154. Memorandum From the President’s Military Adviser (Taylor) to the President1


  • Discussion of Southeast Asia Planning, 10:45 a.m., Wednesday, 11 October 1961
It is my understanding that Mr. Alexis Johnson, representing State, will present to you the following principal topics.
The present situation in Southeast Asia. He will base this discussion upon the attached summary2 which you may have read among your papers over the last weekend.
The status of the military plan “SEATO 5 Plus”, which is the old SEATO 53 with a greater use of indigenous forces than in the original plan.
A new concept for the introduction of SEATO forces into South Vietnam.
With regard to SEATO Plan 5 Plus, I believe that it is drawn properly to cope with an overt resumption of hostilities but, as you have commented, it is not designed to cope with continued infiltration into Southern Laos and across into South Vietnam. The principal unfinished business with regard to this Plan is to nail down the contributions to be made by the other SEATO countries, and to [Page 337] reach agreement as to the circumstances which would warrant implementing it.
The concept for strengthening South Viet-Nam will be presented to you to obtain general approval for its further development. Decision may be asked on some specific actions which are desirable in South Vietnam, regardless of whether the new concept is adopted in its entirety.
One important question which should be discussed is the possible U.S. force requirements (air and ground) if the SEATO Plan 5 Plus and the South Viet-Nam Plan should be implemented either singly or concurrently. While a decision to plan is not a decision to implement, in all logic we should have the forces available or in sight for these Southeast Asia plans and, at the same time, be able to meet our obligations to Berlin and NATO. In my opinion, our present military structure is not sufficient for both tasks. Thus, the capital question is whether additional forces should be mobilized now or the limitations of our military capabilities in Southeast Asia accepted as a permanent fact.
Maxwell D. Taylor 4
  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-625-71. Top Secret. No drafting information is given on the source text.
  2. Not found attached to the source text, but presumably a reference to the Department of State paper, Document 155.
  3. Regarding SEATO Plan 5 Plus, see footnote 1, Document 155. Regarding SEATO Plan 5, see footnote 3, Document 104.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.