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

IV.C Evolution of the War (26 Vols.) 
Direct Action: The Johnson Commitments, 1964-1968 

(16 Vols.) 

1 . U.S. Programs in South Vietnam, November 1963- 

April 1965: NSAM 273-NSAM 288--Honolulu 

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








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



■ IV.C.l. 

M0T1903 - pmlsE"/ 

NSAM 273 - NSAM 288 



A 9Q 5 

Sec Def Coat Hr. X-.V '^ ^ ^ 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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NS.AM 273 - NSA.M 288 - HONOLULU 


During the period from the overthrow of the Diem government in 
November I963 until the Honolulu Conference in April 1965? U.S. policy- 
makers vzere concerned vith a continuing, central dilemiTia in South Vietnam. 
An agonizing, year-long internal debate took place against the double 
backdrop of this dileimna and Presidential election year politics. Although 
' the results of this debate could not be clearly seen until m:d-19655 the 

seeds which produced those results are clearly visible in the official 
files at a year earlier. 

The basic problem in U.S. policy was to generate programs and other 
means adequate to secure the objectives being pursued. The central dilemma 
lay in the fact that while U.S. policy objectives were stated in the very 
most comprehensive terms the means em.ployed were both consciously limited 
and purposely indirect. Tha..t is, the U.S. eschewed employing all of its 
military might -- or even a substantial portion of it -- in a battle which 
was viewed in Washington as determinative of the fate of all of Southeast 
Asia, probably crucial to the future of South Asia, and as the definitive 
test of U.S. ability to counteract communist support for "wars of national 
liberation." Moreover, this limited U.S. resource com-mitment to practically 
unlim.ited ends took an indirect form. U.S. efforts were aimed at helping 
the Governm.ent of Vietnam (GVN) to win its own struggle against the insurgents 
This meant that the newly established GVN had to somehow mobilize its human 
and other resources, improve its m.ilitary performance against the Viet 
Coiig, and shift the tide of the war. 

As events in 196^ and I965 were to demonstrate, the GVN did not 
succeed in achieving political stability. Its military forces did not 
stem the pattern of VC successes. Rather, a series of coups produced 
"revolving door" governments in Saigon. The mili.tary pattern showed, 
particularly by the spring of I965, a precipitous decline in the fortunes 
of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (x\RVN) . Yet there was no serious 
debate in Washington on the desirability of modifying U.S. objectives. 
These remained essentially fixed even as the means for their realization -- 
limited U.S. material support for GVN -- underwent one crisis and disappoint- 
m.ent after another. 

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There vzere no iinraediate or forcef^al U.S. reactions in 1964 to this 
continuing political instability and military frustration in South Vietnara. 
Declaratory policy raced far ahead of resource allocations and use decisions 
As events continued along an unfavorable course the U.S. pursued an ever- 
exoanding number of minor, specific, programmatic measures which v;ere 
inherently inadeq.uate either to reverse the decline or to satisfy broad U.S. 
objectives. Concurrently, the U.S. began to make contingency plans for 
increasing pressures against IWN. It did not make similar plans for the 
commitment of U.S. ground forces in SVN. 

In the aftermath of President Johnson's landslide electoral victory 
in November 1964, and in the face of persistent instability in SVN, the 
Administration finally expanded the war to include a limited, carefully 
controlled air campaign against the north. Early in I965 it deployed 
Marine battalions to South Vietnam. By April I965? while continuing to 

1 follow the announced policy of efforts to enable GVN to win its own war, 

the U.S. had adumbrated a policy of U.S. military participation which 

I ' presaged a high degree of Americanization of the war effort. 

This evolving expansion and demonstration of commitment was neither 
continuous nor steady. The steps forward were vzarmly debated, often hesitant, 
sometimes reluctant. -- But all of the steps taken were still forward 
toward a larger commitment; there were none to the rear. 


The Diem coup preceded President Kennedy's assassination by less 
than a month. Thus, a new leader took the helm in the U.S. at a natural 
time to reevaluate U.S. policies and U.S. -GVN relations. President Johnson's 
first policy announcement on the Vietnamese v/ar, contained in NSAl-1 273 
(26 November I963), only three days after he had assujned the Presidency, 
was intended primarily to endorse the policies pursued by President Kennedy 
and to ratify provisional decisions reached in Honolulu just before the 
assassination. Even in its attempt to direct GVN's efforts tov/ard concen- 
tration on the Delta area, NSAM 273 reflected earlier U.S. preferences which 
had been thv/arted or ignored by Diem. Now was the time, many of the top 
U.S. policymakers hoped, when convincing U.S. support for the new regime 
in Saigon might allow GVN to start winning its own 'ws.r. 

Two developments --in addition to the VC successes which follovzed 
Diem's -- undercut this aura of optimism. First, it was discovered 
that the situation in BYl^ had been v/orse all along than reports had indicated. 
Examples of misleading reports were soon available in Washington at the 
highest levels. Second, the hoped-for political stability was never even 
established before it disintegrated in the Khanh coup in January I96U. By 
February MACV's year-end report for I963 was available in VJashington. Its 
gloomy statistics shov/ed dov7nwa.rd trends in almost every area. 

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Included in the MCV assessment v^as the opinion that military effort 
could not succeed in the absence of efi^ective political leadership. A 
special CIA report^ forwarded to Secretary McNamara at about the same time 
made the opposite point: military victories were needed to nourish the 
popular attitudes conducive to political stability. Assistant Secretary of 
State Roger Hilsman -- who would shortly leave office after his views were 
rejected -- stressed the need for physical security in the rural areas and 
the adoption of counterguerriJ-a tactics as the preconditions to success. 
These interesting reversals of nominal functional preferences indicate that 
there was at least a sufficiently broad awareness within U.S. Officialdom 
to permnt a useful debate on U.S. actions which might deal more successfully 
with this seamless web of political -military issues. Certainly the intel- 
ligence picture was dark enough to promipt such a debate: the SKIE on short- 
term prospects in Southeast Asia vmrned that "...South Vietnam has, at best, 
an even chance of withstanding the insurgency menace during the next few 
weeks or months." 

The debate did begin, but in hobbles. The generally agreed necessity 
to work through GW and the felt imperative to strengthen GVN left the U.S. 
in a position of weakness. It was at least as dependent on GVN leaders as 
were the latter on U.S. support. Moreover, mid-196^ was not an auspicious 
time for new departures in policy by a President who wished to portray 
"moderate" alternatives to his opponent's "radical" proposaH.s. Nor was 
any time prior to or iinmediately following the elections very appealing for 
the same reason. Thus, while the debate in high official circles was very, 
very different from the public debate it still reflected the existence of 
the public debate. 


The first official internal pronouncement to reflect this difficult 
policyraaking milieu was NSAM 288, in March 196^-. Approved verbatim from 
the report of the most recent McNamara-Taylor visit to Vietnam, it was 
virtually silent on one issue (U.S. troops) and minimal in the scale of 
its recommendations at the same time that it stated U.S. objectives in 
the most sweeping terms used up to that time. The U.S. objective was 
stated to be an "independent, non-coirmiunist South Vietnam, free to accept 
assistance as required to maintain its security" even though not necessarily 
a member of the Western alliance. The importance of this objective was 
underscored in a classic statement of the domino theory: 

Unless we can achieve this objective in South Vietnam, almost" 
all of Southeast Asia will probably fall under Communist dominance 
(all of Vietnam, Laos, and Cam.bodia), accommodate to Communisra so 
as to remove effective U.S. and anti-Cortimunist influence (Burma), 
or fall under the domination of forces not now explicitly Communist 
but likely then to become so (Indonesia taking over Malaysia). 
Thailand might hold for a period with our help, but would be under 
grave pressure. Even the Philippines would become shaky, and the 
threat to India to the west, Australia and New Zealand to the south," 
and Taiv7an, Korea, and Japan to the north and east v/ould be 
greatly increased. 

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The present situation in SWI was painted in somber tones of declining 
GVTT control and deterioration within ARVI\r while VC strength and KVA^-supplied 
arms v^ere on the rise. To introduce U.S, combat troops for the protection 
of Saigon under these circumstances, McNam.ara stated, would create "serious 
adverse psychological conseq,uences and should not be undertaken/' A U.S. 
movement from the advisory role to a role which would amount to command of 
the war effort was sirailarly rejected v/ithout discussion because of anticipated 
adverse psychological effects. Thus, the fear of undesirable impacts upon 
a weak GYN caused at least one major course of action to be ruled out. 
Although fears of adverse impacts in domestic U-S. politics were not mentioned 
it is inconceivable that such fears were not present. 

Having ruled out U.S. active leadership and the commitment of U.S. 
troops 5 Secretary McNamara analyzed three possible courses of action: 
(1) negotiations leading to the "neutralization" of SWI; (2) the initiation 
of military actions against NVN; and (3) measures to improve the situation 
in SVN. The first of these was incom.pat-ible v/ith the U.S. objective stated 
at the beginning of the NSAM; the time was not propitious for adoption of 
the second; the third was recommended for adoption. Additionally, Secretary 
McNam^ara recommended NSAM 288 proclaimed that plans be made so that the U.S. 
would be in a position at a later date to initiate military pressures against 
MB within a relatively brief time after any decision to do so might be made. 

Many of the steps approved in NSAM ^8 were highly programmatic. It 
^ should be observed that they were also palliative, both in scope and degree. 

( Of the twelve approved actions, two addressed possible future actions beyond 

the borders of South Vietnam. Of the remaining ten, three were declaratory 
in nature (e.g., "To make it clear tha.t we fully support the Khanh government 
and are opposed to. any further coups"). The seven actions implying additional 
U.S. assistance (some of it advice) dealt v/ith such matters as exchanging 
25 VNAF aircraft for a ne>;er model, replacing arm_ored personnel carriers v/ith 
a more reliable model, and trebling the fertilizer program v/ithin two years. 
The a.dditional cost of the programs v/as only slightly more than $60 million 
at the most: $30-$lf0 million to su]pport a 50,000 man increase in RVKAF and 
to raise pay scales; $1.5 million to support an enlarged civil administra.tive 
cadre; and a one tirae cost of $20 million for additional and replacement 
military equipment. 

It is clear with the advantage of hindsight that these steps were 
grossly inadequate to the magnitude of the tasks at hand -- particularly 
if the broad U.S. objectives stated in the NSATvI v/ere to be rea^lized. But 
such hindsight masses the policym^akers ' dilemma and the probable process 
by which the approved actions were decided upon. President Johnson had 
neither a congressional nor a popular mandate to Americanize the v/ar or to 
expand it dramiatically by "going north." U.S. hopes were pinned on assisting 
in the development of a GVN strong enough to v/in its ov/n vzar. Overt U.S. 
leadership might imdercut the development of such a government in Saigon. 
The course of policy adopted v/as not the product of an attempt to select 
the "best" alternative by means of examining expected benefits; it resulted . 
from a determination of the "least bad" alternative through an examination 

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Of risks and disadvantages. It reflected v;hat was politically feasible 
rather than what was desirable in relation to stated objectives. The 
practical effect of this understand3.ble -- perhaps inescapable and 
inevitable -- v/ay of deciding upon U.S. policy v/as to place almost complete 
responsibility in the hands of the GVN for the attainment of U.S. objectives - 
it being assujned that GVN's objectives were compatible with ours. 

Midv/ay through 196U President Johnson cha/nged the entire top level of 
U.S. leadership in Saigon. General Maxwell D. Taylor, Chairman of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired from active military duty (for the second 
time) to become the U.S. Am-bassador. An experienced 8.nd highly regarded 
career diplomat, U. Alexis Johnson, was appointed deputy to Taylor. General 
William C. Westmoreland stepped up from deputy to commander of U. S. military 
forces in Vietnam. The new ^'first team" v/as not without knowledge about 
Vietnam but it inescapably lacked the close personal knowledge of leading 
GVN figures v/hich only time and close association can develop. It set 
about attempting to help the Klianh government to help itself. 

General Khanh, in the event, proved unable to marshal SVN's resources 
and to establish his regime in a positiozi of authority adeq.uate either to 
stem or to turn the VC tide. Klianh *s failure was, however, neither precipi- 
tous nor easily perceivable at the tim.e-. As the U.S. entered and passed 
through a Presidential campaign in which the proper policy to pursue in 
Vietna^m was a major issue, it som.etimes appeared that the GVN v/as m^aking 
headv/ay and sometimes appeared that it was not. 

U.S. policy remained virtually unchanged ■ during this period although 
significant pla^nning steps v/ere accomplished to permit the U.S. to exercise 
military pressures against NVN should it appear desirable (and politically 
feasible) to do so. Thanks to such planning, the Tonkin Gulf incidents 
of 2-4 August 196^1- were ansv/ered by "tit-for-tat" reprisal raids v/ith 
considerable dispatch. The cost v/as minimal in terms of world opinion and 
communist reaction. Moreover, President Johnson used the Tonkin Gulf 
incidents as the springboard to a broad endorsement by the Congress of 
his leadership and relative freedom of action. Wlien this was follov/ed 
in November by wha^t can only be described as a sm.ashing victory at the polls, 
the President's hands w^ere not completely untied but the bonds were figura- 
tively loosened. His feasible options increased. 


■ Immediately follov/ing his election, the President initiated an intense, 
month-long policy reviev/. An executive branch consensus developed for a 
tv/o phase expansion of the war. Phase I v/as limited to intensification 
of air strikes in Laos and to covert actions in NVN. Phase II would extend 
the v/ar to a sustained, escalating air cam.paign against North Vietnamese 
targets. The President approved Phase I for implementation in December 196^ 
but approved Phase II only "in principle." 

The effect of this decision was to increase the expectation that the 
air campaign against NVN v/ould be undertaken if the proper time arose. 

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What condj.tions were proper was the subject of considerable disagreement 
and confusion. Tactically, the U.S. desired to respond to North Vietnamese 
acts rather than to appear to initiate a wider war. But the strategic 
purposes of bombing jn JWN were in dispute. The initiation of an air 
campaign was deferred early in 196^- as a prod to GW reform. By I965 
such initiation was argued for as a support for GVN morale. Some adherents 
claimed that bombing in IWW could destroy the DRV*s will to support the 
war in South Vietnam, Others expected it to raise the price of North 
Vietnam's effort and to demonstrate U.S. commitment but not to be decisive 
in and of itself. The only indisputable facts seem to be that the long 
planning and debate over expanding the air v/ar, the claimed benefits 
(although disputed), and the relatively low cost and risk of an air 
campaign as compared to the conmiitment of U.S. ground forces combined to 
indicate that the bombing of NVN would be the next step taken if nothing 
else worked. 

Nothing else v/as, in fact; working. General Khanh's government was 
reorganized in November 196^4 to give it the appearance of civilian leader- 
ship. Khanh finally fell in mid-February I965 and was replaced by the 
Quat regime. Earlier that month the insurgents had attacked the U.S. base 
at Pleiku, killing eight Americans, Similar attacks late In 196^1- had 
brought about recommendations for reprisal attacks. These had been dis- 
approved because of timing. On this occasion, however, the President 
approved the FLAMING DART retaliatory measures. 

Presidential assistant McGeorge Bundy was in SVN when the Viet Cong 
attacked the U.S. facilities in Plelku. He recoinmended to the President 
that, in addition to retaliatory measures, the U.S. initiate phase II of 
the military measures against N\/N. The fall of the Khanh regime a week 
later resurrected the worst U.S. fears of GVN political instability. The 
decision to bomb north was made, announced on 28 February, and strikes 
initiated on 2 March. A week later, after a request from Generals Taylor 
and Westmoreland which was debated little if at all, two battalion landing 
teams of Marines went ashore at DaNang to assume responsibility for security 
of the air base there. U.S. ground combat units were in an active theater 
on the mainland of Asia for the first time since the Korean War. This -' 
may not have been the Rubicon of the Johnson administration's Vietnam policy 
but it was a departure of immeasurable significance. The question v;as no 
longer one of whether U.S. units should be deployed to SVIV; rather, it was 
one of how many units should be deployed and for what strategic purposes. 

The Army Chief of Staff, General Harold K. Johnson, went to Saigon 
in mid-March and recommended that bombing restrictions be lifted and that - 
a U.S. division be deployed to SVI^ for active combat. General Taylor 
strongly opposed an active combat -- as distinct from base security -- role 
for U.S. ground forces. But the President decided on 1 April to expand the 
bombing, to add an air wing in SVNy and to send two more Marine battalions 
ashore. These decisions were announced internally on 6 April in NSAId 328. 

General Taylor continued to voice strong opposition to a ground combat 
role for U.S. forces but his voice was drowned out by two developments. 

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1 ■ First, the air campaign against WN (ROLLING TfllMDER) did not appear to be 

shaking the DRV's determination. Second, iffiW experienced a series of 
I disastrous defeats in the spring of I965 which convinced a number of 

observers that a political-military collapse within GVN was imminent. 

As the debate in Washington on next steps revealed, something closely 
; akin to the broad objectives stated over a year earlier in NSAM 288 repre- 

sented a consensus among U.S. policymakers as a statement of proper U.S. 
aims. The domestic political situation had changed materially since early 
1^6h, President Johnson was now armed with both a popular mandate and 
broad Congressional authorization (the extent of which would be challenged 
later, but not in I965) . Palliative measures had not been adequate to the 
task although they had continued and multiplied throughout the period. As 
General Taylor wryly remax'ked to McGeorge Bundy in a back channel message 
quoted in the following paper, the U.S. Mission in Saigon was charged with 
implementing a 21-point mdlitary program, a ^1-point non-military program, 
a l6"point USIS program, and a 12-point CIA program " if we can win 
"here somehow/ on a point score." 

As fears rose in Washington it must have seemed that everything had 
been tried except one course -- active U.S. participation in the ground 
battle in SV¥. Palliative measures had failed. ROLLING TI-RMDER offered 
little hope for a quick decision in view of the rapid deterioration of 
ARVN. The psychological barrier against the presence of U.S. combat units 
had been breached. If the revalidated U.S. objectives were to be achieved 
^ it was necessary for the U.S. to make quickly some radical departures. It 

( . was politically feasible to commit U.S. ground forces and it seemed desirable 

to do so. 

Secretary McNamara met in Honolulu on 20 April with the principal U.S. 
I leaders from Saigon and agreed to recommend an enclave strategy requiring 

a quantujn increase above the four Marine battalions. An account of the 
rapidity \v\ith which this strategy was overtaken by an offensively oriented 
concept is described in another volume in this series. ->f- The present volume 
describes the situational changes, the arguments, and the frustrations as the 
U.S. attempted for over a year to move toward the realisation of ambitious 
objectives by the indirect use of very limited resources and in the shadow 
of a Presidential election campaign. 

* IV. C. 5. Phase I in the Build-Up of U.S. Forces: The Debate, March- July 

* • 

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MSAM 273 - MSM 285 


I. NSAM 273 


1 . NSAM 273 - The Aftermath of Diem 1 

2. First Reappraisals of the Situation in South Vietnam it- 
s' First Actions on MSAM 273 and First Misgivings I5 

h. Efforts to ]jnprove Intelligence on Progress of the War... 21 

5 • The Unrealized January Upturn and the Khanh Coup 25 

6. Deepening Gloom in February 30 

T« Tv/o General Alternative Directions of Policy 35 

8 . The Pact Finding Mission and NSAM 288 ^i 

9. NSAM 288 kG 



1. General Character of the Period from NS_AM-288 

to Tonkin Gulf 56 

2. NSAM-288 Programs Mid-March to Mid-May 196^ 58 

3. The Secretary's Visit to Saigon May I96J-I- 70 

h. The Honolulu Conference of 30 May 196^ c 76 

5* Preparation for Increased Pressure on North Vietnajn 82 

6. Increasing U.S. Involvement and Groi/ing GVN Instability.. 85 

III. PRQ^ TOMIl;j TO NSM-328 • • • • * ' • • 90 

1. Tonkin Gu_lf and Following Political Crises . . , 90 

2. Policies in the period of I*urraoil. 95 

3- The Period of Increasing Pressures on m^ ^^ 

IV. NSM-328. no 

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U. S. PROGRAMS Ii\f SO U TH VIETMM, NOVEM B ER I963 - April 196^ 

M3M 273 - NSAM 288" 




20 JVov 1963 


Honolulu Conference 

22 Nov 1963 Kennedy Assassination 


26 Nov 1963 NSAM 273 


6 Dec 1963 

Report on Long An 

IT Dec 1963 

NSC Meeting 

18-20 Dec 

SecDef Trip to 




Secretaries McNamara and Rusk and their 
party meet with the entire US country 
team and review the South Vietnamese 
situation after the Diem coup. 

President Kenjiedy is assassinated in 
DaD-las. Lodge confers with the new 
President_j Johnson^ in Washington^ dur- 
ing the next few days. 

Drawing on the Honolulu Conference and 
Lodge's conversations wjth the Presi- 
dent; NSALl 273 established US support 
for the new Minh government and empha- 
sized that the level of effort^ econo- 
mic and military ; would be maintained 
at least as high as to Diem. All US 
and GVN efforts were to be concentrated 
on the Delta where the VC danger was 
greatest. But the war remained basi- 
cally a South Vietnamese affair to win 
or lose. 

A report by a USOM provincial represen- 
tative on Long An Province^ adjacent to 
Saigon^ describes the near complete 
disintegration of the strategic hamlet 
prograju. The basic problem is the 
inability or unwillingness of the ARVN 
to provide timely support when villages 
are under attack. Hamlets are being 
overrun by the VC on an almost daily 
basis. Ambassador Lodge for^^rards the 
report to Washing-ton. 

After hearing a briefing by Genera], 
Krulak that falls short of giving an 
adequate explanation for the Long An 
report^ the President decides to send 
McNamara on another fact-finding trip. 

During this quick visit to South Viet- 
nam^ McNamara ordered certain jjumediate 

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18-20 Dec 


21 Dec 1963 

McHaraara Report to 
the President 

7 Jan 196k 

McCone Prox}Oses Covert 

16 Jan 19^- 

Mclfemara Accepts 
Revised McCone 

28 Jan I96J4 

Khanh Warns US Aide of 
Pro-Neutralist Coup 

29 Jan 196^ Khanh ferns iK^dge 

30 Jan 196^ Khanh Coup 


actions to be taken by the US Mission 
to improve the situation in the I3 
critical provinces. He returns di- 
rectly to Washington to report to the 

McNejuara's report substantiates the 
existence of significant deterioration 
in the \rar since the preceding summer. 
He recommends strengthened ARVN for- 
mations in the key provinces^ increased 
US military and civilian staffs_, the 
creation of a new pacification plan^ 
and better coordination between Lodge 
and Harkins. His report is especially 
pessimistic about the situation in the 
Delta . 

The serious failure of the reporting 
system to indicate the critical state 
of deterioration of the war prompts 
McCone to recommend to McNamara a 
special TDY covert CIA check on the 
in-country reporting system to make 
recQiimiendations for improving it. 

McNamara accepts a revised form of 
McCone *s proposal; sx^ecifically rul- 
ing out any IG-like aspects to the 
study . 

General Khanh^ I Corps Commander^ 
warns his US advisor^ Colonel Wilson 
that pro-neutralist members of the ; 
MRC — Xuan^ Don^ and K±m. — are 
plotting a coup. 

Khanh repeats to Lodge the warning 
that pro-neutralist elements are 
planning a coup. Lodge recommends 
an intervention with Paris to get • 
DeGaulle to restrict his activity in 
Saigon. Khanh' s efforts are really a 
screen for his ovm planned coup. 

Early in the morning_j Khanh acts to 
take over control of the government 
in a bloodless internal coup that 

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30 Jan 196^'- 
( Cont'd) 

2 Feb 19&-]- 


FACV Personal AssesS' 
ment of iith Qtr 
CY 1963 

10 Feb 196^1- 


CAS Grroup's Pre- 
liminary Report 

12 Feb 196^1- 

SNIE 50-6^^ 

18 Feb 196^ 

Final CAS Group 

JCSM 136-6^ 

21 Feb 1904 

MACV Cormuent on CAS 
Group Findings 

2 Mar 196^ 




removes the civilian governraent and 
puts hixn in power. 

The Diem coup and the subsequent 
political instability in the fall of 
1963 are given by MACV as the main 
reasons for the rise in VC activity 
and the decline in GVN control of the 
country. The tempo of GVN operations 
was good but the effectiveness low. 
Military failixres were large2.y attri- 
buted to political problems. 

The preliminary report of the special 
CAS group cross-checking the report- 
ing system confirms the deterioration 
of the strategic hamlet program. It 
docujaents the decline in rural secujrity 
and the increase in VC attacks. 

This intelligence community evaluation 
of the short-term prospects for Viet- 
nam confirms the pessimism now felt in 
all quarters. The political insta- 
bility is the hard core problem. 

The final CAS group report conf irras ' 
the black picture of its initial esti- 
mate in greater detail and further 
confirms the previous failings of the 
reporting system. 

In addition to a long list of recom- 
mendations for GVN action; the JCS 
propose to SecDef major US escalatory 
steps including bombing of the North. 

General Harkins takes issue not \rlth 
the specific factual reporting of the 
CAS Group; but with their broader 
conclusions about the direction the 
war is goings and the respective 
effectiveness of the VC and GVN. 

The JCS outline their proposal for 
punitive action against the DRV to 
halt Northern support for the VC in- 
surgency. Bombing is specifically 
called for. 


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8 Mar 196k 


SecDef and CJCB Begin 
Five-Day Trip to SVN 

12 Mar 196^- 

McNamara-Taylor see 

Ik Mar 196^ 

Hilsman sends Final 
Memos to SecState 

i / 


I I 

16 Mar 196^ 

SecDef Recominendations 
to the President 

I I 


The President sends Secretary McNamara 
and General Taylor on another fact- 
finding trip to prepare for a major 
re- evaluation of the war and US involve- 
ment. V/hile there^ a set of recoimnen- 
dations to the President is decided 

Prior to their departure^ McNamara and 
Taylor present their principal con- 
clusions to General Khanh who is re- 
sponsive to their suggestions and; in 
particular^ declares his readiness to 
move promptly on a national mobiliza- 
tion and: increasing AWN and Civil Guard. 

Having resigned over policy disagreement; 
Hilsraan sends Rusk parting memos on SEA 
and SW. He describes two principles 
basic to success in guerrilla warfare: 
(1) the oil blot approach to progres- 
sive rural security; and (2) the avoi- 
dance of large-scale operations. Pie 
further opposes redirecHn-g the war effort 
against the North. Political stability 
is absolutely essential to eventual 

The JCS; in commenting on McNaiiiara^s 
proposed recomjuendations to the Presi- 
dent; reiterate their views of 2 March 
that a program of actions against the 
North is required to effectively strike 
at the sources of the insurgency. The 
overall military recommendations pro- 
posed by McNainara are inadequate; they 


largely ignoring the JCS reclsjna; 
McNamara reports on the conclusions 
of his trip to Vietnam and recommends 
the full civilian and military mobili- 
zation to which General Khanh has 
corimiitted himself. This is to be 
accompanied by an extensive set of 
internal reforms and organizational 
improvements. Som-e increases in US 
personnel are recorrimended along with 
increased materiel support for the GVN. 

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17 Mar 1^6k 


KSM 288 


1 Apr 1964 

Embassy Saigon 
Msg 1880 

h Apr 1904 

Khanh Annoimces 

¥. P, Bimdy Letter 
to Lodge 

15 Apr 196^4 

Lodge reports on 


The President accepts McNainara's full 
report and has it adopted as NSAM 288 
to guide national policy. The im- 
portance of South Vietnam to US policy 
and security is underlined and the 
extent of the US commitment to it in- 
creased. While significant increases 
in actual US participation in the war 
are rejected as not warranted for the 
moment_j the JCS are authorized to 
begin iDlanning studies for striking 
at the sources of insurgency in the 

Lodge reports per State req_uest that 
Khanh *s proposed mobilization measuj^es 
call for both civilian and military 
build-ups . 

Khanh announces that all able-bodied 
males aged 20 to ^5 will be subject 
to national public service_; either 
military or civilian. 

In a letter to Lodge^ Bundy asks hm 
to comment on a scenario for mobiliz- 
ing domestic US political support for 
action against the DRV. 

Lodge reports that Khanh 's k April 
annouiicement was only the precursor 
of the legal decrees the essence of - 
which he described* 

15-20 Apr 

General Wheeler^ 
Cofs/USA, Visits 

The Army Chief of Staff^ General Earl 
Wheeler visits Vietnam to make a sur- 
vey and represent the SecDef during 
the visit of Secretary Rusk. On l6 
April; he meets with Khanh who first 
mentions his view that the war v^ill 
eventually have to be tal^en to the 

17-20 Apr 

Rusk Visits Saigon 


Secretary Rusk and party visit Saigon - 
On l8 April; Rusk sees Khanh who again 
mentions the eventual necessity of 
carrying the fight to the North. Rusk 
replies that such a significant escala- 
tion of the war would req.uire much 




TOP SECPvET - Sensitive 

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17-20 April 

25 Apr 1964 

30 Apr 196^1- 


thought and preparation. At the I9 
April meeting with the Country Team^ 
much of the discussion is devoted to 
the problem of pressures against the 

President Names General General William Westmoreland is named 
Westmoreland to Succeed to succeed General Harkins in the 
General Plarkins sumnier . 

29 Apr 196k JCS Msg 6073 to MCV 

Lodge^ Brent and 
Westmoreland See Khanh 

The JCS; worried at the GVN delay^ 
ask MACY to submit the force plan for 
196^ by 7 May. 

Jn a showdown with IChanh^ Lodge^ Brent 
and Westmoreland state that the funda- 
mental problem is lack of actoinistra- 
tive support for the provincial war 
against the VC^ particuJIarly the inade^ 
quacy of the piastre support for the 
pacification program. Khanh promises 
more effort. 

2 May 1964 

h May 1964 

6 May 1964 

Ehibassy Saigon Msg 
1889 EXDIS for the 

Lodge Reports on Delay 
in Mobilization 

Embassy Saigon Msg 213.2 

NSC Meeting 

Lodge informs the President that Khanh 
has agreed to US advisors in the paci- 
fied areas if we are willing to accept 
casualties. Lodge recommends one 
advisor for each corps area and one 
for Khanh; all reporting to Lodge. 

Lodge reports that the draft mobiliza- 
tion decrees have still not been 
signed or promulgated. 

Having asked to see Lodge; Khanh asks 
him whether he; Lodge; thinks the 
country should be put on a war footing. 
Khanh wants to carry the war to the 
North and sees this as necessary pre- 
liminary . < 

The NSC confirms Rusk's caution to 
Khanh on any moves against the North. 
The President asks McNamara to make 
a fact-finder to Vietnam. 

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7 May 19 6h 

12-ll| May 

30 May 196k 

5 Jvn 196k 

15 Jun 19 Qv 

23 Jun 196^ 


MAC?, US/gVN 196^ 
Force Level Agree- 


Honolulu Conference 

Department of State 
Msg 2184 

W. Po Bundy raemo to 
SecState and SecDef 

President Announces 
JCS Chairman Taylor 
as New Ambassador 

30 Jvn I9O-I- 

Taylor Succeeds Lodge 


MACV informs the JCS that agreement 
has been reached \rlth the GVN on the 
level of forces to be reached by 
year's end. 

McNamara-Taylor visit SVDI. They are 
briefed on 12-13 April by the Mission. 
On l4 April they see Khanh vho again 
talks of going North. McNamara demurs_, 
but insists on more political stability 
and program effectiveness. 

Rusk_; McNamara, McCone and aides meet 
in Plonolulu with the Country Team. A 
full dress discussion of pressures 
talces place, but no decisions or recom- 
mendations are approved. Rather, m.ore 
emphasis on the critical provinces is 
approved, along with an expanded ad- 
visory effort. 

Lodge is informed of the President's 
approval of the e>rpanded effort in the 
critical provinces. 

Attached to a Bundy memo for considera- 
tion at a meeting later the same day, 
are six annexes each dealing with a 
different aspect of the problem of 
getting a Congressional resolution of 
support for the current US Southeast 
Asian policy. One of the iinportant 
themes is that an act of irreversible 
US commitment might provide the neces- 
sary psychological support to get real 
reform and effectiveness from the GW. 

President Johnson announces the appoint- 
ment of JCS Chairman, Maxwell Taylor, 
to succeed Lodge, who is returning to 
engage in Republican Presidential poli- 

Lodge leaves Saigon and Taylor takes 
over as US Am^bassador with U. AJLexis 
Johnson as Deputy. 


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7 July 196^ 

8 Jul 196^ 

10 Jul 196k 

15 Jul 19 6J^ 

17 JuJ, 196^ 


19 Jul 196^ 

23 Jul lQ6h 

2k Jul 196^ 

2 Aug 196J^ 


Taylor Forms Mission 

Taylor Calls on 

Departeent of State 
Msg 108 

Taylor reports in- 
creased VC strength^ 
Embassy Saigon Msgs 
107 and 108 ■ 

USOM Meets With QW 

Khanh Makes Public 
Reference to "Going 

Taylor Meets with 
Khanh and NSC 

Taylor and Khanh 
discuss Coups 

USS Maddox Attacked 
in Tonkin Gulf 


In an effort to streamline the Embassy 
and increase his policy -control^ Taylor 
forms the Mission Council at the 
Country Team level. 

Taylor calls on Khanh who expresses 
satisfaction with the new personnel^ 
approves the Mission Council idea and 
offers to create a counter part organi- 

The President asks Taylor to submit 
regular month-end progress reports on 
all aspects of the program. 

Taylor raises the estimate of Viet Cong 
strength from the previous total of 
28^000 to 3^; 000. This does not repre- 
sent a sudden increase^ but rather 
intelligence confirmation of long sus- 
pected units . 

As he had promised; Khanh creates a 
coordinating group within the GYl^ to 
deal with the new Mission Council and 
calls it the NSC. 

In a public speech; Khanh refers to 
the "March to the North." In a sepa- 
rate statem.ent to the presS; General 
Ky also refers to the "march North." 

In a meeting \rlth Khanh and the NSC; 
Taylor is told by Khanh that the move 
against the North is indispensible to 
the success of the counterinsurgency 
cam.paign in the South. 

In a discussion of coup rumorS; Khanh 
complains that it is US support of 
Minh that is behind all the trouble; 
Taylor reiterates US support for Khanh. 

The destroyer USS Maddox is attacked 
in the Tonkin Gulf ^by DRV patrol craft 
while on a DE SOTO patrol off the DRV 
coast. Several patrol boats sunk. 

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k Aug 196^ 

5 Aug 196^ 

< I 

< t 

7 Aug 196^ 

10 Aug 196^ 


11 Aug 196^ 

ik Aug 196^ 


Maddox and C . Turner 
Joy Attacked 

US Reprisals 

Tonkin Gulf Resolu- 

Khanh Announces 
State of Emergency 

Taylor's first 
Monthly Report 

President Signs 
Tonkin Resolution 

12 Aug 196^ Taylor and Khanh Meet 

Khanh shoves Taylor 
Draft Charter 

16 Aug 196^1- Khanh Fames President 


In a repetition of the 2 August inci- 
dent^ the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy 
are attacked. After strenuous efforts 
to confirm the attacks^ the President 
authorizes reprisal air strikes against 
the North. 

US aircraft attack several DRV patrol 
boat bases^ destroying ships and 

At the time of the attacks^ the Presi- 
dent briefed leaders of Congress^ and 
had a resolution of support for US 
policy introduced. It is passed with 
near- unanimity by both Houses. 

Khanh annoujices a state of emergency 
that gives him near-dictatorial powers. 

In his first monthly report to the 
President; Taylor gives a gloomy view 
of the political situation and of 
Khanh' s capacities for effectively 
pursuing the war. Pie is equally pessi 
mistic about other aspects of the situ 
at ion. 


The President signs the Tonkin Gulf 
Resolution and pledges full support 
for the GVN. 

Khanh discusses with Taylor his plan 
to draw up a new constitution enhanc- 
ing his own powers. Taylor tries to 
discourage him. 

At GVN NSC meeting; Khanh shows Taylor 
his proposed draft Constitution. 
Taylor dislikes its blatant ratifica- 
tion of Khanh as dictator. 

With the promulgation of the new con- 
stitution; Khanh is elected President 
by the MRC. 

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h Sep 196^1 

6 Sep 196k 

7 Sep 196k 


18 Sep 196^^ 


26 Sep 1901 

20 Oct 1964 

1 Nov 196^ 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


27 Aug 196^ MRC Disbands 

Khanh Resujnes 

Embassy Saigon 
Msg 7® 

Washington Conference 

10 Sep I96U NSi\l/I 31^ 

13 Sep 196^' Abortive Phat Coup 

DE SOTO Patrol 

Vietnam High National 

New Constitution 

Huong Names Premier 


After ten days of political turmoil 
and demonstrations^^ Khanh vrlthdraws 
the constitution^ the MRC naraes Khanh^ 
Minh and Khiem to rule provisionally 
and disbands itself. 

Khanh returns from Dalat and ends the 
crisis by resuming the Premiership. 

Taylor cables an assessment that 
" best the emerging governmental 
structure might be cai:)able of maintain- 
ing a holding operation against the 
Viet Cong." 

Taylor meets with the President and 
the NSC Principals and decisions are 
made to resuiae DE SOTO operations,, 
resume 3^-A operations^ and prepare 
for further tit-for-tat reprisals. 

The 7 Septem_ber decisions are promul- 
gat ed . 

General Phat laimches a coup but it 
is defeated by forces loyal to Khanh. 
This establishes the power of younger 
officers such as Ky and Thi. 

The first resimied DE SOTO patrol comes 
under apparent atteck. To avoid future 
incidents^, the President suspends the 
patrols , 

The MRC names a High National Council 
of distinguished citizens to prepare 
a constitution. 

The J^'IRC presents the new constitution 
drafted by the High National Council. 
A prompt return to civilian government 
is promised. 

Tran Van Huongs a civilian^ is named 
Premier after the appointment of Phan 
Kbac Suu as Chief of State^ thus return- 
ing the government to civilian control. 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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1 Nov 196^ 



VC Attack Bien Hoa 

3 Nov 196^ 

Jolinson re-elected 

Task Force Begins 
Policy Review 

26 Nov 19 a 

Buncly Group Submits 
Three Options 


I r 

30 Nov 196^ 

NSC Principals Modify 
Bundy Proposals 

1 Dec 1964 

President Meets with 
NSC and Taylor 

3 Dec 196^4 

President Confers 
with Taylor 


The VC launch a mortar attack on the 
Bien Hoa airfield that kills Americans 
and damages aircraft- The military 
recommend a reprisal against the North; 
the President refuses. 

Lyndon Johnson is re-elected President 
with a crushing majority. 

At the President's request^ W.P. Bundy 
heads an inter-agency Task Force for 
an in-depth review of US Vietnam policy 
and options. The work goes on through- 
out the month. 

The Bu2idy Task Force submits its draft 
conclusions to the Principals. They 
propose three alternative courses of 
action: (l) continuation of current 
policy with no escalation and a resis- 
tance to negotiations; (2) a signifi- 
cant set of pressures against the North 
accompanied by vigorous efforts to start' 
negotiations; (3) a modest campaign 
against the North with resistance to ^ 

The NSC Principals reject the pure form 
of any of the recommendations and 
instead substitute a two-phase recom- 
mendation for the President: the first 
phase is a slight intensification of 
current covert activities against the 
North and in laos^ the second after 
30 days would be a moderate campaign 
of air strikes against the DRV. 

The President^ in a meeting with the 
NSC Principals^ and Taylor^ who returned 
on 23 November^ hears the latter 's re- 
port on the grave conditions in SVN^ 
then approves Phase I of the proposal. 
He gives tentative approval to Phase II ' 
but makes it contingent on improvement 
by the GVN. 

In a 'last m^eeting with Taylor^ the Presi- 
dent stresses the need to get action 
from the GW before Phase II. 

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8 Dec 1964 


Taylor Sees Huong 

Ik Dec 1964 MRKEL ROLL Begins 

20 Dec 1964 

Military Stage Purge 

21 Dec 1964 


Khanh Declares Support 
for Purge 

24 Dec 1^6k 

US Billet in Saigon 
Bomb ed 


31 Dec 1964 Embassy Saigon Msg 2010 

6 Jan 1965 

Bundy Memo to 

8 Jan 1965 

EOK Troops go to SVN 

27 Jan 1965 McNaughton Memo to 



Taylor presents the President's re- 
quirements to Premier Huong who 
promises to get new action on programs. 

BARREL ROLL armed reconnaissance in 
Laos begins as called for in Phase I 
of the program approved 1 December. 

The struggle within the MRC takes the 
form of a purge by the younger officers 
Ky and Thi. They are seeking to curb 
the pov^-er of the Pluong Government . 

Khanh declares his support of the purge 
and opposes the US^ Taylor in particu- 
lar. He states he will not "carry out 
the policy of any foreign coun.try." 
Rum.ors that Taylor wil2. be declared 
personna non grata circulate. 

The VC bomb a US billet in Saigon on 
Christmas Eve^ killing several Ameri- 
cans. The President disapproves mili- 
tary recommendations; for a reprisal 
against the North. 

Taylor recommends going ahead with the 
Phase II air campaign against the North 
in spite of the political instability 
and confusion in the South. He now 
argues that the strikes may help sta- 
bilize the situation. 

In a m.emo to the Secretary of State^ 
Wn Bundy urges that we consider some 
additional actions short of Phase II 
of the December plan in spite of the 
chaos in Saigon. It is the only 
possible course to save the situation. 

South Korea sends 2^,000 military ad- 
visors to South Vietnam. 

In a memo to SecDef ^ McNaughton under- 
scores the importance of SEA for the 
US and then suggests that we may have 
to adopt Phase II as the only way to 
save the current situa^.'aon. 

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27 Jan 1965 

7 Feb 1965 

8 Feb 1965 


11 Feb 1965 

18 Feb 1965 

2li- Feb 1.965 


Khanh Ousts Huong 

VC Mortar Attack 


Mc George Bundy Memo 
to the President 

MeNamara Memo to JCS 

10 Feb 1965 VC Attacli 0,ul Mion 


Coup PailS; but Khanh 




Khanh and the younger officers oust 
the civilian Huong government. Khanh 
nominates General Oanh to head an 
interim regirae the next day. 

