S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 5421

Studies Prepared for the National Security Council1

top secret
NSC 5421

Note by the Executive Secretary to the National Security Council on Studies With Respect to Possible U.S. Action Regarding Indochina


  • A. NSC 54052
  • B. NSC Action Nos. 1086–b and c, 1104–b, 1106, 1110 and 11123

The enclosed studies with respect to possible U.S. action regarding Indochina have been prepared by various departments and agencies in [Page 1650] response to requests authorized by the President. In the event that conditions established by the President as prerequisites for United States intervention in the conflict in Indochina are met, these studies will provide the basis for further consideration by the Council of the question of such intervention.

These studies were prepared on the assumption that United States armed forces intervene in the conflict in Indochina, and on the alternate assumptions that the Chinese Communists: (a) intervene with armed forces in Indochina, or (b) do not intervene with armed forces in Indochina.

A draft of a Presidential message is being prepared by the Department of State and will be circulated later for insertion in part I of this report.4 Additions and amendments to the enclosed reports may be circulated from time to time.

Pursuant to Presidential directive, distribution of this report is being limited to one copy to each Council participant, which is being transmitted through the Planning Board members.

It is requested that special security precautions be observed in the handling of the enclosures and that access to them be strictly limited on an absolute need-to-know basis. These reports may NOT be further reproduced in any form without the permission of this office.

James S. Lay, Jr.
Executive Secretary


  • The President
  • The Vice President
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of the Treasury
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Attorney General
  • The Director, Foreign Operations Administration
  • The Director, Office of Defense Mobilization
  • The Director, Bureau of the Budget
  • The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Secretary of the Army
  • The Secretary of the Navy
  • The Secretary of the Air Force
  • The Chief of Staff, Army
  • The Chief of Naval Operations
  • The Chief of Staff, Air Force
  • The Commandant of the Marine Corps

[Page 1651]

Studies With Respect to Possible U.S. Action Regarding Indochina

Table of Contents

I. By the Department of State

Economic Warfare Against Communist China

United Nations Action in the Event of United States Armed Intervention in Indochina

Juridical Relations in the French Union: Giving Effect to the Independence of the Associated States of Indochina

Draft of President’s Message (to be circulated)

II. By the Department of Justice

Constitutional and Legal Aspects, Including Appropriate Form for Joint Resolution, of President’s Request for Authorization “to Intervene in Indochina”

III. By the Central Intelligence Agency

Communist Capabilities in Indochina5

Communist Reactions to Certain U.S. Courses of Action with Respect to Indochina6

IV. By the Department of Defense

Under Alternate Assumptions that Chinese Communists Intervene or Do Not Intervene:

  • Strategic Concept and Plan of Operation
  • Forces Required of Each Nation Participating
  • Plan for Logistic Support
  • Plan for Command Structure
  • Plan for Training Native Troops
  • Plan for World-Wide Military Aid

V. By the Office of Defense Mobilization

Industrial Mobilization

Manpower Mobilization

Economic Stabilization Mobilization

VI. By the Foreign Operations Administration

Plan for U.S. Economic and Technical Aid in Event of Intervention

VII. By the Operations Coordinating Board

Plan for Gaining Maximum Support for U.S. Intervention in the Associated States from the Indigenous Peoples

[Page 1652]

Plan of Political Warfare (Including Guerilla and Paramilitary)

Action Against the Vietminh

Plan for Gaining Maximum Support of Other Free World Countries Plan for Political Warfare Organization as Integral Part of Intervention

Plan for Keeping China out of War or Reducing Its Effectiveness

VIII. By the Bureau of the Budget

Preparation of Any Necessary Request for Supplemental Appropriations

Preparation of Any Necessary Requests for Additional Statutory Authority Required for Appropriations

Revision of FY 55, 56 Budget Plans

[Here follow the texts of the studies listed above.]

  1. The source text consists of a binder the cover of which bears the handwritten notation “only cy in Dept.” The binder contains a 20-page summary of the studies, dated June 10, followed by the note by Executive Secretary Lay, the table of contents (both printed here), and the texts of the studies. The source text is accompanied by documentation on the development of the Department of State component of the studies, the preparation of which was coordinated by Robert R. Bowie, Director of the Policy Planning Staff and Department of State Representative on the Planning Board of the National Security Council.

    For summaries of the studies and comments on them by Defense Department officials, see United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967, Book 9, pp. 514–529. For a memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense, May 26, regarding the studies prepared by the Defense Department, see ibid., pp. 487–493.

    The studies comprising NSC 5421 were circulated to the members of the National Security Council on June 1 for information. The Council took no formal action in their regard.

  2. For extracts of NSC 5405, “United States Objectives and Courses of Action With Respect to Southeast Asia,” Jan. 16, 1954, see p. 971.
  3. For NSC Action No. 1086, see the memorandum of discussion at the 192d NSC Meeting, Apr. 6, p. 1250; for NSC Action No. 1104, see extracts from the memorandum of discussion at the 194th Meeting of the NSC, Apr. 29, p. 1431; for NSC Action No. 1110, see the memorandum of discussion at the 196th NSC Meeting, May 8, p. 1505. For NSC Actions No. 1106 and 1112, see the memoranda of discussion at the 195th and 196th Meetings of the NSC, May 6 and 8, respectively, in volume xii.
  4. The source text is accompanied by a “Draft Presidential Speech before Congress,” dated June 8 and apparently prepared within the Policy Planning Staff. It is not printed.
  5. The document listed here was an advance copy of SNIE 10–4–54 of June 15, which is printed on p. 1702.
  6. The document listed here was an advance copy of NIE 10–3–54 of June 1, which is printed infra.