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210. Letter From the President’s Military Representative (Taylor) to the President 1

This letter and its attachments are in a binder entitled “Report on General Taylor’s Mission to South Vietnam, 3 November 1961,” which also includes a table of contents. The source text is Tab A.

At 4 p.m. on November 3, the President greeted at the White House all the returning members of the Taylor Mission. From 4:05 to 5:15 p.m., the President met separately with Taylor. (Kennedy Library, JEK Log) Although no record of the discussion at the meeting was found, Taylor, apparently at this meeting, submitted the letter and its attachments. Excerpts from the letter and attachments are printed in Pentagon Papers: Gravel Edition, vol. II, pp. 92-98.

My Dear Mr. President: I am submitting herewith the report of the mission which visited South Vietnam, Thailand, and Hong Kong in the period 15 October to 3 November 1961 in compliance with your letter to me of 13 October 1961.2 We avoided Laos on our trip on the recommendation of Ambassador Brown who, with Brigadier General Boyle, his MAAG Chief, came to Bangkok to discuss the Laos situation with us. In addition to Dr. Rostow, the members of my party included representatives of State, ICA, Defense, JCS, and CIA.

My recommendations, already laid before you by cable, represent the emergency program which we feel our Government should implement without delay. After you have reached a decision on this program, it will be a major challenge to our governmental machinery in Washington to see that the many segments of the program which involve many departments and agencies are executed with maximum energy and proper timing. I would suggest that a formalized procedure be established and promulgated to assure effective and orderly implementation.

While we feel that the program recommended represents those measures which should be taken in our present knowledge of the situation in Southeast Asia, I would not suggest that it is the final word. Future needs beyond this program will depend upon the kind of settlement we obtain in Laos and the manner in which Hanoi decides to adjust its conduct to that settlement. If the Hanoi decision is to continue the irregular war declared on South Viet-Nam in 1959 with continued infiltration and covert support of guerrilla bands in [Page 478]the territory of our ally, we will then have to decide whether to accept as legitimate the continued guidance, training, and support of a guerrilla war across an international boundary, while the attacked react only inside their borders. Can we admit the establishment of the common law that the party attacked and his friends are denied the right to strike the source of aggression, after the fact of external aggression is clearly established? It is our view that our government should undertake with the Vietnamese the measures outlined herein, but should then consider and face the broader question beyond.

We cannot refrain from expressing, having seen the situation on the ground, our common sense of outrage at the burden which this kind of aggression imposes on a new country, only seven years old, with a difficult historical heritage to overcome, confronting the inevitable problems of political, social, and economic transition to modernization. It is easy and cheap to destroy such a country whereas it is difficult undisturbed to build a nation coming out of a complex past without carrying the burden of a guerrilla war.

We were similarly struck in Thailand with the injustice of subjecting this promising nation in transition to the heavy military burdens it faces in fulfilling its role in SEATO security planning along with the guerrilla challenge beginning to form up on its northeast frontier.

It is my judgment and that of my colleagues that the United States must decide how it will cope with Khrushchev’s “wars of liberation” which are really pare-wars of guerrilla aggression. This is a new and dangerous Communist technique which bypasses our traditional political and military responses. While the final answer lies beyond the scope of this report, it is clear to me that the time may come in our relations to Southeast Asia when we must declare our intention to attack the source of guerrilla aggression in North Viet-Nam and impose on the Hanoi Government a price for participating in the current war which is commensurate with the damage being inflicted on its neighbors to the south.

In closing, let me add that our party left Southeast Asia with the sense of having viewed a serious problem but one which is by no means hopeless. We have many assets in this part of the world which, if properly combined and appropriately supported, offer high odds for ultimate success.

Basically the forces at work in Vietnam, Thailand, and Hong Kong are extremely positive in character. Everywhere there is new activity and momentum. In the long run there is no reason to believe that the rate of growth and the degree of modernization in non-Communist Asia as a whole will be outpaced by developments in Communist Asia. There is no need for fatalism that, somehow, [Page 479]Southeast Asia will inevitably fall into Communist hands. We have the means to make it otherwise.

Sincerely yours,

Maxwell D. Taylor

Paper Prepared by the President’s Military Representative (Taylor)3

General Conclusions

Communist strategy aims to gain control of Southeast Asia by methods of subversion and guerrilla war which by-pass conventional U.S. and indigenous strength on the ground. The interim Communist goal-en route to total take-over-appears to be a neutral Southeast Asia, detached from U.S. protection. This strategy is well on the way to success in Vietnam.
In Viet-Nam (and Southeast Asia) there is a double crisis in confidence: doubt that U.S. is determined to save Southeast Asia; doubt that Diem’s methods can frustrate and defeat Communist purposes and methods. The Vietnamese (and Southeast Asians) will undoubtedly draw-rightly or wrongly-definitive conclusions in coming weeks and months concerning the probable outcome and will adjust their behavior accordingly. What the U.S. does or fails to do will be decisive to the end result.
Aside from the morale factor, the Vietnamese Government is caught in interlocking circles of bad tactics and bad administrative arrangements which pin their forces on the defensive in ways which permit a relatively small Viet-Cong force (about one-tenth the size of the GVN regulars) to create conditions of frustration and terror certain to lead to a political crisis, if a positive turning point is not soon achieved. The following recommendations are designed to achieve that favorable turn, to avoid a further deterioration in the situation in South Vietnam, and eventually to contain and eliminate the threat to its independence.


The following constitute my recommendations in response to the letter of The President to me dated 13 October 1961

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That upon request from the Government of Viet-Nam (GVN) to come to its aid in resisting the increasing aggressions of the Viet-Cong and in repairing the ravages of the Delta flood which, in combination threaten the lives of its citizens and the security of the country, the U.S. Government offer to join the GVN in a massive joint effort as a part of a mobilization of GVN resources to cope with both the Viet-Cong (VC) and the ravages of the flood. The U.S. representatives will participate actively in this effort, particularly in the fields of government administration, military plans and operations, intelligence, and flood relief, going beyond the advisory role which they have observed in the past.


That in support of the foregoing broad commitment to a joint effort with Diem, the following specific measures be undertaken:

The U.S. Government will be prepared to provide individual administrators for insertion into the governmental machinery of South Viet-Nam in types and numbers to be worked out with President Diem.
A joint effort will be made to improve the military-political intelligence system beginning at the provincial level and extending upward through the government and armed forces to the Central Intelligence Organization.
The U.S. Government will engage in a joint survey of the conditions in the provinces to assess the social, political, intelligence, and military factors bearing on the prosecution of the counterinsurgency in order to reach a common estimate of these factors and a common determination of how to deal with them. As this survey will consume time, it should not hold back the immediate actions which are clearly needed regardless of its outcome.
A joint effort will be made to free the Army for mobile, offensive operations. This effort will be based upon improving the training and equipping of the Civil Guard and the Self-Defense Corps, relieving the regular Army of static missions, raising the level of the mobility of Army forces by the provision of considerably more helicopters and light aviation, and organizing a Border Ranger Force for a long-term campaign on the Laotian border against the Viet-Cong infiltrators. The U.S. Government will support this effort with equipment and with military units and personnel to do those tasks which the Armed Forces of Viet-Nam cannot perform in time. Such tasks include air reconnaissance and photography, airlift (beyond the present capacity of SVN forces), special intelligence, and air-ground support techniques.
The U.S. Government will assist the GVN in effecting surveillance and control over the coastal waters and inland waterways, furnishing such advisors, operating personnel and small craft as may be necessary for quick and effective operations.
The MAAG, Vietnam, will be reorganized and increased in size as may be necessary by the implementation of these recommendations.
The U.S. Government will offer to introduce into South Viet-Nam a military Task Force to operate under U.S. control for the following purposes:
Provide a U.S. military presence capable of raising national morale and of showing to Southeast Asia the seriousness of the U.S. intent to resist a Communist take-over.
Conduct logistical operations in support of military and flood relief operations.
Conduct such combat operations as are necessary for self-defense and for the security of the area in which they are stationed.
Provide an emergency reserve to back up the Armed Forces of the GVN in the case of a heightened military crisis.
Act as an advance party of such additional forces as may be introduced if CINCPAC or SEATO contingency plans are invoked.
The U.S. Government will review its economic aid program to take into account the needs of flood relief and to give priority to those projects in support of the expanded counter-insurgency program.


Paper Prepared by the Members of the Taylor Mission4


Communist Strategy in Southeast Asia

At the present time, the Communists are pursuing a clear and systematic strategy in Southeast Asia. It is a strategy of extending Communist power and influence in ways which bypass U.S. nuclear strength, U.S. conventional naval, air, and ground forces, and the conventional strength of indigenous forces in the area. Their strategy is rooted in the fact that international law and practice does not yet recognize the mounting of guerrilla war across borders as aggression justifying counter-attack at the source.

The strategy is a variant on Mao’s classic three-stage offensive. First, a political base for guerrilla war, subversion, and dissidence is established in each country in the area, exploiting its unique vulnerabilities via trained local or introduced cadres. Second, guerrilla war [Page 482]is begun. Third, a maximum effort is made to translate the Communist position achieved on the ground, plus the weakness and cross-purposes in the non-Communist camp, to induce a neutralist interim solution, blocking the U.S. military presence, as with the proposed renunciation by Laos of SEATO protection. Complete Communist take-over, by whatever means may appear feasible, is the evident ultimate objective.

Mao’s third stage-overt conventional warfare, with guerrillas in an ancillary role-is apparently now judged too dangerous to pursue, on the grounds that it is likely to trigger U.S. (or SEATO) intervention.

This modified Mao strategy is actually underway in Laos and South Vietnam. Cambodia, with Sihanouk’s anticipatory collaboration, has already adjusted to the likelihood (in his view) that the Communist strategy will succeed. The strategy is clearly foreshadowed in Thailand. The initial bases for such a program have been laid in Malaya, Indonesia, and Burma; but they will probably not be exploited to the full until the South Viet-Nam struggle is favorably resolved. The Communists undoubtedly believe-and with good reason-that if the strategy succeeds in Laos and South Viet-Nam the enterprise will rapidly gather momentum throughout Southeast Asia.

This is not the only possible Communist strategy in Southeast Asia. An overt use of Viet-Minh and ChiCom divisions is conceivable, although the terrain and logistical structure of Southeast Asia sets a relatively low limit on the scale of conventional engagement in that theater. And it is in the range of possible contingencies that such a direct attack might be backed by some Soviet nuclear power. But current strategy is as described.

Communist Strategy in South Vietnam

In South Viet-Nam the tactical application of this general strategy is now in an advanced stage. An internally organized guerrilla war is being conducted in the South, recently expanded and strengthened with professional cadres. A second front of military pressure has been built up in the Central Plateau, with significant components of infiltration via Laos and the systematic exploitation of Montagnard and sect dissidence. In addition, a pocket of reserve strength is organized above Saigon in Zone D (perhaps 1500 troops), available for a climactic strike in the context of a political crisis. The Viet-Cong command a capability for considerable terroristic activity in and around Saigon.

The military strategy being pursued is, evidently, to pin down the ARVN on defensive missions; to create a pervasive sense of insecurity and frustration by hit-and-run raids on self-defense corps [Page 483]and militia units, ambushing the reserve forces if possible as they come up to defend; and to dramatize the inability of the GVN to govern or to build, by the assassination of officials and the sabotage of public works.

Meanwhile a reserve force of unknown size and capability is being created in the forests and mountains surrounding the plateau, straddling the Laos (and possibly Cambodian) border which offers a supply base, a relatively secure infiltration route, and safe haven. Depending on its size and capability, this force could be used for a series of demoralizing raids on the cities of the plateau, on the model of the raids on Phouc Thanh. It could attempt to seize and hold the Kontum-Pleiku area, declaring, as in Xieng Khouang, a new government to be recognized by Bloc states. It could by-pass the plateau cities and, by infiltration down to the sea, isolate the coastal cities much as the Mekong cities have been isolated by the Pathet-Lao.

One of the most important facts about the situation in Viet-Nam is that the size and capabilities of the Viet-Cong forces in the plateau are not known. Its capabilities could range from a mere capacity to continue to harass, to a capacity, when surfaced, of producing a Dien Bien Phu.

On current evidence we lean to a conservative assessment of this force (perhaps 4000); but it justifies a concentrated intelligence effort, and a quick-action contingency plan, as well as the specific action proposed in the appendices. (See, especially, Appendix F, Frontier Force Vietnam.)

Despite the considerable guerrilla capabilities of the Viet-Cong, Communist strategy now appears, on balance, to aim at an essentially political denouement rather than the total military capture of the country, as in the case of Mao’s campaign in China. A maximum effort is under way to increase political disaffection at every level; among the sects, the minority groups, the trade unions, the students, and the intellectuals. Energetic efforts to dramatize the weaknesses of Diem’s regime and to induce discouragement about U.S. policy in Laos and Southeast Asia generally are being pursued. The enemy objective seems to be to produce a political crisis by a combination of military and non-military means out of which would come a South Vietnamese Souvanna Phouma, willing to contemplate unification on terms acceptable to Hanoi, including disengagement from the U.S.