The VC Haunch a mortar attack on a 
US billet in Pleiku and an associated 
helicopter field. Many Americans are 
killed and helos damaged. Ihe Presi- 
dent ^ with the unanimous recommendation 
of his advisors^ authorizes a reprisal. 

The reprisal strikes involve both US 
and VNAF planes. A second mission is 
flown the following day. 

In an influential memo to the President 
after a fact-finding trip to Vietnara^ 
Bundy conclixdes that the situation can 
only be righted by beginning sustained 
and escalating air attacks on the North 
a la Phase II. He had telephoned his 
concurrence in the FLAMING DART reprisal 
to the President from. Vietnam. 

In a memo to the JCS^ MeNamara requests 
the development of a liraited bombing 
prograra against the North. The JCS 
later submit the "Eight-week Program." 

Thumbing their noses at the US reprisal^, 
the VC attack a US billet in Qhi Nhon 
and kill 23. 

The second rerjrisal strikes authorized 
by the President attack targets in the 

A coup against the new Premier^^ Quat_j 
fails when the Armed Forces Council 
intervenes. They seize the opportunity 
to remove Khanh and he is forced to leave 
the country several days later. I 

The President approves the first strikes 
for the ROLLING THUNDER sustained, es- 
calating air campaign against the DRV. 




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2 Mar 1965 

6 Mar 1965 

lif Mar 1965 

31 Mar 1965 

1 Apr 1965 

2 Apr 1965 

6 Apr 1965 

7 Apr 1965 


wUjIng thunder 


Marines to DaNang 

General PLK, Johnson 

29 Mar 1965 US Embassy Bombed 

State Memo to the 

President Meets With 
NSC and Taylor 

McCone Dissents from 
1 Apr Decisions 

NSA14 288 

President ' s Johns 
Hopkins Speech 


After being once postponed^ the first 
ROLI-niG THUNDER strikes .take place. 

The President decides to send two US 
Marine Bfittalion Landing Teams to 
DaNang to take up the base security 
function. They arrive two days later. 

After a trip to Vietnam,, the Army 
Chief of. Staff _, General Johnson^ 
reconmiends a 21-point program to the 
President. Included are increased 
attacks on the North and removal of 
restrictions on these missions. 

Just as Ambassador Taylor is leaving 
for a policy conference in Washington^ 
the US Embassy in Saigon is bombed by 
VC terrorists with loss of life and 
extensive property damage. 

In a ^il-point non-military recommen- 
dation to the president; State elabo- 
rates on a Taylor proposal. 

At a meeting with Taylor and the NSC 
Principals^ the President approves the 
^•1-point non-military proposal^, plus 
General Johnson's 21-point proposal. 
In addition; he decides to send two 
more Marine battalions and an air winp* 
to Vietnam and to authorize an active 
combat role for these forces. He also 
authorizes I8; 000-20; 000 more support 

In a mano to SecState; SecDef ; and 
Ambassador Taylor; CIA Director John 
McCone takes exception to the decision 
to give US troops a ground role. It is 
not justified unless we take radically 
stronger measures against North Vietnam. 

KSAM 288 prom^ulgates the decisions of g 
the 1 April meeting. W 

The President; in a speech at Johns 
HopkinS; offers imconditional talks 


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7 Apr 1965 

8 Apr 1965 


15 Apr 1965 

IT Apr 1965 

Pham Van Dong 
Announces h Points 

State Department 
Msg 2332 

Embassy Saigon 
Msg 3^19 

20 Apr 1965 Honolulu Conference 


with the DRV plus help in rebuilding 
after the war if they v/ill cease 

DRV Foreign Minister^ Pharn Van Dong^ 
announces his four points for a Viet- 
nam settlement- They are a defiant _, 
unyielding repudiation of Jolmson's 
offer . 

McGeorge Bmidy informs Taylor that 
further increments of troops are being 
considered_j plus use of US Army civil 
affairs personnel. 

Taylor takes angry exception to the 
proposal to increase troops and to 
introduce military civil affairs per- 
sonnel into the provinces. He did not 
think he had agreed on 1 April to a 
land war in Asia. 

In a hastily called conference^ McKamara* 
informs Taylor in detail of the new polic 
directions and "brings him along." An 
attempt is made to mollify him. 



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Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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NSM 273 - NS-AM""ggB 

I. NSAM-2T3 
1. NSAM-g73 -- • The Aftermath of Diem 

NSM 273 of 26 Noveraber I963 came just four days after the assassi- 
nation of President Kennedy and less than a month after the assassination 
of the Ngo brothers and their replacement by the Military Revolutionary 
Committee (MRC). NSAM 273 was an interim^ don't rock-the-boat document. 
Its central significance was that although the two assassinations had 
changed many things^ U.S. policy proposed to remain substantially the 
same. In retrospect j, it is uimrListakab3_y clear^ but it was certainly not 
unmistakably clear at that time^ that this was a period of crucial and 
accelerated change in the situation in South Vietnaia. NSAM 273 reflected 
the general judgtnent of the situation in Vietnam that had gained official 
acceptance during the previous period^ most recently and notably during 
the visit of Secretary McNamara and General Taylor to Vietnam in late 
September of that year. 

This generally sangu_ine appraisal had been the basis for the recom- 
mendation in that report to establish a progratri to train Vietnamese to 
carry out^ by the end of 1965^ the essential functions then performed 
by U.S.. military personnel ■-- by which time "it should be possible to 
withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel." As an immediate gesture in this 
direction; the report recommended that "the Defense Department should 
announce in the very near fu^ture^ presently prepared plans to withdraw 
one thousand U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963*" The latter 
recommendation was acted upon the same day (2 October I963) hy making 
it part of a T'/hite House statement of U.S. Policy o n Vietnam . This V/liite 
House statement included the following pronom'icement . 

Secretary McNam.ara and General Taylor reported their 
judgment that the major part of the u«S- rtiilitary task can 
be completed by the end of 1965; although there "may be a 
■ continuing requirement for a limited nujnber of U.S. training 
personnel. They reported that by the end of this year the 
U.S. program for training Vietnamese should have progressed 
to the point where one thousand U.S« personnel assigned to 
South Vietnam can be withdravm. l/ 

The visit of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the 
Joint Chiefs to Saigon at the end of Septeraber was followed by the 
report to the President in early October and agreements reached with 
the President at the Wiite House early in October following 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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the Diem coup^ a special meeting on Vietnam 'vras held at CINCPAC 
headquarters on 20 November. Although this Honolulii meeting vas 
marked by some concern over the administrative dislocation that had 
resulted from the coup of three veeks before^ the tone remained one 
of optiiuism along the lines of the October 2 report to the President. 
Ambassador Lodge took note of vhat" he called the "political fragility" 
of the net7 regime^ but he -^-ras on the vhole optimistic^ and even 
mentioned that the statement- on U.S. military withdrawal was having 
a continued "tonic" effect on the Republic of Vietnam (RVl^). General 
Earkins in his report mentioned a sharp increase in Viet Cong (VC) 
Incidents right after the coup_, but added that these had dropped 
to normal within a week^ and that there had_, moreover^ been compensa- 
ting events such as additional. Montagnards coming out of the hills 
to get government protection. All in all there was some uneasiness^ 
perhaps^ about unino-^ra effects of the coup_j but nothing was said 
to suggest that an^ serious departure was contemplated from the 
generally optimistic official outlook of late Septem_ber and early 
October. And so^ -VTlth reference to the statements of October 2^ 
HSAM 273 repeated: 

The objectives of the United States with respect 
to the withdrawal of U.S. military personnel 
remain as stated in the >Jhite House statement of 
October 2^ I963. 2/ 

Before examining further the background of NSAM 273 — especially 
the appraisals of the Vietnemi situation that it reflected -- it is 
well to revlevi^ some of the main provisions of that policy statement 
of 26 November I963. 

NASJ^I 273 ■^■?"as not comprehensive _, as the McNamara-Taylor report 
of 2 October (discussed below) had been^ nor as NS.AM 288 was later 
to be. Mainly it served to indicate continuance by the new President 
of policies already agreed upon^ and to demonstrate full support by 
the United States of the new government of Vietnam (CVl^l). Both 
military and econom/ic programs^ it was emphasized^ should be main- 
tained at levels as high as those in the time of the Diem regiine. 
In a.ddition^ there was an unusual Presidential exhortation -- reflect- 
ing the internal U.S. dispute over policy concenTing Diem and Khu 
that had m.ade embarrassing headlines in October — that: 

The President expects that 8.11 senior officers 
of the government will move energetically to 
insure the full ujiity of support for established 
U.S. policy in South Vietnam. Both in Washington 
and in the field^ it is essential that the govern- 
ment be unified. It is of particular importance 
that express or implied criticism of officers of 
other brajiches be assiduously avoided in all 
contacts \ri±h the Vietnamese goverrmient and mth 
the press. 3/ 

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NSAM 273 vas specifically programatic so far as SM vas 
concerned only in directing priority of effort to the Delta. 

(5) ^e should concentrate our efforts^ and insofar 
as possible \Te should persuade the governirient 
of South Vietnam to concentrate its effort^ on 
the critical situation in the Mekong Delta. This 
concentration should include not only military hut 
political_, econoinic_y social_, educational and infor- 
mational effort. ¥e should seek to turn the tide 
not only of battle but of belief^ and -we should 
seek to increase not only the controlled hamlets 
but the productivity of this area^ especially 
vhere the proceeds can be held for the advantage of 
anti -Communist forces, h/ 

In general^ the policies expressed by ITS-AM 273 were responsive 
to the older philosophy of our intervention there ^ vhich was that- : 
the central function of the U.S. effort was to help the South 
Vietnamese to help themselves because only if they did the major 
job themselves could that job in reality be done at all. ¥e would 
assist stabilization of the new regime and head it in that direction. 

(3) It is a major interest of the United States govern- 
ment that the present provisional government of South 
Vietnam should be assisted in consolidating itself in 
holding and developing increased pub3.ic support. 5/ 

Definition of the central task in South Vietnam as that of 
-vrinning the hearts and minds of the people and of gaining for the 
GW the support of the people had been the central consideration 
in the late sujnmer and early fall of what to do about Diejn and 
Khu. The argument concerning the Diem government centered on the 
concept that the strLiggle in South Vietna-n could not be won mthout 
the support of the South Vietnamese people and that under the Diem 
regime -- especially because of the growing power and dominance of 
Miu — the essentia^l popular base was beyond reach. In the 2 October 
report to the President as well as in the discussions later at 
Honolulu on 20 November this theme was prominent. The U.S. could 
not >7in the struggle^ only the Vietnamese could do that. For 
instance^ in the report to the President of 2 October^ there were 
these words in the section on "the U.S. military advisory and support 

Ve may all be proud of the effectiveness of the U.S. 
military advisory and support. With fe\T exceptions^ 
U.S. military advisors report excellent relations 
mth their Vietnamese counterparts^ whom they charac- 
terize as proud and willing soldiers. The stiffening 
and exemplary effect of U.S. behavior and attitudes 

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has had exi impact which is not confined to the \rex 
effort^ but which extends deeply into the whole 
Vietnamese way of doing things. 

The U,S, advisory effort^ however^ cannot- assure 
ultimate success. This is a Vietnamese war and 

the country and the war must in the end be run 
solely by the Vietnamese, It \-7ill impair their 
independence and development of their initiative if 
we leave our advisors in place beyond the time they 
are really needed ... 6/ ' 7emphasis supplied/ 

Policy concerning aid to the Vietnamese may be considered to 
range between two polar extremes. One extreme would be our doing 
almost everything difficult for the Vietnamese^ and the other would 
consist of limiting our o\m actions to provision of no more than 
material aid and advice while leaving everything important to be 
done by the Vietnamese themselves. Choice of a policy at any point 
on this continuum reflects a judgment concerning the basic nature of -- 
the problem; i.e. to what extent political and to what extent xailitary; 
to wha.t ext^ent reasonable by political means and to what extent 
resolvable by military means even by outsiders. But in this 
case the choice of policy also reflected confidence that success 
was being achieved by the kind and, level of effort that had 
already been devoted to this venture. The policy of I^lSAM 273 vas 
predicated on such confidence. It constituted by its reference to the 
2 October statement an explicit anticipation^ mth tentative time 
phases expressly stated_, of the assumption by the Vietnamese of direct 
responsibility 'for. doing all the important things themse.lves sometime 
in 1965^ "the U.S. thereafter providing only material aid and non- 
participating advice at the end of that period. That optimism was 
explicit in the report to the President of 2 October wherein the 
conclusion of the section on "The US Military Advisoiy and Support 
Effort consisted of this paragraph: 

Acknowledging the progress achieved to date^ there 
still remains the q.uestion of when the final victory 
caji be obtained. If^ by victory^ we mean the reduc- 
tion of the insurgency to something little more than 
. ■ sporadic banditry in outlying districts^ it is the 
view of the vast majority of military commanders 
consulted that success may be achieved in the I^ 11^ 
and III Corps area by the end of CY 196^. Victory in 
IV Corps i-rlll take longer - at least well into I965. 
These estimates asstirae thst the politic al situation 
does not significantly impede the effort . '7/ /emphasis supplied_7 

2. First Reappraisals of the Situation in South Vietnam 

The caveat given expression in the last sentence of the con- 
clusions cited above offered an escape clause^ but it was clearly 

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not employed as a basis for planning and for progratmning . It was not 
I I emphasize d_, and the lack of emphasis was consistent with the general 

tone of optimism in the report as a whole. This general optimism 
in fact reflected the judgments preferred by most of the senior - 
officials upon whom the Secret airy of Defense and the Chairmaii of 
the Joint Chiefs had principally relied for advice. It is obvious^ 
however^ that the optimism was scarcely consistent ^-rlth the grave 
apprehension mth which the political situation was viewed at the 

Ever since the Buddhist crisis began in early summer^ the fear 
had been felt at the highest U.S. policy levels that the explosiveness 
and instability of the political situation in Vietnam might undeimine 
completely our efforts there. This apprehension had been the reason 
why the President first dispatched the Mendenhall-Krulak mission 
to Vietnam in early September_, and then^ a fortnight later^ sent the 
McWsmara-Taylor mission. The political crisis existing in Vietnam 
was indeed a subject of great concern at the very time of the latter 
visit, jyoxlng this visit a decision was made that a proposed 
Presidential letter of remonstrance to Diem for his repressive 
■ policies concerning the Buddhists was tactically unmse and that^ 

•instead^ a letter over the signature of. the Joint Chiefs^ ostensibly 
directed primarily to the military situation^ should be delivered 
to Diem cairrying a som^ewhat modified expression of protest. That 
letter dated October 1 was delivered to Diem, on October 2 and in- 
/ eluded these judgments: 

Now_;, as Secretary McT^fenara has told you^ a serious 
doubt hangs over our hopes for the future. Can we . 
win together in the face of the reaction to the 
measures taken by your goveriToient against the ■ 
Buddhists and the students? As a military man I 
would say that we can mn provided there are no 
further political setbacks. The military indi- 
cators still generally favorable and can be 
made more so by actions readily '^-Tithin the power of 
your governmient. If you allow me^ I would mention 
a few of the military actions which I believe neces- 
sary for th-is improvem.ent. 8/ ^ 

And^ in closing the letter the CJCS expressed himself in these 

In. closing^ Mr, President_, may I give you rny most 
important overall impression? Up to now the battle 
against the Viet Cong had seemed endless; no one 
has been i-rilling to set a date for its successful 
conclusion. .After ■talMng to scores of officers^ 
Vietnamese and American^ I am convinced that the Cong insurgency in the l^orth and Center can 

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be reduced to little more than sporadic incidents 
by the end of 1964. The Delta mil taJie longer but 
should be completed by the end of 19^5 . But for 
these predictions to be valid, certain conditions 
must be Your governraent should be prepared to 
energize all agencies, military and civil, to a 
higher output of activity than up to now. Ineffec- 
tive commanders and province officials must be 
replaced as soon as identified. Finally^ there 
should be a restoration of dom.estic tranquility on 
the homefront if political tensions are to be allayed 
and external criticism is to abate. Condj,tions ^ are 
needed for the creation of an atmosphere conducive to 
an effective carapaign directed at the objectives, vital 
to both of us, of defeating the Viet Cong and of 
restoring peace to your country. 9:/ 

This letter vas a policy instrument, of course, rather than exclus- 
ively an expression of an appraissO,. As a matter of tactics it was 
softened considerably from the first proposed letter which was to say 
that the United States vrould consider disassociating itself from the 
Vietnam Govermient and discontinue suppor'c- unless the GVT^ altered 
its repressive policies. It is cited here mainly to indicate ^the 
concern, made explicit by the senior members of the U.S. Mission 
■ . in late September, concerning the possible effect upon military effec- 
tiveness of the political unrest. 

About 'a week later, in testim.ony before the House Committee on^-^ 
Foreign Affairs, Secretary McNaniara repeated the therne that the miliLary 
situation was good,- that the political situation was bad, that the^ 
political situation could have a bad affect on the military situation, 
but it had not had such a bad effect yet. 

FollovTing an appraisal of the military situation by Gen. Taylor, 
Chainnan Morgan asked the SecDef ."Mr. Secretary, then -you feel ^ 
and I am sure the Creneral feels, that the military effort is going 
very well?" To this the SecDef s response was: 

Secret ary McNamara . Yes we do. I think Gen. Taylor has 
; emphasized and I would like to emphasize e^ain, that while 

we believe the serious political unrest has not to date _ 
seriously and adversely affected the military effort, it 
may do so in the future, if it continues. 

C hairman Morgan . General, or Mr. Secretary, could we say 
( that the military situation is moving well^ but the political 

■ ■ situation is not - the politlcaJ- situation is bad? 

Secretary McHainara. ' Yes, I think that is a fair sujmnaiy„ 

' I ■ "■.*■■■■ ■■ ! -■ ■ []■ !■■■■ ' 

I ■ 

i ' ^^ Chairman Morgan c Mr. Secretary, then, from your observations, 

i ' ' both you and the General, f:rom the- 8 days you spent in the 

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I ■ 

country^ you can't see any deterioration in the military 
effort of BVIJ because of the political situation in the 

Secretary/ McN aniara. This is a fair statement. 

Chainnan Mo rgan, You feel that the Vietnejnese Array is moving 
ahead and is cooperating \Tlth our forces in there? 

Secretary McI^Tgm ara. Yes. Certain of the affairs of the 
Vietnamese Army have been affected by the political unrest 
of recent months. As Gen. Taylor pointed out^ some of their 
relatives have been arrested and subjected to a violation 
of their personal freedoms and liberties^ and undoubtedly 
this has tended to turn some of the officers avay from sup- 
port of their government. 

But they are strongly motivated by the desire to resist 
the Coipjnunist encroachiaent. , .and their ant i -Communist 
feelings are stronger than their distrust of government. So 
to date there has been no reduction in the effectiveness of 
their military operations, lo/ 

There is no record that this express recognitipn that the bad 
political situation might affect the military capability was considered 
a contingency to be foreseen in the program^ or that anyone suggested 
it should be. ■ ■ 

■Nearly four months later Secretary McKajnara had an explanation to 
offer concerning his view of the situation at the timie of this testimony. 
Appearing once more in Executive Session to testify on the authorization 
bill for the fiscal year 1965^ before the House Committee on Arraed 
Services on 2J January 196^^ the Secretary was asked by Mr, Chambeiman 
of the House Cominittee to explain why 

his press conference comments on the situation 
■ the day before were clearly more optimistic than 
those in his Congressional statement. Both were 
more optimistic than recent news reports from 
Viet mia. 11/ 

In response, the Secretary went back to his Joint Report to the 

President of 2 October, to cite again the caveat which had been expressed 
' as follows . 

' ' . The political situation in South Viet I\[am remains 

( |, .deeply serious. The United States has made clear 

its continuing opposition to any repressive actions 
J |. ill South Viet Warn. I'Jhile such actions have not yet 

II' - significantly affected the military effort, they 

could do so in the future. 12/ 

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In further amplification of this point the Secretary almost claimed^ 
in effect^ to have foreseen and to have forecast the degradation of 
capability that it was then clear (in January 1964) had occurred 
and^had^in fact continued ever since November, These vere his 
words ^ 

We didji^t say -""but I think you coul.d have predicted 
that vhat ve had in mind was --that (l) either Diem 
would continue his repressive measures and remain in 
power_, in which case he would continue to lose public 
support and^ since that is the foundation of successful 
counter guerilla operations^ the military operations 
would be adversely affected^ or (2) alternatively he 
would continue his repressive measures and build so 
much resistance that he would be thro^rn out^ then a 
coup would take place^ and during the period of 
■ reorganization folloring. . .there would be instability 
and uncertainty and military operations would be 
adversely affected. '13/ 

No fully persuasive explanation has been discovered of the 

apparent discrepancy between this foresight concerning the possible 
ill affects of "pplictical instability and the generally optimistic 

prognosis^and the pro^rem based upon that optimism. The Secretary had 
had no enthusiasm for the coup. Possibly he adjusted^ though reluc- 
tantly^ to the idea and decided that the political difficulties would 
either be overcome by means he did not feel it was his duty to explore_j 
or would not be serious or lasting enough to be critical. However^ 
all of the thinking then in vogue about counterlnsurgency insisted - 
that favorable political circujnstances were essential to success. 
Therefore^ unless it was assumed that favorable political circuiustances 
could be brought about^ the counterLnsurgency_ effort .was bound to fail. 
So long as the adverse case was not proved one had to assume ultimately 
favorable political conditions because it was unthinkable to stop 
t lying. 

Even before NSM 273 "was adopted^ evidence began to accuraulate 
that the optimistic assumptions underlying it were suspect. First^, 
there was unmistakable and accumulating evidence that^ in the period 
immediately after the coup^ the situation had deteriorated in many 
pla^ces as a direct result of the coup. Then came increasing expres- 
sion. oT a judgment that this deterioration was not merely en 
immediate and short lived phenomenon^ but som.ething^ rather^ that 
continued well after the worst administrative confusions immediately 
after the coiip had be^n reduced. Finally _, the impression^ developed 

in many quarters^ and eventually spread to all^ that before " the coup^ 
the situation had been much more adverse than we had recognized 
officially at the time. Before the end of December^ we decided to 
institute a system of covert checks" on the" accuracy of our basic 
intell_igence --a large part of which came from. Vietnamese sources. 
(There was suspicion- that the interests of these officials was often 

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It ( 



_ served, by reporting to us or to their superiors -id-thin the GW what 
ve or the GW high officials vanted to hear.) As December atid 
'January and February passed^ the situation reports trended consist- 
ently domivard^ the accumulating evidence seemed to indicate quite 
clearly that appreciation of "setbacks and of adverse developments 
vas regularly belated. The result v^as that programs tended commonly 
to be premised upon a more optimistic appraisal of the situation than ■ 

■was valid for the time vh en they were adopted^ whether or not they 
were valid for an earlier period. 

JudgiTients of the trend of events in Vietnam and of the progress 
of our program had long been a subject of controversy ^ both public 
and within the councils of government. That there had been an under- 
current of pessimism concerning the situation in Vietnam was no 
secret to the responsible officials vrho visited Vietnejn in September 
and who reported to the President on 2 October^ or to the larger 
group that convened at CIKCPAC HQ on 20 November.- Most of the quali- 
fications in their minds related to imponderables of the political 
situation^ which it was always hoped and assum.ed would be successfully 
resolved. The focus of the disagreement had genereilly been the 
policies of Diem and llhu especially with respect to the Buddhists, 
Daring the summer of 1963^ disagreement .over the state of affairs in 
Vietnam had not only been aired in closed official councils^ but had 
flared into open controversy in the public press in a manner that 
seemed to many to be detrimental to the U.S. It was possible to get 
directly conflicting views from the experts. One of the better kno^m 
illustrations of this bevrildering diversity of opinions among those 
with some claim to know is the instance recounted by both Schlesinger 
and Hilsman of the reports to President Kennedy on 10 September 1963 
by General Victor. Krulak and Mr. Joseph A. Mendenhall upon their return 
from their special mission to Vietnam. General Krulak was a specialist 
in counterinsurgency and Mr. Mendenhall had^ not long before^ completed 
a tour of duty in Saigon as Deputy Chief of Mission under Ambassador 
Durbrow. After hearing them both out (with Krulak painting the rosy 
picture and Mendenhall the gloomy one), the President, in the words of 
the Hilsman account, "looked quizzically from one to the other. You 
two did visit the same country, didn't you?"l^/ 

Much of the disagreement concerning the progress of the anti-Viet 
Cong effort during the middle of I963 was related intimately to issues 
posed by the Buddhist revolt. Where there was pessimism or scepticism 
about the progress of the war in general or the success of the pacifica- 
tion prograaii, the attitude was generally associated with the judgment 
that Diem and Khu were not administering affairs right and were alienating 
rather than irinning the support of the masses of South Vietnamese people. 
Aside from Diem and I\]hu and the Buddhist revolt, the major center of 
controversy was the situation in the Delta. The fact that WSAI4 273 
called for priority effort in the Delta reflected official recognition 
that the situation in the Delta demanded it. The ground work for this 
was laid during the McKamar a -Taylor visit, but recognition of the serious 
problem there had come slowly and not without controversy. 

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A public controversy on the subject vas touched off by an 
article filed in Saigon on I5 August I963 by David Halberstaiu of 
the IJev York Times . The Halberstejn article said that the RW 
military situation in the Delta had deteriorated seriously over the 
past year^ and vas getting increasingly worse. The VC had been 
increasing greatly in number^ were in possession of more and better 
arras and had larger stores of them^ and their boldness to operate 
in large units -- up to 60O or even 1^000 men -- had become marked. 
The VC veapon losses were doim^ and the GM weapon losses were up. 
U.S. iriilitary men and civilian officials in the field^ according ' 
to this article^ were reported to be very apprehensive of the effect 
of all this upon the Strategic Hamlet Progra^u^ and the whole future 
of GW control in the Delta VT-as in doubt. But_, it was hinted strongly^ 
higher echelon authorities were uni-rHiing to perceive the dangers. 
Some long-time observers are comparing official /\merican optimism 
about the Delta to the French optimism that preceded France's route 
from Indochina in I954. They warn of ^'high-level self-deception." 

I The official refutation of the Halberstam article^ prepared 

I ■ for the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs 

by SACSA^ categorically denied everything ^ Based upon what it termed 
"the most reliable and accurate data available from both classified 
and unclassified sources" the analysis showed^ in the language of 
its summary^ that "the military situation is im^proving throughout 
the Republic of Vietnam^ not as rapidly in the Mekong Delta as in 
the North^ but improving markedly none the less. The picture is 
precisely the opposite of t he one pain ted by Mr. Halberstam . " I5/ In the 
body of tlae refutation^ 13 of the principle changes in the Halberstam 
article were analyzed^ one-by-one^ and battered by an array of 
percentages^ statistics presented both tabularly and in graphs^ end 
all of the nujribers were very impressive and persuasive If taken at 
face value. They show'ed^ for instai^ce^ that the VC armed attacks and 
VC initiated incidents (not armed) _j in mid^-sumtiier I963 were below the 
1962 average^ that the average net weekly loss of GW weapons to the 
VC had fallen from 62 in I961 to 12 in I962 to only 6 of 1963^ and 
that the rate of both company-sized and battalion-sized YE attacks 
had fallen markedly^ in I963 from the I962 level. 

Generalizations about how the different groups_, agencies^ and 
echelons sided on the issue of the Vietnam situation tend to over- 
simplify because however they are made^ there are exceptions. Most 
of the senior officers in -field in the direct line of operational 
responsibility tended to accept the m.ore optimistic interpretation. 
Examples in this category won^d include CINCPAC (Admiral Felt), 
,/ COMIJSMCV (General Harkins), Ambassador Kolting (who was soon to be - 
replaced, however, by Ambassador Lodge, who tended to be less 
optiinistic), and CIA Station Chief Richardson. Holting and Richardson 
had been charged to develop a close and friendly relationship i-Txth 
L Diem, and this involved necessarily a special sort of sympathy for 

" his outlook. The lives of most senior officers charged with operating 

tii responsibility have been pointed to giving leadership in situations 

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^ ^ of stress. This leadership includes setting an example of high morale^ 

by their o>/n conduct^, to encourage enthusiastic es prit de corps among 
subordinates^ and to project an unfailing image of confidence to the 
outside world. Such men are likely to find it alLnost impossible to 
recognize and to acknowledge existence of a situation seriously adverse 
to their assigned mission. It is contrary to their lifetime training 
never to be daunted. This characteristic makes them good leaders for 
difficult missions but it does not especially qualify them for render- 
ing dispassionate judgements of the feasibility of missions or of the 
progress they are making. Admiral Felt and General Harkins in the field^, 
and General Krulak in Washington^ appear to have been more the gung ho 
type of leaders of m.en in com.bat situations than the cautious reflective 
weighers of complex circumstances and feasibilities^, including political 
comipli cat ions , 

Officials and agencies in Washington who depended directly or pri- 
marily upon these officers for an understanding of the situation tended^ 
.^ veiy naturally^ to put their greatest faith in the judgement of those 
in the field who were administratively responsible and who had access 
to the m.ost com.prehensive official reports and data. If there were 
■ disadvantages in the position of these people^ a major one was that- 
most of their information was supplied by GW officials _, who often had 
a vested interest in m.aking things look good. Moreover^ the U.S. offi- 
cials in positions of operational responsibility had a professional 
commitment to programs which^ often^ they had had a hand in establish- 
ing. This normally inhibited them fromi giving the worst interpretation 
to evidence that was incomplete^ ambiguous or inconclusive -- and most evi- 
dence was one or more of these. Moreover^ the public relations aspects 
of most positions of o]perating responsibility make it seem necessary to 
put a good face on things as a part of that operating responsibility. The 
morale of the organization seems to dem_and it. Finally^ the intelligence 
provided on an official basis generally followed formats devised for 
uniform formal compilation and standard statistical treatment. All along 
the line^ lower echelons were judged^ rewarded or penalized by higher eche- 
lons in terms of the progress revealed by the reports they turned in. 
This practice encouraged and facilitated feeding unjustifiably optimistic 
data into the reporting machinery. 

The darker view was easier for those who lacked career comjuitment 
to the success of the programs in the form in which they had been 
adopted. The m.ore pessimastic interpretations were generally based^ 
also^ upon sources of information which were intimate^ personal^ out- 
of -channels^ and with non-official personages. They were particular- 
istic rather than com.prehensive^ intim.ate and intuitive rather than 
formal^ im.pressionistic rather than statistical^ 

Moreover^ som.e of the principal Cassandras were newsm.en whose 
stories^ whether correct or incorrect^ made the front page and some- 
times even the headlines « This suggested a vested interest in what 
for one reason or another W8.s sensational. Other Cassandras were 
military advisors of jujiior grades^ or lesser USOM officers especially 
those in the provinces^ whose views v/ere .easy to discount by senior 

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officials because_j hovever familiar the junior officers might be with 
local acts or particular details^ they generally lacked knowledge 
of the overall picture. 

There vas unq.uestionable ambivalence in U.S. official attitudes 
concerning progress and prospects. Despite the repeatedly expressed 
qualifications concerning the potentially grave affect of the political 
instability in Vietnam^^ the prograraining and policy formulation^ as 
already noted_, vras without qualification based on optimistic assumptions 
In an over-view of the Vietnajn War (196O--I963) prepared by SACSA and 
delivered to the Secretary shortly after his return from South Vietnam^ 
the mission's assessment of military progress was summarized in these 

The evidences of overall military progress were so 
unmistakably clear that the mission^ acknovrledging 
the implications and uncertainties of the povrcr crisis 
underway in Vietnam^ concluded that the GW military 
effort had achieved a momentum of progress which held 
further promise of ultimate victory over the Viet Cong; 
further^ that victory was possible within reasonable 
limdts of tlm.e and Investment of U.S. resources. !§_/ 

^ The high priority of the Delta problem was recognized^ in this same 
over-view^ -vrith the statement that "the mission was Impressed with 
^^ the evidence that the decisive conflict of the war was approaching 

in the Mekong Delta." The major difficulty there was identified 
somewhat euphemistically as due to the fact that "the mission found 
evidences that the Government of Vietnajn had overextended its hamlet 
• construction program in these southern provinces." 17/ 

Not long before this^ however^ Michael Forrestal in the White 
House had sent to Secretary McNamara a copy of a Second Informal. 
Appreciation of the Status of the Strategic Harriet Frograai dated 
1 Septemher 1*953^ and prepared by USOM Regional Affairs officers. 
This Appreciation gave province by province sujmnaries that were 
far from encouraging concerning the Delta. In addition to Lon;:^ An 
and Dinh Tuong provinces which were the worst _, it was said of Kien 
Juong that 

the program continues to be slov?-. ..few h3J:iilets 
are completed and a fraction of planned miilltia 
trained. . .the one bright spot. . .remains the Pri 
Phap area^ which Is^ however^^ vulnerable mili- 
tarily should the VC decide to concentrate their 
efforts against it. The Chief of Province. . .we 
- feel is totally unqualified. Vir.'.' Binh ^ although 
the hamlet- program continued to increase in 
numbers. , .the security situation deteriorated in 
July and August. The removal of a recently intro- 
duced WN battalion dam.aged the effort^ and a 

change in leadership dislocated projects underway... 

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Ehi Long has been severely threatened in August^ 
the route to Vinh Long is again insecure. . .else- 
where the hamlet program appears to be over- 
extended and vith insufficient troop support is " 
under serious threat in former VC strongholds. 
Security in southernmost Long Toan District^ the 
province VC haven^ continues to be very poor... 
Major Thao^j an extremely competent leader^ ,. .was 
replaced in late July..^ 

Vinh Long : Although most signs indicate progress. .• 
evaluation of Vinh Long remains largely an evalua- 
tion of Lt. Col. Phuoc, Chief of Province .. .whose 
idea had previously led him to construct through 

corvee labor kilometer after kilometer of useless ' . 

walls^, and whose insensitivity to the population 
had led to considerable popular antipathy. An 
apparent change of attitude has taken place... and 
PhuoG now says that the strategic hamlet is a state 
of mind rather than a .fortificationc Phuoc's sin- 
cerity and commitment to the program are still prob- 
lematical^^ hovrever^ as is public acceptance of him 
and of the program. . .some pessimists feel that this 
may well prove... the most difficult province in the 
Delta to pacify, 

Chuong Thien : The Communists still control most of 

the people and land in Chuong Thien.. /the/ new ^ ' 

province chief.,,has been evasive and has shovm no 

desire really to cooperate, . .the large relocation 

effort.,. risks loss of the province to the VC 

because the people involved have been alienated. 

Ba Xuyen : Shortcoming in the implementation of 
the heunlet program^ as well as a lack of confi- 
dence in the province chief... led to the recall in 
late August of the USOM provincial representative 
and possible unofficial suspension of USOM.., in an 
effort to build statistics^ the province had con- 
structed a number of vulnerable and non-viable 
hamlets. There has been a forced wholesale reloca- 
tion^, insufficiently justified^ poorly financed... 
niomerous occurrences have convinced us that there 
is ^ venality.,. and lack of good faith. A new province 
chief (not presently in prospect) might permit prog- 
ress in this rich and important area... a major effort ^ 
to, gain popular support for government is needed in ■ 
this as in many other Delta provinces. 

A n Xuyen : The province remains under VC control with 
the exception of a handful of widely separated govern- 
ment strong points... An Xuyen^ • comprising much of 
the enemy's main De3.ta power center^ is a primary 
source of men^ money and supplies for the Corjimunists. 


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The strategic haralet progrsja has not succeeded. Under 
present conditions^ given the scarcity of GVfl forces 
and deeply entrenched Viet Cong shadow government _, 
it can not be expected to... 18/ 

l-Thether or not the full seriousness of the situation in the 


Delta was appreciated at the -time of the McNaruara-Taylor mission in 
September 1963^ it is entirely clear that the Delta vas recognized 
as a high priority problem. The recoiiimendatlons set forth in their 
joint Report to the President of 2 October called for "the training 
and arraing of hsjulet militia at an accelerated rate^ especially in ■ 
the Delta" and for "a consolidation of the Strategic Hamlet Program_, 
especially in the Delta^ and action to insure that in the future strategic 
hamlets are not built until they can be protected and until civic 
action prograras can be introduced." And in the appraisal of overall 
progress^ the judgraents were rendered that 

The Delta remains the toughest area of all^ and 
now requires top priority in both (Mi and U.S. 
efforts. Approximately kO percent of the people 
live there J the area is rich and has traditionally 
resisted central authority; it is the center of 
Viet Cong strength —over one-third of the "hard- 
core" are found there; and the marltimie nature of 
the terrain renders it much the most difficult 
region to pacify. I9/ 

During the Honolulu meeting of 20 Novem.ber when Gen. Harklns 
presented a surmnary of the situation in 13 critical provinces^ 7 
were in the Delta. Secretary McNamara in a detailed discussion on 
that occasion of the situation on these provinces suggested that 
there were three things to be done in the Delta: (l) to get the 
Chieu Hoi program moving; (2) to get the fertilizer program going 
in order to increase the output of rice^ and (3) most important^ to 
improve the security of strategic hamlets by arming and training tuid 
increasing the nujnbers of the militia. It is recorded that at this' 
point General Taylor made a suggestion that perhaps we needed joint 
U.S. -Vietnamese province teams to attack problems at the province 
level because the problems were in fact different in each province. 
This latter seem-S worth noting in view of the emphasis that vras to 
be placed^ some months later^ upon getting more Merlcans into a 
supervisory or advisory capacity in the provincial areas. 

When General Harklns presented his review of the military situa- 
tion at this meeting^ he indicated that weapon losses were quite hlgh^ 
particularly in November when the goverrauent forces lost nearly 3 
weapons to ever-^ one captured from the VC. The losses were incurred 
largely by the Civil Guard, the Self -Defense Corps and the hamlet 
ndlitia. It was also indicated at the meeting that the greatest 
single difficulty of a pacification program was in the problem of 
security in the hamlets. Nevertheless, the explanation that the 
difficulties of November resulted solely from the coup and (would 
therefore not continue) miade it seem unnecessary to change the 
assumptions that over-all progress in the coujiter-lnsurgency effort- 
just if led prograznming a phase -out of the major portion of the U.S. 

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contribution. The assimptions vrere retained that: (l) the Coramunist 
insurgency would be brought ujider control in the Northern two-thirds 
of the country by the end of calendar year ^Gh^ the phase do^-m of the 
RMAP could be started at the beginning of calendar year I965 (instead 
of the previous estimate of calendar year ^66); and this resulted in 
" a reduction from previous estimates of funding for the RWAE (exclud- 
ing para-military and police) as follows: (in millions of dollars) 

Fiscal year '63 225-2 - 213.3 

Fiscal year '66 225.5 - 197-^(- 

Fiscal year '6j 1^3-5 - 131.2 

•Fiscal year ^68 122.7 - 119-7 

Fiscal year '69 121.9 - 119-5 20/ 

Wtiile those from Washington \fho were attending the conference at 
Honolulu^ and Mbassador Lodge^ were returning to Washington^ President 
Kennedy was assassinated. The following day^ on. 23 November^ a memo - 
randujn was prepared to guide the new President for his meeting with 
Mbassador Lodge. The main points of this guidance stressed the need 
for teamwork within this U.S. mission. 

It is absolutely vital that the whole of the country 
team_j and particularly Ambassador Lodge and General 
Harkins_j work in close harmony and with full con- 
sultation^ . back-and-forth. There must be no back- 
^'^ biting or sniping at low levels such as may have 

contributed to recent news stories about General 
Harkins being out of favor vrLth the new regime... 2l/ 

3. First Actions on IISA}/[ 273 and First Misgivings 

In. response to the call for priority of effort to turn the tide 
in the Delta^ six additional ARVN division was shifted to the Delta^ 
and directives were issued to COJyrJSMACV to effect an increase" in 
militaiy tempo there _, especially to improve tactics^ to maintain 
full strength in combat elements_, in arming and training hamlet 
militia. Along with this^ he was to consolidate strategic hamlet- 
programs to bring the pace" of construction to a level consistent 
with GVI^ capabilities both to provide essential protection and to 
introduce civic action programs. AID actions to increase production 
in 'the Delta were ..also initiated and accelerated - fertilizer^ 
pesticides^ rice seed^ the hamlet- school progrem. and hamlet medics_, 
generators and radio sets^ etc. USOM had^ further^ conveyed to the 
GVN its assurance that_j subject to Congressional appropriations ^ the 
U.S. fully intended to maintain the level of aid previously given to 
the Diem Government. 22/ 

Scarcely more than a week after the formalization of WSAM 273 
on. 26 November 19^3^ the adverse trend of events that previously had 
been only rumored or feared moved much closer to being acknowledged 
to be an ujmiistaliable and inescapable reality. On 7 Deceiriber (Saigon 

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tinie)^ Aiibassador Lodge fojnmrded a report of USOM provincial repre- 
sentative Young on the situation in Long An province as of 6 December. 
Part of that report was as folloT/s: 

(1) The only progress made in Long An province dur- 
ing the month of Novem-ber^ I963 has been by the 
Communist Viet Cong. The past thirty days have 
produced a day-by-day elimination of US/Vietnamese 
sponsored strategic hamlets and the marked increase 
in Viet Cong influence^ military operations^, 
physical control of the countryside and Communist 
controlled combat hamlets. 

(2) At the end of September^ I963 province officials 
stated that 219 strategic hamlets irere completed 
and met the 6 criteria. Effective 30 l^ovember I963 
this figure has been reduced to about ^5 on the 
best estim.ates of I^IAACt^ USOM and new province 
chief ^ Major Dao. Twenty-seven hamlets were 
attacked in November compared \r±±h a figure of 77 
for June, This would appear to be an improvement. 
However^ the explanation is a simple one: so many 
strategic hatiilets have been rendered ineffective 
by the Viet Cong that only 27 were worth attacking 
this month. . , • ' 

— * 

(4) The reason for this unhappy situation is the failure 
of the government of Vietnam to support and protect 
the hamlets. The concept of the strategic hatmLet 
called for a self-defense corps capable of holding ■ 
off enemy attack for a brief period until regular 
forces (ARW^ Civil Guard, o/sLC) could come to 
the rescue. In haiulet after hamlet this assist- 
ance never came^ or in most cases, arrived the fol-. 
lowing morning during daylight hours ... 

