Skip to main content

Full text of "Pentagon Papers"

See other formats

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

IV.A Evolution of the War (26 Vols.) 
U.S. MAP for Diem: The Eisenhower Commitments, 

1954-1960(5 Vols.) 
3. U.S. and France's Withdrawal from Vietnam, 1954-56 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 










Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

IVo A.J. 



~195l + , 1956 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET ■- Sensitive 




This section of the study traces chronologically relations among 
France , the U.S. and the State of Vietnam in the aftermath of the 
Geneva Conference. The following are tabbed: 



Table of Contents and Outline 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

IV. A. 3 




Vietnam was the crucible of contemporary France. Military defeat 
by the Viet Minh -- unprecedented victory of Asian over European -- 
was but one political reagent: there was also intense frustration and 
disappointment among French of Rightist- colon convictions that sneaker- 
shod Asian peasants could undo a century of costly labor at France's 
"civilizing mission," and jeopardize the largest investment of French 
capital in the Far East. The Tonkin Delta region represented in a 
special way all that Vietnam meant to France. Tonkin, of all Vietnam, 
was where French economic stakes were highest, where the culture of 
France most completely overglossed indigenous ways, where stood educa- 
tional focus of Vietnam — the University of Hanoi, with its French 
faculty — and where Catholicism flourished among the rural folk. 
Thus, evacuation of Tonkin per the dictates of the Geneva Settlement 
stung less from a sense of humiliation over Dien Bien Phu than from a 
sense of abandonment: an epoch had closed, France was demeaned, 

. Had the Geneva Settlement been fulfilled, France might have retained 
a presence and influence in Vietnam that would have mollified both the 
Right and Left. After all, no significant body of opinion in France 
held the French should continue to mold Vietnamese politics or that the 
French Expeditionary Corps should remain there undiminished — the 
reality of the DRV and the exigencies of North Africa rendered 
such' a position untenable. The Left and the Center were quite- willing for 
France to withdraw under the Geneva formula; even the "Indochina" 
clique within the army recognized the priority of Algeria. But France 
in the end, at American instance, had to accept withdrawal without the 
cover of general elections, and to accede to a second, further, more 
final abandonment. 

The supplanting of France by the U.S. in South Vietnam, and the 
failure of the Geneva Settlement, both well advanced by mid-1956, denied 
the French Left its prospects for cooperation with Ho Chi Minh in a 
precedent -setting experiment in coexistence. It disappointed moderates 
who had hoped to preserve French cultural influence and salvage French 
capital. It enraged Rightists who interpreted American policies in 
Vietnam invidiously. None of these factions was prepared to take a 
stand for France's staying, but all attempted to draw political 
sustenance from acerbic treatment of the U.S. 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

The whole episode of French withdrawal from Vietnam, in fact, 
soured the Western alliance. It is possible that Prance's 
rejection of the European Defense Community on August 30, 195^, ma y 
have been in part payment for Soviet good offices on behalf of France 
at Geneva. But it is certain that many French were persuaded that 
the U.S. and the UK furnished inadequate support to France during 
the latter phases of the war, and at the Conference. And it is 
equally certain that American policy in the aftermath of Geneva 
widely alienated affection for the U.S. in France, and created that 
lack of confidence which the Suez crisis of summer, 195 6, translated 
into outright distrust. 

After the Geneva Conference, all the governments involved in 
the Accords, with one significant exception, anticipated that France 
would remain in Vietnam. The exception was the State of Vietnam, 
whose Premier, Ngo Dinh Diem, was determined to uproot French 
influence as a concomitant to the establishment of a genuinely 
independent nationalist government. The policy of the United States 
was initially directed toward a partnership with France, a joint 
sponsorship of Diem and the newly independent nation he headed. 

Almost at once, however, U.S. policy began to respond to 
military urgency, and this in turn caused the U.S. to move beyond 
partnership to primacy. In September of 195^, SEATO was brought into 
being, its protection extended to Vietnam by a protocol to the Manila 
Pact. The U.S. resolved through SEATO to balk further expansion of 
communist dominion, and looked to transforming Vietnam into a key 
redoubt in the line of containment. The U.S. was determined that 
Vietnam would become politically sound, economically self-sufficient, 
and militarily capable of providing for its own internal security, 
coping with invasion from North Vietnam, and contributing to the 
deterrent strength of the SEATO coalition. France, then beset with 
internal political divisions, and plagued. with Algeria, evidenced 
doubt, indecision, and occasional reluctance in aiding Vietnam toward 
the foregoing objectives. The U.S. was not prepared to wait. In 
late. September 1954, the U.S. cut out the French as middle-men in 
all its assistance for Vietnam, and began to deal directly with Diem, 
his government, and his armed forces. 

France did not readily accept this enlarged American role, nor 
was there complete agreement with the U.S. Government that the 

ii TOP SECPvET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

United States should pursue a further shouldering aside of France. 
Through the fall of 1954, France-U.S. relations worsened., and a 
policy debate developed in Washington. Once again, military con- 
siderations emerged as paramount. The JCS were originally opposed 
to the United States assuming responsibility for training the Army of 
Vietnam. They took the position, however, that if political con- 
siderations dictated such a U.S. involvement "the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
would agree to the assignment of a training mission to MAAG Saigon, 
with safeguards against French interference with the U.S. training 
mission." On October 26, 195^, the Secretary of Defense, acting on 
behalf of the President, instructed the JCS to prepare a "long-range 
program for the organization and training of a minimum number of free 
Vietnam forces necessary for internal security." The development of 
this plan and an appropriate working relationship with the French con- 
tinued into 1955.? and necessitated the dispatch to Vietnam of General 
J.Lawton Collins, with Ambassadorial status, to obtain a tri-partite 
agreement acceptable in Saigon, in Paris, and in Washington. During 
November 195^, the JCS expressed serious reservations about the success 
of such a combined undertaking. Nevertheless, the NSC considered the 
policy sound, and this judgment was confirmed from the field by 
General Collins. Collins reported that: 

It would be disastrous if the French Expeditionary 
Corps would be withdrawn prematurely since otherwise 
Vietnam would be overrun by an enemy attack before the 
Manila Pact Powers could be enacted.. 

Collins recommended that the United States continue military aid to 
France to "encourage the French to retain sufficient forces." In the 
meantime, events in Vietnam seemed to support those who, like the JCS, 
continued to entertain strong reservations about the future of Ngo 
Dinh Diem and his government. Diem managed to survive attempted coups 
by army leaders, and succeeded in maintaining an unhappy peace with the 
several armed factions of Cochinchina. But his political future 
remained questionable at best. At the same time, the French mission 
in Hanoi pressed hard to preserve French economic and cultural pre- 
rogatives in North Vietnam, and certain French political leaders in 
Paris spoke grandiloquently of a cooperative modus vivendi with the 
DRV becoming a model for east-west relations -- a disquieting message 
for the U.S. Secretary of State and those who shared his convictions 
within the Administration. Finally, parallel to these developments, 
the Bnperor Bao Dai, retaliating for Diem's vituperative political 
campaign against him, actively sought to supplant Diem. 

All the foregoing tension resolved to two central issues between 
the United States and France. The first was the question of how and 
by whom Vietnam's armed forces were to be trained. The second, and 
more far-reaching, was whether Ngo Dinh Diem was to remain at the head 
of Vietnam's government, or whether he was to be replaced by another 

ill TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

nationalist leader more sympathetic to Bao Dai and Prance. The first 
issue was resolved relatively quickly. General Collins struck an 
agreement with General Ely in Vietnam by which, despite serious mis- 
givings in Paris, France agreed to turn over the training of the Viet- 
namese army to the U.S. and to withdraw French cadres. On February 12, 
1955 > the U.S. assumed responsibility for training Vietnamese forces, 
and the French disassociation began. 

But the political controversy over Diem was less easily resolved. 
Diem exacerbated matters with increasingly vehement stricture against 
the French and Bao Dai. The United States on its part was insensitive 
to the impact within Prance of Diem's militant anti-communism — 
frequently directed at the French Left — and of the rancor aroused 
by U.S. statements portraying America as the only friend of Vietnamese 
nationalism. The U.S. did alert, however, to French statements that 
Diem was categorically incapable of unifying Vietnamese nationalists. 
French advice to the U.S. that Diem should, therefore, be replaced 
was seconded by Ambassador Collins from Vietnam. Throughout the winter 
and spring, Secretary Dulles and the Department of State in general 
seemed disposed to consider favorably suggestions that an alternative 
leader for the Vietnamese be placed in power. However, despite an 
ostensibly thorough search, no nationalist leader with qualities 
competitive with Diem's was identified. 

Both the U.S. and France were then caught up in the sweep of 
events. The aimed sects directly challenged Diem's authority, and he 
responded with force. An uneasy truce ended the first clash in March, 
and amid the mounting tension in April 1955, the U.S., France, and 
Bao Dai all sought actively to bring about a change in the GVN. On 
28 April, Diem, against U.S. advice, against French advice, and against 
the advice of his, cabinet, moved again against the sects. When Binh 
Xuyen resisted in Saigon, he committed the Vietnamese army to battle. 
Diem's forces won an immediate military victory, and simultaneously 
Diem's brother, Whu, co-opted a committee of nationalist figures 
who called for Bao Dai's removal, and transfer of civil and military 
power to Diem. 

Encouraged by Diem's success, the U.S. declared its unequivocal 
support for him as opposed to Bao Dai. The U.S. choice presented acute 
difficulties for France. The French Government was convinced that 
Nhu's "Revolutionary Committee" was under Viet Minh influence, and 
was strongly resentful of a renewed GVN campaign against French presence. 
In May 1955, France, the U.S., and Britain met in Paris to discuss 
European defenLe, but France promptly made Vietnam the principal agenda 
item. France maintained that the U.S., in backing Diem, forced upon 
France the necessity for withdrawing altogether from Vietnam. The 
French Foreign Minister Faure held that Diem was "not only incapable but 
mad . . . France can no longer take risks with him." Secretary Dulles in 
reply indicated that the U.S. was aware of Diem's weaknesses, but stressed 

iv TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Diem's recent successes as indicating redeeming qualities. But, 
Dulles pointed out "Vietnam is not worth a quarrel with France, " and 
offered U.S. withdrawal in preference to allied disunity. No decision 
was taken immediately, and during a recess Secretary Dulles received 
advice from the JCS that Diem seemed the most promising avenue to 
achievement of U.S. objectives, and that while withdrawal of the 
French Expeditionary Corps is "ultimately to be desired, " a precipitate 
withdrawal was to be prevented since it would "result in an increasingly 
unstable and precarious situation" and the eventual loss of South Vietnam 
to communism. Secretary Dulles then proposed to the French that they 
•continue to support Diem until a national assembly were elected. 
British support for Diem seems to have swayed Faure, and he accepted 
Dulles 1 proposal. The tri-partite meeting ended on a note of harmony, 
but the undertones were distinct: the days of joint U.S. -French policy 
were over; thereafter, the U.S. would act independently of France in 

Backed by the United States, Diem refused to open consultation 
with the North Vietnamese concerning general elections when the date 
for these fell due in July 1955. Pressing his military advantage 
against the sects, he moved to consolidate his position politically 
within South Vietnam. In October, he won a resounding victory in a 
popular referendum in which voters were given a choice between Diem and 
Bao Dai, As Diem f s political strength grew, his relations with Paris 
deteriorated. In December 1955, Diem suddenly terminated the existing 
economic and financial agreements with France, and called upon France 
to denounce the Geneva agreements and break relations with Hanoi. Soon 
thereafter, he withdrew South Vietnamese representatives from the French 
Union Assembly. 

On January 2, 1956, general elections in France produced a govern- 
ment under Socialist Guy Mollet, a third of the members of which were 
communists or avowed neutralists. In early March, Mollet 1 s Foreign 
Minister, Pineau, declared in a speech to the Anglo-American Press 
Association in Paris that France would actively seek policy position 
bridging East and West, and that there was no unanimity of policy among 
the U.S., UK, and France. He cited UK Middle East policy and U.S. sup- 
port for Diem as contrary to French interests, and condemned both powers 
for stirring up the Moslem world to France's distinct disadvantage in 
North Africa. A few days later, at a SEATO Council meeting in Karachi, 
Pineau proclaimed the end of the "era of aggression, " and called for a 
"policy of coexistence." 

Action followed Pineau 1 s line. On March 22, 195 6, France agreed 
with Diem to withdraw the FEC altogether. On April 26, 1956, the 
French High Command in Saigon was disestablished. On the due date for 
the general elections agreed to at Geneva, France possessed no military 
forces in Vietnam. And the date for the fulfillment of the political 
portions of the Settlement, July 1956; coincided with the inception of 
the Suez crisis 

t~> . 

TOP SECRET - .Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 










Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

IV. A, 3- 

FROM VIETNAM, 195^-1956 





7 Jul 5k 

Diem appointed 
Premier of South 

21 Jul 54 

Geneva Accords 

8, 12 Aug 54; 
20 Aug 54 

National Security- 
Council meetings ; 
NSC 5^29/2 

Urged by America and France, 
Emperor Bao Dai named Ngo Dirih 
Diem premier of South (Free) 
Vietnam. Bao Dai remained legal, 
constitutionally recognized 
Chief of State. 

France became guarantor of Viet- 
namese sovereignty, unity, terri- 
torial integrity (Conference 
Final Declaration, Article 7); 
with the PAVN, guarantor of armis- 
tice agreements (Geneva Agreements, 
Articles 22, 23), and all-Vietnam 
elections (Conference Final Declara- 
tion, Article 7) France agreed 
to withdraw the French Expeditionary 
Corps at the request of local 
governments (Conference Final 
Declaration, Article 10, Unilateral 
Declaration, France) 

US policies toward post-Geneva 

Economic: disassociate France from 
levers of command, integrate land 
reform with refugee resettlement, 
work with the French but "encourage" 
them to turn over financial, adminis- 
trative, economic controls to the 
Vietnamese. Give aid directly 

to the Vietnamese — not through 

Military: work with France only 
insofar as necessary to build up 
indigenous military forces able to 
provide interns.! security. 
Political: France must grant total 
independence (including right to 


TOP SECRET ~ Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Aug 5I+ 

Sainteny Mission 

8 Sep 5^ 

Manila Pact Signed 

27-29 Sep 5h 

Washington Con- 

withdraw from French Union) to 
South Vietnam and support a 
strong indigenous government. 
Diem must broaden the governmental 
base, elect an assembly, draft a 
constitution and legally' dethrone 
Bao Dai. French support and co- 
operation for these policies was 
necessary; retention of the FEC 
was essential to South Vietnamese 

Jean Sainteny was sent to Hanoi 
to find ways to protect French 
economic and cultural intersts in 
the DRV. Political overtones of 
the mission annoyed the US and 
General Paul Ely, High Commissioner 
in the South. Ely received firm 
assurance from Mendes -France that 
France was not playing a "double 
game", has not sent Sainteny for 
political bridge-building purposes. 
Mendes-France reaffirmed French 
support for an independent, strong 
South Vietnam. 

Dulles' anti- communist military 
alliance was realized in SEATO. 
The Associated States of Indochina 
were covered by separate protocol 
ensuring collective defense by 
SEATO nations in case of subversion 
or aggression. 

France agreed to support Diem 
(against the French belief that 
Diem would prove unable to unify 
or stabilize the country); agreed 
to keep the FEC in South Vietnam 
but received no indication of 
possible US financial aid for the 
French forces . France knew 
economic and military aid would 
be given directly to Vietnam but 
was led to believe she would have 
a hand in its distribution by 
ambiguous US-drafted statements. 
The US military role in Vietnam was 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

22 Oct 5^ 

NSC Action Program 

2k Oct $k 

Eisenhower letter 
to Diem 

8 Nov 5h 

Collins Mission 

13 Dec $h 

Collins -Ely 
Minute of Under' 

not discussed because of a State- 
JCS split (Dulles wanted to 
assume training responsibilities; 
JCS. did not because of political 
instability, presence of French 
troops and Geneva restrictions). 

The US decided to take firmer 
steps to strengthen Diem, to tell 
Paris that French support had 
been inadequate . An earlier JCS 
concession to consider a training 
program for the NVA opened the way 
for the decision to inaugurate a 
"limited" US role in military 
affairs . 

Announced direct economic aid and 
military assistance from the US; 
demanded no Vietnamese moves as 
reciprocation for aid. France 
called it a carte americaine^ 
said it violated the principle of 
joint action adopted in September. 

General J. Lawton Collins, given 
broad authority to coordinate all 
US programs and — with French 
support — get things moving, 
arrived in Vietnam. 

France will grant full autonomy 
to the VNA by July 1955, the US 
will assume training responsibili- 
ties, the US MAAG, Indochina, will 
direct the training program -- 
under General Ely ! s overall auth- 
ority. French and US instructors 
will be phased out as VNA efficiency 
increases. Washington approved the 
Minute; Paris objected, particularly 
to the phase-out of French trainers. 
France did not relent and consent 
until 11 February 1955. 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

16 Dec $k 

Collins recommends 
Diem be replaced 

19 Dec $k 

Trilateral Meetings, 
Paris (U.K., U.S., 

20 Jan 55 

Collins ? report to 

12 Feb 55 

Training Relations 
and Instruction 
Mission (TRIM) 

Diem f s failure to include Dr. 
Quat in the cabinet as Defense 
Minister confirmed Collins 1 
doubts about Diem's capacity 
to stabilize the government, or 
rally support for his regime. 
He recommended Bao Dai's return 
be considered, but if this were 
unacceptable, recommended the 
US withdraw from Vietnam. 

Mendes-France insisted the time 
had come to consider an alternative 
to Diem. Recommended Collins and 
Ely study the problem and come 
up with suggestions for a change 
by mid- January. France felt- 
Bao Dai should be involved in 
an alternative plan. Dulles: 
Diem is the only suitable leader 
but we will consider alternatives 
and will allow Collins and Ely to 
consider the matter. But Dulles 
made it clear that Congress 
would probably not appropriate 
funds to a Vietnam without Diem. 
U.S. study of alternatives was 
cursory, however; Dulles was sure 
Diem could succeed, with proper 
direction; he was more sure that 
no other possible leader existed. 

December's despair over Diem 
had dissipated; Diem had acted 
well on a few matters. Collins 
recommended continued support for 
Diem because without it South 
Vietnam will surely fall to com- 
munism and the rest of other 
Southeast Asia will soon follow. 
The NSC approved Collins' report. 

General 0' Daniel, under Ely's 
general supervision, took charge 
of programs to train and reorganize 
the VNA along American lines. Des- 
pite friction between French and 
Americans in Saigon and despite 
Paris -Washington disputes, officers 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

22 Feb 55 

United Front 

21 Mar 55 

United Front 

29-30 Mar 55 

Diem attacks 
central police 

in TRIM seemed able to rise 
above differences and initiate 
sound programs for the VNA. 

