates CIDG personnel may be absorbed into National Police during "phase down''. Can we assume plans that must be developed as described Embtel 800 so provide?

3. Requirements for dollar purchase of piasters for construction indicated in CPSVN for FY 64 and subsequent years and feasibility construction with local currency not affecting gold outflow?

4. Is there provision in the CPSVN for a MAP/AID "maintenance'' cost for villages and hamlets secured under CIDG program after they pass to the strategic hamlet program?

5. What revisions current political economic programs would be required if CPSVN approved?

6. What would be economic consequences if additional 846 million piasters provided through GVN deficit financing?/5/

/5/In telegram 857 to Saigon, March 12, the Embassy was asked for additional comment on the Comprehensive Plan:

''State requests frank TF/Saigon view on whether plan should be changed to extend phase out U.S. forces by one year (FY 65 through 68 rather than FY 65 through 67).

"In requesting this view we have in mind that such stretch out would

"a) require smaller increase in FY 64 training costs to U.S. and GVN;
"b) lessen risk inability GVN take over in FY 67;
''c) reduce political risk that GVN become unduly concerned that U.S. planning pull out.'' (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 19 S VIET)



58. Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Harriman)/1/

Washington, March 13, 1963.

/1/Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, POL 27-10 Chemical Warfare. 1963. Secret.

Defoliation and Crop Destruction in South Vietnam

The President would like an up-to-date report on the results of defoliation and crop destruction carried out by the ARVN.

The report might contain brief statements on the following:

1. Defoliation Activities. Number of miles of lines of communication cleared. Estimate of military effectiveness of the operations. Proposed plans for future operations.

2. Crop Destruction. Location and number of acres of crops destroyed. Estimate of amount of food denied to Viet Cong. Evidence of significant military results. Future plans.

3. Political Effects inside and outside South Vietnam. Reaction of local populace to defoliation and crop destruction operations. Estimate of success of psywar measures by AE{VN. Description of international Communist propaganda and estimate of its effect on the United States posture before international opinion. Effectiveness of measures taken by the United States to counter adverse propaganda.

4. Recommendations. Should the defoliation operations or crop destruction operations or both be suspended? Should any changes in the operations be made in the field either to improve their effectiveness or to minimize adverse political reaction? If it is desirable to continue or expand these operations, are there any additional propaganda measures which the United States should take to minimize adverse international reaction?

I would suggest, if you agree, that Ben Wood should try to coordinate the views of the JCS and Ed Murrow's shop into a single paper for the President./2/

/2/Telegram 872 to Saigon, March 15, requested the Embassy to contribute a full report on defoliation and crop destruction programs to date for the draft response being prepared for the President. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, 2/63-3/63)



59. Minutes of Meeting of the Special Group for Counterinsurgency/1/

Washington, March 14, 1963, 2 p.m.

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

Mr. Johnson, the Attorney General, Mr. Gilpatric, Mr. Murrow, Mr. Forrestal, Mr. Janow and Mr. Wolf vice Mr. Bell, General Krulak vice General Taylor, Mr. Karamessines vice Mr. McCone
Mr. Koren was present for Items 1 and 2

[Here follows discussion of Thailand under item 1, "Southeast Asia Status Report".]

South Viet-Nam

General Krulak observed that Viet-Cong activities during the last six months have been at a level 50% less than last year. It is not known whether this means they are regrouping for a greater effort, or if their capability has been reduced.

Mr. Murrow stated that our press relations in Saigon suggest to him the need for a single U.S. spokesman, to represent both civilian and military officials, under close direction from Washington. Mr. Murrow was asked to develop this idea and to again bring it up for. discussion.

The members agreed to re-examine the military justification for continued use of defoliants.

[Here follows discussion of items 2, "Progress Report on the Internal Defense Plan for Cambodia''; 3, "Review of Counterinsurgency Programs in Venezuela''; and 4, "Military Mobile Training Teams'', and "Miscellaneous Items'' which do not relate to Vietnam.]

James W. Dingeman
Executive Secretary


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