(5) Two explanations are presented for the lack of assist- 
ance: (a) there are not sufficient troops to protect 
key installations and district headquarters and at . . 
the same tim.e go to the assistance of the hamlet, (b) 

Both official orders and policy prohibit the movement 
of troops after dark to go to the assistance of 
hamlets or isolated military posts... 

(9) The strategic hamlet program in this province can be 
I ( made workable and very effective against the Viet 

Cong. But help must com.e immediately in the form of 
I additional troops and new concepts of operation^ not 

in the same reheated French tactics of 195^, beefed 
up with more helicoxjters and tanks. The hamlets must 
be defended if this province is not to fall under 
complete control of the Viet Cpng in the next few 
moriths. . . 

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(11) See also General Don's statement to me on Long An^ 
notably Ms statement that totally useless and 
impractical hamlets were built vith forced labor 
so that grafters would receive the money allocated 
to strategic hamlets... 

(12) 1 atTi asking lAACV and USOM to find out how the above 
and the scandalous conditions described by General 
Don escaped inspection, 23/ _ ■ . ' 

This report on Long An province reached Washington about the same 
■ time that a Cabinet level meeting at the Department of State was being 
■ held to review the situation in Vietnam and discuss possible further 
actions. A briefing on the situation was presented^ on behalf of the 
Defense Department and the Secretary^ by General Krulak. General 
Krulak's briefing included the following conclusions: 

a. The nevr GW shows a desire to respond to U.S. 
advice and improve its military effectiveness and 
has the capability to do so. Its plans are basically 
soujid but it is in a state of organisational turmoil . 
which cannot fail to affect its capabilities ad- 
versely for the short term. 

^^ - b. The VC are making an intensive although loosely 

coordinated effort to increase their hold on the 
countryside while the new government is shaking down. 

.0. The VC have exhibited a powerful military capa- 
bility for at least a brief period of intensified 
operations and their skill at least in counter air- 
TDorne operations is improving. 

d. There is ground for concern that infiltration 
of materiel support has increased in the Delta 
area but there is little hard proof. This is a prime 
intelligence deficiency since it affects not only 
the military tactics but our overall Southeast Asia 
strategy, 24/ 

The prevailing view at this tim.e seems to have been more apprehensive 
than Gen. Krulak's briefing would suggest. It was immediately decided 
that the Secretary should have another look at the situation by return- 
ing from the December NATO m.eeting via Saigon. 

The Backup Book for the Secretary of Defense's Saigon trip of 18-20 
December contains indications of the major questions that he proposed 
to look into during his brief projected visit to Vietnam. The Young 
b, Report on Long An Province as of 6 December had evidently made a strong 

^' impression^ and it seems the Secretary was especially anxious to safeguard 

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I ■ ■ ■ p ■ ■ ^ 

against being misled in the JTuture about the status of programs. With 
respect to the Strategic Hamlet Program generally^ it is evident that 
there was apprehension concerning the cLuestionable statistics that had 
been used in the Diera regirae^s portrayal of the program. It vas- hoped 
I that it would be possible to identify the requirements for a program 

j' of on-going current assessments of the program as q.uickly as possible. 

j. There was also an intention to publish an appropriate set of new 

guidelines for the coordination of construction^ civic action and mill- 
■ tary prograois^, and^ perhaps more important^ to a,ccomplish the consoli- 
dation and correction of hatiilet programs in the shortest possible time. 
Five problem areas mth respect to the strategic hamlet program were 
■ identified prior to the trip, these were: 

a. VJhat progress is being achieved by the sux-veys 
and when will the reports be available? 

b. Wliat specific actions were then underway to 
coordinate the companion military, political and 
social programs? 

c. \Th.en would the 'new guidelines be published? 

d* What action was underway to indoctrinate the 
newly assigned province officials to enable them to 
pursue the program effectively? 

e. Was it plain that one big problem would be to 
insure that the province and district officials 
understood and executed vigorously their revised 
programs? Had any thought been given to adding an 
additional advisor or tvj-o, in the critical prov- 
inces, to work at the district level and to insure 
that the officials actually drove programs forward. 25/ 

A point to be noted in these is the growing idea of placing an 
increasing number of advisors at the province and district level. 

The Secretary made certain decisions of an immediate nature con- 
cerning programs in Vietnam while he was still in Saigon; and Imme- 
diately upon his return he made his report to the President in which he 
described the situation as he had found it, and made further recommenda 
tions that he had evidently not felt empowered toeiact without Presiden^ 
tial approval. 

Among the actions agreed upon during the visit to Saigon on 19-20 
December were the folloivdng: 

1. The GVIf should be pressed to increase troop 
density in six provinces in III Corps by about 100^ 
(ten infantry and three engineering batallions), in 


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( ^ accordance mth plans discussed at a meeting with. 

COMUS[viA.CV and the Anbassador. 

2. Revise the pacification plans for critical 
provinces to insure that they reflect scheduling 
and prograiriming "ba.sed on a realistic appraisal of 
the actual status of the hamlets^ the SDC and Civil 
Guard and ARW as well as the rehabilitation mate- . 
rials available." 

3- Increase U.S. military advisory strength in the 
. . , thirteen critical provinces (agreed to be critical at 

Honolulu) in accordance mth a table submitted by 


h. Reinforce USOM representation in thirteen critical 
.provinces starting vith Long An in accordance vith a 
proposal from USOM Saigon. 

5. Provide unif^^ims for the SDC mth priority on the 
Delta area. - - 

6. Press the GW for a clear statement^ in form of 
orders to province chiefs^ for continuance and reshaping 
of the hamlet program. 

7. Press the GVTT to provide for a Joint General Staff 
(JCS) chief J and for a III Corps commander with no other 

8. Continue to stress to the GW the need for forceful 
central leadership and effective and visible popular 
leadership. 26/ 

The Secretary's report for the President dated 21 December '63 was 
gloomy and expressed fear that the situation had been deteriorating 
long before any deterioration had been suspected (officially). The 
report began by saying that the situation was ''ybtj disturbing/' and 
that unless current trends ^were reversed within two or three months 
they would "lead to neutralization at best and more likely to a Commu- 
nist-controlled state." The new government of Big Minh v^as identified 
as the greatest source of concern because it seemed indecisive and 
drifting. There seemed to be a clear lack of adjninistrative talent and 
of political experience, "V/hile on the other hand generals who should 
have been directing militar^^ affairs were preoccupied with political 
matters /i.e.^ working to assure or to- increase their ovm political 
ppwer within the WiOj , 

A second major weakness seemed to the Secretary to be the Country- 
Team. He felt that it lacked leadership and had been "poorly infonned" 
and was 'hot working according to a conmion plan." He had found as an 

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exajnple of confusion conflicts between USOM and military recoiranenda- 
tions^ in cases of reconitnendations to the government of Vietnajii and 
Washington concerning the size of the military budget, "Above all^ 
Lodge has virtually no official contact with Harkins." The Ambassador^ 
the Secretary felt^ simply could not conduct a coordinated administra- 
tion-- not because he did not wish to^ but because he had "operated as 
a loner all his life and cannot readily change now," Concerning enemy 
progress^ the report said 

Viet Cong progress has been great during the 
period since the coup^ vrith my best guess being 
that the situation has in fact been deteriorat - 
ing in the countryside since July to a far 
greater ext e nt than we realized because of undue 
dependence on distorted Vietnamese reporting . 
The Viet Cong now control very high proportions 
of the people in certain key provinces^ particu- 
larly those directly South and West of Saigon. §7/ 

/emphasis supplied/ 

As remedial measures he recommended that the government of Vietnam 
be required to reallocate its military forces so that its effective 
strength in these key provinces would be essentially doubled. There 
would also have to be major increases in both the U.S. military staff 
and the USOM staff^ to the point where the numbers of i\mericans assigned 
in the field would give the U.S. a reliable independent U.S. appraisal 
of the status of operations, (This was a clear enough indication of the 
Secretary's unhappiness with past reporting.) Third^ he stated that a 
"realistic pacification plan" would have to be prepared. Specifically^ 
they should allocate adequate time to malce the remaining government con- 
trolled areas secure^ and only then work from them into contiguous 
surrounding areas. 

The Secretary stressed that the situation was worst in the Delta and 
surrounding the capitol^ and that in the North things were better j, and 
that General Harkins remained hopeful that the latter areas could be made 
reasonably secure late in the year. The report expressed considerable 
concern over the increasing infiltration of men and equipment from North 
Vietnam. Various proposals to counter this infiltration had been dis- ■ 
cussed in Saigon_, but the Secretary was not yet convinced that there 
were means that were politically acceptable and militarily feasible of 
stopping that infiltration. 

Minh had strongly opposed any ideas of possible neutralization of 
Vietnam. (This was taken to dispose of proposals suggested by Senator 
Mansfield_5 President DeGaulle^ the New York Time s ^ colujainist Walter 
Lippman and others). 

Concerning a possible escalation of U.S. effort^ the Secretary 
indicated that he had directed supply of a modest increase in artillery^ 
but_, "US resources and personnel cannot usefully be substa.ntially 

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In concluding^ the Secretary said that his appraisal might be 

overly pessimistic^, and that Lodge^ Harkins and Minh^ while agreeing 

on specific points^ seemed to feel that January might bring a signifi- 
cant- improveDient . 

FollovTing his report to the President, the Secretary made the 
following remarks to the press^ at the Miite House: 

...We have just completed our report to the Presi- 
dent... We observed the results of the very substantial 
increase in VC activity _, an increase which began 
shortly after the new government was formed^ and has 
extended over a period of several weeks. 

During this time^ the Viet Cong have attacked and 
attacked successfully, a substs.ntial. number of the 
strategic hamlets. The rate of that VC activity, how- 
ever, has substantially dropped within the past week 
to ten days. 

This rapid expansion of activity, I think, could have 
been expected. It was obviously intended to take 
advantage of the period of organization in the new 
governraent. ..We received in great detail the plans of 
the South Vietnamese and the plans of our military 
advisors for operations during 196^. We have every 
reason to believe they will be successful. We are 
deterxidned that they shall be. 28/ 

^- Efforts To Improv e Intelligence On Progress Of The War 


The Secretary had made evident in his memo of 21 December to the 
President that he had become seriously disturbed at the failure of the 
reporting system in Vietnam to alert him promptly to the deterioration 
of ^ the situation there. CIA Director McCone had accompanied him on the 
trip to Saigon and, immediately upon his return, Mr. McCone initiated 
efforts to improve the reporting system. On 23 December he wrote the 

...information furnished to us from MACV and the 
Embassy concerning the current Viet Cong activities 
in a number of provinces and the relative position 
of the SVH Government versus the Viet Cong forces 
was incorrect, due to the fact that the field offi- 
cers of the MAAG and USOM had been grossly misin- 
formed by the province and district chiefs. It was 
reported to us, and I believe correctly, that the 
province and district chiefs felt obliged to 'create 
statistics* wiiich would meet the approbation of the 
Central Government. 

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I believe it is quite probable that the same practice 

might be repeated by the nev province and district 

chiefs appointed by the MRC... 29/ . ■ _ 

McCone^ therefore^ proposed development of a nev^ covert method of 
. checking on the information supplied by these regular reporting authori- 
ties on the progress of the \rar and on pacification and other coujiter- 
insurgency efforts. A plan vas developed vithin CIA by 3 January 196^ ' 
■which called for the formation of a mission of 10 to 12 experienced 
intelligence officers^ all dravm from CIA^ to proceed to Saigon for a 
60 to 90 day TDY beginning about 12 January. There^ under the direction 
■ of the CAS Station Chief ^ they vould undertake; 

1. A survey of Vietnam.ese/American counter- 
insurgency reporting machinery; 

' 2, Develop^ assess^ and recruit new covert sources 

of information^ to serve as a cheeky and finally^ 

3- Assist the station chief in developing recom- 
mendations^ for submission to Washington through the 
Saigon country team^ on means of improving overall 
GW and US reporting machinery. 

McCone forwarded these plans to McNamara on 7 January for discus- 
^' . sion at a meeting that same day. 30/ Following the meeting of 7 Januar;)^ on 

this original proposal^ a revised proposal was drawa up and submitted 
■ by McCone to McNamara for concurrence on 9 January. 3l/ The revision vras 
largely responsive to a fear of the Secretary that_, as originally pro- 
posed^ the TLY team would serve as a sort of Inspector General func- 
tioning independently of both the Country Team and the CAS Station/ 
Saigon, Accordingly the new draft expressly specified that a separate 
reporting system would not be established^, nor a reorganization' of the 
existing reporting system attempted. It would attempt^ however^, to 
develop through covert techniques a method of spot checking the accuracy 
of regular reporting and develop also new covert sources of information 
on the progress of the war. 


(In accepting the proposal in a written reply dated 16 January^ 
Secretary McHamara expressed insistence on making this a team effort_, 
first by emphasizing that "I do not believe that the team should have 
an inspectoral function for the overall reporting system/' and second 
by adding to the draft submitted for his signature the clause, "but it 
should be a joint program involving all of the affected members of the 
country team." "When the definitive messages went out to Saigon they 
had the concurrence of State_^ Defense and CIA. 32/ 

It is understandable enough from an administrative point of view 
that a formally coordinated unified effort seemed preferable. There 
had been notable discords, and failures of communication, and policy 
disagreement within the Mission in the past and these had caused 
- serious problems. Important sources of disagreement remained, and 

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anything resembling an IG inquiry might have brought about morale prob- 
lems that it was well to avoid. The reverse of the coin was that 
formalized coordination of intelligence stood the chance of stifling 
or concealing minority dissent. It was indeed the basic mission of the 
group to set up checks. But in the extent to which this system of 
checks were to be coordinated \rith the system as a whole ^ it risked 
losing some part of its independence of the accepted view. And it had 
*' ' been the. accepted view that had been proved wrong. 

By the time full agreement vras reached on the terms of reference 
for the teatn^ the team was already in Saigon, A month later it submit- 
■ ■ ted a report evaluating the situation in Viet' 'Meia at about the same 

time that the CAS station chiefs submitted two other evaluations which 
were apparently for a time mistakenly attributed to the TDY team. Tliese 
evaluations caused enough uneasiness within the country team to indicate 
that interpretation of intelligence and situation appraisals remained * " 
, the touchy matter that the Secretary had foreseen. The "Initial Report 

of CAS Group Findings in SW/' dated 10 February 196^ began by acknow- 
ledging that the group activities had been temporarily disrupted by the 
Khanh Coup of 30 January (which will be described later) ^ and did not ' 
attempt to report on the covert cross checks because before covert cross 
checks could be established it was necessar;y to learn the pattern and 
nature of the reporting system then in use_, both Merican and Vietnamese. 33_/ 
The first appraisals^ therefcre^, were expressly based solely on a new 
look at what the existing system reported.. The first impression of the 
group was that for the most part the Vietnatnese had been reporting 
. ^ honestly to their American counterparts since the 1 Novem-ber coup and 
that if current reporting was indeed biased it was biased against the 
Diem regime. 

The first general impression of the situation^ expressly subject to 
. further inquiry^ was that "the momentujn of the strategic hamlet program 
has slowed practically to a halt." More specific evaluations^ . which 
Jocused- on local situations north "and of . Saigon and took up most of this 
initial report^ were more pessimistic than the "general impression." 
Within Binh Long Province^ security had deteriorated rapidly during 
January and the VC now controlled route 13 . Well planned and viciously • 
executed VG attacks on hajnlets had caused wide fear^ and produced doubt 
I I ajuong the populace that the GW could protect them. The former province 

I chief and deputy chief for military operations had been replaced just 

two days before the Khanh coup. The response to the Khanh coup had been 
. one of disgust. Phuoc Thanh Province^ according to the province chief ^ 
I * "^^as 80fj controlled by the VC. The VC controlled the roads, m.aking 6VN " ' 

' travel impossible without large armed escorts. The VC v:ere moving 

^ freely in battalion size units with heavy weapons throughout the prov- 

I ' ij^ce. COmSMCV had reported that the one to one GW/VC ratio: in the 

P^'^ince was misleading because many of the GVN units were tied down 
in static positions whereas the VC were mobile. 

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When the Special CAS group turned in its final appraisal on l8 
February^ Gen. Harliins vas asked by the CGCS to conirnent. Gen. Harkins 
offered_, 3 days later_, a paragraph by paragraph commentary^ much of 
which agreed with the CAS group findings. There were a few minor 
points of fact that were in disagreement. Where General Harkins 
pointedly disagreed was in the matter of interpretation and emphasis 
and where both the CAS group and Gen. Harkins agreed that past per- 
formance had not been good^ Gen. Plarkins tended to emphasize the hope^ 
as the CAS group did not^ that under Khanh the situation would perhaps 
improve. Beyond this^ Gen. Harkins was^ in general^ somewhat disturbed 
that the CAS group might be exceeding its terms of reference by report- 
ing unilaterally^ and misleading the national decision process by for- 
warding information not coordinated and cleared ■^■ other elements of 
the U.S. reporting mechanism in Vietnam. Perhaps most significant of all^ 
at the very beginning of his commients he offered an observation that^ 
internationally or otherv^ise^ raised very basic issues of the nature^ 
function^ and limitations of the intelligence and estimation process. 

Except for the spectacular and eye catching 
lead sentence /"Tide of insurgency in all four 
corps areas appears fo be going against GWV^ I 
have no quarrel with most of the statements con- 
tained in the CAS Survey Team appraisal. VJhere 
the statements are clean-cut, the supporting infor- 
mation was usually provided by my field personnel 
and reflected in reports already sent to Washington 
by this headquarters. Where the statements are 
sv7eeping^ they are based on opinion or an unfortu - 
nate penchant for generalizing from the specific . 
My detailed coirmients follow and are geared to the 
specific paragraphs of the CAS message. 3^/ /emphasis 

If -we exajnine this statement >.dth particular reference to the words 
and phi^ases underlined^ the large^ epistemological problem of the junc- 
tion of intelligence and national decision -making is pointedly indicated. 
By clean-cut/^ Gen. Harkins undoubtedly referred to phenomena that were 
concrete^ highly specific and narrowly factual. These were the sort of 
phenom.ena about which there could seldom or never be any serious dispute. 
By sweeping" statements^ and by "unfortunate penchant for generalizing 
from the specific_," he was referring to the mental process of bridging 
the gap from the small concrete detail — which was seldom or never by it- 
self a basis for large decision-^ to the interpretation of that detail-- 
to xh- judgment of the significance of that detail. Only upon the basis 
of interpretations (judgments) of the importance^ meaning and relevance of 
things could policy decisions be made. Ajad that judgment or interpretation 
was seldom, or never inescapably inherent in the measurable^ sharply defin- 
able, completely unarguable concrete detail. It might be derived from or 
directly reflect such data, but its forrn would be determined equally, or 


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even more_j from the perspective in which it was viewed. And this per- 
spective was comprised of the whole context of incompletely described_, 
not fully identified values^ and imperfectly defined priorities _, that 
determined the weight and place given to that factual detail in the 
mysterious calculus of the decision -maker. If this were not the case^ 
any bright college boy given the same set of "facts" would inevitably 
derive from them the same judgments of vihat national policy should be_, ■ 
as the canniest _, most generally knowledgable and experienced veteran. 

5- The Unreali?.ed January Upturn and the Khanh Coup 

There was hope that as January I96U wore on the situation would 
take a turn for the better. But_, as the CAS reports cited in the fore- 
going section suggest^, things did not get -better. The hope was that 
the Minh regim.e would find itself _, but before it did the Khanh coup 
of 30 January carae as another blow to progress in the operating 
program and as a disillusioning surprise to the hopes for the stable 
political situation generally agreed to be the prerequisite to ultimate 

Despite the unfavorable news -- which was beginning to excite the 
first serious proposals mthin the JCS for carrying the war to the 
north by expanded clandestine operations and finally by overt bombing — 
the Secretary managed to maintain the earlier philosophy that the U.S. 
involvement would remain limited and that in fact the counterinsurgency 
effort could not really attain its goals unless the U.S. role continued 
to be limited and the South Vietnatuese did the main job themselves. 

Just before the Khanh coup^ in testimony on 27 and 29 January 
before the House Armed Services Committee^ the Secretary encountered 
some sharply probing questions on the continuing costs of the war. 
The questions centered on the inconclusiveness of the efforts to date 
and upon the apparent discrepancies between autur;inal optimasm and 
the winter discouragements^ and between official optimism and the 
pessim-istic reports appearing in new'spa-per stories. Even Mr. Mendel 
Rivers^ evidently impatient that the VC had not already been subdued 
and perhaps suspecting that this was due to lack of vigor in our 
prosecution of the war _, asked during these hearings if we were planning 
to "do anything to bring this war to the VC^ any more than what we 
have done already..." 3^ / The Secretary tried to explain that ".,.,It is 
a Vietnaraese war. They are going to have to assujne the primary 
responsibility for winning it. Our policy is to limit our support to 
logistical and training support." To this_, Mi". Rivers replied with 
the following' question: "There are no plans to change the modus 
opersuidi of this war^ so far as the bleeding of this countr;^r is con- 


A little later_j Representative Charriberlain asked the Secretary if 
he continued to be as "optimistic" about the scheduled >rlthdrawal of UoS, 
personnel as he had been in October. The Secretary in reply reaffirmed 
that he believed that: 

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...the war in South Vietnam will be won 
primarily through the South Vietnamese efforts; 
it is a South Vietnamese war. It is a war of 
the counter guerrillas as against the g^jerrillas . 
We are only assisting them through training and 
logistical support. 

¥e started the major program of assistance 
in training and logistical support toward the 
latter part of I961, I think it is reasonable 
to expect that after four years of such training 
we should be able gradually to withdraw certain 
of our training personnel. 

Following this^ Representative Stratton addressed an inquiry to the 


Mr. Secretary^ I am a little bit worried 
about your statement in answer to Mr. Chamberlain^_ 
that you still contemplate continuing withdrawal 
of our forces from Vietnsjn^ in line with your 
previously announced plan. IsnH this a little 
unrealistic^ in view of the fact that when you 
first made the announcement things were going a 
bit better than they appear to be going at the 
moment? And wouldnH- you say that in the event 
that things do not go as vrell as you hope they 
will^ that unquestionably we can't continue to 
withdraw any more of our forces? 

Secretary McHamara's reply: 

No Sir J I would not. I don't believe that 
we as a nation should assume the primary responsi- 
bility for the war in South Vietnam. It is a 
' counter-guerrilla war^ it is a war that can only 
be won by the Vietnamese themselves. Our respon- 
sibility is not to substitute ourselves for the 
Vietnamese^ but to train them to carry on the 
operations that they themselves are capable of. 

The theme was next picked up by Representative Kohelan. He said that 
"One of the things that some of us are quite concerned about is this 
consta-nt tendency toward a se.nguine approach to the problem of Southeast 
Asia." He went or. to recall that when he and other committee members 
had been out to South Vietnam in November of 19^2^ when General Harkins 
was saying the war would be won in 2 years and Admiral Felt said it 
would be won in 3 years -- although Halberstam and other newsmen were 
pessimistic at that time and now seemed_, to Representative Kohelan^ to 
have been right. 

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You could not. go from the airfield to Mytho 
without an armed guard in full- daylight _, or... 
transport anything for fear of ainbush by ground^ 
although the Vietnamese themselves could move 
the freight by some kind of pay-off to the Viet 

In response to this the Secretary said that ve were in a very different 
position than the French had been and that in this sort of "wgir im.prove- 
ment was bound to be slow- -a matter of years. But this did not mean 
■we should retain all of our existing personnel in South Vietnam. It 
would be a waste to do so^ and by "keeping the cru.tch there too long 
we would weaken the Vietnajnese rather than strengthen them." 

Within a day or two after this testimony was given there caine the 
Khanh coup^ which constituted not only another hard blow to our efforts 
in Vietnam but also to our confidence that we knew what was going on 
there. The Khanh coup of 30 January 196^1- came as an almost complete 
surprise to the mission and to Washington. VJhat may be considered in 
retrospect _, but only in retrospect^ as the first very general danger 
signal came in the form of a conversation between the US/DCM in Saigon 
and Italian Ambassador D'Orlandi^ on 20 January^ and reported that same 
evening to Washington. In discussing the current French initiative in 
Asja (recognition of Communist China and advocacy of neutralization of 
SEA)^ the Italian Ambassador had se.idthat the greatest danger to the 
U.So position in Southeast Asia lay in the effect it might have upon 
certain pro-French and potentially neutralist mainbers.of the MRC. 
When asked to clarify^ D'Orlandi named Generals Iran Van Don and Ton 
Thap Dinh as potential leaders of a group that might accept a French 
neutralization formula^, especially if the U.S. position on that issue 
were not clarified immediately. In reporting the incident the Embassy 
commented it had no hard evidence of either of these ±\to flirting with 
neutralization _, although because of French training they were frequently 
cited as pro-French. 36 / 

A few days later Ambassador Lodge issued a public ste^tement which 
acknowledged existence of neutralization ruiaors and proceeded to affiroi 
that U.S. policy rem.ained unchanged and that the UoS.^ "In solidarity 
with the Government of the Republic of Vietnsjn^ firmly rejects the 
spujrious idea of 'neutralizing^ South Vietnam since 'neutralization^ 
would simply be another means of Comanunist talie-over." 31 / 


The first warning of the coup that may be considered specific and 
definite^ however^ did not com^e until 28 January^ when General Khanh 
told Colonel Jasper Wilson^ U.S. Senior MAAG advisor for I Corps _, that 
pro-French_, pro-neutralist members of the I-IRC. "- Generals Xuan^ Don^ and 
Kim. "-were planning a palace coup that would take place as early as 31 
January. 38/ Once the coup vras effected^ they would call for neutralization 
of South Vietnam, It was not reported that in the conversation with 
Wilson^ Klianh had expressly suggested that he might try a counter coup 
action. He did say^ -however^ that he plazined to go to Saigon that day 
or on the morrow. In reporting this conversation to Lodge and Harkins 
in Saigon and to CIA/Washington^ CAS cited four other recent intelligence 


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items^ from other sources^ which might have lent sorae credence to the 
Khanh allegations (although in the course of time Khanh's allegations 
vere discounted altnost entirely). These were (l) Tran Van Ly gained 
impression in conversation with Xuan that Xuan favored a coup, (2-) 
Lt. Col. Tran Dinh Lam^ recently brought back from Paris at the 
request of Generals Tran Van Don and Le Van Kim^ was reported to have 
Prench authorization to spend 2 billion piastres to achieve a neutrali- 
zation of South Vietnanu (3) An Merican had observed several military 
trucks bringing weapons and ejufuunition to Xuan's police headquarters 
at Camp DuMare. {k) Generals Kim _, Don^, Nguyen Van Vy_, and Duong Van 
Due had been identified by Major General Le Van Nghiem as pro-Prench 
and privately in favor of neutralization. I^evertheless^ Khanh' s charges . 
along with other reports were described by CAS as difficult to evaluate; 
and it was speculated that he and others making similar charges might 
be motivated by disgruntlement over failure to obtain better positions 
for themselves within the MRC. 

The next m.ove in this sequence of events was when General Khanh 
talk.ed to Ambassador Lodge in Saigon on the afternoon of 29 January. 
The striking thing is that although Khanh evidently made his intentions 
clear^ the Ambassador's first thought was to protest to DieGaulle rather . '■ 
than to warn the GVE. That evening at 8:00 p.m._, Ambassador Lodge 
filed a NODIS (Embtel l43l) suggesting that representations should be 
made to DeGaulle against Prench clandestine plotting to upset the GVN 
and set it thereby upon a neutralist coui;se. 39/ General Khanh had 
apparently made an mpression on the Ambassador" with his allegations 
of Prench machinations^ asking for assurance that the U.S. opposed neu- 
tralization and if necessary would help him^ Khanh^ ,get his .family^ then 

in Da Ifeng^ out of the country. He claimed that he had the support of 
General Khiiem of III Corps and General Tri of II Corps as well as 90 
percent of the amiy and 70 percent of the existing governjuent. Lodge 
further reported that Khanh made a special point of wanting to continue 
to use Colonel Jasper Wilson as his exclusive contact with the U.S. 
Khanh refused absolutely to deaA with any other than Wilson because he 
had had "an uJifortunate experience with a CIA representative named Spera^ 
before the 31 October coup." Lodge went on to say that although he had 
no great faith in Xuan^ he believed that Don and Kim were patriotic 
Vietnamese and "therefore^ what General Elhanli says about them goes 
against my deepest instincts," Lodge sensed the intent of a coup^ but 
evidently did not appreciate its imminence; for although he said he ex- 
pected that there would be more to report later^ he decided not to j ^ 
alter the government of Vietnara and had confided the news from Wilson 1 
only to Harkins and DeSilva. 

However^ it was a matter of only about seven hours after reporting 
this first Khanh feeler that Lodge at 3:15 a.m. of 30 January (Saigon 
tithe) advised Secretaries Rusk and Md^Iamara that: 

General Khanh has informed us through his conta.ct^ 
Colonel Jasper Wilson^ MAAG advisor I Corps ^ that he 
together with General Phat and Khiem intend to move at 
0^00 this morning to secure changes in the composition 

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^■*'" * ■ '■■ > I ■ ■■^.li-^. ■■■ iPB II. ■ > ■ ■ ^ m 

of the MEC. General Khiem states that General Minh 
has "been informed of his move and agrees. The only 
definite statement we have as yet is that Premier 
Tho must go, ho/ 

Over the nex^: two or three days Mhassador Lodge altered consider- 
ably his first opinions about the justification for the coug. The U,S. 
chose to view the act as merely a change of personnel within the same 
MRC format; and the Anbassador's first attempt to explain the affair 
revealed his hope that an effort to put a good face on it might not be 
amiss. (There was little else he could do). 

Herewith my preliminary assessment of the new 
Government in Viet Kam. It is very much subject to 
change as we move along. 

1. General Khanh's coup was obviously extremely 
disconcerting at first blush. ¥e felt we were begin ^ 
ning to make real progress here with the Minh Govern - 
ment--in the conduct of the effort against the Viet 
Cong; and in making C-eneral Minh into a popular 
figure. To overthrow a Government which was pro- 
gressing fairly satisfactorily seemed like a violent 
and disorderly procedure, . . 

2. On second thought, _, however^ one realized 
the Generals Don and Kim had never at any time fore- 
s^rova the possibility of a neutral solution at which 
might seem to them to be the proper time. They had 
clearly been working^ and working effectively^ to 
strengthen the effort against the Viet Cong. But 
none of us had ever discussed v7-h£.t the next step would 
be after the Government of Viet Nam had reached a 
position of strength. Perhaps they did favor the 
French neutrality solution at that time. We had all 
concentrated exclusively on winning, . .Finally^ 

^ -Ambassador D^Orlandi of Italy ^ who is one of the 

shrewdest men here^ has thought ever since 
November that the Minh Government was actively in 
support of General De Gaulle ^s ideas and would turn 
■ overtly neutralist at the proper time. He had said 
this to me several times and had much of the 

I^Q'G't that both Don and Kim were still French citizens^ 
had be e^ aides to Marshal de Lattre when he was here^ 
and' had actively worked in the French Secret Service 
I |b) in the past. Therefore^ opinion of the French in- 

tentions for neutralization coup might be correct,., 

4. Finally _j in this country it rarely occurs 
to anyone that an election is an efficient or 
appropriate way to get anything important accomplished. 
The traditional way of doing important things here is 
by well planned^ well thought out use of force. What 
General Khanh has done does not appear to have shocked 

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the Vietnaiuese. , .Ho"Vj"ever^ numerous Vietnamese have 
expressed the opinion to members of my staff that 
it was a pity that General Minh "was removed because 
he is a "good man." 

5- ^he real question is^ therefore: Is Khanh 
able? Will he really supply some drive in connection 
I j vith the effort against the Viet Cong? The evidence 

to date is that he is able^ that he has a lot of 
drive_, and that he is not tolerating any delay. . . 

6. If Khanh is able^ his advent to power 
may give this country one-man comraand in place of 
a junta. This may be good. We have everything 
we need in Viet Nam. The U.S. has provided 
military .advice_, training _, equipment; economic 
and social help; and political advice. The Govern- 
ment of Viet Warn has put relatively large number 
of good men into important positions and has evolved 
civil and military procedures which appear to be , . 
workable. Therefore^ our side knows how to do it; 
we have the means with which to do it; ,we simply 
need to do it. This requires a tough and ruthless 
commander. Perhaps Khanh is it, hjj 

Privately we continued^ however^ to be deeply chagrined and even 
shaken that we had not seen the coup coming. We recognized it was a 
severe blow to the stability of governjiient that we had believed was so 
necessary for South Vietnam^ and we doubted the charges that Khanh used 
as a justification for his actions. But we accepted his explanations^ 
promised to support him^ and hoped for the best. About all we could do 
was threaten to withhold aid and that was ineffective because it was 
increasingly apparent that we were as committed to the struggle as our 
clients were -""possibly even more coiTunitted. Whatever the real 
possibilities of influence may have been^ we accepted as inescapable the 
fact that there was nothing we could do but go along \r±th it. The 
President of the United States quickly offered his public expression of 
recognition and strong support. And one of our strongest resolves was to 
see what we maght hit upon as a means to a^ssvTe that we would not be 
takien again by a similar surprise. 

6. Deepening Gloom in February ' 

Among the flood of SitReps that came in soon after the coup was 
"Commander^ s Personal Military Assessment of the Fourth Quarter^ CY-63." k2/ 
This was a report that MACV had been directed to establish at the end 
of the September I963 visit of the Secretary and the CJCS in order to 
establish checkpoints by which to measure progress tov/ard achievem,ent 
of the goals agreed upon at that time. It is not essential here to 
review all of l-lACV's report but there are interesting details that are 

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worth noting. MA.CV*s report gave central attention to the fact that the 
political t-urbulence dinging the last quarter of I963 had been reflected 
In a regression in government control^ and corresponding opportunities 
for the VC, The political instability had resulted^ especially^ in a 
decline of GVN cont3:^ol within the 13 provinces listed as critical at 
Honolulu on 20 November. The strategic haxnlet program had received 
setbacks which forced the GW^s military forces to adopt a defensive 
posture. After this there came a somewhat equivocal statement that: 

Analysis disclosed that^ in spite of political 
■ . turbulence J a satisfactory tempo of opei^ation was 

maintained during this quarter. On the other hand,, 
statistics clearly supported previous convictions 
that GVE operations were not effective when 
judged by reasonable standards of results versu.s 
effort expended. The immediate response to this 
analysis is to focus the advisory effort at all 
levels on the need for radical improvement in the 
effectiveness of operations. ^3/ 

What this seems to say is that GW operant ions were satisfactory 
by the criteria which had been adopted for judging them^ yet they 
did not achieve results. This seems to amovmt to an admission that 
the criteria by which operations were judged did not lead to good 
judgments concerning the results that were being achieved by these 

This appears^ indeed^ to have been very near the truth. Through- 
out this report there was a recognition of the effect of political 
and psychological and motivational factors upon real and effective 
capabilities. On the matter of training^ the assessment vTas that 
it had "proven to be quantitatively satisfactory and flexible enough 
to meet the pressures and accelerated time schedu_les." But this 
expression of satisfaction that the nominal goals of training had been , 
met was followed by the qualification that "the degree to which train- 
ing can^ in fact; develop combat aggressiveness or compensate for the 
lack of other motivation remains a m-atter for concern and continuing 
scrutiny." The anomaly was expressed in words ^ but the fact of it 
seems to have gone almost ujirecognized. ■ 

When he turned to the tvro major areas of military action^ first 
in the north and center and later in the Delta^ ^^CV was obliged to 
admit that ".there was little substantial progress to\-7ard completing 
the military progress in either of the two ma^or regions." But he 
seemed to have been so thoroughly imbued with a chin-up^ never -say- 
die spirit tha.t he rejected the pessimistic implications which he 
explicitly acknowledged were present. 

If the military aspects of the fourth quarter 
of calendar year 19^3 were viewed in isolation^ or 

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could in any way "be considered typical^ the fore- 
cast would be pessimistic in nature and a complete 
reappraisal of U.S. effort^ approach^ and even 
policy would "be indicated. However^ viewed in 
the light of January operational improvements^ 
the forecast remains one of potential long term 
military progress, hk/ 

The improvements cited as grounds for not accepting the pessimis- 
tic implications were a new military plan to support the pacification 
program; adoption of U.S. advice concerning GTO management to cope 
with increasing VC threats _j especially around Saigon; and som.e govern- 
ment operations that seemed to demonstjrate improved military leadership^ 
and what he called "victories" while admitting they were not decisive. 
Tlie difficulty here -^^s that the judgment did not include consideration 
that these happier signs had come under the regime which had Just been 
overturned by the Khanh coup a day or two before this report was dis- 
patched, which coup, it was acknowledged, would have a disturbing 
, and disruptive effect upon GVN capabilities as they had existed before 
the coup. Although it was still too soon to predict the full impact 
of the coup, it seemed "likely that at least part of the operational 
moment-urn which was being slowly generated earlier this month will be 
slowed for a time..." 

In closing this assessment, MCV philosophized, in words with 
which few woiild disagree, that experiences of the last quarter of 
calendar year 1963 disclosed "the extent to which military opportunities 
are dependent upon political and psychological policies and accomplish- 
ments in a counter -insujTgency environment." And he foujid the big 
lesson — "the broad implication" — was, that 

- no amount of military effort or capability can 
compensate for poor politics. Therefore, although 
the prospects for an improved military postiure 
are good, the ultimate achievement of the estab- 
lished military goal depends primarily upon the 
quality of support achieved by the political 
leadership of the government of Vietnam at all 
levels* h^ / ' . . 

Here again was an explicit judgment that the sine qua non of an 
effective coujiter -insurgency operation was a stable, broadly based, 
popiilar and effective government. It was acknowledged at this time, 
as it had been acknowledged before concerning other governments, that 
a government of these qualities did not exist, But along ^-rlth the 
acknowledgment that what was described as the sine qua non did not 
exist, there was apparently always the hope that fate would not close 
in before something happened to change the situation. 

Tlie U.S. mission Monthly Status Report, dated 9 February 19&t-, 
• r~"" agreed MACV that it was too soon to judge the effects of the • 

Khanh coup. The Mission Report, follo^^.ng a week after the personal 
report of MACV^ did not hesitate to exptress explicit regret over the 

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* ■ _ -I 

departure of Minh and Tho. In the "overall evaluation", there was the 
following key paragraph: 

f . Janiiary witnessed distinct, if limited, pro- 

gress in GWs organization and action, both on 
political front in Saigon and on coujiter -insurgency 
front in countryside. Nevertheless, hy January 30, 
when General Khanh moved s^d.ftly and bloodlessly 
to take over reins of government, GW had still 
not achieved sufficient momentum either to stem 
growing tide of popuJ_ar criticism against it or 
to register meaningful gains against VC. In 
retrospect, greatest single positive achievement 
during three months of post -Diem regime was 
measurable success of General Minh in establishing 
himself as popular national leader. Measure of 
his success reflected in General Khanh 's obvious 
effort to keep Minli on his side and exploit Minh's 
growing popiilarity for benefit of second post -Diem 
regime . k6 

On the same day that the Mission Report was dispatched, CIA 
addressed to the Secretary of Defense a special report which had just 
been received by the Director of CLA. by Mr, Peer de Silva (CAS station 
chief in Saigon) and Mr. Lyman D. Kirkpatrick, concerning the situation 
in Vietnam with particular respect to the conduct of the war and the 
prognosis of the stability of the Khanh regime. The de Silva judgment 
was that 

The situation at this moment must be characterized 
as one in which the population at large appears 
apathetic, Td.thout enthusiasm either for the GM , ' 
or the VC sides but responsive to the latter 
because it fears the VC. Tlie most important 
single factor appears to be whether or not the 
rural pop tLlat ion will be willing to defend itself 
against the VC and to support GW actions against 
the VC, In this sector there now seems to be 2„ess 
conviction and resolution, and a more ^/idespread 
inclination to avoid the problems of opposing the 
VC, and to play both sides in hopes of somehow 
'getting on peacefully and vrithout personal commit- 
ment- - ' . ■ 


. . .What is needed in this regard and very soon 
are a series of GTOI successes in the military sphere 
which vould go tovTard implanting and nourishing a 
popular attitude that the GVM has the means of 
bringing security and a sense of ease to the rural 
population and is clearly determined to do so on an 
ever broadening front throughout the countryside. 
Only vri-thin some such atmosphere of hopefulness can 

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the vlll and resolve to oppose the VC 'be strength- 
enedj, and it must he if this war is to he \Ton, 47/ 

Mr. Kirkpatrick's comment \Tas hased upon his recent trip to South 

I agree the ahove but must note that 
even armed with jovx pessimistic comments follovnLng 
your last visits I have been shocked by the.n-umiber 
. of our (CIA) people and of the Diilitary^ even 
those whose jobs is alvrays to say we are winning^ 
who feel that the tide is against us. Admittedly^ 
this is based on a limited nimber of discussions 
here and in Danang in three days. There are 
ominous indications that the VC are able to mount 
larger operations than in the past using bigger 
arms^ including antiaircraft. Vietnamese govern- 
ment reactions are still sloW; defensive and 
reminiscent of French tactics here a decade ago. 
There are still really no fundamental internal 
secuj^ity measujres of any effectiveness siich as 
identity cards^ block >7ardens_, travel controls^ 
etc.... It is evident that a nmjor factor in VC 
victories is their superior intelligence based on 
nationwide penetrations and intimidations at all 
levels. .. .Finally _, with the Laos and Cambodia 
borders, opened^, this entire pacification effort 
is like trying to mop the floor before turning off 
the faucet. '48, 

Two days later the Secretary received an advance copy of SOTE 
50-64^ "Short-term Prospects in Southeast Asia." Its leading con- 
clusion was: ; . 