French subsidies to the Cao Dai 
and Hoa Hao sect armies -- about 
40,000 men — ended in February. 
When Diem refused to meet sect 
requests for financial aid, inte- 
gration of forces into the VMA 
and recognition of spheres of 
influence, previous sect coopera- 
tion with Diem ceased. Repre- 
sentatives of the Cao Dai, Hoa 
Hao, Dan Xa (Ba Cut), Lien Minh 
(Thinh Minh The) and Birih Xuyen 
(Bay Vien) forces met at Tay Ninh, 
agreed to work together against 
Diem. Cao Dai Pope Tac headed 
the group. 

Claiming to speak for the popular 
will, the United Front asked that 
Diem form a government of national 
union and make other political, 
economic, military reforms. Diem 
called this an ultimatum and 
refused to consider the request. 
The Front then sent an emissary 
to Bao Dai asking him to intervene 
on its behalf. Bao Dai refused. 

Brewing for months, the fight 
finally broke between Diem and 
the Binh Xuyen (a coalition of 
gangsters and river pirates which 
ran gambling and prostitution in 
Cholon, and the Saigon-Cholon 
police, paid Bao Dai for his pro- 
tection and enjoyed some French 
support). A company of paratroopers 
took over the central police station, 
driving the Binh Xuyen back into 
Cholon. Diem then wanted to go 
after Police Commissioner Sang and 
end Binh Xuyen control. Defense 
Minister Minh resigned when Diem 
refused to consult the cabinet over 
this. However, French representations 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

7 Apr 55 

Collins and Ely 
agree Diem must go 

23 Apr 55 

Diem proposes to 
broaden the govern- 

26 Apr 55 

Diem fires Sang 

27 Apr 55 

Dalles agrees to 
a change in Saigon 

28 Apr 55 

Diem hits the 
Binh Xuyen 

dissuaded Diem from taking on 
Bay Vien's 6000-man force at 
this time , and the French then 
negotiated a truce between Diem 
and the Binh Xuyen. 

Collins says Diem has proved 
himself incapable of inspiring 
unity, and must be replaced. 
Dulles demurs, then agrees to 
consider a change if Collins 
will fly to Washington for 
consultations . 

Diem calls for a national 
referendum and elections for a 
national assembly within six 
months. The Front scores the 

(Collins had left Saigon for 
Washington. ) Diem replaces Sang 
with a man loyal to his regime 
but Sang refuses to resign saying 
only Bao Dai had the legal auth- 
ority to remove him. 

Collins met with Dulles in 
Washington. Dulles agreed to 
consider an alternate to Diem 
but was determined to keep this 
from the French until their pur- 
poses were clear and their promise 
to unequivocally support a new 
regime firm. Saigon was informed 
of this new policy. 

Diem struck at the Surete — and 
Sang- -after fighting erupted 
between the VKA and Binh Xuyen 
forces in Cholon. The French 
said Diem instigated the fight; 
Americans supported Diem's version 
that the Binh Xuyen began firing 
first. Whatever its origin, the 
fight ended with a VNA victory. 
The Binh Xuyen were driven out of 
Cholon into the Rung Sat swamps. 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

30 Apr 55 




1 May 55 

Bao Dai's 

1 May 55 

The US: back on the 
track behind 

8 May 55 

A National 



8-11 May 55 

Tripartite Talks , 


Diem's brother Nhu had a hand 
in organizing this broad amalgam 
of political interests behind a 
program calling for support of 
Diem against the Binh Xuyen, sects 
and Bao Dai, in favor of broad 
representation in the government. 
Generals The and Phuong, tired of 
the "weak" Revolutionary Congress, 
formed a Revolutionary Committee 
whose outlook was more anti-Bao 
Dai and anti-French than the 
Congress. Present and former 
Vietminh supporters were members 
of the Congress and Committee . 

Bao Dai summoned Diem to replace 
the Army Chief of Staff with his 
own man. Diem ignored the sum- 
mons and orders. 

Because of Diem f s victory -- 
superficial though it may have 
been -- over the Binh Xuyen, 
because of VNA support for Diem, 
Dulles canceled the cable of 28 
April: again, the US will support 
Diem . 

Diem announced a national cam- 
paign to regain, "wayward" 
provinces and unify the country. 
Or: he declared war on the sects. 
The VNA fought over a year against 
Hoa Hao and Binh Xuyen forces, but 
finally established control over 
them, over areas of sect influence 
and control. 

Faure: We cannot support Diem -- 
but Vietnam is not worth a split 
in Franco -American relations. 
Therefore, France offers to with- 
draw from Vietnam. Dulles: We 
must support Diem. But if a US 
withdrawal would prevent discord, 
the US will consider it. Then, 
after hearing JCS and Collins ' 
arguments against either precipi- 
tate French withdrawal or a US 
withdrawal, Dulles urged Faure to 
accept a new proposal: support 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

July I955 

Diem refuses to 
meet with the DRV 
about elections 

2k Oct 55 


Aug-Dec 1955 

Franco -Viet name s e 

Diem a while longer on the 
grounds that he will broaden the 
government and call for elections. 
Faure agreed -- against his own 
wishes and against strong popular 
pressure and on several conditions 
(most of which required action 
from Diem and which Dulles could 
not guarantee). Dulles then 
suggested France and the US 
apprise each other of policy and 
actions but pursue them more 
independently than in the past. 
The days of joint policy -- of 
togetherness in Vietnam — were 

France and Britain urged Diem to 
hold consultations with Hanoi for 
all-Vietnam elections, as stipulated 
in the Geneva Accords. The US sug- 
gested consultations but also 
suggested Diem request firm guaran- 
tees (for secret ballot, UN or 
international supervision) which 
the DRV was expected to reject. 
But Diem refused to meet with the 
North Vietnamese. He had not 
signed the Geneva accords and 
denied being bound by them in any 

With 98 percent of the vote, Diem 

became President of the Republic 

of Vietnam- -and Bao Dai was dethroned. 

Diem wanted renegotiation of 
economic and financial accords 
reached in 195 *+S transfer of Viet- 
namese affairs from the ministry 
of the associated states to the 
Foreign Office; abolition of 
Ely's former post of High Com- 
missioner; termination of the 
military High Command and Viet- 
namese authority over remaining 
French troops in Vietnam. (The 
FEC now numbered about 35 > 000 — 
vice the 150,000-man force which 
France spoke of retaining in Viet- 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

26 Apr 56 

French High 
Command abolished 

July, 1956 


nam during the September 195^ 
Washington Conference). France 
could not accept Diem T s last 
demand; had difficulty satisfying 
the others, but finally made 
major concessions. Diem f s response 
was to withdraw Vietnamese repre- 
sentatives from the French Union 

Only about 5*000 French troops 
remained in Vietnam; most French 
instructors had left TRIM. A 
French liaison mission with the 
ICC still functioned, however, and 
France still served on the Joint 
Armistice Commission with DRV 
military representatives. 

Diem had refused to consult with 
the DRV about elections in 1955; 
he refused to hold them in 1956. 
Diem did agree to take over the 
French responsibility to support 
the ICC; France would continue to 
finance ICC operations. The 
Joint Armistice Commission gradu- 
ally died of inactivity. 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

20 Jan 53 
20 Jan 61 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


President: Dwight D. Eisenhower 

Secretary. of State: John Foster Dalles 

Secretary of Defense: Charles E. Wilson 

Ambassador to Vietnam: Donald R. Heath (25 Jun 52-20 Apr 55); 

Gen. J. Lawton Collins, Special Mission (8 Nov 5U-6 May 55); 

G. Frederick Reinhart (20 Apr 55-1^ Mar 57) 
Chairman, JCS: Arthur W. Radford, Adm., USN (ik Aug 53-15 Aug 57) 
Chief MAAG, Indochina: 

John W. 1 Daniel, Lt. Gen., USA (31 Mar 5^-23 Oct 55); 

Samuel T. Williams, Lt. Gen., was 1st Chief of MAAG to 

Vietnam (2k Oct 55-31 Aug 60) __ 

Jun 54 - 
Feb 55 


23 Feb 55 
31 Jan 56 


31 Jan 56 - 
16 Apr 57 

Prime. Minister: Pierre Mendes-France 
Foreign Minister: Georges Bidault 
Minister for Associated States: Guy La Chambre 
Minister for National Defense: Rene Pleven 
High Commissioner, Vietnam: General Paul Ely 

Prime Minister: Edgar Faure 
Foreign Minister: Antoine Pinay 
Minister for Associated States: M. La Forest 
Minister for National Defense: General Pierre Koenig 
High Commissioner, Vietnam: General Ely's post abolished 
after his departure, June 1955* (Gen. Jacquot assumed 
military responsibilities until April, 1956) 
Ambassador, Vietnam: Henri Hoppenot (July, 1955) 

Prime Minister: Guy Mollet 

Foreign Minister: Christian Pineau 

Minister for National Defense: Maurice Bourges-Maunouvy 

High Commissioner, Vietnam: (General Jacquot - military 

responsibilities until April 1956) 
Ambassador, Vietnam: M. Payart (November, 1956) 

Mar k-9 - 
26 Oct 55 

12 Jan 5I+ 
16 Jun $k 

7 Jul 5k - 
1 Nov 63 


Head of State: Bao Dai, Emperor 

Head of State: Bao Dai 
Premier: Prince Buu Loc 
Minister for Foreign Affairs : 

Nguyen Quoc Dinh 

Head of State: Ngo Dinh Diem (President: 23 Oct 55) 

Premier: Ngo Dinh Diem 

Minister for Foreign Affairs: Tran Van Do (Jul 5k - May 55) 

Vu Van Mau (Jul 55 - Nov 63) 
Minister for National Defense: Ngo Dinh Diem (General Minh 
served temporarily, early 1955) . 

• xv 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET -" Sensitive 





A. Introduction: Post-Geneva Expectations 1 

1. France Will Stay in Vietnam 1 

2 . Diem: France Will Leave Vietnam. 2 

3. The U. S. Will "Join" France in South Vietnam 2 

B. Initial U. S. Policy Toward Indochina 3 

1. SEATO: The New Initiative? 3 

2. Alternative French Policies k 

3. U.S. Objectives in Vietnam: Political, Economic, Military... 5 
h. The U.S. "Chooses" Policy for France 6 

C. Tentative U.S. Involvement Becomes Deeper, Firmer ' 7 

1. Adoption of Military Responsibilities 7 

a. Arguments Against U.S. Training the VNA 7 

b . Dulles ■ Views 7 

c. The NSC Backs Dulles 8 

d. JCS-State Split on Force Level, Mission for VNA. 9 

e. Again, the NSC Backs Dulles, Recommends a U.S. Military 
Program in South Vietnam 11 

f . Collins ilgrees with the NSC 12 

TOP SE CRET - Sensiti ve . 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


2. Conditions in Vietnam Invite Firmer Action 12 

a. The Military Threatens Diem 13 

b . The Sects Threaten Diem 13 

c . And the Binh Xuyen Oppose Diem 13 

3- French Laxity Demands Strong U. S. Programs Ik 

a. The Washington Conference , September, 195^- 1^- 

b . The U. S. Faults French Support for Diem 15 

c. Accommodation Between I&ris and Hanoi? 15 

d . Sainteny or Ely? 16 

e . The Mansfield Report . 16 

h. NSC Action Program of October and Eisenhower Letter to Diem.. 17 

5« More Action: The Collins Mission 18 

'6. France Objects to Collins-Ely Agreements 18 

D. Franco-American Impasse Over Diem 20 

1. Paris: Diem is 111- Suited for Rule 20 

2. Collins : Diem Cannot Lead South Vietnam 20 

3* State Department: Diem Is the Only Available Leader 21 

k. December Tripartite Talks 22 

a. France Proposes Alternative to Diem, Dulles Seems to 
Acquiesce 22 

b. But Dulles Reports, No Other Suitable Leader Can Be Seen. 2k 

c. The U. So Looks at Alternatives 2k 

5* January 1955- U.S. Backing for Diem is Reaffirmed 25 

xvii TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

" Page 

E. Crisis of the Spring, 1955 26 

1. The Problem of the Sect Armies 26 

2. The United Front Challenges Diem 27 

3 • Diem Challenges the Bihh Xuyen 27 

h. Truce -- Bat No Calm 28 

. a. Lansdale ! s Version 28 

b. Ely and Collins Decision: Diem Must Go 29 

c. Dulles 1 Indecision 29 

d. Paris: Diem's Time Is Up . 30 

e. Bao Dai' s Plan 30 

f. Dulles 1 Decision: U.S. Will Consider a Change in Regime.. 31 

5 . Diem Acts Against the Binh-Xuyen 31 

6. Washington Acts : U. S. Will (Again) Support Diem 32 

7. . Diem and Others Defy Bao Dai 32 

8 . May Trilateral Meetings 33 

a . Dulles Backs Diem 33 

b . The French Position 3^ 

c. Faure: We Will Withdraw to Save the U.S. -France 
Alliance 35 

d. Dulles: Continue With Diem — But Independent of France.. 36 

F. The Twilight of French Presence in Vietnam 37 

1. All- Vietnam Elections 38 

2. Franco -Vietnamese Differences, Autumn, 1955 39 

3. What of French Obligations Under the Geneva Accords? kO 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

IV. A. 3- 


A- Introduction: Post-Geneva Expectations 
1. France Will Stay in Vietnam 

After 100 years of investment, interest and influence, 
France got out of Vietnam in less than a year after the Geneva Conference 
of July 195*+ • And France did not want to leave. On July 25, three days 
after signing the Geneva Accords, Prime Minister Mendes-France said 
France would maintain cultural and economic ties with North Vietnam and 
would assist the development of Free (South) Vietnam, l/ The predecessor 
Laniel Government had recognized "Vietnam as a fully independent and 
sovereign state in possession of all qualifications and powers known 
in international law" on June k, 195^ J Mendes-France pledged to uphold 
and further that treaty. 2/ In August he announced a three-phase 
formula to implement it. Economic, administrative and financial ties 
with the Associated States would be terminated as fast as possible. 3/ 
By December 195^.? the last vestiges of the French colonial apparatus 
had been eliminated, hj However, Mendes- France's formula viewed 
membership in the French Union as compulsory -- indicative of French 
desire to stay in Vietnam but inimical to demands lodged by Diem and 
the United States for independence which included the right to with- 
draw from the French Union. 5/ 

Also in August, General Paul Ely, French High Commissioner 
in Vietnam, reaffirmed French support of Vietnamese independence and 
French readiness to further Vietnamese development. That the French 
had a role to play was clear: French economic investment, cultural 
institutions, military, political and administrative operations were 
already part of South Vietnamese life. That France must play a role 
was also clear. Under the Geneva Accords, France had pledged to 
guarantee all-Vietnam elections in 1956, guarantee execution of the 
armistice agreement, guarantee Vietnamese sovereignty, unity and 
territorial integrity, pledged to maintain the French Expeditionary 
Corps until Vietnam requested its removal. General Ely had been 
delegated extensive political and military authority to enable him 
to meet these obligations. He worked sincerely to persuade both 
Vietnamese and French that mutual cooperation would be mutually 
1 beneficial, to erase the colonialist tinge of French presence, to 

both speed and smooth the French transition from master to equal 
partner of Vietnam. 6/ 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

2. Diem: France Will Leave South Vietnam 

In this endeavor, Ely received qualified support from 
French officials, "colons ,r and military officers in Vietnam. He 
received sporadic support from Paris. He received almost no support 
from the Vietnamese. France was not "welcome in Vietnam for many 
reasons, a major one being Premier Ngo Dinh Diem. A Francophobe 
of the first order, Diem wanted full independence for South Vietnam 
and wanted France out of the country as soon as possible. Many shared 
Diem's sentiments. France had just lost a long, devastating and 
demoralizing war against Vietnamese communists as well as Vietnamese 
nationalists. French colonial rule had been tight, previous French 
promises of independence had been broken. Why believe professions of 
French good intentions in 195^ were any different from those of the 
past? Added to this was the problematical relationship of France 
vis-a-vis South Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam. 
Some South Vietnamese expected France to actively work toward 
accommodation with the Viet Minh and reunification of North and 
South under Viet Minh direction. Many more felt the fact of continued 
French presence alone compromised South Vietnamese independence. 
"To convince the people of Vietnam that the administration was independent, 
it became a political necessity to be anti-colonial and specifically anti- 
French." 6a/ 

3- The U.S. Will "Join" France in South Vietnam 

Finally, France was not alone in Vietnam. More than 
Diem, more than the psychological damage done by colonial years, the 
United States made life in Vietnam difficult for France. The U.S. 
was eager to strengthen Vietnam, needed and demanded French cooperation, 
but offered little in return. U.S. policy insisted upon an immediate 
and dramatic transformation of French policy. But the U.S. little 
understood what this meant to France, what problems it created for 
French domestic and foreign policy or what U.S.* concessions might 
help effect the transformation. 

Although remnants of the French Expeditionary Corps 
remained until 1956, France was out of Vietnam to all intents and 
purposes by May 1955; "t^ n months after Geneva. These months are 
characterized by professions of Franco-American cooperation but 
demonstrations of Franco-American division, characterized by conflict 
of word and action on several levels. Paris said one thing but did 
another, Paris said one thing and French officials in Saigon did the 
opposite; Washington activities were not always in line with Washington 
pronouncements and the gulf between the thought and deed of Ngo Dinh 
Diem only compounded an already sensitive situation. It is during 
this period that Diem established his rule^ against French advice and 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

best interests but with almost unwavering support from Secretary of 
State John Foster Dulles. And it is the period during which the anti- 
coramunist moralism of Dulles and Diem rejected any rapprochement with 
the North, ultimately ensuring that the temporary military demarkation 
line would become a permanent division of Vietnam. 

B. Initial U.S. Policy Toward Indochina 

The U.S. began revising policy toward Indochina as the 
Geneva Conference closed. The exercise was marked by urgency dictated 
by the belief that Geneva had been a disaster for the free world. 
Geneva gave Communist China and North Vietnam a new base for exploita- 
tion of Southeast Asia; it enhanced Peking's prestige to Washington's 
dismay and detriment ; it restricted free world room to maneuver in 
Southeast Asia. And its grant of Vietnamese territory above the 
seventeenth parallel to the communist Ho Chi Minh was a painful 
reminder of the scarifying French defeat by the Viet Minh, the first 
defeat of a European power by Asians (Asian communists at that), a ■ 
defeat shared by the United States to the tune of more than $1.5 billion 
in economic and military assistance granted France and the Associated 
States of Indochina. 7/ 

J*. SEATO: The New Initiative? 