Enemy Order of Battle and Level of Engagement

On the following page is the best evaluation available of the Viet-Cong Order of Battle in South Viet-Nam and Casualty and Combat Rates for 1961

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The relatively modest increase in the scale of the Viet-Cong forces in 1961 in the southern region (NAMBO) was accompanied by a sharp increase in organization in which the infiltration of cadres from the north probably played a significant part. A more substantial increase occurred in 1961 in the northern region (Intersector Five). Appendix A(I)5 suggests an over-all expansion of Viet-Cong forces from 12,000 in July to 16,500 at the present time.

The Casualty and Combat Rate figures, which MAAG believes to be not grossly inaccurate, indicate the peak in Viet-Cong activity in connection with the April election and then the second more radical increase in Viet-Cong attacks in August and September. In September there was a doubling of Vietnamese casualties and a much less than proportionate increase in casualties inflicted on the Viet-Cong. This is a statistical reflection of the situation which helped bring on the present crisis. In October the increased casualty rate persisted.

Although the main weight of Viet-Cong attack remains in the well organized southern area (III Corps), there was a sharp rise in incidents and casualties taken in the II Corps Area (Pleiku-Kontum) in August and September.

Estimate of Viet-Cong Strength in South Viet-Nam July-October, 1961
Nambo Region 8,150 9,000
Interzone 5 06 06
Total 8,150 9,000
Nambo Region 06 06
Interzone 5 6,200 7,000
Total 6,200 7,000
Over-all Total 14,350 16,000
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Casualties and Combat Rate: Vietnam l9617
Casualties8 Viet-Cong Incidents
Viet-Cong GVN Attacks Terrorism Sabotage
Jan 2449 615 148 180 89
Feb 1569 583 143 147 106
Mar 2429 610 241 354 118
Apr 2212 850 309 382 149
May 1397 671 124 344 86
Jun 1551 500 163 398 89
Jul 2376 746 189 479 216
Aug 1574 676 408 337 124
Sep 1877 1314 440 439 100
Oct 2004 1400 N.E. N.E. N.E.

Viet-Cong Weaknesses

Although much in Saigon and South Viet-Nam recalls vividly the Indo-China War, the analogy is inexact. The position of the Viet-Cong (and Ho Chi Minh) is substantially different from that of the Viet Minh forces when fighting the French in the early 1950’s.

  • —The Communists no longer carry persuasively the banners of national independence against colonial rule.
  • —Their guerrilla forces must rely primarily on terror, intimidation, and the notion that U.S. weakness makes the Viet-Cong the local wave of the future.
  • —The Viet-Cong cannot safely engage their forces against the GVN regulars and North Viet-Nam cannot engage its divisional strength for fear of U.S. action. The Viet-Cong rely primarily on southern recruits and southerners trained in the north and reintroduced.
  • —The need to conceal Hanoi’s directing role imposes important limitations on infiltration and supply routes and on tactics generally.

It must be remembered that the 1959 political decision in Hanoi to launch the guerrilla and political campaign of 1960-61 arose because of Diem’s increasing success in stabilizing his rule and moving his country forward in the several preceding years. Meanwhile, word has spread throughout Viet-Nam that Hanoi’s rule has led to brutality and hunger. Men may believe that Hanoi is the wave of the future and a route to unification; but the Communist [Page 486]performance in the North is not admired. The considerable grandeur of the Viet Minh in the early 1950’s has been largely dissipated. By comparison, this is a pretty shabby offensive, both militarily and politically, although potentially lethal. The maximum estimate of voluntary, positive support for the Communists in South Viet-Nam is about 200,000 or 2 per cent of the population. (Appendix I.)9 This is a Vietnamese estimate. The official U.S. estimate is about half this level.

Finally, the Communists now not only have something to gain-the South-but a base to risk-the North-if war should come.

The Crisis in South Vietnam

It is perfectly evident that South Viet-Nam is now undergoing an acute crisis of confidence, stretching from the top to the bottom of the country. The principal elements involved in this crisis are clear enough:

Uncertainty about the seriousness of the American commitment to defend South Viet-Nam induced by the Laos negotiation. Many believe that the U.S. will be prepared to settle for a Souvanna in Saigon.
The September successes of the Viet-Cong, indicating an enemy capability of outstripping the build-up of ARVN capabilities. (It should be recalled that the infiltration of one guerrilla imposes the burden of increasing GVN forces by, perhaps, fifteen men to stay even.) The military frustration of the past two months has, in turn, made acute, throughout the administration, a dissatisfaction with Diem’s method of rule, with his lack of identification with his people, and with his strategy which has been endemic for some years.
The flood, imposing a heavy economic and administrative burden on an already strained government and society.

Beneath the surface of this immediate crisis are two vicious circles which have been operating for many months in South Viet-Nam and which the improvement in atmosphere in the months preceding September tended only superficially to conceal.

The first vicious circle is military. The lack of firm and well organized operational intelligence has helped produce a defensive disposition of forces to guard against Viet-Cong attack-a stance perhaps inherited to some degree from the French and not effectively corrected by subsequent U.S. training. This defensive stance has drawn 80 to 85 per cent of the ARVN, including the bulk of the specially trained Ranger Force, into essentially static tasks. Thus, initiative has been conceded to the enemy.

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This, in turn, has made worse a bad system of civil-military relations. The bulk of the military forces remain in control of the Province Chiefs because it is their responsibility to protect the population and installations of their areas; a defensive strategy thus automatically puts the bulk of the military in their hands. When enemy attacks take place, forces are brought up from reserve too slowly to be effective, due to a lack of effective command and control, communications, and mobility.

A very high proportion of ARVN casualties (perhaps 90 per cent) results from ambushes which derive directly, in turn, from these operational characteristics. The consequent inability effectively to protect the people leads, in turn, to a drying up of the basic sources of intelligence and limits the government’s ability to raise recruits.

Thus, poor intelligence, poor command and control arrangements, and poor mobility reinforce each other, leading to a defensive military disposition of resources and a progressive deterioration in the military position of the ARVN.

The second vicious circle, interwoven with the first, is political. As is widely understood, Diem’s instinctive administrative style is that of an old fashioned Asian ruler, seeking to maintain all the strings of power in his own hands, while fragmenting power beneath him. The inability to mobilize intelligence effectively for operational purposes directly flows from this fact, as do the generally poor relations between the Province Chiefs and the military commanders, the former being Diem’s reliable agents, the latter a power base he fears. The consequent frustration of Diem’s military commanders-a frustration well known to Diem and heightened by the November 1960 coup-leads him to actions which further complicate his problem; e.g., his unwillingness to delegate military operations clearly to his generals.

Beyond the military circle, Diem’s operating style and the personal political insecurity it has generated leads him to mistrust excessively many intellectuals and others of the younger generation who are badly needed to give his administration vitality and contact with the people. Many of these men and women are profoundly anti-Communist and capable of constructive use in the national effort; but, on the sidelines (or frustrated within the administration), they spend their efforts in complaints against the regime, while their country sinks towards a Communist take-over they do not want.

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The Assets of South Vietnam

Despite these interwoven military and political vicious circles, South Viet-Nam has considerable assets in the struggle for its independence.

Armed forces of 170,000 regulars, of better quality than the Viet-Cong guerrillas, if it can bring the Communists to engagement; a Civil Guard of 64,000, of whom about 20 per cent have been well retrained (but lack officers); a Self-Defense Corps of 53,000, poorly equipped and trained, but capable of improvement; a small but capable Air Force whose capacities are rendered ineffective by lack of target intelligence and a frustrating command structure; a somewhat woebegone Navy, whose potentialities are still to be established; a small, but excellent, Marine Corps of three battalions. In short, Viet-Nam has real military assets if they can be organized to engage the Viet-Cong. (Although it would almost certainly require external assistance if the North Viet-Nam divisions were to attack.)
With all his weaknesses, Diem has extraordinary ability, stubbornness, and guts.
Despite their acute frustration, the men of the Armed Forces and the administration respect Diem to a degree which gives their grumbling (and perhaps some plotting) a somewhat half-hearted character; and they are willing-by and large-to work for him, if he gives them a chance to do their jobs.
Within the military and non-military establishment, a new generation of younger men in their 30’s is beginning to emerge with a strong will to get on with the job. Some of the new military commanders we met (in divisions, Rangers, Marines) are clearly dedicated, first-class, modern men of whom any nation could be proud. The same is true at the middle level of the bureaucracy.
The Viet-Nam economy, in both its agricultural and manufacturing sectors, has demonstrated, despite the pressures of the insurgency, an astonishing resilience.
Despite the intellectuals who sit on the side lines and complain; despite serious dissidence among the Montagnards, the sects, and certain old Viet Minh areas; despite the apathy and fear of the Viet-Cong in the countryside, the atmosphere in South Viet-Nam is, on balance, one of frustrated energy rather than passive acceptance of inevitable defeat

It cannot be emphasized too strongly, however, that time has nearly run out for converting these assets into the bases for victory. Diem himself-and all concerned with the fate of the country-are looking to American guidance and aid to achieve a turning point in Vietnam’s affairs. From all quarters in Southeast Asia the message on Viet-Nam is the same: vigorous American action is needed to buy time for Viet-Nam to mobilize and organize its real assets; but the time for such a turn around has nearly run out. And if Viet-Nam goes, it will be exceedingly difficult if not impossible to hold Southeast Asia. What will be lost is not merely a crucial piece of real estate, [Page 489]but the faith that the U.S. has the will and the capacity to deal with the Communist offensive in that area.

A Strategy for Turning the Tide and for Assuming the Offensive in Vietnam

The elements required for buying time and assuming the offensive in Viet-Nam are, in the view of this mission, the following:

A quick U.S. response to the present crisis which would demonstrate by deeds-not merely words-the American commitment seriously to help save Viet-Nam rather than to disengage in the most convenient manner possible. To be persuasive this commitment must include the sending to Viet-Nam of some U.S. military forces.
A shift in the American relation to the Vietnamese effort from advice to limited partnership. The present character and scale of the war in South Viet-Nam decree that only the Vietnamese can defeat the Viet-Cong; but at all levels Americans must, as friends and partners-not as arms-length advisors-show them how the job might be done-not tell them or do it for them.
Through this working association at all levels, the U.S. must bring about de facto changes in Diem’s method of administration and seek to bring all elements of the Vietnamese Government closer to the Vietnamese people-thus helping break the vicious political circle.
By concurrent actions in the fields of intelligence, command and control, mobility, and training, the U.S. must bring about a situation where an effective reserve is mobilized and brought to bear offensively on clearly established and productive offensive targetsthus helping break the vicious military circle.
In a number of fields, U.S. initiative with the Vietnamese can help immediately to launch certain limited offensive operations.
Certain concrete, limited research and development possibilities must be quickly geared into field operations.
The program of economic and military aid to Viet-Nam must be focused on measures which will not merely permit Viet-Nam to survive and to deal with the flood, but also to support the specific elements in the strategy outlined above.
The proposed program for dealing with the flood is an opportunity to make headway in a critical southern area, on both military and political fronts. It involves all action elements, including logistical elements of the U.S. military task force proposed elsewhere.

Behind this concept of a strategy to turn the tide and to assume the offensive lies a general proposition: when an interacting process is yielding a degenerative situation, the wisest course of action is to create a positive thrust at as many points as are accessible. No one action-not even the removal of Diem-is the key to success in Vietnam. Each of the elements listed as essential to this strategy must play its part.

The balance of this summary examines individually the specific elements in the proposed general strategy.

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A Quick Lift

It is evident that morale in Viet-Nam will rapidly crumble-and in Southeast Asia only slightly less quickly-if the sequence of expectations set in motion by Vice President Johnson’s visit and climaxed by General Taylor’s mission are not soon followed by a hard U.S. commitment to the ground in Vietnam.

Technically, all that is involved at this stage in these proposals is that we announce that, due to Viet Minh aggression across South Vietnam’s frontier, we are setting aside our dilute and conditional assent to the 1954 Geneva Accords, lifting the MAAG ceiling, and assuming full freedom of U.S. action until that aggression ceases and South Vietnam’s independence is assured.

On July 21, 1954, General Smith declared that the U.S. “would view any renewal of the aggression in violation of the Agreements with grave concern and as seriously threatening international peace and security.”10 The Jorden Report provides a clear basis for invoking this proviso. In combination, these two elements of reservation and evidence should permit us to present to the U.N. the same kind of case for our actions as was presented on August 13, 1958, by President Eisenhower, in the context of the Lebanon-Jordan crisis. (See, especially, Section I of Eisenhower’s speech.11)

The sequence we have in mind to implement the strategy and the proposals outlined in this report is something like the following, which we present for illustrative purposes and to supply some concreteness. There would be considerable advantage in shortening the timetable.

Week of November 5: Study and decision on General Taylor’s recommendations. Completion of Jorden Report. Planning of United Nations track.
Week of November 12: Indication to Diem that we are prepared to receive a request for aid along the lines the President may decide; consultation with Congressional leaders, indication to Allies (including SEATO) of what we plan to do; exchange of letters between Diem and President, including understandings which cannot be made public (e.g., relative to intelligence and covert operations).
Week of November 19: Publication of sanitized presidential letters; movement of first U.S. units to Viet-Nam (preferably flood task force, helicopters, Jungle Jim); publication of Jorden Report; Presidential presentation of U.S. case to U.N. (or presidential presentation to U.S. public and Stevenson presentation to the U.N.). A special session of Congress to receive a presidential message and to pass a [Page 491]resolution of support might be considered as one method for preparing to implement the suggested program. A quiet message to the U.S.S.R. should be dispatched indicating that we propose to help defend South Viet-Nam and urging Moscow to use its influence with Ho Chi Minh to call his dogs off, mind his business, and feed his people.

