288. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Philippine and
Southeast Asian Affairs (Young) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far
Eastern Affairs (Robertson)1
Washington, January 18,
- Report of Defense–State–ICA
Special Mission to Free Viet-Nam (November–December 1955)
You will recall that a Special Survey Mission was sent to Saigon in
November 1955 to collect and evaluate information on which to base
decisions regarding the amount of funds to be allocated in support of
the Vietnamese forces in FY 1956 and to
seek from Congress for FY 1957. The
Mission was headed by Major General
Lawton, Chief of the Budget, Department of the Army.
The Mission has now presented its report.2 A summary of this report is attached which you may
wish to distribute to other officials [Page 617] in the Department. I believe it would also be
useful if you could talk with General
Lawton, for he feels very strongly about the conditions
he found in Viet-Nam.
That the attached summary be sent to the Under Secretary, to Mr.
Hill, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary
for Mutual Security Affairs, and to Mr. Prochnow,
Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Affairs.3
SUMMARY OF THE LAWTON
The cost of maintaining the Vietnamese forces in 1955 was
substantially less than anticipated. In early 1955 it had been
anticipated that the cost would be $315 million of which the U.S.
would contribute $235 million. Present estimates are that when the
accounting period is completed costs will total $223 million of
which $143 million will be contributed by the U.S. It is anticipated
that the balance of funds allocated for support in 1955 will be
carried over to help meet costs in 1956.
MAAG Saigon estimated that costs in
1956 would be $218 million, which the Survey Team recommends be
reduced to $184 million. Principal recommended reductions are in
construction and matériel. Both MAAG Saigon and the Survey Team recommended inclusion
in the military budget for military support of $6 million for the
village militia in which President Diem is very interested. The estimated Vietnamese
contribution would be $20 million, leaving costs of $170 million to
be covered by the U.S.
MAAG Saigon estimates that total
costs in 1957 would be $220 million which the Survey Team recommends
be reduced to $185 million. Again, principal reductions are in
construction and materiel and both recommend $6 million for the
village militia. The Vietnamese contribution is again estimated at
$20 million leaving $171 million to be covered by the U.S.
Up to the present time MAAG Saigon
has placed principal emphasis on training and remarkable progress
has been made in the last eighteen months. However, due to lack of
progress in logistics and administration, the Mission doubts that
the Vietnamese Army could [Page 618]
conduct sustained combat because of its inability to supply and
distribute. The Mission considers it impossible to give proper
attention to the problem of logistics and administrative training
within the existing MAAG personnel
ceiling of 342.
With regard to MDAP supplies shipped
in, the French followed the practice of opening all packing cases
upon receipt thereby often losing the means of identifying the items
received. As a consequence, there are large quantities of supplies
and equipment now in Viet-Nam which cannot be identified and the
process of identification, sorting, and warehousing these items will
be almost endless given the present French personnel. The situation
might be even worse if the items were dumped on the Vietnamese, in
view of their lack of training, or dumped on the U.S., in view of an
even more acute shortage of personnel. A correction of this
condition would result in considerable savings to the U.S., since
some equipment is now exposed to the elements and is deteriorating,
and due to lack of information the U.S. is probably shipping in, or
will be called upon to ship in, supplies which already exist in
The French have been selling supplies and matériel to the Vietnamese
and will shortly begin negotiations to sell fixed installations in
South Viet-Nam to the Vietnamese. Presumably these supplies and
matériel are of French origin but some cases have already been found
where these items were of U.S. origin and given to the French by the
U.S. Also, the U.S., through the aid program to the French budget,
may have contributed to the construction of the fixed installations.
Since we are now supporting the Vietnamese budget the U.S. may be
paying for some items a second time.
The Mission believes that the MAAG
controller needs additional staff in order to control expenditures
of U.S. funds and train the Vietnamese in budget, fiscal, and