The first step toward countering this disaster had been 
discussed with Britain and France since the spring of 195^-j anc i Walter 
Bedell Smith 1 s comment as Geneva closed, "We must get that pact!," 
heralded its inauguration. 8/ The Southeast Asian Collective Defense 
Treaty was to be a "new initiative in Southeast Asia" to protect the 
U.S. position in the Far East and stabilize "the present chaotic 
situation ... to prevent further losses to communism" through sub- 
version or overt aggression. 9/ But the Manila Pact, signed on 
September 8, 195^^ proved to be neither the new initiative nor the 
strong anti-communist shield called for by Secretary Dulles. Vice 
Admiral A. C. Davis, deputy assistant secretary and Defense Department 
representative at Manila, reported the Pact left Southeast Asia "no 
better prepared than before to cope with Communist aggression." 10 / 
The failure was largely of American making. While Dulles wanted to 
put the communists on notice that aggression would be opposed, the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff insisted the United States must not be committed 
financially, militarily or economically to unilateral action in the 
Far East and that U.S. freedom of action must not be restricted, ll/ 
The two objectives conflicted and one cancelled out the other. Thus, 
Article IV of the treaty, the mechanism for collective action in case 
of enemy threat, did not pledge automatic response with force to force. 
Instead, each signatory promised to "act to meet the common danger in 
accordance with its constitutional processes." The United States, 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

particularly Mr. Dulles, tried to put teeth into SEATO through unilateral 
declarations of U.S. readiness to act. Dulles defined the obligations 
under Article IV as "a clear and definite agreement on the part of the 
signatories, including the United States, to come to the aid of any 
member of the Pact who under the terms of this treaty is subjected to 
aggression." 12 / However, Dulles failed to instill the same dedication 
to instant intervention in the other SEATO members. 

The obligation assumed at Manila emphasized the importance 
attached to Southeast Asia by the U.S. Government. U.S. refusal to 
pledge unqualified support to Indochina emphasized the need for 
indigenous strength and stability in the area to counter communist 
power, to make infiltration and aggression less appetizing to the 
enemy. Of the three Indochina states, most important yet least stable 
and least strong was South Vietnam. Thus, the second step in policy 
development was to decide what the U.S. could do to change the situa- 
tion, a decision which turned on what France could or would do in 
South Vietnam. 

2. Alternative French Policies 

That France and the United States would eventually part 
company over Vietnam might have been predicted in August 19 5^ > when 
U.S. policy toward Vietnam was drawn. Formulae for economic, military 
and especially political courses of action were different from — ■ often 
antithetical to -- French objectives and interests. 

The U.S. intelligence community felt if France "acted 
swiftly to insure Vietnam full independence and to encourage strong 
nationalist leadership . . . anti-French nationalist activity might 
be lessened (and) with French military and economic assistance — - 
backed by U.S. aid -~ the Vietnamese could proceed to develop gradually 
an effective security force, local government organization and a long 
range program for economic and social reform." 13 / But there were 
three other routes or combinations of routes open to France in post- 
Geneva Vietnam. France could work to maintain French Union ties, 
indirect French political control and economic domination rather 
than grant full independence to Vietnam. Or, France could try to 
reach an agreement with the Viet Minh, expedite elections and achieve 
a unified country in which French cultural, economic and political 
interests could be maintained. A fourth possibility, thought likely 
only if the situation deteriorated to the point of hopelessness, was 
a French decision to withdraw all military, economic and administra- 
tive support from Indochina. lk/ 

Of the four courses of action open to France, three were 
rejected, by the Eisenhower Administration. Continuation of French 
Union ties plus indirect French controls would be impossible under Diem, 

h TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

whose anti-French feeling ran deep, who had not in the past and would 
not now accept anything less than complete freedom from France. And 
Diem had American backing. Dulles believed "the kind of thing he 
stands for" is the "necessary ingredient of success" and called the 
Diem government the "nucleus for future efforts." 15/ Accommodation 
with the Viet Minh was anathema to both Diem and the U.S. Although 
American policy spoke of taking steps to prevent the complete absorption 
of the DRV into the Soviet bloc, those steps amounted to nothing more 
than maintenance of a U.S. consulate in Hanoi. 16/ Dulles in particular 
could not see Ho Chi Minh as Asia's Tito and refused to deal with him, 
thereby crushing Mendes- France's hope that Vietnam could become an 
experiment in peaceful coexistence, lj/ The U.S. was equally determined 
to prevent the quick withdrawal of the French Expeditionary Corps from 
Vietnam. It was believed: 


in the last analysis, Vietnamese security will be determined 
by the degree of French protection and assistance" in the 
development of a national army, 

plus Vietnamese energies and the will of other powers to guarantee 
Vietnamese security. 18/ 

Thus, United States policy required France to grant full 
Vietnamese independence quickly and to support a strong indigenous 
political regime, to maintain French military presence but reduce 
military, economic and political controls. Basic guidance determined 
at "National Security Council meetings on August 8 and 12 became 
NSC 5^29/2, issued on August 20. 

3^ U.S. Objectives in Vietnam: Political, Economic, Military 

The American formula for government in free Vietnam rested 
on three legs. Independence was first and more important. France must 
treat South Vietnam as an independent sovereign nation and the U.S. 
would deal with it on that basis . Full independence was the only way 
to win nationalist support away from the Viet Minh, and nationalist 
support was thought to be essential to successful government in South 
Vietnam. Secondly^ the U.S. would urge Ngo Dinh Diem to establish 
a government of national union representative of dominant elements 
on the political scene. After bringing some stability to the nation, 
a Constituent Assembly would be called and a constitution drafted to 
herald the legal dethroning of Bnperor Bao Dai and inauguration of 
democracy. 19/ Finally, the formula demanded firm French and U.S. 
support for Diem. Despite his rigidity, his penchant for a one-man 
show and his inability to communicate or deal with people, Diem was a 
nationalist untainted by past association with either Viet Minh or 
French. This quality, plus full independence, plus Franco-American 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

backing and encouragement for broad reform ultimately would result in 
a strong anti-communist South Vietnam. Or so the U.S. thought. 

U.S. determination to back Diem was made with the knowledge 
that French support for him was hardly enthusiastic. Guy La Chambre, 
Minister for the Associated States, faulted Diem on three essential 
points: Diem would oppose a representative government, oppose agrarian 
reform and refuse to depose Bao Dai and create a republic. La Chambre 
expected a new government would be necessary to give South Vietnam a 
chance of winning the 1956 elections. 20 / 

America's economic policy for South Vietnam was designed 
to yield immediate political advantage, cope with the staggering dis- 
tortion of Vietnamese economic life and ease France out of economic 
affairs. U.S. planners believed integration of land reform measures 
with refugee resettlement would fill a triple bill: -surplus land 
distributed among the thousands of refugees would invite their political 
support, facilitate assimilation of Tonkinese with Cochin-Chinese and 
bring the land to full productivity. Aid would be given directly to 
Vietnam as befitting its independence and as a means to accelerate 
! the "disassociation of France from (economic) levers of command." 2l/ 

j French domination in this area, it was thought, stifled Vietnamese 

efforts and contradicted Vietnamese independence. It also inhibited 
American economic interests. Militarily, the U.S. would build up 
"indigenous military forces necessary for internal security . . . 
working through the French only insofar as necessary." 22/ Exactly 
how indigenous forces would be developed was not decided until December 
195^- > because France had some ideas about what to do and the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff differed with State Department opinions as to the kind 
of U.S. involvement required. 

k. The U.S. "Chooses" Policy for France 

In effect, these policy decisions of August 195**- asked 
Mendes-France to overcome "French traditional interests and emotions 
which have in the past governed the implementation of policy in Indo- 
china." They asked for -- or demanded -- a "dramatic transformation 
in French policy" because policy makers believed this was necessary 
to "win the active loyalty and support of the population for a South 
Vietnamese Government." 23/ The U.S. asked France to stay in Vietnam 
militarily, to get out of Vietnamese economic and political life, but 
at the same time Washington asked for French support and cooperation 
in implementing U.S. programs. This was probably asking too much. 

By December, the U.S. no longer asked for French support 
but demanded it. By December, the qualified U.S. commitment to Diem 
had hardened, U.S. involvement in Vietnam had deepened and U.S. 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

activities there either dominated or simply excluded the French. Several 


forces converged to produce this change in U.S. policy. Resolution of 
differences within the Eisenhower Administration on military issues 
opened the way for U.S. assumption of responsibilities in what had been 
an exclusively French preserve. The belief that Diem for all his 
failings and weaknesses was the only available leader for South Vietnam, 
and that he needed stronger U.S. and French support to quell opponents 
and speed development led to the creation of programs designed to 
provide that strong support. 

Finally, the U.S. believed France had not done enough for 
Diem, believed the schizophrenic French policy of professing support 
while acting to undermine Diem's regime was largely to blame for 
Vietnamese difficulties. This resulted in demands that France live 
up to her promises. It made unilateral American efforts more attractive 
— French assistance might not be available in any case — - and it 
inspired a feeling that Americans had to do more because the French 
were doing so little. 

C. Tentative U.S. Involvement Becomes Deeper, Firmer 

1. Adoption of Military Responsibilities 

Authorization for General John (iron Mike) 0' Daniel, Chief 
of the Military Assistance and Advisory Group (mAAG), Indochina, to take 
up the task of training the Vietnamese National Army (VNA) was long in 
coming. General T Daniel and French General Ely had discussed U.S. 
participation in training in June 195^-j 0*Daniel drew up a comprehensive 
plan for advisory assistance at all levels of the military establish- 
ment and in July begged the U.S. to beef up the MAAG staff before 
August 11, when the Geneva prohibition against introduction of new 
military personnel went into effect. 24/ But the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff objected. 

a. The JCS Arguments Against U.S. Training the VNA 

Early in August, the JCS listed four preconditions 
essential to the success of a U.S. training effort in Indochina, 
preconditions which should be met before training obligations were 
assumed. First: 

It is absolutely essential that there be a reasonably 
strong, stable civil government in control. It is hope- 
less to expect a US military training mission to achieve 
success unless the nation concerned is able effectively 
to perform those governmental functions essential to the 
successful raising and maintenance of armed forces. 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Secondly, that government "should formally request 
that the United States assume responsibility for training . . . 
forces and providing the military equipment, financial assistance and 
political advice necessary to insure internal stability." The Chiefs 
saw no role in training for the French; the third precondition called 
for complete French withdrawal from the country: 

Arrangements should be made with the French granting 
full independence to the Associated States and providing 
for the phased, orderly withdrawal of French forces, 
French officials and French advisors from Indochina in 
order to provide motivation and a sound basis for the 
establishment of national armed forces. The United 
States from the beginning should insist on dealing 
directly with the governments of the respective 
Associated States, completely independent of French 
participation or control. 

Finally, both "local military requirements and the over-all US 
interests should dictate the size and composition of indigenous forces." 


b. Dulles f Views 

Of the four preconditions, only the second presented 
no problem. The State Department, notably Secretary Dulles, Walter F. 
Robertson, Assistant Secretary of State for the Far East, and Kenneth 
T. Young, head of an interdepartmental Vietnam Task Force, objected to 
the other three stipulations. Dulles outlined his thinking in a 
letter of August 18 to Defense Secretary Charles Wilson. Agreeing that 
the Diem government "is far from strong or stable" Dulles pointed out 
that reorganization and retraining of the army was "one of the most 
efficient means of enabling the Vietnamese Government to become strong." 
Calling this "the familiar hen-and-egg argument as to which comes 
first," Dulles made his preference clear. He saw two courses of 
action open to the United States: 


one, to strengthen the government by means of a political 
and economic nature and the other, to bolster that 
government by strengthening the army which supports it. 

Dulles wished to adopt both courses. 

As for the question of French presence or absence, 
Dulles said: 

It would be militarily disastrous to demand the with- 
drawal of French forces from Vietnam before the creation 

8 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

of a new National Army. However . . .• there would seem 
to be no insuperable objection to the U.S. undertaking 
a training program . • . while at the same time the 
French Forces commence a gradual phasing out from that 
theater. 26/ 

c. The NSC Backs Dulles 

Adoption of NSC 5^-29/2 indicates the U.S. Government 
found Dulles f views more persuasive than those of the Joint Chiefs 
of Staff. But while it was agreed to "work through the French only 
insofar as necessary" to build up indigenous forces, the program for 
bolstering the Vietnamese army was not developed for several months. 

d. JCS-State Split on Force Level, Mission for VNA 

On September 22, in a memorandum recommending 
establishment of a MAAG, Cambodia (if "all French advisors ultimately" 
are withdrawn, if the U.S. deals directly with Phnom Penh and if these 
caveats are written into a bilateral agreement with Cambodia), the JCS 
recommended against assignment of training responsibilities to the 
Saigon MAAG because of the "unstable political situation" in South 
Vietnam. 27/ Instability was noted "with concern" by the JCS in a 
second September 22 memorandum dealing with development of forces in 
Indochina, as was the cease-fire agreement (called "a major obstacle 
to the introduction of adequate US MAAG personnel and of additional 
arms and equipment"). 28 / Because of these factors, the Chiefs con- 
sidered "this is not a propitious time to further indicate United 
States intentions with respect to the support and training of Viet- 
namese forces." 

But the JCS had been directed by the NSC to address 
the question of Vietnamese force levels; against their best wishes, one 
supposes, this memorandum forwarded their views. A 23^,000-man army 
was proposed for Vietnam; the annual cost of training and maintaining 
this force — assuming France turned over to the VNA arms and equipment 
furnished under the U.S. Military Development Assistance Program since 
1950 — was put at $^20 million. Another $23.5 million would be 
needed to train and equip the Navy and Air Forces. Further, the JCS 
wanted speedy relinquishment of French over-all command of the VNA and 
speedy withdrawal of French forces as the Vietnamese "are capable of 
exercising command of an effective force." Finally, the JCS requested 
"a definite agreement ... be obtained from the French Government 
with respect to the timing of their programmed phased withdrawal" 
before U.S. assumption of training responsibilities. 29 / 

Dulles objected to these proposals: 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

It seems to me that the mission of the Vietnamese 
National Armed Forces should be to provide internal 
security. The manpower and cost estimates (of the JCS) 
would seem to be excessive in the above context. 

The Secretary called a French request of $330 million to support the 
French Expeditionary Corps, then expected to number 150,000 men 
through 1955, and the Vietnamese plan to keep 230,000 men under arms 
,f • . • beyond what the United States should consider feasible to 
support for maintaining the security of free Indochina at this time." 
Instead, he called it "imperative" that the U.S. Government -- e.g., 
the JCS — "prepare a firm position on the size of the forces we 
consider a minimum level to assure the internal security of Indochina." 

A week later the Chiefs in turn objected. The idea 
of training the VNA for internal security contradicted NSC 162/2 
which "envisages reliance on indigenous ground forces to the maximum' 
extent possible" in territorial defense. Citing the threat from 
"considerable numbers of Viet Minh guerrillas and sympathizers . . . 
known to be or suspected of being within the territory, of free Vietnam" 
and the GVN "intention of requesting the phased withdrawal of the 
French forces by 1956" the Chiefs said: 

This would result in a complete military vacuum unless 
the Vietnamese are adequately prepared to take over pro- 
gressively as the French withdraw. 

The force levels recommended on September 22 were reaffirmed as "the 
minimum required ultimately to carry out the . . . objectives" of the 
VNA, which should be "to attain and maintain internal security and to 
deter Viet Minh aggression by a limited defense of the Geneva Armistice 
demarkation line." The JCS pointed again to the unstable political 
situation in Vietnam, the 3^-2-man MAAG ceiling and concluded: 

Under these conditions, US participation in training not 
only would probably have but limited beneficial effect but 
also would assume responsibility for any failure of the program. 
In light of the foregoing and from a military point of view, the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that the United States should 
not participate in the training of Vietnamese forces in 
Indochina. However, if it is considered that political con- 
siderations are overriding, the Joint Chiefs of Staff would 
agree to ohe assignment of a training mission to MAAG, 
Saigon, with safeguards against French interference with 
the U.S. training effort. 3l/ 

10 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET -" Sensitive 

e. Again , the NSC Backs Dulles , Recommends a U.S. 
Military Program in South Vietnam 

Political considerations were overriding. The JCS 
concession to consider training the Vietnamese for internal security 
alone coincided with deliberations in the Operations Coordinating Board 
over possible ways in which to strengthen the Diem regime. A crash 
program had been outlined by State , part of which was a limited interim 
training program recommended by the OCB. Admiral Radford, Chairman of 
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believed this would set in motion the long- 
range training program proposed by General T Daniel in June; he still 
believed that program should not be adopted. But before the JCS could 
consider or suggest revisions to the OCB proposal, the National Security 
Council met on October 22 and approved a joint State-Defense message to 
Saigon authorizing Ambassador Donald Heath and 'Daniel to "collaborate 
in setting in motion a. crash program designed to bring about an improve- 
ment in the loyalty and effectiveness of the Free Vietnamese Forces." 32/ 
The JCS were directed to recommend force levels necessary to "accomplish 
the military objective merely of the maintenance of internal security." 33/ 

Responding on November 17 > the JCS proposed a force of 
89,085 at an estimated cost of $193-1 million for Fiscal Year 1956 and 
approximately $100 million for the remainder of FY 1955. To provide 
internal security and "in an attempt to stabilize the Diem government" the 
JCS suggested prompt reduction in force and prompt reassignment of selected 
personnel and units to maintain "the security of the legal government in 
Saigon and other major population centers," execute "regional security 
operations in each province" and perform "territorial pacification missions." 
Later, military centers would be established for reorganization and training 
of the military. 

The Chiefs expressed serious reservations about the 
probability of Vietnamese — and American -- success. First, 

the chaotic internal political situation within Vietnam 
is such that there is no assurance that the security forces 
visualized herein can be developed into loyal and effective 
support for the Diem Government, or, if developed, that 
these forces will result in political and military stability 
within South Vietnam. Unless the Vietnamese themselves show 
an inclination to make individual and collective sacrifices 
required to resist communism, which they have not done to 
date, no amount of external pressure and assistance can long 
delay complete Communist victory in South Vietnam. 

Secondly, "the cooperation and collaboration of the 
French MAAG" is vital to effective execution of the program -- and the 
JCS doubted that support would be readily offered. Finally, the Chiefs 

11 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

the above program does not provide adequate security for 
I the Associated States against external aggression after 

the withdrawal of the French forces. With the Viet Minh 
increasing the size and effectiveness of their forces and 
with no forces in "being committed to mutual defense under 
the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, the above 
J long-range program would be insufficient to provide more 

than limited initial resistance to an organized military 
assault by the Viet Minh. 34/ 

f. Collins Agrees with the NSC 

Another memorandum of November 17 indicated how quickly 
the United States had moved to inaugurate the crash program approved at 
the October 22 NSC meeting. Secretary Dulles outlined for President 
Eisenhower the recommendations of General J. Lawton Collins, special 
envoy sent to Vietnam to over-see all U.S. operations, coordinate them 
with French programs and get things moving. Collins recommended the 
the "Vietnamese National Army. . .be reduced by July 1955 to 77,000. It 
should be placed under Vietnamese command and control by that date.... 
The cost to the U.S. would be two hundred million dollars annually.... 
The United States should assume training responsibility. . .by January 1, 
1955 > with French cooperation and utilizing French trainers." 