Included in the sequence above should be a review of contingency plans, designed to back the initial steps; a general review of plans with respect to Southeast Asia in relation to Berlin; and decision as to whether further call-up of U.S. reserves is required to provide ready forces up to the nuclear threshold for Southeast Asia as well as for Berlin.

Limited Partnership

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this mission’s effort is the unanimity of view-individually arrived at by the specialists involved-that what is now required is a shift from U.S. advice to limited partnership and working collaboration with the Vietnamese. The present war cannot be won by direct U.S. action; it must be won by the Vietnamese. But there is a general conviction among us that the Vietnamese performance in every domain can be substantially improved if Americans are prepared to work side by side with the Vietnamese on the key problems. Moreover, there is evidence that Diem is, in principle, prepared for this step, and that most-not all-elements in his establishment are eagerly awaiting it.

There is a second conclusion. We have attempted to answer the political and psychological question: would the more substantial involvement of Americans be counter-productive (see especially Appendix G)? Our conclusion-based on experience and judgment in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand-is the following. If Americans come in and go to work side by side with the Vietnamese, preferably outside Saigon, the net effect will almost certainly be positive. The danger lies in excessive headquarters establishments and a failure to do palpably serious jobs. The record of U.S.-Asian relations in field tasks is excellent.

After all, the United States is not operating in Southeast Asia in order to recreate a colonial system doomed by history; it is attempting to permit new nations to find their feet and to make an independent future. Despite Communist propaganda, this is widely understood. When Americans work hard and effectively in this area, they meet friendship.

Such side by side partnership requires, of course, men of tact, strongly motivated to come and to get on with the task. They must be led at every level by Americans of first rate technical competence, imagination and human sympathy. It is our conviction that such [Page 492]Americans exist and can be recruited for the specific tasks listed below. On the other hand, the selection of personnel for these operations must be done with extreme care. The operation will fail if the U.S. is not willing to contribute its best men to the effort in adequate numbers and to keep them in the field for substantial periods.

Following are the specific categories where the introduction of U.S. working advisors or working military units are suggested in the appendices-an asterisk indicating where such operations are, to some degree, under way.

  • —A high level government advisor or advisors. General Lansdale has been requested by Diem; and it may be wise to envisage a limited number of Americans-acceptable to Diem as well as to us-in key ministries. (Appendices C and G.)
  • —A Joint U.S.-Vietnamese Military Survey, down to the provincial level, in each of three corps areas, to make recommendations with respect to intelligence, command and control, more economical and effective passive defense, the build-up of a reserve for offensive purposes, military-province-chief relations, etc. (Appendix B.)
  • —Joint planning of offensive operations, including Border Control Operations. (Appendices A, F, and I.)
  • —Intimate liaison with the Vietnamese Central Intelligence Organizations (C.I.O.); with each of the seven intelligence services, and with the intelligence collection process at the provincial level. (Appendix I.)
  • —Jungle Jim. (Appendix A.)
  • —Counter infiltration operations in Laos. (Appendix F.)
  • —Increased covert offensive operations in North as well as in Laos and South Vietnam. (Appendix I.)
  • —The introduction, under MAAG operational control, of three helicopter squadrons-one for each corps area-and the provision of more light aircraft, as the need may be established. (Appendix A.)
  • —A radical increase in U.S. trainers at every level from the staff colleges, where teachers are short-to the Civil Guard and Self-Defense Corps, where a sharp expansion in competence may prove the key to mobilizing a reserve for offensive operations. (Appendices
  • —The introduction of engineering and logistical elements within the proposed U.S. military task force to work in the flood area within the Vietnamese plan, on both emergency and longer term reconstruction tasks. (Appendix A.)
  • —A radical increase in U.S. special force teams in Vietnam: to work with the Vietnamese Ranger Force proposed for the border area (Appendix F); to assist in unit training, including training of Clandestine Action Service. (Appendices A and I.)
  • —Increase in MAAG support for the Vietnamese Navy. (Appendix A.)
  • —Introduction of U.S. Naval and/or Coast Guard personnel to assist in coastal and river surveillance and control, until Vietnamese naval capabilities can be improved. (Appendix A.)
  • —Reconsideration of the role of air power, leading to more effective utilization of assets now available, including release from political control of the 14 D-6 aircraft, institution of close-support techniques, and better employment of available weapons. (Appendix A-V.)

To execute this program of limited partnership requires a change in the charter, the spirit, and the organization of the MAAG in South Vietnam. It must be shifted from an advisory group to something nearer-but not quite-an operational headquarters in a theater of war. The objective of this shift is clear. The U.S. should become a limited partner in the war, avoiding formalized advice on the one hand, trying to run the war, on the other. Such a transition from advice to partnership has been made in recent months, on a smaller scale, by the MAAG in Laos.

Among the many consequences of this shift would be the rapid build-up of an intelligence capability both to identify operational targets for the Vietnamese and to assist Washington in making a sensitive and reliable assessment of the progress of the war. The basis for such a unit already exists in Saigon in the Intelligence Evaluation Center. It must be quickly expanded. (Appendix I.)

In Washington, as well, intelligence and back-up operations must be put on a quasi-wartime footing.

Reforming Diem’s Administrative Method

The famous problem of Diem as an administrator and politician could be resolved in a number of ways:

  • —By his removal in favor of a military dictatorship which would give dominance to the military chain of command.
  • —By his removal in favor of a figure of more dilute power (e.g., Vice President Nguyen Ngoc Tho) who would delegate authority to act to both military and civil leaders.
  • —By bringing about a series of de facto administrative changes via persuasion at high levels; collaboration with Diem’s aides who want improved administration; and by a U.S. operating presence at many working levels, using the U.S. presence (e.g., control over the helicopter squadrons) to force the Vietnamese to get their house in order in one area after another.

We have opted for the third choice, on the basis of both merit and feasibility.

Our reasons are these: First, it would be dangerous for us to engineer a coup under present tense circumstances, since it is by no means certain that we could control its consequences and potentialities for Communist exploitation. Second, we are convinced that a part of the complaint about Diem’s administrative methods conceals a lack of first-rate executives who can get things done. In the endless debate between Diem and his subordinates (Diem complaining [Page 494]of limited executive material; his subordinates, of Diem’s bottleneck methods) both have hold of a piece of the truth.

The proposed strategy of limited partnership is designed both to force clear delegation of authority in key areas and to beef up Vietnamese administration until they can surface and develop the men to take over.

This is a difficult course to adopt. We can anticipate some friction and reluctance until it is proved that Americans can be helpful partners and that the techniques will not undermine Diem’s political position. Shifts in U.S. attitudes and methods of administration as well as Vietnamese are required. But we are confident that it is the right way to proceed at this stage; and, as noted earlier, there is reason for confidence if the right men are sent to do the right jobs.

Bringing Diem’s Administration Closer to the Vietnamese People

Although Diem’s fundamental political problem is his inability to take the offensive, protect his villages and win the war, at many points his ability to win is, in turn, inhibited by the gap between his government and the people of South Vietnam. Proposals to narrow this gap appear in a number of the appendices. Programs underway are indicated with an asterisk.

  • —To press forward, and improve the signal and content of the Vietnamese radio network and to distribute radio receivers throughout the country. (Appendix D.)
  • —To determine quickly whether it is feasible to create a TV network, perhaps with Japanese assistance. (Appendix D.)
  • —To strengthen, with U.S. support, the scale and quality of the work of the Vietnamese Rural Reconstruction Teams. (Appendix I.)
  • —To use the occasion of the U.S. flood relief effort to encourage-by cooperation and example-a closer relation between the Vietnamese officials and the villagers in the four affected provinces. (Appendix G.)
  • —To help accelerate the civil action program for the Montagnards. (Appendix G.)
  • —By increasing Diem’s sense of security and by tactful persuasion attempt to bring his government closer to the trade unions, students, sects, intellectuals, and villagers. The improvement of the Province Chiefs and their guidance in new directions is an essential part of this process. (Appendix C.)
  • —By using U.S. civil affairs teams in key areas, to demonstrate how more effective approaches to the villagers can be made. (Appendix G.)
  • —To strengthen the ARVN Civic Action Program and improving its effectiveness. (Appendix G.)

Although these-and other measures-should be attempted, our basic policy must be to diminish the tension arising between the [Page 495]government and the people stemming from the security situation. The record shows that the disintegration of the political situation in South Viet-Nam since 1959 is primarily due to the government’s inability to protect its citizens and to conduct the war effectively.

Against this background, we turn to the specific recommendations contained in the Appendices with respect to the interlocked questions of intelligence, command and control, mobility, and training. These are the technical areas where GVN improvement must be achieved if a successful offensive is to be launched.


The GVN has been, almost literally, fighting blind-awaiting attack before it responded and then responding slowly, awkwardly, and ineffectively. Guerrilla operations are designed to present few and fleeting targets. The successful conduct of guerrilla war requires a highly sophisticated intelligence effort, intimately geared to operations at every level from the villages to the planners. Viet-Nam has been served by a primitive and fragmented intelligence system, only obliquely linked to and focused on the problem of finding and seeking targets. Aside from U.S. encadrement of the intelligence system, and the strengthening of the U.S. Evaluation Center (earlier noted), Appendix A, VII, suggests the following two broad and urgent measures:

  • —Assign clear national responsibility for intelligence collection and evaluation to the Central Intelligence Organization.
  • —Create a joint U.S.-RVNAF Intelligence Group.

Further specific recommendations are contained in Appendix A, VII, and in Appendix I.

Given the acute lack of qualified U.S. personnel, the suggestions in these Appendices will require careful and urgent screening to ensure that U.S. advice and influence are applied selectively at crucial points.

Command and Control

The ambiguous role of the Province Chief-at once commander of the militia, “sector commander” nominally subject to the military, and Diem’s political agent, with direct access to him, is a familiar and fundamental weakness on the Viet-Nam scene. The recommendation in Appendix A is: “remove Province Chiefs from the chain of command of the ARVN forces.” This could prove to be the answer. But the immediate proposal of the mission, already accepted by Diem in principle, is that joint U.S.-Vietnamese teams examine command and control relations (and other aspects of the military problem) in each of the three Corps areas, province by province, [Page 496]beginning with those provinces where the security situation is most acute.

It may prove to be the case that arrangements will be required somewhat more complex than a clean separation of Army and militia chains of command, for the following reasons:

  • —Continued intimate cooperation between the Army and the militia will be necessary for both offensive and defensive operations.
  • —The Army can be progressively disengaged from static duties (and thus from the Province Chiefs) only over a period of time.
  • —Continued intimate relations between the Army Commanders and the Province Chiefs will be required, since the Province Chiefs will remain a basic source of intelligence for military operations.

In short, we would anticipate that best results will be achieved by some combination of greater freedom of action for the regular forces and more effective cooperation between the civil and military at the province level. But a definitive conclusion awaits the results of the joint survey.

An essential ingredient in the command and control (as well as the intelligence) problem is that the U.S. establish a parallel communications system (as in Korea and in Laos) linking American elements encadred in the field with MAAG headquarters. Such a system is essential both to permit the MAAG staff to have a reliable picture of field operations and to provide the basis for timely U.S. intervention or persuasion at high Viet-Nam level.


The requirements of quick response in defense and surprise in attack combine with the terrain, distances, and the inadequate roads of Viet-Nam to justify a radical increase in the availability of helicopters and light aircraft, and in work on ground mobility techniques. Although command and control problems would have to be solved if this new force were to be effectively used, we believe the best way to force the necessary changes is to introduce U.S. helicopter units, attached to each of the three corps, with U.S. officers maintaining control under MAAG. Even if desirable, there is no way of introducing this kind of force except as U.S. military units, given the shortage of pilots and maintenance personnel. (See Appendix A.)

Although the existing airlift in Viet-Nam is now not used with full efficiency, it is likely that an increased requirement for C-47 (or similar aircraft), as well as for lighter supply and personnel aircraft will rapidly emerge, if the recommendations in this report are adopted and yield some success. Basically, an effective operation against the Viet-Cong requires ample air supply, as well as ample troop-lift capacity. (Appendix A.)

[Page 497]


As noted earlier, the reserves available for systematic offensive action in the Viet-Nam armed forces are shockingly low. There is one battalion in reserve in the First Corps; two each in the Second, and in the Third Corps. Evidently ways must be found to increase this reserve. One major purpose of the proposed U.S.-Vietnam joint survey of the military situation is to find out, in one region after another, how this might be done. The major elements in the process of expanding the reserve are already reasonably clear:

  • —To find means more economical in [than?] troops to protect the villages and the major installations;
  • —To accept an increased degree of risk in the protection of installations not of first importance;
  • —To induce among the militia and the troops still assigned to protective missions a more aggressive stance, and, by local attacks on the Viet-Cong, to reduce Viet-Cong capacity and freedom to mount local raids.
  • —To build up as rapidly as possible, via training and reequipment, the Civil Guard and the Self-Defense Corps so that the army can be progressively released for offensive action. (Appendix A.)

