The United States Delegation to the Department of State
Dulte 174. Pass Defense. Reference Tosec 392.1 I note with concern decision to withhold US commitment regarding US training Vietnamese troops. I fully appreciate desirability concluding complete agreement with French on overall operational plan for US participation in Indochina conflict. However, irrespective of such agreement, I sincerely hope and strongly recommend that decision regarding US training mission will be reconsidered for following reasons:
- Negotiations at Geneva on Indochina reaching a stage where any indication of US support has effect of strengthening the French position. Decision on training Vietnamese troops would have particularly desirable effect, since it is positive action which can readily be taken during course of conference.
- French military discussions with Viet Minh at Geneva have made no appreciable progress. French military representatives have indicated on several occasions to Defense representatives at Geneva necessity of action by the US. Commitment of training mission would even without commitment US intervention, lend support to French military in their negotiations at Geneva.
- As I have pointed out, if there is a settlement at Geneva under present conditions it will probably result in partition of Indochina, no matter what it is called. This would result in loss of part of Vietnam. How much of Vietnam is actually lost may depend on our decisions in connection with helping to create and train a Vietnamese national defense force. Action would have to be taken, even if this undesirable type of settlement should be made, to strengthen Vietnamese forces to defend remainder of area. In my view US training mission under these conditions would still be desirable.
- Thursday night at Vietnamese dinner I had discussion with group of nationalist Vietnamese leaders who were formerly associated with the Viet Minh. They are sure to attempt to persuade Vietnamese to continue the struggle and have indicated their willingness to lend all possible support. As conditions they have mentioned specifically conclusion of a treaty and establishment of a national Vietnamese army. They further indicated that, as undesirable as it would be, partition would be better than a coalition government with the Viet Minh which would inevitably lead to Communist control of all of Vietnam. I have no way of estimating the determination and strength of these Vietnamese leaders; however, believe it an encouraging sign. US action on training Vietnamese forces would assist in bolstering resistance among Vietnamese as well as French to unsatisfactory settlement.
- Inasmuch as we have long discussed possibility of training of Vietnamese forces, prior to any discussion of intervention, consider that it would logically be handled separately from question of US military participation in Indochina conflict.
If the decision not to train Vietnamese forces apart from an overall operational plan stands, I strongly recommend that every effort be made to expedite conclusion of final agreement with French if situation in Indochina is not to deteriorate to a point where the entire area is in danger of falling to the Communists.
Since drafting the above message I have seen Dillon’s 48122 in which I fully concur.
- Dated June 10; see volume xiii .↩
- In telegram 4812 from Paris, June 11, Ambassador Dillon recommended that if the United States was no longer interested in helping with the training of the Vietnamese army except in the framework of united military action in Indochina, the United States should promptly inform the French in order to avoid future misunderstanding. (751G.00/6–1154) For the full text of telegram 4812, see volume xiii .↩