The Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Nash) to the Secretary of State
Dear Mr. Secretary: Reference is made to a letter to you dated 24 April 19531 with which was forwarded a memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff concerning the proposed French Strategic Plan (Letourneau–Allard) for the successful conclusion of the war in Indo-China. Certain weaknesses in the subject plan were listed in the Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum such as an apparent lack of aggressiveness, inadequate organizational and tactical concepts, and a failure to give sufficient consideration to the development of indigenous leaders. The Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that although they believed the plan to be workable they considered that it could be improved considerably. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, therefore, recommended that as much pressure as was feasible should be placed on the French from the political point of view to obtain a clear-cut commitment to overcome at least to some extent the listed deficiencies.
The plan presented by the French Command[er] in Indo-China, General Navarre, to General John W. O’Daniel, appears to overcome most of the objections to the Letourneau–Allard plan. In brief the Navarre plan calls for: (a) taking the initiative immediately with local offensives, emphasizing guerrilla warfare, (b) initiating an offensive (utilizing the equivalent of three (3) divisions) in Tonkin by 15 September 1953, (c) recovering a maximum number of units from [Page 744]areas not directly involved in the war, (d) reorganizing battalions into regiments and regiments into divisions, with necessary supporting units and (e) developing the Armies of the Associated States and giving them greater leadership responsibility in the conduct of operations.
There is attached for your information a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dated 28 August 1953, which states that the present Navarre concept appears to correct the previously indicated weaknesses and from their viewpoint presents a marked improvement in French military thinking concerning operations in Indo-China. Of course, the actual success of the operations in Indo-China will be dependent upon the aggressiveness and skill with which the French and Vietnamese forces conduct their future operations. Accordingly, the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe, as does the Secretary of Defense, that the necessary support should be provided to permit full and vigorous implementation of the Navarre concept, conditioned upon continued implementation of French support, demonstration of French intent by actual performance in Indo-China, and continued French willingness to receive and act upon U.S. military advice. Further, the French should be urged at all levels to support and vigorously prosecute the Navarre concept to the maximum extent of their capabilities.
- Ante, p. 493.↩
- This memorandum is a revision of a paper, same title, submitted to the Secretary of Defense by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Aug. 11; for text, see United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967, Book 9, pp. 134–137. A memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary Wilson dated Aug. 28 explained the necessity for the modification of the Aug. 11 paper, which had been more optimistic than the memorandum printed here with regard to the prospects for the success of the Navarre Plan; for text, see ibid., pp. 138–139.↩
- Ante, p. 493.↩