Appendix A suggests as a target that at least 50 per cent of the regular armed force now on static posts should be released for offensive operations. If intelligence can be made to yield useful targets and mobility is provided, a force of this kind could radically reduce the Viet-Cong menace. This would constitute a force of some 70,000 men. Whether this force can be freed for RVNAF offensive operations without unacceptable risk to the population and essential installations remains to be seen.

In addition to measures taken by the Vietnamese to improve their reserve position, it is an evident requirement that the United States review quick action contingency plans to move into Vietnam, should the scale of the Viet-Nam offensive radically increase at a time when Vietnamese reserves are inadequate to cope with it. Such action might be designed to take over responsibility for the security of certain relatively quiet areas, if the battle remained at the guerrilla level, or to fight the Communists if open war were attempted.


It is our clear impression (Appendix A) that, by and large, training and equipment of the Vietnamese armed forces are still too heavily weighted toward conventional military operations. There has undoubtedly been a shift towards guerrilla and counter-guerrilla training, but it has not gone far enough. Even the Rangers are not adequately trained or equipped for sustained jungle warfare. MAAG [Page 498]must use its influence steadily and strongly towards increasing the component of counter-guerrilla training at all levels in the Vietnamese armed forces.

The Vietnamese require U.S. assistance in training at all levels, from the War College down. They are constantly faced with the painful choice of allocating good young soldiers either to combat units or to instruction. In both areas the need is great. Given the acuteness of the crisis, we must be prepared to ease this choice by the generous provision of U.S. instructors.

As a first priority, the training of the Civil Guards should be accelerated. About 20 per cent of this force has passed through infantry training, and the results are encouraging. However, the retrained Civil Guards will not be able to operate at full efficiency until the grave shortage of officers and NCO’s in the Civil Guards is corrected (Appendix A). To help fill this gap as well as to encourage the Civil Guards to undertake more aggressive tactics, including night patrolling, we should consider assigning MAAG officers and, in key areas, special forces teams to work with the Civil Guards on whose increased efficiency the possibility of generating an army reserve partially depends.

It should also be noted that the cost to the GVN in local currency of training a Civil Guard is substantially less than for a regular soldier; the annual cost to the GVN for a regular, Civil Guard, and a member of the Self-Defense Corps is 28,000 plasters, 17,500 plasters, and 10,800 plasters, respectively.

With respect to the expansion of the Viet-Nam regular forces beyond the present approved level of 200,000, no decision is immediately required; although we should promptly approve the increase from 170,000 to 200,000 if the GVN accepts its role in a program of the kind proposed here. (Appendix E.) To deploy effectively an expanded regular army will require progress in the inter-related measures outlined in this report. Until the basic problems of intelligence, command and control, and mobility are on their way to solution, a mere expansion in the army will be of little help. Under present circumstances, the Viet-Cong could pin down a much larger army than Saigon now commands. But to cover the transitional period, the expansion to 200,000 is necessary.

Taking the Offensive

The object of these proposals, as a whole, is, of course, to permit the ARVN to assume an effective offensive against the Viet-Cong. An offensive campaign in Viet-Nam involves a number of different elements: [Page 499]

  • —The widespread development of an offensive initiative at the local level.
  • —The development of an offensive against infiltration and infiltrators in the plateau area via the Frontier Ranger Force (Appendix F) and the Clandestine Action Service (Appendix I).
  • —The liquidation of Zone D; the Viet-Cong redoubt on the boundary between I and II Corps; the training areas near the Cambodian frontier, etc.
  • —The systematic clearing of the Viet-Cong from less firmly held areas; and, above all, learning how to hold an area by a mixture of military and civil measures once it has been swept.

The assumption of the offensive will thus be a many-sided process, involving progress in all the various directions set forth in this report. When the conditions for an offensive are established, a concrete offensive plan might be put into operation, with clear-cut priorities for particular missions, designed systematically, by phases, to clear the country of the Viet-Cong. Planning to this end might well now begin. (Appendix A.)

A Note on the Navy

As indicated in Appendix A-V, the Viet-Nam Navy is in poor shape, having played only a minor role in counter-insurgency operations. It suffers in extreme form from a lack of proper intelligence and command-control relations to the total effort. A substantial increase in the MAAG advisory effort will be necessary to get this force to play its proper role, as well as a concentrated intelligence enterprise to find for it effective targets.

In the meanwhile, there are urgent naval requirements to be met in coastal and river surveillance and control. Our conclusion is that U.S. Naval and/or Coast Guard forces may need to be moved in to supplement the Vietnamese Navy until it can find its feet.

Research and Development

The U.S.-Vietnam Combat Development and Test Center has been at work for some months. Its objective has been to establish whether various more or less available U.S. technology could assist the Vietnamese in fighting the Viet-Cong. The unit has worked under the usual administrative difficulties attendant upon a new venture, including poor liaison with certain elements of the Vietnamese armed forces. Nevertheless, three significant conclusions have emerged:

  • —First, current and foreseeable special techniques will offer no quick magic for defeating the Viet-Cong. The basic military, political and administrative problems outlined in this report must be solved with the help of R and D, but not by R and D alone, if the Vietnamese are to win.
  • —Second, there are a range of limited concrete devices which could assist both militarily and psychologically in the war against the Viet-Cong. These deserve urgent and careful operational consideration, notably the following: the use of chemicals to attack the rice and manioc crop in carefully selected mountain areas where the Viet-Cong buildup depends on their own plantings to supplement a thin local food supply the rapid expansion in the use of dogs for patrolling; the installation of the village alarm system; and the use of Lazy Dog for attack on certain relatively fixed Viet-Cong targets.

In addition, the possibilities of the AR-15 rifle should be explored as well as of a plastic swamp boat.

A case for their usefulness having been established, the exploitation of these devices should be pushed with great operational vigor on both the American and the Vietnamese sides. (Appendix H.)12

The Economic Support of the Counter-Insurgency Plan

Given the fact that we do not yet know how much damage the flood will cause, it is impossible to form a clear view of the approximate total level of the U.S. aid to Viet-Nam over the coming year. Nevertheless, certain basic propositions about the Vietnamese economy and the relation of economic aid to this program can be asserted with some confidence.

The fundamental economic fact about Viet-Nam is that the government has exhibited a considerable capacity to execute important projects in the fields of health, education, agriculture, and public works; and the private sector has shown a surprising virility and momentum.

These have been significant stabilizing factors in an otherwise treacherous situation.

The momentum of the Vietnamese economy must be supported for a further technical reason. As pointed out in Appendix D, the conduct of war against the Viet-Cong requires an increasing supply of local currency. That currency cannot be generated merely by giving the Vietnamese dollars. It would be counter-productive if our dollars should be used for the buildup of monetary reserves or unused pipelines, for luxury imports, or for the imported commodities which compete with their rapidly growing private industrial sector. The problem is, therefore, to design a program of aid which will generate local currency while encouraging civil domestic enterprises which support the total GVN effort.

With respect to the private sector, the most promising way to do this is to increase the import of capital goods for industrial development. With respect to government projects, the GVN must [Page 501]devise measures which generate local currencies in conjunction with government projects. Appendix D suggests a series of such projects where the local currency component might be raised by public bond issues. This appears the principal new device by which the paradox could be ended in which only private sector projects supported by the United States develop local currency for the GVN budget.

In addition, it is clear that the Vietnamese must press forward with their present considerable improvements in tax collection. Further, in time, the Vietnamese must move on from the exchange rate arrangements to which they have agreed in principle but which are not yet in force-which would yield an average of 74 plasters (including customs duties) to the dollar-to a more straightforward exchange rate of about 80 (plus customs duties).

On the U.S. side, we must be prepared to provide whatever level of dollar aid may be necessary if we are assured that the dollar aid is being used for productive purposes which support the total effort.

Some of the concrete projects which USOM should support which are directly related to the counter-insurgency plan are the following: the feeder road program; development, if proved feasible, of a TV system around Saigon, which would link government and people more closely in a crucial region; push to completion the present plans for the Vietnamese radio system, including provision for widespread distribution of cheap battery-operated receiving sets; support for the Montagnard program; village communications. In addition it would be appropriate for USOM to join with our MAAG and the Vietnamese in considering systematically the civil action component required if areas cleared of the Viet-Cong are to be consolidated. Operations in the flood areas should give an opportunity to learn in a practical way how this might be done.

The Flood

The present flood is a disaster, enveloping two provinces and substantial portions of two others; but it is, at the same time, a major opportunity for the Vietnamese and for the joint U.S.-Vietnam partnership which this report proposes.

In general it offers to the GVN a chance to mobilize all anticommunist elements in a common constructive national effort. For the United States it offers an opportunity to introduce limited but still meaningful military forces to assist in the emergency and reconstruction effort, making available within the country for further use precisely the types of engineering forces which the logistics part of Appendix A recommends.

[Page 502]

Although the exact contours of the job cannot be discerned until the flood waters recede, it is clear that a reconstruction effort will be required for many months. This effort offers to the Vietnamese government an opportunity to get closer to the people in the villages in an important southern area and to see if it cannot reconstruct the area with military and civil arrangements which prevent the re-entry on a large scale of the Viet-Cong. In a sense the flood is a sweep; and the problem is to consolidate after the sweep.

The presence of American military forces in the area should also give us an opportunity to work intensively with the Civil Guards and with other local military elements and to explore the possibility of suffusing them with an offensive spirit and tactics.

The introduction in this area of substantial American forces raises, of course, the problem of their protection. The precise nature of the risks run can only be assessed on the spot by the local U.S. commander. It is evident that a certain risk will be run of daytime sniping and ambush and of night raids. With intensive cooperation with the local military and militia and certain elementary precautions, these risks appear capable of control. The precise techniques for dealing with these risks must rest with the Task Force Commander; but he should be supplied with units and other resources required to do the job.

Although further staff work will be required to assess the size and composition of an appropriate U.S. flood reconstruction force, we would now envisage a unit of perhaps 8000 men.


The U.S. action proposed in this report-involving as it does the overt lifting of the MAAG ceiling, substantial encadrement and the introduction of limited U.S. forces-requires that the United States also prepare for contingencies that might arise from the enemy’s reaction. The initiative proposed here should not be undertaken unless we are prepared to deal with any escalation the communists might choose to impose. Specifically we must be prepared to act swiftly under these three circumstances: an attempt to seize and to hold the Pleiku-Kontum area; a political crisis in which the communists might attempt to use their forces around Saigon to capture the city in the midst of local confusion; an undertaking of overt major hostilities by North Vietnam.

As noted earlier, the present contingency plans of CINCPAC must embrace the possibility both of a resumption of the communist offensive in Laos and these Vietnamese contingency situations. Taken together, the contingencies in Southeast Asia which we would presently choose to meet without the use of nuclear weapons appear [Page 503]to require somewhat more balanced ground, naval, and air strength in reserve in the U.S. than we now have available, so long as we maintain the allocation of the six divisions for the Berlin crisis.

Therefore, one of the major issues raised by this report is the need to develop the reserve strength in the U.S. establishment required to cover action in Southeast Asia up to the nuclear threshold in that area, as it is now envisaged. The call up of additional support forces may be required.

In our view, nothing is more calculated to sober the enemy and to discourage escalation in the face of the limited initiatives proposed here than the knowledge that the United States has prepared itself soundly to deal with aggression in Southeast Asia at any level.

Appendix A

Paper Prepared by the Military Committee of the Taylor Mission13


[Here follow Sections I-General Statement; II-Republic of Viet-Nam Armed Forces; III-Republic of Viet-Nam Army; IV-Republic of Viet-Nam Navy; V-Republic of Viet-Nam Air Force; VI-Civil Guard and Self-Defense Corps; VII-Intelligence; and VIII-Logistics.]

IX Summary

In summary, it is the consensus of the military committee that intervention under SEATO or U.S. plans is the best means of saving SVN and indeed, all of Southeast Asia. Should this prove impossible for non-military reasons we consider there are two general ways in which the combat effectiveness of RVNAF can be increased substantially. The first and most immediate requirement is to assure that GVN makes maximum effective use of its current resources. Its present conduct of military operations leaves much to be desired. By taking certain corrective measures and developing more effective [Page 504]procedures, it is our opinion that the combat effectiveness of RVNAF could be improved by an estimated 25 to 40 percent. The second method involves determining reasonable courses of action within United States resources short of military intervention or direct combat support by air and naval combat elements which can appreciably improve both the immediate and long term fighting capabilities of the RVNAF.

