11. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State1

1367. Accompanied by General McGarr and General Isaac D. White2 who here on farewell visit, I gave Diem thirteenth an abridged version counter-insurgency plan under cover of letter which underlined most significant points contained Deptel 1054.3 Thuan also present during hour forty-five minute talk.

After reading letter, Diem and Thuan expressed concern as to how they could finance piaster costs for twenty thousand additional men. I told them plan included concrete suggestions how this could be accomplished and expressed firm conviction that by taking extraordinary measures GVN could raise sufficient piasters. Thuan stated Ford Foundation financial group here had just recently expressed some doubt as to how GVN could raise more piasters in near future. I replied I hoped our suggestions would help them find solution. Diem then spoke some length about extraordinary expenses he is faced with backing planned road along Cambodian border from Gulf of Siam, road in Tay Ninh area and costs of many other essential projects. He then stated he needed at least 5,000 more troops immediately to help guard construction gangs, for instance those to complete Kontum-Tourane road, new industries being built, as well as to give more protection to population. Thuan asked what our position would be if, for instance, GVN could not see way to finance plan as whole. I replied plan is comprehensive document and therefore all facets should basically be carried out although our position not inflexible and we ready work up agreed plan.

Diem then outlined Communist plans to disrupt election which he learned from captured documents. Communists have two plans: (1) To prevent people from voting in elections, or (2) to try to induce enough people to vote for weakest presidential candidate so as to establish weak government in south Viet-Nam which would be easy prey to Communists later. According Diem, reasons Communists less active on terrorist front January was because they have regrouped their cadres to indoctrinate them on how to disrupt elections and train others to carry out phase two of Communist plan, [Page 32] i.e., cause riots, demonstrations and bombings in cities. He stated Communists will try some bombing during Tet. Because of this he has to deploy large number present security forces around Saigon to thwart Communist’s plan. Diem’s remarks added up to: His piaster expenses are extraordinarily high and he does not know where he can get more; and he needs more troops immediately to give protection to installations and people and prevent Communists from disruption elections.

We discussed RKG-GVN relations for about forty minutes (reported separately4).

Comment: Thuan promised to study plan carefully and discuss it with us soonest. Letter proposes agreed plan between US and GVN be worked by end of February but I am not very sanguine GVN will move that fast. Copies abridged plan and letter by pouch.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5-MSP/2-1361. Secret. Repeated to Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Vientiane, London, Paris, and CINCPAC for PolAd.
  2. Commander in Chief, U.S. Army, Pacific.
  3. For text, see United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 11, pp. 14-16. Copies of the 3-page letter and 12-page summary were transmitted as enclosures to despatch 351 from Saigon, February 14. (Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5-MSP/ 2-1461) For text of the Basic Counterinsurgency Plan for Vietnam, see Document 1.
  4. In telegram 1368, February 13, Durbrow reported that he had stressed to Diem that the new administration hoped relations between Cambodia and South Vietnam would improve. (Department of State, Central Files, 651H.51K/2-1361)