291. Telegram From the Secretary of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

2503. For Ambassador. Department’s 2189 to Saigon;2 Saigon 2648 repeated Paris 473 London 221.3 Secretary January 19 decided we should not now authorize Defense raise MAAG ceiling by allowing substitution U.S. for French military training and technical personnel, or raise this matter with Eden. We should however study other ways and means achieving our vital objectives despite assumed limitations on number U.S. military personnel. Greater use civilian personnel, including military in civilian status, if feasible, contracts with business firms for MDAP redistribution assistance, and exploration [Page 623] with French of possibility attaching FEC elements or individuals to MAAG and additional French to TRIM for specified period were suggested. We also propose tell Defense we will not object personnel practices designed keep full effective strength military component MAAG Viet-Nam to 342 on duty in Viet-Nam at all times thus allowing theoretical excess of ceiling by average daily number military personnel not on duty because of medical, leave, travel or other reasons.

Prior holding discussions with Defense this matter request priority your comments from political viewpoint on methods outlined above and your suggestions other possible ways introduce adequate personnel into Viet-Nam without formal introduction additional U.S. military.4 Will notify you when our position communicated to Defense.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5–MSP/12–3155. Secret; Priority; limit Distribution. Drafted by Kattenburg; cleared with Hoey, Young, Sebald, Tyler, Phleger, MacArthur, and Murphy; and cleared for transmission by Robertson. Repeated for information to Paris and London.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 287.
  3. Document 287.
  4. See telegram 2995 from Saigon, infra.