Collins insisted that French forces be retained in 

It would be disastrous if the French Expeditionary 
Corps were withdrawn prematurely since otherwise Vietnam 
would be overrun by an enemy attack before the Manila 
Pact Powers could act. 

To "encourage the French to retain sufficient forces," Collins urged 
U.S. financial support of at least $100 million through December 1955 • 
General Ely concurred. 35 / 

2. Conditions in Vietnam Invite Firmer Action 

The situation in Vietnam during the autumn of 195^- invited 
an action program of some kind — any kind. Premier Diem barely 
controlled Saigon; he was opposed by his army ! s chief of staff, by power- 
ful sect politicians guarding significant special interests with powerful 
sect armies; he was at least tacitly opposed by many French in Vietnam. 
The countryside had been devastated by the war; communications, adminis- 
tration and financial operations were stalled; an already prostrate 
economy was threatened by the deluge of some 860,000 refugees from the 
north. Over all hung "an atmosphere of frustration and disillusionment" 
created by the Geneva Accords and imposed partition, "compounded by 
widespread uncertainty as to French and US intentions." 36/ U.S. policy 
in August set out to correct the uncertainty: Diem was to be supported 
by both America and France. But U.S. policy could not eliminate Diem's 

12 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

a . The Military Threatens Diem 

General Nguyen Van Hinh, Chief of Staff of the Viet- 
namese National Army, was the first coup-plotter to rise and first to 
fall. September threats of a military revolt were first staved off by 
the mediation of U.S. Ambassador Donald Heath and General Ely (who 
doubted Diem's capacity to lead but worked to prevent his violent down- 
fall). Then Diem uncovered a coup plot, arrested some Hinh supporters, 
•removed the general from command and ordered him out of the country. 37/ 
Hinh refused to leave and continued his machinations against the govern- 
ment. Plans for one coup in October were dropped when Hinh was told 
revolt would mean automatic termination of U.S. aid. 38/ Another" 
scheduled for October 26 was foiled when Colonel E. G. Lansdale, head 
of the Saigon Military Mission and chief CIA man on the scene, lured 
two key subordinates out of the country. Lansdale invited Hinh and 
staff to visit the Philippines. Hinh unhappily declined but his 
supporters -- one of whom allegedly was a French agent — could not 
resist the chance to see the inner workings of the Magsaysay-led, U.S.- 
supported operation against Huk insurgents. 39/ Finally, in November, 
Bao Dai was persuaded by America and France to intervene on Diem's 
behalf. He did, ordered Hinh to report to Cannes, and on November 19 > 
the general left the country, ho/ General Hinh enjoyed some French 
support in his anti-Diem activity. Ambassador Heath reported he received 
I ' "quiet encouragement if not unofficial support" from many French officers 

and officials in Saigon and "at the working level in Paris." kl/ Hinh 
was also aided initially by the sects, later by the Binh Xuyen. 

b. The Sects Threaten Diem 

The Cao Dai and Hoa Hao sects, basically religious 

groups with important political controls and interests as well as private, 

French- subsidized armies, worked with Hinh through early September. 

Then, spurred by the knowledge that precipitate action would jeopardize 
J American aid, the sects agreed to work with Diem. k2/ Last minute 

threa/ts and "heavy pressure" from French officials against coalition 
; left sect leaders "dizzy" but they recovered sufficiently to accept 

cabinet positions on September 2k. k^J Shaky to begin with, the co- 
I alition never worked: Diem refused to delegate responsibility to his 

eight new ministers and they soon tired of trying to work through the - 

government. ' 

c . And the Binh Xu yen Opp ose Diem 

The Binh Xuyen, too, considered joining the coalition 
but pulled out when Diem refused to name Binh Xuyen leader, "a colorful 
brigand named Le Van (Bay) Vien" Minister of the Interior, kk/ Bay Vien 
had forged a motley group of small-time gangsters into a fairly sophis- 
ticated organization of 6000 big-time gangsters and river pirates, and 

13 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

had been helped in this endeavor by Bao Dai and French colonial admin- 
istrators. The Binh Xuyen controlled prostitution and gambling in 
Cholon and the Saigon-Cholon police force -- reportedly because Bay Vien 
paid Bao Dai some kO million piasters for these privileges . k^J Still- 
dissident sect Headers such as Ba Cut, whose 5000 Hoa Hao adherents 
denounced Geneva and refused cooperation with Diem, and Frenchmen opposed 
to Diem abetted Binh Xuyen intrigues against the government. 

3« French Laxity Demands Strong U.S. Programs 

More than the Vietnamese power struggles and Diem's inability 
to consolidate his rule, French activities during the autumn of 195*+ gal- 
vanized the United States. From acquiescence to U.S. demands in September, 
American policy makers felt France had moved toward opposition to U.S. 
demands by November. That this assessment of French actions was either 
objective or fair is questionable. 

a. The Washington Conference, September, 195^- 

After Franco-American discussions in Washington in late 
September -- the first in a progression of monthly meetings on Vietnam -- 
the United States seemed to have scored highest. France promised to 
support Diem, to grant independence to Vietnam quickly. kGj The transfer 
of financial, administrative, economic and other functions to the Viet- 
namese had begun and would be completed by December 195^-* That France 
balked at U.S. demands for an immediate grant of independence outside of 
the French Union is not surprising: French cultural, economic and polit- 
ical interests in Vietnam were still strong; the Frenchman's belief in the 
validity of the French Union was deep. No French government dared defy 
public opinion by seeming to hasten the end of the French Union, kj/ 
France felt the U.S. had an "almost psychological attachment to 'inde- 
pendence' without giving sufficient thought and attention to the practical 
problems and risks involved." kQ/ 

Secondly, the U.S. had been able to defer a commitment 
to finance the French Expeditionary Corps in Vietnam although an indication 
that aid would be resumed, if not resumption itself, had been the first 
order of French business at the Washington Conference, ks / France agreed 
to maintain the Corps in Vietnam but was told no aid figures would be 
available until December. 5^ / 

Both France and the U.S. thought their respective economic 
aims had been won. France objected strongly to the idea of direct Ameri- 
can aid to Vietnam on the grounds that it violated the Geneva Accords, 
would needlessly provoke Communist China, promote graft and corruption in 
Vietnam, and intensify the political struggle. Plus, "past (French) 
sacrifices on behalf of Vietnam and their obligation as a member of the 
French Union" made French supervision of aid essential. 57/ To France, 
a compromise agreement drafted by Walter Bedell Smith meant the U.S. 

Ik TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

accepted these arguments and was willing to give France a hand in 
disbursing aid to the Associated States* 52/ The U.S. chose 
not to interpret the agreement this way. The State Department said the 
U.S. merely indicated willingness to consult on such matters. 53/ 
On 29 October 3 Dulles told Mendes-France that the U.S. alone would dis- 
perse aid; by late November Mendes-France finally tired of arguing an 
obviously lost cause and dropped the matter. $k/ 

b . The U.S. Faults French Support for Diem 

• • Despite apparent agreement at Washington to back Diem, 
Secretary Dulles met with Mendes-France three weeks later in Paris about 
the same subject. "For. . .ready reference" Acting Secretary of State 
Herbert Hoover quoted for Dulles part of the 29 September Minute of 
Understanding in which the 

...representatives of France and the United States agree 
that their respective governments support Ngo Dinh Diem in 
the establishment and maintenance of a strong, anti-Communist 
and nationalist government. To this end France and the 
United States will urge all anti-Communist elements in Vietnam 
to cooperate fully with the Government of Ngo Dinh Diem in 
order to counter vigorously the Viet Minh and build a strong 
free Vietnam. . . .While Ely seems to have attempted honestly to 
carry out this agreement, the fact that many French elements 
have never accepted Diem solution must have weakened Ely's 
efforts and encouraged Hinli camarilla in its recalcitrance.... 
Unless Diem receives unreserved US and French support, his 
chances of success appear slight. With such support, his chances 
are probably better than even, repeat even. 55/ 

e. Accommodation Between Paris and Hanoi? 

Apart from the quiet backing given Diem T s opponents 
by French officers and officials in Saigon and persistent Paris proposals 
for a cha,nge in government (Prince Buu Hoi, whose "political ideologies" 
were repugnant to Dulles, was a French favorite at this time), the U.S. 
found in French accommodative gestures toward Hanoi ample proof that 
French backing for Diem was reserved at best. 56 / Ambassador Dillon 
felt Mendes-France found in Vietnam a "situation ideally designed to 
test (the) bases of his fundamental political philosophy of 'peaceful 
coexistence 1 " and that his government grew more and more "disposed to 
explore and consider a policy looking toward an eventual peaceful North- 
South rapprochement." 57/ French insistence on strict legal interpre- 
tation of the Geneva Accords was one example of accommodation thinking. 
France objected to anything which could possibly delay or destroy 
elections in 1956; Dillon predicted Paris would accept the results of 
elections "however academic that exercise may eventually prove to be." 58, 

15 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

But the most worrisome example to those at the State Department who 
lined up against any kind of accommodation was the Sainteny Mission 
to Hanoi. 

d. Sainteny or Ely? 

Jean Sainteny, credited with reaching short-lived 
independence accords with Ho Chi Minh in March 19^6, was sent back to 
Hanoi in August 195^- to find ways to protect French business and 
.cultural interests in Tonkin. 59 / Sainteny 1 s past success at rapproche- 
ment gave the mission definite political overtones. General Ely wished 
Paris had sent a "stupid type of consular official" not a man of Sainteny 1 s 
"active stripe"; he was disturbed enough to fly to Paris to tell Mendes- 
France he would resign if French policy was to play a "double game" in 
North and South Vietnam aimed at backing whichever side ultimately won. 
Mendes-France assured Ely that French policy was to give maximum support 
to the anti-Communist elements in South Vietnam and do everything possible 
to assure their victory in 1956. Ely was placated and returned to Saigon. 
But Sainteny remained in Hanoi and maximum support for Diem did not 
materialize. 60/ 

From another source came word that Ely was not "au 
courant" with French policy. French Union Counsellor Jacque Raphael- 
Leygues, reportedly a member of the Mendes-France "brain trust" on Indo- 
china, told Ambassador Dillon that Sainteny had convinced Paris that 
South Vietnam was doomed and the "only possible means of salvaging any- 
thing was to play the Viet Minh game and woo the Viet Minh away from 
Communist ties in the hope of creating a Titoist Vietnam which would co- 
operate with France and might even adhere to the French Union." Raphael- 
Leygues said France deferred to U.S. wishes over which government to 
support in Saigon "to get money for the French Expeditionary Corps and 
to fix responsibility for the eventual loss of South Vietnam on the U.S. 6l, 

In December 195^-j Sainteny won Ho Chi Minh T s agreement 
to permit French enterprises to carry on without discrimination. But if 
the contract pleased Paris it did not assure French businessmen in Tonkin. 
Viet Minh legislation would regulate their operations; profits could not 
be transferred outside the Communist orbit. Most French concerns decided 
potential benefit was not worth the risk of doing business with the DRV 
and despite Sainteny' s efforts to establish mixed government-private 
corporations , most withdrew from the North. 62 / Sainteny remained as a 
"general delegate" to the DRV. 

e. The Mansfield Report 

A final spur to U.S. action was the Mansfield Report. 
After a. fact-finding trip to South Vietnam, Senator Mansfield concluded 

16 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

his old acquaintance Diem was the only man for the job in Saigon. He 
said the issue "is not Diem as an individual but rather the program 
for which he stands." That program "represents genuine nationalism, . . . 
is prepared to deal effectively with corruption and. . .demonstrates a 
concern in advancing the welfare of the Vietnamese people." The Senator 
felt it "improbable" that any other leadership "dedicated to these 
principles" could be found and recommended the Government "consider an 
immediate suspension of all aid to Vietnam and the French Union Forces 
there, except that of a humanitarian nature, preliminary to a complete 
•reappraisal of our present policies in Free Vietnam" if Diem fell. 63/ 

The Mansfield Report elated Diem (who proceeded to react 
with even more intransigent self-righteousness to suggestions of change), 
subdued the French and annoyed Paris. For those Frenchmen who favored 
conciliation with the Viet Minh, Mansfield's analysis proved the validity 
of their policy. Obviously , they said, if Diem falls the U.S. will heed 
Mansfield and withdraw from Vietnam. Equally obviously, they said, Diem 
will fall. Ergo, France should start "betting on Viet Minh to win war." 6k/ 
To French officials willing to back Diem the Report and Washington T s 
endorsement of it was a violation of the Franco -American agreement to sup- 
port another government if Diem fell. When Mendes -France reminded Dulles 
of this and spoke of the need to lay plans for "another structure of govern- 
ment" which both France and the US could support, Dulles was noncommittal. 65, 

k. NSC Action Program of October, and Eisenhower Letter to Die m 

President Eisenhower's letter to Diem of 2k October (written 
August and shown to the French at that time; held up until the political 
situation in South Vietnam settled somewhat; finally approved for trans- 
mission at the October 22 NSC meeting) was called a direct violation of 
the principle of cooperative action agreed upon in September by Minister 
La Chambre. 66 / French Ambassador Bonnet told Secretary Dulles that "it 
was felt (the letter) had given Diem full rein without requiring of him 
as a preliminary condition that he should first succeed in forming a strong 
and stable government, even though this preliminary condition had been a 
part of the basis of the Washington agreements." Bonnet added that the 
letter might be a violation of the armistice and the Viet Minh might take 
advantage of it. 67/ Then, when Ambassador Dillon suggested to the 
Quai d 1 Or say that French support for Diem had not been all that it might 
have been, La Chambre was inflamed. Not only was this a false allegation, 
it was a direct slur on General Ely, the government in Paris and the glory 
of France. M. La Chajnbre said he was personally convinced Diem was 
leading South Vietnam to disaster but would still support him: 

We prefer to lose in Vietnam with the US rather than 
to win without them. . .we would rather support Diem knowing 
he is going to lose and thus keep Franco-US solidarity than 
to pick someone who could retain Vietnam for the free world 
if this meant breaking Franco-US solidarity. 68 / 

17 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET -- Sensitive 

In response, Secretary Dalles formally told Mendes- France 
that both the Eisenhower letter and the stronger U.S. action were "in 
furtherance of the understandings reached at Washington." The U.S. 
had not "the slightest idea of questioning the good faith of the French 
government" but "ma.ny French officials have not concealed their belief 
that Diem has failed. . .and. . .should be replaced." This attitude produced 
an "impasse 'in Saigon" necessitating firmer action. 69/ La Chambre 
received this with "little comment" other than to suggest appointment of 
Nguyen Van Tarn (General Hinh's father, Premier during 1952-1953 and a 
strong-even oppressive-administrator) to the Interior Ministry. La Chambre 
called this a "way out of the mess... (for) here is -a man who knows how 
to fight Communists." 70/ As in the past, the U.S. rejected the proposal. 

5 • More Action' The Collins Mission 

The initial U.S. action program rested on three assumptions: 
that Diem could be persuaded to accept U.S. proposals, that Hirih would 
obey the government, that the French at all levels would cooperate. None 
proved immediately valid. So the U.S. adopted yet another tactic. General 
J. Lawton Collins, U.S. Representative to the NA.T0 Military Committee, was 
dispatched to Vietnam on November 8 with the personal rank of Ambassador 
(Heath returned to the State Department). As President Eisenhower des- 
cribed it, Collins 1 mission was: 

to coordinate and direct a program in support of (Diem's) 
government to enable it to: (a) promote internal security 
and political and economic stability; (b) establish and main- 
tain control throughout the territory; and (c) effectively 
counteract Viet Minh infiltration and paramilitary activities 
south of the demarkation line. 71/ 

After initial resistance to the Collins mission (seen as a 
precursor to complete U.S. take-over of Indochina), General Ely established 
a close working relationship with Collins. A seven-point program for 
political, military and economic action was quickly designed. On Decem- 
ber 13, Ely and Collins signed a Minute of Understanding agreeing that 
France would grant full autonomy to the VNA. by July 1, 1955 and that the 
U.S. would assume training duties in January. They agreed the French 
Expeditionary Corps must remain in Vietnam and the level of financial 
assistance suggested by Collins ($100 million through December 1955 after 
which assistance was not contemplated) was adopted by the Foreign Opera- 
tions Administration and subsequently announced to Paris. Aid was contingent 
upon consultation with Congress and "subject to Ely and Collins and the two 
governments mutually agreeing on what is to be done in Indochina." 72/ 

6. . France Objects to Collins-Ely Agreements 

• ■ 

Paris was unhappy about the aid figure — a third of 
what France requested. Consequently, withdrawal of French forces was 
speeded: of the 150,000 troops scheduled to remain in Vietnam through 
1955, all but 35,000 were phased out. Monetary reasons were said to be 

18 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

paramount but political and psychological pressures for the pull-out 
were probably more important. There was strong sentiment in France 
for sending the FEC to North Africa where it could serve the interests 
of France and the French Union. In Vietnam, French soldiers served the 
free world but were hated by the Vietnamese and ignored by the very powers 
they aided, powers which did not care enough to properly defray French 
expenses. 73 / 

Paris was more upset by the Minute of Understanding. 
During November discussion with Dulles, Mendes-France had said he doubted 
full autonomy could be assumed by the Vietnamese by July 1955 and believed 
a readjustment of MAAG personnel for the new training mission might violate 
the Geneva Accords. These arguments were reiterated at December Trilateral 
meetings. But Mendes-France T s real trouble was agreeing to phase out 
French instructors. Neither the French people nor French soldiers would 
understand why France was denied influence while required to support such 
a heavy burden in Vietnam. Mendes-France and General Ely insisted that 
if French instructors were eliminated the U.S. automatically would have 
assumed primary responsibility for free world policy toward Indochina. 7V 
(Dulles and General Collins rejected that line of reasoning but convinced 
neither the French nor others that it was fallacious . ) 

Collins compromised in the Minute of Understanding by 
agreeing to softer language (both French and American instructors would 
be removed as Vietnamese efficiency increased), hoping to assuage Paris. 
He failed. When the Minute was forwarded for final approval Mendes-France 
stalled. First he had to study it closely to ensure no conflict with 
Geneva was involved. Then on January 7, the French submitted a redraft 
of the Minute which omitted reference to General T Daniel T s authority over 
French personnel. 75 / 

Collins was already annoyed by hedging in December , 
tantamount to a slap in the face of Ely to whom full authority to negoti- 
ate the agreement had been delegated. 76 / Pie refused to "agree to (the 
redraft) unless specifically instructed by higher authority" because lines 
of authority were not spelled out. 77/ Yet Ely thought Paris had approved 
the original agreement. He urged Collins to continue negotiations with 
the Vietnamese on the basis of the first Minute , advice Collins followed 
despite the Paris-Washington snafu. On January 19 and 20 a formal exchange 
of letters finalized the agreement for U.S. assumption of training duties 
and financial support ($21-!-. 5 million) for the Vietnamese forces. The 
forces would be scaled down to 100,000 by December 1955. Both cost and 
force levels were raised from Collins' November recommendations in deference 
to Vietnamese arguments. 78/ The U.S. and France remained deadlocked 
until February 11, 1955 j when the terms — but not the form — of the 
original agreement were finally accepted. The next day., General T Daniel 
assumed responsibility for training Vietnamese forces and the Training 
Relations and Instruction Mission (TRIM) went into operation. 79/ 

19 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

D. Franco -Ameri can Impasse Over Diem 

Resolution of military problems within the U.S. Government 
and between the U.S. and France was a fairly major accomplishment. 
Political differences were not similarly resolved. To support or not 
to support Ngo Dinh Diem was the issue over which France and America 

1. Paris: Diem Is Ill-Suited for Rule 

As noted above , France acquiesced in the retention of Diem 
as Prime Minister in deference to U.S. insistence and French concern for 
U.S. financial assistance for the FEC during the September Washington 
conference. In mid -November, Mendes-France reaffirmed the 29 September 
agreement but said an alternative form of government had to be considered 
unless Diem implemented an energetic program within the next two months. 
By December , when Mendes-France , Dulles and Eden met in Paris, the 
French Premier made it clear he thought the time had come for a change. 
Two ways to accomplish change were suggested. Bao Dai could name a 
Viceroy and give him full authority to use the powers of Chief of State 
to unify the warring political factions. Tran Van Huu, Nguyen Van -Tarn 
or Dr. Phan Huy Quat were possible candidates for this job. 80 / Or, 
Bao Dai himself could return to Saigon and form a government with Huu as 
Premier, Tarn as Interior Minister, Quat in Defense. 8l/ 

France wanted Diem out of power for several reasons. U.S. 
policymakers did not seem to fully appreciate how galling Diem's Franco- 
phobia must have been, nor did the U.S. seem to understand -- or allow for 
the divisive effect Diem's militant ant i- communist stance had within the 
French Government. Little consideration was given to charges that the 
U.S. was undermining France by portraying itself as the only friend of 
Vietnamese nationalism. But the U.S. could appreciate the validity of 
French arguments that Diem had not been and perhaps would not be able to 
unify and stabilize South Vietnam. 

