192. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State 1

541. Taylor and Rostow, accompanied by Gardiner, McGarr, Mendenhall and me, had final talk with Diem and Thuan October 25. Main points as follows:

Diem stressed importance of reinforcement of aviation: particularly helicopters. Taylor and I used this opportunity to make clear to Diem that we envisaged helicopters piloted by Americans and constituting American units under American commanders which would cooperate with Vietnamese military commands. Taylor noted that there is no other immediate solution to helicopter problem other than to introduce American helicopter units.
Thuan brought up desire for B-26’s AF [and] T-28’s in order to place air units at more numerous spots around country so that they can respond quickly to targets. Taylor replied that while there is need for photo reconnaissance airplanes, there is no need at this time for additional bombers as existing ones not being adequately used. He stated that remedy is to improve system of bases, communications and liaison.
Taylor told Diem it would be useful if he and I could develop specifics with respect to political-psychological point in paper which Taylor presented to Diem October 24 (our 5402). Taylor pointed out this would be very useful to him in Washington because he will be faced with question that, if program he proposes is adopted, what will be chances of early success. In response Thuan’s question asking for exact meaning of this point in Taylor’s paper, latter said there has been loss of confidence among both Vietnamese and American people about situation in Viet-Nam and we need to determine together what measures can be taken to restore confidence. Rostow commented that secret of turning point is offensive action. Diem stated complete psychological mobilization required so that everything can be done to raise potential GVN forces and damage enemy’s potential. He referred to GVN efforts in past to collaborate more closely with US in military planning and said these efforts had run up against wall of secrecy surrounding US and SEATO military plans.
Taylor referred to Diem’s comments in earlier talk about shortage of capable personnel and suggested US might assist by lending personnel. Diem replied that US could help in this respect in training field. Thuan then brought up dilemma facing GVC [GVN] re instructors at Thui Duc Reserve Officers School. Vietnamese military commanders refuse release their best personnel as instructors but existing instructors, who are not very good, have insufficient moral authority over new officers’ training class drawn from best educated persons available in Vietnam. Thuan, backed by President, specifically requested American instructors for this school as soon as possible since course of training already under way.
Thuan said that he had dropped earlier request for US instructors for Civil Guard because of language difficulty but is still interested in possibility (which he had raised in Washington)3 of Chinese or Korean cadres for Civil Guard and SDC. He said GVN prefers Chinese and asked for Taylor’s reaction. Taylor replied question presents difficulty from political point of view. Diem said that [name deleted]talked with Chiang Kai-shek on recent visit to Taipei, who said it would be delicate matter to send troops to Viet-Nam but said he could send cadres, even for combat. Thuan, in response to questioning, said that while presence Chinese troops in Viet-Nam could not be kept secret, he thought use of cadres could be, even though they might number thousands.
Diem brought up as pressing question spraying facilities requested from US about month ago for destruction of rice crop being raised in certain areas of high plateau for VC use; he stressed urgency immediate action on this point because harvest will be carried out in November and December.
Diem also brought up again need for armored boat assistance in struggle for rice crop in delta area with VC. He underscored that this is great offensive that must be conducted during upcoming months. If this is not won then Saigon itself will be seriously affected.
Thuan expressed grave concern over creation of strong VC base at Tchepone in Laos. He said that artillery being brought in there is not for defense of Tchepone but will be used against Vietnam. He wanted to know what could be done about elimination this base.
Diem expressed desire for General Lansdale’s services here in Vietnam.4
In conclusion Taylor pointed out that he has discussed overall concept with Diem and that life would have to be breathed into this concept by further detailed discussions and follow-up actions by Diem and me.

Diem asked Taylor to thank President Kennedy for his interest in Vietnam.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.00/10-2561. Secret; Priority. Repeated to CINCPAC for PolAd, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Bangkok with instructions to pass to General Taylor, and Geneva for FECON. Received in the Department at 3:06 p.m.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 190. The paper under reference is outlined in Document 190.
  3. See Document 68.
  4. Written in the margin at this point in an unidentified hand are the words, “No. No. NO!”