We feel that rapid approval and implementation of the following recommendations will improve the combat capabilities of the RVNAF, upset the Communist timetable and prevent a rapid takeover in SVN by Communist forces:

a. Intelligence

(1) One intelligence agency be designated as a central control point for direction, collection, interpretation, collation, and dissemination of all intelligence. (Detailed recommendations are contained in Intelligence Section of military appendix.)

b. Command and Control

That the U.S. Government insist that a single inviolate chain of command be established and practiced. This must include the removal of Province Chiefs from the chain of command.
That the Vietnamese Joint General Staff and Organization be reworked to provide for proportionate service representation to include the seating of all service chiefs as members.
That special efforts be made at the highest USG levels to compel President Diem to adhere to an effective chain of command and to cooperate more fully with the United States in the combined efforts of the two governments to forestall the Communist threat to SVN.

c. National Planning

(1) An effective national plan for counter-insurgency be developed and systematically and effectively implemented.

d. Other

That the U.S. provide RVNAF with additional helicopter and fixed-wing airlift as required, consistent with the maintenance of essential U.S. military posture worldwide.
That projects aimed toward increased mobility to include road and small airstrip construction, and communications for more effective response and control be undertaken.

The foregoing broad recommendations are considered of primary importance. Of only slightly less stature are those below that require early action. It is recommended that: [Page 505]

The general welfare of the enlisted man, to include diet, pay, promotion, leave and awards, be greatly improved at once.
A crash program be implemented to train officers and NCO’s in adequate numbers to provide a solid base for accelerating the increase of RVNAF forces.
MAAG advisors participate in all planning and operations.
Resources be relocated as necessary throughout the RVNAF to provide each service the means to increase its effectiveness and morale.
Much greater emphasis be placed on indoctrination of the individual Vietnamese soldier through means of political action officers assigned down to company level to conduct continuous and vigorous instruction designed to stimulate the individual soldier to fight.

Appendix B

Memorandum From the Chairman of the Viet-Nam Task Force (Cottrell) to the President’s Military Representative (Taylor)14


  • VietNam


The Diem regime is not organized nor operated sufficiently well to meet the Communist threat successfully. A new response must be developed.
Given the virtual impossibility of changing perceptibly the basic weaknesses of Ngo Dinh Diem, and in view of our past unsuccessful efforts to reform the GVN from the top down, we should now direct our major efforts from the bottom up, and supply all effective kinds of military and economic aid.
Since it is an open question whether the GVN can succeed even with U.S. assistance, it would be a mistake for the U.S. to commit itself irrevocably to the defeat of the Communists in SVN.15
Since U.S. combat troops of division size cannot be employed effectively, they should not be introduced at this stage, despite the short range favorable psychological lift it would give the GVN.
U.S. combat forces of CINCPAC’s command should be maintained in their present state of readiness for employment in SVN if the present guerrilla war evolves into a conventional type operation.
The world should continue to be impressed that this situation of overt DRV aggression, below the level of conventional warfare, and [sic] must be stopped in the best interest of every free nation.
If the combined U.S.-GVN efforts are insufficient to reverse the trend, we should then move to the “Rostow Plan” of applying graduated punitive measures on the DRV with weapons of our choosing.

The Immediate Threat.

The best intelligence we now have reveals a pattern of well organized supply points for infiltrators, much like the Civil War “underground railway”, from the 17th parallel roughly through the center of Viet Nam to the South. It also reveals similar points through Laos into SVN re-routing centers. Infiltrators move with almost no opposition or detection to points of concentration, where with local recruits they are organized for attacks, mainly at this stage on poorly defended villages and farms.

The curve of Viet Cong organization, communication and combat effectiveness is apparently rising sharply in contrast to the slower rising curve of effectiveness of the GVN Armed Forces.

The conclusion is that unless this trend is reversed, the Viet Cong will ultimately destroy the GVN, moving from control of villages, to districts, provinces and finally to attack the Armed Forces.

Considerations Affecting U.S. Assistance to the GVN.

Certain conditions inherent in the situation must be recognized in any consideration of what kinds of U.S. assistance can be effective.

The Communist operation starts from the lowest social level-the villages. The battle must be joined and won at this point. If not, the Communists will ultimately control all but the relatively few areas of strong military concentrations. Foreign military forces cannot themselves win the battle at the village level. Therefore, the primary responsibility for saving the country must rest with the GVN.
For the above reason, the U.S. should assist the GVN. This rules out any treaty or pact which either shifts ultimate responsibility [Page 507]to the U.S., or engages any full U.S. commitment to eliminate the Viet Cong threat.
U.S. responsibility without control would be disastrous. A1though control over SVN forces, as in Korea, might theoretically be possible, the Communist attack on VN is radically different from the attack on Korea. If this were a situation in which the chances were good that application of U.S. military force could solve the problem, then responsibility and control might be desirable. But it is not, so U.S. control should not be sought.


The ways we can assist the GVN successfully are governed by certain characteristics of the Diem regime, which must be recognized so long as Diem remains in power.

Diem, like Sukarno, Rhee, and Chiang is cast in the mold of an oriental despot, and cannot be “brought around” by threats, or insistence on adoption of purely Western concepts. To be successful, the approaches must be made on the plane of advisors, not as adversaries, with emphasis on Diem’s primary responsibility and control.
Diem, having been subject to military coupe, cannot be expected to delegate concentrated authority to the military. Ways must be found to solve the military problem without insistence on full delegation, no matter how desirable or necessary delegation may be.
Diem is not a planner, in the Western sense. He avoids elaborate paper plans. Speculation on the reasons are many, but the fact remains. Therefore, the U.S. should not insist on national plans as a prerequisite to any assistance. Military plans might be forthcoming, albeit painfully, from military sources.
Diem is not a good administrator, in the Western sense. In the oriental despotic tradition, he rules everything from his own desk. Suggestions for radically changing this pattern run contrary to Diem’s basic nature and can be suggested, but should not be set forth as the conditions of U.S. assistance.
Our history of dealing with Diem makes it quite clear that a time lag must be anticipated between Diem’s acceptance of a foreign proposal, and his fulfillment, if the action depends solely upon the GVN. In the present situation, time is of the essence, and fast action is required on many fronts, but GVN action is always slow and many times incomplete.

[Page 508]

Answers to Certain Political Questions.

1. The stability of Diem’s regime is roughly proportionate to the success of the military in controlling the Viet Cong threat. Since 1955, when Diem took over from Bao Dai, his regime has survived constant threats of varied intensity from religious sects, villagers, the intellectuals, government offices and the military. At the present moment, the most serious threat is posed by military officers, who might combine at any time with government officials to depose Diem. Whether they move or not will be largely conditioned by their estimate of whether they can win against the Viet Cong under the Diem regime, or whether they believe a new regime is indispensable to victory. If successful operations are registered against the Viet Cong, the threat of a coup will recede.

2. Bearing in mind the above limitations on corrective measures to modify the Diem regime, the political base for the counterinsurgency program could be improved if Diem would use the already created Internal Security Council. This body includes the President, Vice-President, Ministers of Interior and Information, the Assistant Secretary of State for Defense, the Chief of the ARVN Joint Staff, and other senior security officials.

The base could also be improved by an overall GVN national plan, integrating all fields of activity related to the security problem.

A comprehensive phased military plan is now in preparation, although apparently it is being done reluctantly.

It must be recognized that these administrative changes and planning will proceed slowly, if at all.

3. The internal political effects of introducing U.S. Forces should be considered. On the one hand, the danger exists that U.S. or SEATO combat forces would be equated in the minds of the villagers with the previous unfortunate French experience. This would be hammered home by the Communists. On the other hand, even opposition parties in the National Assembly have recently expressed a desire for U.S. troops, and the evidence on balance indicates that:

Special tailored forces for specific missions of assisting the GVN should produce no violent unfavorable reaction.
Larger units of division size could probably be introduced without trouble, but U.S. combat operations against the Viet Cong could raise a host of problems with the villagers.

4. A political settlement in Laos has largely been discounted in advance.GVN officials frankly state that the U.S. has abandoned Laos. They are concerned that the U.S. may abandon SVN when the going gets rough. They are keenly aware of the effect of infiltration from Laos and are certain it cannot be stopped by any weak [Page 509]“neutral” Laotian government nor by an ICC, no matter how effective. At the same time, a Lao settlement will not cause the GVN to abandon their efforts.

5. A major increase in U.S. military and economic aid would be most welcome to all levels of the people and to the GVN. It would supply further reassurances and proof of U.S. backing. However, this does not mean we should supply it unless it can be used effectively. The greatest effectiveness would be achieved by accelerating the training and equipping of the Civil Guard and the Self Defense Corps if ways can be found to do this-a very difficult problem. Increased economic aid at the village level would produce the greatest impact on the security situation.

6. The principal considerations related to a bilateral treaty were discussed above, and the conclusion drawn against this action. The GVN would naturally welcome, as Thuan said, “such a proof of U.S. real determination to stay with the GVN in its fight”. On the other hand, negotiation of such a treaty would represent a direct violation of Article 19 of the Geneva Accords, and ratification by the U.S. Senate would be time consuming at best.

What Should Be Done, and How.

  • First, while not minimizing the need for coordinated, evaluated intelligence at the national level, it strikes me that the most urgent need is for development of an extensive net in the villages, feeding into the Province Chiefs. The province organization seems to me to be the lowest level at which you can expect quick local reaction-if the SDC and the Civil Guard can be organized to react. Since Diem insists on authority being retained by the Provincial Chiefs, why don’t we try to turn this necessity of dealing with them into a virtue, and help these officers do a better job? To my mind, this flows logically from a conviction expressed previously that the battle will be won or lost primarily at the village level. So let’s all get down on our bellies to fight the problem from the bottom up rather than entire concentration from the top on down. For years we have been trying unsuccessfully to “reform” the system at the top, while virtually ignoring the “rice roots”. We’ve been erecting various “scare crows” as deterrents to certain kinds of threats, while the gophers have had a field day building underground runways, multiplying, and gnawing away at the roots.
  • Second, I favor improvement of the intelligence collection and analysis at the national level, and believe the new Evaluation Center should be enlarged.

    . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • Fourth, I think the MAAG “charter” should be amended to permit their resources to be fully exploited in the intelligence field.
  • Fifth, I think MAAG “section chiefs” should be supplied with intelligence reports pertinent to their work. For example, Captain Easterling of the Navy Section, MAAG, should have the CAS reports on DRV infiltration organizations and operations along the coast.
  • Sixth, I believe the USOM “charter” should be amended to exploit its natural access to information vital to the security situation. Its personnel should be instructed on the need for an intense intelligence effort and channels should be established for relaying this information to the Evaluation Center.

Joint Survey of Provinces.

I am strongly in favor of this, because it fits with my “village battle” concept. I think it must be done very carefully-not with the attitude of an “inspector general” listing all the faults of the Province Chief and his organization, but as a friendly, constructive listing of what each Province Chief needs to do his job better. The fact that there are some Province Chiefs who have done excellent jobs is proof that it can be done. I trust that these successful tactics and techniques can be transplanted. I would hope the survey teams could study and be briefed on these tactics before they undertake their surveys. The composition of these survey teams is, of course, something to be decided locally, but if I were doing it, I would not send large delegations. Ideally, a team should be one U.S. officer and one GVN. At maximum, it should be two of each in the military and intelligence fields. One team should be sent to each Corps area. Later, if the results are favorable, USOM and USIS people could visit the provinces.

After the surveys, we should “break our back” to supply what is needed. If we could get a MAAG advisor to the Civil Guard and an intelligence man assigned at each Province Chief level, I think it would greatly facilitate an effort from the bottom up. It may be a problem to find 38 French speaking officers of each type, but I think the effort should be made-perhaps by sending present MAAG officers out to the field on these jobs and replacing them with fresh officers from CONUS.

[Page 511]

General Lansdale as Advisor to Diem.

I heartily endorse this idea. Earlier in this paper I pointed out the limitations we face in “reforming” Diem. Any asset we can use to influence him should be applied. The fact that Diem has asked for his services is an ideal entree. Because of the confidence Diem has in Lansdale, some progress might be registered from the top down.

Appendix C

Memorandum From William J. Jorden of the Policy Planning Council to the President’s Military Representative (Taylor)16


  • The Political Situation in South Viet Nam


I. The Problem.

Pressures for political and administrative change in South Viet Nam have reached the explosion point. Without some badly needed reforms, it is unlikely that any program of assistance to that country can be fully effective.

II. Conclusions.

The U.S. can pursue a variety of courses ranging from giving full and unquestioning support to the present Government in Saigon, to engineering a coup against the Diem regime.

III. Recommendations.

We should identify ourselves with the people of Viet Nam and with their problems rather than with a man or a regime.
There should be an early U.S.-SVN meeting at a high level at which U.S. thoughts on the necessity of administrative changes are expressed with firmness.
We should encourage formation of a National Emergency Council in South Viet Nam, composed of the most able and talented Vietnamese, to bear the main burden of policy making.
U.S. advisers of great tact and competence should be selected to work with key Vietnamese agencies, including the Presidency and the NEC.
The purpose of these advisers should be to guide, encourage and expedite, not to dictate.

Any program of assistance to South Viet Nam must take into consideration that country’s internal political situation and its administrative structure. This is true for two reasons: first, because the pressures now at work appear certain to erupt into demands for a change, whether by means of a coup or through some less drastic method. Second, there is good reason to think that without some badly needed reforms, any program of military or economic aid from the United States will be less than fully effective.

This confronts the United States with a choice: to give its full backing to President Diem and do what it can to frustrate any moves to alter the present system; to stay neutral and hope that the changes that come will be orderly and constructive; to encourage changes that might be acceptable to both sides, i.e., the President and his critics; to back administrative changes that would reduce sharply the role of the President and his family in the day-to-day conduct of governmental affairs; to back a coup that would remove Diem from power.

