THE ROLE OF THE TEMPORARY EQUIPMENT RECOVERY MISSION; THE QUESTION OF THE MILITARY ASSISTANCE ADVISORY GROUP CEILING; THE CIVIL GUARD AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF PARAMILITARY FORCES; UPGRADING THE REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM’S AIR FORCE; THE CAN LAO PARTY, CORRUPTION, AND THE USE OF U.S. AID; DETERIORATION OF INTERNAL SECURITY AND THE DEBATE OVER COUNTERINSURGENCY POLICY; INCREASE IN THE REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM’S ARMED FORCES; POLITICAL OPPOSITION TO DIEM AND THE ABORTIVE COUP OF NOVEMBER 19601

1. For previous documentation on Vietnam, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, volume I.


1. Telegram From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Durbrow) to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5–MSP/1–2458. Secret; Limited Distribution. Passed to CINCPAC PolAd.


2. Letter From the Consul in Hue (Barbour) to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Durbrow)

Source: Center of Military History, Williams Papers, Memos to and from Ambassador 1958 (36). Confidential; Official–Informal.


3. Memorandum of a Conversation, Saigon, January 30, 1958

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/2–1058. Confidential. Drafted by Durbrow and Elting. Sent to the Department of State under cover of despatch 289, February 10, which summarized the memorandum of conversation.


4. Telegram From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Durbrow) to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5–MSP/2–858. Confidential; Limit Distribution. Passed to CINCPAC PolAd.


5. Telegram From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Durbrow) to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central, 751G.13/2–2558. Secret; Limit Distribution. Sent also to Phnom Penh and Vientiane.


6. Despatch From the Consul in Hue (Barbour) to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 75lG.11/2–2558. Confidential.


7. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson) to the Secretary of State

Source: Department of State, FE Files: Lot 60 D 90, Vietnam. Secret. Drafted by Corcoran with clearances from SEA, FE, C, G, and L/FE.


8. Memorandum of a Conversation, American Embassy, Manila, March 13, 1958, 5:30 p.m.

Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 989. Confidential. Drafted by George M. Abbott, Special Assistant for SEATO Affairs in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs. Robertson and Abbott were part of the U.S. Delegation to the Fourth Council meeting of SEATO, held at Manila, March 11–13. Thuan was Vietnam’s Observer. Documentation on the Council meeting is scheduled for publication in a forthcoming volume of Foreign Relations.


9. Letter From the Secretary of Defense’s Deputy Special Assistant for Special Operations (Lansdale) to the Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Vietnam (Williams)

Source: Center of Military History, Williams Papers, Official Correspondence Jan–June 1958 (34).


10. Memorandum From the Secretary of Defense’s Deputy Special Assistant for Special Operations (Lansdale) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Sprague)

Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD/ISA Files: FRC 62 A 1698, 092 Vietnam. Secret. Notes on the source text indicate Sprague and Byers saw this memorandum.


11. Telegram From the Chargé in Vietnam (Elting) to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.13/3–3058. Secret; Limit Distribution.


12. Despatch From the Chargé in Vietnam (Elting) to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5–MSP/4–158. Secret. Drafted by Alan L. Campbell.


14. Memorandum From the Regional Director, Far East, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Robbins) to the Director of the Office of Southeast Asian Affairs (Young)

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD/ISA Files: FRC 62 A 1698, 200 MAAG Vietnam. Secret.


15. Memorandum From the Regional Director, Far East, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Robbins) to the Chief, Cambodia–Laos–Vietnam Division, International Cooperation Administration (Bunting)

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, Civil Guard. Secret. Another copy of this memorandum is in Washington National Records Center, RG 330, FRC 62 A 1698: OSD/ISA Files, 092 Vietnam.


16. Letter From President Eisenhower to President Diem

Source: Eisenhower Library, Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary, International Series. Personal and Confidential. Drafted in SEA by Mendenhall on May 19 and cleared by Robertson. The fourth paragraph apparently was added at some time after the letter reached the Department’s Executive Secretariat.

In a memorandum to the President dated May 22 (also drafted by Mendenhall) Dulles, in recommending Eisenhower’s signature, stated in part: “President Diem paid an official visit to the United States a year ago. Your letter would, therefore, be a personal follow-up to a chief of state whom you know. In view of present instabilities in Southeast Asia, it is desirable to give maximum encouragement to President Diem as the foremost advocate of our interests in that area.” In the source text, which bears Dulles’ initials, the words “our interests” have been scratched out and replaced with “freedom” in an unidentified hand. (Ibid., Eisenhower Papers, Whitman File)


17. Paper Prepared by the Operations Coordinating Board

Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, Vietnam. Secret. Attached to a covering memorandum by Staats dated June 4.

