155. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1
I. Present Situation
[Here follow Sections A and B on the political and military situation in Laos.][Page 338]
C. South VietNam—Political
- According to Saigon country team, Diem Government has not significantly improved its political position among people or substantially furthered national unity.
- Also, according to country team, Diem has still not delegated sufficient authority to field command and country team does not feel that “September saw progress toward attainment task force goals of creating viable and increasingly democratic society.”2
D. South VietNam—Military
- Although GVN military capabilities have increased, Viet Cong capabilities are increasing at more rapid rate and Viet Cong attacks have increased in size.
- Viet Cong “regular” forces have increased from about 7,000 at beginning of year to approximately 17,000.
- Viet Cong have moved from stage of small bands to large units. During September Viet Cong mounted three attacks with over 1,000 men in each. Viet Cong strategy may be directed at “liberating” an area in which a “government” could be installed.
- Although vast majority of Viet Cong troops are of local origin, the infiltration of Viet Cong cadres from North Viet-Nam via Laos, the demilitarized zone, and by sea appears to be increasing. However, there is little evidence of major supplies from outside sources, most arms apparently being captured or stolen from GVN forces or from the French during the Indo-China war.
[Here follow Sections E, F, and G on the political situation in Thailand and Cambodia and the military situation in Cambodia.]
II. Additional Courses of Action
[Here follow Sections A and B on the political and military situation in Laos.]
C. South VietNam—Political
- Upon determination that material warrants, urgently publish “white paper” now in course of preparation on DRV aggression against South VietNam.
- Undertake, in consultation with Government of South VietNam, action in the UN to obtain UN observers in South Viet-Nam with a mandate to “report the facts” and help deter further infiltrations. [Page 339] (Details various types of UN action that could be set forth in the attached “Concept for Intervention in VietNam” (Tab B).)
D. South VietNam—Military
- After determining its feasibility by investigation on the spot, and suitable preparations with our allies and the UN, undertake the introduction of SEATO forces into South Viet-Nam in accordance with the attached plan (Tab C). This plan can be undertaken whether or not “SEATO Plan 5 Plus” is undertaken in Laos and whether or not a political settlement is reached in Laos. However, it would be politically somewhat more difficult to undertake in the latter event. Also, as noted above, “SEATO Plan 5 Plus” should not be undertaken in Laos without also undertaking this plan in South VietNam.
- Whether or not foregoing plan for military intervention in South
Viet-Nam is implemented, immediately undertake the following
- Subject to agreement with GVN now being sought, dispatch “Jungle Jim” air unit to South Viet-Nam initially on training mission.
- Assist the GVN in strengthening its action against DRV infiltration by sea.
- Encourage, including U.S. advisers, guerrilla action against Communist aerial resupply missions in Tchepone area, including introduction of special indigenous units in specific interdiction missions with ground anti-aircraft weapons.
[Here follow Sections E and F on the political and military situation in Thailand.]
III. Decisions Required at This Time
- Whether to continue exploration with our allies and in SEATO, as well as detailed military planning on “SEATO Plan 5 Plus”.
- Whether immediately to send to South Viet-Nam a very high-level military figure to explore with country team, Diem, and CINCPAC, as well as on the ground, feasibility and desirability from both a political and military standpoint, of the proposed plan for SEATO intervention into South VietNam. Such a person could also make recommendations for additional immediate action short of intervention which might be taken in the present situation.
- If GVN agreement is received, whether immediately to dispatch “Jungle Jim” Air Force unit to South VietNam.
- Whether to approve guerrilla ground action, including use of U.S. advisers, against Communist aerial resupply missions in Tchepone area.
- Whether to approve exploration with key members Foreign Relations Committee change in SEATO voting formula.
- Whether to authorize Ambassador Harriman, in his discretion and at time of his choosing, to explore with Pushkin principle of movement of Meos from Xieng Khouang area to south Laos-South VietNamese border area as quid pro quo for movement of Pathet Lao from southern Laos during regroupment period.
- Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Regional Security Series, Southeast Asia General. Top Secret. The source text and three attached papers were sent to McGeorge Bundy under cover of a memorandum of October 11, signed by W.G. Brubeck of the Department of State’s Executive Secretariat on behalf of Executive Secretary Lucius D. Battle, explaining that the papers were to be discussed at the meeting on Southeast Asia at 10:45 a.m. that day. The paper entitled “Concept for Intervention in Laos” (SEATO Plan 5 Plus) (Tab A) is not printed. Tab C, Plan for Intervention in Vietnam, is printed in United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 11, pp. 300-311.↩
- The quotation is from telegram 414 from Saigon, September 28. (Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5-MSP/9-2861) An extract from this telegram is printed in Pentagon Papers: Gravel Edition, vol. 11, p. 71.↩
- Top Secret.↩