2 . Collins: Diem Cannot Lead South Vietnam 

General Collins had been skeptical about Diem from the outset; 
by December he was convinced an alternative to his government should be 
urgently considered. Diem T s refusal to name Dr. Quat as Defense Minister 
triggered Collins 1 recommendation. Both Collins and Colonel Lansdale had 
urged Diem to accept Quat, agreeing Quat alone was strong enough to unify 
the Vietnamese armed forces behind the Saigon government. On December 13, 
Collins suggested five reasons for Diem's adverse decision: 

(l) unwillingness to delegate control of Vietnam armed forces 

to any strong man; (2) fear of Quat as potential successor; 

(3) opposition of sects (who also feared a strong man in the 

defense post); (h) influence of brothers Luyen and Mhu (anxious 

to neutralize the power of any potential successor); (5) desire 

to retain Minh (acting defense minister; loyal to Diem) in 
government. 82/ 

20 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

According to Collins, 

Whatever the reasons, the failure to utilize Quat 
epitomizes lack of unity among Vietnamese and lack of decis- 
ive leadership on part of Diem. . . -Acceptance of status quo 
with Minh elevated to Defense Ministry and sects reinforced 
in veto power over government is simply postponing evil day 
of reckoning as to when, if ever, Diem will assert type of 
leadership that can unify this country and give it chance of 
competing with hard, effective, unified control of Ho Chi 
Minh, 83/ 

Three days later, General Collins communicated his "final 
judgment" on the situation. He made four recommendations: 

A. Continue to support Diem along present lines for short 
while longer but without committing US to specific aid 
programs ; 

B. Consider urgently, as possible alternative, the early 
return of Bao Dai; 

C. If after short period of further test Diem Government 
fails to achieve substantial progressive action and if 
return of Bao Dai is acceptable to US Government, to support 
his prompt return; 

D. If return of Bao Dai is not acceptable to US Government, 
assuming Diem Government continues to demonstrate inability 

' to unite free Vietnam behind an aggressive program, I recom- 
mend re-evaluation of our plans for assisting Southeast Asia 
with special attention (to an) earlier proposal. Qk/ 

The earlier proposal, made by General Collins on December 13, was that the 
U.S. gradually withdraw from Vietnam. Collins said this was the "least 
desirable (but) in all honesty and in view of what I have observed here 
to date this may be the only sound solution." 85/ 

3. State Department: Diem Is the Only Available Leader 

The State Department went along with Collins 1 suggestion to 
avoid specific assistance commitments at the present time but could not 
see salvation in Bao Dai. A memorandum from Ambassador Heath, then working 
in the Far East Bureau is indicative of State Department thinking. Heath 
first called attention to "massive opposition" faced by Diem and French 
unwillingness to firmly support him -- implying that all Diem's problems 
were not Diem T s fault. He then spoke of General Collins' "attempt to 
achieve a rapid solution," said Collins' "recommendations are now based 
on the circumstances of a satisfactory settlement prior to January 1" — 
thereby suggesting that one not looking for a rapid solution might not 
arrive at similar conclusions. 

21 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

The memorandum closed with Heath's interpretation of 
Secretary Dulles' policy and his own thoughts as to what ought to be 
done : 

In our view., General Collins* recommendations ignore the 
basic factor that we would assist a Communist takeover by a 
withholding of our aid, even if it must necessarily be given 
to a government which is less than perfect. The Secretary 
has analyzed the situation as one in which we are conducting 
a time buying operation. If we withhold our support to Viet- 
nam, it will be taken over sooner than if we extend smaller 
aid, at a figure of about a third of last year. In the mean- 
time, we will proceed to do what we can to strengthen Cambodia, 
Laos and Thailand. This is .my understanding of the Secretary's 

I recommend we inform the Secretary and General Collins 
that we recognize the dangers posed by the above policy, but that 
in the lack of more useful alternatives that we will continue 
to support Diem, because there is no one to take his place who 
would serve US objectives any better. This includes the Bao 
Dai solution which is opposed by the facts of Bao Dai's lack 
of support in Vietnam and his past demonstrations of inability 
to govern. The fear that a fiscal commitment of over $3°° rnil- 
. lion plus our national prestige would be lost in a gamble on 
the retention of Free Vietnam is a legitimate one, but the 
withholding of our support at this juncture would almost inevit- 
ably have a far worse effect." 86/ 

The substance of the memorandum was cabled to Secretary Dulles, then in 
Paris for the Tripartite French, U.S. and British discussions. 87/ 

k . December Tripartite Talks 

a. France Proposes Alternative to Diem, Dulles Seems to 
Acquiesc e 

On 19 December, Mendes-France opened the Indochina, talks 
by calling Diem's approach "wholly negative," said "not a single reform 
suggested (by Franco-American working groups advising the government on 
all matters) had been accepted by Diem," that the "French Government now 
considered. . .a strong approach would have to be made to Diem." Reaffirming 
his past agreement with Dulles' "thesis that we must do our maximum to 
permit Diem Government to succeed" Mendes-France added: 

now-. ..he was not longer sure that even maximum would help. 
He said we must now have alternate formula in mind. Without 
varying from our stated purpose of supporting Diem Govern- 
ment as long as it exists we must now prepare in our minds 
for alternative. 88, 

22 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Dulles agreed the 

task in South Vietnam was difficult (but) regarded basic 
factors as favorable. People were opposed to communism 
and had great natural resources. . .they received greater 
aid from abroad than North. . .situation was much improved 
now that there was full cooperation between French and 
American authorities. The problem must not be approached 
in spirit of defeatism. Only serious problem we have not 
yet solved is that of indigenous leadership. We cannot 
expect it to be solved ideally because there is no tradi- 
tion among indigenous people for self-government. We must 
get along with something less good than best.... (The US was) 
not repeat not committed to Diem in any irrevocable sense. 
We have accepted him because we knew of no one better. 
Developments have confirmed our fears as to his limitations 
but no substitute for him has yet been proposed. Those 
suggested in past varied from month to month. Now it is 
claimed that only Bao Dai can save situation. If that is 

case, then we must indeed be desperate We should continue 

to back Diem but exert more pressure on him to make changes 
we consider necessary. 89 / 

Mendes-France suggested the U.S. and France approach 
Bao Dai and mentioned the French Viceroy plan to replace Diem. Dulles 
countered by saying the U.S. and French might use Bao Dai but "we must 
go to him prepared with our own ideas and not... simply accept his." 
Dulles did not expect any Viceroy to be able "to decide on alternate to 
Diem and to set up machinery to implement our ideas... our job (is) to 
create this machinery." He added, 

We must exhaust all our pressures on Diem to get things 
done before considering alternate solutions. .. .He asked 
Mendes not to think we had obstinately closed our minds to 
possible alternate solution. We had not repeat not, but ' 
our investigation of alternate must be done on careful basis 
and we must for present support Diem. 9°/ 

Mendes-France agreed. He summarized his position as 
follows: • 

First, to support Diem; second, to study alternatives. 
Collins and Ely should be instructed to explore further 
possibilities including Bao Dai with great discretion... 
third point was that Ely and Collins should be requested to 
investigate matter of timing. How much further delay can 
be tolerated?. . .We must set deadline.... 91/ 

23 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Then Dulles agreed — - but added a fourth point: 

If the US should decide that there is no repeat no 
good alternative to Diem we will have to consider how 
much more investment we will be prepared to make in Indo- 
china. Our policy would have to be reappraised. Congres- 
sional committees. . .would have to be consulted. Mansfield 
believes in Diem.... Even slight chance of success in Vietnam 
was worth considerable investment. US had also to think of 
what happened in adjacent countries — in Cambodia, Laos, 
Thailand and Malaya. US situation was different from that 
of French. French had. an investment in lives and property 
in Vietnam while ours involved effect that fate of Vietnam 
would have on rest of Southeast Asia. 92/ 

b. But Dulles Reports, No Other Suitable Leader Can Be Seen 

After the Tripartite meetings, Dulles reported his assess 
ment of their outcome to Saigon. He said he had agreed with Mendes-France 
on four points concerning Diem but' had not agreed to a deadline for Diem's 
replacement. Rather, "Collins and Ely would report late January on over- 
all situation." 

Dulles called the "investment in Vietnam justified even 
if only to buy time to build up strength elsewhere in area" and concluded: 

We are going to have to maintain flexible policy and proceed 
carefully by stages in Vietnam. . . .Under present circumstances 
and unless situation (in Vietnam) clearly appears hopeless and 
rapidly disintegrating, we have no choice but continue our aid 
Vietnam and support of Diem. There no other suitable leader 
known to us. - 93/ 

France believed Dulles had in fact committed the United 
States to consider a change with which Bao Dai would be associated by 
mid-January. Washington denied it and Paris protests were unable to 
budge the State Department. The U.S. and France did agree that the Tri- 
partite talks had given Collins and Ely a mandate to study alternatives, 
however. 9V 

c. The U.S. Looks at Alternatives 

Having told Paris the U.S. was not committed to either 
a deadline or an alternative involving Bao Dai, the U.S. proceeded to 
study alternatives. Secretary of Defense Wilson asked the Joint Staff to 
assess the impact on military commitments to Southeast Asia of the loss 
of South Vietnam, of continued but reduced assistance to that nation and 
of a range of actions in between. 95/ T^ e JCS responded by calling 
Wilson 1 s alternate options incomplete, that consideration of increased 
aid, and institution of a unilateral program of direct guidance to the 
GVN through an "advisory system" should be among U.S. considerations. 
If these programs were insufficient to insure the retention of South 

2k TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET --Sensitive 

Vietnam to the free world the U.S. might deploy "self-sustaining forces 
to South Vietnam either unilaterally or as part of a Manila Pact force" 
or the U.S. could withdraw all U.S. support from South Vietnam and con- 
centrate on "saving the rest of Southeast Asia." 

No specific course of action was recommended but the 
JCS predicted the loss of Cambodia and Laos would follow a communist 
take-over of South Vietnam; they felt a greatly expanded aid program 
would be necessary to retain a friendly government in Thailand. In any 
event, the chance that U.S. armed forces would be required to support 
American policy in Southeast Asia would be greatly increased if South 
Vietnam fell. The Chiefs concluded by saying "a firm decision at the 
national level as to the implementation of US policy in Southeast Asia 
is mandatory, recommended. . .against a 'static 1 defense for this area and 
...recommended adoption of a concept of offensive actions against the 
military power of the aggressor." 96/ 

5- January 1955: U.S. Backing for Diem is Reaffirmed 

General Collins 1 recommendations to the National Security 
Council on January 20, 1955 underscored the crucial position South Viet- 
nam held within the context of American policy toward Southeast Asia. 
Like Dulles and the Joint Chiefs before him, Collins said: 

In view of the importance of Vietnam to all of Southeast 
Asia, I am convinced that the United States should expend the 
funds, material and efforts required to strengthen the country 
and help it retain its independence. I cannot guarantee that" 
Vietnam will remain free even with our aid. But I know that 
without our aid Vietnam will surely be lost to Communism. If 
the chances of success are difficult to calculate, the results 
of a withdrawal of American aid are only too certain not only 
in Vietnam but throughout Southeast Asia. Such a withdrawal 
would hasten the pace of Communist advances in the Far East as 
a whole and could result in the loss of Southeast Asia to 
Communism. In my opinion the chance of success is not only 
worth the gamble; we cannot afford to let free Vietnam go by 
default. 97/ 

Collins was more sanguine about Diem than he had been a 
month before. Diem ha,d shown some progress: General Minh was named 
Minister of Defense and seemed to be doing an adequate job; Diem had 
launched an anti-corruption drive (and in closing the Grande Monde 
Casino, Diem threw down the gauntlet before the Binh Xuyen) and had made 
some advances in land reform. Collins recommended continued U.S. support 
for him: 

On balance I believe that Diem's integrity, strong 
nationalism, tenacity and spiritual qualities render him 
the best available Premier to lead Vietnam. . .against com- 
munism. .. .Considering all factors, although the situation 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

in Vietnam is not brdgirtj I believe that if Diem has firm US 
support and guidance and active French cooperation, or at least 
acquiescence, his government has a reasonable prospect of success 

• 98/ 

As a result of Collins 1 recommendations the NSC endorsed a strong 
policy in Vietnam: the US would continue to support the Diem government and 
continue to press France to carry out its commitments under the Smith- 
LaChambre agreement „ The NSC approved in principle the programs of mili- 
tary and economic aid to implement Collins 1 recommendations (about $500 
million) and determined to seek reaffirmation of the Manila powers 1 deter- 
mination to react under the SEATO treaty if hostilities were resumed., 99 / 
Dulles decided to "take the plunge" and begin direct aid to Vietnam on 
January 1, 1955° The aid program was to be flexible and fluid, adjusted 
according to circumstances and subject to discontinuance at any time, as 
at present o lOO/ 

Eo Crisis of the Spring, 195 5 

With strong United States backing, Diem went into the sect crisis 
of the spring, 1955 • Different from the military coup crisis of Autumn 
195^- ar *d the Quat cabinet crisis of December, the sect crisis was resolved 
by Diem T s taking firm action and was not followed by another It was fol- 
lowed by the end of any real French presence in Vietnam. 

1. The Problem of the Sect Armies 

The sects had been quiescent but not quiet since Cao Dai and Hoa 
Hao ministers had joined the cabinet in September 195^ ° The end of French 
subsidies for sect armies in February shook them out of complaceny. Diem 
agreed to pay a part of what the armies had received from the French to ease 
the transition of some 40, 000 soldiers to civilian life. But transition it 
was to be: he would not tolerate armed bands separate from VNA command and 
separate from Saigon's political guidance. Sect leaders had different 
objectives, however. They wanted to preserve their military forces by 
integrating, intact, as many units as possible into the National Army. 
(With a VNA force level of 100,000, few could be accommodated ; in January 
only 6,000 sect troops had been absorbed.) Secondly, the sects wanted sub- 
stantial government assistance for soldiers forced to leave' the military. 
Most important, they wanted recognition of their areas of influence and 
Diem's assurance that he would not encroach on their territories. Diem 
would countenance no part of this third request. 10l/ 

Since December, a Franco -American group headed by Col. Lansdale 
and directed to ! come up with a peaceful solution" to the problem had 
worked furiously, found a solution and urged its prompt adoption. Generals 
Collins and Ely decided to give the matter further study. Lansdale 1 s 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

We warned them that time was extremely short, that the sects 
were about to take action by arms and that a peaceful solution 
would have to be introduced immediately or the opportunity 
would be lost* The opportunity was losto 102/ 

2o The United Front Challenges Diem 


Lost because Cao Dai and Hoa Hao sect leaders joined with 
Bay Vien in February, put down hostilities among themselves and joined in 
a United Front of Nationalist Forces . In March, the United Front demanded 
Diem form a government of large national union The eight sect cabinet 
members resigned (although Cao Dai Generals The? and Phuong soon changed 
their minds). A United Front de3.egate tried to convince Bao Dai to with- 
draw Diem 1 s powers as premier but the timely arrival of a personal letter 
from President Eisenhower outlining US objectives and progress in Vietnam 
proved more persuasive The letter either reassured Bao Dai that the US 
had not written him out of the political picture or made him think twice 
about joining with the sects and thereby incurring US wrath • Whatever the 
reason, he refused to intervene on behalf of the Front „ 103/ Mem called 
the Front Program an ultimatum and would not budge. 

