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

2705. For Ambassador and Chief MAAG. Joint State–Defense message.

As result State–Defense discussion February 22 of deteriorating logistical situation Viet-Nam due rapid phase out French forces, Secretary of State decided February 3 that necessity protecting MDAP material assets creates extraordinary situation in respect our self-imposed restraints under Geneva Accords and directed we immediately explore with UK and Canada possibility sending in additional US military personnel on temporary basis solely for purpose recovering and preserving equipment now being lost due French withdrawal and lack Vietnamese logistical capability. (State fully aware that introduction additional US military personnel, regardless their mission, will be denounced by Communists and could be declared by ICC as violation Geneva.)
State and Defense have also agreed make démarche to French along lines paragraphs 3, 4, 5 Saigon 31303 on full implementation ElyCollins Minute of Understanding as well as to continue exploration various other ways to permit Defense achieve its training and other objectives Viet-Nam despite continuing limitations on size of MAAG. Details relating plans for MAAG Viet-Nam approved by State and Defense will be further spelled out in subsequent messages for Country Team through Defense channels.
Prior to undertaking exploration with UK, Canadians, French this connection, your views requested priority4 on whether case could be presented more effectively to these governments if following concept adopted with respect handling additional military personnel to be sent in for logistical purposes only rather than simply adding this personnel to MAAG.
Following concept devised State and Defense after consultations with MAAG plans officer presently Washington. Additional military logistical group would be limited to not more than 350, would remain in Viet-Nam for temporary period only, and might be known as “Temporary Equipment Recovery Mission” (TERM). [Page 641] Group would operate under, though not as formal part of, MAAG Viet-Nam. It would be supplemented by approximately 1,000 Filipino and/or Japanese civilian technicians.
Message of instructions to Paris, London, Ottawa, Saigon will follow after Saigon reply this message received.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5/2–956. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Kattenburg and cleared in PSA, FE, L, G, and with Defense (in substance). Sent also to CINCPAC; repeated for information to Paris, to London, and by pouch to Vientiane.
  2. See Document 299.
  3. For the substance of these three paragraphs, see the summary of Tab E (telegram 3130 from Saigon, February 2) in Document 298.
  4. See Document 304.