The situation provides an opportunity for the United States to stand once again for change in this part of the world, to press for measures that are both efficient and more democratic. We must identify ourselves with the people of Viet Nam and with their aspirations, not with a man or an administration. We must do what we can to help release the tremendous energy, ability and idealism that exist in Viet Nam. We must suggest, not demand; we must advise, not dictate; but we must not hesitate to stand for the things that we and the Vietnamese know to be worthwhile and just in the conduct of political affairs.

The Present Situation.

One after another, Vietnamese officials, military men and ordinary citizens spoke to me of the situation in their country as “grave” and “deteriorating”. They are distressed at the evidence of growing Viet Cong successes. They have lost confidence in President Diem and in his leadership. Men who only one or two months ago would have hesitated to say anything critical of Diem, now explode in angry denunciation of the man, his family, and his methods.

[Page 513]

There is near paralysis in some areas of administration. Small decisions that would be handled by minor officials in one of the ministries of most governments are taken to the Presidency for personal approval by Diem or one of his top advisers. Major decisions sometimes go unconsidered for days or weeks. Ministers are reduced to the role of expediters and “yes men”. Men with no elective or even appointive office often have more influence and power than the recognized officials.

Many men of intelligence and ability have been kept out of government or been forced to resign if their complete loyalty to the President came into doubt. The National Assembly has become a rubber stamp for the President’s measures. Elections are a meaningless exercise that can only produce contempt for the democratic process.

A chance remark in a cafe can produce a jail sentence. Those who express political opposition are harassed. Men are held indefinitely without indictment or even the placing of charges. One member of the National Assembly has been in jail for almost a year without his legislative immunity from arrest having been lifted.

The role of the President’s family is well-enough known to require little elaboration. Brother Nhu holds power second only to that of Diem himself. Brother Can rules the northern provinces like an oriental satrapy from his base in Hue. Archbishop Thuc, as the President’s elder, is listened to respectfully by the President. Luyen, Ambassador in London, returns to Saigon regularly to “mend his fences” and check on his organization. Madame Nhu presides over the women of South Viet Nam like an Empress.

The activities of the brothers are a source of deep resentment among people at every level. The Communists have used this resentment skillfully in their propaganda against the regime. Many of the allegations made against members of the Diem family are true; many are false. What matters in this context is what is believed.

Intrigue, nepotism and even corruption might be accepted, for a time, if combined with efficiency and visible progress. When they accompany administrative paralysis and steady deterioration, they become intolerable.

All of this has produced a steadily mounting demand for change. Even persons long loyal to Diem and included in his official family now believe that South Viet Nam can get out of the present morass only if there is early and drastic revision at the top. They admit that a series of dramatic political and military successes might-just might-alter the present mood somewhat. But they see little or no chance for that kind of success unless the Government’s decision-making and administrative apparatus is reorganized first.

[Page 514]

The Vietnamese would like to see this kind of change come peacefully and with U.S. encouragement. There are many who believe, in fact, that it can come peacefully only if it is urged by the U.S. Government. If change does not come in an orderly way, it will almost certainly come through forceful means carried out by an alliance of political and military elements.

The Dangers

It is obvious that the present tense situation could produce violence and a period of serious internal confusion. It could divide the Army as well as the bureaucratic machine. The Communists can be expected to move swiftly in any such situation, combining military with political moves aimed at a quick takeover. At best, an attempted coup that failed would produce retaliation that would deprive Viet Nam further of some of its best brains and talents.

The United States would face a serious dilemma should violence erupt. Given the large and growing U.S. involvement in Viet Nam, we would almost certainly have to intervene directly. This would produce resentment on one side or the other, perhaps both, and would expose us to large-scale criticism in other countries.

These are dangers, too, in the continuation of the present uneasy situation. It means appalling waste in terms of energy, ability, and patriotism. The prevailing administrative stagnation means that any new program of aid will be less than fully effective. It means, too, that the U.S. becomes increasingly identified with an unpopular and ineffective regime.

The Choices

The arguments in favor of change, almost any change, are impressive. The situation in South Viet Nam is far too serious to permit that country the luxury of depriving itself of any of its available skills, intelligence, imagination, and hope. Those committed to helping the Vietnamese in this critical hour have an equal interest in seeing that everything that can contribute to victory is done.

The choices for the U.S. Government in this situation were listed earlier. My judgement of those choices follows:

To give unquestioned backing to Diem and to try to frustrate any pressures for change in his method of rule is to court disaster.
To stay neutral and hope for the best means an open invitation to an explosion that would probably benefit the Communists more than anyone else.
We are obliged, I think, to encourage in a variety of ways reforms in administration, from the highest level to the villages, that will be acceptable to both the President and his critics.
If this kind of compromise approach fails to produce promising results, if reforms are frustrated by backsliding into old ways and attitudes, if the “back door” continues as the preferred way to influence, if criticism produces harassment, then we must consider backing changes that would reduce sharply the role of the President and would alter his status to that of figurehead and symbol.
Engineering or backing a coup involves large risks in both the local situation and in the broader framework of world opinion. It is not something we do well. It has little to recommend itself.

Specific Recommendations

As a matter of general policy, we should avoid identification of President Diem or his regime as the focus of U.S. policy. Our public concern should always be with the people of Viet Nam, with their problems, and their aspirations.
There should be an early meeting either between President Diem and a carefully selected personal representative of President Kennedy, or between President Kennedy and a high-ranking personal representative of President Diem, possibly his brother Nhu. This meeting should be used to outline U.S. thoughts and attitudes on the problem of administrative reform. The urgent need for delegation of authority and for inclusion of Viet Nam’s best talents in public office should be stressed.
Using the recent declaration of a national emergency in South Viet Nam as a lever, we should press for immediate formation of a top-level National Emergency Council that would include representatives of the leading Government organizations such as Defense, Budget, Foreign Affairs, and Internal Security. This body would have the combined function of recommending actions and programs to the President and assuring that top-level decisions are carried out.
In agreement with the Vietnamese Government, a group of highly qualified (by talent as well as temperament) Americans should be selected to work with key Government organs, including the Presidency and the proposed National Emergency Council. They could serve an invaluable function as friendly advisers and expediters.
The purpose of these advisers would not be to impose our ways or methods or political institutions. Rather it would be to encourage the Vietnamese to find their own solutions within the broad framework of principles and ideals which we share. They should promote the idea of selection on the basis of ability and advancement on the basis of merit. They could stimulate the assumption and delegation of authority at all levels. By example and by guidance they could promote many elements in political administration [Page 516]that are essential to success and that now are missing in the governmental structure of South Viet Nam.

Appendix D

Paper Prepared by the Members of the Taylor Mission17


Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations

The economy of Viet-Nam is progressing. Economic factors are probably not a very important cause of the current crisis. Nevertheless, the economic programs can and should be used to support the counter-insurgency. Specifically it is recommended that:

The proposed level of commercial aid of $140 million be negotiated with the Vietnamese as soon as possible.
The Vietnamese be assured that the U.S. will make every effort to support all worthwhile projects which contribute to the solution of the immediate crisis.
Special efforts be made to expedite those projects which are particularly useful in the short run including village communications, radio broadcasting, village radio receiving sets, special action with Montagnard tribes, the telecommunications system, emergency flood relief, and to the extent desired by the GVN, Agrovilles, Agrohamlets, and feeder roads.
Successful projects which contribute to long range economic development be continued if they are not too expensive but in general new starts in this area be deferred for the time being.
Long range projects whose effectiveness is being reduced by Viet Cong activity should be reviewed for possible modification or termination.
Special efforts be expedited to increase the ability of private enterprise to absorb capital imports into industrial expansion.

[Here follow 16 pages of discussion on four major topics: I. The Economy of Vietnam, II. The Role of Economic Aid, III. Commercial Aid. and IV. Economic Aid to the Public Sector.]

[Page 517]

Appendix E

Paper Prepared by the Members of the Taylor Mission18


Conclusions and Recommendations


On the whole, the Military Assistance Program has been providing military aid to South Viet-Nam at about the optimum rate of absorption by the RVNAF. Deficiencies in RVNAF command and control procedures have resulted in less than optimum usage of MAP equipment, particularly aircraft.
The present emergency requires an urgent further increase in the RVNAF. This buildup cannot await the development of a GVN national geographically phased strategic plan for counter-insurgency, although the preparation of such a plan should be pursued vigorously by the GVN.
MAAG advisory effort needs to be extended further into the core of the RVNAF, with advisors being provided to smaller units. Intelligence specialist advisors are badly needed. In order to provide the numbers of US personnel required, as well as those with the desired qualifications, special efforts will be required.
Additional Military Assistance funds will be required to undertake critical improvements in facilities to support the increased effort required, and to take advantage of technological developments.

Major Recommendations:

Waive our previous stipulation that a national geographically phased counter-insurgency plan be prepared before we would support a force increase to 200,000 in order to sustain the present impetus of RVNAF force buildup.
Give highest priority to providing MAAG advisory personnel, both in increased numbers and with required qualifications, increasing training of US personnel as necessary.
Make available additional military assistance funds to undertake critical improvements in operational and supporting facilities, particularly road, air field and communications facilities, and to take immediate advantage of technological developments.
[Page 518]

[Here follow eight pages of discussion under the following headings: I. General Statement, II. Problem Areas, and III. Recommendations 1

Appendix F

Paper Prepared by the Members of the Taylor Mission19


The Problem: To establish a force in Viet-Nam which will deny the northwest frontier bordering Laos to Communist infiltration and which will have the capability of penetrating Communist dominated areas outside South Viet-Nam to disrupt Communist lines of communication.


The strength, disposition, and intention of the Communist enemy in the frontier area are not known precisely. Reports indicate the 325th North Viet-Nam (NVN) Division is just north of the 17th Parallel Demarcation Line and the 304th and 324th NVN Divisions are in the vicinity of Route 9, having crossed the border from the Tchepone Area. The VNA at Kontum believes there are three NVN regiments west of Kontum, towards the border. Since top Vietnamese officials, including President Diem, believe the northwest frontier is a Communist pipeline to the south and east, and there is some confirmation of this belief, it is not known how much of the estimated 8400 Communists in their Interzone V are in the northwest frontier, whether they are in transit elsewhere or are disposed in the area for quick assembly to mount an attack on Kontum.
It is known that Communist forces cross the Laos-Vietnam border. Four such routes are known, including Routes 9 and 12. It is possible that other routes could be identified, since they are known to the inhabitants, given better intelligence collection methods in Montagnard tribal areas. One MAAG plan indicated 103 miles of border as “hot,” where crossings are most likely; the figure included areas in the south.
Without the willing help of the Montagnards, initially in intelligence and later in securing their own areas, any practical denial of the northwest frontier to Communist infiltration becomes almost [Page 519]impossible. There are serious problems to be overcome in gaining Montagnard help. The Communists got to them first, years ago. Communist hard-core political cadres have been living as tribal members in Montagnard villages, at least since 1954. It is estimated that 1700 Montagnards in the II Corps area alone have been recruited by the Viet Cong. The Vietnamese have looked upon the Montagnards as something almost sub-human, and this is known to the Montagnards. On the other hand, the Viet Cong need for food and services apparently has led to increased Communist use of terrorism to get these quickly from the Montagnards. The Montagnards are now seeking weapons for self-protection. Americans serving in the High Plateau and French missionaries long resident there believe the Montagnards should be armed for village self-defense and can be used far more extensively for intelligence collection….
General McGarr has expressed concern at the further depletion of Vietnamese divisions to obtain manpower for special units, such as ranger companies. Since special units are manned by volunteers, the drain is in the best manpower, of quality as well as quantity. Divisions which have personnel most familiar with the border terrain are presently stationed in the High Plateau, have the mission of border area defense now, and would be needed to back up any frontier force which would operate as rangers on extended patrols.
The present ranger companies have a strength of 132. MAAG officers consider that this should be upped to 142, with the additional strength being used for communications and a mortar section. General “Big” Minh is currently developing a plan to combine two ranger companies into a Mobile Forest Groupement which would create a base area, with a landing strip or cleared area for air drops; extensive patrols would be undertaken from the base area.
There is now a total of 86 ranger companies in the ARVN. Of these, 26 have completed unit training. An additional 11 will complete unit training by January 1962. The remainder of the 49 ranger companies, all formed early in 1960 and committed to operations with little or no formal ranger training, will have completed unit training by the end of 1962. There are no current plans to form additional ranger companies.
There are four Vietnamese provinces bordering Laos: Quang Tri, Thua Thien, Quang Nam, and Kontum. The first three are in the I Corps military area, and Kontum in the II Corps area. In the MAAG concept of border control, apart from the zone for the 17th Parallel, there are five border patrol zones suggested.

