100. Letter From the Director of the Office of Southeast Asian Affairs (Anderson) to the Ambassador in Vietnam (Durbrow)1

Dear Durby: After receiving your telegram No. 18972 on the MAAG ceiling, we set up a meeting with Admiral O’Donnell which took place today and submitted to him the enclosed draft cable. We understand that DOD had originally wanted to increase MAAG to 775. However, your cable indicated that General Williams was willing to stay pretty close to the figure of 692 and on that basis we proposed a symbolic cut of seven men so that in going to the ICC we would be able to show a reduction of U.S. military personnel in Viet-Nam. Admiral O’Donnell indicated that Defense would probably buy the figure of 685 plus 51 for administrative support.

There are two possible flies in the ointment: 1) they may wish to bring the 51 out in the open for a new total of 736. This would be difficult as we think here that the total should be somewhat less than 692. If you have other views, please let us know. 2) They were [Page 275] obviously not happy about the last paragraph of the draft cable indicating that it might be necessary to eliminate the 51 during 1961. We said this was simply to let them know that this question might have to be reviewed, especially if the ICC head-counting procedures became more effective. I understand that the ICC has wished to tighten up on the counting of personnel arriving and departing from the airport. How does this matter now stand?

In general, I think we will have an answer from the military pretty quickly and we are preparing instructions along the lines of Deptel 653 and previous plus two briefing papers, one for the Indians and one for the Canadians, showing the increased threat of the DRV military.

I hope you and Emily have a fine Christmas, and I wonder if you were ever able to have a few days for that tiger hunt.

Very sincerely,

  • D.A.
  • Daniel V. Anderson


Draft Cable From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt)4

Joint State–Defense Cable. From OASD/ISA. Reference CINCPAC 072247Z Nov 59 (DA IN 260521).5 Request CHMAAG Viet-Nam prepare and submit revised T/D for MAAG Viet-Nam with two columns, one headed T/D Table (providing for 888 persons) and one headed T/D Reduction Table (providing for 736, i.e. 685 plus 51 administrative support).

Latter figure represents cut from 692 to 685 designed facilitate ICC concurrence by show reducing US military presence Viet-Nam and to avoid well worn figure 692. State believes any increase above 692 will cause difficulties, delay and possible greater cut. Implementation to take place during CY 60 after ICC consultation and with State concurrence.

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Implementation should be arranged so as to attract least attention. To maximum extent possible direct transfers from TERM to MAAG to be avoided.

Due probability ICC checking will become more effective and to make further gradual reduction US military presence it may be necessary eliminate 51 administrative support personnel during CY 61 leaving total MAAG 685 by end 1961, with right increase to 888 in event hostilities or grave emergency.

  1. Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, MAAGTERM. Secret; Official–Informal. Drafted by Wood and cleared by Usher.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 98.
  3. In telegram 65 to Saigon, July 15, the Department asked for the Embassy’s comments on a series of proposed steps for obtaining Canadian and Indian acquiescence in increasing the number of MAAG personnel in Vietnam. (Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5–MSP/6–3059)
  4. Secret.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 98.