134. Memorandum From the President’s Military Representative (Taylor) to the President1

You asked about the use of the guerrilla infiltration routes through Laos into South Vietnam. These routes have been in use intensively since the end of 1958 when the government of North Viet-Nam in effect declared guerrilla war on South Vietnam.
The Viet Cong (Communist guerrilla) strength in South Viet-Nam rose from about 2500 in September 1959 to 5000 in January 1960, and to an estimated 15,000 at the present time.
The percentage of these Viet Cong forces which have infiltrated from outside of the country, as compared with those who [Page 305] were recruited locally, is impossible to determine. However, it is known that substantial numbers have been entering South Viet-Nam from the north by way of Laos for a long time. General Craig, who has just returned from a visit to Southeast Asia with a Joint Staff team,2 considers that, since the cease-fire last May, there has been a very large movement of guerrilla forces into the panhandle of Laos in anticipation of an over-the-border offensive against South Vietnam.
Although we hear most about the infiltration by land, there is a lively business in transporting guerrillas by junk along the seacoast from the north into South Vietnam. Although they are occasionally intercepted, this traffic in guerrillas goes on without too much difficulty.
Maxwell D. Taylor
  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-625-71. Confidential. A handwritten notation in the margin reads: “Read by HA [Higher Authority?] 19 Sept 61. MDT.”
  2. See Document 131.