France wanted Bao Dai to mediate between Diem and the United 
Front o The US wanted to issue a joint declaration telling the sects both 
America and France opposed violence and warning them that the French Ex- 
peditionary Corps would block any movement of Hoa Hao troops into Saigon 
to reinforce the Binh Xuyen Ely and Paris refused the warning clause: 
French troops would act only in protection of the lives and property of 
French and. foreign nationals . 104/ 

3o Diem Challenges the Binh Xuyen 

During this time, Lansdale was meeting almost nightly with Diem e 
He reports Diem 

was desparately trying to get French and US help to remove the 
• Surete from the control of the Binh Xuyen French and US 
reactions to the problem were in the form of advice to proceed 
.slowly, to act with caution Events would not permit this 105/ 

Before dawn on the 28th of March, a paratrooper company loyal 
to Diem attacked and overcame the Binh Xuyen-controlled central police 
headquarters. The next day, Diem told Defense Minister Minh he planned to 
oust Binh Xuyen Police Commissioner Lai Van Sang that afternoon -- 
March 29 — and replace him with someone loyal to his regime. Minh in- 
sisted Diem at least consult the cabinet before taking action Q Diem re- 
fused and Minh resigned. Representatives of General Ely were able to 
persuade Diem to defer any move against the Surete , however. 106/ 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET ~ Sensitive 

jr- On the night of March 29-30 the Binh Xuyen struck backo 

Mortar shells fell on the palace grounds and Binh Xuyen troops tried to 
regain the prefecture They were repulsed by National Army troops The 
VNA then moved to attack the Surete itself in retaliation but French 
officers apparently cut off their gas and ammunition supplies temporarily 
to keep the National Army on the defensive c Fighting ended by 3:30 in 
the morning of March 30 107 / 

' General Ely opposed a VNA offensive against the Surete 
headquarters , not because it might fail but because it was irrelevant 
Relevant was Diem T s inability to defeat the sects rapidly and decisively 
throughout the country,. If force were used to prove a minor point, a 
long, bloody and major civil war would surely ensue Ely was outraged at 
Diem 1 s attitude He felt the premier verged on megalomania and was ready 
to "put the city to sword and flame to establish his authority " 108 / 
Collins sympathized with Ely, but also felt if Diem did not prove he could 
control Saigon he would be forced to accede to sect demands 109, 

^+o Truce - But No Calm 

On March 31.? a ^-8-hour cease-fire was won by General Jean 
Gambiez, trusted by both the National Army and the Binh Xuyen o The truce 
was extended into April but failed to cool tempers or ease tensions. (Cao Dai 
forces which had broken with the United Front were integrated into the 
National Army on March 31> however ~ one happy note for Diem.) 

a ° Lansdale 1 s version 

Lansdale, whose account of this and later developments is 
not at all flattering to the French, says Ely decided to impose a cease-fire 
and won Collins 1 concurrence French officers then moved in and stopped the 
fighting.. Lansdale "saw Ambassador Collins. .explaining that only the Binh 
Xuyen would gain by the cease-fire." But it continued: 


Ambassador Collins was sincerely convinced that the Binh Xuyen 
could be induced by French negotiations to withdraw from the 
Surete and police control of the metropolis • o . 110/ 

Lansdale reports the French had long been working against Diem through the 
Vietnamese National Army (they used its G-6 as an arm of French intelligence) 
and that French soldiers under his command in the National Security Divi- 
sion of TRIM tried to sabotage the Diem regime and US programs designed to 
strengthen it. 

The French had daily fed us the latest French propaganda line 
(Diem was weak, Diem was bloodthirsty, the VNA had low morale 
ooowas unable to fight, Americans didn ! t understand the Viet- 
namese, all whites must encourage only selected Vietnamese 
loyal to the French because the remainder would turn against 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

all whites in another "night of the long knives" similar to 
that of 191*6.) 

Nov the French had been insistent that the National Army was a 
hollow shelly that its officers would refuse to fighto.othat 
morale was so "bad the troops would desert rather than follow 
"bloody Diemo" 111/ 

Lansdale implies Collins fell for this "propaganda" but he, Lansdale, 
did not. 

On the cease-fire, Lansdale reports: 


The French told Diem that if he tried to take over Surete 
headquarters which was now included in the French zone, French 
troops would open fire on the Vietnamese Army The US advised 
Diem to be patient, that the French were really being helpful 
by negotiating with the Binh Xuyen c The cease-fire limit was 
extended o o oSizeable sums were being offered (by French) to 
Army officers and to sect leaders who were remaining loyal to 
Diem and to entice them into being at least neutralo Those' 
who refused were subjected to character assassination 
attacks . . 112/ 

bo Ely and Collins 1 Decision: Diem Must Go 

On April 7.? Collins and Ely discussed Diem. Ely said Diem 
could be maintained only by overcoming enormous difficulties After a full 
day of "soul-searching," Ely had been forced to conclude Diem had to go 
to preserve Vietnam for the free world e He would accept anyone but Diem 
as premier. 113/ Collins had been nearing a similar conclusion o 'On 
March 31 be told the State Department it was necessary to consider alter- 
natives 'to Dierrio Ilk/ A week later Collins cabled Dulles to insist Diem 
be removed. He recommended Tran Van Do (Diem 1 s foreign minister who also 
resigned from the cabinet in March) or Dr Quat as replacements . 115/ 

Co Dulles 1 Indecision 

Dulles replied as he had in December: he could not see how 
Diem 1 s replacement would solve the sect problem for any successor worthy of 
US assistance would still have to contend with them A change in premiers 
would damage US prestige throughout the Far East: the US would be charged 
with paying lip service to the cause of Asian nationalism, then abandoning 
a nationalist leader when pressured by "colonial interests c " Plus pro- 
Diem Congressional sentiment was a problem o The Mutual Security bill was 
under debate and Mansfield had made it clear that Congress would be reluc- 
tant to appropriate funds to a Vietnam without Diem. Despite these diffi- 
culties, Dulles eventually agreed to consider a change if Collins would 
personally come to Washington for consultation o 116/ 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

d. Paris: Diem's Time Is Up 

At the same time Paris was fast losing patience. The 
time has come to form a government responsive to dominant political 
forces in Vietnam, to abandon the unrealistic U.S. policy of maintaining 
and strengthening Diem, said France. Formation of a Conseil Superieur 
was proposed, representative of Diem and his supporters, the sects, 
intellectuals, politicians and the army. The Conseil would decide policy 
and a cabinet of non-political technicians headed by Diem would implement 
it. 117/ But the U.S. rejected this plan saying Diem should be allowed 
to strike back at the Binh Xuyen with force and France and America should 
support him — morally and logistically. 118/ 

Then Washington asked the Quai d'Orsay to answer a set of 
questions designed to elicit specific French plans for the change in Viet- 
namese government. Paris' rejoinder: the questions should be answered 
jointly or the united Franco -American effort in Vietnam would be over and 
France would have to say publicly that the U.S. had assumed sole responsi- 
bility for developments in Vietnam. 119/ But in mid-April, France filled- 
m part of the questionnaire -- leaving blank a successor to Diem (only 
joint consultation could decide this). Paris proposed Collins and Ely 
draw up a slate of acceptable candidates for major positions. The U.S. 
and French governments would a,gree on a final list, ask Bao Dai to summon 
representatives of various factions to Cannes and on the basis of French- 
U.S. recommendations, negotiate a solution to the sect-Binh Xuyen-Diem 
impasse. Sect support would be assured by their membership in a high 
council and a program of honors, indemnification and integration of sect 
troops into the National Army. 120/ 

e. Bao Dai's Plan 


On April 21, Bao Dai announced his own plan for resolving 
the crisis, remarkably similar to that submitted by Paris. Bao Dai wanted 
to summon various representatives to Cannes, name Dr. Quat as premier, ask 
him^to form a cabinet of technicians and a high council of notables. On 
April 26, Bao Dai said he would implement the scheme unilaterally unless 
the U.S. made some response by the following day. 121/ 

Meanwhile, Collins had left Saigon for consultations with 
Dulles. Lansdale reports a meeting held just before his departure: 

He (Collins) told Lansdale not to be worried by newspaper 
rumors that the US would stop supporting Diem. Lansdale 
asked then if his orders were to continue supporting Diem; 
Collins said yes. Members of the country team privately 
felt that Diem should be supported by us, that the National 
Army was ready to support him and had the capability of 
defeating the Binh Xuyen. 122/ 

30 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

fo Dulles' decision: U.S, Will Consider a Change in Regime 

General Collins and Secretary Dulles met on April 27 o 
Dulles agreed to consider shifting support to either Quat or Do and a 
message to this effect was sent to Saigon. 123/ But Dulles determined not 
to discuss this with France until a full and frank statement of her inten- 
tions had been received o That statement was to include an unequivocal as- 
surance to back whole-heartedly any new political arrangements in Saigon 
and to resolve "certain ambiguities" in French policy toward North Vietnam. 
Until this declaration appeared the US would reveal no change of heart 
over Diem 124 / 

5° Diem Acts Against the Binh Xuyen 

Then the truce exploded On 28 April; Diem told Lansdale: 

The Army and people laid the blame (for the crisis between the 
government and the Binh Xuyen) on the French because they could 
see French armored vehicles and troops in the streets evidently 
ready for action against the Vietnamese We (lansdale and an 
assistant) told him that it looked as the Vietnamese still 
. needed a leader, that Diem was still President , that the US was 
still supporting him Q 

' That afternoon, Diem's private secretary called Lansdale. He 
said the palace was 

under heavy mortar fire, that the President was on another line 
talking to General Ely, that Ely stated that he couldn't hear 
any explosions and the President was holding the mouthpiece out 
towards the explosions so Ely could hear them Hai (the secre- 
tary) started to ask what should be done, interrupted himself to 
say that the President had just ordered the National Army to 
start returning the fire and had so informed Ely Q He hung up 


Against the advice of French; US and most cabinet advisors, Diem 
had issued a decree charging Police Commissioner Lai Van Sang with "very 
grave official misconduct" and named Col. Nguyen Ngoc Le to replace him e 
Sang refused to resign, saying only Bao Dai had authority to remove hinu 
Binh Xuyen troops in Cholon apparently opened fire on National Army units 
and Binh Xuyen shells fell again on the palace o But within nine hours after 
Diem T s order to take the offensive, the National Army had driven the Binh 
Xuyen back into Cholon. Fires raged (set by the Binh Xuyen, according to 
Lansdale); hundreds were killed or wounded 126/ 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

6o Washington Acts: U.S. Will (Again) Support Diem 

Washington responded with alacrity to Diem's success, superficial 
though it waso Saigon was told to forget Dulles T earlier message about US 
willingness to see a change in government „ Policy had not changed after all: 
the US supported Diem The Saigon Embassy burned the first message 127/ 

7<> Diem and Others Defy Bao Dai 

Buoyed by his showing against Bay Vien, Diem ignored the summons 
from Bao Dai which appeared on April 28 • The Emperor ordered Diem and 
General Ty to Cannes, placed Binh Xuyen sympathizer General Vy in charge of 
the army and dispatched General Hinh to Saigon with personal instructions 
from Bao Dai. 128/ Diem refused to leave Saigon, refused to allow General Vy 
to assume command, refused to allow General Hinh into the country, 129 / 

On April 30 a new development surfaced The National Revolu- 
tionary Congress of the Vietnamese people was announced Backed by Cao Dai 
Generals Phuong and The , Hoa Hao General Ngo, other attentiste politicians, 
it claimed to represent almost all political parties in South Vietnam o The 
Congress declaration repudiated Bao Dai, dissolved the present government 
and called on Diem to form a new government and elect a national assembly to 
draft a constitution c 130/ 

Diem was receptive to the program of the Revolutionary Congress, 
particularly since his brother Nhu had a hand in drafting it. He was prob- 
ably not as receptive to some of the activist members of the Congress, how- 
ever, most of whom joined in a Revolutionary Committee. Generals Trinh Minh 
The and Phuong confided to Lansdale: 

The Revolutionary Committee had grown out of the Revolutionary 
. Congress Front organization which Diem 1 s brother Nhu had tried 
to organize some days earlier; they had followed (SMM's) advice 
and had joined with Nhu in the Front but were dissatisfied with 
some of the weak organizations they felt Nhu was depending on^ 
so had organized something more ^dynamic to meet the threat of Vy 
and Bao Dai and called themselves the Revolutionary Committee e 
They wanted Bao Dai dethroned and wanted the French to stop 
interfering in Vietnamese affairs. 13 l / 

Support, backhanded though it may have been, helped Diem politic- 
ally in Vietnam and with the United States. Militarily he was never really 
threatened by Bao Dai or Generals Vy or Hinh (who was never able to deliver 
Bao Dai*s special orders ) D The National Army was stronger than French and 
Americans thought and it refused to obey General Vy. The following episode, 
related to Lansdale by General Ty and Colonel Tran Van Don after their tem- 
porary arrest by Vy, illustrates this e General Vy bragged about being able 
to get anything he wanted from the French „ Ty and Don asked him to prove 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

it." (They). . .asked him to call up the French and request the armored 
vehicles which the French had been holding at Bien Hoa so long without 
delivering to the Vietnamese Army. The French rushed these vehicles to 
Hinh's house (Vy f s headquarters), evidently having been holding them just 
outside town for this emergency, where Army men took them over and drove 
them into the fight against the Bihh Xuyen. Ton said the French still 
hadn't caught on, still thought that Vy would use this armor to bring the 
Army into line to stop fighting the Binh Xuyen and be loyal to Bao Dai. 
Don added that the Army felt the same as the Revolutionary Committee: Bao 
Dai was finished." 132/ General Vy retreated to Dalat (and Bao Dai ! s 
Imperial Guards), then left the country. 

During these days, General Ely had grown more convinced that 
Diem was not only irresponsible, he was quite mad. Ely feared fighting 
would spread to the European sector but was unable to win American or 
British support for an attempt to reirnpose the cease-fire. American 
Charge d 'Affairs Kidder felt Ely himself was approaching hysteria and 
that his emotiona.l involvement compromised his usefulness to either 
France or the United States. 133 / Ely's premonitions of violence between 
Vietnamese and French forces proved unfounded. But violence did accompany 
Diem's final offensive against the Bihh Xuyen which opened on May 2 when 
the VHA crossed the Chinese Arroyo and attacked Bay Vien's forces in 
Cholon. By the following day, most of the Binh Xuyen had been driven out 
into the Rung Sat swamps. 

I . When Collins returned to Saigon he urged Diem to hold the 

! Revolutionary Committee in check (Collins, most of the French and French 

intelligence thought Vietminh had infiltrated the front organization; 
they feared Diem would become its prisoner if he backed it too strongly). 
Collins wanted Diem to reconstitute the government and get on with reforms, 
leaving the problem of Bao Dai to an elected national assembly. 135/ Diem 
followed this advice. He invited some 7°° elected counselors from 39 
j provinces to consider Bao Dai's legality. An Estates General composed of 

50 counselors drew up a program demanding Bao Dai transfer all civilian 
and military powers to Diem who would exercise them until the assembly 
met — within six months — to draw up a constitution. 136/ 

8. May Trilateral Meetings 


i a. Dalles Backs Diem 

At this same time, France, the United States and Britain 
met once again in Paris. The Tripartite session had been called to discuss 
problems of European Defense but Vietnam was the real subject. The posi- 
tions of both S2cretary Dulles and French Prime Minister Edgar Faure (who 
succeeded Mendes-France in February 1955) toward Diem had hardened. Dulles 
insisted he be upheld: 

Diem is only means US sees to save South Vietnam and counter- 
act (the) revolutionary movement underway in Vietnam. US sees 

33 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

no one else who can Q Whatever US view has been in past, today 
US must support Diem whole-heartedly o US must not permit Diem 
to become another Karensky e 

o o 

• Bao Dai . . had irretrievably lost capacity to be anything but 
titular head of government. o oCao Dai and Hoa Hao could be used 
but not Binh Xuyen. „ • oWith support (of France and US) Diem could 
sit on top of revolution o Diem is only force of moderation,, 
FEC is certain stabilizing influence. US was giving ftmds to 
support Vietnamese army and could not see anyone else to give 
funds to but Diem for that purpose. 

ooln US view present revolution is not yet dominated or influenced 
by Communists to any appreciable degree «, o o Support of Diem did 
not indicate US non-recognition of his weaknesses US 000 had 
been and remained ready to support any other man who might be 
presented by orderly process of law e (Dulles) remarked that just 
before outbreak of fighting US was prepared to consider alter- 
natives but he was not sure now that it would have been practi- 
cal, oodf there is a better man US is ready to consider him but 
. o olio one has been suggested Although Collins had reached 
agreement with Ely in early April to change Diem he now believes 
we must support him. 137/ 

bo The French Position 

French Minister La Forest had opened the meeting by pointing 
to consultations (scheduled for July) between North and South Vietnam about 
elections. He said France felt South Vietnam could win the contest if a 
"nationalist, stable and broadly based government" were in control and that 
Franc e wanted South Vietnam to win. 

There is no ambiguity in French policy between North and South 
Vietnamo Presence of France in North could not be erased by 
stroke of pen c It is French duty to protect her cultural and 

economic presence there. Sainteny mission is designed for only 
that purpose o France had given up thought of mixed companies 
as result (US) objections and had now surrendered coal mines. 

o o 

LaForest presented the French analysis of events over the past 
four months o While the US could not argue his facts, the US could not accept 
LaForest' s interpretation of thenu Differences between the two nations were 
more fundamental than at any time in the pasto 

o o o 

France had loyally supported government of Diem from begin- 
ning o Any allegation to contrary is untrue. . France reached 
agreement with US last December to persuade "or compel" Diem to 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

enlarge government. It was agreed to give him until January at 
which time, if he had failed, we would look into matter of alter - 
° nate discreetly This was not done. Last March present govern- 
ment broke into open conflict with sects „ United Front of sects 
was formed against Diem Both December agreement and common 
sense told us at that time that something (had) to be done to avoid 
civil warooooFor this reason, joint Ely-Collins approach was triedo 
It was hoped they would arrive at joint plan for solution. 
Washington appeared first to welcome this concept then changed its 
mind. Collins left Saigon when civil war was about to break outo 
Untenable truces were declared a When they were about to expire 
Bao Dai submitted his own piano «,<> in order to try to reconcile US 
and French failure to acto US failed to reply to Bao Daio In 
absence of Collins from Saigon, Bao Dai acted 

LaForest continued o o .that new Revolutionary Committee appeared to 
have control o Committee is strongly under Viet Minh influence <> o 
There is violent campaign against French and French Expeditionary 
Control. Viet Minh agents make good use of it and certain 
Americans do not seem sufficiently aware of this« French Govern- 
ment does not wish to have its army act as platform for Vietminh 
propaganda o Army will not be maintained at any costo.o 138 / 

Co Faure: We Will Withdraw to Save the US-France Alliance 

Then Mo Faure took the floor, stating France was not in 
agreement with the United States and that It was time to speak frankly. 
He said Diem Is "not only incapable but mad," he took advantage of Collins 1 
absence to effect a "coup de force which won primary victory but which has 
not contributed to any lasting solution and "France can no longer take 
risks with hlm " Diem will bring on a Viet Minh victory, focus the hostility 
of everyone on French and force a break between France and the US 

Faure concluded with this significant statement. 