[Page 520]


The command will be known as the Northwest Frontier Force. It will be a component of II Corps, but will operate in both I and II Corps areas, as a special force, with its own distinctive insignia. It will be a force of jungle rangers, teamed with air elements and a special civil section. There will be US encadrement, under a US military chief, with US personnel acting as advisors-collaborators (similar to Army Special Forces operations in Laos). The US encadrement will include both military and civilian personnel, and will have its own communication net.
The mission of the Force will be to secure the frontier zone by pacification of the territory on the Vietnamese side of the border and by disrupting the enemy’s lines of communication outside the border, through long-range combat patrols. Pacification will employ techniques of attracting the support of the inhabitants in a limited area, as employed successfully before in Vietnam. Pacification includes security screening, establishment of intelligence collection, initiating governmental services and control, then training and arming the villages for self-defense. When an area is secure, the Force will move into the next area for pacification operations, and continue doing so until all Vietnamese territory in the Frontier zone is secure.
Each sector of Viet-Nam in the Frontier zone will be divided into defined areas for pacification, depending upon terrain and inhabitants. Two ranger companies will move into the pacification area, while the third company moves into the next area beyond, as a security screen. As the two companies establish physical security, a civic action civilian unit will move in behind them, establishing working relations with the village council, a dispensary, a school, an information center with a radio receiver, and the unit will then be under the self-help public projects (the first being the construction of a landing strip for eight aircraft, and then feeder roads as required). Public welfare, such as salt and blankets, will be distributed. As the support of the population is won over, they will be readied for self-defense, for intelligence reporting, and enlisted as scouts for patrols.
Patrols will enter an area to win over the tribal inhabitants, obtain information of the location of enemy elements in the area, and then seek out the enemy to destroy him. Initial contact with the enemy will be to gain information about him, which will be promptly reported by radio. The patrol commander will make the decision on whether to attack, using hunter-killer tactics, to call up an air strike and follow it by attack, or to call up additional forces for the attack.
The Northwest Frontier Force operation calls for close military-civilian teamwork, to enlist the support of the overwhelming majority of the Montagnards and to make the entire frontier zone a hostile area to Communist incursions. This will require a definite change in Vietnamese attitude towards and relations with the Montagnards. The Civic Action civilian unit will have a Vietnamese cadre, but be composed of two-thirds Montagnards as rapidly as they can be screened and trained.
In Kontum province, operations will be assisted by the Djarai (Montagnard) scouts now being recruited. This will be accomplished by the II Corps Commander.


a. Vietnamese Military

Headquarters/Operations Center at Kontum.

Reserve strike force, of five ranger companies, strengthened to 142, at Kontum.

Air force composite squadron at Kontum, under Frontier Force Operational control.

Special Weapons Unit, for field use of CDTC equipment, at Kontum.

Three long-range patrol ranger companies, based at Kontum.

Five Sector Headquarters/Operations Centers, one for each pacification sector.

Fifteen ranger companies, strengthened to 142, for pacification of the Vietnamese side of the Frontier zone (divided into five sectors, with three companies per sector).

The 23 ranger companies will be withdrawn from the 59 companies now assigned to the III Corps area. Other military personnel will be provided from throughout the RVNAF, to be replaced as the 30,000 force increase is implemented.

b. Vietnamese Civilian (Civic Action)

Headquarters/Operations Center at Kontum, with the Chief of the Civic Action Unit being Deputy to the Frontier Force Commander.

Five Civic Action units, one for each pacification sector, consisting of public health, welfare, information (radio, motion pictures), education, and public works (an engineer element for helping build air strips).

Four small Civic Action Units, one stationed with each province chief, for coordination of all civil operations.

c. U.S. Personnel

At Kontum, Chief of the U.S. element, who also will act as collaborator-advisor to the Commander of the Frontier Force. He will have a team of specialists who will act as collaborator-advisors to the Vietnamese in running the intelligence/operations center, in logistical support, and for training of Montagnards in self-defense. A [Page 522]small U.S. element for administrative support of U.S. operations in the Frontier Zone will be under his command, since base facilities will be needed to support temporarily assigned specialists from the CDTC, MAAG, …, USOM, and USIS.

Small U.S. liaison elements, for advice and collaboration on Frontier Force operations, will be established at II Corps and Field Command.

One “cell” of the 4400th CCTS will be stationed with the Vietnamese Air Force squadron in the Kontum area.

One split FA team (six men, USA Special Forces) will be stationed with each ranger company. One FB team will be stationed with each pacification sector and with the long-range patrol unit.

One U.S. Foreign Service Officer will be the Political Deputy to the Chief, U.S. Element, at Kontum, to run the civilian portion of the U.S. team, and to act as advisor-collaborator with the Regional delegate and the four Province Chiefs. He will have a small staff of …, USIS, and USOM personnel who will be field workers, visiting their Vietnamese opposite numbers in the pacification sectors and in the provincial capitals, where they will act as advisors-collaborators with the Vietnamese. Chief MAAG will have over-all responsibility for direction of the U.S. effort.


Memorandum From the Secretary of Defense’s Assistant for Special Operations (Lansdale) to the President’s Military Representative (Taylor)20


  • Summary of Recommendations

Declaration of Sub-Limited War. In order to meet the Communist threat adequately, the U.S. needs a way of action short of war but more dynamic than merely the bolstering of peacetime measures. The situation in Viet-Nam cries for something better than what we have been doing. So, my recommendation was that the U.S. find the way to declare and support a sub-limited war in Vietnam. This can be done by Presidential proclamation, a Congressional supporting act, and a new streamlined organization within the Executive, headed by a Presidential Assistant to upgrade its authority and decisiveness.

U.S. Collaborators-Advisors. The heavy bureaucratic machinery of the Vietnamese government is not working effectively. Heeding the lesson of Laos, where some U.S. military are living and working with the RLA as a friendly encadrement, the U.S. should apply an [Page 523]improved version in Vietnam. There should be a U.S. political-psychological-military-economic encadrement in Vietnam. The concept is of a U.S. team with its own chief and its own radio communications to all U.S. elements in Vietnam. Individual Americans would act as advisor-collaborators at the key decision points in the top of the Vietnamese government. Military-civilian teams would work with Vietnamese organizations at critical trouble spots in the field. When one trouble spot is cleared up, the field team can be moved to the next trouble area. The work in a trouble spot would be what the Vietnamese call pacification; this means that the military establishes physical security, with civic action (health, welfare, information, education, etc.) teams following on the heels of the troops. Self-defense is organized and activated. When the area is secure, (able to defend itself against all but large enemy units) the U.S. team moves out. Vietnamese forces encadred can either be transferred to the next trouble zone or be released for other duties.

Northwest Frontier Force. The border zone of Laos is now an area of Viet-Cong infiltration into Viet-Nam from the Laos panhandle. To meet this, a Northwest Frontier Force (a ranger force supported by air and civic action teams) should be created. It will have a long-range patrol element to strike the Viet-Cong lines of communication in Laos and a pacification (military-civilian) team for the frontier zone inside Vietnam. Pacification areas will be designed to fit inhabitants and terrain. Ranger teams, with prompt civic action follow-up, will attract the support of Montagnard tribes and establish a capability for self-defense. The teams will then move to the next pacification area, and so continue until the whole frontier zone is capable of resisting Viet-Cong infiltration and is keeping the Vietnamese promptly informed of all Viet-Cong activities in the area. U.S. encadrement will include Special Forces (down to company level), Jungle Jim (to ensure effective air support), a Foreign Service officer (deputy to the military commander to run the civilian side and to collaborate with regional delegates and province chiefs), and … USOM, and USIS personnel to collaborate with Vietnamese civic action/intelligence operations.

Human Defoliation.” As an alternate to the strip-sectioning of Zone D by chemical defoliants, it is recommended that consideration be given to awarding a lumber concession in Zone D to a Chinese Nationalist commercial firm. The firm can be a non-profit corporation, employing ChiNat veterans (ages 35-40) who could be armed for self-defense (or game hunting). The hardwoods in Zone D are well located for profitable exploitation; in fact, its lumber would have a ready market in Viet-Nam as well as elsewhere; if desired, it could be a joint operation with Vietnamese veterans. When large Viet-Cong forces are met, precise intelligence would be given to the [Page 524]RVNAF for a strike at the enemy. The lumbermen could take care of smaller enemy units themselves. Such an operation would have further benefits in uplifting morale in Formosa, even though a cover-civilian activity, and resolve part of the problems now posed by these veterans.


Vietnam is dangerously far down the road to a Communist takeover, against the will of its people. Since my visit last January, the situation appears to have grown more critical, despite generous U.S. help. President Diem believes that the key moment which will determine the future is between now and Christmas.

As in any society under great stress, some cracks have appeared. The most apparent one during our visit was the very human one of looking for somebody else to blame for the situation. Big Minh’s rather desperate comments to you were an example. This same type of comment was prevalent in many other quarters, including some in which Big Minh was the target. Mistrust, jealousy, and the shock of Communist savagery have contributed to making a none-too-certain government bureaucracy even more unsure of itself. Pride and self-protection still cover this unsureness, but the cover is wearing thin.

Yet, what is happening is against the will of the people. Communist terrorism has brought compliance; Communist assurance of victory has induced hopelessness. This can be changed. Given the means to fight back and some hope in the future of a Free Vietnam, the people will start responding. With popular support, and with an infusion of new spirit in the government and the armed forces, a turn can still be made against what now looks like an inevitable Communist takeover.

It is time that we in the free world got angry about what is happening in Viet-Nam and about what is happening elsewhere in Southeast Asia. With our anger, there should come a deep commitment to stop the Communists in their tracks and hit back hard. Frankly, there are a lot of Americans who are angry and are willing to be committed to victory in this struggle. But, there is no place and no means by which they can join up to strike a blow for liberty. Certainly there are dedicated Americans in Viet-Nam now who would like nothing better than to give the Communists a licking. They are prevented from doing so by our self-imposed restrictions of a peace time governmental machinery, made clumsy by its complexity, which has been jury-rigged to meet a critical situation when it really needed to be revamped to meet a new kind of war.

A new infusion of spirit is needed in Vietnam. With new spirit, the way will be opened to defeat the Communists, even though the [Page 525]way probably will be long and hard. This spirit will come only through dedicated action. Both the Vietnamese and the Americans need to be freed to undertake such dedicated action

The U.S. Role

A humanitarian task force of U.S. military to help in the flood areas of Viet-Nam probably will result in enough psychological effect and enough physical security in its zone of operation to delay the Communist time-table. The Communists will be forced to change their strategy and this takes time. Thus, it would be wise for us to recognize that such a task force effort is a way of buying some badly needed time. We then should determine how best to use the time purchased at such great effort.

There is a valuable lesson to be learned from our experience in Laos. Regardless of the political outcome, we did have a moment when circumstances forced us to do the right thing in part, on the spot, in the military sector. This right action was the encadrement of the Lao armed forces with dedicated American advisors, who acted as brotherly collaborators, and who had their own communications from the field to headquarters, permitting realistic and knowledgeable action to be taken by the U.S. military at each level and where needed. If this had been done earlier, and in the political, economic, and information sectors as well as the military, Laos might well have stood up to the Communist attack and have made far better use of all its resources.

Thus, in Vietnam, with the time bought by a humanitarian U.S. military task force in the flood area, and by the continuing work of the present U.S. organizations in Vietnam, we should phase in a Vietnamese-American partnership for action against the Communists, by a special and temporary encadrement. -It will take Americans who are willing to stake all on the outcome, who know their tasks, and who can act with great understanding in collaboration with the Vietnamese.

This U.S. role requires acceptance by the Vietnamese, starting with President Diem, and a new resolution of problems by the United States. Both can be done, if we determine to do so. Applied effectively in Vietnam, we will have found the means of meeting similar Communist threats elsewhere. With proper psychological preparation, including our firm intention of pulling out again as soon as the threat has been overcome, this fuller U.S. role in helping free nations remain free will give a new spark to freedom throughout the world

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The U.S. Structure

The U.S. needs to declare a “sub-limited” war on the Communists in Viet-Nam and then to wage it successfully. Since such an action is not envisioned by our Constitution, a way of so doing must be found which is consistent with our heritage. The most natural declaration would be a proclamation by the President, which would state U.S. objectives and clearly outline the principles of human liberty involved. The U.S. Congress would vote support of these objectives and principles. Implementing actions would then be carried out by Executive Order.

The executive agency to carry out the President’s desires needs realistic consideration. The agency must be able to devote all of its time and energies to the task. It must be elevated high enough to demand and get effective contributions from all U.S. entities, including State and Defense, and be quickly responsive to the Executive will. The present Task Forces have neither the stature nor the permanent personnel required. It would be preferable to have a small task force headed by a Presidential Assistant, with members from each U.S. department and agency assigned to it full-time, with its own channel of communication to the field, with complete control of the budget to counter the emergency in the country involved, and with a clear statement of its priorities in drawing on the men, money, and materiel needed.

For Vietnam, after consideration of the needs elsewhere, such as Berlin, a new Presidential Task Force would be created. It would need small, streamlined counterparts, particularly in State and Defense. It would need an active liaison unit at CINCPAC. In Vietnam, it should act with Presidential authority under the general guidance of the Ambassador, but with its own responsible chief. It would need a small staff in Saigon to see that the U.S. effort is coordinated, to provide an adequate war room for current knowledge of the situation, and to ensure administrative and logistic support. The field group should be looked upon as going into a new type of combat and be so supported, including duty status, discipline, and recognition. In Vietnam, it would be the operations task force.