This paper supersedes “Outline Plan of Operations With Respect to Vietnam”, April 12, 1957, as well as its later annex, “Overseas International Security Program for Vietnam”, January 31, 1958. (Ibid.) The OCB, apparently after discussing a draft dated May 23, concurred with this paper on May 28, subject to reconciliation of a difference of opinion over Diem’s handling of internal security. According to the preliminary notes of the meeting by Richards, dated May 28, the difference was discussed as follows:

Split Position in the Viet-Nam Summary Evaluation— In discussing the split position, Ambassador Parsons said the State Department wished to preserve two important points: 1) that President Diem has been heavy-handed with regard to internal security in Viet-Nam; and 2) that the tendency toward authoritarianism in his government posed dangers to the Diem administration since it was encouraging opposition. Mr. Sprague (Defense) said that although Defense was placed in the position of commenting on political factors, the reports they were receiving from Viet-Nam differed from the State reports. It was the sense of the Board that there should be no implication that the U.S. was considering withdrawing support from President Diem. General Cutler thought it unjustified to call Diem’s actions ‘heavy-handed’; he preferred ‘stern’. Mr. [Allen] Dulles thought that Diem had good reasons to place emphasis on internal security.

“Governor Herter said he believed the split position could be reconciled and asked the Executive Officer to arrange for State and Defense to work out a necessary revision.” (Ibid., Preliminary Notes III)

The approved paper was referred to responsible agencies for implementation on June 4, according to the covering memorandum. The draft of May 23 has not been found; its destruction was authorized in the covering memorandum.


18. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson) to the Secretary of State

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, MAAGTERM. Secret. Drafted by Mendenhall with clearances from SEA, L/FE, EUR/BNA, Department of Defense, and Murphy. In a letter to Durbrow, June 10, Kocher described the drafting and action taken by the Secretary on this memorandum as follows:

“Attached for your information is a copy of a memorandum which Mr. Robertson sent to the Secretary on June 7, 1958, with regard to the MAAG and TERM problems in Viet-Nam. This memorandum underwent many vicissitudes and changes following the draft which you saw while you were here in Washington, and finally emerged from FE in the form attached. It reflects several suggestions which Mr. Robertson himself made, particularly in the ‘Proposed Course of Action’ section.

“The Secretary decided that Prime Minister Macmillan was not the person with, whom this subject should be raised. Mr. Robertson is, therefore, proposing to call in the British Ambassador in about two weeks (i.e., after Mr. Robertson’s appearance before the House Appropriations Committee on the aid program and after Garcia’s visit). A simultaneous approach by the Embassy in London to the British Foreign Minister is planned. [Telegram 9086 to London, June 18; ibid., Central Files, 751G.5–MSP/6–1858]

“We shall keep the Embassy informed of developments concerning this matter.” (Ibid., Saigon Embassy Files: Lot 62 F 52, 310 ICC, 1956–58, TERM)


19. Letter From the Chargé in Vietnam (Elting) to the President of the Republic of Vietnam (Diem)

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5–MSP/6–2158. Confidential. The source text is a copy which is an attachment to despatch 468 from Saigon, June 21.


20. Telegram From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Durbrow) to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5–MSP/6–1858. Secret; Priority. Passed to CINCPAC PolAd.


21. Telegram From the Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Vietnam (Williams) to the Secretary of Defense’s Deputy Special Assistant for Special Operations (Lansdale)

Source: Center of Military History, Williams Papers, Civil Guard (97). Secret. Unnumbered but initialed by Williams.


22. Memorandum for the Record by Colonel Robert F. Evans, Assistant to the Director, Far East Region, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, Jet Aircraft. Secret.


23. Letter From the Deputy Chief for Training of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Vietnam (Myers) to the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam (Ty)

Source: Department of State, Durbrow Files: Lot 68 D 404, Vietnam. Secret. Attached to a memorandum for the files by Colonel Richard H. Comstock, Army Attaché in Vietnam, not printed, but see footnote 5, Document 140.


24. Letter From John M. Steeves, Political Adviser to the Commander in Chief, Pacific, to the Special Assistant for Political and Military Affairs, Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs (Green)

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, Jet Aircraft. Secret; Official–Informal.


25. Telegram From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Durbrow) to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5622/8–558. Secret. Repeated for information to CINCPAC PolAd.


26. Letter From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Durbrow) to the Director, Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Cumming)

Source: Department of State, Saigon Embassy Files: Lot 65 F 98, 320 Vietnam–Cambodia 1958 Aug–Dec. Secret; Official–Informal.


27. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Southeast Asian Affairs (Kocher) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson)

Source: Department of State, FE Files: Lot 60 D 90, Vietnam. Confidential. Drafted by Mendenhall. Cleared with SEA and FE. The source text is an unsigned file copy.


28. Letter From the Director of the Office of Southeast Asian Affairs (Kocher) to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Durbrow)

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, Jet Aircraft. Secret; Official–Informal. Drafted by Mendenhall. Approved by SEA and FE and the Department of Defense in substance.


29. Telegram From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Durbrow) to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5–MSP/8–1358. Secret.


30. Memorandum From the Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Vietnam (Williams) to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Durbrow)

Source: Center of Military History, Williams Papers, Civil Guard (97). Confidential. Addressed also to Nicholas A. Natsios, First Secretary of Embassy, and Chester H. Opal, Public Affairs Officer.