(a) That the situation in South Vietnam is very serious 
and prospects uncertain. Even with U.S. assistance 
as it is now_, we believe that^ "unless there is a 
marked improvement in the effectiveness of the 
South Vietnamese government and armed forces^ South 
Vietnam has^ at best_, an even chance of \/lthstanding 
the insujr^gency m.enace during ttie next few weeks or 
months, hs/ . _ " 

In further explanation of this judgment ^ it was stated that the situa 
tion had been serious for a long time and in lecent months it had 
deteriorated further. The VC had exploited dislocations caused by 
the J^Iovember coup and then more recently by the January coup. Just 
as Minh's reorganization "vvas beginning to be established^, Khanh's 
coup upset everything^ and Khanh*s regime was not yet assessable. 
Meanwhile^ the VC had improved in their organization and armament, 
were increasingly aggressive and acting in larger units. 


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7 . Two General Alter nati ve Directions of Policy 

Thus as winter drew to an end in February -March 196hy it was - , 
recognized;, as it had never "been fully recognized before^ that the 
situation in Vietnam was deteriorating so rapidly that the dimensions 
and kinds of effort so far invested could not hope to reverse the 
trend. This was indeed a turning point. The proposals for neutrali- 
zation that had heen loosely suggested in late fall and early winter 
having been rejected^ the issue to be resolved was what kinds of new 
efforts^ and what new dimensions of U.S. effort^ would be decided 
upon. One direction of effort which might have been chosen had, as 
its most articulate advocate, the Assistant Secretary of State for Far 
Eastern Affairs, Roger Hilsimn. This was the policy line that, for 
better or for worse, was largely rejected. Mainly because of this 
policy disagreement, Mr. Hilsman left his post at almost the time it 
became evident that his views were conclusively overruled. At the 
time of his departure he wrote two memos to the Secretary of State 
(dated l4 March 196^); one on the Southeast Asia problem generally, 
one on South Vietnam. The latter of the two affords not only a good 
sujnmary of his views on the subject, but also a statement of the 
policy alternatives that were, in significant measure, rejected. 
(The rejection was of couxse by no means total. It was a matter of 
degree and a question of where emphasis should lie among some programs 
that were not in dispute generlcally. But the matter of degree and 
emphasis was in dispute, and it was sufficient not only to induce 
Hilsman to resign but to alter drastically the course of U.S. involve- 
ment.) Hilsman wrote: " ■ 

In my Judgment, the strategic concept that 
was developed for South Vietnam rema/ins basically 
soujid. If we can ever manage to have it implemented 
with vigor, the resuit will be victory. 

■ ; The concept is based on the assumption that ^ 

villages in Southeast Asia are turned inward on^ 
themselves and have little or no sense of identi- 
fication with either the national government or 
Comaiunlst ideology - that the villagers are isola- 
ted physically, politically, and psychologically. 
In such circujustances it is not difficult to 
develop a guerrilla movement. . . 

■ A corollary. . .is that the villagers' greatest 
desire- is security and that if the villagers are 
given sec-urity, some simple progress to>?ards a 
better life, and --most im.portant of all -- a sense 
' that the governjp.ent cares about them and their 
future, they vjlll respond with loyalty... 

On the basis of, ../this/ assumption, the 

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strategic concept calls for primary emphasis on_ 
giving security to the villagers. The tactics are 
the so-called oil-hlot approach^ starting v?lth a 
seciire area and extending it slowly^ making sure 
no Viet Cong pockets are left "behind, and using 
police ujiits to winkle out /slcj the Viet Cong 
agents in each particiilar village. This calls, 
for the use of military forces in a different 
way from that of orthodox, conventional war. 
Rather than chasing Viet Cong, the military 
must put primary emphasis on clear -and-hold 
operation's and on rapid reinforcement of villages 
under attack. It is also important, of course, 
to keep the Viet Cong regular units off balance 
"by conventional offensive operations, but these 
should be secondary to the ms^jor task of extending 
security. . . - 

At the heart of this strategic 'concept are 
two basic principles: 

The first is that of the oil blot. In the 
past the GYN sought to blanket the whole country 
with so-called strategic hamlets. . .The result tzas 
to blanket the Delta with little Dienbienphus — 
indefensible, inadequately armed hamlets far from 
reinforcements, , .In effect these were storage 
places of arms for the Viet Cong which could be 
seized at any time. After November first, the 
military began to demobilize some of these vulner- 
able villages. . .and a race developed between the 
government and the Viet Cong. The race may have 
ended in a tie, but., .the 'Viet Cong now have much 
better v?'eapons and greater stocks of ammunition 
than they ever had. before. 

The" second basic principle is that the way 
to fight a guerrilla is to adopt the tactics of 
a guerrilla. . .In spite of all o"ar pressures, this 
has never been done in Vietnam. Instead, the 
emphasis has been on large operations... 

o- As to the qtiestion of operations against 
Horth Vietnam, I would siiggest that such opera- 
tions may at a certain stage be a useful supple- 
ment to an effective count erinsuj^gency program, 
but. ..not be an effective substitute . . . 

My own preference would be to continue the 
covert, or at least deniable operations. . ^ Then, 

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after ve had made sufficient progress in the 
Delta so that all concerned "began to realize that 
the Viet Cong vere losing the support of the 
population^ and that their ahility to continue 
the war depended solely on North Vietnamese 
support; I think we should indicate as much 
privately to the North Vietnamese and follow this 
"by selected attacks on their infiltration bases 
and training camps. 

In my judgment ^ significant action against 
North Vietnam that is taken "before we have demon- 
strated success in our counterinsuxgency program 
will be interpreted by the Communists as an act of 
desperation^ and wlll^ therefore^ not be effective 
in persuading the North Vietnamese to cease and 
desist. What is worse^ I think that premature 
action will so alarm our friends and allies and 
a significant segment of domestic opinion that the 
pressures for neutralization will become formidable 

In sum^ I believe that we can win in Vietnam 
with a number of provisos. 

The first proviso is that ve do not over- 
militarize the war--that we concentrate not on 
killing Viet Cong... but on an effective program 
for extending the areas of security gradually _, 
^ , ■ systematically^ and thoroughly... 




% second proviso is that there be political 
.stability in Saigon... 50/ 

Som.e of the Hilsman recommendations were to be adopted^, none re- 
jected out"Of-hand. The so-called oil blot principle had many adherents, 
and was in fact already coming into vogue. Over the ensuing months^ the 
phrase vas much honored^ though the execution may have faltered. No one 
disputed the principle that the hamlets needed secuj^ity above all else^ 
nor that everything depended on a stable government in Saigon. Never- 
theless^ emphasis shifted tovrard greater emphasis on military operations^ 
perhaps for the pressing reason that the VC were out now in increasing 
numbers_, with more and better weapons,, seeming to invite^ if not to 
require ; conventional military operations if the VC threatening the 
hamlets were to be destroyed or reduced to powerlessness. And^ above all^ 
the more elusive the VC were^ the stronger they grew, and the more un- 
stable and unpopular the GVI^ became, the more tempting the idea of 
attacking the north seemed to be. 

Much m.ore influential than these Hilsman views were those of the 
JCS, especially as set forth in the memorandujri of l8 February 19f^ to 
the SecDef from the CJCS: 

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1. Reference is made to the memoranduni by 
the Joint Chiefs of Staff;, dated 22 January 1964... 
It sets forth a number of actions which the United 
States should be prepared to take in order to ensure 
victory. . .the Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed 
the situation in South Vietnam with the view of de- 
termining additional actions which can be recommended 
for implementation Immediately. 

2. The Government of Vietnam has developed^ 
with the close collaboration of the U.S. Military 
Assistance Command^ a new National Pacification Plan 
which provides for the orderly pacification of the 
insurgency in accordance with a realistic phasing 
schedule. . .and it provides for consolidation of 
secure areas and expansion of them (the 'spreading 
oil drop'). U.S. military assets in Vietnam will 
fully support this plan. What is now required is 
implementation of additional actions which will 
insure an integrated political^ socio-economic,, and 
psychological offensive to support more the 
military effort. Accordingly^ the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff recommend that the Country Team be directed to 
implement the following actions at the earliest prac- 
ticable time: 


a. Induce the GVW (General Khanh) military to 
accept U.S. advisors at all levels considered 
necessary by CGMUSI/LACV. (This is particularly ap- 
plicable in the critical provinces)... 

b. Intensify the use of herbicides for crop 
destruction against identified Viet Cong areas as 
recommended by the GVH. 

c- Improve border control measures... 

d. Direct the U.S. civilian agencies involved 
in Vietnam to assist the GVN in producing a civilian 
counterpart package plan to the GVJN National Pacifi- 
cation Plan. . . ■ 

e. Provide U.S. civilian advisors to all 

necessary echelons and GVN agencies... 


f . Encourage early and effective action to 
implement a realistic land reform program. 

g. Support the GVN in a policy of tax for- 
giveness for lo\j income population in areas 

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where the GV.W determines that a critical state of 
insLirgency exists . . • 

h. Assist the GVN in developing a National 
Psychological Operations Plan... to establish the 
GVN and Khanh's 'images^' create a 'cause' which 
can serve as a rallying point for the youth/students 
of Vietnam^ and develop the long term national ob- 
jectives of a free Vietnam. 


i. Intensify efforts to gain. support of U.S. 
news media representatives in Washington... 

j- Arrange U.S. sponsored trips to Vietnam 
by groups of prominent journalists and editors. 

k. Infoi-m all GVN military and civilian 
officials. . .that the United States (a) considers 
it imperative that the present government be 
stabilized; (b) would oppose another coup^ and 
(c) that the United States is prepared to offer all 
possible assistance in forming a stable government 
...all U.S. intelligence agencies and advisors must 
be alert to and report cases of dissension and 
plotting in order to prevent such actions. 

3- The Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize that 
the implementation of the foregoing measures will 
not be sufficient to exercise a decisive effect on 
the campaign against the Viet Cong. They are con- 
tinuing study of the actions suggested in the 
memorandum of 22 January 196^-J-j as well as other 
proposals. . .Among the subjects to be studied as a 
matter of urgency are the following: 

a. Intensified operations against North 
Vietnam to include air bombings of selected tar- 
gets. ... 

b. Removal of restrictions for air and ground 
cross-border operations. 

c. Intelligence and reporting. 
' d. U.S. organizational changes 

e. Increased U«S. Navy participation in 
shore and river patrol activities. 

f . Introduction of jet aircraft into the 
Vietnamese Air Force and the U.S. Air Commando 
unit . . . 51/ 

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Except for 2f, 2g^ 2i^ 2j^ and the escalatory military actions of 
paragraph 3 that had "been suggested previous]y by the JCS^ this memo- 
randum outlined much of the program that >ra,s to "be adopted "by the SecDef 
in March after his trip to Saigon, and approved hy the President 
thereafter as NSAM 288. 

8. The Fact Finding Mission an d NSMl 288 

Before the Secretary left for Vietnam, trip hooks were prepared 
for his use and the use of others in his official party. In this trip 
was an appraisal of the Vietnam situation, dated 3 March 196if/ prepared 
especially for this occasion hy the normally" optimistic SACSA. It- 
"began with this summary: 

The RVI^' faces the most critical situation in 
its nearly 10 years of existence- This situation 
is the result of political erosion, culminating 
in two changes of government mthln three months 
and in a nationwide revamping of civil administra- 
tors, and of the continued growth of a well -organi- 
zed, dedicated Communist insurgency movement. 52/ 

This was follov/ed hy a political discussion wherein there was 
mention of the chronic shortage of competent adjiiinistrators . The govern- 
ment was credited with superior material resources, "but, ""unless it is 
ahle to demonstrate the willpower and political skill to bring this 
potential to bear, the political and security situation will continue 
to deteriorate." It was considered hopeful that Khanh seemed determined 
to provide dynamic leadership, but it was observed that he would have to 
overcome "vridespread public and official apathy, lack of confidence, 
low morale, and factionalism among key personnel." 

Khanh 's efforts and attributes were catalogued approvingly, but 
this only lead to a concluding paragraph as follows: 

Encouraging as Khanh ^s performance has been 
to date, he has not been able to counteract the 
overall trend of events in South Vietnam. In 
many of the most critical provinces, pacification 
programs remain at a virtual standstill and 
there is an evident lack of urgency and clear 
direction. 53/ 

This vra-s followed by a section entitled "Military and Security 
Situation." ■ This section contained an interesting judgment, which 
represented a reversal by SACSA of opinions expressed six months or 
more before concerning the time when the situation had begun to 

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By the final quarter of 19^3 > the conclusion 
va.s inescapable that despite the considerable 
improvement in the offensive capabilities of the 
RWs counter -insurgency forces^ the VC likewise ^ 
had improved their own capabilities. It became 
apparent that a gradiial erosion of the govern- 
ment' s position throughout the cou nt ry had been 
under-y/ay si nce at leas t Aug us t I963" . This erosion 
became progressively worse after the November 
coup^ although late in January 196U^ the Minh 
government exhibited some signs of assuming the 
initiative. This initiative dissolved with the 
Khanh coup on 30 Jani3.ary. Organizational 
dislocations brought about by coups have weakened 
the national direction of most of the counter - 
insurgency programs underway tlxroughout the 
country. The large number of personnel changes^ 
both locally and nationally^ have played a crucial 
role in the indecision and lack of energetic 
direction of the government's programs. 

Despite General Khanh 's expressed determination 
■ to prosecute the ^Tar vigorously^ available 
statistics since his coup reflect a gradual decline 
in small-scale ARVK operations. In addition^ 
Commujiist forces continue to enjoy the initiative 
and to execute disruptive operations at times 
and places of their own choosing.-. 

All available evidence points to a steady 
improvement in the VC's military posture _, both 
quantitatively and qualitatively _, throughout I963 
and the first tvra months of 196^. . ./_Emphasis 
suppliedjj' 5J4/ 

In advising the Embassy in Saigon of the intended visit of 
Secretary McHamara and General Taylor in March^ a O'olnt State/Defense 
message outlined the Issues that it was hoped would be taken up duxing 
the visit. Five major subject areas were named^ each of which was 
divided into parts. Objectives were described^ in general^ as *'to 
produce best possible evaluation of situation^ assist you in measures 
to improve it^ and help Vfeshington make future policy decisions." 55/ 

The first subject area was a Review of Situation^ in three parts: 
ppli tlcal^ e conomic J and military . It was suggested that the politica l 
review should be in executive session limited to the three principals 
(McNamara_5 Lodge and Taylor) and the DCM^ Harkins_; Brent^ de Silva^ and 


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perhaps Zorthian. The subjects of prime interest were hov7 Khanh was 
taking hold^ and the dangers of further coups. Next in importance were 
the effectiveness of the civil administration and the morale of major 
religious and political groups^ and measures to strengthen and buttress 
the Khanh regime. On the economic side^ the Secretary hoped to get a 
full review of the economy^ the "budget^ price and supply trends^ AID 
operations^ and, finally, the possibility of land reform and tax 
forgiveness. On the military side, it was suggested they begin with . 
the broad picture, and later proceed to selected critical provinces 
and specific provincial plans. 

The main interest, vTith respect to intellig ence and rep orting, was 
to review Country Team recoi-nmendations concerning periodic assessments 
and joint reporting requirements. After this the interest centered 
on intelligence concerning the VC --specifically the extent of their 
control and activities in the provinces, intentions and tactics, and 
indicators thereof. Then, clearly in anticipation of possible require- 
ment for public relations materials for use in U.S.: 

k. Handling of intelligence bearing on con- 
trol and direction of Viet Cong from North Vietnam 
including infiltration of personnel and weapons 
and operation of communications net. One of our 
basic projects here is preparing strongest 

possible material on this subject for use as ■ • 

appropriate to support stronger measures. We 
need to be svxe your intelligence effort is 
geared to firrnish such information promptly 
in usable form. 

5. Review of draft (which we will supply) 
of control and support of VC by North Vietnam. 56/ 

Concerning current op erational problems, the items foreseen to 
be of interest were policy on possible evacuation of dependents, review 
of GVI^I national and provincial plans, rrn^al rehabilitation plans, 
adequacy and deployment of ARVN, status and problems of paramilitary 
forces, current status and possible expansion of the U.S. Special Forces' 
role in connection with Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (CIDG), 
status of plans to reduce or reorganize U.S. forces as GW became 
capable of performing functions cirrrently performed by U.S., review 
of political and psywar progress, and of military tactics against VC, 
and "possible modification of existing operation /al/ restrictions." 


The special third country problem.s of French activities in RVN, 
and of Cambodia and Laos, would be dealt with in executive session. 

The last item listed for special consideration was to review 
Operations Plan 3hA-6ky for feasibility, adequacy, and possible expan- 

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sion^ with special consideration to advantages derivable "from making 
it an overt Vietnamese program with participation by U.S. as required ' 
to obtain adequate results." 57/ 

The language and the tone of this message suggest that^ however 
pessimistic may have been the appraisals, of the situation^ there was no 
disposition to recognize any doubt that the struggle could be von 
or that we would undertake whatever measures were necessary to \Tln 
it. Previously unprecedented escalatory measures of a military 
nature were beginning to be studied tentatively as a response to the 
bad news that kept coming. Most of these were to be rejected^ for 
the time being^ except for moves to convey to KW that an exchange 
of air blov/s between NVH and SW was a possibility. This^ it >7as 
hoped, might exploit NVK fears that if they persisted aiding the VC 
they faced the loss of their industrial establishment. The 
inferential significance of our considerations at this time seems 
to have been that we were already committed^ by the momentum of our 
past actions^ to a coujrse which forbade turning back^ however 
reluctant we might be about taking any forward step. 

A schedule for the trip v/as set up extending from the planned 
arrival on 8 March 196k through 12 March. In the coirrse of five days 
of briefings^ conferences, and field trips, most of the details of 
a program, to implement policies already evidently largely agreed 
upon, were decided upon in the light of views and information elicited 
from our own and GVIJ officials. In the final meeting with General 
Khanh and his GVN associates, most of the programs for Vietnam which 
were later to be recommended to the President by Secretary McNamara 
were discussed. The exchange of views at that time was made a matter 
. of record by a memcon, a summary of which was transmitted the next 

• ' day by Ambassador Lodge. 

' General Khanh. . .proposed National Service 

Act for SVN". Khanh said his government prepared 

embark upon program to mobilize all human and 
material resources to fight VC. As envisaged by 
General Khanh proposed ITational Service Act would 
have two major components: military service and 
civil defense. . . 

Military service comprised of: RVWAF. . . 
(actual strength: 227,000; planned: 251,683); 
Civil Guard (actual: 90,032; planned: 119,636). 
SDC Ec Hamlet Militia. .. (actual: 257, 96O; planned: 
^22,87^0- Civil Defense comprised of Civil 
Service Corps, Cadi-^e Corps, National Youth, and 
Political -Adiiiinistration Corps, . . ■ 

Civil Defense component included Civil 
Administration Corps for work in coimtryside. 
Khanh emphasized that in civil defense sector all 
civilians would be included. .*, this segment also 
included civic action teams for hamlets and villages. 

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Khanh emphasized figures vera planning 
flgores only and designed give idea of number of 
military and civilians required and indicate 
financial implications of plan... 

McNama.ra stated that U.S. .. .would wish to 
study strength figures car ef -ally; however^ 
his first impression was that figure of 
422^ 8t4 SDC and Hamlet Militia appeared unduly ' 
large and would be difficult to support. Khanli 
responded that in actual practice total niombers 
may not reach this level. In fact, number may 
not exceed 300,000 SDC and Hamlet Militia 
actually deployed against VC , . . 

Thieu stated that all men from age l8 
through ^0 would be required to participate in 
national pacification effort. Most of them... 
would serve in sam.e positions they now occupy. 
Others, such as National Youth Group up to age 
40, would be required serve in city and country- 
side and would be organized into small groups 
to assist ARM and Civil Gu^rd. Category of 
Political-Administration Corps woiild' consist 
of cadres planned for assignment to villages 
and hamlets. General Thieu estimated that 
125^000 such cadre would be required. . .McNamara 
stated that general approach appeared excellent 
but he questioned whether GYIl would need 125,000 . 
cadre.-. .This number added to total figixres for 
Civil Guard, SDC and Hamlet Militia, constituted 
an extremely 3_arge figure. . -population appeared 
disproportionate. .desirable to look most closely 
at planning figures. 

Khanh replied that he intended make maximum 
effort in first instance in 8 critical provinces 
surrounding Saigon. . .However, a National Service 
Act would have a very good effect in Saigon and 
the other ujrban areas. ...•■. 

McNamara inquired whether .upon his return 
to Washington he could tell President Johnson 
that General Khaiih^s government was prepared 
embark on a program of national mobiMization of 
human and material resources and whether Presi- 
dent Johnson in turn could inform the American 
people. .. Khanh replied in the affirmative... 
McNamara indicated that he viewed concept 
favorably and . . .Aiiibassador stated that he 

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favored genere^l concept "but thought that de- 
tailed figures should be looked into carefully. 
Ambassador also believed that emphasis should 
be placed first on 8 critical provinces surround' 
ing Saigon. . . .. 

General Harkins noted that a mobilization 
lav was in fact in existence but that few people 
knew about it. He pointed out that ASMy CG and 
SDC were not up to their authorized military 
strengths. Khanh said that he realized this but 
believed it still desirable to have a new law 
setting forth a national service or mobilization 
I ' program. Harkins stated that ldA.CV and other 

elements of U.S. Mission would like to work 
closely with developing such a law. 
Khanh replied this well understood, McNamara 
said it was agreed on American side that general 
concept vras a wise one and that we should pro- 
ceed on this basis. 

Khanh then inquired whether it was desirable 
to raise CG to same relative status as ARVN as 
regards salary^ pensions^ sujrvivors benefits^ etc. 
He estimated that total cost would be in neighbor- 
hood of one billion piasters. McNamara thought 
this was highly desirable... 

. McNamara inquired how long. . .it would take 
to recruit anc^ train administrative cadre for 
8 critical provinces near Saigon. Khanh estimated 
approximately one month^ in any event he believed 
cadres could, be in place by end of April. Khanh 
' said GVW would aim for volunteers for this effort 

and it was not necessary to await promulgation 
of National Service Act. 

In response Taylor *s question as to how long 
Khanh anticipated it would take to draft and 
promulgate National Service Law^ Khanh observed 
that... law could be ready for his signatirre in 
very short time. Taylor pointed to necessity 
give due regard to democratic forms in developing 
and announcing a National Service Act. IQianh 
agreed and said that at same time a major effort 
i: ' was being made to pacify the countryside. He 

intended push for concurrent development of 
democratic institutions and forms. McNamara 
suggested that when Khanh ready announce a National 
Service Act that he also re -emphasize related 
actions ... such as those for expansion of national 

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economy^ for increased educational opportunities 
in hamlets^ for increased production of rice_, for 
marketing of fish^ and so forth. McNamara believed 
a well publicized announcement of this nature 
■would find ready response among people and would 
materially assist Khanh to obtain and hold support 
■ of Vietnamese people. . ,. ^8/ 

9. NSMl 288 

The program formulated in March 19&\- in connection with the trip 
to Vietnam was reported orally to the President by the Secretary of 
Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on their return^ then 
presented formally to the President and the NSC by memorandujn to the 
President dated l6 March. It was finally approved as NSAM 288 dated 
IT March 196^^. As such NSC documents go, NSAl/[ 288 was comprehensive 
and programmatic. It reviewed U.S. objectives, appraised the situa- 
tion, discussed various alternative courses of action, and finally 
recommended a rather detailed program intended to serve the defined 
objectives and to meet the situation as it had been described. It 
consisted of seven parts. The first v/as a discussion and definition 
of objectives, the second a description -of U.S. policy, the third an 
appraisal of the present situation, the fourth a disci;ssion of alter- 
native coujTses of action, the fifth a consideration of possible actions, 
the sixth a mention of other actions considered but rejected, and 
f seventh and last, a statement of specific recoirimendations. 

NSAM 288, being based on the official recognition that the 
situation in Vietnam was considerably worse than had been realized 
at the time of the adoption of NSA14 273, outlined a program that 
called for considerable enlargement of U.S. effort. It involved an 
assumption by the United States of a greater part of the task, and 
an increased involvement by the United States in the internal affairs 
of South Vietnam, and for these reasons it carried with it an enlarged 
commitment of U.S. prestige to the success of oujr effort in that area. 

In tacit acknowledgement that this greater commitment of prestige 
called for an enlargement of stated objectives, NSAM 288 did indeed 
enlarge these objectives. Whereas, in NSA}/I 273 the objectives were 
expressly limited to helping the government of South Vietnam win its 
contest against an externally directed Comiunist conspiracy, NSAM 288 
escalated the objectives into a defense of all of Southeast Asia and - 
the West Pacific and redefined American foreign policy and American 
secujTity generally. In NSAfvI 273 the statement of objectives i^as 
comparatively simple and limited:" 

It remains the central object of the 
United States in South Vietnam to assist the 
people and the government of that country, to win 
their contest against the externally directed 

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and supported Conmiunist conspiracy. The test of 
I j all U.S. decisions and actions in this area should 

"be the effectiveness of their contribution to this 
purpose. 59/ 



In contrast to this^ the statement of ^'U.S. Objectives in South 
Vietnam" in 'NBMA 288 -was considerably more extensive and more central 
to U.S. secuiaty interests: 

¥e seek an independent non -Communist South 
Vietnam. We do not req.uire that it serve 8.s a 
Western base or as a member of a VJestern alli- 
ance. South Vietnam must be free^ however _, to 
accept outside assistance as required to main- 
tain its secixrity. This assistance shouJLd be 
able to take the form not only of economic 
and social measures but also police and military 
help to root out and control insu-rgent elements. 

Unless ve can achieve this objective in 
South Vietnam^ almost all of Southeast Asia, 
will probably fall under Commmiist dominance 
(all of Vietnam^ Laos_, and Cambodia)^ accom- 
modate to Communism so as to remove effective U.S. 
and antl -Communist influence (Bursia)^ or fall 
under the domination of forces not now explicitly 
Communist but likely then to become so (Indonesia 
taking over Malaysia) o Thailand might hold for 
a period without help^ but would be under grave 
pressure. Even the Philippines would become shaky ^ 
and the threat to India on the West, Australia 
and New Zealand to the South, and Taiwan, Korea, 
and Japan to the North and East would be greatly 

All of these consequences would probably 
have been true even if the U.S. had not since 
195'*-^ and especiall^r since I961, become so 
heavily engaged in South Vietnam. However, that 
fact accentuates the Impact of a CommLinist South 
Vietnam not only in Asia but in the rest of the 
world, where the South Vietnam conflict is '' . 

regarded as a test case of U.S. capacity to help 
a nation to meet the Commvaiist "war of liberation." 

Thus, purely in terms of foreign policy, the 
stakes are high. . . 60/ 

The argi.y3ient in the next to last paragraph of NSAJM 288 that "all 
these consequences would probably have been true even if the U.S. had 
not since 195^^ and especially since I9SI, become so heavily engaged 
in SVN" is clearly debatable. But the logic that the increasing U.S. 

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involvement led to increasing coramitment of U.S. prestige is probably 
beyond argument. And it is probably also true that^ in the extent 
to which we defined the issues simply and centrally as a symbolic 
confrontation with Ccmmujiism^ wherein far more is at stake than the 
immediate battlefield (in South Vietnam) on which we fought — and 
acted upon this definition and proclamed it as the issue —.we tended 
more and more to endow the issue with that signj.f icance whether or not " 
it had in fact been the issue in the first place. And this pointy if 
closely examined^ might logically have raised the question of whether 
it is absolutely necessary to accept any challenge put to us^ and if 
so what advantage this confers upon our enemies in granting them the 
choice of issue and of battleground. Finally j, a struggle so defined 
came close to calling for war a outrance -- not the centrally political 
war^ with severe restriction upon violent means^ following counter- 
guerrilla warfare theory. 

Despite the encompassing nature of the definition of objectives^ 
and although NSAM 288 proposed a marked increase in U.S. involvement ^ 
our implementing programs remained comparatively limited as if we did 
not fully believe these strong words. We even expressed" agreement with 
the older idea of helping the Vietnamese help themselves. 

. - * We are now trying to help. South Vietnam 

defeat the Viet Cong; supported from the Norths 
by means short of the unqualified use of U.S. 
combat forces. We are not acting against North 
Vietnam except by a modest "covert" program 
operated by South Vietnamese (and a few Chinese 
Nationalists) — a program so limited that it 
is unlikely to have any significant effect... 6l/ 

There was a further statement of this older policy theme: 

There were and are some sound reasons for the 
limits imposed by the present policy — the South 
Vietnamese must win their own fight; U. S, inter- 
vention on a larger scale^ and/or GVN actions 
against the North^ would disturb key allies and 
other nations; etc. In any case^ it is vital that 
we continue to take every reasonable measure to 
ass-ure success in South Vietnam. The policy 
choice is not an "either/or" between this course 
of action and possible pressures against the 
North; the former is essential and without regard 
to our decision with respect to the latter. The 
latter can^ at best^ only reinforce the former. 62/ 

At the end of this section^ which described measures that we would 
take to assist the Khanh goverroment in adiainistering internal programs^ 
there was a final admonition: 


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Many of the actions described in the succeeding 
paragraphs fit right into the framework of the ■ . 

/Pacification/ plan as announced by Khanh. Wherever 
possible^ we should tie ovjr urgings of such actions to 
Khanh's ovm formulation of thera^ so that he will be 
carrying o ut a Vietnamese p lan and not one imposed by 
the United States, /i&aphasis supplied/ 63/ 

The discussion of the situation in Vietnam began with the statement 
that the military tools and concepts that had been adopted were scimd 
and adequate. But much needed to be done in terras of a more effective 
employment both of military forces and of the economic and civic action 
means alxeady available. This improved effort might require some 
selective increases in the U.S. presence. These increases were not 
considered to be necessarily major in nature and not in contradiction 
to the U.S. policy of reducing existing military personnel where South 
Vietnamese are in a position to assume the functions..." 

No major reductions of U.S. personnel in the near future were ex- 
pected^ but it continued to be_ the basic policy that there would be 
gradual U.S. withdrawal from participation. This was considered to be 
sound because of its effect "in portraying to the U.S. and the world 
that we continue to regard the war as a conflict the South Vietnamese 
must win and take ultimate responsibility for." .And along this line 
there was the continued ?iope that "substantial reductions in the num- 
bers of U.S. military training personnel should be possible before, the 
end of 1965. (The language = here suggested a beginning retreat from 
WSAM 273). 


It was conceded^ however^ that "the situation has uJlquestionably 
been growing worse^ at least since Septeml)er . . . " Forty percent of 
the territory was then under the Viet Cong control or predominant in- 
fluence; and twenty-two of the forty-three provinces were controlled 
fifty percent or more by the Viet Cong. Other indications of the 
continuing deterioration vj^ere that large groups of the popuJLation dis- 
played signs of apathy and indifference^ while frustration was evident 
within the U.S. contingent. Desertion rates within the ARVN and the 
Vietnamese paramilitary were particularly high and increasing -- 
especia]ly in the latter. Draft-dodging was high; but the Viet Cong 
were recruiting energetically and effectively. The morale of the hamlet 
militia and of the SDC^ upon which the security of the hainlets depended^ 
was poor and falling. The position of the government within the pro- 
vinces was v^eakening. 

The machinery_ of political control extending from Saigon doxm to 
the hamlets had virtually disappeared following the November coup. Of 
forty-one incumbent province chiefs on I\]bvember 1^ thirty-five had 
been replaced. Nine provinces had had three province chiefs in three 
months; and one province had had four. Lesser officials had been re- 

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placed by the score. Alsaost all major military commands had changed 
hands twice since the J^ovember coup and the faith of the peasants 
had been shaken by disruptions in experienced leadership and loss of 
physical security. 

There was an increase in North Vietnamese support^ and communica- 
tion between Hanoi and the Viet Cong had increased. CHICOM 75 milli- 
meter recoilless rifles and heavy machine guns were increasingly in 
evidence among the Viet Cong. 

The greatest source of weakness in the present situation was the 
Lincertain viability of the Khanh government. The greatest need^ there- 
fore^ was to do the things that would enhance the stability of that 
government^ and at the same time provide the advice and assistance that 
was necessary to increase its capabilities to deal with the problems 
confronting it. 

Among the alternatives considered,, but rejected for the time being 
(along with complete adoption of the Hilsman formulations)^ were overt 
military pressure on North Vietnam^ neutralization^ retur-n of U. S. 
dependents^ furnishing of a U.S. combat unit to secure the Saigon area^ 
and a full takeover of the command in South Vietnam by the U.S. With 
respect to this last proposal^, it was said that 

« • * 

the judgement of all senior people in Saigon^ 
with which we concur^ was that the possible mili- 
tary advantages of such action would be far out- 
"weighed by adverse psychological impact. It would 
cut across the whole basic picture of the Viet- 
namese winning their own war and lay us wide open 
to hostile propaganda both within South Vietnam and 
outside. 6k-/ 

The areas of action that were favored and that formed the basis 
of the specific recommendations to which the paper led^ fell under 
two major and two minor headings. The two major headings were^ (l) 
civil and military mobilization and (2) iraprovement of military forces 
The two minor headings were (l) additional military equipment for the 
GVN and (2) economic actions. 

The first point under civil and military mobilization was to 
put the whole country on a war footing. The purpose was to main- 
tain and strengthen the armed forces^ to assist other national 
efforts^ and to rem^edy the recognized inequities and under-utiliza- 
tion of current manpower policies. Specifically^ there was proposed ■ 
a, new national mobilization plan including a national service law^ 
which was to be developed on an lorgent basis by the Country Team in 
collaboration with the Khanh* Government . To this end the third of 
the several recomiiiendations at the conclusion of the report called 

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for the U.S. to "support a program of national mobilization (including 
a national service law) to put South Vietnam on a war footing." 

A second measure under this heading \ias to strengthen the armed . 
forces^ both regular and paramilitary, by at least 50^000 men. Of 
these^ about 15^000 would be reciuired to fill the regular armed forces ■ 
(ARVN) to their current authorized streng-bh^ 5^000 would be needed to 
fill the existing paramilitary forces to their authorized strengths^ and 
the remaining 30^000 would be to increase the strength of the paramili- 
tary forces. To this end it v/as specifically recommended that the U. S. 

assist the Vietnamese to increase the armed forces (regular plus para- 
military) by at least 50^000 men." 

The third measure of mobilization was to assist in an increase of 
the civil administrative corps of Vietnam by an additional 7^500 in 
196^;, with the ultajnate target of at least hO^OOO men for service in 
8^000 hamlets and 2^500 villages^ and in 3 provincial centers. It was 
specified that in accomplishing this the United States should work with 
the GVN to devise necessary recruiting plans^ training facilities^, 
financing methods and organizational arrangements, and should furnish 
training personnel at once under the auspices of the AID' mission. The 
specific recommendation was "to assist the Vietnamese to create a greatly 
enlarged civil administrative corps for work at province^, district and 
hamlet levels . " 

The improvement of SVN military forces was to be accomplished not 
( ) only by the Increase in numbers specified above, but also by internal 

reforms and organizational ituproveraents. What remained of the current 
hamlet militia and related forces of part-time nature for hamlet defense 
should be consolidated with the self-defense corps into a single force 
which would be compensated by the national government. The pay and 
, collateral benefits of the paramilitary groups should be substantially 

{ mproved. Strength of the forces should be maintained and expanded by 

' effectively enforced conscription measures and by more centrally 

^ directed recruitment policies. It was recommended that U.S. personnel 

shou.ld be assigned to the training of the paramilitary forces. The 
National Police required further special consideration- An offensive 
guerrilla force should be created to operate along the border and in 
' 1 areas where VC control was dominant. These measures were included in 

j j specific recommendations to "assist the Vietnamese to improve and re- 

organize the paramilitary forces and to increase their compensation" 
and to assist the Vietnamese to create an offensive guerrilla force." 

1 \ Under the last two headings there were recommendations to provide 

the Vietnamese Ai.r Force with 25 A-IH aircraft in exchange for their T"28s 
and to provide the Vietnamese Army additional M-II3 APCs (withdrawing 
the M-11^4s there) and also to provide additional river boats and approxi- 
mately 5 to 10 million dollars v/orth of related additional m.ateriel. A 

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fertilizer program to increase the production of rice in areas safely 
controlled by the governjnent was to be expanded and announced very 

Although VC successes in rural areas had been the prime feature 
of the downswing over the past half year or more^ pacification was" to 
receive less comparative emphasis^ in fact^ in the next year or so than 
it had before. Nevertheless^ Khanh's statement of a pacification 
strategy — which was later to form a conceptual basis for the ill- 
fated Hop Tac program -- was approved in principle^, and a critique of 
it was accorded a place as Annex B of NSAM 288, 

Jjn simplified outline^ the plan was based on a "clear and hold" 
concept^ including for each area these steps: 

1. Clearing organized VC units from the area by military action; 

2. Establishing permanent security for the area by the Civil 
Guard; Self Defense CorpS;, hamlet militia; and national police; 

3. Rooting out the VC "infrastructure" in the hamlets (particu- 
larly the VC tax collector and the chief of the VC political cadre); 

4. Providing the elements of economic and social progress for the 
^ people of the area: schools^ health services^ water supply^ agricultural 
' improvements; etc. 

These general ideas v^ere to be (l) adapted and applied flexibly... 
(2) applied under the clear; undivided and decentralized control of the 
province chief; and (3) applied in a graduaDJLy spreading area moving 
from secure to less secure areas and from more populated to less popu- 
lated areas (the "oil drop" principle)... 

The major requirements for success of the Pacification Plan were: 

First; and of by far the greatest importance; clear; strong; and 

continuous political leadership... 

General Khanh and his top colleagues were to supply this require- 
ment- Their ability to do so was "as yet untested; but some early 
evidence was good... : 

A second major requirement for success of the Pacification Plan 
.was the adoption of government policies which would give greater pro- 
mise of economic progress and greater - incentives to rural people. The 
tliree key areas were: 

- the price of rice to fanaerS; which was artificially depressed 
and held substantially below the world market price; 

- uncertain or oppressive tenure conditions for many farmers (a 

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land reform program was half completed some years ago); the VC had been 
exploiting the situation very effectively; 

- oppressive marketing conditions for fisherman (fisheries accounted 
for 25 per cent of the rural product of SW) . 

General Khanh's initial statement about the land reform problem 
was not veiy encouraging; Mr. Oanh was not even aware of the rice prob- 
lem until a conversation with U.S. visitors on March 10th. 

A third major requ.irem-ent for success of the Pacification Plan 
was to improve greatly the leadership^ pay^ training^ and numbers of 
some of the kinds of personnel needed_, notably: 

- pay and allowances for Civil Guards and S.D.C.o 


- recruitment and training for more civilian technicians. , ^also 
increased pay and supporting costs for them; and recruitment and. 
training of a new kind of rural worker — "hamlet action tearas" — 
to move into newly cleared hamlets and start improvement programs... 

The real problems were managerial: to develop concepts^ training 
schools^ action programs^ and above all^ leadership at the provincial 
level and below. 

Other requirements for success of the Pacification Plan included: 
improvement in the leadership and attitudes of the ARW particularly 
at levels which came into contact with villagers; greatly increased 
military civic action programs by the ARM; much more flexibility and 
decentralization of authority in the administration of GW civilian 
agencies; and a far clearer and more consistent pattern of rewarding 
excellence and penalizing poor performance in the managem-ent of both 
military and civilian agencies of the GVN. 

Finally^ there was one prominent reconmiendation (it was in fact 
the second of twelve): that the U.S. "make it clear that we fully 
support the Khanh government and are opposed to any further coups o" 
This reflected our deep concern over the political instability and 
our dismay at having been surprised by the Khanh coup at the end of 

" An immediate measure to provide this kind of support to Khanh 

was the issuance on the folloi-ring day (iT March) of a Vlhite House 
. . , release which gave Presidential public blessing to the Khanh regime^ 

saying in part that^ to meet the difficulties and setbacks that had 
arisen since last October^, "General Khanh and his government are 
acting vigorously and effectively. , ./having/ produced a sound central 
plan for the prosecution of the war^ recognizing to a far greater 

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degree than before the crucial role of economic and social^ as well 
as militarr action. . ." 6^/ 

This statement helped to solidify the Khanh regime hy giving it 
explicit assurance of continuing U.S. si^pox-t. It did not fuJLly take 
care of disma^r over the surprise that the Khanh coup had heen^ 
and our fear that such a coup might De repeated. In addition to 
making it clear that we ful.17 supported the incuiabent regime^ therefore, 
it seemed necessary that we should discourage attempted- coups, or, 
getting wind of them, head them off "before they passed the point of 
no ret^jrn. On 18 March, T\^ R. SuJ.livan of State sent out a message 
to Saigon as follows: 

Point 2. . ./of NSAI'l 2887 stipuJ.ated that U.S. 
government agencies should make clear ovjc fvll 
s'Lipport for Khanli government and ovx opposition 
to any f mother coups, Fnile it is recognized that 
our chances of detecting coup plotting are far 
from fool-proof. ..all elements [pfj V.S. mission 
in Vietnam should be alerted against coup contin- 

Mission should establish appropriate procediTre 
which "id.ll assume that all rumors of coup plotting 
which come to attention /of/" any U.S. governm^ent 
personnel in Vietnam ^'rill be brought to attention 
of Ambassador without delay. This is not, repeat 
not, a responsibility solely for intelligence 
elements /^of the/ U.S. mission- 66/ 

The program embodied in NSAI4 288 v?as by no means judged adequate 
by all concerned. One major dissent' had been registered by the JCS, 
who tended to view the problem primarily in its military dimensions, 
and who believed that the sou_rce of VC strength in the North must be 
neutralized. In a memorandujn dated 1^ March I964, the CJCS had x^ro- 
vided the Secretary of Defense with comments on the SecDef ^s draft 
memo to the President (N3AI4 288). Tae general view of the JCS wa-s 
that the program being recommended by the Secretary of Defense -^-/as 
inadequate militarily, and that much more aggressive policies, mainly 
against I7VI[, but also against the Cambodian sanctuaries of VC forces, 
were necessary. . ^ . 

a. The JCS do not believe that the recommended 
program in itself >rill be sufficient to tu_rn the tide 
against the Viet Cong in SWI without positive action 
being taken against the Hanoi government at an early 
date. They have in mind the conduct of the kind of 
program designed to bring about cessation of DRV 
support for operations in SVIJ and Laos outlined in 
JCSM-lTl^- -61|-, subject "Vietnam," d^ted 2 March 1961[-. 