Paper work between Washington and Saigon should be cut to a minimum. An aircraft should be assigned at the Washington end, for quick trips to Viet-Nam to get first-hand information and to cut down the need for time in the field which would have to be devoted to reporting and administration.

The operations task force field personnel would operate on two levels. One is at the executive level; the other is at the local trouble spot, such as the northwest frontier.

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At the executive level, there should be an American collaborator at each key position in the Vietnamese government where decisive executive action is required. The American would give the firm guidance of a friend to the Vietnamese official in that position, with the American remaining very much in the background and encouraging Vietnamese initiative.

Local trouble spots should be selected for special U.S. effort. The most obvious ones today are the northwest frontier, the sea frontier, and Zone D. There are others, along the Cambodian border, in the Long Hai area, in the center, and so on. Each requires unique treatment, with its own local U.S. task force directed from the U.S. task force in Saigon, with its own communications net, and with its own task goal which would determine its term of deployment. If need be, priorities can be assigned to trouble spots so that they can be cleaned up one by one with the most effective U.S. team possible to concentrate on an area.

While each trouble spot is somewhat different, the local task force is conceived as having a local U.S. director. Under him would be a military team, having an advisor-collaborator with the Vietnamese division commander, a Special Forces team with each battalion, and a Jungle Jim cell to guide Vietnamese air support to the division’s operations. U.S. military intelligence, psychological warfare, and civic action personnel would work at division level, to guide the Vietnamese effort. A junior Foreign Service officer would be the advisor-collaborator with each Vietnamese province chief in the trouble area, and would be part of the U.S. communications net. In each province, there would be … a USIS information officer to guide the Vietnamese psychological operation and to direct the USIS information center if this is required to bolster the Vietnamese effort, and USOM officers as needed to guide public health, public works, education, and self-help programs.

There is a great deal already in existence in these trouble spots. The local U.S. task force would mostly give it some dynamic spark and direction. In the northwest frontier, this would include a different attitude towards and use of the Montagnard tribes.

In Laos, Special Forces teams are relieved after six months duty in the jungle. General Boyle is in full agreement with this policy, although he believes that the teams in some of the more settled areas could remain longer without relief. In Vietnam, the problems are quite different. A special rest and rehabilitation center could be established in Saigon or Nha Trang, where teams could rest up. In an area such as the northwest frontier, personnel could be rotated for duty with the reserve at Kontum after an extended jungle patrol. It would be smart to establish a similar system for Vietnamese combat forces.

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The concept noted above would place American talents and spirit directly into position to be most effective in Vietnam. It would commit them to the action, since Americans would share the hazards of the struggle. A U.S. communications net would bring American “can do” into the Vietnamese scene in a way which could be decisive. Much of the present Vietnamese bickering and hesitancy would disappear as a new sense of direction is given them.

Other Comments

a. U.S. Presence. It is believed that the Vietnamese would accept the presence of Americans favorably, if this is done correctly. Included in “doing it correctly” would be an expression of President Diem’s desire for such U.S. help, the individual Americans earning their way by friendly devotion to unselfish duty, with exemplary behavior, and a firm understanding of U.S. withdrawal to let the Vietnamese run their own affairs once the emergency is over. U.S. actions would speak louder than words in countering Communist propaganda.

b. Prisoners. The handling of Communist prisoners needs improvement. The present system has dangerous aspects which weaken the psychological effort among the people and against the enemy. Use of Puolo Condore, with its connotation of the worst of French colonialism, is an example. The decision role of the province chiefs is another example. After the rehabilitation period, of 6-12 months, the province chief is asked if there are any other charges against the prisoner, or can he be released? All too often, the province chief, hearing that there is secret Communist organization and training going on among the prisoners, simply replies that the prisoner is too dangerous to be returned home. The prisoner then settles down to a life where he doesn’t have to work and where he is better fed than the soldiers. Secretary Thuan states that there are about 10,000 such Viet Cong prisoners held by the Vietnamese. The Philippines’ experience with Huk prisoners and EDCOR rehabilitation indicates that much more can be done with Viet Cong prisoners.

c. The Vietnamese Will to Resist. Viet Cong terrorist methods have alienated the people deeply, although they are too scared to show it unless given at least the hope of security. So far, they haven’t been given such a hope by the Vietnamese government and armed forces, except spottily. Too many villagers are treated with equal suspicion by both sides in this struggle; the Communists cut off heads, while the Army keeps people for days of interrogation away from supporting their families, once information is given about Viet Cong activity. Improved relations with the people, (such as a return to the “ten commandments” formerly obeyed by the Vietnamese armed forces), [Page 529]and improved military patrolling backed by more responsive government work, should release the expression of popular will: It would be actively anti-Communist.

Indicators of this popular will are many. The people of Phan Thiet fed the marines five meals a day, voluntarily, during recent operations when the marines undertook aggressive patrolling, and offered to support them if they would stay. Catholic priests from three different areas of the south became excitedly enthusiastic when I asked them if there were youths in their villages who would volunteer to fight the Communists; in their enthusiasm, they promised to raise 20,000 volunteers quickly, if they could become “fighters” and not “soldiers.” Americans working in the High Plateau assured me that many of the Montagnards are desperately angry at the Viet Cong and are ready to help in the fight if treated as men and not as sub-human; President Diem noted a similar feeling of Montagnard hatred of the Viet Cong from recent talks he has had with French missionaries, (although he wants to regroup the Montagnards into large settlements in the Malaya pattern).

The Viet Cong have broken the rules laid down by Mao Tse Tung for success. This mistake needs to be exploited hard.

d. Secretary Thuan. If the U.S. is to go into a fuller effort for victory in Vietnam, one of the key people we will have to bet a blue chip on is Secretary Thuan. As his stature and executive control have grown, so have grown the suspicions that he is self-serving. Some of the top officers in the armed forces, along with other government officials, view him with distinct antipathy. Several are quite active in “character assassination” of Thuan. Perhaps having an American collaborator working closely with Thuan will tend to quiet the talk about him.

Thuan always has been the man “to get things done.” He has risen to his present position largely on his own merit as an executive, with some help from Nhu and against considerable opposition from Hue. His real ambition is not known to me. When I have questioned him about his future hopes, he has laughed and said that what he enjoys most is to travel and hopes to earn the right to have leisure for so doing. However, he has questioned me at times about Magsaysay, (who moved from Secretary of Defense to the Presidency); such questioning always has been on how Magsaysay acted as the civilian executive in military affairs, and not on how he achieved political ends.

Thuan is plainly over-burdened with tasks. His health, (he suffered a heart attack some months ago), has improved, but he is complaining of back trouble. President Diem has expressed concern about Thuan’s back, explaining that he is suffering from “minor [Page 530]fractures of the back-bone” and is under medical care. Continuing U.S. medical assistance for Thuan is indicated.

Some relief from his multiple duties also is indicated for Thuan. He is already acting to overcome this problem, by pushing for the creation of an Executive Council for National Security and by appointing more competent assistants. The latter action is complicated by the political connections of some less-competent assistants, but Thuan is moving decisively to weed them out and to appoint officials to whom he can entrust further responsibilities.

Thuan’s continuing worry is about the competence of the military commanders. This is an area of concern where an American collaborator could do much constructive work, in clearing up misunderstandings and in working intimately with MAAG to strengthen the command structure into real effectiveness. When asked about military leadership, Thuan rattled off a fast comment about many individuals; the following are his personal views:

  • Colonel Nguyen Duc Thang—the coming military leader, he fights and also knows how to run things; a future chief of staff. Good background in science and math. Very dedicated man. Marches on foot when he leads his troops. A moral man who doesn’t worship money or playing around.
  • General Ty-a figurehead.
  • General “Big” Minh-always complaining, and doesn’t take action when he has the opportunity; his plans never seem to be complete; he does such things as send airborne troops into combat by truck when air envelopment would be more effective.
  • General “Little” Minh-intelligent, very smart, but hard to understand.
  • Joint General Staff-very good, as playboys.
  • General Don-an excellent staff officer who is misplaced in combat command.
  • General Ding-zero, no good.
  • General Kim-good staff officer.
  • Neum, III Corps-gets his old division, has a few tricks, don’t like him.
  • Colonel Khiem, CO 21st Division-good, but a little lazy; he is not truly a partisan of the offense, because he likes fortifications.

The three coming men are the Airborne Commander, the Marines Commander, and Colonel Thang.

e. Chinese Nationalists. There have been some private exchanges between President Diem and Generalissimo Chiang on the possible use of Chinese Special Forces type of personnel in Vietnam. The exchange of views apparently have given full consideration to the political hazards in undertaking such an action, so they have been treated sensitively and with some slowness. The present thinking is [Page 531]for a group of about 200 veterans, ages 35-400, to come into Viet-Nam as Vietnamese, being “sheep-dipped” in Cholon and given Vietnamese names. They will train village Self Defense Corps in handling weapons, patrol actions, and intelligence reporting. The idea is under study at present, presumably requiring U.S. approval before being undertaken.

Some thought might be given to “human defoliation” in an area such as Zone D. The timber in this jungle contains valuable hardwoods. If the timber concession was let to Chinese Nationalists, say a commercial firm which was composed of veterans who volunteered for the task, the “fire-break” plan of sectoring Zone D might be carried out at minimal cost, with a politically-acceptable introduction of Chinese Nationalists, and with definite benefit to both the welfare and morale of Chinese veterans in Taiwan. A small Vietnamese unit could be attached to such an outfit, as “protection” to give proper commercial coloration to the venture. However, the ChiNats should be sufficiently armed for self-protection, which would include patrolling in the vicinity of the lumber operation. The Vietnamese unit could forward intelligence reports from this operation, as well as furnish coordination when larger Viet Cong units were met and the Vietnamese Armed Forces were needed for the strike at the enemy.

f. Psychological Operations. Despite good organizations and some dedicated Vietnamese and Americans in psychological operations, it seems that the Communists still have the psychological edge in the struggle in Vietnam. This is expressed in terms of deep belief in inevitable victory, which is catching and effective even among staunch anti-Communists. On the other hand, given a real U.S. stiffening in Vietnam, a hope of victory, and better yet, the hope of lifting the yoke of Communism from their brothers in North Vietnam, the Vietnamese would catch fire, as would many others in Asia and elsewhere in the world.

An immediate improvement can be made by closer U.S. collaboration with the Vietnamese to get some joint mutual themes and then to exploit them thoroughly, with U.S. help. This feeling was expressed informally in a meeting with the U.S. Psychological Sub-Committee of the Task Force, with general agreement of those present-all of whom would like to see more follow-through and better means of operating. Vietnamese government actions often need much more thorough planning and exploitation, which present joint efforts do not satisfy.

In day-to-day work, there is a continuing theme of Viet Cong excesses in behavior which can be exploited to damage Communist political claims. At the same time, there are many constructive actions by the Vietnamese which need much fuller exploitation, [Page 532]including recognition of individuals and organizations. However, there are equipment and use needs which require expedited action.

  1. Source Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Viet-Nam Country Series, Taylor Report A & B. Top Secret. No drafting information is given on the source text, but in his memoirs Taylor states that the letter was drafted by both Rostow and him. (Swords and Plowshares, p. 243)
  2. The President’s instruction to Taylor is printed in Taylor, Swords and Plowshares, pp. 225-226.
  3. [Attachment 1]
  4. Top Secret. The source text is Tab B.
  5. [Attachment 2]
  6. Top Secret. The source text if Tab C.
  7. Section I of Appendix A is not printed.
  8. It is assumed VC forces exist in these categories but their presence is not confirmed by hard evidence. [Footnote in the source text.]
  9. It is assumed VC forces exist in these categories but their presence is not confirmed by hard evidence. [Footnote in the source text.]
  10. It is assumed VC forces exist in these categories but their presence is not confirmed by hard evidence. [Footnote in the source text.]
  11. It is assumed VC forces exist in these categories but their presence is not confirmed by hard evidence. [Footnote in the source text.]
  12. Figures supplied by MAAG Saigon, from GVN data. [Footnote in the source text.]
  13. Included-killed, wounded, and captured, for Viet-Cong. Same categories for GVN, regular, militia, and self-defense corps, combined. [Footnote in the source text.]
  14. Appendix 1, dealing with covert matters, is not printed.
  15. For text of the full statement by Smith, see Foreign Relations, 1952-1954, vol. XVI, p. 1500.
  16. For text of Eisenhower’s address to the Third Special Emergency Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, August 13, 1958, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1958, pp. 1032-1039.
  17. Appendix H, which deals with research and development matters, is not printed.
  18. Top Secret. On the page preceding the appendices is the following typewritten note: “The views expressed in the following Appendices are those of the respective authors. They have contributed substantially to the conclusions expressed in the two preceding papers and, evidently, reflect a broad consensus; but no effort was made to adjust the various perspectives represented in the several sections of the report.” Although the text indicates that the paper was written by the military committee, the composition of this committee has not been determined.
  19. Secret.
  20. A handwritten note at this point reads: “This writer later has inconsistent observations, it must be said.”
  21. Secret.
  22. Confidential. The source text is not dated and has no drafting information.
  23. Confidential. The source text is not dated and has no drafting information.
  24. Secret. The source text is not dated and has no drafting information.
  25. [Appendix G]
  26. Secret. The source text is not dated.