Diem is a bad choice, impossible solution, with no chance to 
succeed and no chance to Improve the situation. Without him some 
solution might be possible, but with him there is none However, 
I cannot guarantee any other solution would work nor is it 
possible to clarify the situation,. There seems to be fundamental 
disagreement between us c I could have claimed that since French 
position is predominant in Vietnam, you should accommodate your 
views more to ours, but I have rejected this. What should be 
done under the circumstances? What would you say if we were to 
retire entirely from Indochina and call back the FEC as soon as 
possible. I fully realize this would be a grave solution, as it 
would leave French civilians and French interests in a difficult 

- TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

.positiorio o • olf you think this might he a possible solution, I think 
I might be able to orient myself towards it if you say so It would 
have advantage of avoiding all further reproach to France of 
"colonialism" while at same time giving response to Diem T s request 
that France should go G Since it contemplates the liquidation of 
the situation and the repatriation of the FEC, would the United 
States be disposed to help protect French civilians and the 
refugees? 139 / 

Secretary Dulles repeated his awareness of Diem's weaknesses 
but did not agree with Faure T s opinion Diem "showed so much ability that 
US fails to see how he can be got rid of now 00 oDiem is stronger now than 
when Bao Dai first withdrew his powers " Dulles said the worst aspect of 
the problem was the differences between France and the US: "Vietnam is not 
worth quarrel with France c " Then he matched Faure's offer by saying the US 
would withdraw from Vietnam if that would solve the problem*. 


Choice open to us is to have Diem supported or to withdraw 
US interest in Vietnam is simply to withhold area from com- 
munists. US will give consideration to any suggestion French 
make but must warn that US financial support may not be ex- 
pected to any solution which (Dulles) can think of as alterna- 
tive to Diemo iho/ 

Foreign Secretary MacMillan , calling British interests 
"more indirect but nonetheless vital because (l) interest in area itself 
and (2) interest in Communist threat from any area in world," made the ob- 
vious statement that a decision on Vietnam was too grave to be taken that 
evening o Faure and Dulles agreed l4l/ 

do Dulles; Continue with Diem - but Independently of France 

By May 11, when the three ministers reconvened, Dulles had 
received counsel from the JCS and General Collins As was their wont, the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff offered no opinion about whether Diem should or should 
not be continued (a matter for "resolution at the governmental level") but 
then stated his government showed the "greatest promise of achieving the 
internal stability essential for the future security of Vietnam*" Address- 
ing the military aspects of the problem, the Chiefs found neither withdrawal 
of the French Expeditionary Corps nor withdrawal of US military support 
acceptable. The Vietnamese National Army was considered incapable of main- 
taining internal security, even less able to resist outside aggression with- 
out outside military assistance The US was barred by Geneva from increas- 
ing its forces either to defend Vietnam or to defend French civilians, other 
foreign nationals or refugees Thus, although withdrawal of the French 
Expeditionary Corps is "ultimately to be desired," precipitate withdrawal at 
this time was not: it would "result in an increasingly unstable and pre- 
carious situation" and the eventual fall of South Vietnam to communism. 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

The Chiefs felt France alone would be unable to stabilize the situation, 
that the WA would fall apart without "US moral and materiel support,"' 
and that the "best interest of France as well as the United States" .war- 
ranted energetic action to restore internal order and prevent South Viet- 
nam' s loss to the free worldo 1^2 / 

General Collins also opposed French withdrawal for three 
reasons: first, the FEC was responsible under the Manila Pact for the 
defense of Indochina and neither the US nor Britain were prepared to take 
over that responsibility,. Secondly, French military assistance (logistical 
support and training) was essential to the development of the Vietnamese 
forces o Third ; although the presence of French troops was a source of 
bitterness to the Vietnamese, General Collins believed the FEC was a 
stabilizing influence on Vietnamese politics . 1^3 / 

Dulles 1 proposal to Faure on May 11 reflected these judg- 
ments o Emphasizing that Indochina, for all its importance, must not be 
allowed to damage Franco -American relations, that US support for Diem must . 
not be allowed to split the alliance, Dulles proposed that France continue 
to support Diem until a National Assembly could be elected to determine 
the ultimate political structure of South Vietnam, a structure which might 
or might not include Diem, ikk/ 

Against his own views, against French public opinion and 
on certain conditions; Faure accepted the proposal. The Prime Minister 
insisted the Diem government be enlarged, elections be held as soon as 
possible, the sect problem be resolved, anti-French propaganda cease, 
Bao Dai be retained as chief of state, French and American officials deemed 
disturbing to Franco-US harmony be removed from Vietnam (Lansdale, for one) 
and that the US assure him French economic, cultural and financial relations 
with South Vietnam would be nurtured Agreeing to these stipulations, 
Dulles added Diem was not a US puppet and he could not guarantee conditions 
involving Vietnamese action would be met. Then, saying the problem in 
Vietnam did not lend Itself to a contractual agreement between France and 
the United States, Dulles suggested each should state its policy and pro- 
ceed accordingly,. In effect, said Dulles, the days of joint policy are 
over; the US will act (more) independently of France in the future „ lk6/ 

Fo The Twilight of French Presence in Vietnam 

Back in Vietnam, Diem was doing well D He had dealt the Binh Xuyen 
a coup de grace; the Army was pleased with its success against Bay Vien, 
supported Diem and rather relished the chance to continue the fight against 
remaining sect armies Diem launched a campaign against the sect armies 
on May 8, to regain control of wayward provinces and solidify Saigon's 
control throughout the country • The US, again, gave Diem unqualified sup- 
port and the French, again, reluctantly backed him* Bao Dai was a minor 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

threat; trying to overthrow Diem had been a "blunder and his popularity was 
very low c On May 10, a relatively unknown group of "technicians" was 
named as Diem 1 s cabinet, to function until elections for a national assembly 
(lie Id on March k, 1956). General Collins left Vietnam on May lk} Ambassador 
Go Frederick Reinhardt replaced him later in the month. And on June 2, 
General Ely 1 s mission terminatedo General Jacquot assumed military duties 
as Commissioner-General, duties which consisted primarily of supervising 
the increasingly rapid pace of the French military pull-out. 

lo All-Vietnam Elections 

Although political concessions made to the United States in May 
and economic and military actions taken before and after that time had re- 
duced -- almost eliminated -- French presence and influence in Vietnam 
France still was obligated to carry out the provisions of the Geneva Accords 
Under increasing pressure from French public opinion to give Hanoi no 
pretext for renewing hostilities as long as the French Expeditionary Corps 
remained in South Vietnam, the French Government urgently sought to persuade 
Diem to accept consultations about the elections scheduled to begin in July 
1955 • lw/ Britain wanted to prevent any public repudiation of the Accords 
and joined France in urging Diem to talk to the Vietminho But Diem had not 
changed his view of the Accords: he had refused to sign them and continued 
to insist he was not bound by them c ikj/ 

The United States stood between these extremes A draft policy 
toward all-Vietnam elections -- finally produced in May 1955 ~ held that to 
give no impression of blocking elections while avoiding the possibility of 
losing them, Diem should insist on free elections by secret ballot with 
. strict supervision Communists in Korea and Germany had rejected these 
conditions; hopefully the Vietminh would follow suit. 1^8/ 

Diem could not bring himself to sit down with the Vietminho Consul- 
tations would give the appearance of having accepted the Geneva settlement; 
consultation with the Vietminh without the kind of Western backing given Rhee 
and Adenouer would be futile, lk-9/ On July l6, Diem said South Vietnam 
could "not consider any proposal from the Communists" without proof that 
they had mended their ways and were prepared to hold genuinely free elec- 
tions. 150/ But another reason was Diem ! s belief that he could not re- 
present a sovereign nation -- or be free of Vietminh propaganda charges of being a 
colonialist puppet -- until the French High Command and the French Expedi- 
tionary Corps were gone c 15l/ Minister Nguyen Huu Chau was dispatched to 
Paris to negotiate the withdrawal of the FEC from Vietnam (except naval 
and air forces which Diem wanted under VNA command) and revision of economic, 
; . cultural and financial accords 152/ Diem also wanted Vietnamese affairs 

transferred from the Ministry of Associated States to the French Foreign 
office; he insisted the post of High Commissioner be abolished and that 
Ely's successor (Henri Hoppenot) be credited as Ambassador. 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

2o Franco -Vietnamese Differences, Autumn 1955 

France was anxious to get the FEC out of Vietnam (and into North 
Africa); the matter of turning the High Command over to the TOA was not a 
problem*. Placing French units under Vietnamese command was a definite prob- 
lem, however and domestic politics would not allow any immediate change of 
Vietnam's status within the French Union 153/ Talks stalled until July*. 
Diem accepted Ambassador Hoppenot (whose duties, if not title, were' that of 
High Commissioner) and things moved a bit, then stopped when Diem arrested 
two French officers suspected of bombing electric power stations in Saigon 
and said they would be tried by Vietnamese courts In October, France re- 
fused to talk unless the officers were released. 15V The deadlock was 
finally broken by the French in December o Paris agreed the Quai d ! 0rsay 
would handle Vietnamese affairs, refused to accept the assignment of a dip- 
lomatic representative from the DRV to France and made it clear the Sainteny 
mission was in Hanoi solely for economic and cultural reasons o France had 
already recognized Vietnam as a Republic after Diem's resounding -- too 
resounding -- victory of 98 percent of the vote in an October popular refer- 
endum. Diem finally released the officers into French custody*, 155/ 

But these concessions produced no improvement in French- 
Vietnam relations o In December, Diem suddenly terminated the economic 
and financial accords worked out at the Paris conference of 195^-J mounting 
US activity fast drove the former colony from franc to dollar area and 
stringent commercial regulations applied to French businesses in South 
Vietnam forced already outraged entrepreneurs out of the country in increas- 
ing numbers o Diem laid down these conditions on which he would consider 
renewed relations with France France had to 

denounce the Geneva Agreements, to renounce to speak 
about the general elections In 195^^ to approve openly 
and without reservation the policy of Mr Diem, to 
break all relations with the Vietminh and of course 
to call home the Sainteny Mission. 

Soon after this, Diem withdrew South Vietnamese representatives from the 
French Union Assembly*. 156 / 

There was little France could do. Diem spoke for a government 
no longer dependent on French support, no longer near collapse o By Feb- 
ruary 1956; only 15^000 French troops remained in Vietnam and 10,000 of 
these were to be evacuated by the end of March o The High Command was abol- 
ished on April 26, 1956° The next month, the US Temporary Equipment Recovery 
Mission (TERM) entered Vietnam and another 350 military personnel were 
added to the US advisory effort o Few French instructors remained at the 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

•3° What of French Obligations Under the Geneva Accords ? 

But an important question remained „ Under the Geneva agreements 
France was responsible for protection and support of the International Con- 
trol Commission; representatives of the People's Army of North Vietnam and 
France sat on the Joint Armistice Commission charged with ensuring provisions 
of the armistice agreement were meto France could not lightly cast off these 
obligations nor could France transfer them to South Vietnam: Diem denounced 
the Geneva accords and refused to be bound by them in any way. 

In February, French Foreign Minister Pineau described the dif- 
ficult French position as a result of certain conditions: 

These are the independence granted to South Vietnam and the . 
Geneva accords some provisions of which have up to date demanded 
and justified our presence in this country o 157/ 

Particularly difficult was the question of ICC support o Diem 
refused to associate South Vietnam openly with the ICC but did agree to" 
assume responsibility for its servicing if France would leave a small mis- 
sion in Vietnam to fulfill French obligations • 158/ Dulles liked this idea. 
His view was: "while we should certainly take no positive step to speed up 
present process of decay of Geneva Accords, neither should we make the 
slightest effort to infuse life into them," 159/ 

Eight months later, Diem finally relaxed his uncompromising stand 
against Geneva, agreed to respect the armistice and provide security for the 
ICC. In July 1956, Vietnam promised to replace the French liaison mission to 
the ICCo France maintained membership on the Joint Armistice Commission and 
continued to bear ICC expenses 160/ But France was never able to meet Geneva 
obligations concerning the elections of 1956, for Diem matched his refusal 
to consult with the Vietminh about elections with an adamant refusal to ever 
hold theirio Neither Britain nor the Soviet Union pressed the matter; the 
United States backed Diem 1 s position 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 








Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



1. Bator > Victor, Vi etnam - A Diplom atic Tragedy , Oceana Publications, 
Dobbs Ferry, New lork 19^5; p. 177- 

2. Le Monde, 5 June 195k, Bator, p. 213 . 

3. Paris Msg 366, 27 July 5k (S); Pans Msg ^38, 30 Jul $k (S)j N ew York 
T imes , 27 Aug 5k, 3 Sep 5k; Deptel 7U0 to Paris, 30 Aug 5k (sj 

k. lMew ¥ork Times, 30 Dec 5k. Bacor, p. 150: WJfcien the Institute of 
Emission and the Excnange Office vere transferred to the Government 
of South Vietnam (5 Jan 55) Diem proclaimed: "With the last and 
fundamental attribute of our sovereignty regained, henceforth complete 
independence of Vietnam has become a living reality." 

5 V Paris Msgs 366, 27 Jul 5^ (S)j ^ 30 Jul $K (S) 

6. Bator, pp. 175-182. (Bator quotes from the memo ires of General Paul 
E1 ^ : L'Indochine dans la To urmente , Plon, Paris 196k) 

6a. Bator, p. 1I16. 

7. Military Grent aid given France for Indochina under the Military Develop- 
ment Assist ance Program from 1950 through 195k, (cut off after Dien Bien 
Phu) totalled $710 million. Economic aid to the Associated States of 
Indochina totalled $827 million • John D. Montgomery, The Politics of 
Foreign Ai d (New York: Praeger, 196*0, 28k. 

8. LaCouture, Jean et DeVillers, Phillipe, La Fin d'Une Guerr e, Editions 
du Seuil, Paris, I960; p. 29*4-. 

9. State Department Draft Report, "Review of U.S. Policy in the Far East", 
3 Aug 5k (TS) 

10. Memorandum from Vice Admiral A.C. Davis for the Secretary of Defense, 
"Report on the Manila Conference" 12 Sep 5^ (S). 

11. NSC Record of Actions, 210th Meeting, 12 Aug $h; 211th Meeting, 18 Aug 
5 1 *- (TO). Letter, Secretary of Defense Wilson to Secretary of State 
Dulles, 17 Aug 5k (TS). - 

12. Statement made at Bangkok meeting of Manila Pact Council members, 23 
Feb 55, quote in lk Sep 55 Memorandum for the Director, Office of NSC 
Affairs, Subject: "U.S. Policy in the Event of a Renewal of Aggression 
in Vietnam." (S) from A.C. Davis, Vice Admiral., USN, Director, Office 
of Foreign Military Affairs, 0ASD/ISA. 


13. NIE 63-5-5)^ 3 Aug 5k, "Post-Geneva Outlook in Indochina". 




Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Ik, Ibid. 

15. Deptel 610 to Paris, 18 Aug $k (S). 

16. NSC 5^29/2, 20 Aug $k (TS). JCS arguments against dealing with the DRV 
are contained in the NSC Records of Meetings 210 and 211 (8 and 12 

Aug 5if). Saigon Msgs 336, 27 Jul $k (S), 518, 10 Aug 5*4- . (Ambassador 
Heath also argued against dealing with Hanoi "because it would lead 
the South Vietnamese to think the US planned accommodation with the 
communists) . 

17* Paris Msg 2080, 15 Nov $k (s) 

18. NIE 63-5-54 

19. State Department Beporfc, "A U.S. Policy for Post-Armistice Indochina", 
12 Aug 54 (S). 

20. Pails Msg lv8l, k Aug 51* (s) 

21. Deptel 1023 to Saigon, Ik Sep $k (s). State Department Report, "A 
U.S. Policy for Post-Armistice Indochina"; 12 Aug 5^. State Department 
Report, "Other Major Political Questions", 27 Aug $k\ President 
Eisenhower states: "On August 17, I directed that aid to Indochina 
henceforth be given directly to the Associated States rather than 
France" , in Mandate for Change (Doubleday, 19&3), p. 3^1 . 

22. NSC -5^29/2 

23. NIE 63-5-51* 

2k. Memorandum for Record, Meeting of General Valluy and Admiral Radford 
3 Jun $k (T5). ' Chief MAAG IC Msg 2062A to Department of the Army, 
271130ZJul5^ (S). 

25. JCS Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, Subject: "U.S. Assumption 
of Training Responsibilities in Indochina", k Aug 5*4- (To) 

26. Letter, Secretary of State to Secretary of Defense Wilson, 
18 Aug 5J+ (TS) 

27* JCS Memorandum for the SecDef, Subject: "U.S. Assumption of Training 
Responsibilities in Indochina", 22 Sep $k (T8). State feared France 
and Britain vould object to the JCS conditions and were loath to 
disclose then; Cambodia seemed unwilling to antagonize France by 
accepting them. JCS insistence was firm, however, and the establish- 
ment of a MAAG in Cambodia was stalled for several months until JCS 
views finally prevailed • The matter of a unilateral agreement itself 
was at least an indirect affront to France because the US apparently 
agreed to French demands for a joint training venture in Cambodia 

k2 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

during the Washington Conference of late September 195^1. The agree- 
ment was loosely worded; U.S. and French interpretations differed — 
"but the U.S. version prevailed. Chief of Naval Operations Memorandum 
for Record, "U.S. -French Talks Regarding Indochina," 27 Sep jk, 10 
Oct $k (TS); State Msg 99 to Phnom Penh, 13 Oct $k (TS); State Msg 
2213 to Saigon, 1 Dec $k (s). 

28. In a study of June 195*1-, the JCS had estimated some 2250 advisors would 
he required to train the Vietnamese military forces. MAAG Indochina 
was limited to 3^.2 men. 

29. JCS Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, Subject: "Development 
and Retention of Forces in Indochina", 22 Sep $k (To). 

30o Letter, Secretary of State to Secretary of Defense, 11 Oct $k (TS). 

31. JCS Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, Subject: "Development 
and Training of Indigenous Forces in Indochina", 19 Oct $k (To)o 

32. NSC Record of Action, 2l8th Meeting, 22 Oct $h (To); Deptel 1679 
to Saigon, 22 Oct $k (S). 

33* NSC Action 1250; cited in Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense 
from R. Streuve Hensel (AID/ISA), Subject": "Development of 
Indigenous Forces in Indochina", 30 Oct r j,k (To). 

3k. JCS Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, Subject: "Development 
of Indigenous Forces in Indochina", 17 Nov r jh (TS). 

35. Memorandum for the President from Dulles; Subject: "General Collins 1 
Recommendations Regarding Military Force Levels in Vietnam", 17 Nov 
5^ (TS). 

36. HIE 63-5-5!]. 

37. Saigon Msgs 97-1, 11 Sep 5^ (TS); IO36, 16 Sep $k (TS); 3.076, 17 Sep $k 
(TS); 120^, 2k Sep $k (TS); 933, 9 Sep 5^ (S)j 953, 95^10 Sep 5 ] i (s). 

38. Saigon Msgs 1330, 5 Oct <?k (S); 1382, 8 Oct 5^ (S); 1397, 10 Oct $k 

(s); 1U3U, 13 Oct $k (s); 1^87, 18 Oct $k (s); 1*93, 19 Oct ^k (S). 