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Such a prograra vould not only deter the aggres^ 
sive actions of the DRV but would be a source of 
encouragement to SW which should significantly 
facilitate the counterinsurgency prograiri in that 
country. To increase our readiness for such 
actions^ the U.S. Government should establish at 
once the political and military bases in the 
U.S. ajid SW for offensive actions against the 
ITorth and across the Laotian and Cambodian 
borders^ including measures for the- control of 
contraband traffic on the Mekong. 

b. In view of the current attitude of the 
Sihanouk Government in Cambodia^ the JCS recommend 
authorizing now hot pursuit into that country. . 067/ 


As already noted^ however^ this sort of escalation had aire, 
been rejected for the time being. And in any event^ there were both 
a new regime in Vietnam and an enlarged program of U.S. aid to support 
it^ although not as enlarged militarily^ as the JCS would wlsho (That 
form of enlargement would not come until later.) But it was the first 
program since I961 enlarged in explicit 'recognition that the programs 
preceding it had not succeeded^ had indeed fallen far short of their 
goals. And in that sense at least it was the end of one period and the 
beginning of another. 



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1- General Character of the Period from NSM-238 to Tonkin Gulf 

In enunciating the policies of NSM-288 we had rhetorically committed 
ourselves to do whatever was needed to achieve cur stated objectives in 
South Vietnanio The program decided upon and spelled out in NSAJVI-288 re- 
flected our recognition that the problem was greater than we had previously 
supposed and that the progress that we had previously thought we were mak- 
ing was more apparent than realo The program constituted a larger effort 
than we had undertaken before; it corresponded to our' increased estimates 
of the magnitude of the task before uso Nevertheless^ we might have chosen 
to do more along the lines of what we did decide to do^ and above all we 
might have chosen to do some things that we specifically chose not to do 
at this time (although we began to plan for some of these on a contingency 
basis) o If there vrere to be new or greater problems in the futmre it was 
because we did not correctly appraise the magnitude of the problem nor fully 
foresee the complexity of the difficulties we faced. There were indeed 
some who believed that the program we decided upon was not enough^ notably 
the JCS who had gone on record that until aid to the VC from outside of 
South Vietnam was cut off^ it would be impossible to eliminate the insur- 
gency there o But the program as decided upon in 288 did correspond to the 
official consensus that this was a prescription suited to the illness as we 
diagnosed ito ■ ■ 

There were many inhibitions that discouraged doing more than the bare 
necessity to get the job donee These inhibitions related, to the image of 
the U.So in world affairs^, to possible risks of over-reaction from the Com- 
muQist side^ to internal American hesitancies about our operations there^ 
and finally to a philosophy concerning the basic social nat'ore of what was 
happening in Vietnam and how wise it was for the UoS. to become very deeply 
involved. We had given serious thought to a program of pressiures upon the 
North _, largely covert and intended more to persuade than to compel. This 
was on the theory that the heart of the problem really lay not in South 
Vietnam but in North Vietnam. But these measixres^ although far from for- 
gotten^ were put on the shelf in the belief^ or at least the hope^ that 
they would not be needed <, 

The long year from March 1964 to April 19^5 is divisible into three 
periods that correspond to major modifications or reformulations of policyo 
The first would be froifi March (NSAM-288) to the Tonkin Gulf affair in early 
August 196U^ the second would be from August I96U to February of I965/ and 
the third would be from February to April 1965^ 

■ From March to August I965 we tried to make a go of it with the program 
approved in NSAM-288_5 in hope that that program would carry us toward our 

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objectives by increasing the amo-uxit of aid and advice \re gave to the South 
Vietnamese in order to enable them better to help themselves o But almost 
from the beginning there were signs that this program' would not be enough. 
And as time passed it became more and more evident that something lucre 
would be needed. Soon we began to be tui-ned from full concentration upon 
the NSA]}-l-288 program by a major distraction--instability and inefficiency of 
the GWo This was a distraction that from the first we had feared but had 
hoped against hope would not grow to major proportions « 

A year before^, in 19^3^ it had become more and more evident as time 
wore on that the unpopularity and inefficiencies of the Diem-Ngu regime 
destroyed the hope of permanent progress in the pacification program and the 
ultimate chance of success of the whole counter-insiu^gency effort. This 
I time it was the increasing instability of the Khanh regime and the ineffici- 

I ency of his government- -the regime that had supplanted the regime that had 

supplanted Diem and Ngu. Now we feared the inability of the Khanh govern- 
ment to attract and hold the loyalties of the politically active groups 
within the cities^ and we had no confidence in its competence to administer 
the pacification programs^, and thereby win the support of the politically 
inert peasantry in the rural areas o 

But we wanted no m.ore coups o Although Khanh' s coup had suxprised us 
and even shaken oujt confidence somewhat^ we quickly made him our boy_, put 
the best possible face on the matter^ and made it a prime element of U.So 
^ ^ policy to support Khanh and his colleagues^, and disccarage any further coups o 
Each coup that occurred_j it seemed^ greatly increased the possibility of yet 
another coupo 

Through the first period from March until July^ we concentrated upon 
making the NSAM-288 program worko In addition to the increases in U.S. aid 
and advice^, we sought to strengthen Kh.anh by patching things up with Big 
Minli and mollifying the other Generals he had thrown outo We hoped he could 
■ _ somehow subdue the politically active Buddhists^ the Catholic political 

activists^ the Dai Viet_j and the miscellaneous ambitious colonels and gen- 

But execution of the 288 program began to fall behind the plans » ■ The 
GW administration of the program had troubles. There were troubles getting 
piastres -which the UoS. government in effect provided-from the central 
government to the provinces and districts where they were needed o Agreed 
j)a,j increases and force increases in the GW armed forces were only tardily 
and partially meto Civil servants needed to operate the program in the 
provinces and districts were not available^ were not trained^ or^ if avail- ' 
able and trained^ were often not paid^ or were insufficiently or tardily 
paid^ or were not provided with necessary expenses. Funds for the provision 
of necessary goods in the provinces and districts were not met<, Payments to 
peasants for relocation as a part of the pacification program were tardy or 
inadequate' or not made at alio' There seemed to be a business as usual 

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attitude in the central government^ and the strength of the RWAF declined. 
Viet Cong depredations continued and pacification efforts fell behind c 

As ve pressiored Khanh. to adopt reforms to remedy the deficiencies of 
the GW administration of programs vithin South Vietnam^ his frustrations 
over these difficulties and failxires were increased o He had no taste for 
the long^j unspectacular social reform and social rebuilding that were the 
tasks of pacificationo He soon began to talk increasingly of a scapegoat-- 
a march to the North o He wanted to get the struggle over witho 'This cor- 
responded to the means that ve had considered but had for the time being 
rejected--seeking escape- from our own frustrations in South Vietnam by 
pressure on the North o We moved gradually in this direction^ impelled almost 
inevitably to ultimate actions of this sort^ but always reluctantly and 
always hesitant to commit ourselves to more than very minor moves^ until 
suddenly and dramatically the Tonkin Gulf affair of early August provided 
an occasion to make a move. of the sort we had long been anticipating but 
had lontil then always deferred. But during this period the debate over pos- 
sible measures of this sort^ and the instability of the Khanh government^ 
increasingly distracted attention from programs focussed directly on the 
problems of pacification and of winning the loyalties of the Vietnam.ese for 
the GVN. 

In the immediate aftermath of the Tonkin Gulf affair^ Khanh^ feeling 
his position strengthened^ took ill advised measures to consolidate the 
gains that he believed had been made thereby^ and quickly precipitated an 
overriding governmental crisis. Thereafter^ the stability of the regime 
became the dominant factor in all considerations o Attention had to shift 
from pacification of the millions of rural Vietnamese^ who made up the vast 
majority of the people^ to the very few in Saigon^ Hue and Danang who were 
struggling for power o 

2o NSAM-288 Programs Mid-March to Mid-May 196h l 

RecoiTimendation #3 of NSAM-288 was *'to support a program for national 
mobilization (including a national service law) to put South Vietnam on a 
war footing." Responsibility for this was shared between ASD/iSA and AID„ 

A first step was taken on 20 March when the country team was asked to 
report on the status of GVW plans and also coiontry team views concerning 
the adoption of a national service acto The points of greatest concern 
were what would be the main provisions of the act^ and what would be the 
administrative machinery set up to implement ito The Country Team was also 
advised that econom.ic mobilization measures shoul.d be deferred until after ' 
a joint U«S. -GVN 'survey had been completed. 68/ 


On 1 April Am.bassador Lodge replied^ with MACV conc-urrence^ that 
Premier Klianh planned two categories of mobilization^ one civil and one 

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military. The Ambassador said that proposed decrees had been prepared and that 
if promulgated they would give the GYN adequate power. Details were not in- 
cluded^j however,, in the Ambassador's report* The Ambassador proposed^ on a 
personal basis^ that^ if Washington approved^ he would try to persuade Khanh 
to proceed with a mass media presentation of it. 69 / Washington agreement to 
the Embassy evaluation came three days later^ althoiogh only the general con- 
cept had been explained.. On that same day^ k April 196^^ Khanh publicly pro- 
claimed a basic decree prescribing broa,d categories of national service. Its 
main terms were that all able-bodied males ages 20-^5 were subject to nation- 
al public service. This national public service was to consist of either 
(a) military service or (b) civil defense service o 

This initial decree of h April 196k amoujated evidently to nothing more 
than a statement of intention by the Prime Minister o This was q_uite short 
of a law that would go into effect^ be administered and thereby made to ac- 
complish something. 

On 10 April^ the Embassy was informed by a telegram from State that 
Khanh' s decrees had received little publicity in the United States^ and the 
Embassy was asked for a text of the implementing decrees o Five days later 
on 15 April 1964^ Ambassador Lodge reported in more detail on the basic 
terms of the national public service decree^ to wit: 

(1) All able-bodied males 20-^5 would be subject to national 
public service and females would be permitted to volunteer. 

(2) TJational public service would consist of either military 
service or civil defense service o ■ . 

(3) Civil defense service would be managed by the Ministry of 


(k) The duration of military service would be three years of 
RTOAE or four years in Regional Forces (Civil Guard) and Popular 
Forces (Civil Defense Corps and Hamlet Militia). 

(5) Call-up priority would be based on age and number of 

(6) Drafted personnel were to be paid by the force to which 
they were assigned o 

This came closer to a law to be administered^ but on 28 April Washington 
told the Embassy that the status of implementation of the recomiaendations was 
still not clear o Four days later ^ on 2 May^ Ambassador Lodge reported that 
draft decrees were still not signed in fact^ and that the final nature of 
the Civil Defense Decree was still in doubt o However^ he reported agreem.ent 
on the principle that the objectives of the ITational Mobilization Plan 

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should give priority to: (l) bringing the armed forces to authorized strength, 
(2) iraproving their morale, (3) carrying out conscription more effectively, 
and (h) obtaining q.ualified civilian workers. 70/ 

Before he was able to make this report of 2 May, however. Ambassador 
ILodge had a. showdown meeting with Khanh over the failure of the GW to carry 
out many of the necessary actions called for by the WSAM-288 prograxas „ On 
30 April, accompanied by Westmoreland and Brent (USOM chief), Lodge met with 
Khanh, Oanh, Khien, and Thieu, to discuss the GVW failure to provide operating 
funds to provincial and lower local levels, and to correct manpower deficien- 


Lodge opened the meeting vlth a prepared statement which he read in 
Frencho He said that direct observation by UoS. provincial advisors ^through- 
out Vietnam proved that novhere was there an adeq,uate effort to provide 
piastres to Corps^ Division and sectors^ to increase the pay of AEW and 
paramilitary forces^ to bring these troops to authorized strength^ to recruit 
added forces^ or to compensate incapacitated soldiers or families of those ^ 
killedo In fact^ he said^ there were confirmed reports from Corps and Divi- 
sion headquarters of deceased soldiers being kept on the roles as^the only 
means of compensating their families and preventing further deterioration of 
mm and paramilitary morale o There had been a steady decline in the strength 
of RWAF since October 1963, notably including a decrease of i|,000 in March 
alonej and the current strength was almost 20,000 below the authorized figure 
agreed necessary by both governments o Likewise, the force level of SDC had 
decreased in the same period by aMost 13^000, leaving that force l8,000 
below its authorized strength o The Civil Guard v^as almost 5,000 below the 
required strength o The ARW and CG desertion rate was double what it had 
been in February, and SDC desertion rate was up Uofoo Only 55? of the con- ^ 
scription quotas were being met and volunteers were below the expected level o 

Failujre to provide funds was blamed as a major reason for these mili- 
tary manpower deficiencies o The shortage was so great that the current 
trend in effectives could not be reversed before August in any events Lodge 
went on to say that USOM and MACV visits to the provinces also confirmed 
that failure to provide piastres to local headquarters also led to shortages 
of resources for pacification efforts. The result was that m.ost of ^ the 
McNamara program of reforms and improvements (of NSAM-288) was failing, not 
due to lag in support promised by the United States, but simply because the 
Saigon government did not provide piastre support for the joint pacification 
program agreed upon by the two governments o The war. Lodge concluded, was 
being lost for want of administrative initiative in printing and distribut- 
ing the necessary local funds for the agreed programs., Lodge conceded that . 
the government had made a forvrard step in announcing its intentions to de- 
centralize procurement authority from the Director General of the Budget 
and Foreign Aid to the ministries, but further decentralization to provin- 
cial and district authorities was advisable. 

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Khanh passed the buck to Oanli_, vho explained that the MRC had inherited 
enormously complicated buz-eaucratic procedures based on older French prac- 
tices^ with checks and counterchecks before actions could be effected^ and 
that these practices vere being reformed. New regulations were about to go 
Into effect and it was hoped that they would improve the situation. Jl/ 

Recommendation 7^5 of 288 had been "to assist the Vietnamese to create 
a greatly enlarged administrative corps." Effective action upon this recom- 
mendation was considered essential to effective progress in the pacifica- 
tion program;, as is clearly implied by the following list of the lines of 
action that were to be strengthened by the enlarged administrative corps <, 
These were: 

lo Training and pay of new hamlet action cadres^ of new village 
secretaries_j of district chiefs and other district staff _, of a new 
assistant for pacification for each Province Chief^ and of hamlet 
school teachers_j health workers^ district agricultural workers^ and 
rinr^al information officers. 

2. Special incentive pay for government workers in rural areas o 

3« Selective pay raises for some civil servants o 

^o Increasing enrollment in the National Institute of Administra- 
tion (NIA) to full capacity (this was a training school for civil 
servants)^ including provision of short term in-service training by 
UlAo . ■ ■ . 

5o Organization of a joint U.S.-GW Commiittee on governmental 

reform to review^ recommend^ and install needed provisions in govern- 
mental procedures o 

6. Expanding and training National Police especially for rural 
areas consistent with other recommendations to strengthen military 
and paramilitary forces. 72 / 

Along with this increase in Vietnamese administrative personnel there 
was to be an increase in IToSo advisory personnel to assist them. On 2 April 
the Mission advised Washington that a general agreement had been reached with 
the GVN and estimated that 12 additional USOM public administration person- 
nel were needed o On the following day^j however^ the Ambassador expressed 
his reservations over the large increase in staff « On 30 April in an EXDIS 
to the President^ Lodge said that Khanh was willing to accept UoSo adminis- - 
trators in pacified areas provided the U.S. felt willing to accept casual- 
ties o Lodge recoLimended a high level civil administrative advisor to Khanh. 
himself; and on k May in an EXDIS to the Secretary of State he recommended 
fotir AID public administrative advisors^, one to each of the four Corps areas_, 
all to be directly under the Ambassador » 73/ 

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As of mid-May^ hovever^ while there were some accomplishments _, on the 
whole there had been more discussion than, action o Before the mid-May meet- 
^ ing for Secretary McIJamara in Saigon the status of progress was summarized 

for him in the Mid-May Briefing Book as follows: 

lo The initiation of a two -week training program for district 
chiefs had started and the first class had graduated o 

2. Assignment had been made of one entire graduating class^ 82 
of them with thi-ee full years of training^ to be district chiefs. 

3«> Training of 75 hamlet action cadres for use in the Pacifica- 
tion Plan had been initiated. 

ho Assignment of 7OO Saigon civil servants to the 111 Corps 
area had been completed (but two-thirds of them had returned by mid- 
May as either unfit or in excess of needs) o 

5- The long standing training programs for hamlet workers had 
continued o 

D. A course to train 25OO new village secretaries had been 
initiated o 

7«' Assurance that all future graduates of WIA would be assigned 
to the coujitryside had been madeo . 

8, There was a promise to undertake to double the output of 
. graduates from the NIAo 

No action had been taken^ however^ on other measures. The most salient 
inaction was the failure to set up the promised UoSo-GVJ^ committee on 
government reformo Further^ the GW was not inclined to provide incentive 
pay to key rural workers o 

At the time that Secretary McNamara and his party went to Saigon in 
the middle of Ivlay^ the problem areas with respect to implementation of 
NSAM-288 recom_mendations were identified as follows: 

lo Inadequate provision of piastres for proper utilization of 
already trained officials and technicians. 

2. Possible inability of GVN to get the job done without direct ' 
U.S. par tic ipat ion o 

3o Lack of information from the field on plans for aggressive 
implementation of all aspects of this recommendation o 7V 

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Recommendations k^ 6^ and 7 of NASM-288 concerned increases in GW 
military forces and capabilities and vere generally considered together: 

h. To assist the Vietnamese to increase the armed forces 
(regular plus paramilitary) "by at least 50^000 meno 

6. To assist the Vietnamese to improve and reorganize the para- 
military forces and to increase their compensation. 

Jo To assist the Vietnamese to create an offensive guerrilla 
force o 

On 23 March 1^6h a joint State-Defense-AID message asked the country 
team to refine (and elaborate) these concepts and recommend a program of 
implementing actions o The mission was authorized to initiate appropriate 
first steps without vraiting for final agreement between the USG and the GW. 
There followed^, as already noted; the pertinent proclamations of early 
April; but they were only proclamations^ nothing moreo On 27 April General 
Harkins reported that GVIT planning for reorganization of paramilitary forces 
and development of a concept for programs was still in process. General 
Phat; the Minister of Interior^ was considering a merger of SDC and Combat 
Youth into a single organization (the Popular Forces) under the Ministry of 
Interior o The Civil Guard would go under the Army high command. Opera- 
tional control of Popular Forces would be vested in sector and sub-sector 
commanders at province and district levels o At village levels^ Popular 
Forces would encompass the total local security force and would include 
both full-time and part-time personnel. Details of compensation and the 
logistic mechanism were not clear Harkins judged that the concept was con- 
sistent with the Pacification Plan^ but the total anticipated strength of 
Popular Forces could not be projected until more detailed planning had been 
accomplished o Detailed negotiations with the GVN were continuing and a 
further report was to be made on 10 Mayo 7^/ 

Two days later^ on 29 April 196^; the JOS commented on the slowness of 
the GVN in implementing recommendations for 6 and 7 and pointed out an 
apparent divergence between MACV and GVN on the strength and organization 
of the GVINI forces o They explained that the 50^000 figure was an interim 
planning figure^ and that further increases should be recommended when and 
as necessaryo COMaSMACV was asked to submit his detailed plan for imple- 
menting k^ 6; and 7 by the 7th of May^ 76/ 

Almost simultaneously with this JCS message^ Harkin^s deputy,, General 
Westmoreland; was accompanying Ambassador Lodge to see Khanli on the 
occasion; already described; when Ambassador Lodge made his strong deViarche 
with the Vietnamese Premier « Westmoreland expatiated on the military 
aspects of the Ambassador's complaint; especially the RVNAF deficiencies^ 
specifying increased desertion rates and inadeq.uate enlistments and draft 

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callupSo He calculated that at the current rates of desertion^ casualties 
and recruitment the RVTJAF at the end of the year would be smaller not 
larger than at present o 

Finally^ on 7 May^ Harkins was able to report that a USG-GW agree- 
ment had been reached on calendar year 196^ force goals for the RWAF^ 
Civil Guard and the National Police^ although there was not yet an agree- 
ment on the SDC and Combat Youth o The agreement on the RYNAF^ CG^ and 
SDC force levels were as sho-^m in the tabulation below: 77/ 

Current Recommended 
Authorized Strength 
Strength CY 6k 

RVDTAE 227^ 000 

237.600 . 


90, 015 

97, 615 


110^ 000 

110^ 000 


180^000 200^000 
(trained and armed) 

National Police 


3k, 900 


lOj 600 


20^ 000 

10, 650 


lo GW = 
2. UoS. 

Ic^ billior piastres 
= $18 million for pay; 
$5 million MAP 

Ic 08 billion piastres 
2o$ 2.2 million MAP (no esti- 
mate of cost of pay 

Wo estimates of cost (no agree- 
ment yet) 

No estimates of cost (no agree- 
ment yet) 

500,000 million piastres 
$lc2 million 

With respect to the perennial problem of assisting the Vietnamese to 
develop their own offensive guerrilla force, in mid-May there was some 
progress to report, although the accomplishm-ents were less than had been 
hoped o Efforts were continuing to improve the distribution of Ranger 
battalions for use against VC base areas and in border areas of I and II 
Corps. Plans also were being developed at that time for better border 
control, and for intelligence integration, coordination of Vietnamese Special 
Forces operations, and air siirveillance. Efforts were also being made 
towards integration of Vietnamese Special Forces and UoSo Special Forces 
staffs at all command echelons o Vietnamese junior officers and NCO's, 
including Montagnards, were being initiated to training and guerrilla war- 
fare techniques in the new VNSF/uSSF Center at Nha Trango This was 

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expected to encoiorage the YNSF to adopt bolder and more confident 
tactics. 78/ 

Recommendations 8^ 9^ and 10 were accomplished rather simply and ex- 
peditiously because they consisted entirely of supplying the South Viet- 
namese materials that they needed. It did not involve our inducing the 
Vietnamese themselves to do anything o Recommandation 8 was to provide the 
Vietnamese Air Force 25 AUi aircraft in exchange for present T-28's. Recom- 
mendation 9 was to provide the Vietnamese army additional M-II3 APC's (with- 
drawing the M-ll4's there)^, additional riverboats and approximately $5-10 " 
million worth of additional materiel « Recommendation 10 was to announce 
publicly the fertilizer program and to expand it with a vievr to trebling 
within two years the amount of fertilizer currently made available c 

MAP funding for Recomm^endation 8 was approved by ISA on 25 March 1964 
following approval of the delivery schedule on 22 March. On 1 May 1964^ 
19 AlH^s were delivered and six more scheduled for delivery 10 days latere 

- A Navy unit of k support off iGers_j 8 instruction pilots and I50 men arrived 
on 30 April 1964 to train Vietnamese crews until they could ass-ume full 
responsibility,, which was estimated to be in three to six months « By early 
May planning and funding action for the provision of the M-113's had been 
completed According to the schedule developed in response to the request 
for this materiel made by CINCPAC and COmSMACV, 17 M-113's were shipped 
to arrive in Saigon I7 April^ 16 were due to arrive 29 April; 30 were shipped 
to arrive by 1 June^ and 30 more were to arrive by 10 July. There was an 
agreement between CINCPAC and COMUSMACV that no additional howitzers^ river- 
boats or A]\t/prc/41s were to be recommended at that time. Eighty-five 
thousand tons of fertilizer had been requested and procured by early May 
for spring planting^ and this had been publicized by the GVN and in Washing- 

__ touo A distribution scheme was being developed and refined in ear3.y May 
with provision for further expansion including a probable 18^000 tons re- 
quirement in the fallo 79/ 

There were two important visitations to Saigon during April o The first 
was by General Earle G. Wheeler^ then Chief of Staff; USA^ who visited 
Saigon from 15-20 April and represented Secretary McNamara and the JCS during 
the visit of the Secretary of State to Saigon 17-20 April. It was during 
these meetings that Khanh's desire to shift the emphasis of the struggle to 
an attack on the North first became emphatically evident o In the meeting 
with Khanh on 16 April; Wheeler; in company with General Ear kins ; was in- 
formed by Khanh that eventually the war must be moved north o Harkins later 
told Wheeler that this was the first time Khanh had ever said that extending 
operations to the North was inevitable o IQianh explained that when the move .. 
to the North occui^red MCV would have to take over all the logistics o He 
further said he "v/as ready to start planning for an extension of operations 
to the North o 

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I ■ "^'" - ■ ■ - - "i -- ,. II-. ^.1 


Two days later on l8 April Khanli again brought the matter up^ this 
time with Secretary of State Rusk. Rusk replied that this was a big prob- 
lem^ that political preparation would be needed; and that while the U.S. 
was prepared to take any action necessary to win the war^ it had 'to be very 
clear that such action was indeed necessary before the UoS. would embark 
, on it, 80/ 

I A fortnight before on h April 1964 Wo P. Bundy had written a letter to 

Ambassador Lodge with enclosures which concerned a possible political scen- 
ario to support action against North Vietnam and for the earlier _, so-called 

t "Blue Annex" (considerations of extended actions to the North) completed 

during the McNamara -Taylor visit in March 1964. In Washington there was 
considerable theorizing^ in this period^ about the best manner of persuading 
North Vietnam to cease aid to the NLF-VG by forceful but restrained pres- 
sures which would convey the threat of greater force if the North Vietnamese 

; did not end their support of the insurgency in South Vietnamo In certain 

circles ^in Washington at least; there was what appears now to have been an 
amazing level of confidence that we could induce the Nortn Vietnamese to 
abandon their support of the SVN insurgency if only \re could convince them 
that we meant business^ and that we would indeed bomb them if they did not 
stop their infiltration of men and supplies to the South o 

This confidence^ .although ultimately accepted as the basis for decision^ 
was neither universal nor uncLualifiedo This was evident; for instance in 
the meeting of 19 April; when the subject was discussed in Saigon with Rusk^ 
■Lodge; Harkins; NeS; Manfull; DeSilva; Lt. Col. Dunn^ General VJheeler; 
W. P. Bundy; and Solbert of ISA. Much of the discussion on that occasion 
centered on the political context; objectives; and riskS; of increasing mili- 
tary pressure on North Vietnamo It was understood that it would be first 
. exerted solely by the C-overnment of Vietnam; and would be clandestine. 

Gradually both wraps and restraints would be removed. A point on which there 
was a good deal of discussion was what contact with the DRV would be best in 
order to let Hanoi know the meaning of the pressures and of the threats of 
greater pressu-res. Ambassador Lodge favored a Canadian ICC man who was about 
to replace the incumbent. The new man he had kno^m at the UNo While Lodge 
. was willing to participate in discussions of the mechanisms; he was explicitly 

j : -unsure of Hanoi's reaction to any level of pressure. Lodge was not always 

I fully consistent in his views on this subject; and it is not clear that his 

reservations on this score led him to counsel against the move or to express 
I I other cautions. However; he did say he doubted that we could meet massive 

intervention by the DRV by purely conventional meas-ures. Rusk hoped that the 
threatened pressinres against Hanoi would induce her to end her support for 
I •■■' ■ the VC. Rusk emphasized the importance of obtaining the strongest possible- 
evidence of DRV infiltration. It was during this discussion that the ques- 
tion of the introduction of U.So Naval forces -- and hints of Cam Ranh Bay -- 
arose as a measure which it was hoped would induce increased caution in 
Hanoi. The presence of military pox/er therC; it was hoped; might induce 
Hanoi to be more restrained in its actions toward South Vietnam. There was 

I \ 

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speciaation about whether the use of nuclear weapons against North Vietnam 
would bring in the Russians. Rusk had, been iinpressed_j so he said_j by- 
Chiang Kai-shek's recent _, strongly expressed opposition to any use by the ' 
United States of nuclear weapons. There was mention that I^iem had 
sought Chinese Il-.tionalist military forces but their utility was generally 
deprecated, Bundy conjectured^ for argument's sake^ that nukes used in 
wholly ujipopulated areas solely for purposes of interdiction might have a 
different significance than if used otherwise. It is not reported that 
any examination of effectiveness or of obviously possible count ermeasures 
was essayed; and no decisions were made. But the direction of thinking 
was clearly away from measures internal to Vietnam^ and clearly headed 
toward military actions against the North. 8l/ 

At the conclusion of his visit to Vietnam in mid-April Secretary Rusk 
drew up the two-part summary list of added steps that he believed neces- 
sary. The first part^j composed of actions presenting no substantive policy 
problems listed the following actions: 

1. Engage more flags in South Vietnam. 

2. Increase GVN diplomatic representation^ and GVN information 
activity (to widen support of the GVN cause). 

3. Enlist General Minh in the war effort. 

h. Mobilize public support for war effort by civilian groups. 

5. Improve the psychological warfare effort. 

6. Discreetly cooperate with Khanh for the expulsion of 
"undesirable characters." 

?• Empower Ambassador Lodge to make on-the-spot promotions to 
U.S. civilians in Vietnam. 

Among the actions the Secretary felt should be considered_j but which in- 
volved policy problems^ were: 

1. Maintain U.S. naval presence at either Tourane or Cam Ranh Bay_, 
. as a signal to Hanoi (to suggest to them our deep interest in 

affairs in Vietnam). 

2. Spend more raoney in developing pacified provinces instead of 

con^ientrating efforts almost exclusively on trouble spots. 


3- Push GVN anti-junk operations gradually north of the DMZ. 

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4. Remove inhibitions on the use of Asian intelligence agents 
in Cambodian-Laos border areas. 82/ 

By the end of another fortnight Khanh's mood had turned much" more 
strongly toward insistence upon his march to the North. On the morning . 
of h May 1964^ Khanh asked Lodge to call; and Khanh began by asking if 
he should make a declaration putting the country on a var footingo This^ 
he said would involve getting rid of "politicians" in the government and 
having a government composed frankly of technicians o It would involve sus- 
pension of civil rights ("as had been the case under Lincoln in your civil 
war"). There would be a curfew^ Saigon would cease to be a city of 
pleasui-e^ and plajis laid to evacuate the diplomatic corps and two million 
people. Khanh then said that an announcement should be made to Hanoi that 
any further Interference with South Vietnam's internal affairs would lead 
to reprisals^ and Khanh specifically asked if the UoSo would be prepared 
to undertake tit-for-tat bombing each time there was such interference o 

^ Continuing; Khanh talked further ^ somewhat wildly^ of defying Cam.bodia 
and breaking diplomatic relations with France; and he even mentioned a 
declaration of war against the. DRV at one point. He conveyed the impres- 
sion of a desperate desire to press for an early military decision by out- 
right war with the DRVo Lodge sought to- discourage this sort of adventur- 
ism^ but acknowledged that if the DRV invaded South Vietnam with its Army^ 
that act would raise a host of new questions of acute interest to the UoSc 
Possible entry of Chinese forces would have to be consideredo The question 
then would be whether such an Army could be made ineffective by interdicting 
its supply lines o He could not envision the U,So putting into Asia an Army 
the size of the U.S. Army in Europe in World War II «> KhanJi said that he 
understood this but that an "Army Corps" of U.So Special Forces niombering 
10^000 could do in Asia as much as an Army group had done in Europe. "One 
American can make soldiers out of 10 Orientals o"^ic_l7 It was illogical^ 
wasteful^j and wrong to go on incuji-ring casualties "just in order to make 
the agony endm^Co" 

Near the end of his report of this conversation^ the Ambassador in- - 
serted this com„ment; "this man obviously v/ants to get on with the job and - 
not sit here indefinitely taking casualties o Who can blame him?"' Then 
he added; as a further comment: 

His desire to declare a state of war^.. seems wholly in line 
with ouj:^ desire to get out of a 'business as usual' mentally o 
He is clear 3,y facing up to all the hard questions and wants us 
to do it; too o 83/ 

Lodgers report of Khanh' s impatient wish to strike north drew an ' 
in;imediate flash response from Rusk; which began with a statement that made 
it clear that the message had been considered carefully at the White House. 
Extremely grave issues were raised by the conversation; and reactions had 

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to "be developed with great care. There would still be another meeting with 
the President on the matter;, on 6 May^ before McNamara departed for the 
trip that would take him to Saigon (after Bonn). McNamara would take up 
issues with Lodge upon his arrival there. But before the 6 I4aj meeting 
with the President,, would Lodge please answer seven questions as a contri- 
bution to the Washington consideration of the issue o 

The questions raised by the Secretary and the answers provided later 
by the Embassy follow: 

lo What were Khanh^s motivations? Does he believe that mobiliza- 
tion makes sense only as a preparation for military action against 
Eorth Vietnam? Reply : Khanh as professional soldier thinks in terms 
of victoryo ]^ot a matter of pique o Honestly seeking a means of 
putting country on war footing c 

2o Is there a trace of despair in Khanh' s remarks? Does he think 
he can win without attacking north? Reply : Noo 

3o Previously Khanh told McNamara it would be necessary to con- 
solidate a base in South Vietnam for attacking North Vietnam. 
Previous counterguerrilla experience in Greece^ Malaya^ and Korea 
i ' supports this judgment. Reply : Khanh does not want to move regard- 

less of progress in the South. 

I 4. Khanh' s talk of evacuating seems fantastic o Reply : Agree. 

Khanh 's concern was an ability to administer the city if attacked. 
(This referred to Khanh' s discussion of evacuating the cityo) 


5- Were Khanh' s talks of warning to Hanoi and Cambodia and 
action against the French integral parts of mobilization? Reply : 
Yes. But he should have evidence against French nationals o 

6. How to interpret Khanh' s remarks about UoSo "Army Corps?" 
Reply: Loose ta.lJi. This reaction came after (Lodge's) discouraging 
reply about the possibility of the U.So bringing in large numbers of 

7. Was the GVN capable of administering limited mobilization? 
Reply : Question is a puzzler. However^ some such thing might be a 
way of overcoming "business as usual." 8^/ 

The response to Khanh' s proposal that came out of the 6 May meeting 
was that the ^Secretary of Defense was to tell Khanh_j when he was in 
Saigon^, that the UcSo did "not intend to provide military support nor 
undertake the military objective of rolling back Communist control in 
North Vietnamo" 85 ' 

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3o The Secretary's Visit to Saigon May 196^ 

Accompanied by General Wheeler^ and MM. Sylvester and McNaughton^ 
and his military aide^ the Secretary of Defense made a brief visit to 
Saigon 12-lli- May enroute home from Bonno In informing Saigon on k May 
of his projected visit he said that his primary objective was to get full 
information as to the current status and futiire plans^, with targets and 
dates^ for the following item.s for the rest of calendar year 1964: 

lo Augmentation of GW military and paramilitary forces_, with a 
breakdown by area and service category. - 

2o Increased compensation for GW military and paramilitary 

3« Reorganization of military and paramilitary forces. 

4o Creation of the Civil Administrative Corps. 

5» Implementation of the national mobilization piano 

6. The steps and timetables_, both military and civil^ for our 
implementation of the oil-spot concept of pacificationo 

Additionally^ it was further specified that he wanted information on the 

lo A map of population and areas controlled by the VC and the 

2. Progress of military operations in extending control by the 
oil-spot theory. 

3- Brief reports on the critical provinces c 

4. The Country Team's appraisal of Khanh's progress in strength- 
ening national_j provincial and district governments. 

5. The Coimtry Team's evaluation of Khanh's support by various 
groups (constituting Vietnamese political power centers). 

6. MACV^s forecast of likely VC and GVW military activity for 
the rest of 196^. 

7*. Recommendations on cross-border intelligence operations a 

8. Report on the extent to which the UoS. contribution of added 
resources or personnel (either military or civilian) for civil pro- 
grams could strengthen the GVN counterinsurgency programo 86/ 


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The trip books prepared for the members of the Secretary' s party also 
indicated that one major concern was to reinforce Lodge's demarche of 
30 April concerning facilitating the flov of piastres to the provinces for 
counterinsurgency support o It was suggested that possibly the rigid and 
conservative director of the budget^ Luu Van Tinh might have to be dis- 
missed if Oanh couldn't make him do better • A list of problems' that were 
created by lack of piastres in the provinces followed: 

lo Health workers trained by AID were not employed for lack of I 
piastres o i 

2o Provincial and district officers (both health and agricultural 
extension workers) were severely restricted in travel to villages for 
lack of per diem and gasoline, 

3o Bills for handling AID counterinsurgency cargo at the port of 
Danang were not paid^ resulting in refusal and threat of refusal^ by 
workers and groups^ to handle more cargo. 

4. Several categories of GW workers had not been paid salaries 
owed to them for months. 

5* Truckers were threatening to refuse to handle AID counter- 
insurgency cargo because they had not been paid for past services by 
the Government of Vietnam. 

6o There were inadequate fun.ds to compensate villages for food^ 
lodging^ water and services provided by peasants to the AEVN^ the CG^ 
and the SDCo 

7« There had been nonpayment or delayed or only partial payment of 
promised relocation allowances to relocated authorities o 

In the light of these problems it was considered that two USOM piastre 
cash funds might be established; (l) a petty cash fun.d to support the 
Ministry of Education; and (2) a substantial USOM- controlled piastre fund 
to break bottlenecks in such matters as transportation of goods ^ spare 
parts^ per diem payment of immobilized Vietnamese personnel^, and emergency 
purchases on the local market o AID Administrator Bell in Washington had 
made commitments to Secretary McNamara that all piastres necessary for 
counterinsurgency would be forthcoming even if deficit financing were needed. 
But because there were p]enty of commodity im.ports at hand; that posed no 
problem. USOM and MACV and the public administration advisors who were 
then being recruited should review carefully whether U.So civil administra- 
tion advisors to the provincial chiefs, could facilitate the flow of funds 
and commodities^ and expedite paper \rork. Finally^ the use of rural affairs 
provincial staffs should be increased by one or more per province^, perhaps 
using Filipinos or Chinese Nationals o 87/ 

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The first day of the Secretary's stay in Saigon was spent in brief ings_j 
and not all of vhat he heard was encoioraging. There was first a briefing 
from the Ambassador^ who said the administrative mechanism of the central GW 
was not functioning smoothly^ that Khanh overcentralized authority_j and that 
altho-ugh the situation might vrork out the prospects were not good a One bit 
of encoui-agement was that Khanh vms req^uesting more UoS. advisors -- this was 
taken as a token of good intentions and of willingness to cooperate with the 
U.So The provincial government would continue to be weak^ and the corps 
commanders' authority handicapped the provinces o Khanh' s 23 new province 
chiefs and 80 new district chiefs had improved the quality of leadership^ he 
thought. But the Buddhists ;, although fragmented^ remained politically active 
and Thich Tri Quang was agitating strongly against Khanh. The Catholics were 
about to withdravr their chaplains from the Armyo The students supported 
Khanh but the intellectuals did note Lodge thought that the cinrrent U.So 
program was of about the right size but that better leadership was needed o 
He would like UoS. civilian advisors in each corps area^ VJhen USOM Director 
Brent gave his briefing he made the point that USOM was 25 percent short of 
authorized personnel strength o This led the Secretary to ask about the use 
of UoSo military personnel^ FS0s_5 or Peace Corps personnel to fill the 
shortage. Forrestal was asked to look into the problem and report o The NIA 
was short of faculty because seven instructors had been assigned elsewhere 
and there was^ moreover _j an inadequate budget « 88/ 

In the afternoon briefing^ General Plarkins said he was guardedly opti- 
mjistic in spite of the fact that 23 province chiefs_j 135 district chiefs_y 
and practically all senior military commanders had been replaced since the 
last coup. In discussing "Population Control" (pacification)^ it was de- 
cided to use 1 April 196^ as a base for statistical raeasvu-eaients of pacifica- 
tion progress. When he came to the subject of the planned augmentation of 
ARVE and the paramilitary forces^ the figures presented by General Harkins 
showed that achievement lagged behind the agreed goals o Although the agreed 
MAP program called for 229^,000 PWAF personnel at that time and 238 _, 000 for 
the end of calendar year 196^_, there were actually only 207^000 currently 
in EWKFo (This showed no improvement over March). The strength of RWAF 
had in fact been decreasing consistently from a high of 218^000 in July I963 
because of increased activity (hence losses through casualties)^ desertions^ 
budget problems and miscellaneous lesser causes. 89/ 1 

Among the topics receiving considerable a.ttention during the meeting 
on the morning of the 13th of May was that of WAF' pilot training program^ 
This subject assumed special importance for three reasons. First^, the 
March program of providing helicopters to the Vietnajnese Air Force called 
also for the provision of pilots to fly themo Second_; there had just 
previously been some embarrassing publicity concerning the participation 
of USAP pilots in covert combat roles ^ ah activity that had not been 
publicly acknowledged o Third _, the meeting with the President on 6 May 
had led to the instructions to the Secretary^ already noted_j to discourage 
Khanh' s hopes of involving the United States in his March to the North. 

