751G.00/7–954: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of Defense


Defense Message Gento 76. Sent OSD Washington DC, repeated information USARMA Saigon, State Department. For Sullivan from Dwan. Discussion with members Vietnam delegation 7 July reported in Secto 571,1 produced remarks which throw some light on general [Page 1314] outlook of leaders of new government on military problem now confronting Vietnam. Awareness of this outlook should be useful in future US contacts with Vietnamese officials on military subjects.

Outlook of Vietnamese representatives here appears colored above all by their extreme bitterness toward French and by intense desire for “real independence” of Vietnam. These factors, both with high emotional content, appear to obscure their grasp of some of facts of military situation, and are likely to influence their judgment about what will be best military policy for Vietnam.

For example, Dac Khe, with apparent concurrence of his colleagues, flatly disagreed with French assertion that recent withdrawal French Union forces from southern part of delta was dictated by military necessity, and said French motives were political, looking toward extrication French Expeditionary Corps from delta and purchase of cease-fire at any price. Irrespective of whether or not withdrawal was dictated by military necessity as French claim, it is significant to note that Dac Khe and Ngo Dinh Luyen said their point borne out by fact Vietnamese Government pleaded with French to leave Vietnamese forces for defense southern delta under Vietnamese command even if French Expeditionary Corps were withdrawn; or alternatively to leave arms with people to permit them to defend area. French refused. From this Vietnamese concluded sacrifice of southern provinces not necessary, implying that since will of Vietnamese forces and people to fight on existed it was simply matter of leaving arms with them. Apparently not considered were factors such as capability of Vietnamese alone to resist attack, necessity for combat and logistic support provided by French, necessity for integrated defense plan for all delta, and effect on whole defense position of weakness of one part.

Nguyen Huu Chau said with feeling that if French did not have resolve to carry on war they should not stand in way of Vietnamese doing so on their own with autonomous army under Vietnamese command. Although this reflects admirable spirit, it comes at somewhat belated stage when talk of going separate ways clearly unrealistic in light of present crisis faced by French Union forces even when operating in concert.

If above is fair sample of thinking of new government leaders, it reflects a rather primitive concept of military facts of life which, if not modified, is likely to make continued Vietnamese collaboration with French in carrying out common military efforts even more strained.

Above comments submitted for such use as they may be in contacts between US and Vietnamese officials on military subjects.

  1. Dated July 8, p. 1298.