39. Report of the Saigon Military Mission (SMM), 195^-1955 (s). 

to. Paris Msgs I927, 5 Nov $k (S); 2036, 12 Nov $k (s); 2211, 25 Nov $k (S); 
22to, 28 Nov 3k (S); 2272, 30 Nov 5^ (C)j 2290, 1 Dec 5*+ (C)j Saigon 
Msg 1807, 12 Nov 5!*- (S). 

kl. Saigon Msgs IO36, 16 Sep 5^ (To); 120^, 2k Sep 5^ (TS). 

k2. Saigon Msg 79»±, 29 Aug 5^ (S). 

1*3 . Saigon Msgs 1150, 1154, 21 Sep $k (To); 1162, 22 Sep $k (TS); II85, 

k3 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

23 Sep ^h (TS); 1231, 25 Sep 5^ (S). 

kh. Shaplen, Robert, The Lost Re v olution , Harper and Row, (Colophon Edition) 
New York, 1966; p. 116 

^5o Shaplen, p. Il6 

U6. State Department Records: E/LaC D-D/l, "Establishment and Maintenance 
of a Stable Ant i -Communist Government in Vietnam 11 , 23 Sep $h (s). E/LaC 
E-l/3, "Other Major Political Questions, Draft Minute of Understanding", 
27 Sep 51*. (S). E/LaC Memorandum 16, "Minute of Understanding" k Oct 5 if 
(S). Deptal 1327 to Saigon, 1 Oct $K (S). 

^7* Paris Msgs 366, 27 Jul 5U (s); ^38, 30 Jul 5^ (S). 

1*8. Paris Msgs 377, 27 Jul $h (s); 715, 20 Aug $h (S). 

h$. State Department Records: E/LaC VM-3 "Minutes of Economic Sessions 
of Franco-American Bilateral Talks", 20 Oct 5*4- (TS). Deptel Pails 
737, 28 Aug 5I1. (TS). 

50. State Department Records: E/LaC D-31, "US Financial Assistance to 
French Union Forces in Indochina", 2k Sep *jh (TS). E/LaC VM-3, "Minutes 
of Economic Sessions of Franco-American Bilateral Talks", 2 Oct $k (TS). 

51. Paris Msg 715, 20 Aug $k (s); Deptel to Paris 737, 28 Aug $K (S); E/LaC 
Memorandum 1^-, "French Position Papers re Military Aid and Economic 
Assistance to the Associated States", 2B~Sep 5k (S). 

52. E/LaC MC-2: "Memorandum of Conversation, Smith- LaChamb re Meetings", 
29 Sep 5^!-, 6 Oct 5^ (TS). The statement referred to reads as follows: 
"Such (aid) programs will be planned and closely coordinated to assure 

" • maximum effectiveness through appropriate machinery established in 
agreement with interested governments." The obvious ambiguity 
invites conflicting interpretations. 

53* E/LaC Memorandum 20: "Report to the Secretary of State (from Robertson) 
on Franco-American Bilateral Talks", 8 Oct $k, 22 Oct $k (TS). E/LaC 
D-l/2, "US Relations with Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam", 23 Sep $k (TS). 

5*1-. Deptel I565 to Paris, 29 Oct $h (TS); Paris Msg 1898, k Nov $h (S); 
Saigon Msg I919, 21 Nov $k (s); 1935. 23 Nov $h (s); Deptel 2070 to 
Saigon, 22 Nov 5^ (S). 

55- Paris TEDUL 11, NIACT, 21 Oct $k (TS). 

56. Paris Msgs 2018, 1 Nov 5^ (S)j 1883, 3 Nov $h (s); Deptel 1737 to Pa.ris, 
10 Nov. 5^ (S); NIE 63-7-5!*: "Probable Developments in South Vietnam, 
Laos and Cambodia through July 195&", 23 Nov $k. (This discusses 
strong sentiment in France to get rid of Diem in favor of someone less 
hostile to the Vietminh). 

kk TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

57. Paris Msg 208o, 15 Nov 3k (s). 

58. Ibid. 

59. Paris Msg 6k6 } 15 Aug 3k (S); Saigon Msg kyk, 8 Aug 5U (S). 

60. Saigon Msgs 795, 29 Aug 5^ (S); 507, 10 Aug 5^ (S) ; 721, 2k Aug 5!+ (S). 
Paris Msg 6k6, 15 Aug 5% (s). 

61. Paris Msg I665, 29 Oct $k (S). 

62. Hew York Times. 11 Dec 3k; Deptel to Saigon, 2U13, 13 Dec 5U (C); Paris 
Msg 25*12, llTDec 5U (C). 

63. 83a Congress, 2d Session, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations: "Re- 
port of Senator Mike Mansfield on a Study Mission to Vietnam, Cambodia 
and Laos", 15 Oct 5U. 


Paris Msg 1608, 16 Oct 5I* (S); Saigon Msgs 1U78, 17 Oct 5U (s); 1501, 
20 Oct 3k (S). 

65. DULTE 5 from Paris, 21 Oct 5k (TS). Robert Shaplen, op.cit., p. 118, 
reports these comments by Kenneth Young: "Wo realized we had to 
proceed carefully with the French, so when they made clear their 
position on Diem, we sent a cable to Senator Mansfield, of the Foreign 
Relations Committee, who was abroad, asking him what he thought of Diem 
as Premier. Mansfield was an old friend of Diem's and we knew what 
the answer would be in advance, of course, but it stunned the French. 
While they then dropped their open campaign to dump Diem, it became 
apparent that they were still maneuvering behind the scenes toward 

the same objective, and we realized that while we still had to work 
with the French in Vietnam, we would have to adopt a more independent 

66. NSC Record of Action, 2l8th Meeting, 22 Oct 3k (TS); TEDUL lk, NIACT, 
to Paris, 22 Oct 3k (TS); Paris Msgs 1718, 2*1 Oct 3k (TS); 1737, 

25 Oct 3k (TS). 

67. Memorandum of Conversation, Secretary of State Dulles, French Ambassador 
Bonnet, Sub ject : * Indochina/ 26 Oct 5MS). 

680 Paris Msgs 1718, 2k Oct 3k (TS); 1737, 25 Oct 5^ (TS). 

69. Deptel 1565 to Paris, 29 Oct 3k (TS). 

70. Paris Msgs 1835, I836, 30 Oct 3k (TS). 

71. Letter President D.D. Eisenhower to General J. Lawton Collins, 3 Nov 
3k (TS). 

72. Saigon Msgs I761, 8 Nov 3k (s); 1830, 15 Nov 3k (TS); FAO Washington 

kt- TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET ~ Sensitive 

USFOTO 263 to Paris and Saigon, 2h Nov 5*4- (s); (Ely and Collins 1 strong 
recommendation that the FEC be maintained in Vietnam overcame reser- 
vations of military and diplomatic leaders in Washington that it "be 
withdrawn. Washington's reasoning: civil war^ not overt aggression, 
threatened Vietnam — and the FEC would not be used in a civil conflict; 
the immediate US objectives of restoring order in Vietnam and bolstering 
Diem were not furthered by the presence of French troops* Therefore, 
the FEC is not worth the cost of its upkeep.) 

73o Paris Msg 2^33, 8 Dec $k (TS). 

7*+. Saigon Msgs 2250 (NIACT), 13 Dec 5U (TS); 202^ 30 Nov 5^ (S); 22ol, 
l I f2009ZDec5l+ (C)j Paris 2601, 19 Dec 5*4- (TS). 

75. Paris Msg 2270, 31 Dec 3k (TS); Paris Msg 2870 (NIACT), 7 Jan 55 (TS); 
Deptel 2766 to Saigon, 7 Jan 55 (TS). 

76. Saigon Msg 2^55, 25 Dec 5MTS). 

77. Saigon Msgs 2660 ( NIACT), 9 Jan 55 (TS)j 2663, lO1230ZJan55 (S)j Paris 
Msg 2797, 3 Jan 55 (S). 

78. Saigon Msgs 2^53, 2k Dec $k (s); 2676, 10 Jan 55 (TS); 2876, 2219^Z 
Jan 55 (S)o 

79° Paris Msgs 306U, 20 Jan 55 (TS); 3195, 28 Jan 55 (TS); Deptel 2629 to 
Paris, 2k Jan 55 (TS); 2726 to Paris, 1 Feb 55 (TS); Saigon Msg 33-3, 
111757ZFeb55 (c). Franco-American cooperation often missing in other 
endeavors was fairly good in TRIM. Intrigues between French and U.S. 
personnel and French intrigues against Diem existed — but their 
interference with the task of directing and developing the VNA was 
not as great as it might have been. Even Lansdale— hardly an avid 
French supporter— says: "there was a job to be done", and credits some 
French officers for their competence and cooperating in doing the job. 
(SMM Report). 

80. Paris Msg 2601, 19 Dec $k (TS). 

81. Paris Msg 2987, Ik Jan 55 (S). 

82. Saigon Msg 2250 (NIACT), 13 Dec $k (TS). 
83o Ibid . ' 
8k, Saigon Msg 2303 (NIACT), l6 Dec 5*+ (TS) . 
85. Saigon Msg 2250, 13 Dec jh (TS). 

860 Memorandum for Walter S. Robertson (Assistant Secretary of State for 
the Far East) from Ambassador Donald R. Heatn; Subject: "Comments 
on Saigon Telegram 2303", 3.7 Dec 5 1 *- (TS). 

k6 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

a i i i ii u i i . i n » i ■ ■ ..,».. i n 

87. Deptel 2274 (NIACT) to Paris, 17 Dec 54 (TS)j 2487 to Saigon, 17 Dec 54 

88. Paris 2<S01, 19 Dec 54 (TS). 

89. Ibid. 







93o Deptel 2585 to Saigon, 24 Dec 54 (TS). 

94. Deptel 2872 to Saigon, 13 Jan 55 (TS); Paris Msg 3034, 18 Jan 55 (TS). 

95. Secretary of Defense Memorandum to the JCS; Subject: "Reconsideration 
of Military Programs in Southeast Asia", 5 Jan 55 (TS). 

96. JCS Memorandum for tae Secretary of Defense; Subject: "Reconsideration 
of Military Programs in Southeast Asia", 21 Jan 55 (TS). 

97. Memorandum for tne Secretary of State from General Collins; Subject: 
"Report on Vietnam for the NSC", 20 Jan 55 (TS). 

980 Ibid . 

99. Secretary of Defense Memorandum to the JCS, et .aL.j Subject: "Report 
on Vietnam for the NSC", 3 Feb 55 (TS). 

100. Memorandum for Record: Meeting between Dulles, Robertson and Young, 
Subject: "Indochina", 29 Dec 55 (TS). 

101. Saigon Msgs 3747, 10 Mar 55 (s); 4373, 6 Apr 55 (S). 

102. SMM Report. 

103. Deptel 2956 to Paris, 21 Feb 55 (S); Paris Msgs 3&54, 1 Mar 55 (S); 
3896, 15 Mar 55 (S). 

104o Saigon Msgs 3384, 25 Mar 55 (s); 4096, 24 Mar 55 (s); Paris Msgs 4070, 
24 Mar 55 (s); 4151, 26 Mar 55 (S). 

105- SM-1 Report o 

106. Saigon Msg 4192, 29 Mar 55 (S). 

107. New York Times , 30 Mar 55. General Ely first denied any French inter- 
ference with Vietnamese troop movements and said the VNA had been 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

issued all the gas and ammunition required., A few days later, however, 
Ely said the French had not restricted gas or ammunition "except for 
a few hours" during the fighting on March 29-30. Saigon Msgs ^292, 
2 Apr 55 (T3); ^9, 6 Apr 55 (TS). 

108. Saigon Msg 1*230 (NIACT), 3020*O.ZMar55 (s). 

109. Saigon Msgs *+292, 2 Apr 55 (TS); k26h, 31 Mar 55<> 

110. SMM Report • 

111. Ibid . 

112. Ibid . 

113. Saigon Msg U382, 7 Apr 55 (TS). 

111*. Saigon Msg 1*263, 31 Mar 55 (TS) . 

115. Saigon Msg 1*399, 7 Apr 55 (TS). 

II60 Deptel 14438 (HIACT) to Saigon, 9 Apr 55 (TS); 1*1*66, 11 Apr 55 (TS); 
4575, 16 Apr 55 (TS). 

117. Paris Msgs 1*200, 28 Max 55 (S); l*28l, 1*285, 2 Apr 55 (S)j 1*328, 5 Apr 
55 (TS); I+395, 9 Apr 55 (TS) 

118. Deptel 3510 (NIACT ) to Paris, 1* Apr 55 (TS). 

119. Deptel 3622 to Paris, 12 Apr 55 (s); Paris Msg 1*1*98, 16 Apr 55 (s). 

120. Paris Msg U503, 17 Apr 55 (TS). 

121c Paris Msgs 4576, 21 Apr 55 (TS); ^659, 26 Apr 55 (s). 


122 • SMM Report. 

123. Deptel ^757 ( NIACT) to Saigon, 27 Apr 55 (TS). 

12ko Deptels 3828 (NIACT) to Paris 27 Apr 55 (TS); 38^9 to Paris, 28 Apr 55 

125. SIM Report. 

126. Saigon Msgs k86o ( NIACT), 28 Apr 55 (S)j W8l, 28l515ZApr55 (s); k$k^, 

30 Apr 55 (s)c Some French alleged that Diem had initiated the fighting, 
but U.S. officials claimed this was false, that the Binh Xuyen had started 
a coup. 

kQ TOP SECRET - Sensite/e 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

127. Deptel kQjl (NIACT) to Saigon, 1 May 55 (TS). 

128. Paris Msg h^kS, 30 Apr 55 (T3). 

129. Saigon Msgs 1*926, 29 Apr 55 (s); hSJl, 30 Apr 55 (S)j U928, 29 Apr 55 (C). 

130. Saigon Msgs kskh, 30 Apr 55 (S); lj-957, 30 Apr 55 (0U0). 

131 o SMM Report o Colonel Lansdale recruited Trinh Minh The to Diern's side 
in the fall of 195^-j a significant achievement because of The's 
prestige in Cao Dai and other circles and because of The's several 
thousand troops. Lansdale was accused of having bribed The to win 
his support but vigorously denies this. However, the SMM did secretly 
reimburse The's Lden Minh forces who moved into Saigon and acted as 
Diem's palace guard in 0ctober o In January, most of the Lien Minh 
were integrated into the Vietnamese National Axray. General Phuong, 
another Cao Dai leader, joined Diem's cabinet in September His 
support for the premier was on-again-off -again through the fall and 
winter but he was fairly solidly behind Diem by the spring of 1955 c 
Phuong f s troops were integrated into the VKA on March 31, 1955 • 

132 . SMM Report. 

133o Saigon Msgs U882, 28 Apr 55 (s)j k$26, 29 Apr 55 (s); ^953^ 30 Apr 55 (s); 
2908, 29 Apr 55 (C)o 

13^. Saigon Msg 1*039 > h May 55 (s). 

135. Saigon Msgs 5005, 2 May 55 (S)j 50^-7, 50^9, 505 1 . 1 , k May 55 (S); U867, 
(KIACT), 3 May 55 (S)j Paris Msg ^8U, h May 55 (S). 

I360 Saigon Msg 5103, 6 May 55 (s) 


137. SECT0 8 from Paris, 8 Kay 55 (TS). 

138. Ibid . 

139. Ibid. 
1*10. Ibid. 
lUl. Ibid . 

lU2. JCS Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense; Subject: "Indochina (Vietnam)" 
9 May 55 (TS). 

1V3 « Saigon Msg 51*1-5, 9 Kay 55 (TS). 

Ikk. SECT0 36 from Paris, 11 Kay 55 (TS). 

1A5. SECT0 k2 from Paris, 12 May 55 (TS). 

kg TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

1K6. Paris Msg 69, 6 Jul 55 (s). 

iVf. Deptels to Saigon: 35, 5 Jul 55 (S)j 53. 6 Jul 55 (S); 80, 9 Jul 55 (s); 
155, 1^ Jul. 55 (S); 165, 15 Jul 55 (S)j 179, 16 Jul 55 (s). 

1U8. NSC 5519: Draft Statement, n US Policy on All-Vietnam Elections 1 ' , 17 
May 55 (TS). The JCS concurred in this draFt policy with one crucial 
exception: the statement that a communist attack would be opposed 
"with US armed forces if necessary and feasible" was unacceptable. 
The Chiefs wanted it changed to say opposition to attack would be 
"by invoking the Manila Pact and taking vigorous action thereunder 
to repel the Communist military aggression •" Obviously, unilateral 
U.S. action was to be avoidedo (JCS Memorandum to the Secretary of 
Defense, Subject: NSC 5519, "U.S. Policy on All-Vietnam Elect ions 11 ) 
19 May 55 (TS) . ' 

The NSC considered the problem of elections on 9 June end decided 
to shelve the draft NSC statement Its main features hsj± already been 
conveyed to Diem; it was felt no new policy toward an outbreak of 
hositlities was required. (Memorandum, Executive Secretary of NSC 
to NSC, "U.S. Policy on All-Vietnam Elections", 13 Jun 55 (TS)). 

IU9. Deptels to Saigon 53^7, 3 Jun 55 (S); 5731, 8 Jun 55 (S); 35, 5 Jul 
55 (S). 

1 5°° Nev York Times , 17 Jul 55- 

151o Saigon Msg 5677, 6 Jun 55 (s); Deptel 5U38 to Saigon 11 Jun 55 (S). 

152. Saigon Msgs 5706, 7 Jun 55 (S)j 5731, 8 Jun 55 (s). 

153, Paris Msgs 5513, 551U, 16 Jun 55 (s); 5601, 21 Jun 55 (s); 5776, 29 
Jun 55 (S); 27, 2 Jul 55 (s); I83, 12 Jul 55 (S) . Saigon Msg 
5969, 2k Jun 55 (S)o 

l$k. Saigon Msg 381, 23 Jul 55 (S); Paris Msg iktiO, 29 Sep 55 (S); 1757, 
Ik Oct 55 (s). 

155. Paris Msg 2889, 17 Dec 55 (c); SECTO 17 from Paris, 17 Dec 55 (c). 

156. Le Monde , 1^ Dec 1955; Paris Msg 2886, 17 Dec 55 (s); Mew York Times 
1 Nov 55"; Saigon Msg 2671, 5 Jan 56 (S). 

157. Press Conference, 23 Feb 56, in Le M onde , 2k Feb 560 

158. Saigon Msgs 2086, ll+ Nov 55 (S); 2206, 23 Nov 55 (S); Paris Msg 3783, 
21 Feb 56 (S). 

50 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

159. Deptel 1901 to Saigon, 2 Dec 55 (s). 

160 • NIE 63-56, "Probable Developments in Nortn and Soutn Vietnam Tarougja 
MLd-1957", 17 Jul 56; Saigon Msg 287, 2k Jul 56 (C). 


TOP SECRET' - Sensitive