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In this discussion of YNAF pilot training^ it was revealed that there were 
h96 VNAF pilots c-ui^rently at hand^ but that 666 were required by 1 July. 
Thirty helicopter pilots were to finish by 1 July^ 30 liaison pilots to 
finish by 27 June^ and 226 cadet pilots were in the United States whose 
status was not kno-^m at the time of the meeting. The Secretary emphasized 
that it had never been intended that the USAP participate in combat in 
Vietnam^ and current practices that belied this were exceptions to that 
policyo ^The Administration had been embarrassed because of the Shank af- 
fair- -letters which had complained that UoSo boys were being killed in 
combat while flying inferior aircraft. The Secretary emphasized that the 
WAF should have a better pilot-to-aircraft ratio o It should be 2 to 1 
instead of loii to 1 as at present o And^ as a first priority project^ WAF 
pilots should transition from other aircraft to the A-lHs to bring the 
total ^ to 150 qualified to fly that aircraft o It was tentatively agreed 
to. fix that objective for 120 days and accept the consequent degradation of 
transport capabilityo 90/ 

Following this there was a discussion of offensive guerrilla operations 
and cross-border operations^ both of which were agreed to be inadequate a 
Creation of an offensive guerrilla force had been one of the Secretary's 
March recommendations o General Westmoreland said that Special Forces of 
both the U.So and the GYN were over-extended^ and he added he believed that 
they should be expanded o As a result of this conversation MACV was directed 
to study the six-month duty tour of the UcSo Special Forces The Secretary 
considered it possibly too short and thought it might have to be extended 
to a full yearo On the subject of cross-border operations^, the concept was 
to drop six-man teams in each of authorized areas in North Vietnam and Laos 
and pick them up^ 30 days later^ by helicoptero The objective was two 
teams by I5 June; and this potential was to be doubled each month thereafter. 
It was decided that operations should begin approximately I5 June 196^0 9l/ 

In his subsequent report on this second SecDef-MACV conference^ MACV 
reported that the Secretary of Defense had expressed disappointment that 
the ^ civil defense decree of the GVJM did not constitute a coimterpart to 
military conscription. Furthermore^ MACV recorded that in the coirrse of 
the discussion of means of strengthening the VNAF the Secretary of Defense 
had reaffirmed basic UoS. policy that fighting in Vietnam should be done 
by Vietnameseo The FARMGATE concept was explained as a specific^ reluc- 
tantly approved exception^ a supplementary effort transitory in nattireo 92/ 

The Secretary's military aide^ Ltc Colo Sidney Bo Berry^ Jr..^ recorded 
the decisions taken by the Secretary at Saigono They were these: 

lo "Have the first group of six-man reconnaissance teams for 
cross-border operations ready to operate by I5 June 196hy then double . 
the number of teams each month thereafter. The Secretary was anxious 
to get hard information on DRV aid to the VC. The Secretary was to 

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get authority for additional cross-box-^der operations in addition to 
the operations already authorized in two locations^ 

2,o Concerning the WAF training program^j there vas never any 
intent^ nor vas it the policy of the USG to have USAE pilots parti- ' 
cipate in combat o Exception to this should be considered undesirable 
and not setting a precedent a MACV vas therefore to give first priority 
to manning 75 AlHs with two Vietnamese pilots per aircraft^ for a total 
of 150 Vietnamese pilots; and he was also to determine the optimum 
size of the VNM^ tentatively using a figure of 125 to 150 AlH air- 
craft o In connection with this the Secretary approved assignment to 
the VNAE of 25 more AlEs by 1 October 1964 to replace I8 RT-28s on 

3o VJhen the Secretary asked Harkins if he needed additional 
Special Forces^ Harkins replied; "YeSo" The Secretary then said that 
when COMUSMACV stated requirements he would approve them if they were 
valid o He said that a six-month duty tour was too short and the 
normal tour should be extended to one year^ reserving the right^ of 
course^ to make exceptions for special cases 

ho When General Harkins handed- the Secretary a shopping list for 
items and funds totalling about $7 mil-lion^ the Secretary immediately 
approved the list. 

' ' 5<> The Secretary directed CONIUSMACV to submit in writing require- 

ments for South Vietnamese military housing. 

60 Concerning MACV needs^ the "SecDef m,ade unequivocal statement 
that MACV should not hesitate to ask for anything they need. SecDef 
gives first priority to winning the war in SVN. If necessary he will 
take weapons and equipment from U.S. forces to give the VNAE. Nothing 
will be spared to win the war. But UcS. personnel must operate in 
compliance with USG policies and objectives. " 93/ 

Near the end of the Secretary's stay General Khanh met vrith McNamara^ 
Lodge; Taylor and Harkins; and judging from the report of the meeting sent 
in by the Ambassador^ Khanh put on a masterf"al performance o Khanh began 
his talk by reviewing the recent course of the war claiming to have estab- 
lished control; in the last three months, over some three million Vietnamese 

sic/o However; the danger of reinf iltration by the Cornmmiists 
still existed « Khanh said that the biggest and most time-consuming prob- - ^ 
lems were political; and he was -unskilled in such things and wanted to lean ' 
for advice on Ambassador Lodge. But religious problems were also pressing o 
There was religious conflict between Catholics and Buddiiists and within 
tl^ie Buddhist movement. The Government of Vietnam was in the middle <> The 
real trouble-maker was Thich Tri Quang. Lodge was trying to help Khanh in 
this*, There was also a problem with the presS; and vrith "parlor politi- 
cians" (civiliaiis), Khanh said that he was a soldier^ not a politician; 

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and wished he could spend his time mo^jnting military operations and in 
planning long-term strategy instead of dealing vith political intrigues 
and sq_uabbles. But he had to think about the security of his regime. 

The Secretary then referred to the Ambassador's report of Khanh's 
desire not to "prolong the agony^*' and said that he_j the Secretary^ wanted 
to hear more about this. Khanh said that in speaking of not wanting to 
"make the agony endure" he did not m.ean he would lose patience^ but rather 
wanted to speed up the effort by something like a proclamation that South 
Vietnam was being attacked from the north and was therefore being put on a 
war footing. The statement would also say that if this attack from the 
north did not stop within a specified period of time^ South Vietnam would 
strike back in ways and degrees comparable to the North Vietnamese attacks 
on South Vietnam o 

Whereas the north attacks us with guerrillas that squirm through 
the jungle_j we would attack them with guerrillas of our own^ only 
ours would fly at treetop level and blow up key installations er- 
mine the Port of Haiphong. 

The Secretary asked in return if Khanh judged it vrise to start opera- 
tions at that timeo Khanh replied that he needed first to consider the 
enemy's probable reaction _j including the reaction of Comin-unist China « The 
NLF and VC were only arms and hands of the monster whose head was in Hanoi 
"and maybe further northo" To destroy the thing it vras necessary to strike 
the head. The purpose of going on a war footing was to prepare for ultimate 
extension of the war to the north. Taylor asked how best to attack the 
North. It had been noted that small-scale operations had had no success o 
With respect to RYNAF capabilities _, Khanh said that they either were equal 
to the task already^ or soon would be --the problem was to be sure of en- 
joying full UoS. supportc Khanh conceded that there were' always -unknowns 
that created uncertainties « Taylor recalled that in March Khanh had favored 
holding off the attack on North Vietnam until there was a stabler base in 
South Vietnamo Khanh hedged on this point at first; then^ after conceding 
some GVN weakness^j said an attack on the North was the best way to cure that 
weakness. It would be a cwce for weakness to draw clear lines of battle 
and thereby engage men's hearts in an all-out effort. 

The Secretary at a later point reminded Khanh of the 72^000-man in- 
crease in ARVN^ and another 72^000-man increase in parajnilitary forces^ 
that had been agreed upon in March; and pointed out that accomplishments 
in April did not suggest that the GVI\^ was on schedule. The Secretary 
emphasized he made the observation only to introduce his main point_j which 
was that the UoS. Government w"Ould help in any way it could to get the 
program back on schedule. Then he produced a cnart showing what should 
have been achieved and vrhat actually had been achieved o The USG would 
supply any needed funds^ and fighter -type aircraft^ but the GVN must em- 
phasize to the provinces that 'program funds must be disbujrsedo Khanh blamed 

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the piastre disbursal difficulties on inherited French budget practices^ 
and promised to pressure the province chiefs further on the matter o There 
was talk about incompetent personnel within the GM and of the problems of 

replacing them. . * 

4. The Honolulu Conference of 30 May 1964 

The next landm^ark of policy formation for Vietnam was the Honolulu 
Conference of 30 May 1964. On 26 May^ the President sent out to Lodg^ 
his call for the Honolulu Conference: 

I have been giving the most intense consideration to the whole 
battle for Southeast Asia^j and I have now instructed Dean Rusk^ 
Bob McNamara_j Max Taylor and John McCone to join Felt in Honolulu 
for a meeting with you and a very small group of your most senior 
associates in Southeast Asia to review for my final approval a 
series of plans for effective actiono 

I am sending you this message at once to give you private 
advance notice because 1 hope this meeting can occur, very soon -' 
perhaps on Mondayo Dean Rusk will be sending you tomorrow a 
separate cable on the subjects proposed for the meeting,, and 
Bob McNamara will put a plane at your disposal for the trip 

. o . 

other parts of the message referred to matters related to im.pending changes 
in the mission in Saigon - the retirement of General Harkins and his re- 
placement by General Westmoreland and the strengthening of the civilian side 
of the country teamo 95/ 

Tlie promised policy guidance followed promptlyo It constituted both 
an appraisal of the current situation and a statement of the needs - 
flowing from that appraisal - that it seemed evident had to be met^ along 
with some proposals for meeting those needs o 

To You will have surmised from yesterday's telegram from 
the President and the Secretary that we here are fully aware 
that gravest decisions are in front of us and other governments 
about free world's interest in and commitment to security of 
Southeast Asiao Our point of departure is and must be that we 
cannot accept overrunning of Southeast Asia by Hanoi and Peiping. 
Full and frank discussion of these decisions with you is purpose 
of Honolulu meeting. 

o c 

2.0 President will continue in close consultation with Con- 
gressional leadership (he met with Democratic leadership and Senate 
Republicans yesterday) and will wish Congress associated with him 
on any steps which carry with them substantial acts and risks of 
escalation. At that point there will be three central q.uestions: 

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ae Is the security of Southeast Asia vital to the UoS. 
and of the free -world? 

b. Are additional steps necessary? 

c. Will the additional steps accomplish their mission of 
stopping the intrusions of Hanoi and Peiping into the south? 

Whether approached from b or c above ^^ it seems obvious that 
ve must do everything within our power to stiffen and strengthen 
the situation in South Vietnamo We recognize that. ..the time 
sequence of Communist actions may force the critical decisions 
before any such preparatory measuj^es could achieve tangible 
success o 

II. Nevertheless^ in Honolulu^ ve would like be pre- 
pared to discuss with us several proposals «. operhaps the most 
radical. o. is the one whicho o owould involve a major infusion of 
U»S. efforts into a group of selected provinces where Vietnamese 
seem currently unable to execute their pacification programs... 

We would therefore propose that UoSo personnel^ both 
civilian and military;, drawn from the U.S. establishment currently 
in Vietnam^ be 'encadred' into current Vietnamese political and 
military structure 

O O o 

Specifically _; this would involve the assignment of civilian 
personnel^ alternatively military personnel with a civilian function^ 
to work in the provincial administration^, and insofar as it is feas- 
ible^ down to the logistic level of administration. On the military 
side it would mean the introduction of mobile training teams to 
train^ stiffen and improve the state of the Vietnamese paramilitary 
forces and district operation planning. 

o o 

In order to test the utility of such a proposal^ we would 
suggest that seven provinces be chosen for this purpose <> We woiild 
offer the provinces of Long An^, Dinh Tuong^, Kien Hoa_, Tay Ninhj 
Hau Wgiahj which are five critical provinces in the immediate vicinity 
of Saigona Additionally ;, we would propose Quang Ngia.^^. and finally 
Phu Yen 


• O O 

UoSi personnel assigned to these functions would not 
appear directly in the chain of command *.oo They would instead 
be listed as "assistants" to the Vietnamese officials o In prac- 
tice^j however^ we would expect them to carry a major share of the 
bujrden of decision and action 

o o o 

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• « o 

This proposal might also require a close integration of 
UoS. and Vietnamese pacification activities in Saigon. 

o. • • 

III. In addition to these radical proposals. . .we continue 
gravely concerned about the differences between Khanh and the 
generals^ the problem of Big Minh^ and the religious differences 

O • D 

IV. Finally _, we wish to consult with you on the manner in 
which we cano . .eliminate the business as usual attitude in Saigon 
o... ¥e will also wish to examine the best means of reducing the 
problems of dependents. . o o 96/ 

On the same day that the foregoing policy guidance went out to Ambas- 
sador lodge^ a meeting was held in Washington at William Sullivan's sugges- 
tion. Attended by Mr. McGeorge Bundy^ John McNaiighton^ General Goodpastor 
and William Colby^ it considered a policy memo dra^m up by Mr^ Mendenhall 
covering most of the same points raised in the message to Lodge. The gist of 
the memo was that the GVTT was not operating effectively enough to reverse 
the adverse trend of the war against the VC^, that the Khanh government was 
well intentioned but its good plans were not being translated into effec- 
tive action^ and that it was necessary therefore to find means of broadening 
the U.S. role in Vietnam in order to infuse efficiency into the operations 
of the GVNo In general^, the memo argued the UoS. should become more deeply 
involved both militarily and otheirwise^ abandonin-g the passive advisor role 
but avoiding visibility as a part of the chain of comjuand^ Vietnamese 
sensitivities imposed limitations^ and if it should appear that the United 
States intruded^; the Vietnamese might come to resent our presence « The memo 
proposed;, nevertheless^ that the meeting carefully consider a phased expan- 
sion of the UoS. rolco First _, military advisors might be placed in para- 
military vmits in seven provinces -- about 300 added advisors would be needed 
for this purpose. Second^ in the same seven provinces -- 'Long An^ Dinh Tuong^ 
Kien Hoa^ Tay Ninh^ Hau Ngiah^ Quany Ngia^ and Phu Yen -- UcSo civilian and 
military personnel .should be interlarded in the civil administration^ about 
10 per province for a total of 70. Third^ as an experiment^ the UoS« might 
try civilians at district levels to supplement the U.So military personnel 
being assigned there o "In view of the traditional distrust of the Vietnam- 
ese peasants for military personnel^ it is of considerable importance to 
begin an introduction of American civilian presence at this level to help 
win support of the peasant population." ^±oJ To back up these field opera- 
tions it was suggested that a joint Vietnamese-American Pacification Opera- 
tions Committee be established^ with high level representation from KACV and 
USOM on the U.So side^ and from the Defense Ministry^ the Joint General 
Staff (JGS)^ the Vice President for Pacification; and the Directorate of 
the Budget and Foreign Aid on the Vietnamese side. This Joint Pacification " 
Operations Coxmnittee should be concerned not with policy but with implement- 
ation of policies o (This was judged the weak side of the GVI^o) U.S. 
personnel mighty in addition^ be introduced at reasonably higli levels into 
the Ministries of Rural Affairs,, Interior, Information, Education, Health, 


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Public ¥orks^ and_j in fact^ into any other agency concerned, vith pacifica- 
tiono Einally^j the U.So personnel so assigned should come from among 
those Americans already on the spot -- partly from civilians and partly 
from military officers already on assignment there -- and the vacancies 
caused by these reassignments should be filled by recruitment from the 

u«s. 97/ 


A cable from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to CINCPAC and COMUSMCV 
indicated that (in addition to some questions on Laos) the Secretary of 
Defense vanted the views of the two senior commanders in the Pacific 
(CINCPAC and MACV) on a series of questions largely but not exclusively 
military in nature: 

lo What military actions _, in ascending order of gravity^ might 
be taken to impress Hanoi with our intentions to strike Worth 

2. What would be the time factors and force requirements involved 
in achieving readiness for such actions against North Vietnam? 

3o What should be the purpose and pa,ttern of the initial air 
strike against North Vienam? 

4. What was their concept of the actions and reactions which 
might arise from progressive implementation of CINCPAC plans 37 -6^^ 
and 32-64? 

5» How might North Vietnam and Communist China respond to these 
escalating pressures? 

60 VJhat military help should be sought from SEATO nations? 


There was a second group of queries which referred not to the possibility 
of military pressures of one sort or another against North Vietnam^ but 
rather were directed mainly to the coimterinsurgency efforts within South 
Vietnam o 

1. What were their views on providing four -man advisory teams^ 
at once^ for each district in the seven selected provinces_j and later 
in all of the 239 districts in SVN? 

2o In what other ways could military personnel be used to advan- 
tage in forwarding the pacification program in the seven selected 

3. VJhat was the current status of: 

a<, The proposed increase in regular and paramilitary forces 
of the GVl^J^ including the expansion of the VNAE^ the reorganization 

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of paramilitary forces and the increased compensation for GVE 
military forces? 

, bo Formation of an intelligence net of U.So advisors* re- 
porting on conditions in the RWAF? 

c. Development of a capability for offensive guerrilla 

do Progress londer decrees for national mobilization? 

eo Progress in detailing and in carrying out operational 
plans for clear -hold operations (the oil-spot concept)? 98 / 

Along vith the solicitation of opinion from COIvIUSMCV and CINCPAC^ 
summary proposals vere developed by SACSA on the "feasibility of strength- 
ening RWAF^ CG and SDC by increased advisory efforts and/or encadremento" 
SACSA* s proposals^ intended for consideration at the Honolulu meeting^ 
centered on three subjects. The first elaborated a concept vhich was called 
"U.So Advisory Assistance to the Vietnamese Civil Guard" which consisted of 
a phased program of UoS. detachments at the district level to provide oper- 
ational assistance to paramilitary forces-. About one and one-half years 
(or until the end of calendar year I965) would be needed to expand the 
current effort -- which consisted of two-man teams for only 13 districts -- 
to 239 districts with larger advisory teams (one officer and 3 WCO spe- 
cialists )« Thus^ by the end of 1965^ according to this plan^ approximately. 
1^000 men wouJ,d be assigned to the districts. To support this effort in 
the districts about 50O more personnel would be needed^ raising the total 

to 1500 o The limiting factor on this effort would be a shortage of inter- 
preters o 

The second program, proposed for consideration by SACSA was a "Pilot 
Program for Provision of Advisory Assistance to Paramilitary Forces in 
Seven Provinces „" This was directed exclusively to the seven critical 
provinces^ namely^ Long An^ Dinh Tuong^ Kien Hoa^ Hau Nghia^ Tay Ninh^ 
Quang Ngai and Phu YeUo The concept in this case was to assign one advisory 
detachment with one company grade officer and three NCOs to each of the 49 
districts in the seven provinces o In addition to this total of 200 persons^ 
a 35 percent manpower overhead slice plus some augmentation at the province 
level (70 + 30) would be required. This would mean about 100 men in addi- 
tion to the 4 X 1^9 in the districts^ or an overall total of about 300 « In 
addition^ a minimum of hs interpretors would be needed « 

The thj.rd proposal for discussion was a suggestion that U.S. advisors 
be placed at company level in regular ARM units. Iri investigating this 
proposal^ CINCPAC, COMUSM^CV and advisors on the spot had been asked their 
judgment^ and all were reported to believe that this extension of advisors 


• • 

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to company level was not necessary^ and that the current advisory structure 
to M(W was adequate o 

The problem areas cited in all of these proposals to extend the 
advisory system were the questionable acceptability to the Vietnamese of 
further intrusion by Merican advisors^j the shortage of interpreters^ and 
finally the inevitable increase in UoSo casualtieSo 99/ 

• The political problems demanding solutions in order to permit the GM 
to proceed effectively in its struggle against the VC were identified in 
the UoSo preparations for the Honolulu Conference as: 

a. The disposition of the senior political and military prisoners 
from the two coups (there was resentment by some groups over the 
detention of prisoners at Dalat; on .the other hand^ there was possible 
danger to the Khanh regime if they were released). 

bo The rising religious tension both Catholic and Buddhist o 

c. The split between Buddhists xmder Thich Tarn Chau (moderates) 
and under Thich Tri Quang (extremists) o 

do Petty politicking within the GW. 

eo GVH failure to provide local lectures „ 

fo GVN failure to appoint Ambassadors to key governments. 

go Inadequate GW arrangements to handle third country aido 

ho RVEAE failure to protect the population o lOO/ 

It was not within the competence of the Honolulu Conference to come to 
any decisions concerning the touchy matter of additional pressures against 
the Worth; this could be done only at the White House levelo Agreement was 
reached^ however^ on certain specific actions to be taken with respect to 
the critical provinces and very shortly after the return of major parti- 
cipants to Washington these actions were approved and instructions were 
sent to the field accordingly. 

On 5 June the Department notified the Embassy in Saigon that actions 
agreed upon at Honolulu were to be taken with respect to the critical 
provinces as follows: 


lo Move in added South Vietnamese troops to assure momerical 
superiority over the VCo 

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2. Assign control over all troops in each province to the 
province chief. 

3* Execute clear-and-hold operations on a hariiH-et-by-haialet 
basis following the "oil spot" theory for each of the approxi- 
L mately kO districts within the seven critical provinces. 

i . ^' Introduce population control programs (curfews^ ID 

" ■ papers^ intelligence networks^ etc.). 


5« Increase the number of provincial police. 

6. Expand the information program. 

7- Develop special economic programs for each province. 

8. Md U.S. personnel as follows: 

a. 320 military advisors in provinces and districts. 

b. ^0 USOM advisors in provinces and districts. 

c. 7^ battalion advisors (2 for each of 37 battalions). 
^3^ TOTAL 

9- Transfer military personnel as needed to fill USOM 

10. Establish joint US/gV]\[ teams to monitor the program at 
both National and Provincial levels. lOl / 

5- Preparation for Increased Pressure on North Vietnam 

The critical question of pressures against North Vietnam remained 
theoretically moot. The consensus of those formulating policy proposals 
for final approval by highest authority appears to have been that these 
pressujres would have to be resorted to sooner or later. But the subject 
was politically explosive^ especially in a presidential election year. 
Accordingly^ not only did the basic foreign policy Issues involved need 
careful exploration^ but the domestic political framework needed prepara- 
tion before any binding cozmnitments to serious actions could be decided 

On 15 June 196^^ McGeorge Bundy G.i.dressed a memorandima to the Secre- 
taries of State and Defense announcing a meeting in the Secretary of 
State's conference room that same day at 6:00 p.m. 

The principal question for discussion will be to assess 
the desirability of recommending to the president that a - 
Congressional resolution on Southeast Asia should be sought 

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The second question is what the optimiim recommenda- 
tion for action should be if in fact a congressional 
resolution is not recommended, o.« .. 102 / 

There were six enclosures included for the consideration of those 
attending the conference. The first was a meraorandum on the subject 
of "Elements of a Southeast Asia Policy That Loes Not Include a Con- 
gressional Resolution" o The seconc' was a Sullivan memorandum sum- 
marizing the current situation in South Vietnam. The third was a 
memorandum by ¥, P. Bundy dated 12 June 1964 on "Probable Develop- 
ments and /the/ Case for Congressional Resolution on Southeast Asiao" 
The fourth was a draft resolution on Southeast Asia for Congressional 
approval o The fifth suggested basic themes to be employed in present- 
ing the resolution to the Congress. The sixth and last consisted of 
a long series of questions and answers regarding the resolution of the 
public relations sort that it was thought should surround the effort'. 

The proposed "Elements of a Policy That Does Not Include a Con^ 
gressional Resolution" consisted largely of an elaboration of the 
covert measures that were already either approved or nearing approval. 
This included RECCE STRIKE and T-28 Operations all over Laos and 
small-scale RECCE STKEKE Operations in North Vietnam after appropriate 
provocation. Apparently the sequence of actions was thought of as 
beginning with VNAP Operations in the Laotian corridor^ followed by 
limited air and sea deployments of UoS. forces toward Southeast Asia^ 
and still more limited troop movements in that general area. Military 
actions were to be accom.panied by political actions which would 
maximize diplomatic support for Laos and maxim.ize the support and 
visible presence of allies in Saigon. This last vras explicitly stated 
to be particularly desired by "higher authority." Diplomatic moves^ 
it was hoped^ would also intensify support of Souvanna. In Vietnam^ 
the paper argued^ we should emphasize the critical province program, 
strengthen the Country Team, shift the U.S. role from advice to direc- 
tion, discourage emphatically any further coup plots, and give 
energetic support to Khanh. In the U„So there should be expanded 
publicity for opposition to both aggressive adventure and withdrawal. 
It is probably significant that the last words of this study were that 
"this outline does not preclude a shift to a higher level of action, 
if actions of other side should justify or require ito It does assume 
that in the absence of such drastic action, defense of UoS. interests 
is possible within these limits over the next six months." 103/ 

The Sullivan memorandum warrants special attention because, al- 
though nominally a report on the situation, it speculated on policy 
and courses .of action in a way very significant to the policy "formu- 
lation processes at this time. In discussing the role of morale as a 
future consideration it approached a level of mysticism over a pathway 
of dilettantism. It was stated that at Honolulu both Lodge and 
Westmoreland had said the situation would remain in its current stale- 
mate unless some "victory" were introduced^ Westmoreland defined 

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victory as determination to take some new military commitments such 
as air strikes against the Viet Cong in the Laos corridor; vhile Lodge 
defined victory as willingness to make punitive air strikes against 
North Vietnam. "The significant fact... was that they /both Westmore- 
land and Lodge/ looked toward some i\merican decision to undertake a 
commitment which the Vietnamese would interpret as a willingness to 
raise the military ante and eschew negotiations begun from a position 
of weakness." Although Khanh had had some success^ Vietnamese morale 
was still not good and needed leadership had not been displayed. 

If we can obtain a breakthrough in the mutual commit- 
ment of the U.S. in Vietnam to a confident sense of victory^ 
we believe that we can introduce this sort "of executive 
involvement into the Vietnamese structure. o . . No one.... can 
define with precision just how that breakthrough can be 
e stabli shed , It could come from the external actions of the 
U,S,, internal'Teadership in Vietnam, or from an act of 
irreversible commitment by the United States . 10^/ 

The "logic" of this seemed to be that Khanh had not been able to 
provide the necessary leadership^ despite all the aid and support the 
U.S. had given. No level of mere aid^ advice^ and support short of 
full participation could be expected to supply this deficiency^ be- 
cause Khanh would remain discouraged and defeated until he was given 
full assurance of victory. He would not be able to feel that 
assurance of victory until the U.S. committed itself to full partici- 
pation in the struggle^ even to the extent of co-belligerency. If the 
U.S. could coiranit itself in this way^ the U.S. determination would 
somehow be transfused into the GVN. The problem before the assembled 
U.S. policy -makers^ therefore^ was to find somie means of breakthrough 
into an irreversible commitment of the U^S. 

The actions contemplated in this memorandum were not finally 
decided upon at this juncture^ as we know. But we were gravitating 
inexorably in that direction in response to forces already at work^ 
and over which we had ceased to have much real control. The situa- 
tion in Vietnara had so developed^ by this time^ that by common consent 
the success of our programs in Vietnam--and indeed of our whole policy 
there^ with which we had publicly and repeatedly associated our 
national prestige— depended upon the stability of the GVN. Conditions 
being what they were^ the GVN eq.uated^ for the future to which plans 
and actions applied^ with the Khanh regime. We were therefore almost 
as dependent upon Khanh as he was beholden to uSo Circujastances had 
thus forced us into a situation wherein the most immediate and press- 
ing goal of- our prograjns in Vietnam was recognized to be using our 
resources and prestige to perpetuate a regime that we knew was only 
one faction — opposed by other factions— and without any broad base of 
popular support. We were aware of that weakness^ and fully intended^ 
whenever it was expedient^ to find ways to broaden that basis of 
popular support. But that was something that could be --and indeed had 

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to be-"dererred. Meantime ve had to do first things first-^ve had 
to bolster the Khanh regime^ and since this could only be done by 
endomng it with some of our own sense of purpose and determination 
for the cause that was in the first instance theirs^ not ours^ we 
would prepare to do the things Khanh indicated were necessary to 
give him courage « 

6. Increasing UeSp Involvement and Growing GW Instability 

The changing of the guard in the U.S. mission in Saigon at the 
half year pointy when Ambassador Lodge returned to the U.S. to par- 
ticipate in election year politics^ symbolized the growing impor- 
tance attached by the U.S. to its Southeast Asia commitment. The 
combination of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as Ambassador^ 
backed up by a Deputy Ambassador in the person of Uc Alexis Johnson^ 
a former Under Secretary of State who had been U.S. Ambassador to 
Thailand and was well known in SEA^ made a prestigious and imipressive 
team. Moreover^ in sending the new Ambassador^, the President endowed 
him with unusual powers. 

Dear Ambassador Taylor: As you take charge of the 
American effort in South Vietnam^, I want you to have this 
formal expression not only of my confidence^ but of my 
desire that you have and exercise full responsibility for 
the effort of the United States government in South Viet- 
namo In general terms this authority is parallel to that 
set forth in President Kennedy's letter of May 29^ 196l^ 
to all American Ambassadors; specifically _, I wish it clearly 
■understood that this overall responsibility includes the 
whole military effort in South Vietnam and authorizes the 
degree of command and control that you consider appropriate, 

I recognize that in the conduct of the day-to-day busi- 
ness of the military assistance coirmiand_, Vietnam^j you will 
wish to work out arrangements which do not burden you or 
impede the exercise of your overall direction. 

At your convenience I should be glad to know of the 
arrangements which you propose for meeting the terms of 
this instruction^j so that appropriate supporting action 
can be taken in the Defense Department and elsewhere as 


This letter rescinds all conflicting instructions to US 

officers in' Vietnam. 

• ■ 

Sincerely _^ 
Lyndon B. Johnson 


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The new UoS, team set out immediately to systematize U.S. opera- 
tions in Vietnam^, including reorganization of the upper echelons of 
the Mission. Added to this was an effort to improve the efficiency . 
of the GW and USG-G¥I^I cooperation by developing a coordinate _, paral- 
lel GW organiza-tion. On 7 July Ambassador Taylor reported that^ 
following recomitnndations from Deputy Ambassador Johnson and agency 
heads there _, he had organized U.So m^ission operations under the 
direction of a U.S. Mission Council^ over which he would preside. 
The Council was to consist of himself^ Johnson_, Westmoreland^ Killen 
(temporarily Hurt)^ Zorthian^ DeSilva and Sullivan. This group was 
to meet once a week as an executive organization. To support this 
council he also established a Coordinating Committee to be chaired by 
Sullivan. This would carry out Mission Council decisions and prepare 
the agenda for Council meetings. On the following day^ 8 July^ 
Ambassador Taylor reported that he had called upon Khanh^ and that 
Khanh had expressed satisfaction over the "new U.S. personnel^ and noted 
the rising morale their appointments had caused within the government. 
Taylor told Khanh about the formation of the Mission Council and Khajih 
\ asked for an organization chart so that he could develop a coordinate 

set-up tcLthin the GW. Khanh said moreover that the U.S. should not 
merely advise^ but should actually participate in GW operations and 
decisions. "We should do this in Saigon (as well as in the provinces)^ 
between GTO ministries and offices and their American coionterparts." IO5/ 

The new Ambassador did not delay in plunging into the substance of 
the problems that were plaguing Vietnam o In his first conversations 
with Khanh he asked about the status of the religious problem^ and 
according to Taylor's report of the conversation^ Khanh said the situa- 
tion was still delicate_, that the Catholics were better organized and 
were the aggressors.^ that Thich Tri Quang appeared reasonable when in 
Saigon but less so when in Hue. When the Ambassador queried Khanh 
about the progress of the recruiting effort _, Khanh said that it was not- 
going as well as he would like. With respect to the new pacification 
plan^ HOP TAC^ that had been agreed upon^ the Ambassador expressed his 
approval of the general idea because paramilitaiy forces existed in 
this area to relieve AEW. The Ambassador next took up the question of 
high desertion rates to which Khanh appears to have replied rather 
fuzzily o He said that the problem was complicated by many factors^ that 
the Vietnamese liked to serve near home and sometimes left one service join another. He implied that the figures might not mean exactly 
Ml what they seemed to mean. 

The lively interest of the President at this time was Indicated by 
his 10 July request directly to the Ambassador for a coordinated Coujitry 
Team report ^t the end of each month to show "where we stand in the 
process of increasing the effectiveness of our military^ economic^ in- 
formation^, and intelligence programs^ just where the Khanh government 
stands in the same fields^ and what progress we are mailing in the effort 
'to mesh our work mth theirs along the lines of your talk with General 
Khanh. I06/ 

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Five days later on 15 July,, Ambassador Taylor transmitted esti- 
mates (not the monthly report) of VC strength which raised the previous 
estimate from 28^000 to 3^^000. In so doing he explained that this was 
not a sudden and dramatic increase^ but rather amounted to acceptance 
of the existence of units that had been suspected for two or three 
years but for which confirming evidence had only recent3_y been received 

This increased estimate of enemy strength and recent 
upward trend in VC activity in the Worth should not 
occasion over-concern. We have been coping with this 
strength for some time without being accLirately aware of 
its dimensions. 

The figures were interpretable as a reminder^ however^ of the growing 
magnitude of the problem,, and of the need to raise the level of GVN/uS 
effort. As a result the Ambassador commented that he was expediting 
formulation of additional requirements to support the plans in the 
ensuing months . IO7 / 

For a while^ there was a serious effort to coordinate USOM-GVN 
planning^ and on I7 July 196^; USOM met with Khanh^ Hoan^ Oanh and 
others — a group Khanh called the National Security Council. This 
cooperation was approved^ as well as cooperation between USIS and the 
GVN infoimiation office — a more sensitive problem. On 23 July 196^^ 
Taylor and Khanh discussed this cooperation in another NSC meeting and 
it was agreed that^ to facilitate things^ mutual bureaucratic adjust- 
ments wo-uld be made. In this same meeting of 23 Jiily^ Khanh revived 
his pressure for offensive operations against North Vietnam and ex- 
pressed again his impatience with the long pull of counter insurgency 
and pacification programs. 

This reopening of the "march to the north" theme on 23 July was 
not the first revival. On I9 July^ General Ky had talked to reporters 
about plans for operations in Ibos^ and on the same day Khanh himself ' 
had made indiscreet remarks about "march to the north" at a i;inifica- 
tion rally in Saigon. This led to stories and editorials in the Saigon 
press. The Ambassador protested the campaign as looking like an effort 
to force the hand of the U.S. This became a central pre-occupation of 
Ambassador Taylor thereafter- He firmly opposed Khanh' s pressure on 
the one hand^ and on the other had argued for patience with the GVN 
even though the GVN defense ministry put out an embarrassing press 
release immediately after the long Taylor-Khanh talk which followed 
on 2^1 July 196^.. 108/ 

The political pressures in Saigon were at that time increasing 
vastly. Both Khanh and other top Vietnamese politicians and political 
generals vere reacting in increasingly strong ways. The very evident 
instability of the current regime increased rapidly and at the same 
time there was a tendency to try to escape from the dilemmas posed 

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within South Vietnam by actions against ])iorth Vietnam_j actions which 
it had been hoped would lead to a unity within South Vietnam impos- 
sible under the current circumstances. There was a CAS report^ for 
instance^ of coup plotting on 2k July that said a decision had been 
made by the generals to remove Khanh^ but that it was not clear who 
would replace him or whether the planned removal would be opposed. I09 / 
This was the same day that the Ambassador^ who had scarcely been in ' 
Saigon a fortnight^ had first protested to Khanh concerning his in- 
discreet remiarks about a march to the north. The Ambassador also 
talked to Khanh^ following the Mission Council meeting^ concerning 
the rumors of a possible coup. Khanh said that because he (Taylor — 
i.e.^ the U.S) had im.posed Minh on the LIRC as Chief of State^ and 
because of Minh's support of Generals Kim and Xuan and other parti- 
sans of French neutralist policies_, Defense Minister Khiem and Chief 
of State Thieu were leading a group that was pressing Khanh to get rid 
of Minh. This Khiem block was permeated by Dai Viet political in- 
fluence. Khanh asked Taylor if he should resign. Taylor said the USG 
could not contemplate the conseq^uences of another change of government. 
Because no other leader was in sight_, Khanh had our su-pport and he must 
continue in the face of adversity. "Gould we help?" Taylor inquired. 
Khanh asked that we let it be knoA*7n that we wanted no m.ore changes of 
govemmient and asked Taylor to taUi to Khiem and his supporters about 
the bad effects of politics in the armed forces, lio / 

One means of demonstrating U.S. support of Khanh was to let Khanh 
mal^ie the first announcement of increased U.S. aid^ followed by a back- 
ground statement by the Ambassador. To carry this out^ the Anbassador 
submitted a draft statement for Khanh to use. One part of this draft 
statement mentioned the increase of U.S. military advisors and their 
extension "to the district level." ¥hen Taylor and Johnson discussed 
this \d:th Khanh at Dalat two days later^ Khanh saw advantages to the 
proclamation in general^ but preferred to change the reference "ad- 
visors at the district level" to read Mvisors throughout the provin-. , 
ces"^ because the original suggested an undesirably deep penetration 
of the GVH by the U.S. Ill/ 

When Ambassador Taylor on 25 July reported further on Khanh 's 
revival of the march to the north theme ^ he interpreted it as re- 
sponse to political and morale problems TTithin South Vietnam. The 
Ambassador suggested several possible m.otivations^ and commented that 
if Khanh had been reasonably sincere his objective probably was to: "march north" but really have in mind get- 
ting U.S. committed to program of reprisal bombing. 
Such a -limited program could be first step to further 
escalation against Hanoi. 112 / - ... 

On 10 August_, when the storm clouds had already appeared but 
before the gale had begun to blow^ Ambassador Taylor filed his first 
monthly U.S. mission report. The report began by expressing surprise 
that the first sampling of advisor-level opinion revealed more 

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optimism than among the senior U.S. officials in Saigon, Following 
this preliminary flourish^ the report gave an introductory definition 
of the problem which was^ in simplest terms^, that the Hanoi/lTLP 
strategy was not to defeat GVE military forces in battle but rather 
to harass and terrorize the SVN population and leadership into a 
state of such demoralization that a political settlement favorable 
to IIW would ensue. At that point they could proceed by stages to 
the full attainment of their goals. To oppose this strategy^ the 
Khanh government had a complex not only of military programs^ but 
of social^ economic^ psychological and above all administrative pro- 
grams. This complex of programs Taylor reported on under three 
captions: "Political/' "Military" and "Overall," On the political 
side he reported: 

- - ' • 

The most important and most ■ intractable 
internal problem of South Vietnam in m^eeting the Viet 
Cong threat is the political structure at the national 
level. The best thing that can be said about the Khanh 
government is that it has lasted six months and has 
about a 50-50 chance of lasting out the year^, although 
probably not without some changed faces in the Cabinet, 
Although opposed by Minh and resisted less openly by 
Dai Viet sympathizers among the militaiy^ Prime Minister 
Khanh seems for the time being to have the necessary 
military support to remain in power. However^ it is an 
ineffective government beset by inexperienced ministers 
who are also jealous and suspicious of each other,,. 

On the positive side^ Khanh seems to have allayed the 
friction between Buddhists and Catholics at least for 
the moment_5 has won the cooperation of the Hoa Hao and 
Cao Dai^ and has responded to oirr suggestions for im- 
proved relations between the GW and the U.S. mission... 

• ■ »' 

, Khanh has not succeeded in building any substantial 
body of active popular support in the coimtryside. In 
the countryside, ,. that support for the GVIT exists in 
direct proportion to the degree of security established 
by government forces.., 

W The intriguing inside his government and the absence 

' ' of dramatic military or political successes react upon 

Khanh.. .moody., .subjective to fits of despondency. See- 
ing the slow course of the counterinsurgency campaign 
frustra'Eed by the weakness of his government, Khanh has 
turned to the "march north" theme' to unify the home 
front and to offset the war weariness which he asserts 
is oppressing his people and his forces, o.« 113/ 

The state of mind of Khanh and his colleagues would be an impor^ 
I I tant factor in the future conduct of the war, Taylor judged. 

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They found slow^ hard-slugging contest fatiguing to their spirits. 
The reprisals of 5 August (Tonkin Gulf) had given them a lift^ but 
if indecisive bloodshed with the VC continued^ they would probably 
exert continuing and increasing pressure for direct attack upon 
Hanoi . 

Concerning pacif ication^ the Ambassador observed that the most 
difficult part of the program was the civilian follow-up after the 
clearing operation in the clear-and-hold program. The difficulty 
stemmed from the inefficiency of the ministries. To energize these 
civilian functions, USOM had increased its provincial representation 
from 45 in March to 64 in July^ but this was still insufficient^ 
despite the judgment of critical inefficiency in the ministries.^ 
Taylor next reported that "U.S. observers reported in July that in 
about 3A of the provinces GVN provincial and district officers were 

performing effectively " It was too soon to go into details 

regarding Hop Tac, and the report on that program was in effect a 
description of its objectives and rationale rather than a progress 
report . . 

The Ambassador i-^eported that on the military side, the person- 
nel strength of RVMF and of the paramilitary forces was slowly 
rising and by January shoiild reach about 98 percent of the target ■ 
strength of 446,000. C0]\1USMACV had reported at the end of July that 
the actual GVN strength stood at 219,954 RVNAF, 88,560 Regional 
Forces (forznerly Civil Guard), and 127,453 Popular Forces (formerly 
Self Defense Corps). 114 / 

1. Tonkin Gulf and Following Political Crises 

As already noted, the Ambassador's first monthly report was filed 
just before the internal Vietnamese political storm broke in full force, 
Through the late spring and into July of 1964, the Buddhist-Catholic 
quarrel intensified. Students again began to demonstrate in Saigon and 
Hue. By July a coup plot was developing against Khanh led by his dis- 
gruntled Vice Premier, Dr. Nguyen Ton Hoan, who was backed by the Dai 
Viet and several top military leaders. But according to one of the ■ 
best authorities, knovm U.S. opposition to a coup made its leaders 
hesitate and nothing imiuediately developed. 115 / Then came the Tonkin 
Gulf affair of 2-4 August, and the U.S. retaliatory strikes of 4-5 
August . 

