243. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State1


  • Laos and VietNam


  • The Secretary
  • Sir David Ormsby Gore, British Ambassador
  • R.T.D. Ledward, Counselor of British Embassy
  • Charles T. Cross, Officer in Charge, Laos Affairs

The British Ambassador came at our request to talk with the Secretary about Laos and VietNam.

[Here follows discussion of Laos.]

2. VietNam. The Secretary said that we are moving into the next chapter in our efforts to put Diem in position to win his war against the communists. We are planning to give him increased airlift capacity, mostly helicopters, a “Jungle Jim” unit, assistance with photo reconnaissance, some intelligence personnel and advice, additional military advisers so that we may be able to put U.S. advisers down to lower combat echelons, that we will back Diem on his own flood rehabilitation programs with heavy equipment trucks, technical advice, etc. The Secretary pointed out the these moves did not involve sending organized U.S. combat units although it might become necessary to give serious consideration to putting in combat troops depending on the situation some weeks hence.

The moves that we are now planning will bring in U.S. personnel beyond the limits set by the Geneva Accords. We will be prepared to abide by the Accords as soon as the communists do so. The Ambassador asked whether we were intending to make an announcement giving the nature and scope of our assistance. The Secretary replied that we are intending to release the Jorden Report before our moves would come to public attention … and we would probably wait until such increases in personnel were being protested openly before making any direct announcement.

The Secretary said that we were also urging Diem to undertake administrative and political reforms designed to improve the efficiency and general acceptability of his government. Diem was still involving himself with too many details and consequently unable to give adequate leadership and direction in major matters.

[Page 588]

The Ambassador suggested that the Jorden Report would be a big help to the British in their role as co-chairman, and the Secretary said that we would send pre-publication copies to the British as soon as possible.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330, November 1961. Secret. Drafted by Cross on November 24 and approved in the Office of the Secretary on December 1. The time and location of the meeting are taken from the Rusk Appointment Book in the Johnson Library.