An immediate effect of the raids was to shore up Khanh' s weaken- 
ing position. But contrary to prevailing theories and hopes, stability 
was very short-lived. Khanh sought to exploit the affair by a radio 
appeal for unity and national discipline. He did not arrest the coup 

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plotters however^ which many Vietnamese -- but not the U.S. Embassy -- 
advised. Instead^ on 7 August^ he announced a state of emergenc;^ re- 
■imposed censorship and other prescriptions and restrictions on liber- 
ties and movements of the Vietnamese people « ll6/ 

Apparently hoping to further exploit the opportunity^ Khanh 
hurriedly sought to draw up a new charter to centralize and increase 
his powers. On 12 August he discussed this for the first time with 
Ambassador Taylor. The Ambassador made two comments^ one suggesting 
caution lest "renewed instability. c .result from these sweeping changes/' 
the other urging a public explanation of the need for the changes be- 
cause of a state of emergency, llj / 

T\TO days later at a joint IMSC session, Khanh showed 
Ambassador Taylor a rough translation of the proposed draft of a new 
charter. It was hastily drara and included both dubious provisions 
and gruff language. The Ambassador was Immediately afraid this would 
lead to criticism in the U.S. and the world press; he assigned Sullivan 
and ManfuU to work on a revision. But they had little time and were 
unable to exert much influence. A day later, August 15, the Ambassador 
reported the document still did not satisfy hiia but that the MRC 
intended to impose it and he saw no alternative to trying to make the 
best of it. Certain passages evidently had been toned down and some- 
thing resembling a bill of rights Inserted. Nevertheless the charter 
gave virtually complete power to Khanh. A special session of the MRC 
approved Khanh' s new charter and elected him President. Minh was 
expediently removed: the charter abolished his job as Chief of State, 
Since his overthrow at the end of January Minh had been inactive and 
sulky; but whatever his faults he had a considerable following tvathin 
South Vietnam, It had been American policy to convince Khanh to bring 
Minh into his government thereby endowing the Khanh regime with some 
of Minh's popularity, Khanh had acceded to U.S. wishes. But Minh' s 
presence had not yielded the hoped for unity. Ambassador Taylor, 
Mlnh's friend for several years, had attempted to patch up the de- 
teriorating relations between the two generals but these efforts only 
incurred Khanh' s suspicion of Taylor. 118 / 

In the period immediately following the Tonkin Gulf affair, Wash- 
ington officials sought agreement on Southeast Asian policies. ¥e • 
were entering a new era. On 1^ August, State cabled a summary of a 
tentat'-ve policy paper to Saigon, Vientiane and CINCPAC for comment « 
The paper begen Ly stating that during the next fortnight no pre- 
cipitate action^ that might relieve the Communists of the onus of 
further escalation should be taken « DESOTO patrols should be held 
up; there should be no extra 3^^A operations « B^it low morale and 
lost momentum in SVN had to be treated. The best means to improve 
morale in South Vietnam and at the same time pressure North Vietnam 
at the lowest level of risk had to be found. This was the guiding 
philosophy. Basically required were military pressures plus other 
actions to convince Hanoi and Peking to cease aggression. Negotia- 
tion "VTithout continued military pressure would not achieve these 

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oojec wives. The paper listed seven co'orses of limited pressiore similar to 
those already exerted^ then discussed more serious actions. Lesser 
pressures, it was stated, were to relay the threat of systematic, mili- 
taxy action against the DRY. Hanoi was to he informed that incidents 
arising from the lesser actions or deterioration in South Vietnam-- 
partic-jlarly clear evidence of increased infiltration from the ITorth-- 
could trigger that sustained action. In any case, for planning purposes 
the paper looked to 1 January I965 as the starting point for the more 
serious systematic pressujr'es. II9/ 

The Mission comment took the form of an alternative draft. It oegan 
by agreeing the assumption of the proposed Department paper, that 
the ^ present pacification plan, hy itself, was insiifficlent to maintain 
national morale or to offer reasonable hope of eventaul success. Some- 
thing more wa.s clearly needed. The prohlem In the immediate 
futui-e T^s to gain time for the Khanii regime to achieve a modicum of 
stability and thereby provide a viable base for operations. 

In partici^ar, if we can .avoid it, we should 
not get involved militarily with North Vietnam 
or possibly with Red China if our base in South 
Vietnajn is insecore and Khanh's Arrsy is tied 
down 'oy the VC insiurgency. 

A second objective was to maintain the morale of the GVi\i'. The mission 
Judged that this would not be difficult if we coLild assuire Khanh of our 
readiness to bring added pressui^e on Hanoi in retujrn for evidence of his 
ability and lallingness to do his part. A third objective would be to 
hold the DRV in check and restrain fuj?ther infiltration to aid the VC 

1 Januaiy 65 "was agreed upon, for planning purposes, as the date to 
begin the escalating pressure on the DRV. Three aspects of these 
pressures were considered by the Mission: first, actions to be taken 
vrlth the Khanh government; second, actions against Planoi; and third, 
after a pause, "initiation of an orchestrated air attack against North 
Vietnam." The first of these involved a commitment. "We should express 
ouj: willingness to Khanh to engage in planning and eventually to exert 
intense pressure on North Vietnam providing certain conditions a^re met 
in advance." Thus, before we would agree to go all out against the North, 
Khanh must stabilize his government and make progi"=ess in cleaning out 
his ovm backyard. Specifically, he woiJ.d be required to execute the 
initial phases of the HOP TAG plan successfully. This would have to 
succeed to the extent of pushing the VC a^.^ey from the doors of Saigon. 
Moreover, the overall pacification program, including HOP TAG, should 
progress sufficiently to allow earmarking at .least three division 
equivalents for the defense of the I Corps area should the DRV step up 
military operations in that area. 

In making these commitments to Khanh, the Mission woiad make clear 
to Khanli the limited nature of our objectives --that we were not ready 

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to join in a crusade to imify the I'Torth and the South, nor to overthrow 
Ho Chi Minh. Ovx o^bjective \^s to "be limited to inducing Hanoi to cease 
its subversive efforts in the South. Purs-os.nt of this philosophy, the 
Mission djraft proposed a prograia rouLghly comparahle to that suggested "by 
Washington. The specific difference was the emphasis in the Mission 
draft on the need for a stahle hase in South Vietnam hefore heginning 
overt pressijjres on the North; and, to effect this, the policy of a 
qp-^<3- pro quo -- getting Kiianh to clean up his house and laake some progress 
in pacification as the price of ovt commitment to pressLires against the 
North. 120/ 

]>-iring the fast moving events of the third weel^ of, the 
President decided to hring Amhassador Taylor oaclr. to Washington for 
consultation early in September. In a Joint State -Defense message on 
20 Aug», Taylor was advised of questions that officials in various 
departments wouJ_d want to ask during his forthcoming visit. The visit - 
was first scheduled for the end of the month, hut along with the draft . 
policy paper of mid-month, the original plans were overta'-en "by 
political events (turmoil) in Vietnam, and the meeting V3,s postponed 
ahout two weehs, from late August to mid-Septemher. It is worth noting, 
■nevertheless, that among the items still prominent in the intended 
discussions -^.^ith Taylor, at the time of the first notice of the meeting, 
were the status of pacification programs--KOP TAG especially— Corps, 
division and provincial plans; the joint US/GVIT committees; the newly 
established operations center; the role of Popular Forces and of Regional 
Forces; and the RYMF police and local security plans. Pacification was 
the first item, and detailed interest \r3.s indicated. 1 2l/ 

Shaplen calls the week from lb August --when Klianh puhlicly 
announced the new charter-"to 23 August critical, "because of Khanh's 
failm^e to establish a hroadly hased- civilian government under the au.thor- 
ity of the new charter. He had heea warned by many Vietnamese that the 
pressures of civilian and religious demands for a voice in the government 
were "building up, "but nothing was done and major demonstrations began 
again on 21 August. 122/ 

This accomrb will not detail the political events that oocvxred. 
from 21 August on. However, to heep oux American concern -vrith programs 
in Vietnam in context it is necessary to keep in mind the general sequence 
of political events during the turmoil of the next several weehs. On 21 
AugTist the first serious student demonstration follomng the proclamation 
of the l6 August charter cccm^red. Eianh met mth the students, but did 
not satisfy their demands. The same day Thich Tam Chau, President of the 
Buddhist Institute for Secular Affairs, demanded that Khanh take action 
against the-Diemist Can Lao Party, whom the Biidethists alleged to be 
their oppressors. Both Buddhists and Viet Coxig began to infiltrate the 
fringes of the student demonstrations about this time. A confused, mB,ny- 
sided contest developed \rlth Catholics, Viet Cong and Buddhists seeking 
to manipulate or exploit the student demonstrations. On 23 August the 
Buddhists in Hue formed a new Movement for the Sal^'-ation of Buddhism in 
Danger (similar to the organisation against Diem). Bombs were set off 

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aroxnd tov/n (very possibly by the Viet Cong)^ and demonstrations spread 
to other cities. 

On the night of 2k August another coup rujnor spread. It was later 
suspected that Dal Viet generals had indeed been read;^- to move that nighty 
but that Khiem^ tfao had been vavering between Khanh and the Dai Viet, 
told them to wait. That same night Khanh asked three top bonzes to come 
to Cap St. Jacques for consultation. They refused, and IQianh for his 
part rushed bad: to Saigon. He met v/ith them and they demnded, first, 
abolition of the l5 August charter, second establishment of government 
councils to assujre fuJLl freedom of religion and. expression, and third, 
free elections hy 1 November 1965. Khanh made the mistake of telling 
them he ^./anted to consult vrith the Americans. At I'fOO a.m. on 25, Ambassador Taylor and Deputy Ainl,mssador Johnson met with Khanh 
and they "unofficially" advised him to accept the Buddhist demands in ' 
principle, but otherwise to be tough and not to knuclcLe under to any 
minority. The conference lasted until about 3:00 a.m. 

At 5:00 a.m. of 25 August, Khanh Issued a communicLue promising to' 
revise one new constitution, reduce press censorship, rectify local 
abuses t)y arranging special courts, and permit continued demonstrations, 
vrlth the proviso that those responsible for actions of disorder be 

But these concessions again were not enough to satisfy the students. 
Later that morning a crowd of 25,000 gathered in front of Khanh *s office. 
Khanh appeared before them and denied that he wanted to be a dictator, 
but refused to make further concessions. He did not, however, have the 
corwd dispersed. Instead, he \rithdrew and then, without warning, issued 
an annoi;r.cement from his military headquarters that the 16 August charter 
wouJ.d be withdra^m and the he, Khanh, was quitting. Fuj:»ther, he arjiounced 
that the MBC wo^ad meet the next day, 26 August, to choose a new Chief of 
State. 123/ 


■ 1 
The imc met on 26 and 27 August. Khanh brought in the threu 
generals he had accused of participating in the pro-French neutralist 
plot, as a ploy to forestall a power bid oy lilnh. But the Council 
refused to seat them and they were returned to their protective ctistody 
at Lalat. "I'/hile these maneuvers were going on street demonstrations 
continued, mthln the LIRC Khiem failed in an attempt to name himself 
Chief of State and Minh Prime Minister. IJext Khanh was named Prime 
Minister, but refused to accept either Khiem or Minh as President. 
Finally, when he refused to be installed alone, the triujnvirate of 
Khanh, Minh and Kiem was chosen. 

Anarchy in the streets of Saigon intensified. Khanh again nominally 
Prime Minister, Vv^s by this time back in Dalat in a state of exhaustion. 
The troika of Khanli, Minh and Khiem never met, and Ng^Ji^^en Xuan Oanh was 
made acting Prime Minister. Rumors of coups continued- -one supposedly 
by the Dai Viet, another by the so-called ''colonels^ Group." 12k/ 

On 29 August 1964 Vietnamese paratroopers "vrith bayonets were used 

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to restore order in Saigon. At this time IQianh vas in D3..1at. On 1 
September General Westmoreland went to see Khanh in Dalat to urge him 
to keep AEVII on the offensive against the Viet Cong and to press on 
with HOP 1A.C and the other pacification programs. As a qizid pro quo 
for this^ Westmoreland revised his previous position _, and promised 
that U.S. advisors throughout MACV would alert Khanh to unusual troop 
movements (movements which might he an indication of a coup). 12^^ 

Meanwhile^ "because of this turmoil^ Ambassador Taylor's trip to 
Washington had been postponed ujitil the end of the first weel: of 
September. There was further excitement on the night of 2 September _, 
when dissident troops^ mostly aligned with BeA Viet leaders^ began to 
converge on the city. But some of the Colonels' Group got vrind of 
the movement and stopped the advance before midnight, stringing along 
with IChanh for the time being. Meanwhile, a new group had 'been formed 
in Hue called the People's Revolutionary Committee, which, according 
to Shaplen, had "distinct tones of separatism," and was verbally 
attacking the temporary government- On h September Khanh retur-ned to 
Saigon from his Dalat retreat, and annou.nced a tentative formoJ_a for 
new administrative machinery to take over for the next two months, 
after which a new government of civilians would replace the governin.ent 
of the military. Khanh ^-ra-s welcomed., and produced a letter, sigD-ed by 
both Tliich Tri Quang and Thich Tarn Chau, pledging support ejid unity. 
Reportedly this had been paid for by a sum eq.^ialling $230,000. Deals 
of this kind were dj no means unloiown in Vietnam. Eianh at this time 
finally got rid of Di^. Hoan, who had been plotting against him for a 
long time, by forcing his resignation and exile to Japan. 126/ Pollow- 
ing this there was enough of a l-ijll to peimit the Ambass3,dor to return 
to Washington. He woi^Ld not complete the roi-nd trip, however, before 
turmoil erupted again in Saigon. 

2... Policies in the Period of Turmoil 

On the eve of his 6 September departure for Washington, Ambassdaor 
Taylor cabled a review of the Vietnamese situation 

• • .At best the emerging governmental structure 
might be capable of maintaining a holding operation 
against the Viet Cong. This level of effort could, 
with luck and strenuous efforts, be expanded to 
produce certain limited pacifica.tion successes, for 
ex8m)le, in the territory covered by the HOP TAG 
Flan. But the willingness and ability of such a 
government to exert itself or to attempt to execute 
an, allout pacification pl3.n wou-ld be marginal. It 
wouJLd probably be incapable of galv^.nising the 
people to the heightened levels of unity and sacri- 
fice necessary to carry forward the counterinsuirgency 
program to final success. Instead, it would look 
increasingly to the United States to take the major 
responsibility for prying the VC and the ITorth 
Vietnamese off the backs of the South Vietnaj3iese 
population. . .In the cold light of recently acq.uired 


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facts, ve need 2 to 3 laonths to get any sort of 
governnisnt going which has any chance of "being 
alole to inaintain order in the cities and to con- 
tinue the pacification efforts of past levels. 
There is no present iirge to march north. . .the 
leadership is exhausted and frustrated. . .and 
not anxious to take on any new prohleras or - . ,^ 

ooligations. Hence, there is no need to hasten 
our plans to satisfy an iiapatience to close with 
the enemy . . . 12T/ ■ . 

X- -li^On i|- Sepceinber the Acting "Assistant ..Seci-etar-y: of Defeuse for 
Iut:ernational Security Affairs, Peter Solhert, forwarded to the Secretary 
of Defense a memoranduin including a set of sumniary recoiomendations for a 
program of overall social development called " stability for the GM." 
Copies of this memorandum were seen by "both "^ance and McI'Tamara, "but 
^ there is no documentary evidence that it ws-s given serious consideration. 
The program was based on a longer FMTD study by C. J. Zwick, and it 
proposed a series of measures to broaden popular support of the Govern- 
ment of Vietnajn. The measua^es were divided into an Urban Program and 
a Ri^jr^al Program. Summarily, under the Urban Program, there were six 
major areas of development: 

1. a reduction of consumer prices for selected commodities; 

( ^ 2. an increase in government salaries; 

3^ mass low cost public housing; 
k. urban public works; 
5- expanded educational programs; and 

6. an improved business climate to foster private business. 
Under the proposed Ruj^al Program there were f oujr items : 

1. an elimination of corvee labor and provision for paid 
public works; 

2. subsidized credit to peasants G'^-f^ control; 
3* an increase in military pay and benefits; and 

k. educational assistance to rural youths. 

This memorandum fui^ther suggested that involving in the program the 
leaders of the various political factions in Vietnam who vrcre currently 
causing trouble would indlrectlv enlist them in what amounted to 
stabilising efforts, and the current plagtie of factionalism might be 
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The policy consensus reached in the high level discussions of 7 September 
was formalized in T^SM-31^. These decisions were approved: 

1. Resumption of U.S. Naval patrols (DESOTO) in the Gulf of Tonkin^ 
folloTing the return to Saigon of the .Ambassador . 

2. 34a operations by the GW to be resumed after completion of the 
first DESOTO patrol. 

3. Discussions the government of Laos of plans for a limited 
GW air "ground operation in the Laos corridor areas , 

k. Preparation to respond against the DRV to any attack on U.S. 
units or any spectacular DRV/VC acts against South Vietnam. 

Following the statem.ent of these specific action decisions^, NSM-314 re- 
emphasized the importance of economic and political actions having inmiedi"- 
ate impact on South Vietnam such as pay raises to civilian personnel and 
. spot projects in cities and selected rural areas. The emphasis on immed iate 
impact should be noted. Finally^ it was emphasized that all decisions were 
"governed by a prevailing judgment that the first order of business at 
present is to strengthen the fabric of the Government of South Vietnam..." 129/ 

In the period immediately after the August crisis^ Minh^ acting^ in 
effect^ as Chief of State_, although he did not actually hold the title^ ap- 
pointed a new High National Council to represent all elements of the popula- 
tion and prepare a new constitution for the return of civilian government. 

But there was no real stability. On 13 September^ while Ambassador 
Taylor was on his way' bank to Saigon from his visit to Washington^ a bloodless 
coup was staged in Saigon by General Lam Van Phat (who had been scheduled 
to be removed as Commander of IV Corps). Soon after the coup began the U.S. 
announced its support for the "duly constituted" troika regime of Khanh^ 
Minh and Khiem. This plus a counter-coup by a group of younger officers 
including Nguyen Cao Ky and Nguyen Chanh Thi^ put Khanh back in power, 
} One result of the Phat coup attempt^ however^ was that it established the 

power of the younger general officers headed by Ky and Thi. Nguyen Van Thieu^ 
who was close to the Dai Viet party^ was reported to be a major behind-the- 
scenes manipulator of the coup^ mainly by neutralizing his immediate boss^ 
General Khiem. I30 / . ■ • 

The next several weeks amoixated to a period of suspended animation for 
' ^: the GVN (but not for the VC) while the new constitution was being prepared. 

Except for some debatable progress in HOP TAC^ little was accomplished in 
pacification. Moreover^ infusing an interim government with an efficiency 
that neither it nor any predecessor had had was too much to expect. In 
Saigon^ much attention was given to establishing a policy coordination center 


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for covert military operations -^ l.e.^ SkA^ Cross-Border^ Yankee Team^ Lucky- 
Dragon^ etc. These operations^ and the political problems of the central 
government^ appear to have been the principal immediate concerns of the Em- 
bassy during this period. 

In October^ Washington queried the Embassy as to whether greater progress 
in pacification might result from further decentralization of the program^ 
even raising the question of whether aid might not bypass the GW in Saigon 
and go directly to the provinces. ^ In reply^ the Mission conceded that a good 
deal of decentralization was already in effect and that in some provinces 
local initiative was paying off. Progress was continuing despite the turmoil 
in Saigon. Nevertheless _, recent U.S. advisor reports showed that the number 
of provinces where pacification was not going satisfactorily had doubled since 
July -- from 7 to l4. This in part was due to concentration of most of the 
pacification efforts on HOP TAC^ and in part to the political turmoil in Saigon. 
However^ the Mission did not believe that further decentralization was either 
feasible or advisable. The central problem in administering pacification^ in 
the considered view of the Mission^ was to establish justified requirements at 
the provincial level and then fill pipelines to meet these provincial needs. 
This required overall coordination. 131 / 

TT-ro weeks after the I3 September coup^ the High National Council^ composed 
of 17 elderly professional men^ was inaugurated. Despite the continuing air 
of crisis^ the Council fulfilled its promise to deliver a new constitution by 
the end of October and selected Phan Khac Suu (an older^ non-aligned politi- 
cian) as the new Chief of Staff. Suu immediately chose a civilian^ Tran Van 
Huong^ as new Premier. Huong almost immediately came under fire from several 
factions and it soon became apparent that Khanh was still the real power be- 
hind the throne. Khanh got rid of Khiem^ sending him to Washington^ and Minh 
went abroad on a "goodwill tour." 132/ 

As the year moved toward a close it came time again for the Ambassador to 
return to Washington for policy consultations. Progress in the program within 
South Vietnam had been spotty at best_, and in many areas retrogression could 
not be denied. The efforts to develop efficient administration within the GVN 
had made no progress at all -- the game of musical chairs at the top made this 
impossible. It was generally conceded that pacification had fallen back, at 
best marking time in some areaSo As for the HOP TAC area immediately surround- 
ing Saigon, opinions were divided. The official view reflected in the statis- 
tical analysis was that slow but steady progress was being made. Most of the 
informal and local judgments, however, were less sanquine. Some increases in 
RVNAF recruitment had been registered, but this did not mean that action against 
the VC had improved, that capabilities had increased, that lost ground was being- 
retaken, or that., control of the rural population was being wrested from the Viet 
Cong . 

3. The Period of I ncreasing Pressures on IJW. 

In anticipation of the Anbassador' s forthcoming visit to Washington, 
General Westmoreland provided an assessment of the military situation, 


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On 2k November General Westmoreland observed that in September the Mission . 
had been preoccupied T-rith the problem of keeping RWIAE intact in the face 
of internal dissention and political and religious purges but by late - 
November he was pleased at the way the RWAF had weathered the political 
storm and encouraged by increased RWAE strength because of volunteers and 
enlistments. WNI^ strength of 31 October was compared to figures for 
30 April: 230^i^Tl^ RWAF^ up from 20?;, ^1; 92^265 Regional Force^ up from , 
85^660j 159^392 Popular Forces^ up from 96^263. During September and October^ 
RVNAE and Regional Forces officers and NCOs to the rank of first corporal had 
received a 10^ increase in basic pay; the lowest three enlisted grades in 
these forces -- plus all Popular Force personnel -- had received 30O more 
piastres per month. Cost of living increases to NCOs matched those given to 
officers. Subsector U.S. advisory teams (two officers^ three enlisted men) 
were operating in some 75 districts. General Vfestm.oreland reported HOP TAG 
was progressing slowly. Civil -military -political planners were working to- 
gether; the Saigon-level coordinating group^ the HOP TAG Council^ was 

General Westmoreland summarized the key issues as he viewed them at the 
time. First^ there was a need to establish concrete but attainable short- 
range goals to give momentum; second^, more effective means of asserting U.S. 
policy and plans for the pacification program at the Saigon level was needed; 
third^ the U.S. should take a positive position against external support of 
the insurgency. 133/ 

Also on 2k November^ Westmoreland recommended an increase in RVNAF 
force structure and requested its early approval to permit official negotia- 
tions with the GVN^ to facilitate IVIAP planning. This recommendation fol- 
lowed a joint UoS./GW survey and a COmSMAGV staff study. TVo alternative 
levels of increase were proposed: 

Already Increase New Total 

Authorized Alt 1 Alt 2 Alt 1 Alt 2 

"■> r ■ 

RWAF 2^3, 599 30, 309 kl, 556 273; 908 291, 155 

Para Mil . Ko alt. for Para. 322,187 

212,246 109, 9^a 

The increase in U.S. advisors for the two alternative programs would 
be kkG and 606, respectively. The first (the lower) alternative was sup- 
ported by the^^JCS on I7 December 196^ and approved by Secretary McNamara 
on 13 January I965. This January decision raised the total U.S. military 
personnel in Vietnam from 22,309 to 22,755. 13V 

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Both the tenor of the thinking and the policies that emerged from the 
meetings of early December are reflected in the draft instructions from the 
President to Ambassador Taylor possibly T-Tritten by Taylor himself. These 
were first dravrn up on 30 November 196^^ revised on 2 December and' used at 
the meeting of the principals on 3 December. 

During the recent review in Washington of the situation in South 
Vietnam^ it was clearly established that the unsatisfactory 
progress being made in the pacification of the VC was the result 
of two primary causes from which many secondary causes stemmed; 
first^ the governmental instability in Saigon and the second^ the 
continued reinforcement and direction of the VC by the North Viet- 
. ■ name se government. To change the do^.-mv/ard trend of events^ it 
will be necessary to deal adequately with both of these factors. 

It is clear however that these factors are not of equal importance. 
There must be a stable^ effective governinent to conduct a campaign 
against the VC even if the aid of North Vietnam for the VC should 
end. While the elimination of North Vietnajnese intervention will 
raise morale on our side and make it easier for the government to 
function^ it will not in itself end the war against the VC. It is 
rather an important contributory factor to the creation of conditions 
favoring a successful campaign against the VC within South Vietnam. 
Since action against North Vietnam is contributory-^ not central^ we 
should not incur the risks which are inherent in expansion of hos- 
tilities until there is a government in Saigon capable of handling 
the serious problems involved in such an expansion and of exploiting 
the favorable effects which m,ay be anticipated from an end of 
support and direction by North Vietnam. 

It is this consideration has borne heavily on the recent delib- 
erations in Washington and has conditioned the conclusions reached. 
There have been many expressions of admiration for the courage being 
shown by the Huong government wMch has the complete support of the 
U.S. government in its resistance to the minority pressures which 
are attempting to drag it down. However^ the difficulties which it 
is facing raise inevitable questions as to its capacity and readiness 
to discharge the responsibilities which it would incur if some of 
the new measures under consideration were talcen. 

There are certain minimum criteria of perfonnance in South Vietnam 
which must be met before any new measures against North Vietnam 
would be either justifj.ed or practica^ble. At a minimum the govern- 
ment should be able to speak for and to its people who will need 
guidance and leadership throughout^ the coining critical period. It 
should be capable of maintaining law and order in its principal 

I f 


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centers of population^ make plans for the conduct of operations 
and assure their efficient execution by militaiy and police forces 
completely responsive to its authority. It must have the means 
j I "to cope vith the enemy reactions which must be expected to result ' 

from any change in the pattern of our operations. 

I (the President) particularly request that you and your colleagues 
in the American Country Team develop and execute a concerted effort 
to bring home to all groups in South Vietnam the paramount impor- 
tance of national unity against the Commiunist enemy at this critical 
time. It is a matter of the greatest difficulty for the U.S. govern- 
ment to require great sacrifice of American citizens vhen reports 
from Saigon reportedly give evidence of heedless self-interest and 
. shortsightedness among nearly all major groups in South Vietnam... 

"While effectiveness is largely a subjective judgement^ progress in 
certain specific areas such as those listed below provide some 
tangible measure. The U.S. mission should urge upon the GVU parti- 
cular efforts in these fields.... 

(1) Improve the use of manpower for military and pacification 

(2) Bring the armed forces and police to authorized strength 

^ and maximize their effectiveness. 

(3) Replace incompetent officials and commanders; freeze the 
competent in place for extended periods of service. 

(4) Clarify and strengthen police powers of arrest_, detention^ 
and interrogation of VC suspects. 

j J (5) Clarify and strengthen the authority of provincial chiefs. 

) !■ • (6) Make demonstrable progress in the HOP TAG operation around 


(T) Broaden and intensify the civic action program using both 
military and civilian resources to produce tangible evidence of 
the desire of the government to help the hamlets and villages. 

(8) Carry out a sanitary clean up of Saigon. 

\Thl'ye progress was being made toward these goals^ the U.S. would be 
willing to strike harder at infiltration routes in Laos and at sea and^ in 
conjunction with the Lao Goverimient^, add U.S. air power to operations to 

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restrict the use of Laotian territory for infiltration into South- Vietnam. 
The U,S. would also favor intensification of MAROPS (covert activitiec 
against the DRV). In the meantime^ GW and U.S. armed forces should be . 
ready to execute prompt reprisals for any unusual hostile action. ¥hen 
these conditions vere met (and after the G-YN had demonstrated its firm 
control) the U.S. would be prepared to consider a program of direct mili- 
tary pressure on the DRV. These second phase operations would consist of 
a series of air attacks on the DRV progressively mounting in scope and 
intensity for the purpose of convincing DRV leaders that it was in their 
interest to cease aid to the V(^ to respect the independence and security 
of the South. The prospective participants in such attacks were the Mr 
Forces of the U.S._, South Vietnam and Laos. The U.S. Mission was to be 
authorized to initiate planning with the GVE for such operations immedi- 
ately^ with the understanding that the U.S. had not committed itself to 
them. 135/ ^ ' 

Immediately after the Ambassador's return to Saigon the U.S. began 
to increase its covert operations against infiltration from the North. On 
ik December U.S. aircraft began Operation BARREL ROLL (armed reconnaissance 
against infiltration routes in Laos). This and other signs of increased 
American commitment against North Vietnam's involvement in the South showed 
no results in terms of increasing GVN stability. Jockeying araong generals 
behind the scenes continued. The younger generals who had saved Khanh in 
the 13 September coup demanded the High National Council fire nine generals 
and 30 other officers^ notably Generals Minh^ Don^ Xuan and Kim^ who had 
been in the original post-Diem Junta. The Council refused and the young 
generals began a life and death struggle against the Huong regime. On 
20 December Generals Thi and Ky led their group in a purge — or virtual 
coup — of the Council. This was followed immediately by formation of an 
Armed Forces Council (AFC). Nominally headed by Khanh^ the young generals 
aimed to curb his powers through the new council. AFC offered to mediate 
conflicts between Buddhist dissidents and the Huong governments These 
actions exacerbated already unhappy relations between Khanh and politically- 
motivated young generals and the American Ambassador VT-ho was striving to 
foster a representative civilian government and discourage coups by sm_all- 
time military dictatorSo The struggle (described in detail in other papers) 
was intensified at this time and continued for several weeks. 136/ 

Throughout January and February I965 the weekly Vietnam Sitreps pub- 
lished by the Intelligence and Reporting Subcommittee of the Inter- 
agency Vietnam Coordinating Committee warned generally and repeatedly 
that progress concerning pacification was "slow" or that there was a 
"slow dovrn" or said there was "little progress to report." The Vietnarr^se ' 
commander of the HOP TAC area generally continued to report "a favorable 
situation" — but this was accompanied frequently by a statement of in- 
creased Viet Cong activity in these favorable areas. 

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After BARREL ROLL, U.S. pressure upon North Vietnam vas notably increased 
by the FLAMING DART attacks of 7-12 February following the Pleiku incident. 
The McGeorge Bundy group (MacNaughton^ Cooper^ Unger and Bundy) were in 
Saigon at the time. On the return trip to Washington shortly after Pleiku^ 
the group drafted a memorandma for the President. Intended to reflect the 
consensus of policy discussions with the Mission^ the memorandum really 
reflects Bundy 's point of view^ particularly in presentation of a rationale 
for ROLLING THUNDER operations - soon to begin. Analysis of this memo and 
the ROLLING THUNLER annex is part of another report in this series. For 
present purposes it is sufficient to note that the memo reported the situa- 
tion in Vietnam was deteriorating and said defeat was inevitable unless 
the United States intervened military by bombing the North to persuade 
Hanoi to cease and desist. South Vietnain was to be rescued not by measures 
in South Vietnaoi but by pressures against the North. 

The idea that victory could be achieved quickly was explicitly dis- 
missed: perhaps "the next year or so" would be enough to turn the tide. 
And this^ hopefully^ could be accomplished by the persuasive power of 
aerial bombardment. 

ROLLING THUNDER was to be a program of sustained^ continuous^ increas- 
ing reprisal beginning at a low level and becoming increasingly violent. 
The level of violence would vary according to the North Vietnamese response: 
if they persisted in infiltration/ violence would continuously increase; if 
they reduced their meddling^ we would respond in kind and degree. 

This subject had been discussed at considerable length in Saigon. 
The Bundy mem^oranduin was followed by a cable from Taylor which presented 
generally similar recommendations under the heading of "graduated reprisals." 
CINCPAC commented on the Taylor proposals^ urging that the levels of attack 
should be forceful enough to be militarily effective^ not merely politically 
persuasive. On 8 February^ McNamara requested the JOS to develop a 
program; shortly thereafter they produced their "Eight -week -Program" of 

In Saigon^ the FLMING DART bombings of T-12 February ~ the first 
reprisal bombings since August 196^ ~ were promptly followed by the 
Armed Forces Council selection on 16 Februaiy of a new cabinet; headed 
by Dr. Pham Huy Quat^ the cabinet was installed on I8 Februaiy. Another 
coup was attempted on I9 February but thwarted by the AFC. And General 
Khanh (whose actions against Huong in January had lost him Taylor ^s con- 
fidence) was removed on the 20th, Four days later ^ 2^ Februaiy^ Khanh 
■A. left. for foreign parts and ROLLING THUNDER began. Any positive correla- 
tion between. U.S'. pressure on North Vietnam and the stability of the GVN 
remained to be established. 

During these first two months of I965 a^jnost no progress was made 
toward increasing RVNAF strength. Goals were raised but actual force 

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levels were not,- MACV data on RVTIAP strength were later provided the 
Secretary: 137/ 



Jan 65 

Feb 65 

Mar 65 

Apr 65 

May 65 


»• •—■>■■ BM M< 

















.35 . 











Although the conditions stipulated in December had not been met^ although 
the program continued to fall further behind^ we were fully committed to 
pressure on the North by this time. On 1 March 1965^ in a memorandum to 
all Service Secretaries, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs^ Chief of ITaval Opera- 
tions^ Army and Air Force Chiefs of Staff and Comraandant of the Marine Corps^ 
the Secretary of Defense pledged unlimited f\inds to the support of the 
Vietnam effort. 

Over the past two or three years I have emphasized the importance 
of providing all necessary militaiy assistance to South Vietnam^ 
whether it be through MAP or through application of U.S. forces 
and their associated equipment. 

Occasionally instances come to my attention Indicating that some 
in the Departm-ent feel restraints are imposed by limitations of 

I want it clearly understood that there is an unlimited appropri- 
ation available for the financing of aid to Vietnam., Under no 
circumstances is a lack of money to stand in the way of aid to 
that nation. 

signed/Robert S. McNamara 

Early in March the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Harold K, 
Johnson, evalus^ted the need for added supporting actions in Vietnam, 


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On 5 March his party was briefed by the Ambassador. Taylor saw the basic 
unresolved problem as the provision of adequate security for the population. 
Without it^ other programs were either impossible or of marginal effec- 
tiveness at best. Given security and reasonable time, however, these other 
programs vrould fall into place. The three primary causes of insecurity vrere 
(l) lack of satisfactory progress in destroying the "VG, (2) the continuing 
capability of the VC to replace losses and increase their strength, and 
(3) our inability to establish and maintain an effective governraent. 

Inability to suppress the insurgency was considered largely the conse- 
quence of insufficient trained paramilitary and police manpower. A numer- 
ical superiority in excess of five to one over the YC had never been 
obtained; historical example suggested a 10-to-l or 20-to-l ratio was pre- 
requisite to effective operations against guerrilla forces. It was there- 
fore essential to raise new forces and improve those already in being. 

Why was the pacification program of such limited effectiveness? In 
many provinces the reason was poor -- or non-existent — civil action after 
military clearing operations. The Ministries of Interior, Health, Agri- 
culture, Public Works and Rtiral Affairs were responsible for civilian 
"follow-up" but these departments had been impotent throughout 196^, largely 
because of general government instabiliiy. Programs lacked continuity; 
personnel were constantly rotating. Occasional military successes achieved 
in clearing operations too frequently went unexploited. Areas v?-ere cleared 
but not held. Other areas were cleared and held -- but were not developed; 
the VC infra-structure remained in place, ready to emerge when the troops 
moved on. " 

Counterinsurgency was plagued by popular apathy and dwindling morale, 
some the consequences of a long and seemingly endless war. There was no 
sense of dedication to the GTO comparable to that instilled in the VC. 

Secondly, South Vietnam's open frontiers could not be sealed against 
infiltration. Continued DRV support to the VC, the heart of the infil- 
tration problem, could not be eliminated by closing the frontiers from, 
inside South Vietnam so the only way to stop infiltration was to make Hanoi 
order it stopped. Such was the fundamental justification for BARREL ROLL 
and ROLLING THIMDER operations. These, plus 3H, constituted the principal 
hope for ending infiltration. 

It was conceded that even without its support from the North the VC 
could continue to recruit in the South, especially in areas lacking security 
and commitment to Saigon. However, it was hoped that pressure on Hanoi 
would help to- change many conditions unfavorable to the GVL^. For example, 
offensive action against NVN would raise national morale in South Vietnam 
and might provide at least a partial antidote against the willingness of 
coimtry boys to join the VC. ■ 


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T T ■ - !■ r-| > ■ ■ ■ ' ■ I . I ■ ■ I ■ ! -■ ■- ■ ■ 


There were many causes of the failure to establish and maintain an 
effective government. South Vietnam had never been a nation in spirit; 
a government which the people could call their ovm was new to them. Even 
now their instinct said any government was intrinsically their enemy. 
The people had long been divided by racial and religious differences which 
over the centuries their alien rulers had sought to perpetuate. No cement 
was present to bind together the heterogeneous elements of this society. 
Since the fall of Diem and the sudden removal of the restraints imposed 
by his dictatorial regime^ the natural tendency to disunity and factional- 
ism had been given free play; demonstrations^ bonze immolations and mili- 
tary coups had been rife. These had produced the political turbulence of 
the last fifteen months. 

The Ambassador closed his briefing by suggesting the possibility of 
Increased activities in several areas: 

a. improvement in training and mobility of existing forces; 

b. establishment of priorities in the use of existing forces; 

c. expansion of the' capacity of the training establishment; 

d. means to give greater attractiveness to military service; 

e. use of U.S. manpower to offset the present shortage in the 
Vietnaraese armed forces; 

f. use of U.S. Wavy resources to strengthen surveillance of 
coastal and inland water^^ays; 

g. increased tempo for BMIREL ROLL and ROLLING THUNDER; 
h, expanded use of peoples action teams; 

i. increased U.S. aid in combatting economic ills; 

j« preparations to cope -^fith the mounting refugee problem in 
central VietnaL"a; 

k, improved procedures and equipment for resource control; 

1. vitalization of public information programs^ provision of 
a 250-kilowatt transmitter for Saigon; and 

m. prompt response to all personnel requests supporting the. 
U.S. mission. I38/ 

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>*» ^i " ™ - 

General Johnson returned on 12 Mareh^ submitted his report on the l^th. 
The guts of the report^, a series of 21 reconimendations plus, an indication of 
marginal comments Secretary MclTam.ara scribbled on his copy follow (the 
Secretary's comments are in parentheses): 

1. Provide increased mobility for existing forces by intro- 
ducing more Army helicopter companies. (OK) 

2. Deploy more 0-1 type aircraft to give saturation surveil- 
lance capability to improve Intelligence. (OK) 

3. Establish Joint U.S.-RWAP Target Research and Analysis 
Center to utilize increased info effectively. (OK) 

^l-. Evaluate effects of COIVJUSMACV's unrestricted employment 
of U.S. fighter-bombers within SW. (?) 

5. Increase scope and tempo of U.S. air strikes against FWI. 
(Discuss with Chiefs.) 

6, Remove self imposed restrictions on conduct of U.S. air 
strikes against North Vietnam. (Some already rem-oved. Views, of 

■ Chiefs.) 

_^ 7» Increase tempo arid scope of special operations activities 

against North Vietnam. (Ask Max for plan,) 

! . 8. Increase Naval and air RECCE and harassing operations 

against North Vietnam. (Ask Max for plan.) 

9. Re-orient I3ARREL ROLL to increase effectiveness. (OK) 

10 « Commit elements of 7th Fleet to air/surface patrol of 
coastal areas. (OK^ ask Max for plan.) 

. lie Program of cash awards for capture of DRV junks, (OK^ 

ask Max for plan.) 

12, Streamline procedure to give MACV quick authority and funds 
for construction projects in VN. (See 13) 

13. Establish stockpile of construction materials and equipment 
within 3 to k sailing days of VN controlled by MACV. (Applicable 
to both 12 and I3 - John to work with Paul and Charlie.) /ASD/ISA, 
SecNav and SecArmy respectively/ 


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14. Get Australian/lfew Zealand agreement to take responsibility 
for establishing regional forces training center. (Ask State to try.) 

15. . Integrated U.S/GVH psychological warfare operations organiza- 
tione '(USIA job^ - DOD mil help.) 

16. Accelerate positioning of remaining sub -sector advisory teams, 
(ok " ask Max his requirements.) 

17- Provide cash contingency fund to each sub -sector advisory 
group, (ok - ask Max for his plan.) 

18. Establish procedure for sub -sector advisoxy groups to draw 
on USOM food stuffs and building materials. (OK - ask Max for his 

19. Initiate dredging projects at Dajiang^- Qui Khon and Wha Trang."' 
(OK - ask Max for his requirements.) 

2O0 Provide ^l- LSTs and 6 LSVs for logistic support along east- 
west supply axis, (OK - ask Max for his reqirirements. ) 

■ * 

21, Accelerate program for jet applicable airfield. (What is the 
program? - John will follow.) 

To the measures the Secretary added one of his o\Tn: "extend tours." It was 
incorporated into later versions of the list. 

In addition to the above the Johnson report suggested tvro alternative 
deployments of a tailored division force to assist Vietnamese units in of- 
fensive action in II Corps, One was to deploy U.S. combat units to ■assume 
responsibility for security of the Bien PIoa-Tan Son Mhut air base com.plex^ 
Nha Trang^ Qui Nhon and Pleiku. The second was to deploy U.S. combat units 
to assume responsibility for defense of Kontum^, Pleiku and Darlac provinces 
in II Corps. On the first alternative the Secretary noted: "Johnson does 
not recommend this;" he suggested that JCS should study^ and "Max's and 
Westy's views" toward the second alternative should be sought. 139/ 

On 8 March^ when Johnson was in Vietnam^ the first two Marine batta- 
lions landed at Danang. Almiost all of the intelligence reports during that 
month indicated our programs in Vietnam were either stalemated or failing. 
Not only was RYNKF strength considerably below the goals set and agreed 
upon^ it was in considerable danger of actually decreasing. The situation 
on this score was indicated by the follo\/ing tab3-,e included in the March 
MACV report, iko/ 

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2B Feb 65 
Audited Strength. 

31 Mar 65 


Regular Eorce 
Regional Force 
Popular Force 

Coastal Force 


National Police 

Armed Combat Youth 


137, 187 


51, 500 



162, 642 



33, 599 


246, 500 


160, 000 


19, 500 

34, 500 

44, 500 i4o/ 

Although some HOP TAC progress was occasionally reported the pacification 
situation otherwise vras quite gloomy. The Vietnam Sitreps of 3 March I965 
reported the nationwide pacification effort remained stalled. The HOP TAC 
program "continues but personnel changes, past and future, may retard the 
future success of this effort." The 10 March Sitrep called the national paci- 
fication effort "stagnated" and objectives in some areas "regressing." In 
the I and II Corps pacification has "all but ceased," Only a few widely 
scattered places in the rest of the country could report any achievement. 
In the HOP TAC area the anticipated slow-down in pacification had arrived 
-- the result of shifting military commanders and province and district chiefs. 
On 17 March, pacification was virtua3„ly stalled, refugee problems were mount- 
ing in I and II Corps, Only in the HOP TAC area were there "modest gains... 
in spite of increased VC area activity." By 24 March the word used for 
pacification efforts generally was "stalled," and the effort had now become 
increasingly devoted to refugee centers and relief. However, the Sitrep 
said 356 haialets in the HOP TAC area had been reported — by Vietnamese 
authorities — as meeting screed criteria and 927,000 persons were living 
in zones that had been dec3.ared clear, l4l/ 

At the time of the Johnson Mission, concern over the evident failures 
of the pacification program was such that proposals to change the frame- 
work within which it was conducted -- proposals to put the USOM, USIS and 
CIA pacification operations all under MCV -- were examined at length. 
Ambassadors Taylor and Alexis Joh_nson as well as General Westmoreland were 
opposed to sweeping changes of this sort. All apparently conceded the need 
for better coordination of the different kinds of programs, military and 
civil, which went into pacification but senior mission officials strongly 
opposed any major revision of the non-military effort. 


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IV. NSAM-328 

Near the end of March Ambassador Taylor returned again to Washington 
for policy conferences. Four sets of proposals had been specifically 
developed for consideration at the 1 April meeting. One of these was 
General Johnson's report which has already been described in detail. 
Another was a suggested program of 12 covert actions submitted by the 
Director of Central Intelligence. A third was an information prograiTi de- 
veloped by USIS. The fourth was a proposed program of kl non-military 
measures initially suggested^ by Ambassador Taylor^ then worked on by State 
during the third week of March^ and finally incorporated in a memorandum 
to the President dated 31 March. 

The 41 possible non-military actions proposed for consideration by 
Ambassador Taylor were arranged in 9 groups. The first group was entitled 
''Decentralisation In The GOT and The Rural Program." This group included 
measures to urge the GW to increase the power and responsibility of indi- 
vidual province chiefs^ and to persuade the peasants they had a stake in 
the GW by giving rural pacification a positive label^ "new rural life 
hamlet program/' and complexion. 

The second group of non-military actions concerned "Youth^ Religion^ ' 
and Other Special Groups." Within this group were a series of actions to 
expand the support of the GVN Ministry of Youth and Sports^ to reduce the 
^^ draft age from 20 to I8 or 17^ to persuade the GW to meet Montagnard griev- 
'^ ances^ and to increase aid to the Vietnamese labor movement. 

Under the heading "Economic and Social Measures^" there were specific 
proposals to support a better coastal water transportation system and to 
I urge the GVN to promulgate and put into effect an equitable land reform 

, , progratn. By sending U.S. and possibly nationalist Chinese experts it was 

hoped the GVN could be assisted in com.bating the growing VC capability to 
I f extract financial and material support from GVN resources. Measures were 

also urged to expand and accelerate slujn clearance and low cost housing in 
troublesome urban areas and to improve the water supply. 

' ' '" Specific measures advocated under the heading "Education" included a 

general increase in U.S. assistance^ expansion of the program to translate 
American textbooks into Vietnajiiese and to establish secondary schools on 
American principles for Vietnamese students. 

I Among the five specific measures under the rubric "Security and Intel- 

ligence^" one urged promulgation of an effective arrest and detention law^ 

j another asked for a great increase in intelligence funds ^ a third called 

for a system of rewards for information leading to the capture or death of 
VC leaders^, and the last was a suggestion for a national counterespionage 
organization o 

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Tlie "Psychological Operations" proposed were mainly additions to pro- 
posals already made in the USIS report of Mr. Rowan. 

The specific m.easures under "GM Personnel" (and its systems, of re- 
cruiting and training officials for the rural program) were to urge the GW 
to establish rewards for outstanding performance^ and give double or triple 
pay to rural school t.eachers and officials. 

There were two measures to aid "Refugees in Emergency Situations:" one 
to provide additional U.S. support for the refugee program^ and the other 
to establish a joint U.S./gW reaction team for quick survey and immediate 
action in war disaster situations. 

The last group of proposals was a revision of the old idea of encadre- 
ment of U.S. officers at key spots within the GVI-I. The administrative 
measures to increase U.S. effectiveness included such suggestions as allow- 
ing U.S. officers to work directly with special interest groups including 
Buddhists^ Catholics^ the sects^ Montagnards^ students^ labor^ etc.; and 
assigning other U.S. officers to work directly \d.thin the GW^ including 
the Prime Minister's office and key ministries. Another suggestion was 
for the establishment of a U.S. inter -agency group on pacification to be 
directed by a senior Mission officer reporting directly to the Ambassador. 
(This suggestion was evidently directed at the same problem as the sugges- 
tion for establishing all U.S. pacification effort under MACV that had 
arisen during the visit of General Johnson.) 

A feature of this proposed program that should be noted is that many 
if not most of the suggestions began with such phrases as "urge the GW" 
or "persuade the GW." This was of course not the first time that our 
assistazice took this form. This had been going on for a long time. But 
the difference between m.erely supplying aid and also trying to supply 
initiative is significant. 3Ji2/ 

In preparation for the important 1 April meeting a T-Thite House paper 
entitled "Key Elements For Discussion^ Thursday^ April 1^ at 5:30 P.M." 
was circulated to participants. In summarizing the situation the paper 
said that morale had improved in South Vietnam and that^ although the 
goverimient had not really settled do\m^ it seemed "hopeful both in its 
capacity and its sense of political forces." The South Vietnamese armed 
forces were in reasonably good shape although its top leadership was not 
really effective and the ratio of ARW to VC (whose members were increasing) 
was not good enough. The situation in many parts of the countryside con- 
tinued to go in favor of the VC although there was^ at that writing^ what 
was believed to be a temporary lull. Tu^rning to the matter of the bom-bing 
this statement said that: 

• Hanoi has shoi-m no signs of give^ and Peiping has stiffened 
its position within the -last week. We still believe that 

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attacks near Hanoi might substai:itially raise the odds of 
Peiping coming in with air, 

Hanoi was expected to continue stepping up its infiltration both by land 
through Laos and by sea„ There were clear indications of different view- 
points in Hanoi ^ Peiping^ and Moscow with respect to "so-called wars of 
liberation^" as well as continued friction between Moscow and Peiping. 

However^ neither such frictions nor the pressure of our 
present slowly ascending pace of air attacks on North Viet- 
nam can be expected to produce a real change in Hanoi's 
position for some time^ probably two to three months at 

The argument then proceeded to the key question of whether or not 
Hanoi would continue to make real headway in the South, If it continued 
to maJie such headway^ even a major step-up in our air attacks vDuld prob- 
ably not make them much more reasonable. On the other hand if the situa- 
tion in South Vietnatn began to move against the VC and the going became 
increasingly tough^ then the "situation might begin to move on a political 
track - but again not in less than two to three months^ in our present- 
judgment." This was a significant departure from the theory for ROLLING 
THUNDER propounded when that bomibing pressure was inaugurated. 

Following some considerations on nnmiediate international moves and 
more general political posture^ the memo turned to "actions ^rtthin South 
Vietnam," Employing every useful resource to improve the efforts in the 
South was defined as crucial. The paper indicated that the 4l -point ' 
program of non-military measures developed mainly by Ambassador Taylor 
included promising elements and that the mission as well as agencies in 
VZashington should develop additional points, McCone's suggestions for 
largely covert actions were recommended for further study.' Both the Rowan 
(USIS) and the 21-point program of General Johnson were viewed favorably _, 
as well as an increase in U.S. militaiy support forces in Vietnam from 
18^000 to 20^000 men. An increase in GW manpower was also approved with 
increased pay scales to be used as an inducement regardless of the mone- 
tary costs. On one copy of this document that went to OSL^ there was a 
handwritten additional point that was^ "change mission of Marine force," 
This significant addition was later adopted in NSAM-328. 

The remainder of the paper was devoted^ first^ to U.S, and third 
country combat forces in South Vietnam^ and second^ to actions against 
North Vietnam and in Laos. These are of interest here only in the extent 
to which they distracted from or supplanted counterinsurgency actions 
within South Vietnam, So far as U.S, combat forces within South Vietnam 
were concerned^ there was cautious consideration of a small and gradual 
buildup. But it was emphasized that because the reaction of the GVH and 

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of the South Vietnamese people to any major U.S. combat deployment was 
uncertain^ and because the net effectiveness of U.S. combat forces in the 
Vietnamese environmient was also uncertain^ the Secretary of State and the 
Secretary of Defense had recommended that action of this sort be limited. 
Only the deployment of tvro additional Marine battalions^ one Marine air 
squadron and certain logistical forces over the ensuing sixty-day period 
was approved. Continuation of ROLLING TBUKDER operations on a slowly 
ascending scale was assumed. It was also assumed that preparations would be 
made for additional strikes and for a response to any higher level of VC 
operations^ as well as^ correspondingly ^ to slow the pace in the unlikely 
event that VC actions slacked off sharply. 1^3 / 

In the NSC meeting of 1 April 1965^ the President gave his formal ap- 
proval^ "subject to modifications in the light of experience^" to the 4l- 
point program of non-military actions submitted by Ambassador Taylor and 
described above. He gave general approval to the USIS recommendations^ 
except that no additional funds were to be supplied for this work "■- the 
program was to be funded and supported by other agencies. The President 
further approved the urgent exploration of the covert actions proposed by 
the Director of Central Intelligence. Finally^ he repeated his previous 
approval of the 21 -point program of military actions recommended by General 
Johnson. On the exclusively military side the President authorized the 
18^000 to 20^000-man increase in U.S. military support forces^ the deploy- 
ment of two additional Marine battalions^ and the change of mission for all 
Marine battalions to permit their use in active combat under conditions to 
be established and approved by the Secretaiy of Defense in consultation with 
the Secretary of State. HoweA?-er^ because this last decision was contingent 
upon future agreements- between the Secretary of State and the Secretary of 
Defense its full significance was not immediately apparent. It was left to 
the Ambassador to seek South Vietnamese government approval and coordina-. 
tion for all of these measures. 1^/ 

KSAM-328 did not last long as a full and current statement of U.S. 
policy. There were some responsible officials who had mdsgivings about 
increasing our involvement in South Vietnam or about increasing it more 
rapidly than might be necessary. There were others who apparently felt- 
that NSM-328 risked falling between two stools. One such was John A. 
McCone^ Director of CIA (who was perhaps also unhappy about the increasing 
involvement per _se). The day after the 1 April meeting he addressed a 
memorandum expressing second thoughts to the Secretary of State^ the Secre- 
tary of Defense^ the Special Assistant to the President for National 
Security Affairs and Ambassador Taylor, The change in the U.S. role from 
merely giving advice and static defense^ to active combat operations against 
Viet Cong guerrillas^ appeared to bother him. He felt our ground force 
operations would very possibly have only limited effectiveness against guer- 
rillas^ and above all^ he felt the conduct of active combat operations in 


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South Vietnam should be accompanied by air strikes against the IMorth suf- 
ficiently heavy and datnaging to really hurt the Worth. If the U.S. vere to 
combine combat operations in the South with air strikes of any kind in the 
Korthj, the attacks on the North should be heavy and do great damage. 
Without expressly saying so_j his point seems to have been that the air war 
against the ITorth should not be an attempt to persuade^ but an effort to 
compel. He said that he had alrea.dy reported that: 

The strikes to date have not caused a change in the 
North Vietnamese policy of directing Viet Cong insurgency^ 
infiltrating cadres and supplying m-aterials. If anything^ 
the strikes to date have hardened their attitude. 

Although the memo as a whole conveys Mr. McCone's serious doubt that the 
ground operations in the South would in any event serve their purpose^ he 
clearly advocated bombing more heavily if we decided to engage in ground 
operations. Unless they were supported by really strong actions against 
Worth Vietnam^ he felt such ground operations vrould be doomed to failure: 

I believe our proposed track offers great danger of simply en- 
couraging Chinese Coimnunists and Soviet support of the DRV and VC 
cause if for no other reason than the risk for both will be mini- 
mum. I envision that the reaction of the WVW and the Chinese Com- 
munists \^all be to deliberately^ carefully^ and probably gradually^ 
build up the Viet Cong capabilities by covert infiltration of 
■ North Vietnamese and^ possibly^ Chinese cadres and thus bring an 
^ * ever increasing pressure on our forces. In effect^ we wj,ll find 

ourselves mired down in combat in the jungle in a military effort 
we cannot win^ and from which we will have extreme difficulty in 
extracting ourselves. 

McCone argued that if we were going to change the mission of the U.S. groimd 
forces we also needed to change the ground rules of the strikes against 
Worth Vietnam^ and he concluded: 

If \ie are unwilling to take this kind of a decision now^ 
we must not take the actions concerning the mission of our 
ground forces for the reasons I have mentioned above « 1^4-5/ 

McCone 's views notwithstanding^ U.S. policy was promptly and shaiply 
reoriented in the direction of greater military involvement \rlth a pro- 
portionate de-emphasis of the direct counterinsurgency efforts. It is not 
fully clear to this writer exactly how and why this rapid re -orientation 
occurred. On 7 April the President made his famous Johns Hopkins speech 
in which he publilcly committed the United States more than ever before to 
the defense of South Vietnam^ but also cormnitted himself to engage in 

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iinconditional discussions. The follo\^ day^ Pham Van Dong published his 
Four Points in vhat seeined a defiant^ and unyielding response. This sharp 
DW rebuff of the President's initiative may well have accelerated the re- 
orientation. The re-orientation of policy itself^ however^ was expressed 
not in an explicit restatement of formal policy^ but in a series of action 
decisions over the follovTing fortnight that caught the Saigon Mission very 
much by surprise. 

The Ambassador's nodis to the President on 13 April had a comparatively 
optimistic tone. It began _, "We have just completed another quite favorable 
week in terms of losses inflicted upon the Viet Cong...." The critical 
conditions in Bien Dinh Province had been considerably relieved and the 
province^ it vas believed^ was about back to normal. Although a large part 
of the province remained under Viet Cong control^ many areas had been re- 
stored to government control and the fear of the loss of major towns seemed 
past. There had been aggressive action by a new division commander^ and 
there seemed to be improved morale attributable to the air actions against 
North Vietnam. There was a possibility that the Viet Cong were regrouping 
and they would probably soon engage in some new kind or phase of offensive 
action^ . But^ then as now^ there were what some interpreted as indications 
that the Viet Cong morale might be dropping. Pu.rthermore^ estimates — not 
audited figures -- indicated that the government military and paramilitary 
forces had been increased by some 10^000 during the month of March as 
against the target of 8^000 per month. Prime Minister Quat was continuing 
his program of visiting the provinces^ and in addition to making himself 
and the Saigon goA^-ernment known to the hinterlands^ he had expressed parti- 
cular interest In such projects as rural electrification^ agricultural 
development^ water supply and school constru.ction. Quat's principal worry 
j continued to be the_ unruly generals and there was continued evidence of 

dis-unity within the" senior officers corps. lh6/ 

Within two days^ however^, messages went out from Washington indicating 
that decisions had been made at the highest level to go beyond the measures 
specified in NSAM-328. On 15 April^ McGeorge Bundy sent a personal nodis ' 
to Ambassador Taylor saying that the President had just approved important 
future military deployments and that some personal explanation miglit be 

The President has repeatedly emphasized his personal desire 
for a strong experiment in the encadrement of U,S. troops with 
the Vietnamese, He is also very eager to see prompt experiments 
in use of energetic teams of U.S. officials in support of pro- 
visional governiaents under unified U.So leadership. These 
desires are 'the source of corresponding paragraphs in our message. 

On further troop deploym.ents^ the President's belief is that 
current situation requires use of all practical means of streng- 
thening position in South Vietnam and that additional U.S. troops 


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are important if not decisive reinforcements. He has not seen 
evidence of negative result of deployments to date^ and does 
not \r±sh to wait any longer than is essential for genuine 
GM agreement. 

President always intended these plans be reviewed vrith you 
■ and approved by Quat before final execution^ and we regret 
any contrary impression given by our messages in recent days, 
1^-7 / 

The message stated that "highest authority" believed that^ in addition 
to the actions against the North^ something new had to be added in the 
South^ to achieve victory, 


lo Experimental encadrement by U,S. forces of South Vietnamese 
ground troops both to stiffen and increase their effectiveness and 
also to add to their fire power. Two approaches were to be carried 
out concurrently^ one Involving integration of a substantial nmnber 
of U,S, combat personnel in each of several AEW battalions^ the 
other involving the combined operation of approximately three addi- 
tional Army/Marine battalions v/-lth three or more South Vietnamese 
battalions for use in combat operations. 

■ r 

2. Introduction of a brigade force into the Bien Hoa-Vung Tau 
area to act both as a security force for installations and to 
participate in counterinsurgency combat operations, 

3. Introduction of a battalion or multi -battalion forces into 

three additional locations along the coast, such as Qui Mhon. The 

purpose here would be to experiment further with using U.S. forces 

in counterinsurgency role in addition to providing security for the 

In addition to these three steps, which were intended basically to 
increase the militaiy effectiveness of the countergueriilla campaign^ a 
series of other steps was proposed. One was a substantial expansion of 
the Vietnamese recruiting campaign using U.S. recruting experts, tech- 
niques and procedures. A second was an experimental prograna to provide 
expanded medical services to the coimtryside utilizing mobile dispensaries. 

The next one -- and the one that caused considerable subsequent dis- 
cussion -- was the experimental introduction into the provincial govern- 
ment structure of a team of U.S. Army civil affairs personnel to assist 
in the establishment of stable provincial administration and to initiate 
and direct the necessary political, economic and security programs. It 

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was proposed that teams be introduced first into only one or two provinces. 
General Peers was being sent to work with COMUSMACV in developing detailed 

The last non-military measiire was an experimental plan for distributing 
food directly to regular and paramilitary personnel and their families. 1^8 / 

Hot on the heels of this message came another on l6 April explaining 
in some further detail the proposition to experiment with U.S. civil af- 
fairs officers in the pacification program. Major General W. R, Peers' 
party was scheduled to arrive in Saigon on 19 April, According to the pro- 
posal COMUSM/ICV was to designate a senior officer to direct the overall U.S. 
Army Civil Affairs effort in the one or two test provinces. Within these^ 
the responsibility for all U,S, activities would be vested in the senior 
U,S. Army sector advisor. 1^9/ 


This last message was^ for Taylor^ the straw that broke the cajriel's 
back. Immediately upon receiving it the Ambassador dispatched a ITODIS to 
McGeorge Buady: 

.,.. Contrary to the firm understanding wMch I received in Wash- 
ington^ I was not asked to concur in this massive visitation. 
For your information^ I do not concur. 

Based on the little I know of the proposed civil .affairs experi- 
ment^ I am opposed to beginning any extensive planning exercise 
which^ ■ because of its controversial and divisive concept^, is 
going to shake this mission and divert senior members from, their 
important daily tasks. If GYE gets word of these plans to im- 
pose U.S. military government framework on their country (as 
this new concept seems to imply )^ it will have a very serious ^ . 
impact on our relations here, 

■ We are z'ocking the boat at a tjjne when we have it almost on 

an even keel, I recommend that we suspend action on this 

project until we have time to talk over its merits and decide 
how to proceed with order. i6q/ 

Shortly after dispatching this telegram^ the Am^bassador sent another 
to McGeorge Bundy^ this one dealing more generally with the defense mes- 
sage of 15 April which had laid out the new program of added measures . 
decided upon by the President, 

I am greatly troubled by DoL I52339Z April I5. First, 
it shows no consideration for the fact that, as a result of 
decisions taken in Washington during my visit, this mission is 

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charged >.ath securing implementation by the two-month old Quat 
government of a 21-point military program^, a 4l-point non -military 
program^ a l6-point Rovan USIS program and a 12 -point CIA program <, 
Now this nev cable opens, up new vistas of further points as 'if ve 
can yin here som.ehow on a point score. We are going to stall the 
machine of governraent if we do not declare a moratorium on new 
programs for at least six months. Dlext^ it shows a far greater 
willingness to get into the ground war than I had discerned in 
Washington during my recent trip... 

My greatest concern arises over para 6 reftel /the civil affairs 
experiment proposal/ which frankly bei-.alders me. "V/hat do the 
authors of this cable think the mission has been doing over the 
months and years? We have presujaably the best qualified people the 
Washington agencies (State^ AID^ DoD^ USIA and CIA) can find work- 
ing^in the provinces seven days a week at precisely the task dQ- 
scribed in paragraph 6. Is it proposed to ^d:thdraw these people 
and replace them by Army civil affairs types operating on the 
pattern of military occupation? If this is the thought^ I would 
regard such a change in policy which would gain wide publicity^ as 
disastrous in its likely efforts upon pacification in general and 
on US/GW relations in particular. • 

Mac^ can^t we be better protected from, our friends? I know 

that everyone wants to help^ but there is such a thing as killing 

wit-n kindness. In particular^ we want to stay alive here because 

we think we* re winning -- and v/ill continue to win unless helped 
to death. 151/ 

Shortly after sending this cable^ the Ambassador sent still a third 
message^ this one suggesting certain steps that might be taken in Wash- 
ington to facilitate his implementation of the many and rapidly .changing 
policies and programs that had been decided upon in Washington since his 
visit. ^The problem was winning not only the acquiescence^ but the support 
and active^cooperation of the South Vietnamese governm.ent. He suggested 
the kind of instruction that Washington should provide him to present to 
the GW — the new policy of third country participation in ground combat. 
Taylor s proposed instructions are quoted in full here because they pro- 
vide^ for better or worse^ an internally consistent rationale for the 
shifting policies of that month: 

The USG has completed a thorough review of the situation 
in South Vietnam both in its national and international aspects 
and has reached certain im.portant conclusions. It feels, that 
in recent weeks there has been a somewhat favorable change in 
the overall situation as the result of the air attacks on the DEV^ 

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the relatively small but numerous successes in the field against 
1 the VC and the encouraging progress of the Quat government. 

However^ it is becoming increasingly clear that^ in all probability^ 
the primaiy objective of the GW and the USG of changing the will 
of the DRV to support the VC insurgency cannot be attained in an 
acceptable time frame by the methods presently employed. The air 
campaign in the Worth must be supplemented by signal successes 
against the VC in the South before -vie can hope to create that frame 
• of mind in Hanoi which will lead to the decisions we seek. 

The JCS have reviewed the military resources which will be 
available in SVW by the end of I965 and have concluded that even 
with an attainment of the highest feasible mobilization goals^ 
ARVW will have insufficient forces to carry out the kind of suc- 
cessful campaign against the VC which is considered essential for 
the purposes discussed above. If the ground war is not to drag 
into 1966 and even beyond^ they consider it necessary to rein- 
force GVN" ground forces with about twenty battalion equivalents 
in addition to the forces now being recruited in SVW. Since these 
reinforcements cannot be raised by the GVl^I they must inevitably 
come from third country sources. 

The USG accepts the validity of this reasoning of the JCS and 
offers its assistaince to the GVH to raise these additional forces 
for the purpose of bringing the VC insurgency to an end in the 
shortest possible time. We are prepared to bring in additional 
U.S. ground forces provided we can get a reasonable degree of 
participation from other third countries. If the GVN \rlll make 
urgent representations to them^ we believe it will be entirely 
possible to obtain the following contributions: Korea^ one 
regimental combat team; Australia^ one Infantry battalion; Hew 
Zealand^ one battery and one company of tanks; Philippine Islands^ 
one battalion. If the forces of the foregoing magnitude are 
forthcoming^ the USG is prepared to provide the remainder of the 
combat reinforcements as well as the necessary logistic personnel 
to support the third country contingents. Also^ it will use its 
good offices as desired in assisting the GVM approach to these 

You (the Ambassador) _^ will seek the concurrence of the GVW 
to the foregoing program^ recognizing that a large number of 
questions such as coimnand relationships^ concepts of employment 
and disposition of forces must be worked out subsequently. 

The message concluded that^ armed with an instru.ction of this kind^ 
he^ Taylor^ would be adequately equipped to initiate what might be a 

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sharp debate vithin the GVW. Something of this sort was needed before 
I taking up the matter of troop arrangements with Quat, 1^2/ 

Later the same day^ Deputy Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson sent Wash- ' 
mgton his personal observations on the recent decision to introduce 

, third country troops. He had just returned from one day at Pleiku with . 

, Premier Quat^ and two days in the Danang-Hue area^ where he had had "ex- 

tended visits and informal conversations with all of the senior Marine ' 
officers ashore." 

I i ^ fully appreciate considerations both internal and external 

, to SYE which impel move on our part to bring this war to success-- 

^ ful conclusion as quickly as possible. o .However^ I gravely question 

, I whether this result can be achieved at this time by massive input 

of non -Vietnamese militaiy forces. As we have learned^ we are 
dealing with volatile and hyper-sensitive people with strong zeno-- 
phobic characteristics never far below the surface. We have thus 
far deployed our Marine battalions to minimize direct contact with 
local population. This not only from our choice but that of GVW^ 
especially General Thi. On this I thihk Thi is right. Hasty and 
111 conceived deployment of non -Vietnamese in combat roles where 
they are substantially involved with local population could 
badly backfire on U.S. and give rise to cries by Buddhists. . .and 
others to 'throw out foreigners' and 'retura Vietnam to the 
Vietnamese.. » ' 

The message went on to say that in the next few weeks the Marines at Danang 
would^have a chance to test their success as a reaction force in support of 
ARW initiated contact vath the enemy^ and in patrolling thinly populated 
areas. The Deputy Ambassador recommended that we av^ait the outcome of 
this testing before engaging any more forces. 1^3/ 

A hastily arranged meeting in Honolulu on 20 April was evidently 
called to soothe Taylor's temper oYex the hasty decisions to deploy third 
country troops^ and to get agreement to them by the senior U.S. policy 
officials^concemed — not to reverse or alter those policies or to shift 
the direction of our commi-t^nents. By that point we were inexorably com- 
mitted to a military resolution of the insurgency. .The problem seemed 
no longer soluble by a^y other means. " ■ 

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I. White House Statement to the Press, 2 OctolDer I963 

2« National Security Action Memorandum 273, 26 Kovember 1963 (TS) 

3. Ibid. 

h. Ibid. 

5. Ibid. 

6. Secretary Robert So McTTanara Memorandinn for the President ^ 
"Report of the McIIamex a -Taylor Mission to South Vietnam, 

2 October I963 (TS) 

7. Ibid, 

8. Chairman, JCS Max^Tell Taylor Letter to President Kgo Dinh Diem, 
30 September I963 ■ > ■ 

9. ' Ibid. 

r~'- 10. Secretary of Defense Robert So MclTamara Testimony Regarding the 

Situation in South Vietnam Before the House Committee on Foreign 
Affairs (Executive Session), not subseqiiently published, 8 October 
1963 (B) . . ^ 

II, Secretary of Defense Robert Sc Mci\"sm5Ta Testimony on Authorization 
Bill for Fiscal I965 Before the liouse Comraittee on Armed Services 
(Executive Session), 27 and 29 January 196^- (S) 

12. Ibid o . . 

13. Ibid. 

llfo Roger Hilsman, To Move a Rati on (New York: Doubleday and Co., 
1967), p. 502 

15 o "Critical Analysis of Halberstam Article,'* in Secretajry of Defense 
Briefing Book, I6 (?) August I9S3 (s) 

16. "History of War In Vietnam, I96I-63," in Secretary of Defense 
, ■• Briefing Book (Septem_ber I963) 

17. Ibid . 

^ 18, "Second Informal Appreciation of the 'Strategic Hamlet Program," 
■'"" 1 Septauber I963 (S) 


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19. McKainar a -Taylor Trip Report^ op . ci t. 

20. "SiJUTimary of Special Meeting on the Republic of Vietnam^ ClNCPAC 
Headquarters 5" 20 November 1963 (TS) 

21. Secretary of Defense Memorandum for the president. Subject: "Meet- 
ing with Ambassador Lodge ," 23 November I963 (TS) 

22.- Draft Memorandum to the President on Status of Actions Under 

lTSAM-2735 attached to memoranduan from Assistant Secretary of State 
for Far Eastern Affair s. Department of State, to Secretary of 
State, Director ClAj ejid Secretary of Defense, and AdXiiinistrator AID,* 
to serve as a basis of discussion at a meeting at 3:00 p.m., 

6 December I963 (TS) 


23. Embassy Saigon message 1122, to Secretary of State, 7 December I963 

■2U. Assistant Secretary of Defense/lSA Memorandum to the Deputy Secre- 
tary of Defense, Subject: ''Situation in Vietnam^'" No. 1-29135/635 
17 December I963, signed by Admiral Blouin (S)- . ^ _ 

i 25 o Back-Up Book for Secretary of Defense Saigon Trip, 18-20 December 

i 1963 (TS) 


~ . 26.' OSD m.essage DEF.9U9322 to CIIICPAC, 21 December I963 (TS) 

' 27. Secretary of Defense Memorandujn for the President, Subject: "Trip 

to South Vietnam," 21 December 1S63 (TS) 

28. Remarks of the Secretary of Defense at the White House, 21 December 
1963 . • . - 

29c CIA Director John McCone Memorandu^Ti for the Secretary of Defense, 
23 December I963 (TS) 

30. CIA Director John McCone Letter to the Secretary of Defense, 

7 January 196^- (TS) 

31a CLA. Director Jobji McCone Letter to the Secretary of Defense, 
9 January 196^ (ts) . _■ 

32. Secretary of Defense Letter to CLA. Director Johii McCone, I6 January 
1 ^ 196k (TS) 

33 c Willisjn S. Colby, Deputy Director/Plans, CIA Memorandum for Secre- 
tary of Defense^ £L!i:i* ^ Subject: ''initial Report of CAS Group 
Findings in South Vietnam," 10 February 196^!- (s) 

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3I1-. MCV message 665, to Taylor, 21 February I96U (^S) 

35, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McHaiaara Testmony Before the Plouse 
Aimed, Services Cciiiinittee (Executive Session) 5 2? January I96U 

36. Embassy Saigon message 13^5, 20 January 190545 8:00 p.m. (C^ 
37« Embassy Saigon message l^l-OSj 23 Janiiary I96U (u) 

38c CAS^ Saigon message, 28 January 196^ (no message number available) 

39. Embassy Saigon message IU3I5 29 JeJiuary I96U5 8:00 p.m. (TS-EODIS) 

UO. Embassy Saigon message Jhh^^ 30 January 196^5 3:15 a.m. (TS); see 
also messages lUoS, 1^31, BJid 1^32, op. cit . 

4l. Embassy Saigon message 1U565 1 February 190H (S) 

k2. Embassy Saigon Air gram ^^55, 2 February 19^^ (s) 

U3. Ibid. . ' . ■ ■ , 

1|4. Ibid . 

If5. Ibid . 

i-1-6. Embassy Saigon message 1523, 9 February ±96k (S) 

1^-7. Walter Elder, Executive Assistajit to Director CIA Memorandm for 
the Secretary of Defense, Subject: "Appraisal of the Conduct of 
the War in Vietnam, "10 February 196^ (S); de Silva/Xirkpatrick . 
evaluation attached. 

ii-8c Ibid . 

I19. SMS 50-6^-, "Short-Tem Prospects in Southeast As;ia," 12- February 
ISGh (TS) 

50. Assistant Secretary of State/Far East, Roger Hilsman Memorandum 
for the Secretary of State, 1^ l-Iarch 196k (TS) 

5I0 Chairman, JOS Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, JCSM- 1^6-6^, 
18 February I96U (TS-SEI^TSIT1VE) 

52. JCS, SACSA Mem_orandum for the Secretary of Defense, Subject: 

"Appraisal of the Situation in SW," 3 March 196^, in Secretary 
of Defense Trip Boo3i (TS) 

53. Ibid. 
5)4. Ibidc 

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55. Joint State/Defense message, State's 1307 to Embassy Saigon, 
23 February 196^, 8:35 P^in, (S) 


56. Ibid. 

57. Ibid . 

4 . 58. Embassy Saigon message 1?^^, 13 March 196^1- (S) 

t 59. HSAM 273, op.__cit. 

I • . 60. National Sec-ority Action Memorandum 288, 17 March 196U (TS) 

61. Ibid . '• 

62. Ibid. 

63. Ibid . 

6k. Ibid . ^ ■ ■ ,. 

65c White House Statement to the Press, 1? March 196^1- ■ 

66.. State Department message 1^-62 to Saigon and Others, l8 March 196^^ 


67. Chairman, JCS Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, JCSI-222-6M-, 
lU tlarch I96U (TS) - . ■ 

8. State Department message 1U9O to Saigon, 20 March 196^1- (s) 

69. Embassy Saigon message I88O, 1 April 196^+ (S) 

70. These and other data concerning the progress or lack thereof on 
the KSM.I-283 measures during this period are taken from compila 
tions included in "Mid-May Saigon Briefing Book." 

71. Embassy Saigon message 2091, 30 April 19^^ (S) - , ■ 

72. Mid"xMay Saigon Briefing Book, op* cit. 

73. anbassy Saigon messages I8895 2 April 196^; l899^ 3 April I96U; 
2089, 30 April I96U; and 2112, k May 196^ 

7^1 o Mid-May Saigon Briefing Book, o p. cit , ^ - 

75. Joint State-Defense-AID message "1505? 23 May 1954 

76, JCS message to MACV-6073, 29 April 196U 


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77. mCV msg to JCS DIG O7O7251^1a704- 

78. Mid-May Saigon "briefing "book^ op. cit . 

T9. IMd . 

80. Saigon Mid-May iDriefing "book; Report of General Earle G. VJheeler, 
Chief of Staff, US.'l on visit to the Republic of Vietnam representing 
the SecDef and the JCS, 15-20 April 196h (TS). 

81. W. P. Bundy, Memo for the Record, Subject: "Discussion of Possible 
Extended Action in Relation to Vietnam," 2? April 19 W (TS). 

82. Mid-May Saigon "briefing book. 

83. Eflbassy Saigon msg 2108, h May 196i+ (TS). 

eh. Department of State msg I838, from the Secretary 5 May 196^^^ Flash 
(TS)j Embassy Saigon msg 2108, k May 195'+ (TS). 

85. See the Task Force Paper IV. C. 5- "Evolution of the War, ^ Military 
Pressures Against Worth Vietnam: Action and Debate, February to 
June I90+," (TS/Sensitive). 

86. OSD msg Def 9669lli- k May 196ii- (S). 

87. Mid-May Saigon briefing book. 

88. Memo for the Record, _Subject:_ "U.S. Embassy Briefing, Saigon 12 

May loQx," by LCol /Sidney B J" Berry, /jr_J' USA (S). 

89. Memo for the Record, Stibject: "SecDaf-COMUSmCV Meeting, ikSO-Hk^, 
12 May 196^!-," loy Col. Charles Mount, USA (s). 

90. Memo for the Record, Subject: "SecDef -COMQSI'IACV Conference, O9OO- 
1300, 13 May 19&!-," by Col. Charles Mount, USA (s). 

91. Ibid . 

92. Second SecDef -M1CV Conference Report, MAC JOl -38^+9, 1^ May 196^+ (TS). 

93. Memo for the Record, Subject: "SecDef Decisions, Saigon, 13 May 196I1," 
by Sidney B. Berr>r, Jr., LCol, USA (s). 

914- - Embassy Saigon msg 2203, l^l May 196^+ (S). 

95. State Department msg 2087, 26 May 196k (TS-KODIS). 

96. State Depart.ment msg 2095, 27 May 196^!-, 6:ll+ p.m. (TS). 

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9T. Eacloip '^oo^ for Honolulu Conference on 30 May 196^ (l^S). 

98. JCS msg 2625-6!!-^ Taylor to Felt and Harkins^ 28 Ifey 196^1 (TS). 

99. Backup "book for Honolulu Conference on 30 May \SG\ (TS)- 

100. "Proposed A^ctions in Political ProlDlem Areas in Vietnam/' in 
Briefing Book for Honolulu Conference, 30 May 196^ (TS). 

101. Department of State msg 2l8^, 5 J^® 19^^ (^)* 


102. McGeorge Bundy Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense and Secretary 
of State, 15 June 196^, vith six enclosures (TS). 

103. Ibid , enclosure 1. 

104. Ibid j enclosure 2. 

105. Embassy Saigon msg DIG OTlOlOZJulS^V (C); Lmnujnbered Embassy Saigon 
msg, 8 July I96I4-, SEA Cable Files - June-July 19^^- 

106. state Department msg 108, for the Ambassador from the President, 
10 July \3GAy 8:20 p.m. (S). 

lOJ. Emhassy Saigon msgs 109 and 108, 15 Jiily 19^^'- (s)* 

108. See Task Force Paper IV. C. pp. 32-33- 

109. CIA Saigon msg 3501^)-, 2h Jiily 19^^^ (S)- 

110. Embassy Saigon msg 203, '^ Ju].y 19^- (s)- 

111. Embassy Saigon msgs 215, 2l^- July 19^^^ (TS)j and 232, 27 July 1951^ (TS) 

112. Embassy Saigon msg 213, 25. July 19^4 (TS). 

113. Emhassy Saigon msg 3TT, to State for the President, DIG 10lii07ZAug6il- 

11!+. COMUSl.iACV msg to LIA 85^-2, DT'G 221105ZAug6l!- (S). 

115. Shaplen, Robert, Tlie Lost Revo lution, (New York, 19^5);. PP- 268-270. 

116. Shaplen, op.£it., pp. 268-270. 

117. Saigon msg 393, 120735ZAug61t (S). 

118. Shaplen, op. cit . , p. 271. 

119. State Department msg ij-39, l^l- Aug 1964 (TS). 

120. Embassy Saigon msg li-65, I8 Aug I96I+ (TS). 


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121. State repartnient msg ^tSl; 20 Aug 196^, ^:02 p.m. (s). 

122. Shaplen^ op.cit.^ pp. 271-272. 
123- Ibid .^ pp. 272-275- 
12'4. Ibid .^ pp. 275-278. 

125. IV. C. p. Ul. 

126. Shapleiij op. cit . 

127. EmlDassy Saigon msg 768; 6 Sep 19^^ (TS-KODIS). 

128. Memo from AASD/ISA Peter Solbert to SecDef 1-13^ 3^^3/62; Sulr'ject: 
"RAiro Study on South Vietnam" . 

129. NSA14 31^1-^ 10 Sep 1961l- (TS). 

130. Shaplen^ op.cit.^ pp. 286-289- 

131. Embassy Saigon msg 1035^ 6 Oct 196^1- (TS-EXDIS). 

132. Shaplen, op.cit., pp. 29I-292. 

133. COIvIUSMCV Memorand-um for Ainl>assador Taylor; Sulsject: "Asses:>rient 
of the Military Situation," 2H Eov 196^1-^ ^'^CV JOl (S). 

131^. Secretary of Defense Memorandum to the Chairman, JCS, 13 Jan I965 
ASD/ISA Memorandujn to the Secretary of Defense, 11 Jan 19o5; 
■ JCS"M lOli7-6'+, IT Dec is6h (s). 

135. JCS 23l:-3/li-99, 3 Dec 1964 (TS); "Note by the Secretary of the JCS on 
Ambassador Taylor's Visit, Enclosing Draft Instructions, etc." 

f 136. Shaplen, op.cit. , pp. 29O-296. 

13T. DJSM-T^^-65,- Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, 26 June I965 (s) 

138. Saigon msg of J Mar 1965, "Ambassador Taylor's Analysis of the Overall 
Situation in Vietnam" , included in General Johnsons ' "Report on 
Survey of the Military Situation in Vietnam", Tab A. (S). 

139. Memorandimi for the Secretary of Defense, CJCS, CWO, CS/USAP, 
Commandant, USIvIC from General H. K. Johnson, CS/USA; "Report on 
Survey of ohe Military Situation in Vietnam," ik Mar I965 (S). . 

1^40. HQUSIIACV, Monthly Evaluation Report, March I965 (s). 
llj-1. Deptel 2065 Immediate to Saigon, 2k Mar I965 ( s/lB'IDIS ) . 

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•^^2* I^i^* Although this message predates the Taylor memo of 31 March, 
it is believed to be, if not identical, substantially the S8jrie, 
11 because the available copy of it indicates that extra copies for 

" information were sent out to other officials as late as ik April. 

ll|-3« Unsigned VThite House memo - Subject: "Key Elements for Discussion 
Thursday, April 1 at 5:30 p.m.", April 1, I965 (TS). Probably 
prepared by McGeorge Bundy. 

Ikh. NSAIvI 328, 6 April 1965 (TS). 

1I1-5. Memorandum for the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Special 
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and 
Ambassador Maxwell D. Taylor, 2 April I965, from the Director of CIA, 
John A. McCone. 

, 1^1-6. Embassy Saigon msg 3359 to SecState for the President priority 
13 Apr 1965 (TS-NODIS). 

1^7- Deptel 2332, 15 Apr I965, 3:^1-6 p.m., (TS-NODIS). . 

1^8. Joint State-Defense msg OO9164, DTG 152339Z^pril65 (TS-LIMDIS). 

1^9. Department of the Army msg to COMUSMCV (info for Embassy Saigon), 
\ DIG l6llf59ZApr65 (TS). 

150. Embassy Saigon msg 3V19, Ambassador Taylor to McGeorge Bundy, 17 
' April 1965 (TS-NODIS). 

151. Embassy Saigon msg 3I1-2I to State for McGeorge Bundy, IT Apr I965 
(TS«K0DIS). ■ 

152. Embassy Saigon msg 3li-23 to SecState (in two sections) 17 Apr 1965 
immediate (TS-EXDIS). 

153. Embassy Saigon msg 3^32, 17 Apr I965 (TS). 

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